Sunday, July 3, 2022

Comments by cynical.nihilist

Showing 6 of 6 comments.

  • Hi James,

    You make some excellent points and observations in your article, and I find the comparison of psychiatry to a “cargo cult” especially apt. Psychiatry has embraced the accoutrements and language of medicine, without necessarily doing anything medical per se. Despite decades of research — and billions of dollars received in federal grants — the mechanisms underpinning “mental illness” have yet to be uncovered. The mere fact that a psychotropic compound has the capacity to affect affect, cognition, or behaviour in no way whatsoever implies that what’s being modified is inherently pathological or indicative of an underlying “brain disease”.

    Regarding documents that you filed in the federal and appellate court — and the writ of certiorari request filed in the Supreme Court, suits filed in the courts must adhere to a specific form and make arguments in a specific manner and style. “Causes of action” arising from the facts pertaining to the claims must be clearly construed. I strongly advise you to study analogous cases filed in the same circuit. I’m assuming that you have access to PACER — it’s a great resource for familiarizing yourself with various suits, understanding the basis for defendants’ motions to dismiss, and understanding the judges’ rulings. Being a pro se litigant is quite difficult, and a thorough understanding of pertinent case law is critical. Hope that this helps — and good luck.

  • You have hit the nail right on the head! The most perverse and ironic thing about “psychotherapy” is that the very same therapists who define themselves as the be-all and end-all experts on the human mind — who insist that nothing short of “professional help” will ever help — then proceed to turn around and tell patients to seek “natural supports” and that the therapist can’t “do everything” for them.

  • As a historical note, NAMI was initially started by parents of the “severely mentally ill” who rejected the Freudian notion that “refrigerator mothers — and poor parenting in general — was what caused mental illness. At a time when psychotropic drugs were increasingly used to “manage” the “mentally ill”, NAMI embraced the biomedical model and the notion that mental illnesses were genetically-based pathologies caused by faulty neurochemical signals between networks of neurons in the brain, which resulted in cognitive and behavioral aberrations.

    On it’s face, the idea that you can blame your kid turning out less than perfect on faulty genes — rather than on your faulty parenting skills — is a very attractive concept. It didn’t matter where you lived or how you raised your kid, because they were going to develop a mental illness regardless of what you did or failed to do. It certainly absolves parents of a sense of guilt and responsibility…

  • A few years back, I attended a public talk by Pete Earley on mental health legislation and on his family’s experiences with mental illness. The event was organized by DJ Jaffe and NAMI’s NYC chapter.

    Earley discussed how his son refused to take prescribed psychotropic drugs due to “anosognosia” and “poor insight and judgment”, how his behaviors lead to an arrest, and how mental health services helped him start on the road to “recovery”.

    Sitting in the audience, I couldn’t help but wonder whether an individual rejecting a label that — de facto and de jure — stripped them of their credibility, basic civil rights, and fundamental right to bodily autonomy was indeed “anosognosia” or merely a person trying to preserve their right to selfhood. I also wondered whether living in a group home, with a severely mentally ill roommate, receiving a tiny disability income, and mostly unable to work entailed an acceptable quality of life to most people. I also wondered whether it wasn’t all that unreasonable for a young adult to be closed off in their interactions with his parents and whether the act that resulted in Earley’s son’s arrest was nothing other than an act of hooliganism. Surely, young people have done far worse things than break into their neighbor’s house and take a bubble bath?

    I found the part regarding how “stigma” must be fought and mental illness regarded as no different than diabetes somewhat entertaining. Seemingly lost upon the speaker and the audience was the fact that environmental and lifestyle factors play a significant role in the development of disease — and how oftentimes lifestyle modifications can significantly lessen the severity of most chronic diseases. Very few diseases arise solely from faulty genes. Even diabetes — including juvenile diabetes — can oftentimes be effectively managed through lifestyle dietary modifications, significantly reducing the patient’s need for insulin injections.

    During the social part of the event, where the speaker and members of the audience got to interact over coffee and cakes, I was quite taken aback by the personalities of many of the attendees — who were mostly mental health professionals and family members of the “mentally ill”. Even in the context of casual conversation, many seemed incredibly overbearing and more than a little bit condescending. Any questions or comments that politely challenged their position were perceived as a personal attack. I found myself pulling up technical papers to “justify” my arguments in a casual conversation with woman who had a day job as a psychiatric nurse, who insisted that the “science” said otherwise.

    Given how unpleasant many of these people were in the context of casual interaction over snacks, I couldn’t help but wonder how difficult it must be for someone to live under the same roof with them — or even have to regularly interact with them. The closest analogy that came to mind were religious zealots who were more than happy to proselytise — but refused to entertain perspectives contrary to their own. It’s not hard to imagine how having some of these people as a parent or a relative might cause someone to eventually “go crazy”. I found myself clenching my fists and jaw — and experiencing a profound sense of relief and a weight lifting as I exited the talk. I wondered if some of these people’s relatives or spouses similarly took efforts to avoid them — or at least, try not to get into arguments and spend as little time at home as possible.

