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Thanks for bringing this crucially important issue and article to our attention!
Dear Eric: thank you for this thoughtful piece. We always enjoy and value your writing.
Bravo Irit and Don!
It’s the “scientifically illegitimate “treatments” that psychiatrists inflict on an ever-increasing number of unsuspecting citizens,” especially the kids, that still keeps me up at night. So glad that you are going strong, generously and forgivingly include so many of us in your life, and will continue doing Don’s good work.
Thank you for this piece, Sera.
Sera, thank you for another great opinion piece which helps me digest what’s reported in the media, written from your strongly informed social justice perspective. I appreciate the links you shared, enabling readers to learn more about the topic and create a screening in our own communities.
Sera, your example of speaking and behaving consistently, clearly and compassionately as a leader, writer/thinker, organizer, and personal and support person to countless numbers of people (including this ally in Canada and the commenters on your blogs) is awesome. Your level of commitment to economic, political, and social justice on the one hand and respect for the individual persons that cross your path motivates me to do more and better. If there were as many people in North America doing what you and your innovative, liberating, and supportive/supported colleagues at WMLRC do together, as there are commenters on your blogs, there would be oases of change all over the continent.
The thought of you replying in perpetuity to even more comments to your blog gives me vertigo. Please take good care and have a lovely weekend. Thank you for everything you’ve done and are doing, including planting seeds of change (economic, political, social, relational) all over the world.
I hope this is a chapter in a book you are writing. Or Act 1 in a screenplay. It’s wonderful.
“If you’re trying to help me – no thanks. If your liberation is bound up with mine – okay.” This was from Earl at the World Hearing Voices Congress in Boston in August, and perhaps why authentic “peer” support is welcome while other support is not. Be careful of being a Helper, whose role is there to Help. Every other thing I’ve heard from Noel rings true.
littleturtle, there are countless humane alternatives to psychiatry, hundreds to consider offered in the archives of this website. first of all we can participate in local efforts that make our communities more just and kind and less violent and mean.
I am so sad to hear the news of Matt’s death. Matt’s voice was smart and compassionate, gently persuasive without cutting down. He was a valued teacher on madinamerica for many of us and the archive of his words will continue to teach visitors to this site.
Could we benefit from being more than an online community? If I’d known in which part of the world Matt resided and lived or traveled nearby, it would be nice if there were meet-up madinamerica cafes so that we could support each other in person. When I attend conferences or visit projects where I’ve met the real people behind the blogs or comments, the movement feels so much more concrete and lasting. Our movement forward more tangible. But it is difficult for many of us to travel far. Can we design local hubs and make maps for meeting, giving hugs, sharing person-to-person stories? with love and respect for and much trust in this community, Diana in BC, Canada
This podcast makes MIA accessible to people who are blind, people who can’t sit in front of screens due to back, neck or eye pain, people who have limited access to computers. Also, for those of us who do a lot of driving, work with our hands, walk and run, podcasts have become an essential source for news, information and entertainment. It’s also great for folks who lie awake a few hours in the night. Consider advertising the podcasts through disability networks as accessible programming focused on issues around real or perceived psychosocial disability.
The teaser is promising, the jingle not obtrusive, and James has a kindly manner though formal. In the future, you may want to consider a cast of interviewers with whom James can share the beat, the pressure of producing. Consider a variety of accents from other cultures, other genders… This is the beginning of something wonderful and essential to people like me, exposed to the movement first through madness radio.
so let’s try using this report to make one other person we know think. like forward it to lots of people. print it out and mail to government offices. why not.
In this case prioritizing health care before food is not due to direct industry pressure but assumptions due to ideology, limited knowledge and experience. For middle class Westerners, fear of exotic diseases like Malaria trump our lack of fear of hunger, which we experience as choice or on the rare occasion of a postponed meal. There is general belief here that at least scraps of food can be found when needed, and in many places, it really can not be. In the case of this project, microloans are made available to students to figure out how to earn food money, which works only for the entrepreneurish types, creating a rift of inequality in the community–those with and without access to food funds, those successful with the micro-loan endeavor and those not… causing further harm. This is not spoken of, just tolerated as people are not asked, people do not want to criticize the people who are supporting them. Silence is assumed to be acquiescence.
Yikes Tina. How clearly you are cutting through the water in which we swim–the paternalistic “in-the-best-interests” of other people’s bodies and lives of the Western health care system. This extends to the world in which we still exercise our colonial interests. In talking with a friend from Burundi, I learned that limited funds donated by Westerners to refugee students in Rwanda cover tuition, housing and western-style health care. The students need food to stay healthy and would prefer it over the health care. Especially the mental health care, which all of the students rejected even though it was pushed. The students’ response was that they have each other, the people in their community who know and understand them and give them the emotional support they need. Scarcity can pose heartbreaking choices but giving the people at the centre of our concern those choices is essential.
Western mh therapy before food? Needless to say, the students who starve, drop out.
BC Canada’s equivalent to NAMI is the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society (BCSS). Please search the links between them and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals. Same story: BCSS is strong lobby group for discriminatory mh acts which deny mental capacity, legal capacity, informed consent and promote forced drugging, disease vs. psychosocial model, and allow the “sane” to control finances and make decisions for others about where one is allowed or not allowed to live. Sad that treatment advocacy groups can’t see that their expensive media campaigns of fear and discrimination ensure the failure of their expensive “anti-stigma” campaigns. Lots of waste.
