Saturday, March 25, 2023

Comments by KateL

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  • We have the right to legal representation to a) defend ourselves when accused of a crime and b) file civil suits when we experience harm in the “health care system” while under force or coercion.

    We have the right not to be slandered/defamed by pejorative so-called diagnoses based on flimsy or no evidence that are put in our medical files never to be removed, which prevent us from receiving much needed medical care.

    So many rights! We have the right to informed consent. Let’s talk about it!

  • We also have the “right” to personal autonomy, as long as we are not hurting/bothering anyone, the right to decide what to put in our bodies, the right to refuse “medical treatment”, all kinds of rights that are trampled on a daily basis. The right to *receive* medical care when the “treatment’ that was forced on us destroyed our health. Let’s talk about rights!!!!!

  • I’m getting really tired of being attacked and being patronized. I stated that my insurance carrier — which I named — does NOT cover EMDR for borderline personality. There was no misinformation, and you are not correcting any statement of mine, since I didn’t state anything that was untrue.
    I also stated that many therapists, including those who consider themselves trauma therapists, refuse to take “borderline” patients. This is common knowledge. The discrimination against patients labeled with this diagnosis is rampant in the “mental health community”.

    Please spare me the “if you had said the earth was flat” nonsense.

  • “Who are these therapists?”

    Is this a real question, or rhetorical? I ask because I tried to report a therapist via “appropriate channels”, including the patient relations dept of the hospital that ran the IOP DBT program and also through the DBT committee for certification, and I couldn’t get anyone to listen or take me seriously.
    There is no oversight of this profession. The profession “polices” itself, and does a terrible job of it, allowing abusive therapists to continue harmful practices.

  • I think the “experts” think they can school us here and intimidate us the way they did in the environments where they held all of the power.
    The arguments are ridiculous. Responding to claims of outright abuse with, “be careful not to overgeneralize” and flipping from “this is objective fact” to “”ah, well, it’s more art than science” when they are called out.
    People who were abused in the mental health system are experts in how the system abuses people. I guess some people just can’t handle that objective fact.

  • Agree, Steve. It really does seem like there are some who are invested in keeping the grift going no matter what.
    How is it that the response to stories of *abuse* from the mental health system is so often, “Aw, that didn’t fix you? Have you tried this treatment?”
    I’ve had to cut so many people out of my life we who didn’t understand that I had been badly injured, physically and mentally, by “treatment” and that continuing to seek out “help” from the system would put me in more danger.
    Maybe instead of trying different flavors of Kool Aid, it makes sense to stop with the Kool Aid altogether!

  • Thanks, Birdsong.

    There does seem to be a compassion chip missing in a lot of cases. Case in point: on a critical psychiatry website that’s chock-full of personal narratives of horrific experiences in “mental health treatment”, under an article about how many trauma survivors were re-traumatized by DBT, in a comment section filled with more stories of trauma survivors having terrible experiences in DBT, a therapist’s main concern is to pick an argument about whether EMDR is covered by insurance or not. Like, read the room.

  • I just looked up whether my Medicare advantage plan (Aetna) covers EMDR. It apparently covers it for PTSD. It does NOT cover EMDR for a long list of other diagnoses, including borderline.

    This is so typical. I have a borderline diagnosis. I don’t have a PTSD diagnosis. Never got one, despite the fact that it was completely obvious I had PTSD and even my DBT therapists, who started out saying, ” The past is irrelevant. Just learn skills” were eventually telling me that I absolutely needed trauma therapy, except by that point because I was disabled and had a treatment record and a borderline diagnosis and was on Medicare, so I could never get trauma therapy and still can’t.
    It sure would have been nice if the DBT therapist who told me I needed a trauma therapy had added PTSD diagnosis to my record, but he couldn’t be bothered I guess.

    And then, even if insurance did cover it, so often the trauma therapist refuses to treat ” borderlines”…which is extremely common.

    Yeah, at some point the best decision is to say, screw all the therapies. At some point, the patient realizes that maybe the “treatment providers” enjoy seeing patients face rejection, suffer, fail. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

  • When DBT ended (I was dropped by a fully certified DBT therapist, by phone, with no notice, after about 8 excruciating months during which she made me feel like a huge burden and spent every second of our “sessions” talking about how she needed to farm out my treatment to someone else, anyone else. One week she would show up with all the paperwork for admission to McLean inpatient unit for borderlines.
    Another week, she would pressure me to apply to a residential program that I couldn’t afford and where the admissions director was extremely prejudiced – vocally – against anyone with a borderline diagnosis. At one point she worked with a psychiatrist to try to get my brain shocked again despite my protestations that ECT was the thing that had disabled me and the psychiatrist who had suggested it had told me afterwards, “you have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work.” These two psychiatrists were very close colleagues and all he had to do was pick up the phone and call the one who had done the ECT to see if I was telling the truth. But that was too much for them I guess. And they just put me inpatient for what they were calling an ECT consultation.
    When I brought up my concern to the DBT therapist that she wasn’t in consultation, which is a violation of DBT protocol, she told me her other patients do fine with her not being in consultation. She said I was the only one she needed consultation for, and then she tried to send me to an IOP DBT program so that she could get consultation from that program. It was the program that had referred me to her! She wasn’t honest though about that either because she told the DBT therapists in this program, where I had just been discharged for the fifth time, that it was my idea to go back there. She didn’t tell them that it was her idea as it would be a solution to her not being in consultation and that she was there getting the paperwork to readmit me despite my protests.). She called me one day, a day after what turned out to be our final session, a session during which she took the whole 50 minutes telling me about how hard her life was. She had work problems, family problems. Her daughter was sick and was being discriminated against at school. Her husband was cold and unsupportive. She was being discriminated against at work, where her colleagues had filed a complaint against her. I had no idea at the moment why she was telling me all these things, and then the next day she called me and said that she was going out of state indefinitely to deal with family issues and would not be reachable. She gave me the name and address of a therapist I had never heard of, let alone spoken to, who was an hour’s drive away and who didn’t take my insurance. She told me I needed to go see her and she would get back in touch with me whenever she returned to Connecticut. When I said no to this plan, she got off the phone with me and called my psychiatrist and told him that I had quit treatment. So I never saw him again and had to cold turkey off all the drugs he’d been prescribing. I never got to tell him my side of the story. He only heard it from her that I had quit.

