Dear Daisy Valley, It is horrifying to watch a loved one go through such torment and to know medical professionals fail to recognize and will misdiagnose the response of taking poisonous substances that are being used under the guise of “mental health medications”. The voices of those who have been harmed need to be heard. Thank you for sharing. Maria
Dear Daisy Valley,
It is horrifying to watch a loved one go through such torment and to know medical professionals fail to recognize and will misdiagnose the response of taking poisonous substances that are being used under the guise of “mental health medications”.
The voices of those who have been harmed need to be heard.
Thank you for sharing.
My goal was to write in a way that would hopefully not offend anyone and would welcome all to provide input.
I genuinely appreciate your comments and will try to respond accordingly in hopes of sharing perspectives and generating further discussion.
1. “But what about the experience of those who are still taking them? Doesn’t that count?”
Absolutely! Yes, in my opinion, the experiences of everyone labeled with psychiatric disorders and prescribed psych meds/ECT counts, ESPECIALLY those who are forced psychiatric consumers.
Forced psychiatric consumers should be considered a special class of disabled individuals as their human rights have already been severely compromised by the fact they are being legally forced to purchase/use psychiatric products and forced into contracting psychiatric/psychological services from providers and facilities. Any type of coercion allows one person to take advantage of another, so advocacy is greatly needed to protect the rights of those under coercive psychiatric treatment.
The experiences of family members loved ones, educators, law enforcement, care givers, providers and even strangers who encounter individuals labeled with psychiatric disorders also counts.
I respect the opinions of those who feel they, or a loved one, receive benefit from psych meds/ECT/forced psychiatric treatment.
I also respect the opinions of those who feel they, or a loved one was harmed from psych meds/ECT/forced psychiatric treatment.
I feel the pro-psychiatry movement is very powerful and receives a lot of support from parents and family members who have never been psychiatric consumers themselves and do not have firsthand experience with adverse drug reactions.
I believe organizations like NAMI have been heavily influenced by psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry to focus on the belief that drug treatment works for everyone and push a drug-treatment agenda that leaves out the voices of those who have been harmed.
I believe a more balanced approach in advocacy is greatly needed.
Instead of pro-psychiatry, anti-psychiatry and everything in between, we just need to establish and advance a foundation based in best practices.
2. “By definition, there are no known underlying causes of psychiatric disorders. If there is a medical condition, then by definition, it is not a psychiatric disorder.”
I am not a mental health professional, but I have taken courses involving mental health issues, including a course in Abnormal Psychology that covered the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) that was current at that time.
The DSM-5-TR lists almost 300 mental disorders that are nothing more than descriptive labels for a diverse array of moods, thoughts, behaviors, feelings, personalities, conditions, habits, circumstances, situations, beliefs, sleep patterns, mental status, etc. that can be perceived as abnormal and impact a person’s life.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has covered all of their bases and the DSM includes mental disorders that provide reasons why the mental disorder exists, including but not limited to:
– Alcohol-induced anxiety disorder
– Alcohol-induced bipolar and related disorder
– Alcohol-induced depressive disorder
– Alcohol-induced psychotic disorder
– Amphetamine (or other stimulant)-induced anxiety disorder, Without use disorder
– Amphetamine (or other stimulant)-induced obsessive-compulsive and related disorder
– Anxiety disorder due to another medical condition
– Bipolar and related disorder due to another medical condition
– Cannabis-induced psychotic disorder
– Cocaine-induced bipolar and related disorder
– Inhalant-induced psychotic disorder
– Other (or unknown) substance-induced bipolar and related disorder
– Other hallucinogen-induced bipolar and related disorder
– Personality change due to another medical condition
– Psychotic disorder due to another medical condition
– Substance/medication-induced bipolar and related disorder
The APA also includes side effects from medications as mental disorders, including but not limited to: Medication-induced acute akathisia, Medication-induced postural tremor, Medication-induced delirium, Other adverse effect of medication, Other medication-induced movement disorder.
Also listed as mental disorders are situations like: Food insecurity, Extreme poverty, Homelessness, Lack of adequate food or safe drinking water, Low income, Overweight or obesity, Problems related to other legal circumstances.
Refusing to accept psychiatric treatment is also considered a mental disorder with the diagnosis of Nonadherence to Medical Treatment.
3. “And “best practices” for severe psychiatric disorders are medication, possibly with therapy. I have never heard of a “best practice” that wasn’t medication. “Individualized care” means finding the medications that seem to help a person’s symptoms, that’s it. There is no other magical set of guidelines you can follow for, say, severe bipolar disorder.”
As acknowledged in the DSM, there are many underlying medical conditions and substances that can induce what is considered severe bipolar disorder. The problem is doctors fail to test for those conditions and commonly use the DSM with what they refer to as a “Chinese menu” approach. This unscientific, unethical method leaves patients rubber stamped with idiopathic disorders and treated with a one-size-fits-all, life-long medication management regime.
The British Medical Journal published guidelines for Best Practice Assessment of Psychosis, that is a start. I’ve also collected a lot of other case studies/information on underlying cause of psychosis/mania that can be labeled as schizophrenia/bipolar on this site:
4. “Not that medications are so great. They leave many people as non-functional zombies. But sometimes it is a choice between being a zombie and being broke/homeless/dead. And hope that eventually you will find a med that gives you some quality of life, say 40% of what others have, instead of 5%. It’s not a good choice, but for many people it’s ALL THAT’S AVAILABLE.”
Are you familiar with the 1999 case of Ryan Ehlis?
Ten days after Ryan Ehlis, a college student in Bismark, North Dakota, began taking Adderall to control his Attention Deficit Disorder and to help him with his college studies, he slipped into a psychotic fog, shot and killed his infant daughter, then shot himself in the stomach. He said God told him to do it.
The criminal court found Ehlis innocent after testimony by a psychiatrist and by Shire US, Inc., that the “psychotic state” was a very rare side effect of Adderall use. Various doctors testified Ehlis suffered from an “Amphetamine-Induced Psychotic Disorder”. (DSM-IV Code 292.11)
Medical experts and Shire US, Inc., the manufacturer of Adderall, commented that “despite the slaying, Adderall remains a safe and effective drug for controlling AD/HD.”
Because of taking an ADHD medication, a father killed his own child.
And the response from the drug company is, “DESPITE THE SLAYING” their product is still safe???
THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!
In a later civil court case, the United States Court of Appeals, District Court of North Dakota, affirmed the lower court’s decision to dismiss a $100,000 lawsuit brought by Ehlis against Shire. Ehlis contended Shire knew Adderall could induce psychosis and failed to adequately warn of the associated risks and side effects. The court ruled the “learned intermediary doctrine” barred the claims of failure to warn. This doctrine provides that a pharmaceutical manufacturer has a duty to warn a physician of the risks involved with a drug, and the physician acts as a “learned intermediary” between the manufacturer and the patient. “Thus, a warning to the physician is deemed a warning to the patient; the manufacturer need not communicate directly with all ultimate users of the prescription drugs.”
The treating psychiatrist for Ehlis stated he (1) knew substance-induced psychosis was “within the DSM-IV,” meaning diagnostic criteria exist for this condition, regardless of the psychosis was caused by stimulant or other medication; (2) was aware some people can become psychotic without overdosing on certain medications, including Adderall; (3) knew the risks of psychosis was listed and identified in the package insert as a side effect for Adderall when he prescribed Adderall for Ehlis; (4) believed the statement in the insert was accurate; (5) continues to prescribe stimulant medications for adults since the incident involving Ehlis; and (6) continues to prescribe Adderall, because Adderall is a good medication.
This case and so many others demonstrate how psychiatry, and the pharmaceutical industry shows a blatant indifference to the suffering of others.
Psychiatry has failed us, and I believe a large part is due to the fact our lawmakers and the pro-psychiatry movement does not question psychiatric authority.
5. “All lived experience is valid.”
Yes, and we cannot forget how the use of psychiatric medications impacted the short-lived lives of Tyra Ehlis, Rebecca Riley, Gabriel Myers, Tyler Kowalczyk, Tessara and Samantha Crespi, Ian Carmichael and so many others.
I think that is a very nice tribute to Dr. Harrow, his work and what seems like a wonderful life. Thank you for writing it.
Whenever I see terms like, “psychotic patients”, “schizophrenia patients”, schizophrenic illness”, “people with schizophrenia”, I can’t help but cringe.
I hate those labels.
“If schizophrenia is a chronic disease, it should be marked by continuous decline . . . but maybe not.”
“The New Haven schizophrenia index (NHSI) is an attempt to operationalize the broad DSM-II concept of schizophrenia (Fenton et at., 1981).”
Schizophrenia is not a disease; it is a psychiatric disorder.
All psychiatric disorders are creations of the APA as defined by the APA in the DSM. They are nothing more than descriptive labels for moods, thoughts, behaviors, personalities, sleep/eating patterns, etc., etc., perceived by professionals as abnormal.
The descriptions are very accurate, therefore psychiatric disorders seem like actual medical diseases.
There are many medical conditions and substances, including medications, that can cause a person to experience what the APA considers to be schizophrenia.
The system profits immensely from the fact medical professionals label patients with idiopathic problems, like schizophrenia.
Webster’s defines the word idiopathic as “arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause.”
If medical professionals treating patients with symptoms of psychosis followed the BMJ’s guidelines for Best Practice Assessment of Psychosis, there would be less “schizophrenic patients”, less “treatment-resistant patients” and more former psychiatric patients, like me.
A uniform advocacy agenda advancing best practices is greatly needed.
Your comment warmed Max’s heart this morning (mine too).
He said, “That’s what is all about, if sharing a bad experience can help others, then it gives purpose to the suffering.”
Are you familiar with Susannah Cahalan’s story? I posted her article from 2009 below. She was very lucky to have a neurologist determine she was suffering from NMDAR encephalitis. The test he gave her was simply handing her a piece of paper and asking her to draw a clock. How sad it is to know that so many others did not get the same help as she did and are just “wasting away in a psych ward or nursing home”
A key factor in my own situation was past exposure to lead and chelation therapy helped to reduce the levels. Again, it is sickening to know how many people must be in psych wards/jails/prisons labeled “mentally ill” and could be helped if instead of experts just researching problems, they fixed them.
Thank you for taking the time to listen and share!
Lead Exposure Linked To Violent Crime and Delinquent Behavior
“Lead inhibits the bodies of growing children from absorbing iron, zinc and calcium, minerals essential to proper brain and nerve development. Lead also disrupts the normal release of dopamine, a powerful neuro chemical that controls an array of brain functions. Lead becomes lodged in bones and teeth, leaching into the bloodstream for years. Lead exposure causes physical changes in actual brain structure and can disrupt key brain
chemistry that controls inhibition, learning and impulsiveness.
Medical research has established a connection between early childhood lead exposure and future criminal activity, especially of a violent nature (Needleman et al. 1996; Needleman et al. 2002; Wright et al. 2008). Numerous studies link elevated bone or blood lead levels with aggression, destructive and delinquent behavior, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and criminal behavior (Bellinger et al. 1994; Nevin 2000; Needleman et al. 2002; Needleman 2004; Braun et al. 2006; Wright et al. 2008). Broader research links lead exposure to antisocial and destructive behavior in humans and animals (Canfield et al. 2004; Froehlich et al. 2007; Surkan and Zhang 2007).
Even very low levels of lead exposure can cause significant neurologic damage to children and stunt normal brain growth. Such exposure is linked to cognitive and behavioral impairment which influences learning disabilities in children and violent behavior in teens. Low doses of lead can cause a broad range of functional problems such as loss of self-control, shortened attention span and a host of learning disorders
that often cause lead-exposed children to perform poorly in school and ultimately to drop out. (Lanphear et al. 2005; Wilson et al. 2006; Chen et al. 2007; Bellinger 2008a, 2008b).”
