Saturday, November 28, 2020

Comments by Miranda Spencer

Showing 58 of 58 comments.

  • Jeffrey’s blog turns out to be very timely. Please see Peter Simons’ science review today entitled “Increasing Numbers of Children Prescribed Multiple Psychiatric Medications”: https://www.madinamerica.com/2020/11/increasing-numbers-children-prescribed-multiple-psychiatric-medications/

    Most disturbingly, not only are kids frequently being prescribed multiple drugs (usually for ADHD) but also antipsychotic use is quite common…even though very few of these kids are even diagnosed with psychotic illness.

    In my opinion, this is indeed a crime against humanity…a crime in plain sight.

  • Since writing this piece, I have continued to follow the Britney Spears saga. Recent news reports of court activity indicate that Spears is working toward regaining more autonomy. She has stated through her lawyer that she wants her father removed as her conservator, would like records of her case to be public, and even appreciates the #FreeBritney movement. For example:

    https://apnews.com/article/britney-spears-seeks-freedom-from-father-685c547c55bebd617bd637e3fb55d64c

    These seem very natural responses from someone who was metaphorically saved from dragons, but then isolated for over a decade in a well-appointed but lonely tower. In the latest “Britney’s Gram” podcast, a forensic mental health expert discusses the trauma this isolation and lack of control could cause a person:

    https://britneysinstagram.libsyn.com/the-whole-world-is-watching

  • Thank you all for your comments and sorry for the late reply.

    I’m not as cynical as some of you, obviously, nor am I a starry-eyed idealist. But if voting didn’t matter, the powers that be wouldn’t be trying so hard to disenfranchise so many. They know that if people –especially the marginalized — voted in proportion to their numbers, it could change the game.

    I agree with you, Bradford, that psychiatry is a root issue here, and that was kind of my point. The branding of some people as mad happened before psychiatry was invented, but the official designation of individuals as “normal” or “abnormal” has been used to perpetrate political mischief. Ironically, having a psych diagnosis can help someone gain assistance through disability rights laws, but it shouldn’t have to come to that. Based on what I’ve learned, I believe that all of the state laws that threaten voting rights due to mental “incompetency” and/or guardianship should be struck down.

  • Let me clarify a few things. As far as I’m concerned any “mental illness” diagnosis is a misdiagnosis– in that they are constructs without real-world physical correlates. So I’m comfortable with the word “misdiagnosed” in relation to myself. Also, even if the bipolar label were credible as a diagnosis, I just didn’t tick off the boxes…like so many people, including Kristen.

    As far as the headline, Kristen had headstroke or heat exhaustion. Proper treatment would have been simple and she’d have likely left the ER within a few hours. Instead, she was put through a battery of tests, given psych eval and diagnosis, and prescribed strong and inappropriate drugs. That’s the textbook definition of “overtreated.” More medical interventions than called for.

  • It’s so easy to get a bipolar diagnosis these days. Today’s science news discusses how this phenomenon is playing out in Iran: https://www.madinamerica.com/2020/09/understand-soaring-rates-bipolar-iran/.

    I got a bipolar 2 diagnosis for a time based on “symptoms” for which there were other explanations. But I lacked more of the supposed symptoms of BPD than I had. No matter; if your emotions or behavior deviate in anyway from some concept of normal, you just might be bipolar and to be safe here is a script for heavy-duty, life- and health-changing drugs.

  • I can’t help but think the research could have been funded in part by pharma. It seems in line with a sentence in the article the authors link to in The New York Times:

    “The Food and Drug Administration has cited every major A.D.H.D. drug — stimulants like Adderall, Concerta, Focalin and Vyvanse, and nonstimulants like Intuniv and Strattera — for false and misleading advertising since 2000, some multiple times.”

    Even if they weren’t involved, their marketing permeates the culture, and perhaps the minds of researchers.

  • It always astounds me to see just how many drugs psychiatrists layer on top of each other and call it treatment, which are constantly changed and doses ‘adjusted.’ In what other area of medicine do doctors say, “Well, we’ll just keep trying different meds and combos till we hit on something that works” to that extent?