    After that, I had spent so much time money, energy in treatment and had been so badly burned and treated like a failure by everyone including so-called friends and family. The idea that someone who had a bad experience in DBT can just pick themselves up and dust themselves off and subject themselves to more treatment and be fine with it, fairly ludicrous in my mind. And that’s if the therapist doesn’t hang up the phone. The second they hear that the patient looking for help has a borderline diagnosis and has already been through DBT. I’ve been rejected by a multitude of therapists when they heard about my treatment “record.” Ones that took insurance, ones that didn’t take insurance. Schema therapists, EMDR therapists. Almost none of the ones that do anything the least bit alternative don’t accept insurance of any form and are really only an option for the very wealthy.
    I think many therapists are completely unable to put themselves in the shoes of a patient who has been through the ringer. And that is not at all unusual. They also need to stop making false promises, like saying that they have a core assumption that patients can’t fail. People don’t have unlimited patience, money, time and trust to get burned over and over and over again. They need to stop demanding that patients. trust them. Trust is earned.
    At this point, even if I were offered free trauma therapy, I don’t think I would do it. The trust has been broken completely.

  • I don’t know if it’s been brought up yet, but part of the problem with DBT is that it markets itself as the be all and end all. People who have very little knowledge of the mental health system often accept the premises that borderline is a real thing and that DBT is the gold standard treatment to “fix” borderline.
    Patients who enter into DBT experience a kind of indoctrination where their language is policed and everything they do, right down to a thought they have, can and often is labeled by the DBT therapist as a problem behavior and or ineffective behavior. This gives the therapist an inordinate amount of power over the patient, and in my case it did serious harm. My belief that other treatment providers were being abusive to me was labeled as an ineffective or problem thought. My ability and instinct to protect myself from further harm from the system was systematically taken from me by DBT.

    It’s important to remember the “core assumptions” of DBT, which in my experience were introduced at the start of treatment and were repeated very often. I see this now as a piece of the indoctrination.

    One of the core assumptions is that “patients can’t fail in DBT treatment”. If a patient goes through DBT and does not make progress toward their life worth living, or if in fact their life actually becomes worse, according to DBT, it is not the fault of the patient. It is the fault of the DBT treatment providers or of the treatment itself.

    If the treatment providers or the DBT hierarchy actually believed this, they would be open to speaking with former patients who feel that DBT harmed them. They are not open to it. There were many, many times during treatment when a DBT therapist said things suggesting that my life situation — which was alarmingly bad by the end of DBT treatment — and the treatment failures were entirely my fault.
    I was asked, “Do you want to keep going in circles?” And, “Do you want to wind up completely alone?” By a DBT therapist who I had trusted, listened to, followed the advice of, acted willing for, tried to be a perfect DBT patient for, for many years. I was crushed! I have been out of DBT for almost a decade and am still dealing with the harm. DBT robbed me of my ability to trust myself and protect myself from further harm when that ability was desperately needed.

  • “why don’t we see these millions constantly speaking out and sharing their perspectives on involuntary commitment?”

    The reality is that people who have been the most harmed by forced treatment have lost their standing in society and speaking out will put them in danger. They don’t have Twitter and Instagram accounts with tons of followers. They are not influencers.
    They’re in hiding. Speaking for myself, I don’t talk to neighbors. I don’t go to the doctor. I don’t go anywhere. I understand that the system already won.
    Sometimes I question the optimism expressed about the capacity for reform. Are we really experiencing a paradigm shift? Are we seeing incremental change? Is society ready to hear what psychiatric treatment entails (that’s it’s not mostly helpful but mostly brutal), or will they just call us crazy some more and talk about how society should be protected and we need to bring back the asylums? Any social media site where I’ve talked about how my diagnosis of borderline ruined my life, how ECT left me with brain damage, DBT was abusive and the prescribed drugs broke my body, I get attacked, usually by multiple people.

  • “Do the crime, do the time”

    So you’re saying that admitting to being suicidal, having suicidal thoughts, attempting suicide, etc…these are crimes?
    Why are they calling it treatment then instead of a sentence? Why is their no trial, no public defender? Why does it involve forced drugging? Why is there this propaganda, “don’t be afraid to ask for help”?
    If it’s a crime fine but don’t lie about it. Stop with all the propaganda.