A nurse who advocated in the early 1980s for a shift from the medical to the social model of support for children labeled with cognitive disabilities, described parents who were so afraid to lose the medical institutions and treatments that had housed and raised their children. Some parents fought for the continued use of these hospitals and their methods such as using electric cattle prods to “successfully” teach their children skills. People are always afraid to lose what they have, even if what they have is not good. This is happening now. Maybe sometime treatment advocacy people will shift their thinking and employ some of that imagination, which so much of their literature decries, to imagine something more humane than the equivalent of electric cattle prods to support their unruly family members. Then, perhaps, they can consider giving up their reliance on forced psychiatry: depending on police and doctors to use the restraints, isolation rooms, involuntary ect and forced injections of blunting and potentially hazardous drugs to control their unruly family members.
Thank you for writing. Our hearts go out to you and your family. For the first time we read a vivid description of how our son suffered and the pain and confusion of his parents. We’re so glad you are alive.
Read this out loud in the kitchen this morning while Steven cooked breakfast. Lucky strong and courageous daughters, lucky strong courageous mom. So fortunate for us to read your blogs and to share your ‘slow psychiatry’ with others in BC. Thanks for your tribute to David.
thanks for this link. i just spent a couple of hours listening to keynotes and lectures about collaborative problem solving with kids to give them the skills instead of manipulating them with punishments and rewards.
Hi Will, your focus about experiences existing in relationship has been so beautifully developed in this essay. Again, things begin to become clear for me thanks to your writing, responses to others in workshops and conversations shared on m-radio.
Bob, After presenting the painstakingly collected evidence for the false narrative that governs us, I’ve heard you ask audiences, “What happened to a more Shakespearean view about what it means to be human?” This question is such an encouraging and important one in attempting to recognise what can lead us to creating a humanistic narrative we are seeking here. This narrative is more about our society and bigger than the humanely designed and effective responses to each other’s differences and distress (responses that are not psychopharma’s forced treatment). Thanks for sharing the joy to be had at discovering there is so much global and culturally diverse support for change. And bravo to Peter Stastny and others who have recognized the rights and violation of rights of people with psy diagnoses for decades. Diana
“Deemed consent” replaces “informed consent” in psy “medicine” ethics, where one rarely finds respect for the autonomy of the patient. How hospitals, other doctors, politicians, schools, the military and many families accept this special exception of psychiatric pseudoscience and harm is beyond the understanding of our family who lost on a son to the same iatrogenic trajectory you were on. Thank you for writing this lucid letter. Disabled veterans lead this country in demanding and winning accessibility codes and had the clout to enforce them. I thank you for your efforts in this matter. Please accept my sympathy for the torture you have been through in the hands of our military’s shameful psy treatment of another extraordinary young person.
Also relieved and happy to find Dr. Levine on truthout.org, another great source of progressive news. Love his “dark sense of humour that doesn’t deny the injustices and humiliations. “
Would you please consider recording the interviews in the future as you’d have many listeners (see Breggin’s and Will Hall’s audiences). The radio/podcast medium is even more widely accessible to many working folks, the technology inexpensive and simple to produce and use. Listening allows people hours of learning while driving, walking and while hands and bodies are engaged in other work. Thanks.
Thanks to you Frank for doing so much on the prevention and escape end of the survivor trajectory so that maybe some of our kids have a chance of exiting the system before decades of debilitating forced treatment. From a parent who considers herself an ally.
Dear Paris, I really love the depth, research and innovative thought that you have put into your work. Since you are being so thorough, I can’t help but wonder if you are skipping too quickly over particularly extreme context of today’s society for young people.
The use of psychoactive drugs, both recreational AND psychiatric/prescribed is not just a common response to distress used to provide temporary relief but it’s increasingly part of young people’s culture of experimenting, gaining street cred and even “independent” economic support through “disability” for those who feel little hope for finding meaningful work with fair wages. Are you aware of the way the Hunger Games books and movies speak to younger people. These are extreme times in their reality and imaginations.
because psychology believes in itself as a science to such an extent that it seems no idea, movement, approach or thought can be validated without the benefit of its ‘method.’ Oh; and also I fear it realises that if it oversees everything from broad therapeutics to “Recovery” to “Mindfulness,” then it expands as an industry.
Psychology can seem a continuation of the temperance movement, a special application of the general progressive principle that the “best” people should govern–people qualified, that is, by allegedly disinterested motives and plenty of professional training (Christopher Lasch from the essay, Life in the Therapeutic State, in Women and the Common Life, p.168, 1997). Also discussed in Life… are ideas inspired by Foucualt in The Policing of Families (1997): describing the movement of a new medical morality with doctors seeking women as agents of medical influence in the medical colonization of the family under the guise of humanitarianism which has ironically lead to the increase, not decline of state torture.
The institution of the psy’s interrupt and hyjack people’s stories.
Hi Guys, This was nearly impossible to find. Could you excavate it by adding 2015 to the title. May I suggest you put the videos in reverse order, from most recent at the top to least recent at the bottom of page. Thanks, Diana
Dr. Berezin’s own words from his blog on ADHD: Somewhere along the line we have lost the understanding that kids come in all shapes and sizes. Some kids are active, some are quiet; some kids are dreamers, others are daring; some kids are dramatic, others are observers; some impulsive, others reserved; some leaders, others followers; some athletic, others thinkers. Where did we ever get the notion that kids should all be one way?