My mysterious lost month of madness
By Susannah Cahalan
October 4, 2009
“According to his studies, the median age for the disease is 20. The youngest is 21 months. About 75 percent of those affected by it are women. All show forms of psychotic behavior, some show signs of catatonia. About 80 percent of patients have seizures and 70 percent of patients see psychiatrists before any other doctors, according to Najjar….Najjar estimates that nearly 90 percent of those suffering from autoimmune encephalitis go undiagnosed….“It’s a death sentence when you’re still alive,” Najjar told me. “Many are wasting away in a psych ward or a nursing home.”…I was the first person in NYU Medical Center’s history to be diagnosed with NMDAR encephalitis…My father reflected on my time in the hospital. “Najjar told me she could have easily ended up in a nursing home for the rest of her life. Najjar thought she was extremely lucky. He was saying, with time, she could get back 90 percent of her cognitive abilities,” he wrote”
“How did we as a society ever give these people the keys to our minds?”
That is a great question that I think more people should think about.
I feel I gave the keys to my mind to a psychiatrist because I had no choice. I experienced an acute manic episode; I could not function, and I needed help. My mother insisted my altered state was caused by workplace chemical exposure. A psychiatrist told me I had bipolar disorder and I believed him. Turned out my mother was right.
When I asked myself why I refused to listen to my mother, who was very insistent, and instead choose to believe a stranger with a medical degree, it was because I thought he was smarter because he went to medical school.
I call it suffering from “Marcus Welby Syndrome: doctor knows best”.
Doctors are a trusted authority and it’s hard to break that trust.
For those who are too young for the reference:
“Marcus Welby, M.D. is an American medical drama television series that aired on ABC from September 23, 1969, to July 29, 1976. It starred Robert Young as the title character, a family practitioner with a kind bedside manner, who made house calls and was on a first-name basis with many of his patients”
“Father Knows Best is an American sitcom starring Robert Young, Jane Wyatt, Elinor Donahue, Billy Gray and Lauren Chapin. The series, which began on radio in 1949, aired as a television show for six seasons and 203 episodes. Created by Ed James, Father Knows Best follows the lives of the Andersons, a middle-class family living in the town of Springfield.”
Thank you so much for your compliment and for sharing.
As bad as this situation was, after looking into the side effects, it could have been even worse. The same medications can drug-induced vasculitis and at certain points they were breaking out in rashes and hives. I think that would have been even harder to deal with, so we are counting our blessings.
So far, our out-of-pocket expenses have been over $7000, and insurance has paid out over $40,000.
It’s unbelievable that pharmaceutical companies are allowed to manufacture such bad products and consumers have no way of even getting their money back for defective merchandise. I have two large Ziplock bags filled with prescriptions to dispose of.
“On April 30, 2022, communities across the country demonstrated their support for DEA’s annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day by dropping off more than 720,000 pounds of unneeded medications at 5,144 collection sites. Since 2010, DEA, along with its law enforcement partners, has collected nearly 16 million pounds of unneeded prescription medications.”
Could you imagine if the drug stores had to give refunds on bad medications?
The editors at MIA are wonderful to work with. Please consider submitting a personal story. I have a relative who was employed for many years at a VA hospital and worked for a while in the psych unit. They also told me of the medication abuse. I also heard that from volunteering with Vietnam veterans and from a former VA psychiatrist.
Thank you for sharing,
Thank you for your compliments and for sharing your information. I remember reading your story on Dr. Healy’s site. I am glad that you put your story out there to help others.
My focus in advocacy has always been on conditions that can be considered “Severe Mental Illness” and in support of advancing Orthomolecular/Functional Medicine approaches that involve testing for possible underlying medical conditions that can be misdiagnosed. Although, the DSM was created in a way to accommodate spin doctoring and also includes medical conditions, so it’s always a win for psychiatry.
As much harm as I have seen/experienced/know about, I still try to maintain a balanced approach as I have also met many people who claim psychiatry/psych meds/forced treatment and even ECT “saved” their life or the life of one of their loved ones. I try to consider all perspectives and experiences equally and without prejudice.
For whatever reason, ”One man’s medicine is another man’s poison.” It’s just very unfortunate that the poisoned people don’t have as strong of a voice as those who found benefit.
In the past I have had many conversations with individuals involved in the pro-psychiatry movement, the anti-psychiatry movement as well as those who fall somewhere in-between.
The one issue that everyone seems to easily acknowledge is the fact there are many underlying conditions, some even life-threatening, that can be misdiagnosed as a “Serious Mental Illness”.
I feel individuals who experience altered states such as psychosis/mania are those most likely to end up in coercive psychiatric treatment and therefore in need of advocates who will look out for their best interests.
I believe those who are advocating for the treatment of others, should advance the same treatment that they would want for themselves.
If I suddenly experienced psychosis/mania/hallucinations, the treatment I would want is for my doctors to follow the guidelines published in the BMJ for best practice assessment of psychosis.
Below is a link to a website that I put together with the BMJ’s guidelines posted, along with articles I have collected over the years on possible underlying medical conditions/substances known to induce symptoms of psychosis/mania.
I believe the best way to start fixing our broken system is to find issues that a uniform advocacy agenda could be initiated/acted upon, and this seems like one.
I have no doubt that Miranda poured her heart and soul into her work at MIA. Her talents have helped many individuals and families share important information that has the potential to help countless others.
The topics that MIA deals with involve many stories of continued injustices and tragedies that can produce a sense of hopelessness for change. It really does take individuals with special qualities and backgrounds to support MIA’s mission and Miranda did a fantastic job of helping to bring forward hope.
Amy, after reading the beginning of your book, Figuring Shit Out: Love, Laughter, Suicide, and Survival, I immediately appreciated many of the qualities your work displayed, especially maintaining a sense of humor in times of sudden adversity.
During my first psychiatric hospitalization, I met a woman three years younger than myself who was labeled with bipolar disorder and had tried to commit suicide seven times. From an early age she was abused and repeatedly raped by her father. At the age of 13 she became pregnant and miscarried after her father beat her. Although she was severely depressed, heavily medicated and receiving ECT, just by spending time with her and engaging her in conversation and board games, I was able to get her to laugh, smile and feel good about herself.
Shortly after I was discharged from the hospital, I found out that I was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I didn’t think it was possible that I could have the same psychiatric disorder as the young woman I spent time with but a college textbook on Abnormal Psychology accurately described what I was going through, so I believed what the psychiatrist told me.
At first, having a psychiatric diagnosis was devastating to me but maintaining a sense of humor helped a lot.
I also adopted the philosophy behind the proverb:
“I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”
and have always found comfort when I reflect on these words:
Desiderata: Words for Life by Max Enhrmann
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your story and I look forward to reading your book.
Stories like yours will make a difference.
Thank you for sharing this information.
I think most people take the attitude of “they wouldn’t do that” because they don’t understand there may be profit involved.
Perhaps the profit might be connected to the privatization of mental health facilities and prisons in Australia?
“There are four private companies operating prisons in Australia: Serco, G4S, GEO Group and MTC-Broadspectrum. Just these four companies combined will be paid $613.28 million annually by the Western Australian, New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian governments.
Elsewhere, the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) has campaigned strongly against private prisons for several years.
Senior lawyer at the HRLC, Monique Hurley, says private prisons can often see “profits trump respect for human rights”.
“Human rights do not end at prison gates, and governments shouldn’t try to shirk responsibility by caging people in private prisons,” Hurley told VICE.
“Private prisons are run off a business model where their existence depends on locking more and more people up. Instead of enabling private companies to profit off people’s punishment, governments across Australia should be focused on reducing the number of people being funneled into prisons in the first place.”
I hope that you are in good health and thank you for your life-long commitment to advocacy.
I don’t think most people in our society realize the power psychiatry, and other mental health professionals actually have, as well as what forced psychiatric treatment involves.
It is important to consider, how do we define this power, who does this power impact directly, and why has our society entrusted psychiatry, and other mental health professionals, with so much power?
In my opinion an important issue is:
Does the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders create a class of people who can be legally deprived of many rights, including the freedom to contract?
Unlike any other class of people, individuals diagnosed with mental disorders can be legally forced to contract the services of the providers, including the very providers who diagnosed them with the mental disorder.
I think it is important to differentiate between patients who are forced consumers verses those who willingly seek and freely contract mental/behavioral health care services/treatment/products and are satisfied consumers.
The Court’s decision in Wyatt v. Stickney 325, F.Supp. 781 (M.D.Ala. 1971), determined that patients have a “constitutional right to receive such individual treatment as will give each of them a realistic opportunity to be cured or to improve his or her mental condition.”
Yet, patients under coercive psychiatry are usually treated with an unscientific one-size-fits-all drug treatment plan that forces customers to purchase and ingest pharmaceutical products that are known to make a patient’s mental and physical condition worse, cause death, or cause the patient to commit crimes, including homicide.
Our society turns a blind eye to the lack of psychiatric consumer protection and the fact many prescription drugs can induce homicidal actions, as was the case of Ryan Ehlis who was acquitted of the murder of his five-week-old daughter Tyra. The criminal case was dismissed after psychiatrists for the prosecution and defense agreed that the prescription medicine he was taking for ADHD, Adderall, was responsible for the tragedy by inducing a temporary psychosis. The unbelievable response from the drug company published in a USA Today headline was, “Despite the slaying, Adderall remains a safe and effective drug for controlling attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.”
In a later civil court case, the United States Court of Appeals, District Court of North Dakota, affirmed the lower court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Ehlis against Shire for $100,000. Ehlis contended Shire knew Adderall could induce psychosis and failed to adequately warn of the associated risks and side effects. The court ruled the “learned intermediary doctrine” barred the claims of failure to warn. This doctrine provides that a pharmaceutical manufacturer has a duty to warn a physician of the risks involved with a drug, and the physician acts as a “learned intermediary” between the manufacturer and the patient. “Thus, a warning to the physician is deemed a warning to the patient; the manufacturer need not communicate directly with all ultimate users of the prescription drugs.”
How many parents killing their own children because of taking Adderall does it take before this drug is taken off of the market?
Isn’t just one enough?
Tragic cases like Ryan’s, Rebecca Riley’s and Gabriel Myer’s make the news, yet go unnoticed by so many in our society and the harm continues.
If we consider the facts presented by Robert Whitaker for a class action lawsuit against psychiatry in the matter involving depression and the chemical imbalance hypothesis, I am wondering about certain aspects including:
– if the class of plaintiffs would be limited to; individuals who were diagnosed with depression, told their depression was caused by a chemical imbalance, were prescribed an antidepressant and suffered harm from the antidepressant?
– if the class is limited to just patients diagnosed and treated for depression, how many were actually treated under psychiatrists, or were most treated by other providers?
– how many in this class would represent patients under forced psychiatric treatment? or would the majority be those who voluntarily accepted mental health care services and treatment for symptoms of depression?
– would this matter include pharmacists and retailers who sell antidepressants, treatment facilities that provided antidepressants and marketing/advertising mediums for antidepressants?
– if insurance companies, including Medicare/Medicaid, paid for the antidepressants, does this matter involve insurance fraud?
I am very happy to see that Robert Whitaker will be participating as a presenter at the SPARK THE CHANGE – 2022 CONFERENCE in Syracuse, NY, hosted by a nonprofit I am very fond of, It’s About Childhood and Family, Inc.
The two-day symposium brings together presenters with very interesting backgrounds sharing many positive motivational programs for parents, educators, clinicians and childcare providers.
As someone who has experienced being misdiagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, the crippling side effects of psych drugs, the stigma of being labeled “mentally ill”, the financial losses of psychiatric treatment, along with seeing psychiatric treatment completely destroy the lives of so many including members of my immediate family, I do understand the appeal of creating a formalized complaint of wrongdoing and going through the legal process by which a court of law will hopefully make a favorable decision based on the alleged wrong of telling a false story.
It does seem like it would be a complex and costly process that will take many years to resolve.
I have experienced personally and have witnessed situations in which attorneys profited considerably off of individuals needing legal assistance for matters involving “mental illness”. In some situations, it was just quick and easy money for the attorney and the client overpaid for services with money they had to borrow.