  • Anotherone,

    I’m also confused. I was told that they had a huge response (hundreds of people signed up) to the “psychiatric survivor clinic” they had announced back in June, I think. They said they had to keep postponing it because it they wanted to make sure they”did it right”. Then, it was “definitely” going to happen in January 2023. No word. So, they’ve let down hundreds of people who identify as psychiatric survivors without even acknowledging it. Just move on to the next thing. Good to see what the priorities are.

  • “the psychiatric survivor network is here to help you heal.”

    In my case, the psychiatric survivor network was the cause of more trauma and more gaslighting, with continuous false statements, empty promises, victim blaming, social “wokeness” used to signal concern for humans that did not exist.
    In my experience (I’m sure it didn’t help that I’m a white middle aged woman with a college degree), these agencies are engaging in the worst possible thing by repeating the trauma caused by the mainstream helping system. I was already half dead when these places put me through the ringer again. Then they team up against the person they’ve harmed and play victim (“we are multiply marginalized”).

    Don’t offer help/support that you have no intention of actually providing. How hard is that, honestly? It’s not a big ask!

  • Lori,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. We are the same age (both of us became victims of the chemical imbalance narrative at a time when there was no counter-narrative).
    I attempted suicide for the first time when I was 19, and have also faced a lifetime of punishment. My family bought into the narrative in which I was the villain (the borderline label was added after ECT at age 38) and I’ve been trying to survive without family, friends, work, medical care, or advocacy. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll last. Death doesn’t frighten me. What frightens me is the very real possibility that I will be put in a facility, again, before that happens.
    I’m in a similar situation with social security. I no longer see any “professionals” and if they remove my disability because of that, I don’t know what I’ll do. I also want to die every day.

    It’s almost beyond belief what these “experts” have done and gotten away with (and in many cases they have been treated as saints, and/or victims, by many in society). I don’t believe in God but I do hope there is another life and that they will have to answer for what they’ve done to their fellow human beings.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It couldn’t have been easy.

  • I was interfered with, my choices stolen from me. I overdosed on elavil at 19. My stomach was pumped. Tubes were stuck in me. I was forced to drink charcoal.
    I knew I should die. My reasoning was sound. I’ve lived an entire life as a burden, a problem, unwanted, slowly dying from the isolation and decades of terrible memories. The people who interfered with me will have alot to answer for in the next life. I had the solution 37 years ago.

  • So much about this discussion in the article comes across as clueless. The first glaring issue that jumps out at me is the seeming cluelessness that professionals have in thinking that only patients who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or other psychotic-related disorders are coerced/ forced into taking antipsychotics.

    When I was in DBT, following years of polydrugging by a psychiatrist who kept no records and gave no informed consent and then called me treatment-resistant and passed me on to the next one who did ECT and then told me that that didn’t work because I had borderline personality disorder, by that point I was disabled… Everyone I knew in the DBT group was being poly-drugged. An “anti-psychotic” of one kind or another was always a part of that mix. Abilify, Risperdol, Geodon, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Latuda…on and on.

    In my case and from what I can see in a lot of people’s cases, they were made to take these drugs because they had what the professionals deemed as anger issues. Yes, we were angry, because we were being treated like we were subhumans and criminals. And then we were expected to act grateful for the “help”.

    The minute anyone wanted to be non-compliant with their antipsychotics, the verbal assault started: “Non-compliant.” “Willful.” “Lacking awareness.”

    The patients who had marked that they had experienced an “urge to skip meds” on their diary card would be humiliated in front of the group. They would be asked, “Are you a doctor? Did you go to medical school?” by DBT therapists who thought the best answer was to just humiliate them into compliance.

    I remember a psychiatrist at that IOP who used to talk about how Abilify “fixed” the thing that was wrong with our brains that made us borderline. She had a little PowerPoint presentation on it. I don’t know where she got any of that “information” from.

    I remember people who would barely be able to sit in group. Their legs would bounce up and down, their feet would move constantly, their hands. They had a box of “distress tolerance” items in the room, things patients could fidget with so they wouldn’t have to miss any therapy time.

    No one ever talked about akathisia or any of the other side effects of the drugs. I didn’t even learn the word akathisia until 10 years later. I learned it on my own.

    It’s probably safe to assume that anyone who agrees to take antipsychotics, on any kind of long term basis, is doing so under some form of coercion, distress, or disinformation. Pretty much no one agrees to brain damage plus physical “side effects” loss of ability to feel pleasure, and a much shortened life span.

  • I’ve been committed to inpatient psychiatric wards around 25 separate times. The first commitment was age 19. After I told someone I wanted to kill myself. They only kept me overnight. I didn’t see a doctor. It was just a big show of being taken away by the police from my college dorm to show me that I’m not allowed to say that. Most of the commitments happened after ECT treatments about 15 years ago. Between that and all the psych drugs I’d been on put on for decades, I couldn’t manage my of chronic suicidality any longer. Also being diagnosed with borderline after the ECT increase my feelings of suicidality exponentially. I still think about dying every day, but I can manage the thoughts because I finally escaped from psychiatry. At least for now.
    When I realized what the system had done to me, about 5 years ago, and I began to understand how so-called treatment had destroyed my life, I posted a bunch of Google reviews. They were met with threats and Intimidation, including one occasion where the police were sent to my house… because I posted a negative review of the local hospital and how badly they had treated me. Shortly after that incident I left the state. I no longer seek any kind of medical treatment.
    I’ll never feel safe in this world. I’m still learning to navigate between speaking out about the destruction and keeping myself safe – relatively speaking – from more harm from the system.