These words give me some hope that if we were all in the same room we might find more understanding. General associations of abuse and neglect with trauma are more reasonable than those of imperfect mothers and trauma.
Thank you for this carefully researched and clear account of the German racial hygiene movement. How sad that much of this horror continues, hardly masked, in our contemporary psycho-pharma industry: the marketing of testing and consulting to “curb the reproduction of the unfit;” the vertiginous “widening [of] the spectrum of diseases” with their aggressive appointed treatments; the labelling of others that leads to stigma while targeting their relatives as potential carriers of degenerate genes; psychiatry’s strong ties with police, politics and profits while covering up its harms; it’s collection of the brains of its victims in notorious labs “for evalutation and research” … oy vey
This essay seems to describe the view of psychiatry before it was “hijacked” by big pharma. After reading, it is clearer to me than ever why families fled the pre-pharma docs. I would recommend that Dr. B have a family member who is a mother read his work before publishing it. I don’t believe he sees how patronizing, patriarchal and demeaning it can read.
This essay also begins by criticizing the danger of the psychopharma industry but is about the harm imperfect mothers inevitably do. Dr. B quickly affirms the narrow categorizations of psychiatric conditions (which at least one in four of us has been diagnosed with and easily all of us could) and then claims these are real conditions all caused by trauma. Why have the worst psy conditions I’ve observed all been caused by psy treatment itself (also mostly prescribed by male doctors).
So when fathers and mothers are sent by cranky teachers to get their kids drugged behind desks in crowded classrooms, the kid doesn’t have a biological disease, but an imperfect mother? Believing the one sounds as useful as believing the other. Wouldn’t it be more useful and end in less harm to families if we just stopped believing in the many psy junk “conditions” and diseases and became more tolerant of childhood, of personalities, of different energy levels, of feelings and of drama, of noise, of voices. Drugs for “diseases” vs. more perfect nurturing mothering psychotherapy from your psychiatrist? If these are the choices psychiatry can offer, families may want to run from harm either way, especially if there’s a feminist in the family.
Thanks for slowing down while in the midst of your daily interactions with people in distress who ask you for drugs, who may be tragically addicted and disabled by psy drugs, who may hate and reject drug treament (whom I hope you are not drugging), who are seeking help in tapering off psy drugs, all while openly acknowledging the harm done by the very industry in which you’ve been trained and work. Thanks for looking outside of the industry for better ways to respond to the people who still come to you on their own accord and perhaps against their will. You’re organizing a lot of dissonance, engaging with much self criticism and critical psychiatry and I believe your more reasonable caring voice as an insider can serve those of us trapped in that same world (both workers and patients/victims) as a bridge between us and those who have lost their own voice alongside and under the “care” of less humble, less informed and less reasonable prescribers.
It’s true Victor: you are not alone. MIA is introducing us to each other, for which I am so grateful. I read your piece after Corrina West’s and thought they go well together. Her advice to all of us to stop referring to the disease mongering pharma-psychocracy we’re in as part of the “medical model” and to start referring to it as what it is, a “disease model”, may be a helpful way to be clear about your relationship with your professional colleagues and clients.
This is sooo smart and informative Corinna. Hope the talented readers of MIA start sending in the graphics!
Hi There Karen (& Ron)! Bravo and yes, please consider an Oregon camp. I’ve been commuting there for Feldenkrais training (just home from most recent session) and Steven and I could easily come down from BC and participate in any way you’d like. We’d love it. xx
So beneficial to read this discussion between you two people bending language and exercising so much patience and imagination to connect with, inform and benefit your fellows. “Patients” and families need exposure to honest discussions about the possible benefits of people riding with support through the experiences of reoccurring distress (self-servingly called “relapse” while often iatrogenic, if not intensified by having used the drugs; and now the industry fearmongering includes threats that each “relapse” harms the brain and makes it harder to get well) and bdp.’s insight that the beginning state for which one is being pathologized includes states such as immaturity, which is why all children remain vulnerable to psy drugging and forced drugging unless they are protected from the psyindustry’s scrutiny. Thank you both.
Bravo Bob! Throwing up nasty labels is what pharmapsy docs like Lieberman are paid for. Now Dr. Lie. just has to wait for his “menace-to-society” label to be voted in to the DSM-VI. Until then, our good society will allow you a few more years to be as curious, observant, smart and generous as you want to.
Dear Sera Thank you for your patience, clarity and long suffering. I admire your constant courageous response to the overwhelming proliferation of lies that are an assault to our bodies and minds . Lies that big pharma can pay top dollar to proliferate. Pity Collin Powell, set up once again with false information, like he was for his U.N. speech about so called weapons of mass destruction. A quick story about the legal fissures that may be opening because of the growing acknowledgement of the chemical imbalance lie: Because a legal right to be informed with correct information from staff is one of the few rights even involuntary psy patients in BC have, we wrote a formal complaint to the hospital regarding false information given to a family member. An attending nurse told him he was suffering from a chemical imbalance and needed the psychotropic drugs to correct his chemical imbalance. Surprisingly, there was an immediate response even though it changed nothing on the floor. But interesting that this formal loophole lead to a meeting with the attending physician, several nurses, an administrator and family members. No one dared claim the chemical imbalance theory was true, all said the patient did indeed have a right to the correct information and that the nurse would be corrected. This is interesting territory; what other than these lies do they have left to justify the forced treatment? That they have created drug addicts that now need their drugs to avoid withdrawal pains? That they have police powers whether they lie or not?