  • This is one of the more damning science news reports we’ve published. What a blatant example of bad science, with a eugenics twist to boot. As Peter excellently explains them, all the flaws in this study are blatantly obvious. And yet they’re published in a top journal, and the authors’ obviously erroneous conclusion is allowed to stand. This study should have been rejected at the reviewing stage.

  • Back in the days before DSM III (1980), which basically launched the medical model of “mental illness,” if a young person had a panic attack and sought help from a mental health professional, they would ask you what was going on in your life. They’d reassure you that the episode was an emotional reaction, not a physical illness, and that you could feel confident about moving on with your life as long as you addressed the issues that were causing the anxiety.

    I had my first panic attack in 1975 at 16 years old and that was how it was addressed. Drugs were not only not prescribed, but discouraged, because using them would be covering up pain instead of working through it. Granted, there was too much Freud thrown around then, but at least the emphasis was on growing through the struggle.

    If Rose had been born a few decades earlier she wouldn’t have been prescribed Zoloft (which didn’t even exist yet) nor had to endure an iatrogenic cascade and withdrawal. Psychiatry is the only field of medicine (sic) where instead of seeing progress we are regressing to deliberate ignorance.

  • Thank you for sharing your story, Sammy. I wish I had good advice or referrals for you — it seems that most lawyers shy away from psychiatric abuse cases. You may wish to contact the people mentioned in the lawsuits I discussed, who perhaps can offer advice and referrals.

    If you wish to share your story in more detail for publication here at Mad in America, you can email me at [email protected].

  • As someone prescribed Olanzapine for suspected “hypomania” (a misdiagnosis; I actually had a life crisis, perimenopause, and a vitamin B-12 deficiency…but I digress) I can confirm the stuff is poison, even after being on it for only about two weeks in 2008. Feeling somewhat calmer soon gave way to losing control of my memory and physical coordination, then worse and I wound up in the ER. Was told never to take it again; I dodged a bullet.

    Peter Simons, did the paper discuss the possible role of withdrawal in the subjects receiving placebo? (Withdrawal from the Zyprexa they had been on before being randomized into the control group.)

  • This article by New York Times reporter Benedict Carey, who covers ‘mental health,’ psychiatry, etc., was published today:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/health/coronavirus-mental-health-anxiety.html.

    Apparently the predicted spike in acute and chronic ‘mental illness’ promoted in the articles I critiqued has not come to pass. In what seems like a turnabout for his profession, one psychiatrist Carey quotes says the following: “In most disasters, the vast majority of people do well…Very few people understand how resilient they really are until faced with extraordinary circumstances. In fact, one of our first jobs in these situations is to call attention to just that.”

  • Steve, per your comment of being able to publish truth-revealing videos of people being shocked, restrained, isolated, before/after forced Haldol injection…I believe that would be very powerful and cause the public to wake up to the psychiatric abuse that is SOP rather quickly. Psych hospitals are like factory farms, where all cameras and most visitors are forbidden. At least with factory farms, we are able to learn of this abuse when someone sneaks in, makes a video, and smuggles it out (and is often later arrested). We need the 21st century version of journalist Nellie Bly (who exposed the horrors of a “madhouse” early in the 20th century by pretending to be “mad”) who can find a way to sneak that camera in and out. For now, words are our cameras.

  • I don’t understand your comment, Streetphotobeing, because this storytelling platform is FOR telling about the harm psychiatry can inflict.

    If you mean psychiatry could come after a person who told their story under their own name, that is why MIA lets people use initials. But I do see the tension here, the privilege of being able to use one’s own full name as Sera mentions. I don’t think letting people write anonymously is the answer, either; it’s a discussion to be continued.

  • I’ll leave it to Bob Whitaker to explain the reason behind the policy. I’m sure it’s not arbitrary. For starters, the use of some form of one’s real name is part of journalistic practice/ethics, and MIA is a news organization.

