Comments by Jenifer Higgins

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  • Thank you for your in-depth comment!

    I’d say I partially agree with your statement “there is no such thing as mental illness.” I know that’s a popular belief among the anti-psychiatry community and that it comes from Thomas Szaz. I’d agree that DSM labels are pretty much nonsense. I mean, the people who make the DSM have said that quiet part out loud a few times. My favorite was the Wired article with Allen Francis. Francis seems to want to be a whistleblower now, even though he took 500k from Risperdal very shortly after his work on the DSM-IV. If he really wanted to do good, that $ would go back to the people his DSM hurt, or go towards creating more compassionate mental health facilities. But anyway…the point I was getting to: I do think people struggle and suffer in a myriad of ways, and when this suffering/struggling is outside the norm and interferes with daily activities of life, some people find it useful to call it mental illness. For people who don’t like that label, I don’t think anyone should put it on them.
    I do sometimes refer to myself as mentally ill. After years of trauma and powerful drugs, I do have episodic psychosis and paranoia (I feel like it would be weird if I WASN’T paranoid. I mean, every adult in my family was violent, nobody would help me, and they locked me up and put me on drugs when I tried to defend myself. During my formative years, the world really WAS out to get me. Now I’m in my 30’s and probably won’t ever shake that feeling completely). So, I struggle and I suffer, and at times, this struggling interferes with my daily activities of life. I don’t mind the phrase “mentally ill” and sometimes use it.
    But “bipolar” “borderline” and eventually “schizoaffective”-none of that did anything for me. It would have been more helpful if they’d focused on my symptoms individually and gave me a say in how those symptoms should be treated.
    I got so sick of “Shut up, you need this pill.” I’ll probably never see a mental health professional again, even though I do still struggle to manage my emotions and thoughts a lot at times. I never broke the cycle of in-patient stays and suicide attempts until I parted completely with the system.

    You bring up a lot of great points about why the system is so ready to ignore child abuse and trauma. I think pediatric psych patients endure a lot of abuse. they get it at home and then get more of it from this system that’s supposed to help them. I have to wonder how many other abused kids from the early 2000s ended up just like me, constantly defensive and paranoid because when they were at their most vulnerable, whole systems of educated professional adults told them THEY were the problem.

    Anyway, thank you for reading and for your insightful comment. I enjoyed reading it.

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  • Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words. Yes, I think there’s an awful problem that comes with the DSM: harried, overworked doctors mindlessly fill out a checklist of symptoms. My issue with the biomedical model is that trauma is basically ignored, or at least it was in the early 2000s when I went through all of this. Plus during in-patient treatment they treat you like a criminal and act like you’re lying.
    Some people get a lot out of DSM labels (helps them make some sense out of suffering) and some people are helped by drug therapy. But I wasn’t, and they try to cram everybody into one treatment model. Psychiatrists, you would think, would have a more nuanced understanding of human consciousness, and would tailor treatment to individuals.
    I also don’t get how these mental health professionals aren’t on the look out for abuse.
    I already really hated myself and thought I deserved everything that happened to me. Then they put all these labels on me and shuffled me into a revolving door system that differed little from prison.

    I’m so sorry that your child also went through trauma as well. It sounds like you had their back and validated their pain. That must have been really hard for them to go through, but having you validate their trauma was probably some comfort to them.

    I truly believe that the single most important thing we could do to create a better mental health system is to end all financial conflicts of interest between pharma and doctors/researchers/everyone who has anything to do with the DSM.

    Anyway, thanks again for your kind words <3 I appreciate you reading.
    I hope you and your son are healing well.

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