Perhaps you might find encouragement in over 1,700 people, showing up for a free lecture by Norman Doidge in Salt Lake City. People all seeking alternatives to drugs, which, as a psychiatrist, Doidge confesses have terrible side effects and which don’t really bwork. Whatever people may think of his research into neuroplasticity, he is looking for “gentle” “nonintrusive” means of working with bodies and has only criticism for the military-like assault on the brain which is mistakenly seen through the metaphor of the machine. Thank you so much for the good and important work you do Sera.
Thanks for reminding us that it’s not just psychiatric drugs that are the problem. In support of the 2013 This American Life piece, which states that the largest increase for disability is for conditions described as “back pain and other musculoskeletal problems” please note the 2012 article in the New York Times, “Painkillers Add Cost and Delay to Job Injuries” (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/health/painkillers-add-costs-and-delays-to-workplace-injuries.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0), we read that workers are suing insurance companies for non-drug treatments like physical therapy because of “the excessive use of drugs like OxyContin, Percocet and Duragesic”; “workplace injuries are drawing particular interest because the drugs are widely prescribed to treat common problems like back pain, even though there is little evidence that they provide long-term benefits. Along with causing drowsiness and lethargy, high doses of opioids can lead to addiction, and they can have other serious side effects, including fatal overdoses.” Not sure how to use “intersectionality” to forward this argument, but victims of psychiatry sure as hell have common cause and overlap with the workers of our world. Together we’re being drugged into disability by those with other interests.
p.s. looking forward to learning more about Vancouver through your blog!
So appreciate your wresting with paradoxes about being human; these are so easy to dismiss unless we’ve the courage to really live, which you seem to have done so fearlessly. Welcome to Vancouver, BC. Being warned of the wet and grey, I’ve been delighted by the light, that is always around some corner, ready to peek under some flap of sky and just sparkles on all this water. Wreck beach in the winter at sundown is a glorious place to catch the sun before it goes down on many a winter dusks.
Reading this essay aloud with beloved person of concern as a parent concerned is a step in strengthening a faltering bridge. What does support look inside a family where there is little or no outside support during drug tapering or “medication optimization”. This process requires so much courage, confidence, time and resolve but the process weakens and destabilizes people, can be tortuous, especially with risk averse professionals not offering support and waiting to intervene and push their agenda at every bump in the road or “failure” . This article is so rich in acknowledging the complexity of the situation.
Thanks to you and Debra for marching in solidarity with New York,. Many of us did so up here in Vancouver, BC. So many of the young people we know who are getting themselves diagnosed are suffering feelings of despair over the devastation to their air, water and land. There are so many connections between the environment and the well being of our children and youth. It’s great when we find common ground in causes that are connected to and even bigger than our own. Let’s build as many bridges as we can. We’re all a part of the interdependent web of life.
Your approach seems so modest, brave and direct, and your hands seem so tied, your options so limited as you try to help your fellows in extreme states and situations. If you had, up your sleeve, Rufus May’s puppets, Ron Coleman’s experience hearing voices, Jon Keyes knowledge of herbs, acupuncture skills, enough peer-run respite houses, Healing Homes, alternatives to suicide, tapering and spritual emergence peer-led groups to offer the folks who come or are sent to you, maybe then you could begin to do more. How much can you expect to accomplish by dispensing, withholding and tapering meds with a little open dialogue? It seems you are doing everything someone in your limited position could do to cause as little harm as possible and to work for change in a terrible system in the most honest and self critical way you know how.. See you at the film festival.
This is a timely, compassionate “pastoral” essay as we are each expected to find a respond to this highly publicized suicide. I now have your response to refer to and inform my own during the endless conversations that spring up at every gathering, family dinner and bus stop. Thank you for your endless hours, focus and generosity in organizing, thinking, writing and responding to others. I have been the beneficiary of your wisdom and generosity here, through the WMRLCommunity website, films and newsletter;; through your sharing knowledge about the Afiya respite while transcribing for three days at the MindFreedom conference on alternatives; and for actively defending others in the field who are attacked for their work on media sites like the Huffington Post. Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do. with affection and respect.
thank you so much for your clear thinking and response.
Your essay makes me want to ask you questions about the overlap in what seems to me are two competing justice systems.
Medical classification of behavior sets up a convenient parallel justice system, a system of state-sponsored vigilante justice. There seems to be a broader spectrum of sentencing based on extenuating circumstances in the traditional justice system than in this overreaching parallel system that seems to be competing for bodies.
(There’s a nice dramatization of this in the novel The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle. A person who has become a nuisance to the police in Queens, NY, is brought to a mental hospital and is quickly committed, drugged up with neurotoxins and locked up. )
With the DSM in hand, inconvenient behaviors are now ticketable offenses for which any of us can be condemned to periods of isolation, forced tranquilization and incarceration. I know people who’ve gone through all of this plus remain on psychiatric probation when released, for spitting on a person with state authority as a first offense. This offense will get one a life long bi-polar label within minutes. This parallel system of summary justice requires a lot less time and paperwork for the police, and guarantees that the person, whose behaviour is found to be a nuisance, won’t be released after a few hours, maybe not even for a few months. And when they are released, it will be with the leash of either probationary officers in the form of ACT compliance enforcing teams allowed to trespass unannounced at their homes to ensure the person remains under chemical incarceration.