  • Registeredforthissite,
    Thank you for this comment. It is so well said, and very validating to me and no doubt to other MIA readers who have experienced many of the negative outcomes of psychiatric intervention that you list. I have relocated to a different state for the reasons you allude to, and still I won’t seek out health care unless it’s a life-or-death situation because of the risk.
    The professionals really do live in a bubble (or rather, the large majority seem to), just like you said.

  • “There is no variety of viewpoints here, Bob”

    And that’s a real shame. Every forum should follow the example of Psychiatric Times and present a wide spectrum of views. For example, I love how Psychiatric Times devotes so much space to former psych patients to tell their stories about how their lives were destroyed by psychiatric “treatment”. I always flip right to the Psychiatric Survivor page when PT shows up in my mailbox!

  • “To be eligible for membership you must (provide) documentation of an Axis I mental health diagnosis.”

    This quote is from the admissions paperwork for a clubhouse for people with mental illness diagnoses in the very liberal city where I live. I was attempting to become a member of the clubhouse because one of their services is helping people who have mental illness diagnoses and who have been on disability find employment. I was very much in need of employment but was unable to find it on my own, mainly because of a decade-long gap in my work history due to not being able to perform at my job after ECT. I had applied to a couple of places including a salvation army thrift store but did not get so much as a phone call in response to the application. I needed work for multiple reasons. One of which was I needed to be less isolated and feel that I was contributing in some way. I also was trying to get onto MassHealth and had been denied due to being on Medicare. Medicare is rarely accepted by health providers that I have sought services from, and when it is accepted, Medicare does not cover many important things including dental care. When I needed surgery on my ankle due to breaking three broken bones and dislocation, Medicare would not cover the cost of me staying in a facility until such time as I was able to put weight on my foot. I was sent home to a third floor apartment where I was trapped for the next several months and alone. So I was very interested in getting on MassHealth and had been told that the only chance I had to get on MassHealth was to get a part-time job. I went for an interview at the clubhouse. The woman I spoke to was very nice and I gave her some of my history, including how devastated I felt after the ECT and then being told by the psychiatrist that the ECT hadn’t worked because I had something called borderline personality (I had never heard of it before and he didn’t even tell me what it was, but just gave that as the reason for the ECT not working). I told her that getting that diagnosis had been devastating for me because of the stigma and the hopelessness surrounding it.
    When I left the interview, this woman handed me the paperwork containing the above quote. I didn’t see it until I had already gotten home. I was extremely upset and called to ask whether people with a borderline diagnosis are not welcome at the clubhouse, since I was aware that the BPD diagnosis is on Axis 2.
    First, I got a lecture from the woman who answered the phone, explaining to me that Axis 1 and Axis 2 categories were done away with years ago. When I reiterated that the mention of the two categories was on the paperwork I had just gotten from the clubhouse, the woman only said, “we just want to make sure that anyone trying to join the clubhouse is actually suffering from a mental health condition.”
    I approached multiple other people at multiple other agencies asking for help with this situation. I still wanted to join the clubhouse and find work and get on MassHealth, but I realized that the process of meeting the admissions requirements was not something I could do alone. Every person I asked for help refused in one way or another (I got responses that were anywhere from, “call the social security department” to “why don’t you try being a greeter at Walmart?” to “I’m not co-signing any of this” to, “that sounds clinical”. No, I don’t know what any of that means either.)
    Eventually I gave up on joining the clubhouse.

    Did I demonstrate poor reflective functioning? Poor coping skills? Did I see discrimination where it didn’t exist?
    If that’s the case, and this is all due to my mental disorder, shouldn’t there be help–accomodation–for my disability? Because that doesn’t exist either. I get accused of being manipulative. Yes, I’m trying to manipulate my way into health insurance so that I don’t get trapped by myself in a third floor apartment again.
    I’ve been dealing with all of this for 4+ decades, and still it’s the powers-that-be that decide who is privileged and who is marginalized and which narratives should be prioritized while at the same time no amount of direct reportage from people who have experienced harm seems to move the needle in the right direction. Are we really experiencing a paradigm shift or incremental change? I’ve been in survival mode for years but continually get accused of complaining and playing the victim and refusing to help myself.
    I was asked once by a DBT therapist, “Do you want to keep going in circles?”. The answer is, no one does. No one wants that. The system does this to people. Calls them worthless, treats them like they are worthless until they break, then turns it’s back. “Oh, she had enough help.”. I’m supposed to just live like this, not have any needs I can’t meet myself, indefinitely.
    I would expect to find an article like this one on any mainstream outlet that sees no reason to challenge the status quo that leads to so much harm and lived destroyed.