For me, it is sickening to know the manufacturing of “mental illness” is probably even a more profitable industry for attorneys and for-profit correctional facilities than mental health professionals.
Whenever I hear about a class action settlement, I often wonder who makes out the best, the parties who suffered the actual harm, or the attorneys on both sides trying to make arguments on their client’s behalf?
The 2000 movie “Erin Brockovich” was based on a 1996 case that ended with a $333 million settlement on behalf of more than 600 plaintiffs.
Masry & Vititoe, and two other law firms received 40 percent of the settlement ($133.6 million), and Erin Brockovich received $2.5 million as part of her fees, victims received $196m, roughly $300,000 each. According to reports, many victims received $100,000 or less.
When I consider the many different factors involved in advocating for individuals labeled “mentally ill”, the problems they face and who is right, who is wrong, I think of the 2005 heated debate between Tom Cruise and Matt Lauer as an important example. This argument truly demonstrates the schizophrenic nature of mental health advocacy itself.
Although Tom presented an anti-drug argument based on facts, and Matt did not dispute those as being false, Matt’s pro-drug argument was based on the experience of knowing individuals who claim to benefit from taking psych meds. It is an argument in which both sides are correct.
I have also met many individuals who claim psych drugs/psychiatry/ECT/forced treatment “saved their life” or the life of their loved one. I do not think it is right to discredit their individual experience of claiming benefit, as I would not want anyone to discredit the harm that I claim.
In my opinion, Tom’s argument only became weak when he was asked by Matt as to what he felt the alternatives to psych drugs were and his reply was only “exercise and vitamins”, which does work for some situations, but certainly not for everyone.
I think the lack of awareness among pro-psychiatry advocates, and even prescribers of psych drugs, on what the alternatives are, keeps organizations like NAMI pushing for an agenda of forced treatment and keeps doctors prescribing, while turning a blind eye towards the great harm being done.
An insightful comment I came across in was written by a psychiatrist I know from Syracuse, NY and was published as a Letter to the Editor in a 1985 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, entitled, Homelessness Not a Mental Health Problem.
In his concluding statement, Dr. John Tanquary wrote:
By excluding “legitimate” psychiatric treatments, an alternative to psychiatry is created. This alternative could substantially erode the power base of psychiatric authority in this country.
I think among the general public and media professionals, psychiatry is viewed as an optional treatment, and unless having experienced it, most do not consider psychiatry to be a power base of authority. Even though pharmaceutical commercials state harmful side effects, I don’t think most people believe psychiatric drugs can induce more harm than good, including suicide/homicidal actions. Our lawmakers, along with many involved in advocacy, consider “mental illness” as a public safety issue and forced psychiatric treatment as a necessary, beneficial service that will improve a patient’s life, so it is a good thing to force them to accept psychiatric services, regardless of what they want.
I think the lack of awareness among our lawmakers and pro-psychiatry advocates on what the alternatives are, keeps organizations like NAMI pushing for an agenda of forced psychiatric treatment, while turning a blind eye towards the great harm being done.
I believe that creating a greater awareness among consumers and their advocates on alternatives to psychiatric treatment and fighting for the consumer’s right to access those treatments, is the most effective way to erode the power base of psychiatric authority in our country.
Our country and private research efforts spend an enormous amount of money on psychological and psychiatric research that seems of absolutely no value, while so many small organizations work diligently on shoestring budgets to provide resources that improve a person’s ability to overcome or avoid being in our broken mental health care system and a victim of forced psychiatric treatment.
In my opinion, there is an urgent need of help in our country, and we need to all work together with integrity and focus to bring forward the many proactive solutions and alternatives to psychiatric treatment that already exist.
We can all be part of a class action to spark the change in our everyday life and our community.
Dear Russell and Carol,
To honor Catherine’s life in some small way, I have made a donation to MIA in her name as there is no greater loss than that of a child and my heart goes out to you and your family.
I truly believe the only way to shift the current paradigm is for the medical/psychiatric community, lawmakers and pro-psychiatry advocacy groups like NAMI, to hear the perspectives of family members along with personal testimonies of what went wrong with the psychiatric treatment provided and what could have been done differently to prevent great harm and tragic loss of life.
While there are no tests to determine a person in an altered state of mind has a “severe mental illness”, there are many tests to determine they do NOT have a “SMI” but they do have an underlying condition, or multiple conditions that put them in a psychotic/manic/delusional state. Unfortunately, in most situations doctors fail to run those tests and instead use the DSM with an unscientific “Chinese menu” approach, rubberstamp labels of made-up mental disorders on patients and treat symptoms with a one-size-fits-all drug therapy agenda. By overlooking the root causes and creating life-long mental illnesses, psychiatry’s industry of death has become a very profitable industry.
While there are many different beliefs on how best to help an individual in an altered state of mind, at the very least, a greater awareness of underlying causes is critically needed.
Linked below is a website that I put together to collect case studies, articles and other information on possible underlying conditions that could be misdiagnosed as a “SMI”.
Love and light, Maria Mangicaro
Thank you for calling attention to Just Like You. I only watched the trailer and some of the interviews, but your assessment seems spot on.
Unfortunately, there are many individuals in our society who of their own free will turn to the pseudoscience of psychiatry for help and in cases of forced treatment, our lawmakers give authority to the pseudoscience of psychiatry to force unwanted products and services on consumers.
Developing best practices through risk management strategies involves taking into account how and why mistakes are made and developing corrective action plans to prevent future mistakes.
Making it mandatory for doctors to rule out underlying medical conditions will help prevent individuals from being misdiagnosed with a mental disorder, thereby creating an alternative to psychiatric drug treatment. Alternatives to psychiatry will help dismantle its unregulated powerbase of authority.
I agree, there most certainly are toxic workplaces and there is no such thing as a mental illness.
I think an important question to consider is, how do we communicate that there is no such thing as mental illness to individuals like Senator Creigh Deeds, Senator Gabby Giffords, the families from the Sandy Hook shooting, and members of the National Alliance on Mental Illness?
My own attempt in communicating this message to people who believe mental illness does exists includes explaining:
– the background of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
– how the American Psychiatric Association has now created close to 300 mental disorders by voting on them to be included in the DSM
– that most psychiatrists use the DSM with an unscientific “Chinese menu” approach
– mental disorders listed in the DSM are nothing more than descriptions of moods, thoughts, behaviors, feelings, personalities. etc. that are perceived by a professional to be abnormal according to the DSM criteria
– because the descriptions of mental disorders are accurate, mental illness is believable
– there are no tests to determine a person has a mental illness, but there are many tests to determine a person does not have a mental illness but does have an underlying medical condition causing them to be in a way that can be accurately described as mental disorder according to the DSM, the problem is in most situations, those tests are not run and instead, professionals rubberstamp a label of mental illness on patients
Hi ThereAreFourLights and thanks for commenting!
You are not alone in your belief that some “mental illness” must be due to chemical exposure, and yes, not many will listen, so we need to speak a little louder. Below is a link to an abstract by Dr. Stephen Genuis that you might find of interest. He also has some videos on youtube that you might enjoy.
Take care, Maria
Toxic causes of mental illness are overlooked
Stephen J Genuis
While proper brain function requires the complex interaction of chemicals perpetually occupied in purposeful biochemistry, it is well established that certain toxic substances have the potential to disrupt normal brain physiology and to impair neurological homeostasis. As well as headache, cognitive dysfunction, memory disturbance, and other neurological signs and symptoms, disruption of brain function may also manifest as subtle or overt alteration in thoughts, moods, or behaviors. Over the last four decades, there has been the unprecedented development and release of a swelling repertoire of potentially toxic chemicals which have the capability to inflict brain compromise. Although the ability of xenobiotics to induce clinical illness is well established, the expanding public health problem of widespread toxicant exposure in the general population is a relatively new phenomenon that has spawned escalating concern. The emerging area of clinical care involving the assessment and management of accrued toxic substances such as heavy metals, pesticides, plasticizers and other endocrine disrupting or neurotoxic compounds has not been fully appreciated by the medical community and has yet to be incorporated into the clinical practice of many consultants or primary care practitioners.
Thank you so much for your kind words, I greatly appreciate your comment.
I believe most state mental hygiene laws have statements such as the one below that indicate patients under forced psychiatric treatment have the right to medical testing and alternative treatments. It’s sad to know so many individuals involved in advocacy through organizations like NAMI work to advance a dangerous one-size-fits-all medication management agenda, while neglecting patients’ rights to individualized treatment.
“You have the right to an individual plan of treatment. As an inpatient, you will receive periodic medical and dental examinations. Treatment for medical and dental problems is available, with appropriate follow-up services as needed. Medications may be used only for therapeutic purposes, and the purpose and possible side effects, along with alternative treatments available, must be explained to you.”
Thank you for composing such a well-balanced article and for sharing your own experiences.
The rapid growth of tele-psychopharmacology, through start-ups like Cerebral Inc. along with its recent partnership with Field Trip Health, who offers psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, is very concerning. These companies are being backed by investments from billionaires and using social media influencers to promote their brand to our tech-savvy generation, while failing to warn of any potential harm.
Considering there are already many cases of mental health professionals taking advantage of their clients/patients, incorporating a “date rape drug” into mental health care, just seems like a very bad idea.
Greatly appreciate your advocacy!
I hope that you are well.
Thank you for speaking out and thank you for your many years of sacrifice and dedication to advocacy. I hold a lot of respect for your efforts as you are a true role model.
Both my father and my brother experienced the worst of psychiatry. They went through hell. I also had bad experiences myself and witnessed first hand psychiatric ignorance and abuse. Despite personal experiences, I always maintain respect for those who claim psychiatric drugs, ECT and psychiatry helped them or a loved one. I don’t think it is my place to judge what others feel is successful treatment. I’ve also met psychiatrists who use medications judiciously in their practice, as well as holistic treatments such as acupuncture or vitamin/nutritional therapy.
Absolutely, the allegations Ms. Spears makes involves psychiatric labels and the publicity her case is receiving makes for a prime opportunity to call attention to the unregulated power-base of authority psychiatry maintains when labeling people “mentally ill”.
The pop culture mentality and lifestyle of Ms. Spears indeed creates a unique and complex situation. The widely publicized #FreeBritney movement is quickly expanding her already enormous fanbase.
I recognize Ms. Spears is very talented and works extremely hard at her career, but personally I question the decline of moral standards and lack of integrity expressed in her work. Especially considering she is a “kid influencer”. I am from a different generation and it is important to me to maintain the values instilled by my parents and grandparents.
Many of the statements Ms. Spears made during the hearing sounded somewhat arrogant to me, especially when she seemed jealous that her maids had their nails done but she was not allowed to go to a salon to have her nails done. Perhaps her maids did their own manicure or have a family member who did them. COVID restrictions probably played a role in some of what she is complaining about.
Ms. Spears claims she was charged $60k per month for four months of individualized treatment, two months in a private home and two months at Bridges to Recovery. I was charged up to $1000 per day for forced treatment at facilities reminiscent of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest that provided limited cafeteria style meals and prepackaged snacks. Patients entertained themselves for hours on end with worn decks of cards and old puzzles. My brother was at a facility that deprived patients of water and for a week straight would feed patients hotdogs and macaroni and cheese for lunch. My family advocated not only for my brother but for all of the patients being deprived water. The facility made changes and purchased very nice water coolers.
Bridges to Recovery provides holistic mental health care in luxurious resort-like, pet-friendly environments featuring gourmet meals. According to their website, clients participate in a minimum of five individual psychotherapy sessions per week along with daily therapy groups and holistic therapies. Bridges sounds like a Soteria Ritz-Carlton House. Yes, forced treatment sucks but if I had to choose, I’d gladly stay at Bridges for two months without a complaint.
Once again Ms. Spears sounded jealous claiming the Bridges facility treated her unfairly and forced her to sit in a chair for 70 hours a week while allowing the other “kids” in the program to do whatever they wanted to. She also stated she gave 8 gallons of blood and it sounded like she was saying “ID” instead of “IUD”.