Bravo on your truly brilliant career, Bertel! Hopefully, you’ll be training other pharmacists to offer the services you are offering. And soon. There are many of us who need them.
“These medications have been developed to treat specific illnesses, and are well suited for that intended purpose,” Urban said. “However, because they were developed to treat illnesses, they may have very different effects on healthy brains.” (from the Healthline article posted above)
– problem with these arguments is everyone thinks their kid is the one with the illness.
I have read White Coat, Black Hat and followed your postings on your tireless rigourous investigation on the death of young Dan Markingson with horror and with empathy for both his mother and you. Ten years ago my son, a 2nd year student at SFU, was aggressively treated, seemingly recruited, by an EPI team in Vancouver, BC for “anxiety.” Without informing his family, EPI staff accompanied him to the registrar’s office and “helped him” withdraw from his classes. Immediately recruited to enter Detwiler Clinic at UBC, his voluntary status was changed to involuntary when he regretted “his” decision and asked to leave. He was given Quetiapine/Seroquel, as was every other person on the ward, though others were there to be treated for a variety of “symptoms” (I asked everyone). It looked very much like research to me, but my son was never asked, not did he consent to participate in a research study. When effects of the drug altered his perception and we requested he be taken off the drug, the leading psy doc stood up, raised his voice threatening us that he would no longer treat our son if we didn’t cooperate with the Seroquel treatment and left the room. The next day the social worker on the team called to tell me that if our son did not take Quetiapine/Seroquel, he would “never get well.” He was given ECT instead and has become increasing disfunctional with each new forced treatment. In addition to horrible unacknowledged effects of treatment (weight gain, incontinence, impotenct, disabling fatigue, shaking hands, using cigaretts, coffee and, in the last year, street drugs to alleviate feelings of agitation from the drugs), 3 times he has gone through life-threatening forced withdrawal due to negligence or bad reactions to meds on which he’s been forced. One of the other students treated at the clinic with him ten years ago is dead. I’m surprised my son is still alive. I’m afraid no one will investigate what has happened to him. He was a successful student at the time who has been disabled by treatment. No one investigated the death of his friend, a young woman, another brilliant student, basketball player and competitive swimmer, also rendered disabled. Her parents thanked the MH team at her memorial service. She told us her parents and doctor used treatment to control her “innappropriate behaviour” – smoking pot – since she was 14. Her best friend said she jumped off the Lyon’s Gate Bridge because she couldn’t stand the effects of the latest drugs she was forced to take by her MH team. Nothing we say is acknowledged; all is treated with disdain.
what you’re saying here is too easily said and justifies our passivity
every informed psychiatrized person should march into their mh team’s office with a copy of these words, a copy of their wishes, with a witness, emboldened by the words in theis document. record responses by their mh teams and go to their local civil liberties with evidence of the discrimination against them by their treatment team. have we lost all courage to defend ourselves? what can they do to us? nothing they haven’t already done.
this is your job and my job
the UN work gives us the rhetorical infrastructure to make possible the hard work that is ours to do now
Dear Faith and fellows,
I wish we were all meeting face to face and could brainstorm more supportively. So much has to happen to stop the death, violence and misunderstanding. Faith mentioned peers as first responders. This should be essential. Essential also is learning and telling the truth about the common effects of starting, being on and getting off neuroleptics and how all three alter people’s states, change a person’s perception, cause agitation and loosens one’s grip on impulse control. Essential and absent are affordable respites that can tolerate the noise and wild movement associated with intense states, respites set up to support tapering where people can be safe while away from the provocation of heightened familial relations, especially for people in their teens and twenties.
Essential to me as a mother would be training in how to talk down an angry strong young man in an altered state, to have a list of peer responders to call for help.
What are we going to do?
– “VPD data show that in the instances of violent crime, persons suffering from mental illnesses are 23 times more likely to be victims than the general public.” (Vancouver Police Department, “Vancouver’s Mental Health Crisis …” Sept. 2013)
– I was told by a counselor at a particularly respectful recovery house for people labeled with addictions and emotional distress that she has never experienced a violent incident working with the very people predicted to be the most inclined to violence. She said that around the corner from this residence there are violent incidents daily in the hospital’s psych ward.
– I keep waiting for Michael Cornwall to join the discussion with his stories of working in the I Ward in the 70s. His descriptions of holding people who needed to be contained so as not to hurt themselves make so much sense. Sometimes it took several people to hold someone and the outcome was that people found comfort in this embrace and would relax and often cry out their distress in the embrace of others. That happened in a hospital ward, didn’t it?
Are we so averse to holding each other when it is needed? Perhaps the way school teachers are no longer permitted to give a young student a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
You may want to give Hannah Rosin’s book, The End of Men, a read. She moves beyond gender platitudes and describes what I’ve observed as a contemporary mother of 3 young white men: that boyhood is quick to be pathologized in public schools and teenage boys are less willing and able to go through the hoops required for college admissions. Today’s economy seems better designed for women in general, who are doing rather well. In the case of psychiatry, I see young men grossly overmedicated out of fear and discrimination because of the stereotype of them being violent.
Dear Laura, Thank you for this Walt Whitmanesque letter of thanksgiving that reaches across borders.