  • I’ve never been the right kind of person to be heard or believed. Now I know I’ll never be. I moved specifically — with every ounce of energy that I had left — to a place that had been advertised as having services available and a community that welcomed people with lived experience. Alas, I have the wrong kind of lived experience and was rejected once again by people who suggested I was delusional/lying and who “will not co-sign” my expressions of pain. People who told me “times up, you need to go” from a peer run crisis center and then made claims that I had decided to spend the week there alone. I guess I’ll continue to keep enthusiastically telling my story that no one wants to hear right to the end.

  • Thank you, Birdsong. Yes, after the experiences I (and, as I understand, many others) had in psych wards, the idea of “bringing emotional safety” is laughable. It’s so strange to think about, of all the money, time, and energy I am put into treatment once I was able to access it myself, the horrible experiences of my past were never addressed. It was all about psych drugs, ECT, coping in the moment, crisis survival skills, TMS, on and on. What happened to me didn’t matter at all. I was almost 50 years old when I finally learned that I had PTSD, but by that time I was rejected by every trauma therapist and trauma program. I sought out, due to either the borderline diagnosis, having the wrong insurance (Medicare), my history of hospitalizations, and once, the fact that I didn’t have an emergency contact.
    The child I was pregnant with when that happened has been in tremendous mental and physical pain to the point of being suicidal for the past 10 years. I’m braced for the worst.

  • Every person’s story is unique. We didn’t survive years of trauma to fill someone’s quota. Try being a 56 year old white woman, disabled by drugs and ECT, words like borderline and drug addict written all over your medical charts so you know you’ll just get gaslit and force medicated if you ever dare to darken the door of a health care office. Family gone. Job prospects, gone. Suicidal adult child. Nothing you can do for him. The advocacy organizations treat you like a Karen if you ask them to do what they advertise on their website. You can’t escape the jokes and condemnation about borderlines and horrible mothers anywhere. You will be alone no matter what as you’ve always been. Don’t talk to neighbors, or the same thing will happen as happened last time and you’re not well enough to move again even if you had anywhere to go. At least the cops don’t know you here.

  • Information has come out and literally nothing has changed. All I have to look back on is decades of abuse from the health care industry with ZERO legal or societal protection from what I was enduring. Put, “misconstrued and assumed and had poor reflective functioning” on my epitaph, I don’t care.”. I’ve lost everything including any chance at family or “community ” whatever that is (yeah wildflower you talk a good game.)
    Must be nice to have people, protection and a platform. I’ll never know.

  • Gee, I was called a “little bitch” by a psych nurse when I was obviously pregnant and locked in an inpatient ward due to homelessness. I tried to report the nurse who kept calling me that, but none of the staff cared. I’m pretty sure my (and my unborn child’s) emotional safety was not a high priority for them. What of the staff that get off on humiliating patients? Let’s not pretend they don’t exist, or even that they’re in the minority!

  • “Our personal stories, which are so important, do not yet convey the diversity of experiences in the psychiatric system that exist across racial diversities and across class diversities.”

    If I had contributed to MIA in a blog I would be very hurt by this comment. The white women who wrote about the most horrific and humiliating experiences weren’t good enough because they weren’t from the right demographic?

  • Thank you, Kimberley, for this well-researched and clearly written article. I believe this is an extremely helpful and informative distillation of the major issues we (people who would like to see reform of the mental health system/as people who have experienced harm in this system) are contending with.

    I’m confused by some of the comments that call the article incoherent or make other criticisms. I’m beginning to wonder if this is a “shoot the messenger” situation?

    I found the main points (listed below, as I understand them) of the article to be very well-stated, and irrefutable.

    * Late stage capitalism, from the time of Thatcher/Reagan forward, places a low priority on the actual emotional health of the populace. Instead, it values efficiency, productivity, materialism.
    * Any kind of mental dis-ease, in this environment, gets blamed on the individual and not on their place in society/their environment or their history. Psychiatry corroborates this idea (that the suffering individual is pathological in some way) by saying a mentally suffering person has “a chemical imbalance” and by giving them a DSM diagnosis (or two diagnoses, or eight).
    * Drug companies profit off of this theory and have reaped huge financial rewards maintaining this claim about chemical imbalances and selling a slew of drugs that “correct” the imbalances, despite the fact that these theories have been proven wrong
    by many studies and the fact that people who take the drugs long term do measurably much worse than those who don’t (and even those who take the drugs short term often do very poorly). The skyrocketing rise in number of people receiving “mental health treatment” correlates with an equivalent rise in psychiatric disability — a pretty clear indicator that something is very wrong.
    * The person receiving “mental health treatment” is going to benefit the economy one way or another, the way this system is set up. Those who can’t be productive at a job will still be consumers of “medications” and “treatments”, allowing the mental health system to remain a thriving, recession-proof industry.
    * Many people, including many patients, have expressed a desire for non-medication, non-pathologizing mental health care that takes into account the person’s humanity, background, environment, social supports, physical health, opportunities, culture, etc. To the extent that these kinds of non-pathologizing treatments have been offered, they have shown good results. Alas, there’s no money in it.

    This is some of what I got from the article, anyway, though the author said it better. I have tried to be coherent.

