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Honestly I think the severity of the problem is particularly pronounced in the US. The first thing my psychiatrist did (and gods know I don’t hold her in my heart anymore either, but I have to stay objective) was prescribe a blood test (which I do every year now anyways as preventative medicine). And she didn’t lose it either when I stopped my meds and quit her as well. She wished me all the best in a warm and friendly manner (I was one of her favourite patients apparently). Got to give credit where it’s due. And for Pete’s sake I stayed in a psych hospital and it was bloody fine. Not a prison, not a torture fest like some people seem to believe. The people were nice overall, I was never force-fed meds, everything was clean and in good order. If anything it was probably more useless, but well-meaning, than anything else, in the grand scheme of things, although I suppose it did allow me a time-out in a protected setting.
Whatever else I personally think of modern psychiatry, what I truly believe is we still know very little about the mind/brain complex and need more unbiased research, full stop.
“Congratulations on using the term “drugs.” They aren’t medicines the way insulin, thyroxin, or antibiotics are.”
What’s there to congratulate? All medicines are drugs. Drugs are not intrinsically good or evil, they’re just a category of substances. Alcohol, aspirin, quetiapine (okay, yeah, that one is much closer to being evil haha), cannabis, insulin, antibiotics, alprazolam, heroin, caffeine, and countless others. All are drugs. Some have therapeutic value, and can thus be used as medicine (in specific contexts and dosages, of course). Even then, most substances than can be used as medicines at a certain dosage can also be used as poisons at higher dosages.
As I’ve said in a previous reply, I don’t actually care about the term “illness” as such. I do in fact believe it is inadequate. I honestly didn’t mean to invalidate your terrible experience with psychiatry, I’m really sorry if that is how it came across!
My comment was addressed more generally towards the people I consider to be extreme anti-psychiatrists (which I feel are just as bad as the DSM-worshipping pro-traditional-psychiatrists).
I am as angry at them as I am at the “doctors” who display the kind of harmful behaviour and/or the gross lack of intelligence/critical thinking/unbiased practice that you seem to have, unfortunately, been exposed to. And I know you are not the only one. But nor am I the only one to have had a positive or neutral experience with psychiatry.
To paint the issue as purely black or white seems a bit simplistic, even dangerous, as it ultimately leaves the people who suffer (which I think is a more inclusive term than ” the people who are ill”) like you and I out in the cold. At least, that is the way I see it.
I have limited knowledge of PTSD, but I think the injury analogy another commenter suggested might be more relevant? In any case, I sincerely hope you’ll be able to find your path to health and wellness, and again I’m sorry you had to go through the hell of forced chemical “therapy”.
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my comment, I appreciate your input! 🙂
Just to clarify, I don’t have any particular attachement to the term “illness”, in fact I do believe it is inadequate, while recognising that it’s had its limited use as well. And I certainly don’t subscribe to the idea that, in any case, illness = “there is something wrong” with you in any moral or societal sense. That you suffer from trauma does absolutely not mean there is anything wrong with you, I apologise if it came across that way! 😉 Injury is probably a better term for it, and in that sense it deserves to be treated (by whatever means are right for you)! 🙂
Sandra Villarreal, let me start off by saying how sorry I am for what happened to you… The doctor who “diagnosed” you was clearly a profoundly dangerous incompetent who got his MD in a soapbox! A perfect example of a “pill-pusher”. Having PTSD ≠ bipolar disorder!! Any idiot should realise that. The simple fact is there is an unfortunate tendency in some branches of psychiatry (and in particular American psychiatry) to overlook environmental and psychological factors in a person’s well-being/suffering/illness (WHATEVER you want to call it).
Now, the rest of this comment is addressed to subscribers in general. This website is obviously virulently anti-psychiatry. Fair enough. I myself am not “pro-psychiatry”. I would say I am a “traditional-psychiatry-sceptic”. I suffer from mental illness/suffering/unease/despair/whatever term you wish to use, yet I am continually disappointed by the system and the current methods of care available. I have quit two of my medications, and am very happy for doing so. I am extremely wary and suspicious of Big Pharma, and I am placing my hope in the research currently being done with psychedelic psychotherapy. Make of that what you will.
Now, I think it’s a bit childish and reductive to accuse all psychiatrists of being torturers and of committing crimes against humanity. I mean, seriously? Without them, I’d be dead by now. My personal hell started when I was 12 years old. I was UNABLE to go to school and wanted to DIE. And guess what, I was NOT put on ANY medication. Therapy and alternative schooling options were suggested. And it did help. I was able to go back to my regular school and graduated with high marks. I was a cutter for the whole of my teenage years, was not followed by any doctor and did not take any medications. I also had an eating disorder. Clearly the self-harm had nothing to do with psychiatry!!! So no, in Europe at least, not all shrinks are blood-thirsty monsters. Even my current psychiatrist, who did prescribe medications, is mostly a lovely woman who SUPPORTED ME when I told her I wanted to shove my anti-depressants (and a weight-gaining anti-psychotic before that). She’s extremely critical of benzos and refuses to prescribe them long-term (and she’s right about that). She respects my opinion, my intelligence and the fact I am very critical of psych drugs and psychiatry in general. We can disagree and still have a very good doctor-patient relationship. The point is she HAS helped me. And I know others who have been HELPED by competent and compassionate doctors. Not all of them are pill-pushers.