Bravo Sascha! We’ll be showing this Ted Talk in Vancouver at a big event on Dec. 4th. (madcaps.org “Church Presents”). If you’re interested, please come to Vancouver and speak to us.
We’re in BC too. You’re welcome to the screening of “Beyond the Medical Model” on Oct. 25th. http://madcaps.org/?page_id=2
You’re describing in such vivid detail something a loved one is experiencing now, that I have had no way of understanding or imagining. I will share it with that person and all family members as it is a compelling witness to the wild expressions of discomfort, irritability and pain that they must be suffering while withdrawing from 3 psy drugs. Your words give this person’s torment the voice of a fellow victim of mind/bodybad pharma-psy treatment, makes some sense out of what’s happening to him. This offers me some possibility of a connection, of sympathy still after it has been wearing thin, even a shred of hope in the face of what is a state so alienating to encounter to those outside of it. Thank you Matt. This is a timely letter that offers the possibility of what time might still offer a person and their family in the throws of withdrawal.
I am also outside of the US and the orange button, Pay Pal wouldn’t allow me to enter the required info to donate. The other option, the blue button (authorize.net), offered under “support MIA” allowed me to donate.
Fundraising idea for the first 10 days of August: every reader adopts an MIA blogger for a day with a special $10 dollar donation and a thank you for how that person’s writing has been a valuable read for us.
I have a long list but my first tenner is a thank you for Laura Delano’s blog for giving my twenties something son hope for recovery.
Matt, how many regular readers are there, including reader/writers?
Hello, from one more parent trying to figure out how to be supportive and not cause any more harm. Thanks for jumping into the fray.
There will be a public series of special events with Laura Delano at the end of July up here in Vancouver, BC, which is a hop, skip and a jump from Colorado. On Monday night, July 29th, she will be leading a Q&A after a screening of Daniel Mackler’s documentary film “Coming off Psych Drugs: A Meeting of the Minds.” The next day, she will be leading a workshop, “Is it Me, or My Meds?” Finding Self Beyond Psychiatry and Reconnecting to Our Human Spirit.” Perhaps your son would like to join us for these events. And if he doesn’t mind, you too.
You have been offered an overwhelming wealth of resources above. When I started exploring this information and experience rich world of critical thinking about the medical model, the madnessradio.net archives of interviews introduced me to Robert Whitaker and several of the authors mentioned above. Through the archive list you can find interviews with authors, researchers, survivors and doctors looking critically at the pharma/psy industry (http://www.madnessradio.net/shows_list). For example, you can listen, for free, right now, to an hour long interview with Laura Delano.
Peter Breggin also has a radio interview archive from which you can download an hour of Paris Williams, now, for free (http://prn.fm/tag/paris-williams/#axzz2Z4MSQnoK).
Enjoy exploring this fascinating world of intelligent, compassionate and innovative people.
You dear, competant, innovative, brave, honest, funny woman!
Your good ideas and generosity are observed and felt at least as far as the north and west reaches of BC, Canada. Thanks to your suggestion, I spent part of today researching the possibility of offering continuing ed. credit for OTs attending a Ron Coleman workshop on living with voices. You’ve helped make some of us, including some inside the system, feel as though we are part of an effort that is bigger than ourselves.
There are others to help when you get tired.
It would be even better to read all this passionate expertese written in response to the many dozens of opinion articles out there promoting forced treatment and winning over followers. Usually, when I rally the courage to respond in other, much less unfriendly contexts, I am quite alone. Why spend so much energy arguing before such a sympathetic audience that is already converted. Please rally up the courage to spend more time wrestling with the true bullies writing for nearly every other media outlet.
Thank you for posting this important academic lecture that points to Judy Chamberlain’s “nothing about us without us.” Well worth the time and took lots of notes.
This is such a good idea but not for the faint of heart. I’ve tried jumping into discussions outside of MIA and quickly attract aggressive bio-med model responses and become disheartened. If we could organize into groups of 3-10 people with our different informed and critical viewpoints (ie, mine is “family member”) and jump into another media discussion together (within 1-24 hours), we might have a more convincing voice.
Always enlightening to read what you are thinking, Paris.
Thanks for your heroic efforts, Matthew. Tonight, our Vancouver, BC Madness Radio listening group plans on watching and discussing several of Kermit’s latest audio/video pieces. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. Good luck!
Wow, Kermit, thanks. Leonard Roy Frank – Activist, Pioneer and National Treasure!
Thanks Kermit for bringing us together to these places we’d like to be.
In the early 70s, as an eighth grader in a new school I pulled the exact stunt you did to communicate my disgust with my situation to my parents. My dear Dad just gave me a hug and asked me if I wanted to talk about it. I didn’t, but nothing like that ever happened again. I’m sickened to read of the inhumane treatment you received for the same gesture.
Thank you for this practical and thoughtful plan in hand to help people who need to begin this important discussion with their people. It’s a promising tool to offer someone who would like to take charge of starting the tapering process and gathering their community of support.
Please come speak in Vancouver, BC if you’re ever traveling along the West Coast. For many of us, you’ve been an important and generous teacher in the not-for- profit college of treatments that work.
Thank you for this confident and well told witness to the ignorance and abuse of the typical psychiatric treatment of distress. I am ashamed that the US export of such a brute, unscientific treatment for profit knows no boundaries. We are now using this same treatment to control the behaviour of toddlers. If you are ever on the West Coast of North America, come speak in Vancouver BC.