    My own take is that it’s a credibility issue: pseudonyms make it easier for readers (and the powers that be of psychiatry) to dismiss the true stories people tell: “If the names are fake, how do I know the story isn’t also?” I don’t condone that, but it’s a possibility we’d want to avoid.

  • Hi Readers: If anyone would like to tell their story here and being identified is their main deterrent, we do have workarounds for you. MIA’s rule on pseudonyms does allow for people to disguise their identity through use of a vague version of their name (I’d be, say, M. Spencer or Miranda S.). And sometimes (as with Richard Francis) we let folks who’ve been published under a certain name elsewhere use that name here. Same with the image: Childhood photos, dressed in a hat and sunglasses, pictured in a crowd…authors may submit a photo that is both “them” and not immediately identifiable.

    Also, Sera, I greatly appreciate this essay and the extensive effort you put into thoughtfully answering each and every comment. As the long thread illustrates, this makes for a rich and constructive discussion from which we all benefit.

  • Wonderful interview; very eye-opening.

    What he says about the Soviet Union –it promoted bio-psychiatry because “there are no social problems in our great nation!” –reminds me of the United States and the myth of exceptionalism. I think something similar is going on here: “America is a land of opportunity, a land of plenty! We have no social problems, so if you’re unhappy you must have a chemical imbalance.”

  • I find this ad hominem attack on someone’s personal reproductive choices both offensive and irrelevant to this discussion.

    If you read Dr. Beurkens’ bio and visit her website, you’ll see that she has a holistic, integrative practice that looks for underlying causes of what gets labeled psychiatric and other behavioral issues and seeks to address those, in lieu of conventional psychiatry. This type of practice would seem to be something MIA readers could get behind.

    Even if you disagree, attacking someone’s family is below the belt, in my opinion.

  • It’s kind of mind-blowing that the authors of this study don’t even consider the concept of overdiagnosis, given their results. It’s pretty obvious to me that if almost everyone qualifies as mentally ill at some point, then no one does. It’s a meaningless concept.

    Or rather, if we define MI as a deviation from the norm, but clusters of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so defined turn out to be so common that they ARE the norm, then we should now define anyone NOT meeting the criteria for MI as mentally ill.

    The idea that we as a society allow a small guild (APA) to decide who’s normal and then build a “scientific” research enterprise around that is absurd.

  • In my opinion, a figurative pox on both Jeffrey Lieberman and Bandy Lee! Both believe their “expertise” in the pseudoscience of psychiatry entitles them to exert a disproportionate influence on politics and public discourse.

    Should the APA be able to muzzle the group of psychiatrists who want to argue from authority that Donald Trump is dangerous? No. But Trump should not be removed because psychiatry says so, but because anyone with common sense can see that he’s incompetent, vicious, and a host of other adjectives unsuited to a president.

  • This is the type of gaslighting that prevents stories like James’ from being believed and shared. This is his reality, and it doesn’t seem temporary. Noting the fact that drugs are dangerous — which is why he said he didn’t want to take them–doesn’t negate the fact that TMS is not always the miracle cure it’s purported to be.

    jjnoles, you’re earning a living from TMS; maybe step back and consider that where you stand depends on where you sit.

  • Hi, Paula, sorry for the delay in replying.

    I mostly agree with you about putting quotes around psych diagnoses and have done so quite a bit in this article, but I diverge regarding the use of words like “anxiety” and “depression.” These are generic terms for real experiences (moods) that were in common use well before psychiatry co-opted them, added capital letters and billing codes, and turned them into diseases. Like “mad” and “queer,” I think we need to take these words back rather than use them only in the context of a medical construct or not at all.

    They’re indeed broad and not very specific, but at times I find them useful to concisely describe my own experience. “Anxiety” covers an overarching sense of dread and hyperarousal, and the word “depression” speaks to an overarching feeling of low mood, dark thoughts, and sluggishness.