It also sucks not having privacy but that is something that usually happens to psych patients who have expressed suicidal ideation. Her 2004 Official Video for the song “Everytime” eerily portrays her committing suicide.
I guess her case demonstrates the long arms of psychiatry, impacting rich, middle class and poor alike, but her fight is in a world much different than the one that took my father and brother’s lives.
My family is the needle in the haystack, and true, there is no FREE, especially legal guardianship.
My views are different from most and many times because of apparently not being able to express myself in a way that does not offend others, my words easily get misinterpreted and my concerns are shut out.
For advocates, I believe the #FREEBRITNEY movement has red flag warnings that may have a negative impact on psychiatric patients
Just for background, I have been a psych patient under forced treatment, have experienced cognitive impairment and also been a caregiver to both adults and children who experienced altered states of minds and cognitive impairment.
I have no children of my own but between my family and my husband’s we have 15 nieces and nephews. I have been asking my nieces, nephews, siblings and in-laws to listen the full hearing of Ms. Spears and having discussions on what is below the surface of this case.
My brother was in a situation of being under forced psychiatric care in a NYS psych ward for close to two full years. The only way to get him out was to obtain legal guardianship. Because I live in Florida, I helped my sister become his legal guardian. Our family had to scrap together $3000 upfront costs to pay a private attorney who I believe does not have experience in guardianship cases and should not have taken this case. In other words, he sucked and his lack of knowledge delayed the process. The process included taking an online course and getting a certificate. My sister and I both took the course so that I could help her along the way. The state attorney who was assigned to my brother’s case and the state facility where my brother was at only gave us 3 days notice they were going to file to extend his stay another 6 months. It was the only opportunity we would have to get him out. I dropped everything, took a month leave from work and drove three days from Tampa to Syracuse to get in town just one hour before the hearing. My sister had to go to family court and was grilled by the judge and attorney for the facility to advocate on his behalf. We were not prepared to take him home because he needed 24 hour care, but we did our best using credit cards to pay for homecare. This is a long story, but my family went above and beyond to help my brother the best we could. The total cost of permanent guardianship was close to $10,000. $7000 of which came out of my brother’s pension of $75,000 before taxes. The judge ordered my sister to pay these bills as soon as his pension money came. I believe all of the attorneys involved in my brother’s guardianship made a decent profit off of him. We spent every penny of his pension on homecare, supplies, vitamins and healthy food, and then unfortunately, his funeral.
Because I have been a psych patient myself and understand what it is like to experience forced psychiatry, the stigma of being labeled “mentally ill” and how family, no matter how much they love you, will treat you differently, I certainly understand how Ms. Spears feels. Despite my recover and achieving stability in my life, to this day, I have family members who have a lack of respect for me because I have a “history of mental illness”. The labels of mental illness have a negative impact on a person’s perceived intelligence by others.
I also understand how family members dealing with a member who experiences altered states and out of the ordinary behavior have to make tough choices, like listening to what is believed to be the expert advice of medical professionals.
After listening carefully to what Ms. Spears said in her recorded telephone conversation with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny, I feel it is critical to keep an open mind in putting context into what Ms. Spears states.
I was told — I had to then after I got a phone call from my dad saying after I did the psych test with this lady, basically saying I had failed the test or whatever — whatever. “I’m sorry, Britney, you have to listen to your doctors. They are planning to send you to a small home in Beverly Hills to do a small rehab program that we’re going to make up for you. You’re gonna pay $60,000 a month for this.”
This does not sound like a drug rehab program.
The British documentary reveals her father checked off that she had precocious dementia. Could this have been an intensive cognitive remediation program?
She then states:
I packed my bags and went to that place. I worked seven days a week, no days off — which in California, the only similar thing to this is called sex trafficking, making anyone work — work against their will. Taking all their possessions away — credit card, cash, phone, passport card — and placing them in a home where they — they work with the people who live with them. They offer — they all lived in the house with me, the nurses, the 24/7 security. There — there was one chef that came there and cooked for me daily during the weekdays. They watched me change every day, naked. Morning, noon and night. My body — I had no privacy door for my — for my room. I gave eight gallons of blood a week. If I didn’t do any of my meetings and work from 8 to 6 at night — which is 10 hours a day, seven days a week, no days off — I wouldn’t be able to see my kids or my boyfriend. I never had a say in my schedule. They always told me I had to do this. And ma’am, I will tell you, sitting in a chair 10 hours a day, seven days a week, it ain’t fun. And especially when you can’t walk out the front door.
What type of boring work is she doing for 70 hours a week in a chair?
She gave eight gallons of blood a week?
Nurses watched her change, was she on suicide watch?
She also complains about being at the Bridges Facility
“Also, the Bridges Facility they sent me to none of the kids — I was doing this program for four months. So the last two months I went to a Bridges Facility. None of the kids there did the — did the program. They never showed up for any of them. You didn’t have to do anything if you didn’t want to. How come they always made me go? How come I was always threatened by my dad and anybody that persisted in this conservatorship? If I don’t do this, what they tell me — enslave me to do, they’re going to punish me.”
Check out the website for this place
Seriously??? To me this place is a freaking luxury resort.
I paid $1000/day to stay in places that looked straight out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
My brother was being starved to death as a ward of the state and the judge was ready to let the state take care of him for another 6 months. It was court-ordered grievous bodily harm.
What about people who are being court ordered to receive ECT? The court is ordering torture.
It’s very sad the rest of us have to wait for a celebrity to experience wrong doing because we idolize them and don’t really care about the average Joe.
In the case of Ms. Spears, I also question the lack of integrity and messages of her videos as she is a “kid influencer”. Very disturbing, especially the one suggesting she is going to commit suicide. And because of the power of pop culture, a movement is being created that may have a negative impact on decent families gaining access to help their family members through guardianship. I believe the biggest problem is lack of knowledge on the part of those who advocate for family members who become labeled and tossed into the system. This was the situation in my brother’s case. My sisters made the choice to listen to doctor’s advice over my opinions of NO ECT and help him taper off of psych drugs.
The #FreeBritney fans should consider, do they really believe they love and respect Britney more than her own family? Are doctor’s opinions guiding her father’s decisions? Should her father not listen to her doctors? Perhaps if Mr. Spears is being told his daughter is showing signs of severe cognitive impairment, he may be considering how will she be able to manage having more children, maybe there are considerations of endangering the welfare of a child? What will be the costs of long-term care?
There were times when I had manic episodes my spending was out of control and I was so impaired I could not balance a check book. Just because an individual has physical abilities, does not mean they have basic skills.
I know I am going to get criticized for making these statements but I don’t like being judged myself, so I try to not to judge others so quickly. In seeking truth, there needs to be a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.
In any situation of someone so young becoming a celebrity, they must have had tremendous support from parents or guardians. The Spears family has issues, they need to be heard in full. In being siletn, they may actually be trying to protect her.
Congratulations to Ms. Spears on successfully advocating for herself with a first step in the court agreeing she has the right to hire her own attorney.
Interesting to note the #FreeBritney movement will be the focus of an upcoming New York State Bar Association event.
“The forum, led by Elizabeth A. Adinolfi of the Manhattan-based firm of Phillips Nizer is intended to educate attorneys on New York’s “move away from restrictive conservatorships to a more autonomous system for those who are impaired,” the bar association said in a news advisory.
“Lawyers will learn how to calm clients’ fears about the guardianship system and how to help protect an incapacitated person from harm while safeguarding their liberties. It also will look at how New York’s system differs from other states.”
Thank you for your kind words of sympathy Rosalee and for the link. I am a longtime member of the International Society of Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) and our members were involved in creating the document. Glad to see it reached you 🙂
My brother and I were blessed to come from a privileged family, one in which our grandparents were hardworking WWI veterans/immigrants, dads and uncles hardworking WWII veterans, moms/aunts were loving stay-at-home caregivers, we grew up in a typical Main Street USA village community and we learned from a Christian perspective the importance of respect, integrity, forgiveness and providing for those less fortunate within our community. We were extremely rich in family values and I only wish there were a way to make a donation to Britney as sadly it seems like that is what is lacking the most in her life.
Take care, Maria
Thanks for the response Armadillo!
She is also claiming psychiatric abuse.
#FreeBritney may end up as Millennial-Pop-Call Out Culture takes on Psychiatry Knows Best, Valley Girl Style
That’s a great title Rosalee!
I am sure you are not alone. Creating an awareness could help others.
I also lost my father and most recently my brother to psychiatry’s insane use of polypsychophramacology, both were prescribed psych drugs from their primary care physicians, who ignored underlying medical conditions.
As well, I had my own experiences with psychiatry and the system.
I always advise others to get copies of all of their medical records.
The best investment I ever made as a psych patient was signing up for a college course in Abnormal Psychology so I could better understand the DSM labeling process and my medical records.
Unbelievable how psychiatrists and other professionals can spin words into supporting a diagnosis of mental illness. What appears to be the case for Britney Spears too.
Thanks for the response Armadillo!
I appreciate the continued conversation as it is this type of exchange that really helps along the path of discovery by fleshing out different concepts from varied perspectives. Like the Indian parable of the blind men and the elephant, it helps to understand things from every angle.
Again, apologies for electronic communication as sometimes difficult to interpret.
Just for some additional background to a long story, on March 24, 1996 I suffered an acute manic episode from toxic encephalopathy and was misdiagnosed as having “manic-depression with psychotic features”.
Literally, spontaneous mental illness.
On March 23rd, I was a 33-year-old, competent, independent individual with no history of mental illness.
On March 24th, because of a very quick psychiatric evaluation in a hospital ER setting, I instantly became a person with a history of mental illness and that label altered the trajectory of my life.
My family made the ER doctors aware of the fact I worked in an environment with strong chemical fumes and to please check me for chemical toxicity. The doctors refused to listen.
Along the way, I chose to take classes that would hopefully lead to a new career and also give me a better understand of my own mental illness. The first course I took was Abnormal Psychology and information from that course was instrumental in helping me better understand the DSM rubberstamp labeling process.
My “spontaneous mental illness” ended up involving a workers’ comp case and the medical library became my second home researching the possible connection of chemical exposure and what I thought was bipolar disorder. I was successful in establishing a workers’ comp case and gained medical opinion supporting the diagnosis of toxic encephalopathy. I have since helped other individuals labeled with bipolar disorder make the connection to an occupational disease.
I posted this article:
Hemochromatosis-induced bipolar disorder: a case report
as just one of many cases involving a medical condition inducing a manic state leading to a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Susannah Cahalan at TEDxAmsterdamWomen 2013 explains how she was also misdiagnosed with a psychiatric disorder before a neurologist determined the underlying cause of Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a condition in which the immune system essentially attacks the brain. Her doctor said the majority of other people with this condition are wasting away in psych wards or homeless.
Here is a link to her TEDxTalk:
Very interested in your thoughts on listening to Britney Spears FULL Conservatorship Hearing (Leaked HQ Audio) Opening Testimony, it’s 23 minutes long
From a psychiatric patient perspective, it seems like she is not aware of the impact a psychiatric diagnosis can have on a person’s life, nor does she seem aware of the role different mental health professionals have,. It sounds as if she underwent
neuropsych tests and she was unaware of why theses tests are given.
Compared to my experiences of “mania”, she sounds quite normal, and just needs coaching on how to speak to a judge.
Take care, Maria
Thank you for sharing as yours is a great testimony of how just the concept of “mental illness” itself can constitute a powerplay between patient/client and psychiatrist/psychologist/therapist/counselor/social worker/caregivers/enablers.
As the professional assigning the DSM label of “mental illness” is considered the expert on what are normal behaviors, moods, feeling, emotions, etc. and the “mentally ill” person is the abnormal person completely dependent on their expertise.
Who determines the need for treatment and who profits?
Absolutely unbelievable the control, abuse and thievery that can go on in these settings.
Listening to Ms. Spears describe her “team” it may seem confusing to the general public as to why so many people are tasked with trying to maintain the mental health
of just one person. She seems confused herself as to why she is going to so many different professionals. And sadly, excluded from genuine friendships.