I feel like a lot of you basically agree with mainstream society’s assessment that people who are SUFFERING, in massive amounts of mental pain and anguish, are just creating it out of thin air and can wish it away if they just exercised their willpower. Guess what, a lot of us are trying to do just that. And I can tell you it’s exhausting. The willpower I have to use to go exercise, to not take something in order to sleep, to go outside for fear of having a panic attack, to not succumb to the death urge. To not cut myself when I am overwhelmed with despair. You’re not being revolutionary by being anti-psychiatry. You’re just saying what most people already think. And just like core mainstream psychiatry, you’re not actually helping anyone. You’re not actually addressing the problem. You’re just one extreme end of the spectrum, with hardline “pro-drug DSM-defined psychiatrists” being on the other.
I don’t care about the term “mental illness”, call it mental anguish, suffering. Whatever. The fact is that not everyone reacts to society’s and personal ills in such a way that death seems like the only reasonable option. That leaving one’s house and seeing people freaks them out so much as to cause massive anxiety and fits of tears. That they feel so depressed they can’t get out of bed. Every other day, or even every day!! That the pain is such a deep pit in one’s chest everything is leeched of colour and flavour. And all of this, as a reaction… to nothing special. No trauma. No major life loss. (Maybe there was one, in childhood, or even later, but the point is the reaction continues all of your life for no outstanding reason).
Doesn’t mean the answer are pills. Or that our societal structure isn’t completely fucked and needs to change. I completely agree with those two statements. But if you feel like crap all of the time and don’t have any motivation, energy or drive left in you, you won’t be able to change ANYTHING. Either way, you’re screwed. You’re screwed because you’re outside of conformity, and it makes you hopeless. And because you’re hopeless, you can’t find a way to change the world so it has a place for you in it.
Maybe psychiatry in America believes “mental illness” (let’s use that term for whatever it’s worth) is a purely biological problem (although even that concept in and of itself is flawed), worthy then of neurologists. But I’ve mostly heard from doctors in England and continental Europe that it’s a multi-factorial issue: some biological, some genetic for certain people, some psychological, some environmental. Which is what makes it so complex and sets it apart in the world of medical science.
And as the concept of mind… This whole mind/brain binary touted by both anti-psychiatrists and pro-psychiatrists is such BS. It’s not ALL about the Brain (pro-psychiatry), or ALL about the Mind (anti-psychiatry). It’s BOTH. The mind alters brain connexions, shapes them, perverts them. And vice versa. Brain alterations have been observed in severely depressed patients. Doesn’t mean it can be used as a diagnostic criteria, though. Anyone with a moderate understanding of neurology knows the strongest learned associations are the ones made with strong emotions: fear, pleasure, the whole dopamine complex. You can’t just “wish” them away. However, the good news is that brain plasticity “is a thing”, so there is some hope at least for reversing the damages. Sadly, a lot of psych drugs inhibit said plasticity which is what makes them so dangerous on the long-term… The neurotransmitter model of neuro-psychatry is incredibly flawed (I’m more interested in the neural pathways model myself), and has never been proven anyway. But it doesn’t mean the field of psychiatry as such doesn’t have any value. As with the rest of medicine, and society as a whole, it needs to CHANGE.
The “mental illness” definition or debunking issue doesn’t ultimately matter. It’s recognising the fact that a lot of “outside-the-box” thinkers, potentially revolutionary, maybe, and simply good people are incapable of feeling happiness, freedom, or drive to make worthwhile changes in this broken world because they are hindered by extreme sensitivity (which one day might be celebrated) and “coping mechanisms” (to use a term I’ve seen in another article on this site). Helping us doesn’t have to mean hammering us into fitting the life script, or zapping us into becoming a mindlessly productive member of a capitalist and consumerist society, as is expected (I certainly wouldn’t want that). In fact, a lot of psychiatrists probably wouldn’t fit those categories either (mine doesn’t)!!
Not everyone in the mental health care world believes the DSM is the Bible. Maybe that’s, again, an American thing. Or perhaps more generally an anglo-saxon thing. I’m not sure. But it should be bloody obvious that the DSM was originally meant to be a set of GUIDELINES. And now it’s been co-opted by Big Pharma. Extreme categorisation and pathologizing are bound to lead to abuse and absurdity. But again, doesn’t mean you need to burn down psychiatry completely and declare all psychiatrists war criminals. At the very least, if you’re going to burn it down, build something new and better, instead of saying there wasn’t anything supposed to be there in the first place… You’re just basically spitting in the face of those of us who are suffering, and were suffering long before the meds showed up in our systems. Talk about a lack of compassion…
In fact, Sandra Villarreal mentioned she suffers from PTSD (my heart goes out to you, I can’t imagine what you’ve been through). Last time I checked, it’s in the DSM and is classified as a “mental illness”. Did any of you suggest she should just wish the memory of her trauma away? Or that her pain is just a construct of the mind she can fix with a little effort and willpower…? Hmm?
When the pendulum swings, it never stops in the middle (well, it does, but only after an excruciatingly long time). But it’s exactly what we need!!! It’s sad, really. That a comment on an anti-psychiatry website basically reflects a review I did of a book clearly drinking the drug-pushing psychiatry kool-aid. Same shirt, different colour.
PS: I have stayed in a psychiatric hospital, twice. No, it wasn’t a hellish nightmare. A large majority of the staff were nice, compassionate and caring individuals. I’ve lived with anorexics, women with severe anxiety and depression. I dare anyone to tell me they weren’t suffering from poor mental health and suffering. Most of them had been battling their conditions for YEARS. Some since early adolescence. They weren’t tied up or drugged out of their gourds. I’m not saying it actually solves any of your problems (although it does for some people). It didn’t for me. But it did allow me to rest in a neutral environment, to be taken care of and put some order in my thoughts. What’s wrong with that?