@ tusu, I believe you are mis-characterizing this website, as you say there is a “party line at MIA,” and, in my opinion, it is a big mistake, that you conflate issues of autism with issues of so-called “schizophrenia.” About autism: In my humble opinion (that is based on my admittedly non-professional study of the subject — as a mere ‘lay’ observer): A diagnosis of “autism” can certainly be considered a valid diagnosis, if/when given by a well-qualified expert (who need not be a psychiatrist). (And, note: Yes, there are self-described “antipsychiatry” commenters posting here — and bloggers as well; but, I do not call myself that…) Frankly, I say without any hesitance whatsoever, with respect to autism, there is no “party line” here, at MIA. In fact, before reading this comment thread, this evening, I never saw any commenter here at MIA denying the existence of autism. Think about that: Before this evening, I’d noticed not even one MIA commenter denying the existence of autism. Such is, of course, also to say, that: To my knowledge, up to now, no MIA bloggers have blogged here in a way that denies the existence of autism. But, now (this evening), in reading through this particular comment thread, I see a commenter who’s denying its existence; and (by way of reading his comments), I’ve become aware that, apparently, on MIA, there is one ‘foreign correspondent’ (Sami Timimi) who may have written a book in which the existence of autism is denied. So, now, I ask you… How is it that I’ve been visiting this website for more than two years, and, until now, I never even knew there were people who denied the existence of autism? (My own best answer to that question, is: Obviously, there is no ‘party line’ here that’s denying its existence.) There is not any ‘party line’ here, at MIA, regarding the causes of autism either. Really, I believe there is no ‘party line’ here regarding autism. But, about so-called “schizophrenia”: There are various more or less subtly ‘agreed upon’ views of the “schizophrenia” concept presented on MIA. First of all, many folk here (including I) insist that “schizophrenia” is a bucket term — and, truly, not a scientifically reliable diagnosis, at all. Many folk here (such as I) furthermore consider the “schizophrenia” label to be a source of far more grief than good, in the world; and, because we know the label is scientifically unreliable, we basically shun the label (and do our best to encourage others to do likewise). (Really, I consider the “schizophrenia” label to be a needless — thus, tragic — albatross around the necks of the vast majority of folk who are stuck with it…) Also, many folk here (such as I) believe, that most cases of supposed “schizophrenia” would not be long-term conditions, but they are made into long-term, debilitating iatrogenic conditions by modern/conventional psychiatric ‘treatment’ (in the form of constant/’heavy’ neuroleptic drugging). Finally, many folk here (such as I) believe that the scientific studies suggesting genetic causes of “schizophrenia” are, at best, terribly flimsy; however, some (such as I) believe, that maybe some few ‘cases’ (a relatively small percentage) of presumed “schizophrenia” are related to certain genetic anomalies. (I fully expect, that no one here will censure me for saying that; I’ve seen comments by various folk who agree…) You say, “For me, genetics has formed a powerful bridge to understanding what is really going on in these disorders, and guided me toward more effective communication, and most of all understanding. Out of understanding comes respect, and effective help.” I am very curious about that statement. To me, it seems that whatever is called “schizophrenia” may be the effects of any number of countless causes, many of which are experiential and environmental. I am very curious to know: To what extent do you believe that whatever is called “schizophrenia” is genetically caused? And, what evidence exactly leads you to your conclusions, in regards to such supposed causation? Again, I say, good that you are dialoguing, and thank you, in advance, for your answers. Respectfully, Jonah
I believe you are mis-characterizing this website, as you say there is a “party line at MIA,” and, in my opinion, it is a big mistake, that you conflate issues of autism with issues of so-called “schizophrenia.”
In my humble opinion (that is based on my admittedly non-professional study of the subject — as a mere ‘lay’ observer): A diagnosis of “autism” can certainly be considered a valid diagnosis, if/when given by a well-qualified expert (who need not be a psychiatrist).
(And, note: Yes, there are self-described “antipsychiatry” commenters posting here — and bloggers as well; but, I do not call myself that…)
Frankly, I say without any hesitance whatsoever, with respect to autism, there is no “party line” here, at MIA.
In fact, before reading this comment thread, this evening, I never saw any commenter here at MIA denying the existence of autism.
Think about that: Before this evening, I’d noticed not even one MIA commenter denying the existence of autism.
Such is, of course, also to say, that: To my knowledge, up to now, no MIA bloggers have blogged here in a way that denies the existence of autism.
But, now (this evening), in reading through this particular comment thread, I see a commenter who’s denying its existence; and (by way of reading his comments), I’ve become aware that, apparently, on MIA, there is one ‘foreign correspondent’ (Sami Timimi) who may have written a book in which the existence of autism is denied.
So, now, I ask you…
How is it that I’ve been visiting this website for more than two years, and, until now, I never even knew there were people who denied the existence of autism?
(My own best answer to that question, is: Obviously, there is no ‘party line’ here that’s denying its existence.)
There is not any ‘party line’ here, at MIA, regarding the causes of autism either.
Really, I believe there is no ‘party line’ here regarding autism.
But, about so-called “schizophrenia”:
There are various more or less subtly ‘agreed upon’ views of the “schizophrenia” concept presented on MIA.