For those who are not familiar with the system, assumptions may be made that it is because of her celebrity status she has a treatment team but that certainly is not the case. Most people in the system end up believing they need the services of multiple professionals.
I think many in the general public envision a psychiatrist also providing talk therapy, while most only provide a short session for medication management and work with other professionals providing different levels of treatment, along with understanding the different branches of psychology.
Ms. Spears testimony is powerful in that she is exposing psychiatry as an unregulated powerbase of authority, along with questioning who determines the need for “treatment” and just how many profit.
In her own words, it sounds like what Ms. Spears wants to be free of is all psychological services that have empowered others to become the Britney Spears experts while profiting off of her success.
My apologies, I did not pick up on the tongue-and-cheek and I appreciate the exchange as it’s great to get clarification and expand this topic.
Electronic communication has it’s downfalls with misinterpretation but it’s also so effective with speed, timeliness and reaching across barriers.
Just as some background, I am not a mental health professional. My interest in this case stems from my passion to advocate on behalf of those less fortunate, who continue to be trapped in a broken, authoritative and unregulated system. I include Ms. Spears in that category. My passion developed out of my own experiences navigating what may seem like a complex system and seeking answers to many questions from many different perspectives.
I found this part of your comment especially interesting:
“For this, tidy up your flat, put on a nice dress and tell them everything about being “the girl next door”, best with proof for job, sport club, social life and so on. Britney has not done any of these, therefore it is logical, that the courts can not lift the conservatorship. I am wondering, if this is all about an aging pop-star being back in the news, or if she should sue her own lawyer for incompetence, for not telling her this. ”
I think what you are saying is that it is obvious the attorney for Ms. Spears did not spend the time needed to prep her for a successful outcome?
Could you expand on that?
In listening to the full Hearing, it’s hard to believe Ms. Spears even has the assistance of an attorney. It definitely seems like a show of incompetence that she was not better prepared to articulate her statements to the judge. She was speaking so fast the judge repeatedly asked her to slow down so the court stenographer could keep up but her pace only changed slightly and then sped up again.
While her attitude and language may seem like a normal, well-justified response to her circumstances and lifestyle as a pop-star to most of us, a psychiatric spin-doctor could easily conclude otherwise.
Under the DSM rubberstamp labeling process, her pressured speech that didn’t stop at appropriate intervals, as well as, use of slang/curse words/unprofessional language when speaking to a judge, expressing inappropriate joy over the death of a medical doctor and the nature of her postings on Instagram, could be considered a state of mania and substantiate the continued need for court-ordered psychiatric and psychological services, along with conservatorship.
Likewise, most of her allegations could easily be explained away by putting the “in the best interest” spin on things, especially considering finances and protecting one from manic spending sprees. It seems like this is what her attorney may have been trying to warn her of but neither seems to fully comprehend how the system works in partnership with psychiatric evaluation as it is a very confusing system to navigate. I feel a knowledgeable attorney (or paralegal) could have worked with her to better prepare a more professional, coherent, clear and convincing statement.
I agree, without “the girl next-door” image, it does seem more likely the court would favor conservatorship under the framework of best interest principles in decision-making.
It is courageous for anyone labeled with a “mental illness” to share their story with the public as there is so much stigma attached as well as it opens the door for unwarranted criticism, gossip and malicious rumors.
Although the Hearing provided just a brief glimpse into her experiences, I think Britney Spears’ circumstances on becoming a psychiatric patient in a more privileged lifestyle might somewhat echo that of Laura Delano’s, with academic achievements at Laura’s advantage in being able to break away from the system.
Thanks for the conversation!
Years ago I went through IV Chelation treatments to help detox from past exposure to lead and other toxins.
Most of the other patients were older and receiving Chelation as a complementary treatment with the belief it would benefit coronary heart disease or macular degeneration. The treatments took about four hours and there were always 10-15 other patients getting treatments at the same time, so everyone got to know each other and we had wonderful conversation on different topics involving many health issues and treatment options.
A gentleman in his eighties made the observation when he was a kid, students were given cod liver oil in school and how now in his grandchildren’s school, the kids are lined up for doses of Ritalin.
At the time, each child on Ritalin was worth approximately $1200 to stockholders. 🙁
Wow! there is a definitely a bigger discussion needed in this arena and you obviously are incredibly well-versed. Thanks for sharing and I hope more comes forward out of your comment.
Have you ever seen the documentary Three Identical Strangers?
“Three strangers are reunited by astonishing coincidence after being born identical triplets, separated at birth, and adopted by three different families. Their jaw-dropping, feel-good story instantly becomes a global sensation complete with fame and celebrity, however, the fairy-tale reunion sets in motion a series of events that unearth an unimaginable secret – a secret with radical repercussions for us all.”
“it was revealed that the infants had been intentionally separated and placed with families having different parenting styles and economic levels – one blue-collar, one middle-class, and one affluent – as an experiment on human subjects.”
Thank you for sharing your traumatic ordeal (which could probably be made into a Lifetime Movie)
“revealed in her case should be a huge wake-up call to the media and general public as to how easily psychiatric labelling leads to violations of human rights and grave harm.”
I first read Pete’s book Crazy shortly after it was published, was shocked by so many different aspects, have written to him numerous times, have had minimal response and unfortunately, believe he clearly shows a deliberate indifference as to the harmful side effects of psych drugs.
One issue I brought up to him involved Deidra Sanbourne,
Sanbourne v. Chiles is the 1988 landmark civil rights case that challenged the conditions of Florida’s mental health institutions. Deidra Sanbourne, named as the plaintiff in the case, spent nearly twenty years being treated in Florida’s state mental hospitals.
A Google search on Deidra’s name will result in dozens of sites listing this statement under a review for author Pete Earley’s book Crazy: A Father’s Search through America’s Mental Health Madness:
“He learns that Deidra Sanbourne, whose 1988 deinstitutionalization was a landmark civil rights case, died after being neglected in a boarding house.”
A 2007 document created by the state of Florida has a similar statement and cites the book Crazy as its source:
Transforming Florida’s Mental Health System; CONSTRUCTING A COMPREHENSIVE AND COMPETENT CRIMINAL JUSTICE/MENTAL HEALTH/SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT SYSTEM: Strategies for Planning, Leadership, Financing, and Service Development
“While Deidra Sanbourne was released from the confines of the state hospital after 20 years of institutionalization, she later died at the age of 57 after being neglected in a boarding home (Earley, 2006).”
Diedra Sanbourne’s death, as reported in Pete’s book Crazy, occurred from a bowel obstruction while being treated in a psychiatric unit at Westchester General Hospital and NOT from neglect in a boarding home.
Deidra’s symptoms were diagnosed as schizoaffective disorder and she spent over 20 years being treated unsuccessfully in psychiatric wards.
When I read in Pete’s book her cause of death was from a bowel obstruction, I immediately considered the possibility that a psychiatric medication prescribed to Deidra could have caused the bowel obstruction that led to her death.
A quick search on Medline revealed the medication Clozapine is used to treat severe cases of schizophrenia. Clinical research suggests Clozapine has caused bowel obstructions leading to death in individuals being treated for symptoms described as schizophrenia.
Deidra Sanbourne could very well have died from the psychiatric medication she was administered while being treated for her symptoms of schizophrenia under the care of medical professionals, and not the result of neglect while living in an assisted living facility.
Pete is aware of this and much more, but chooses to turn a blind eye.
Great points Armadillo!
Considering the general public typically shows more concern for problems experienced by those of celebrity status than the general public, it’s nice to look at all issues from different perspectives and keep the conversation moving as a grassroots effort.
The use of lithium itself is a great topic and there are many factors to consider.
In therapeutic doses, lithium carbonate is poisonous and has many debilitating side effects.
However, “In low doses, lithium acts as a nutrient required for B12 and folate transport and uptake, neuromodulation, and the function of many biochemical processes in both humans and animals.”
Lithium has been added to the World Health Organization’s list of nutritionally essential trace elements.
Whereas a psychiatrist, whose goal it is to normalize a woman’s moods/behaviors, may consider the toxic effects of prescription lithium carbonate a low risk, an OBGYN, who has a different set of goals involving more responsibility and may have had a negative experience with a patient on lithium carbonate, would be shocked by the psychiatrist’s indifference.
The risk management process can help provide alternative strategies.
One might consider the possibility of switching to lithium orotate, an over-the-counter nutraceutical, considered to be less toxic for therapeutic benefits or investigating into the possibility of an existing underlying condition contributing to a perceived “mood disorder”.
Cases like the one below may be rare but indicate the need to consider underlying conditions.
Take care, Maria
Hemochromatosis-induced bipolar disorder: a case report
Daniele Serata 1, Antonio Del Casale, Chiara Rapinesi, Iginia Mancinelli, Pieritalo Pompili, Giorgio D Kotzalidis, Laura Aimati, Valeria Savoja, Gabriele Sani, Maurizio Simmaco, Roberto Tatarelli, Paolo Girardi
PMID: 21749841 DOI: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2011.04.013
Objective: A patient presenting with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, bipolar disorder was found to be affected by high iron hemochromatosis. This prompted us to explore the relation between bipolar disorder and iron overload.
Method: We report the case and review the peer-reviewed literature focusing on mood symptoms in patients with hemochromatosis or iron overload. Animal studies of brain effects of iron overload are summarized. High iron hemochromatosis was confirmed by genetic testing, and treatment was instituted to address iron overload.
Results: Patient’s bipolar symptoms completely subsided after phlebotomic reduction of iron overload.
Conclusion: Clinicians should explore the possibility of iron overload and seek genetic confirmation of hemochromatosis in resistant bipolar disorder to avoid unnecessary medication.
Hi Sam and thank you for your response.
My apologies, I did not catch how that would sound without explaining the hospital my brother was at had very strict COVID restrictions on visitation and what could be brought into the hospital. Because of my brother’s circumstances, the doctor received authorization from administration for my sister and family to have extra visiting hours and allowed us to bring homemade food and food from restaurants. Hospitals can be very strict on their policies because of possible outside contamination and lawsuits. They also put him on a surgical floor so he would have 24 hour supervision but not in a psychiatric ward. The psychiatrist who took on his case was consulting from a different hospital, my brother was her only patient she was seeing and she came every day, seven days a week. She treated my brother and my sisters with the utmost respect and dignity. She really did go above and beyond. I do understand how the word “allow” does sound negative, it was only in reference to COVID restrictions. Good catch, I should have clarified.
It is good to note that some psychiatric wards can deny patients the right to receive healthy food/drinks from family members during visits as they have experienced cases of family/friends bringing in items like marijuana-laced brownies. And also, unlike medical hospitals, most psychiatric facilities have very limited visiting hours. Sometimes it is impossible for family members to visit loved ones in psych wards unless they take time off from work. Many psych patients who could benefit from family support, miss out because of limited visiting hours.
A NYS facility my brother was a patient did not allow patients to have bottles or glasses of water. They only got a Dixie cup of water with their medication and could only drink from a drinking fountain throughout the day. My brother complained of being thirsty and would try to drink from the fountain. My sister and I noticed hardly any water would come out of the fountain and we complained to the administration who was unaware. They eventually brought in a water cooler for patients but the lack of awareness and harm to patients being given toxic meds without water to help dilute was sickening. In addition, the meals at the facility were poor quality and lacked fresh fruits and vegetables. As a psychiatric patient myself, I met other patients who came in with only the clothes on their backs, or in some cases, no clothes at all and were given medical gowns to wear. There were times when I gave patients clothing of my own or asked a family member to stop at a thrift store and pick up some items in their size as they had no visitors and no way of obtaining clothing during their psych hospitalization. As a volunteer and community business partner, I was able to help secure donations from retailers for psych wards to purchase items like new decks of cards/puzzles/DVDs/water color paints/socks or other items that patients could use. During my own psych hospitalizations, there were facilities that had nothing for patients to do except for a stack of worn out puzzles, old water color sets and worn out decks of cards. Extremely sad what goes on at these facilities, especially considering no advocacy organizations are working to advance improvements.