  • The second -to-highest recommended comment on the NY Times E Fuller Torrey article (scary stuff):

    “I sit here reading this, a retired clinical psychologist, recalling so many family members, distraught because yet again their (son, daughter, father, husband, wife… etc.) was “who knows where” – psychotic, delusional, homicidal etc. and couldn’t I please “do something” to help them?” They were frantic. I was concerned. And it all was traceable back to an inability to provide compassionate protection for the mentally ill person and society. In one case both parents were mental health professionals, taking turns to ensure that the family member remained safely at home. In other words, having to take time off work – just to ensure themselves the safety of their relative. To prevent suicide, homicide or some type of social or criminal activity. Calling the police does little good if the mentally ill person can feign sanity long enough. Even courts will let them go if they can manage to convince a judge they are sane at that moment. Think how many of these mass murders might have been prevented. All because psychiatric wards and facilities were closed. In effect, “there was no room in the inn” as the Bible records. I thank the Times for running this article. On a Sunday when people are more likely to read. We live in a nation where there is no medical care or mental health care for tens of millions. Where money is sent to billionaires instead of funding care for our brethren – who wander the streets, act out their crazy thoughts, live lives of inner torture.”

  • I agree, Steve. I generally don’t engage with someone who begins a “dialogue” with insults.

    I also hope that people who benefit from psych drugs have the professional support they need when suddenly those drugs are not available. Saw this news item recently:

    “WASHINGTON, Dec 12 (Reuters) – A crackdown by U.S. drug wholesalers in response to the opioid crisis is preventing some pharmacists from dispensing a combination of stimulants and sedatives routinely prescribed by psychiatrists to help patients manage conditions like anxiety and ADHD.”

    I’ve had to cold turkey off a number of these drugs (klonopin, Adderall, Cymbalta, Lyrica and more) and never had support even when the withdrawals were physically dangerous. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone.

  • I don’t blame you, Gina. The NY Times has a very pro psychiatry slant, among other faults.
    The article was pretty disturbing, enough so that I didn’t finish it. The author is very sympathetic to Torrey, I guess because he had a sister with “mental illness”. Apparently his life’s work has been to remove people’s rights “for their own good”, so he’s very excited about the new “policy”. The cohort that complains about the “mentally ill dying with their rights on” can celebrate now, since people will be dying with their rights off with the new fascist policies.

  • My mother has never even acknowledged what she did and the impact her behavior had on me and her grandson. The most she’s ever said about why she lied to the ER doctor (I was most certainly depressed and traumatized and already had been made to understand that there was no help available — hence my solution. There were enormous problems in the family. Both of my older brothers had already been diagnosed with SMI and hospitalized many times. My parents were both abusive.) the most she’s ever said is, “I guess I couldn’t handle having another mentally ill child”. My parents were smart enough to drive me – unconscious – to the smaller hospital instead of call an ambulance and risk the authorities make a connection to my brothers at the “real” hospital. Her “partnership” with the ER doctor in denying my most basic needs and punishing me for being in pain (I still remember the sadistic look on his face when he ripped the tubes out of my nose) taught me, once again, that there was no help and I would be punished for needing it/seeking it.
    Years later, when I was able to pay for my own treatment, I spent hours and hours in IOPs, locked wards, therapist appointments, psychiatrist appointments, paying paying paying for them to tell me that I had borderline and I needed more ECT or another drug added or I needed to learn more coping skills. None of them knew my history. It was deemed irrelevant.

    Why not focus on the choices made by the ones with all of the power instead of trying to correct the choices of people who have no power and whose only choice is how to survive a life of pain?

  • “It’s pretty clear from your words that you have had your share of negative experiences within the traditional psychiatric system.”

    Yes, I experienced decades of abuse and coercive control in the system. I tried to kill myself at 19 — took an overdose of elavil that had been prescribed by a psychiatrist who dumped me the day the Board of Ed stopped paying. Why did they send me to her? Was I sick? Did I need “medication”? If so, the doctor should have lost her license for malpractice since she dumped me with no notice out of pure self interest without telling me what to do with the elavil or referring me elsewhere for treatment (it was the ’80s, there was no internet. Were there help lines? not that I knew of.). I called her multiple times begging for help but she knew she wouldn’t get paid, so, tough luck for me. When I overdosed my stomach was pumped and my mother insisted to the ER doctor that I was “not depressed and there are no problems in the family.”
    He didn’t question why I had a prescription for elavil, which was commonly prescribed for depression back then. I would think an ER doctor would have known that. I was sent away with no help, without even speaking with a doctor. Then I was kicked out of my house, sent out of state to a place where I couldn’t even find my way around, didn’t exactly have my wits about me, and was completely alone. I had housing but no money for food, no transportation. I was sick and alone. One person spoke to me: a guy who said he would marry me if I got pregnant. I got pregnant. Then he broke up with me, I lost my housing and wound up in a locked psych ward for the entire pregnancy.
    4 decades later I think I made a good choice — my choice — with that elavil but it wasn’t honored. And all the system has done from that point on is torture me more. Tell me that I don’t deserve to live, that I’m inherently defective (borderline!) but not allow me the solution. The system and what they did to me are the height of irresponsibility as far as I’m concerned.
    I wish everyone did have a choice. The fact that a professional would make the claim that everyone has a choice shows that only survivors understand the reality of this brutal system.