The challenge to Enriquez theory is that he speculates assuming that the measurements of increases in autism are correct. Perhaps it’s just that we are diagnosing autism at ever great rates, just like all diagnoses are expanding.
I’m forwarding this to my fellow listeners of Vancouver’s Madness Radio group.
Thank you again for another great piece that should be heard out loud. If you visit Vancouver, BC, we’ll find you a pulpit.
Sandy, according to Whitaker (p.343), spending on psychiatric services, in the region where Open Dialogue is the first line treatment, dropped 33% from the 1980s to the 1990s, and costs less per-capita than the other districts in Finland where O.D. is not practiced.
Thank you Tomasulo and Steingard. Reading your sane, humane North American voices gave me hope for adapting Open Dialogue in Canada and the US.
“The finding that adolescents with less well educated parents exhibit lower rates of suicidal behavior also raises questions about the current culture’s obsession with mental health. According to the World Health Organization, suicide rates have increased by 60% over the past 45 years. There is little evidence that the culture’s increased awareness of the symptoms of mental illness has been useful in preventing suicide.”
Wow Jill. It’s sad to realize the anti-intellectualism of the grown kids of many of us formally educated Boomers is a deserved reaction to the hubris, greed and heavy handedness with which we’ve applied our so-called knowledge.
Fascinating article which I hesitate to forward because of its focus on and claims that people of African and Asian descent are more prone to violent reactions to neuroleptics than whites.
Thank you for more of your patiently considered thoughts. These are important times to share them. Have you considered a monthly audio letter for podcast or radio? You have a good voice (heard you sitting at a table at ISEPP).
It’s sad that hundreds of thousands of us really do have medical conditions thanks to being diagnosed and treated – the “Epidemic” in Whitaker’s “Anatomy.” At least one generation of folks who entered the wrong door during their crisis will need medical treatment for iatrogenic addictions and life threatening iatrogenic diseases for years. We go begging to doctors to acknowledge and treat these real drug induced illnesses, to help us taper off and they mostly refuse to help us save our lives. So far we learn about effective medical and emotional practices from peers who have survived. Folk medicine in an age that thinks it’s so high tech.
Yes, a public health system with an Open Dialogue-like team of one office doc (good for a couple of sleeping pills as needed and tests for real medical problems like thyroid) and 2-3 therapists that make an immediate visit to a home in crisis and visit for as long and as many times as it takes everyone to feel better. No diagnosis, often over in 2-6 weeks, no iatrogenic addiction, death or disease.
Next to the icon of Bob’s book on the front page of the zine is a subtitle “Source Documents”. It’s pretty well organized for quickly finding the data on a particular topic. I just found it today while looking for material for a family member’s doctor who wants to see “data” before he will consider helping him withdraw.
Hi There Will. We’re listening to your Alternatives keynote and APA talk tonight in our Madness Radio Discussion group in Vancouver BC. We’re growing a little more fearless every few weeks. Bravo and Thank you.
A second strong recommendation for the Quay Brothers’ exquisite work. Those who can’t get to the MOMA, get a copy of their animated shorts “The Comb (from the Museum of Sleep)” and “Street of Crocodiles”.
Hi There Ed,
I don’t know how old your son is, but it can be a ten year roller coaster ride, as it has been with mine. However unsuccessful your attempts have been so far, you and your son have been courageous and you may be still in the middle of the roller coaster ride. Believe it or not, he’s probably learned stuff from this attempt to taper, and when he’s ready, you may be able to support him again. I wish you could have called Michael Cornwell and a half dozen recovered people instead of the police. Perhaps we need to organize our own emergency rescue squads. Have you read/heard Cornwall’s descriptions of holding down folks in violent states? That in his experience, the held person has always calmed down within 60-90 minutes and surrenders to the embrace. His accounts are somehow believable. (links to Cornwall on this site under radio/podcasts and writers)
Best to you and your son.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive … those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience …” CS Lewis, seconded by Judi Chamberlain, Jack Carney reminds us.
Self righteous tyranny is too easy for frustrated parents to fall into, believing it is help. As a mom, I have found myself surrounded by parents who are Torrey fans and reps in Vancouver BC. I come running to this site as a refuge of sanity. I enjoyed every word of your careful, patient, intelligent posting, Jack. Thank you.
That’s what I’m hoping. And you’re welcome to visit!
Yes, it would be wonderful to be able to invite your readers who live near Vancouver, BC, to join about 15 of us who have met twice a month for a year to listen to Will Hall’s interviews (with Robert Whitaker, Gail Hornstein, Joanna Moncrieff, Jacqui Dillon, Catherine Penney…) from the madnessradio.net archives. We listen, eat, then talk about the shows together in the basement of the Unitarian Church, at no charge, and less than half of us are members of the church. And to let them know of the other free classes (Tai Chi, Restorative Yoga, Jung and dream study groups, annual lectures) that are part of the church’s adult education “Mental Diversity” program.
Thanks. You guys are the bee’s knees.
This clearly written article is thought provoking. I have a few questions.
Does the idea of “mental illness” beg the question? Like someone having a hunger illness because they are starving? (Psy prescribers have a treatment handy for dampening the symptoms of any imagined illness: tranquilizers.)