Definitely a sensitive issue that deserves thoughtful consideration.
Guardians/conservators take on an important role acting as the strongest advocate for another and should protect their rights without prejudice, equal to the care and treatment they would want for themselves.
Unfortunately, the labels of “mental illness” create prejudice and impact decision making.
Not to pick on author Pete Earley or take his remarks out of context, but just to demonstrate the train of thought that probably many parents/guardians/judges/lawmakers develop and permeate societal beliefs when dealing with a dependent labeled “mentally ill”
Consider quotes from Pete’s blog:
1. “So why do persons with mental illnesses refuse to take their medication or stop taking them as soon as they become stable?…Let’s skip the obvious reasons –that some anti-psychotic medications can dull a person, make them feel physically lousy, kill their sex drive, cause them to gain weight or send them to bed exhausted even though they are already sleeping for 16 hours a day.” ~Pete Earley
– how can a parent/guardian ignore the OBVIOUS reasons?
– is there a lack of compassion for those suffering “mental illness” v physical, even when the treatment can cause physical illness, or death?
2. “I received emails last week from two readers who were angry that the Senate Judiciary Committee had asked me to testify but had not asked anyone with a mental illness to speak during a recent congressional hearing.” ~Pete Earley
– do the labels of “mentally illness” create a devalued social status for the consumer?
3. “The psychiatrist told me that my son either was using hallucinatory drugs or he had a mental illness. He added that we would be better off if he were taking drugs. Bipolar Disorder was described to me as an incurable mental illness. My son would have to take medication for the rest of his life. Medication that would make him constantly hungry, prevent him from a long list of activities that others his age would be participating in, possibly keep him from ever working and limit his chances of marrying, having children and living a productive life. Oh yeah, people with mental illnesses die 25 years sooner than everyone else.” ~ Pete Earley
– are parents/guardians misguided by professional opinions?
4. “Would you want your son or daughter marrying someone who had been diagnosed with a mental illness?” ~Pete Earley
5. “My dad was tearing up when he spoke about the time he felt like he wished I had ‘never been born’ because he didn’t want to see me suffer and how it made him feel like a bad father for feeling that way.” ~Kevin Earley
6. “My brother came to me in 2008. He was about to have his first child, making me a first time uncle. He told me that if I wanted to be a part of his child’s life, I would have to take my medicine.” ~Kevin Earley
– are individuals labeled “mentally ill” made to feel abnormal/rejected?
Again, I do not mean to take these quotes out of context, I am just seeking examples of how the labels of “mental illness” can impact societal beliefs and the rights of the “mentally ill” to procreate.
Thx 4 the links!
Many interesting aspects to consider especially given the opportunity this case has to assist the “average person” in understanding the special circumstances many individuals who become labeled “mentally ill” are forced to live under.
“Forcing someone to be on birth control against their will is a violation of basic human rights”
While that may be true for the “average person”, is it true for the average “mentally ill” person?
In 2012, a Massachusetts court overturned a ruling by a judge who ordered a mentally ill woman to undergo an abortion against her wishes and be sterilized.
Although the decision was overruled
“The judge reasoned that if the woman were competent, she would opt for an abortion to benefit from medication that otherwise could not be given to her because of its effects on the fetus.”
If Ms. Spears is being forced to take the prescription medication lithium carbonate, there are risk factors to consider with pregnancy .
Are the risk factors being used by her treatment team to justify forcing her to remain on birth control?
Are other women who are forced to take lithium carbonate also being forced to remain on birth control?
In his book Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, author Pete Earley gives an in-depth look inside the mental health care system.
This book portrays the very dark side of a treatment approach based solely on pharmaceuticals and the author uses selective story-telling to support the belief patients benefit from life-long medication management. One of the stories he uses is of a young woman who is stable on medications, gets pregnant, tries to go off medications by using supplements, relapses, goes back on medications and chooses to abort her child rather than risk side effects to her unborn child.
Many “mentally ill” individuals are forced to take drugs that drastically reduce their chances of having children and it is not considered a violation of basic human rights.
Once again, I agree wholeheartedly on all accounts, and then some!
1. Regarding online communication, my husband and I do not have any children but we do have 15 nieces/nephews so I hear ya on that one and LOL
2. Regarding Lyme disease/fibromyalgia, etc. have met many people under same situation, my heart goes out to you and the many who are probably misdiagnosed with a psych dx
3. Regarding your nephew with Down Syndrome and on meds, he is in my heart and in prayers, very deep issue and part of a long story, along the way I was blessed with the opportunity to finish a bachelor’s in legal studies at the University at Buffalo, as a non-traditional student (20 years older than most other students) you just see things in a different light, I chose courses carefully, selected Medical Ethics as an elective which reviewed the 1983 film “Who Shall Survive?”
Doctors and nurses at John Hopkins were allowed to reenact the actual starvation death of a baby born with Down, the film “was produced by the Kennedy Foundation to demonstrate how such decisions, decisions which are being made today around the country, impact on all those involved.”
All I can say is that film shocked me to my very core and still makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it
1983 just does not seem that long ago, how was this shocking practice encouraged by doctors?
4. On regarding motives behind conservatorship, absolutely agree and believe the privatization of jails/prisons/psych wards/assisted programs/group homes, along with research and MANY other factors all have also played a role in making and keeping the “mentally ill” as meal tickets v applying common sense solutions.
The Delancey Street Foundation is an interesting nonprofit using a “teach a man to fish” approach and started with the mission of taking “ex-convicts and ex-addicts and teach them to be teachers, general contractors, and truck drivers.”
5. Nonconsensual human photography legislation as explained is brilliant, seems like perfect common sense and is slowly making its way along.
As with all legislation, me must consider we do live in a sue-happy society, there may be slippery slopes/loopholes and the internet is the Wild, Wild West of lawsuits complicated by jurisdiction.
For example, news outlets share information and typically earn income from advertisements. Sadly, credible news outlets love dirty laundry just as much as tabloids.
With advent of the internet, anyone can set up a website/social network account, share information with the world, earn income from advertisements, have a photo/video go viral and become featured on all major news outlets.
It would be important to consider, would a criminal law against nonconsensual human photography:
1. apply to only paparazzi taking nonconsensual pictures of celebrities or to all people taking nonconsensual pictures of celebrities?
2. apply to only photographic/digital reproductions in magazines/websites of tabloids, or all print media/websites?
3. protect the rights of individuals who are not of celebrity status equal to those who are celebrities?
Have you ever seen the website peopleofwalmart.com?
There are probably a lot of people on that site who would like their picture taken down but how?
It’s sad to know how people, both celebrity and non-celebrity are treated in everyday life.
Best we can do is try and make a positive difference where we are able to and keep speaking out when possible.
Thank you for your advocacy and your conversation 🙂
“The squeaky wheel gets the grease”
Yes, I agree with you absolutely, unequivocally 100 percent, and then some!
I am a very friendly person, I am nonjudgmental and not a person who is argumentative. My sincere apologies for poorly framing my comments.
The behavior of Paparazzi should be illegal, but it may be difficult to figure out how to criminalize. Perhaps people against their behavior could just boycott tabloids?
I understand COMPLETELY the issues surrounding forced psychiatric treatment, have experienced it first hand and on a number of occasions have successfully advocated for myself and others.
The legal system is fascinating and psychology along with fact finding play essential roles in legal arguments.
It’s not MY opinion that a “mentally ill” person should be forcibly treated by psychiatrists because they pose a threat, it is the reasoning behind state involuntary treatment law.
Legal historian Paul Lombardo stated “Buck [v. Bell] earns a place in the legal hall of shame not only because Holmes’ opinion was unnecessarily callous but also because it was based on deceit and betrayal,” and, in my opinion, is the ultimate in sexism and psychiatric abuse/empowerment.
True, those labeled “mentally ill” are made vulnerable, marginalized, and discriminated against. And, they have also been made our most hated class of people in society.
The “mentally ill” are our society’s throwaways.
The Wyatt v. Stickney decision is important because
1. it supports the right to refuse medication management as the only form of treatment, and should open the door for other options
2. many medical conditions can be misdiagnosed as a “mental illness”
There are no medical tests to determine an individual has a mental disorder but there are MANY tests that can determine a person does NOT have a mental disorder, but instead has a medical condition but doctors fail to run those tests.
In some of Robert Whitaker’s talks he mentions psychosis has “flu-like characteristics” of coming and going on its own. And, in Mad in America, he mentions documented cases of “insanity” (what would probably now be considered psychosis) that were cured by extracting infected back molars.
I have experienced medical conditions, including an infected back molar, that have caused “psycho-flu”. I have experienced forced hospitalization for up to 30 days (doctors love to suck every dime out of insurance). I have seen elderly abused in psych wards. I have had family members suffer terribly because of psych drugs and a family member commit suicide while on 5 psych meds and 3 days after ECT.
I could write on and on but my point is, we are on the same side, we have just had different experiences getting here.
I look forward to more discussions.
I agree, criticism of women shaving their heads is mean-spirited, unkind and uncalled for.
The behavior of the paparazzi motivated by greed is disgusting, inhumane and disrespectful.
The unconstitutional mistreatment of individuals labeled “mentally ill”, regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender or socioeconomic class is sanctioned by the highest court in the US.
While coercive treatment is considered to be in the best interest to protect our society, a patient’s rights must still be preserved.
The Court’s decision in Wyatt v. Stickney 325 F.Supp. 781 (M.D.Ala. 1971), a key issue was that patients have a “constitutional right to receive such individual treatment as will give each of them a realistic opportunity to be cured or to improve his or her mental condition.”
Individuals labeled “mentally ill” are among our society’s most vulnerable, marginalized, stigmatized and discriminated against class of people.
They are in need of ethical advocates who are well-educated and will act in their best interest.
I believe most individuals involved in advancing mainstream advocacy agendas are not well-educated and in fact are just spoon-fed information from psychiatrists.
Yes, what is happening to Britney is outrageous and seems to be a direct result of being labeled with a “mental illness”, but we also should question, does our society care more about the mistreatment of celebrities v non-celebrities who are far worse off?
It will be interesting to see what impact the #FreeBritney movement has on advancing agendas.
Take care, Maria
Sadly, it seems like there are so many other cases that 911 operators immediately suspect just by the apathetic tone of a parent calling to report slaying their child, they are taking a “mental health medication”….there was just a commercial on TV for a drug for tardive dyskinesia caused by a “mental health medication”
And isn’t just one single slaying of a child by a parent enough?
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued recalls on spiral notebooks, tricycles and bean bag chairs but continues to allow the sale of a product that can cause a parent to kill their own child???
After Dr. David Healy wrote an interesting analogy on If Pharma Made Cars, I wrote this up for Unite for Life on If Pharma Made Trikes
No other product could be EVER be sold like these drugs are, the manufacturers willingly admit their products suck and are dangerous
The FDA hearings on prozac took place 30 years ago…why is this drug still on the market???
Where is our consumer protection???
Where is our common sense???
Spirit is one of my favorite topics!
Many times I have had people question my quick decisions and my response is always, when Spirit says move, I MOVE!
Throughout the journey we had dealing with my brother’s situation, my sisters and I relied heavily on Spirit.
Have you ever read the book Grow a New Body by Dr. Alberto Villoldo?
The diet from his book was recommended by a friend as they thought it would help my brother.
I followed it partially along with the Rainbow Diet and I have some training in massage therapy and other therapies, that I used to help aid my brother’s recovery.
The results were amazing to witness. His circulation improved, veins started popping out like crazy, his muscle tone came back instantly like Popeye and he went from being immobile to literally running. The results were hard to maintain and an underlying problem was his body was in a state of hypermetabolism which made his condition complicated.
In my own situation that involved experiencing an acute manic episode in March of 1996 from toxic encephalopathy and being misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder, Spirit led me on a journey that was an experience I would not trade for anything.
I think the main problem with Spirit, is Spirit works so quickly, efficiently and is so cheap, Spirit is not good for the economy. Whereas, “mental illness” is quite profitable on many levels, not just for psychiatry and keeps our economy strong.