  • Even NAMI is against this policy:

    “Mental health professionals are questioning it. “We are defaulting to an extreme that takes away basic human rights,” Matt Kudish, CEO of the New York chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said in a statement after Adams’ announcement”

    From CNN article:

  • “I agree. Let’s start by dropping all the fancy talk. 1. Who determines who we grab, and by what rules? 2. Where do we put the grabbed? 3. Who staffs where we put the grabbed? 4. What are the rules for letting the grabbed out? 5. What’s the budget for all this?”

    At least this guy’s honest.

    Anyone who thinks we should be happy about incremental change should spend a few minutes in the comments section of the NY Times under any article about “the mentally ill “. I thought I felt hopeless before I read that sh*t. Now I can’t even move.

  • Agreed, there is no dearth of long term data. There is plenty of long term data including what to me is the most relevant and accurate data: Self-reported experiences of individuals who were prescribed the drugs in various doses and combinations ever since the drugs came on the market in the 80s. Those experiences are shared everywhere across the internet, from this website to websites like surviving antidepressants and inner compass. The drugs were tested on the population for the last 40 years, so there is a very large sample size. Pro psychiatry people will dismiss these narratives as anecdotal, but the people who have been prescribed the drugs, who have taken them in various combinations over years or decades, these are the people with the first hand knowledge. Not something they read about in a drugmakers’ pamphlet or an APA conference. Not something that a psychiatrist “observes” during a 15 minute medication check and writes about in his notes, if he even keeps notes because not all of them do, and probably chalks up to the patient’s inherent mental illness anyway.

    Honestly, I think you can’t win a debate with most people who advocate for psychiatry because it’s a group that has already demonstrated an allergy to logical thinking. I just took a look at the depression screening quiz that used to be put in front of me every few weeks when I was in and out of the psych ward and IOP. It makes me laugh because there are questions about feeling guilty, feeling like I’m “less than” other people, feeling like I might be punished or I am being punished, feeling that I am not interested in things and I don’t look as good as I used to. All of these things were made worse by the treatment I was enduring. Unfortunately no one noticed. They just kept writing in my records that I was non-compliant and non-responsive.

  • “Big Pharma’s marketing practices do improperly shape physicians’ prescribing habits and do play down the dearth of long-term data on impact and safety.”

    So, physicians are not able to look past the “marketing practices” of big pharma when making decisions about prescribing? Big pharma is tricking them?

    Well, that doesn’t surprise me. I’ll always remember the good-looking sales reps who showed up in psychiatry waiting rooms in the 90s. Well dressed, smiling, and armed with plenty of swag emblazoned with names like Prozac and Wellbutrin and Abilify, and often bearing free samples of whatever new drug they were hawking.

    I would like to have been a fly on the wall in those meetings. Did the sales reps coach the physicians on what to say to patients when recommending a new drug? It was so casual back then, the salad days of SSRIs and atypical antipsychotics — no talk of withdrawals, brain damage or akathisia. No black box warnings. I remember this one psychiatrist who I saw for 6 years until he sent me on to an ECT Dr. He used to say, “I’ve had good luck with ______,” whenever prescribing a new drug. So pleasantly vague and comforting and yet unscientific, maybe even illogical. Is it luck we need, doctor? I dared not ask. I just filled the prescriptions, swallowed the pills and kept hoping for good luck as I lost any grip on functioning and my “biologically based mental illness” got more severe.

  • Anotherone,
    I agree. It’s hard, as a survivor of psychiatric harm to, on the one hand, begin to understand what happened to me over the last 40 years and stop blaming myself, to finally reject the narrative that it has all been my fault, that I’m personality disordered, non compliant, defective, bad, while on the other hand being patient while incremental change and slow paradigm shifts maybe start to happen and hold the thought that we are working toward something better…it’s too hard, mentally. And with more and more evidence coming out that what’s been going on is actual fraud, actual malpractice, etc…it feels like a big ask. Maybe people who are working in the system can take the long-term, steady as she goes view, and maybe in fact that is the view that they need to take because if they see the system as inherently corrupt and abusive, that leads to hopelessness. But for survivors, it’s just as hard to see the system as essentially benevolent and well-meaning and something that just needs to add more peer support programs.

  • Thank you, Mella! I’m so glad to hear that you have found a true support system, although I am sorry for what you experienced in therapy. I think it should be more recognized how easily and how often people get harmed/re-traumatized in therapy; often the therapist doesn’t want to acknowledge the harm because it interferes with their view of themselves as providing safe and effective treatment.
    I definitely don’t want to be stuck here for the rest of my life. I do want a “different personality” — except that now I know that I am the only one who can direct such a change — definitely not a psychiatrist who sold me on TMS in the first 15 minute appointment and who used that statement as a parting shot because I refused to say what he wanted to hear. (This psychiatrist knew almost nothing about me. The only aspect of my life he showed curiosity about, in our few brief interactions, was my health insurance coverage.)

  • And, yes, Dr, at some point I AM going to need a complete personality makeover and I am so sorry that I haven’t responded appropriately to decades of drugging, ECT, and now TMS and I’m a huge disappointment who also needs to take more care with my appearance and, no, lithium does not cause weight gain. How are you so right about everything while I am just wrong in every conceivable way. My friends and family see it, too. They’re on your side. They notice that every intervention I’ve ever had has gone sour, that I don’t respond to massive amounts of help, and they say they care but that they just don’t know how to help me out of the hole I’ve dug for myself and wonder aloud if I’ve “hit my rock bottom.”