Has there been at least a third response to madness or mental suffering in addition to religion and medicine? A socipolitical one? Someone may go crazy for a biological reason such as a thyroid problem, which may be effectively addressed by medication; for an emotional or spiritual reason such as great loss, which may be addressed helpfully through one’s spiritual or religious community; but also for sociopolitical reasons such as racism, lack of housing & education, environmental degradation… which may and must be addressed by societal change and supports.
This may be another reason we let our individual minds take the blame and the drugs: societal change is tough and can seem impossible and feel overwhelming.
This response seems to miss and dismiss both my points – 1) that there can be a cause and effect when taking antidepressants and feeling violent or paranoid and 2) that it is reasonable to expect that those feelings, especially if prolonged, could contribute to a person acting on those feelings.
You are presuming too much in the psychoanalysis of either person’s “setting”.
Twelve hours after taking my first and only Zoloft capsule (1990) I felt intensely afraid of my friends and family. The only other time in my life I experienced this feeling was within an hour after the first and only time I smoked marijuana(1975). Paranoia is a frightening feeling that I’m fortunate to have only experienced due to mind altering drugs. I am sure that my behavior and life would have been different if I would have had to live with those feelings.
When I shared with a close friend the effect I believe the “antidepressant” had had on me, she shared that her husband had also been prescribed an “antidepressant”. He, a soft spoken gentleman, stopped taking it after a few days as he believed it was taking the drug that made him feel the urge to murder his customers when they entered his shop.
For both of us, the feelings left as the drug left our bodies. Neither of us acted on our feelings nor struggle seriously with impulse control.
We are encouraged to dismiss anecdotal information as exceptional, but having a family member who attempted suicide and became paranoid only after taking prescribed “antipsychotics” (2001), and being exposed to the literature on this website, I wish further research would be done to investigate the very possible influence psy drugs have on violent behavior.
sobered and reproached for a momentary relapse into idiot hope and a bit of gratitude. a momentary break from the years of aching over the debilitation due to forced drugging of our own. thanks for the reference to Jofre’s series. we’ll look for it.
A shift away from eradicating immediate symptoms by just being with a person as they find their own way seems like there may be room for some talk.
Our Madness Radio listening club up here in Vancouver, Canada will be tuning into Will Hall’s 2009 interview with you (http://www.madnessradio.net/madness-radio-paxil-trial-alison-bass) to celebrate what we hope will finally start the dominoes falling thanks to the efforts of folks like you, Rose Firestein and Bob W.
David, don’t hit Kermit over the head for his spanky title. I’m forwarding this article to my unrepentant slap happy old mother, just for that title, if not for her four crazy kids.
The Open Dialogue team at Keropudas Hospital in Tornio, Finland, a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and other clinicians, seems to be offering an alternative medical model of response to “acute psychiatric crises” . But they have shifted “away from an immediate emphasis on trying to eradicate symptoms. The conversation, or dialogue, is not “about” the person, but a way of “being with” them and living through the crisis together” , mitigating
“the sense of isolation and distance a frightening episode can produce”, leading “to a path of recovery”(http://www.dialogicpractice.net/open-dialogue%E2%84%A0/). Apparently, there are other hospitals in Finland who take their orders from big pharma, read the Finnish translation of the DSM, take the drug money, push the drugs and predictably their clients’ outcomes are as terrible as ours are in Canada and the US. The evidence and research is there to read. Hospitals, with their teams of psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers and other clinicians can choose. Seems to me there are effective alternatives for us to shift over to. Now.
Who has seen the film? With NAMI and APA and other institutions screening the film, I’d like to know if someone writing for madinamerica has seen the film from beginning to end and can offer a critical review so folks know whether we should screen it in our rethinking psychiatry communities or not. Does the documentary end with meds as the solution? Does it take a stance on forced treatment?
Are they assuming the cognitive issues of people diagnosed with schizophrenia is due to their “broken brains” instead of acknowledging the cognitive effects of the mind numbing drugs treatment pushed?
David, what an interesting question you’ve raised about short term “obligation” to alleviate pain at the cost of long term healing. Or is it a growing cultural impatience for people expressing suffering? “He doesn’t need to suffer” was the line we were fed that lead us down the path of med treatment, with disastrous results, with a family member. (This same obligation or impatience may also help explain how cesarean sections have become a new normal despite the higher rate of mortality and longer recovery involved.)
It was great to read the article “with” you Bob. We also read last Sunday’s front page article on big pharma and workplace injury through the lens of Anatomy of an Epidemic . Oxycontin treatment has turned what used to be a few months of therapy and back to work recovered into a life of chronic pain and disability. The insurance companies and politicians may finally catch on.
“Well, without the drugs, he/she would have been homeless, dead or in prison anyway.”
That may be the justification post-mortem. In our family’s experience the justification pre-mortem has been the following: A dead artist or genius will be referred to, ie. Beethoven or Mozart, and casually diagnosed, and then they ask, “can you imagine what Beethoven could have accomplished on the meds?” They go to blasphemous extent to justify the damage.
Oxytocin is the peptide that rushes through some animals (humans and prairie voles are two) when, for example, we snuggle our newborns.
Can we first try to include our distressed friends and family members more generously into the circle of our communities instead of seeking and pushing yet another expensive treatment? Another expensive treatment with dangerous side effects that we will then force on folks, while they suffer in isolation, often in locked rooms?
Are we seriously considering trusting and further enriching the companies that brought us neuroleptics to sell us oxytocin nasal spray as the next magic bullet that will keep our kids and us smiling and still?