Thank you for your expression of sympathy.
My family and I appreciate it.
Hi, and I greatly appreciate your response as yours is the type of reaction I was hoping for to help open dialogue on activism.
I always like to give credit where credit is due. This was difficult subject matter to write on and MIA’s staff were right on target with editing and refining my submission. I could not be more pleased with how well it reads.
And trust me, I understand your feelings on not being able to maintain a calm state of being. I have seen and experienced first hand enough of what you are referring to that I have been in many states of total outrage and do not understand why as a society we are not screaming to the high heavens to make change happen immediately.
The calmness comes only from weathering many storms, the simple optimism comes from trusting higher powers truly are at work and the article itself is an expression of gratitude to honor not only my brother but many others.
“All change must start with the recognition for the need of change.”
Now how can we make that happen?
One important case I think advocates from all organizations should consider is that of Ryan Ehlis, who in 1999 began taking Adderall, slipped into a psychotic fog, shot and killed his infant daughter, then shot himself in the stomach.
The criminal court found Ryan innocent after testimony by a psychiatrist and by Shire US, Inc., stated that the “psychotic state” was a very rare side effect of Adderall use.
The manufacturer of Adderall, commented that “despite the slaying, Adderall remains a safe and effective drug for controlling AD/HD.”
“despite the slaying”????
“remains safe and effective”????
How can we help others recognize this is an unacceptable statement?
Among the many issues, we must consider is Ms. Spears (along with countless others under forced psychiatric treatment) being treated as a modern-day Carrie Buck?
The 1927 U.S. Supreme Court case of Buck v. Bell decided the fate of Carrie Buck, an 18-year-old patient at the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded who was sentenced to forced sterilization under a law enacted to promote the “health of the patient and the welfare of society.”
The Court’s decision sanctioned the state’s use of medical procedures on select individuals without their consent. Unlike other infamous decisions, the ruling in Buck has never been directly overruled and there are some reasons to believe that Buck is still good law today.
The decision in Buck v Bell set a dangerous precedent as medical doctors in the United States were allowed to pick citizens they felt were of a lesser mental capacity and label them as members of a class of people who were no longer afforded equal protection, informed consent and could be denied the fundamental right to procreate.
“I want to get married and have a baby,” Spears told the judge in her emotional 40-minute testimony. “I want [the IUD] taken out so I can start trying to have another baby. But this so-called team won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don’t want me to have any more children.”
These are very strong allegations and her case should be of heightened concern for anyone who has ever been labeled “mentally ill”.
What Ms. Spears revealed at her June 23, 2021 court hearing is shocking:
The New York Times reports:
Britney Spears said on Wednesday that the people who control her affairs had refused to allow her to get her IUD removed so that she could try to have a third child. “I want to be able to get married and have a baby,” Spears said at a court hearing.
Among many other issues, a concern must be is Ms. Spears (along with countless others under forced psychiatric treatment) being treated as a modern-day Carrie Buck?
The 1927 U.S. Supreme Court case of Buck v. Bell decided the fate of Carrie Buck, an 18-year-old patient at the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded who was sentenced to compulsory sterilization because she represented a “genetic threat to society”.
The Court’s decision sanctioned the state’s use of medical procedures on select individuals without their consent “for the protection and health of the state”. Unlike other infamous decisions, the ruling in Buck has never been directly overruled and there are some reasons to believe that Buck is still good law today.
The decision in Buck v Bell set a dangerous precedent as the states were allowed to employ medical opinion to create a class of people who were no longer afforded equal protection. The medical opinion that certain individuals and their offspring posed a “threat to society” empowered professionals to practice coercive medicine in what became a prejudiced and culturally accepted, non-participatory model of mental health care.
This model does not honor the patient’s perspective and places the physician in an authoritative role.
Because of her past, Ms. Spears is forced to live under the authority of psychiatrists.
For over a decade I have been a member of the nonprofit International Society of Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP, formerly ICSPP. that was originally founded by Dr. Peter Breggin and his wife Ginger. ) While many ISEPP members are mental health professionals, the organization also welcomes individuals like myself who are interested in advocacy. As an advocate, I have benefitted greatly from my membership in ISEPP.
As I am sure you are aware, the Church of Scientology co-founded with Dr. Thomas Szasz (who was not a member of the Church and at times stated he was an ashiest) the nonprofit organization the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR)
It was only after moving near Clearwater, FL, the “Scientology Capital of the World”, that I came across CCHR. Information on their website led me to find out about PsychRights and then ICSPP, and so on. Before that, I was only familiar with NAMI and was extremely disturbed by the information presented at the NAMI conferences I had attended.
CCHR Florida used to be run on a shoestring budget. It was only during recent years the Church in Clearwater invested in the local CCHR and added the museum, Psychiatry: an Industry of Death. Actually, the Church has invested heavily in the entire City of Clearwater and has beautified areas of abandoned buildings that were becoming very run down.
During my first visit to the museum I spent four hours going through every detail looking for possible inaccuracies or misleading information. I only found one item that I feel misrepresents the truth.
I realize many individuals feel CCHR is a front for the Church but over the years I have attended many CCHR events and have never had anyone approach me on joining the Church. The events were all very informative and shared valuable information.
I respect the accomplishments of CCHR as they are outstanding. Members of this organization work tirelessly to educate the public, investigate claims and advance legislation to protect human rights. As far as I am aware, CCHR is the only independent organization that will investigate claims of mental health patients.
I grew up a devout Catholic and during my lifetime I have had friends who were members of many different churches/organizations, or devotees/followers of gurus/teachers and have had the opportunity to learn about/experience many different religious beliefs.
At a health fair I even participated in a free auditing session offered by Scientology. The auditing seemed similar to biofeedback. The auditor was impressed with my results and said I didn’t need their services.
Personally, I have no fear of the Church of Scientology, I respect my friends who are members of the Church of Scientology equal to any other friend and greatly appreciate CCHR as a “mental health watchdog”
Steve, I agree with your statements and in the past have engaged in many different modalities that helped facilitate healing from what was originally diagnosed as a “mental illness”. Different terms were used to describe the modalities including: orthomolecular psychiatry, complimentary therapies, nutritional/vitamin/IV therapy, functional medicine, integrative therapies and precision medicine.
Unlike many other psych patients, I was blessed to have access to and be able to financially afford a multimodal approach.
I am sure you are familiar with the Indian parable of the blind men and the elephant and it is one that I think has an important message to consider on different perspectives and problem solving.
As an individual with experience as a psychiatric patient under forced treatment, a self-advocate and an advocate for others, although not always easy, I feel it is important to maintain respect for all.
And as hard as it may be, respect must be maintainted for those who claim they or their loved one have benefitted from psychiatry, psych drugs and even ECT.
Unfortunately, psychiatry is a very powerful and unregulated authority that can legally force whatever treatment, no matter how harmful, they want to on their patients.
For consumers under court-ordered treatment, psychiatry is what they must purchase and they have no access or rights to any other modality.
Psychiatric consumers under coercive treatment are at a disadvantage and are in need of strong, educated advocates who will work in their best interest. This is why educating advocates on the value of options different from psychiatric drugging/ECT is critically needed.
Thank you for such a comprehensive explanation of EMDR.
For over twenty years I have been involved in advocacy taking a best practice standards approach.
Influences from psychiatry and Big Pharma are probably a large part of the reason why so many main stream advocates (NAMI) work to advance the benefits of drug therapy.
There also seems to be a lack of awareness of alternatives among advocates and consumers. Explanations like yours are greatly needed to help expand awareness of alternatives to medication management.
I really appreciated reading “My Letter to an Advocate for Involuntary Treatment” by Emily Hochman, published June 1 on MIA.
In it she writes: “there are a lot of things that I want to say but feel I can’t because there would be big consequences for me…You have to be careful whom you tell what and which words and mannerisms you use. With time and experience, I’ve learned, especially at the doctor’s, to speak with utmost calm, using measured speech without interjections and minimal hand gestures, my face relaxed, the intensity of my gaze on low”
Emily words are very meaningful as being labeled with a psychiatric disorder creates a special class in our society. Unlike others, individuals with a “history of mental illness” are especially vulnerable to unfair judgment, gossip and criticism. Very easily the rights of a “mentally ill” person can be taken away by anyone who feels the “mentally ill” person is not acting “normal”.
All it takes is an anonymous call and the “mentally ill” person can be removed from their home and will then have to prove they are “normal” do not need forced treatment. They do not have the right to know who placed the call.
Psychiatric labels automatically create a power-play in all relationships for individuals from all walks of life. Our “mentally ill” population are in need of strong advocates who will act in their best interest. Thank you for calling attention to Britney’s case.
According to a April 2019 TMZ and other news reports, the “cocktail of medicines that were designed specifically” for Britney were “increasingly ineffective and doctors needed to create a new cocktail.”
TMZ reported her psychiatrists explained creating a new cocktail is risky because they just use a “trail and error” method and their errors made Britney unstable and unwilling to cooperate. After being admitted to a facility, Britney’s psychiatrists told TMZ they think they figured out the right mixture of psychiatric drugs to keep her under control.
As Miranda mentions in the podcast, Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, claims his daughter suffers from dementia.
In light of the fact psychiatric drugs can cause memory loss, confusion and other side effects similar to dementia symptoms, her alleged symptoms of dementia may be the result of the psychiatric drugs prescribed to control her behavior/moods/personality and other perceived psychiatric disorders.
It is disheartening to know celebrities who receive so much attention from the public and have financial access to resources/alternative therapies, unavailable to most, are still misinformed and trapped in the same broken system as those who are less fortunate.
You did an amazing job summarizing your story and I have no doubt that you endured a lot. It is only by going through these nightmares that you are able to truly understand and have compassion for others labeled “mentally ill”.
As I am sure you have experienced, finding good legal representation for situations involving forced treatment is extremely difficult.
Are you familiar with the CCHR (Citizens Commission on Human Rights)?
They are an international nonprofit organization founded by the Church of Scientology and Dr. Thomas Szasz. CCHR Florida has been making an effort to educate Florida attorneys on ways to help individuals under forced treatment (Florida’s Baker Act) by hosting educational symposiums.
I don’t think CCHR has a chapter in Georgia but perhaps one of the attorneys who has attended a Baker Act symposiums in Florida has a contact in Georgia. Here is a link to a Florida attorney who is probably involved:
Were you billed for psychiatric services while under forced treatment?
In the past I have been billed for forced psychiatric treatment that my insurance did not cover and filed a complaint with the facility that it was an illegal blind contract and they did drop the bill.
I have also filed complaints with the Office of Attorney General claiming forced consumerism.
Here is part of a complaint I filed advocating for an individual in New York under forced treatment:
For more than five year, XXXXX has been prescribed the controlled substance Ativan for anxiety. Ativan is a hypnotic drug. Instructions from the manufacturer of Ativan warn against prescribing their product for more than 2-4 weeks and acknowledge they haven’t ever studied the effectiveness of using Ativan long-term. The manufacturer of this drug also admits their product is defective and can cause paradoxical reactions including but not limited to: anxiety, excitation, agitation, hostility, aggression, rage, sleep disturbances/insomnia and hallucinations. Instructions for use state patients should stop consuming this product if they experience adverse side effects. This product is designed to have a high risk for dependency and the consumer will need to purchase more quantities of this product to try and maintain its effectiveness. When discontinued, Ativan also produces a wide range of unpredictable physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms. Like all pharmaceutical products, if a consumer can no longer use Ativan because it is ineffective or defective, the manufacturer and the retailer who sold their product, are not obligated to refund money back to the consumer or their insurance company. Pharmaceutical companies and retail stores profit off of these high risk, defective psychiatric products.
For those who have taken the time to read this brilliant young man’s story, I hope you will also take the time to listen to the video recorded conversation he also has posted as it demonstrates his passion.
Ricky, thank you for sharing your journey and I’m glad that you found MIA. I am so impressed with how you became such a strong advocate for yourself and I hope that you will continue on as an advocate for others. We need people like you.