    Regarding grief, this topic so far has been under-reported in the news media, although as the pandemic drags on I’m starting to see it mentioned more. I can’t speak for anyone else, but grief is the main emotion I am experiencing now. What I think the press needs to im-press upon the public is that people are going to react in a wide variety of ways and the same people will feel and act different on different days. I do better when the sun is out. Yesterday I could barely function, but I wasn’t too concerned because I knew this wasn’t a permanent state…I have enough experience with “mental health problems” and therapy to have faith in my own resilience.

  • Great point — if psychiatry wants to continue alleging that mental illnesses are somehow innate, then they are going out on a limb to also say that stressful circumstances can cause people to suffer emotionally and even break down. Which is it?

    It saddens me that during this most difficult time, we are not allowed to have emotions, only “symptoms.”

  • One thing that strikes me about TMS marketing is that the procedure is called “noninvasive.” Anything that purports to change one’s brain via sending electro-magnetic pulses through it is, by definition, invasive.

    Also, as has been documented repeatedly, it is primary-care doctors who often place people on the psychiatric treatment train, often quite casually as happened in James’ case. I imagine sales reps from TMS machine companies make the rounds of GPs just as pharma company reps do, assuring doctors that these newfangled devices are “safe and effective.”

  • I’ve been noticing for some time how US medical websites purvey the standard pharma lines about “antidepressant” drugs, including the unproven statement that depression is a result of a chemical imbalance or genetic defect. It’s not hard see why this might be the case: Many of these allegedly objective medical websites, including MayoClinic.com and WebMD, are rife with pharmaceutical advertising.

    For example, I just checked the Mayo Clinic site’s page on “Major Depressive Disorder.” It includes an ad in a sidebar for Latuda, a neuroleptic drug sometimes prescribed to people with a depression diagnosis as well as other mental illness labels. These sponsor dollars surely exert an effect on the reader that reinforces the idea that psych drugs are necessary and safe, and help keep these websites in business. Follow the money.

  • I would like to point readers to MIA’s Parent Resources section, which has many blogs, feature essays, Q&As, and a few videos and podcasts about non-pathologizing, non-drug approaches to helping kids with emotional and behavioral issues. https://www.madinamerica.com/parents/. Please explore and share widely!

    Dr. Paula J. Caplan’s “Talking About Psych Diagnoses and Drugs: A Primer for Parents & Professionals” is a great place to start. There’s also Dr Craig Wiener’s video series, “ADHD: A Return to Psychology,” which challenges the whole notion of the ADHD diagnosis so many kids are saddled with and advocates looking at what’s going on with the individual child. And the podcast “Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Children,” with Drs. Peter Breggin and Michael Cornwall, on the threats from high-tech interventions and how to fight back. Just a start.

  • This trend terrifies and enrages me. It’s also a bit absurd, assuming people aren’t even able to know their own moods without a tech assist from essentially an outsider.

    This article in today’s New York Times tells of a related phenomenon, government use of cell phone and other data to track people’s movements during the coronavirus crisis: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/technology/coronavirus-surveillance-tracking-privacy.html.

    The story notes, “[R]atcheting up surveillance to combat the pandemic now could permanently open the doors to more invasive forms of snooping later.”

  • Thank you for this deconstruction. The final quote blew me away. The il-logic of it can be seen if we replace “psychiatric disorders” with “flying pigs”:

    “In our ongoing project to study and justify the nature of flying pigs, we ought to be broadly pragmatic but not lose sight of an underlying commitment, despite the associated difficulties, to the reality of flying pigs.” (p 5)

  • I can’t speak for MIA in this case, but I just retweeted Leah Harris’ tweet of this shameful obit to the New York Times on my personal account. It included this comment: @nytimes, an obit is supposed to honor the dead’s accomplishments, not make attacks they cannot answer nor be “objectively balanced.” Remove Dr Shorter’s nasty comments from this, please!

    Feel free to retweet me or send your own tweet.

  • I hadn’t realized Lady Gaga was on something as heavy as Zyprexa (olanzapine). When she starts gaining 80 lbs and experiencing rigid muscles, tremors, and inability to think straight–it pains me to think of it, she’s a very talented, bright woman–perhaps she will awake to her poisoning and join us on the survivors’ side.