  • The really wonderful part of that alliance is when the patient’s sense of self has crumbled under the weight of psychiatric oppression to the point that the therapist can say anything and the patient stops trying to even defend herself. Yes, I’m a non-compliant unlikeable time suck who really gets to people and only goes in circles and has very poor coping skills and poor judgement and will probably wind up completely alone. Yes, I will take the high dose antipsychotics exactly as prescribed and yes I’ll check myself into the psych ward for an ECT consultation even though ECT is the thing that disabled me. Yes, I’ll use my crisis survival kit and stick my face in ice water and not bother anyone or be willful. This patient is well on her way to recovery.

  • Kathleen,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with ECT and what led up to it. I also had the “treatment” after years of psych drug trials and receiving a treatment-resistant depression label (The label was changed again, this time to borderline personality disorder, after I didn’t “respond to” the ECT); I also experienced significant memory and other cognitive problems as a result. Congratulations on waking up from the nightmare and sharing your truth eloquently. It’s so important to hear from people who have actually gone through the experience of ECT rather than just more “studies showing it is safe and effective”.

    In regard to the black box warnings on psych drugs, you ask, “Why is it that we so willfully ignore these black box warnings?” I just want to interject that for many, these warnings didn’t exist yet when we were first prescribed the drugs. I became curious as to when the warnings were added, and found this NY times article from 2004 announcing the FDA decision to require the warnings:

    F.D.A. Toughens Warning on Antidepressant Drugs

    Here’s a little gem from the article:

    “For its part, the American Psychiatric Association, the specialty’s medical society, issued a statement repeating its ‘deep concern that a black-box warning on antidepressants may have a chilling effect on appropriate prescribing for patients.’

    ‘This,’ the statement continued, “would put seriously ill patients at grave risk.”

    Gotta love the APA, always looking out for patients.

  • Abuses are still happening. Fraud is still happening. Diagnoses are being *added* to the DSM, not taken away. I’m still not safe going to the doctor. There have been no apologies or acknowledgements of the fraud. The victims of the opiate epidemic at least got a class action lawsuit. It’s more gaslighting to suggest that people who were harmed by the system need to be happy with incremental change and slow paradigm shifts. Or, these conversations are not meant to include survivors — just professionals.

  • The other part of the limited and sporadic funding for anything different is lack of acknowledgement of how much damage the system has done to people. We need doctors who listen and understand that our health problems stem largely from trauma and polypharmacy. We need places to live and work, not just places to bowl, where we are not ostracized and where we do not have to live in fear of someone learning about our history. If whoever is funding these programs thinks that we only need a little social outlet and if we don’t respond to that then well we’re just too far gone: we need major help because the system caused major damage. We need help in proportion to the damage done. And we’re not ever going to get it.

  • I was pregnant with him and got kicked out of my parents house and was homeless so wound up in a locked psych ward. I was verbally abused every single day by a psych nurse who liked to curse at me and call me names when no one else was within earshot. Yeah, she abused me when I was pregnant which means she abused a child. No one cared then, no one cares now. Did they give me any form of support or counseling or help me make plans for the future? No. They just warehoused me and made sure I knew every day that I was a little b*tch.

  • My adult son is in dire need of help. Well of course he grew up with a mother who was being drugged labeled brain shocked and otherwise abused by the mental health system. A single mother since his father took no responsibility and society supported that.
    He hates me and lets me know it. All the time. I finally blocked him. The big problem is not that he hates me, it’s other things. But I know that there is no help anywhere. It’s great to talk about paradigm shifts and incremental change and being patient and being mindful that change happens slowly, but as Gina pointed out, the lives that have been ruined are ruined. It’s extremely painful for people whose lives have been destroyed to read little bits here and there of “hope” or “something different. Maybe someday somewhere hopefully. Fingers crossed”. Does this mean we stop talking about fraud and human rights and civil rights violations? Does it mean we stop talking about class action lawsuits?
    Elizabeth Holmes just got sentenced to 11 years in prison for fraud. People said you know you can’t play around with patient health. You can’t experiment in ways that are detrimental to patients. That was her big crime, that and losing rich people’s money of course. How come Elizabeth Holmes is the only one that gets tried and convicted for medical fraud?

  • I guess I just took the borderline label off and replaced it with the victim label. It’s difficult to forgive when one is not forgiven and the torment is ongoing. If it’s true that we make a choice how to feel, then I choose to be angry, scared and sad. I’ve been “doing it wrong” my whole life. I guess I’m just one of those people.

  • Nancy, thanks for your reply.

    I know that what I want is justice, recognition, or even acknowledgement of the abuse I was subjected to for 3 and a half decades of my life by a system/by people who say they are there to help and who get paid, often quite handsomely, to help. I want acknowledgment of the lies, the fraud, the ways they punished me for trying to advocate for myself.
    I want palliative care since the decades of drugging left me unable to do the things a healthy 56 year old is able to do, and I’m completely alone. I want guarantees that I will never be force drugged or forced to undergo ECT for the remainder of my life. If that can’t be promised, I want legal euthanasia.
    I would like help for my adult son, who is extremely suicidal. I don’t know where he is and haven’t seen him in over a decade, but he texts me often and tells me he plans to kill himself.
    Yes, I have read Frankl’s book.