Best wishes, Maria
I just want you to know how much I enjoyed reading your post as it is so thoughtfully written. I love your positive attitude as I know that is what helped you to overcome the impossible and become one of the “lucky ones”.
I am soooo happy for you and I know that you will have a positive impact on many others. I will be sharing your post on my Facebook page and email out to others.
God bless and thank you so much for sharing your incredible journey!
The Benzo Information Coalition is amazing for what they are doing
Also, the team behind the film Medicating Normal
Definitely on my list of who I will donate to when my winning lottery ticket finally comes in
Along with stories of harm, I also believe stories of recovery must come forward
The argument of pro-psychiatry/pro-medication management advocates lies heavily in not being educated on what other options exist
Will Hall has put together a lot of information on this and Laura Delano shares a lot
More exposure is greatly needed
Along with other members of ISEPP and Quantum Leap Farm (a nationally recognized equine therapy program) I participated in this docuseries Unbroken Minds but the project has been put on hold
I am hopeful that my sibling, who is currently at a rehab facility for physical therapy and cognitive remediation, will soon be well enough to participate in therapies that are available from some of my friends who are Chiropractors/massage therapists and are eager to assist in recovery strategies
I am flying up today to help my family and somehow sharing this “testimony” on MIA feels like a weight lifted off my shoulders
Thank you for your support and I look forward to the day my sibling will share their recovery story on their own
“Despite the slaying” statement was made in the Ryan Ehlis case.
There are a number of cases, like that of David Crespi, in which the 911 operators who take the phone call of an individual calling to report they murdered their child/children and the 911 operator could tell they just by the sound of thei caller’s voice they were on psych meds.
How can it be that obvious to a 911 operator but medical doctors can’t figure this out?
And where are the “advocates”?
And the few doctors who are experts willing to testify/attorneys willing to defend cost upwards of $100,000 upfront
Just to obtain guardianship of a loved one will cost over $3000 upfront for attorney fees
This involves such dark subject matter, I think most who are involved in advocacy do not want to consider, but these are the worst cases of how psychiatric drugs are impacting our society
I appreciate filmmaker Kevin Miller (Generation Rx and Letters from Generation Rx) and Gwen Olsen for their efforts
Other cases like Rebecca Riley and Gabriel Myers are ones that just leave me screaming to the high heavens
So many alarms going off yet the “public” continues to sleep
I appreciate your comment.
I remember reading a small article in USA Today in 2001 entitled “Despite the Slaying, Adderall is Still a Safe Medication for ADHD”
That was the response from the manufacturer of Adderall after a college student shot took their drug for ten days, slipped into a psychotic fog, shot and killed his baby girl and then shot himself in the stomach. He was found not guilty because the drug company and psychiatrists admitted this is a side effect of the drug.
Sometimes I wonder if I am the only person on the planet who read that article.
The “public” is asleep.
It’s nice to connect with others who are awake.
Thank you for sharing the article “A Psychiatrist Visits Belgium: The Epicenter of Psychiatric Euthanasia”, I have shared it with others and it is a topic I am very concerned with.
Did you read Robert Whitaker’s post: Zel Dolinsky: I Have a Right to “Death With Dignity” ?
Thank you for your kind words.
Yes, it’s a tuff battle. Honestly don’t know how my sibling has made it this far. As a family we have really pulled together to help out and as bad as everything has been, we have been truly bless in so many ways and constantly pray for healing.
There is no greater loss than that of a child, my heart goes out to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story and yes, genetic tests to see which meds could be effective is so important.
Have you seen the documentary Dead Wrong?
It is so well done. I gave copies of it to the doctors at the state hospital my sibling was at.
I agree wholeheartedly.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Thank you for commenting and sharing.
“How do we get the general public to understand the true horror and criminality of psychiatry and just how dangerous it is to go to these people?”
I’m 58 years old. Dr. Thomas Szasz co-founded the Citizens Commission on Human Rights 51 years ago. Dr. Peter Breggin Founded ICSPP (now ISEPP) over 40 years ago. Robert Whitaker wrote Mad in America 18 years ago. There are dozens of other organizations, authors, doctors, psychologists, filmmakers, advocates, efforts, etc. trying to get the general public to understand.
If we add up all of their efforts it is like using eye droppers to take water from the ocean to fill up an Olympic size pool. And congratulations, their combined efforts have paid off and that pool is now full. Now, go back and look at the ocean to see the difference made.
That is the realization we must face. There is just too much money being made by too many for the change to take place anytime in the near future.
The best we can do is keep speaking up until a tsunami of stories are out there and maybe we will see a paradigm shift in our lifetime.
Thank you for your comment and you are spot on.
Because individuals experiencing symptoms of “mental illness” can end up in trouble with the law or end up having other legal issues (divorce, bankruptcy, guardianship), attorneys make a fortune off of “mental illness”.
I worked as a legal blogger for a criminal defense attorney. This attorney made $7000 profit off of the father of a man who was homeless, labeled with a “mental illness”, probably had a substance abuse problem and committed a crime involving a $300 theft. Charges were dropped and the attorney kept the father’s money.
Unethical and pathetic.
Thank you for your reply.
Although the doctors considered my sibling catatonic, their condition was so severe it was like they were paralyzed. It actually looked like rigor mortis was setting in and other people would have to position them like a Barbie Doll. To get my sibling to take some fluids, I would have to pry their mouth open and use an eye dropper. They were so dependent on Ativan that the oral form did nothing. They would only respond to intramuscular injections even that got to the point shots would wear off quickly and the withdrawal between shots were so tormenting it looked like they had demons in their body.
Right now they are doing somewhat better, back on a low dose of oral Ativan, moved to a rehab facility for physical therapy, but no doctor has attempted to taper them off. I am flying up this week to help out and will continue to advocate for medical assistance with tapering off Ativan.
Thank you for sharing,
It is sad to know so many can turn a blind eye.
Individuals labeled “mentally ill” are in need of strong, ethical, educated advocates.
I attended my first NAMI conference in 1999 excited to discover there was actually an organization that gave a hoot about people labeled “mentally ill”. I walked out disgusted at the brainwashing this organization does and the pro-psychiatry agenda they promote.
It is simply time to say NO and also to say there is NO national alliance on “mental illness”, as a matter of fact there is a national disagreement on “mental illness”.
Take care Sam,
Thank you for taking the time to read this story.
Yes, unbelievably heartbreaking and unnecessary suffering because under our current paradigm of care, there is no help available for someone who is suffering from a prescription drug dependency.
Individuals who have drug addictions can get help, but those who are drug dependent are at a loss in the system.
Coincidently, Dr. Peter Breggin is from my hometown of Syracuse, NY and I am a long-time member of an organization that he originally founded, ISEPP (formerly ICSPP). I’ve met Dr. Breggin/Robert Whitaker in the past at conferences and being knowledgeable in their work and that of many others definitely helped me be a strong advocate for my sibling.
Unfortunately, you are absolutely right, psychiatrists are incapable of realizing the harm these drugs do and they can not handle the truth. They are totally clueless on how to help patients taper off of benzodiazepines and there is nothing anyone can do to change things.
We are stuck in this paradigm of care and the best we can do is continue to speak up to try and enlighten others.
Most of the time it feels like we are just spitting in the wind, but it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
It is so nice to hear from you and I apologize for not responding sooner. I looked over your website/blog and read the synopsis of your book, The Scenic Route: A Way through Madness. Truly a labor of love. You have accumulated a wealth of information to help others and your site is beautifully done.
I especially found meaning in this passage you wrote “If the times are right, a well told story can further a paradigm shift in thinking. I’m hoping that the time is right now. Enjoy the journey.”
My sibling has certainly endured horrific abuse. Sadly, the film Letters from Generation Rx and stories from so many others like Crespi Family Hope are always good reminders that things could be worse and how important it is that well-told stories are heard.
I especially admire the effort the team behind the film Medicating Normal are putting in to enlighten others.
I see you have Light Therapy listed on your website. Have you looked into BEMER therapy yet?
Best wishes to you and your family,
Before commenting I’ve read this post over several times along with the comments.
Although this is just a glimpse into his life and diverse perspectives, Mr. Dolinsky left behind a very powerful testimony, especially on how the use of psychiatric drugs can lead to unbearable internal suffering, the belief of hopelessness and a death wish. Obviously he was a very intelligent and resilient individual who accomplished a lot during his lifetime. It is unfortunate that despite all of his knowledge, access to resources and personal testimonies of recovery, he lost all faith and was unable to find the answers and relief he needed, especially considering he made a drastic career change later in life to provide holistic healthcare to others as a licensed massage therapist in a hospital setting.
Psychiatric euthanasia is a topic considered in Kevin Dunn’s film Fatal Flaws. The documentary features a young Dutch girl who was euthanized last January because of her “severe psychiatric problems” that psychiatric treatment failed to relieve. Psychiatric euthanasia has steadily increased in the Neatherlands with 83 reported cases in 2017.
Adam Maier-Clayton, a Canadian psychiatric Death with Dignity activist, committed suicide two years ago because of suffering from what he and his family believed were symptoms of “severe mental illness” that became treatment resistent. Many of his complaints sounded like adverse reactions to psychiatric drugs.
Euthanizing psychiatric patients is a topic that deserves thoughtful consideration and expanded awareness, especially among pro-psychiatry drug advocates like Pete Earley and DJ Jaffee.
As Severe Mental Illness advocates, Mr. Earley and Mr. Jaffee work to advance the use of psychiatric drugs and forced drugging. Both men clearly disregard and downplay adverse reactions to psychiatric drugs.
Supporting Death with Dignity for psychiatric patients seems like it would place professionals in a difficult situation of trying to distinguish between a patient who qualifies for forced treatment because they are suicidal and a patient who qualifies for euthanasia because they have a legitamate reason to be suicidal. For patients who are considered “treatment resistant”, it also seems impossible to define the suffering as being caused by the perceived “mental illness”, or being from an actual adverse reactions to psychiatric drug therapy or withdrawal syndrome.
Psychiatric drugs are often prescribed by doctors who fail to test for and treat possible underlying medical conditions that can manifest as a “mental illness”. Without treating the underlying cause, there is little hope a patient will ever find relief, thereby increasing the chance psychiatric patients would welcome relief through euthanasia. Sadly, family members of “mentally ill” patients who find it difficult or even impossible to help their loved ones and can easily feel overburdened by their care, also seem to give up hope and welcome relief through assisted suicide for their loved one.
Historically, individuals with perceived “mental illnesses” have been victims of eugenic movements and treated like the throw-aways in our society.
For anyone who has experienced adverse reactions of psych drugs, or withdrawal syndrome, it is easy to understand why so many psychiatric patients end up suicidal. The option of Death with Dignity among psychiatric patients would more than likely become a service in high demand and profitable for psychiatry.
Before Death with Dignity, we should consider psychiatric patients are entitled to a life with dignity, which includes knowing the truth, informed consent and availability to best practice, individualized treatment.
Like Mr. Dolinsky, I was also bothered by Pete Earley’s post suggesting Robert Whitaker and NAMI “have blood on their hands”. Even before the NAMI convention, Mr. Earley solicited readers to write about their experiences at the event, offering money, stating that he was especially interested in Robert Whitaker’s presentation, referencing Mr. Whitaker beforehand as someone “who has become a darling of the anti-psychiatry movement”. That comment seemed disrespectful and inappropriate.
Although I have a lot of respect for the fact Mr. Earley’s work helped to expose many problems within the jail system and advanced awareness of Crisis Intervention Training among law enforcement, since reading his book “Crazy” in 2006, I have reached out to Mr. Earley on many occasions to point out what seems like misrepresentation of facts and misinformation in his statements.
Clearly, Mr. Earley is more interested in protecting his position as a selective-storytelling novelist and self-proclaimed advocate than fact checking and protecting the rights of those he claims to advocate for.
“A former Washington Post reporter, Mr. Earley writes with authenticity and style — a wonderful blend of fact and fiction in the best tradition of journalists-turned-novelists.” Nelson DeMille, bestselling author