    Neo_liberalism, Dr Caplan was on the DSM task force and left in disgust. Check out her book, They Say You’re Crazy for her detailed discussion of that period.

  • I’ve ordered the book and look forward to reading it. In addition to its being an important addition to the canon of critical psychiatry books, it bears witness for people like me. Back in 2008, I was prescribed a high dose of this dangerous drug on the basis of a very quick and superficial intake after being told I was likely manic because I was highly agitated and could not sleep. Within days I was suffering tremors and inability to remember a conversation from five minutes ago. As I began to feel worse, I wound up in the ER and had to have the drug flushed out of my system. I was very lucky I was not forced to stay on it and experience the longer-term effects.

    As I understand it, at that time many other people were prescribed it as casually. Though Lilly had to pay a fine, the drug is still out there and being forced on people with impunity.

  • I understood it to mean that well before people wind up at the doctor for their symptoms, negative experiences and exposures have already begun triggering changes in their brain and body. IE, a state of overwhelm starts a physical disease (or emotional dis-ease) process.

    Is that right, Dr. Stillerman?

  • Very good points, anomie.

    It chills me to read that Princeton University is perpetuating the unscientific chemical imbalance hypothesis and actively encouraging struggling students to take “meds” without also mentioning counseling and other supports.

    Consider, though: Princeton is located in central New Jersey. Central New Jersey is an epicenter of pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Collaborations between the two abound: https://cefr.princeton.edu/industry

  • Sunbelt Wellness, as you well know, ketamine (as distinct from eskatamine) is increasingly being used as a treatment for depression and PTSD, among other things. If you have an issue with the study itself I suggest you take that up with the authors.

    Reporting on new scientific findings should never be silenced because you think those findings might be stigmatizing; that’s censorship. Science is science; we may not always like what it tells us, but it gives us more information with which to make decisions.

  • To Scary Black Kitten’s comment, I understand being leery of any biological explanations pointing to physical imbalances, given the myths perpetrated by psychiatry. But as someone who benefitted greatly from functional medicine myself when I was having a mental health crisis more than a decade ago, I think it’s a mistake to reject any and all medical explanations for our suffering.

    One important difference between the standard chemical-imbalance concept and the concepts of functional medicine is that the former has little evidence to back it up (including no blood tests) while the latter does. Our nutrition status and other health issues do affect how we feel emotionally and mentally, which is why too often medical problems are misdiagnosed as “mental illness.” Vitamin B12 deficiency, for example, can lead to brain fog and even psychosis-like symptoms. Too little or too much estrogen can wreak havoc with one’s mood, as most menopausal women can tell you.

    Also, psych drugs do not actually fix anything in our brain or elsewhere, whereas diet and nutrition and hormones (etc.) actually can correct underlying health issues, so a person is better positioned to address life problems that may be causing emotional distress and disability.

    Physical “imbalances” of this nature are real, but they are not the whole story. So while functional medicine may sometimes be necessary, it’s not always sufficient to lighten our soul’s burden.

    As to the cost, I was able to buy all the supplements and such prescribed to me because I was lucky enough to be economically privileged, with good health insurance. (I also had a doctor who knew the right codes to use for me to get at least some reimbursement.) As Elizabeth said, the only way to overcome the very high cost of tests and ‘treatment’ is for insurers to start covering them, which could save a tremendous amount of money in the long run. Or maybe we will get Medicare for All or even single-payer healthcare (one can dream)…

  • Yes, I agree with you!

    Since, as I say, we are trying to reach a broad audience here — especially parents whose child has most likely received an OCD diagnosis–we use the term because it’s familiar to them and they will probably be using that as their search term. When editing, I often will phrase it as “diagnosed with” XX, rather than having XX, because the former is a fact and the latter is an opinion. It certainly is tricky, because by repeating the term OCD one in a sense reinforces it, and on the other –by conceptualizing it as an imaginary gremlin–it reframes the problem from a medical one to more of a “problem in living.”