  • I found the comments criticizing the NYT article for its failure to include the perspective of “loved ones” equally disturbing— and equally amusing . The individuals whose experiences are chronicled in the article are independent adults and leaders in their fields, all leading very successful lives, by all conventional measures. Surely, a quick Google search would have provided ample evidence that many of those unmedicated “crazies” were in fact doing quite well.

    In the eyes of these commentators, does having a DSM label make the “diagnosed” person a permanent dependant and perpetually requiring care of (allegedly) “sane” and “stable” loved ones — because no matter how “stable” they are, sooner or later they will be in “crisis”?

    Do the readers of the NYT fail to recognize that family dynamics can be anything from complicated to outright abusive — with the so-called “mentally ill” family member oftentimes being the designated scapegoat? What do the NYT readers have to say on “loved ones” being “traumatized” by things like their family member being gay, transgender, or a disobedient female — all of which were historically deemed as mental illnesses. If giving high doses of antipsychotics to your gay son attenuates his sex drive, and giving sedatives to your disobedient daughter makes her more feminine and docile, is this “off-label” use of prescription psychotropics justified, under the pretext that it brings peace and tranquility to the family? Surely, many people on the “conservative” side of the political spectrum would endorse the view that parents ought to be entitled to treat their minor children for “homosexual perversion”, “transgenderism”, and “feminine hysteria” — and perhaps be able to do so on an involuntary basis.

    Have the commentators on the NYT article never considered the possibility that problems within the family sometimes stem from toxic dynamics and interpersonal dysfunction, rather than from someone being “mentally ill” — and that claiming that someone has a mental illness is a tactic sometimes used by domestic abusers to strip their victims of credibility?

    Based upon the written comments alone, I can easily see how interpersonal conflicts and “unstable emotions” could easily arise in persons who are unfortunate to be these commentators’ “loved ones”. I can certainly see how a domestic abuser who happens upon a NAMI meeting can learn to weaponize psychiatric labels to make their victims seem like they are “mentally ill”.

  • Thanks for sharing your experiences and observations. As someone who has tried psychotherapy, I couldn’t agree more regarding your observations concerning the fundamental problems with therapy. If you want to use psychobabble, you could say that your decision to terminating the session with your therapist when they continued to rudely interrupt you was you being “assertive” and having “firm boundaries”. 😉

    I agree with your observation that mental health professionals have become the de facto “designated helpers” in our society — to the point that, at least in some circles, the “proper” response to an acquaintance confiding in their problems is to promptly refer them to a therapist — and perhaps classify them seeking a sympathetic ear as “emotional dumping”. Anyone other than a “professional” is not “qualified” to provide “help” — even if this help merely entails listening to someone and maybe giving them your perspective.

    What is disregarded is that psychotherapy exists as a sociocultural institution, incorporated the belief of a certain society at a given time — and having a tremendous degree of similarity to religious institutions. The somewhat amusing fact that your psychotherapist was utilizing notions from “mindfulness practice”, like observing one’s pain as a neutral observer — with the idea that such “equanimous” observation would magically give rise to “wisdom”, and thereby “liberate” you from your suffering — attests to the fact that therapy closely follows cultural trends. What is ignored is that these ideas originally arose from specific cultural and religious traditions — and that the widespread “cultural appropriation” of certain religious concepts in the context of psychotherapy, without first considering whether a particular psychotherapeutic paradigm is appropriate, can lead to significant harm. While mindfulness-based therapy might make sense for a client suffering from addiction, impulsivity, or severe emotional lability, applying this to someone suffering from an abusive relationship might be entirely inappropriate — and only further harm the victim.

    If the idea behind therapy is “relearning” how to live — or “reparenting” oneself — expecting a 30-50 minute session, once-a-week, to accomplish such a goal is an extremely tall order. A student learning to play a musical instrument or learn a foreign language cannot expect to make any appreciable progress if they only have lessons once weekly, for less than an hour — unless the teacher provides ample homework for daily learning. If the goal is to simply have someone who will listen, then talking to a shelter cat or dog will probably provide someone with the full and undivided attention of another living creature — without a fee or co-pay — or even the hassle of cleaning up after the animal.

    If you’re a therapist providing a fee-based service, the least you can do is listen to the customer when the customer explicitly tells you that what you’re doing is not helpful. The fundamental problem — I suspect — lies in psychotherapy being a fee-based service, while simultaneously retaining its original function of “policing behaviour” — and mental health professionals still being charged with maintaining “safety” by “managing” the “crazies”. This is why the therapist is the eternal “expert” — while a client expressing reasonable dissatisfaction with the services provided is merely being “attention-seeking” or help rejecting” — and invariably afflicted with “poor insight and judgment”.