First of all, many folk here (including I) insist that “schizophrenia” is a bucket term — and, truly, not a scientifically reliable diagnosis, at all.
Many folk here (such as I) furthermore consider the “schizophrenia” label to be a source of far more grief than good, in the world; and, because we know the label is scientifically unreliable, we basically shun the label (and do our best to encourage others to do likewise).
(Really, I consider the “schizophrenia” label to be a needless — thus, tragic — albatross around the necks of the vast majority of folk who are stuck with it…)
Also, many folk here (such as I) believe, that most cases of supposed “schizophrenia” would not be long-term conditions, but they are made into long-term, debilitating iatrogenic conditions by modern/conventional psychiatric ‘treatment’ (in the form of constant/’heavy’ neuroleptic drugging).
Finally, many folk here (such as I) believe that the scientific studies suggesting genetic causes of “schizophrenia” are, at best, terribly flimsy; however, some (such as I) believe, that maybe some few ‘cases’ (a relatively small percentage) of presumed “schizophrenia” are related to certain genetic anomalies.
(I fully expect, that no one here will censure me for saying that; I’ve seen comments by various folk who agree…)
You say, “For me, genetics has formed a powerful bridge to understanding what is really going on in these disorders, and guided me toward more effective communication, and most of all understanding. Out of understanding comes respect, and effective help.”
I am very curious about that statement.
To me, it seems that whatever is called “schizophrenia” may be the effects of any number of countless causes, many of which are experiential and environmental.
I am very curious to know: To what extent do you believe that whatever is called “schizophrenia” is genetically caused?
And, what evidence exactly leads you to your conclusions, in regards to such supposed causation?
Again, I say, good that you are dialoguing, and thank you, in advance, for your answers.
Better yet, I should say:
Childhood trauma and/or neglect are often (but not always) major factors behind what is ultimately called “schizophrenia” …and also, often (but not always) childhood trauma and/or neglect are major factors behind what is ultimately called “unipolar depression.”
“I replied quite a bit. What else do I have to reply to, in order to meet your measure?”
Now, yes, on this page, you have replied quite a bit (I see that).
So, you are dialoguing here, at MIA. Very good.
By this point, I have only briefly studied your most recent comments.
Some of what you’re saying suggests you may believe that autism is genetically caused. (And, not only autism…)
In your comment, above, on November 1, 2014 at 10:04 pm, you say “developmental delay, schizophrenia, autism and unipolar depression have a common genetic basis,” and, to conclude your comment below, on November 1, 2014 at 9:54 pm, you say “Yes, many people have both autism and psychosis, and that makes perfect sense looking at which genes cause each.”
I wonder, do you really mean to say that genes cause all that’s described by such labeling???
It seems to me, that you are strongly suggesting, that gene damage causes autism (especially as you’re saying, above, that “Several study designs revealed concerns with comparing mutations in non-autistic to autistic people. And when this was done, yes, actually, there were ‘typical’ types of mutations that occurred only in the autistic people. So while one study found 279 different de novo mutations, the mutations were STILL clustering on specific genes. Study 25284784 is on mutations. Numerous studies reaching the same conclusion, this one being typical. These mutations occur in the individual, and are not inherited from the parent”).
I certainly do believe gene damage can cause autism.
And, of course, that must be, in most instances, gene damage caused by environmental toxins — considering the rate of increase in autism cases, in recent decades… (Some of that increased rate of incidence must be due to ‘diagnostic inflation,’ but not all of it is…)
Your stated notion, that everything designated “developmental delay, schizophrenia […] and unipolar depression” is genetically determined and has “a common genetic basis” is quite far-fetched, in my opinion.
E.g., whatever happens to be labeled “unipolar depression” may be caused by any number of factors. (Most commonly, learned helplessness is a major factor.)
Childhood trauma is often (but not always) a major factor behind what is ultimately is called “schizophrenia.”
I could go on, but instead I’ll wait for your response…
“I don’t have to agree with everything a potential ally agrees with to work with them, just find common cause…”
That much of what you’re saying, I agree with entirely, as long as you’re not talking about making a pact with the devil (and I don’t read you as suggesting we should do that).
(In fact, now that it’s clear, you’re aiming to state that prison abolitionists make better allies than Allen Frances, OK, I get what you’re saying…)
Thanks for the clarifications.
I believe the MIA blogger Adam Urato, MD, has done a noteworthy job of addressing the issue of autism, here, on this website.
See, for example, his first blog post: http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/04/on-world-autism-day-why-i-am-concerned-about-the-use-of-antidepressants-during-pregnancy/
(That post initiated an interesting comment dialogue, as do many MIA blog posts.)
I think most people who comment on this website agree that there is a good deal of valuable information gathering happening here.
But, of course, that does not mean every ostensibly ‘scientific’ study that’s mentioned here is equally valuable (nor even valid).
I would like to think that the news editor (Rob Wipond) is open to having any study he mentions questioned.
On the other hand, we have commenter ‘tusu’ who has recently begun posting comments — (three MIA comments by this point) — the first one claiming that there’s no dialogue happening on this website.
A number of commenters (including I) responded to that first comment of tusu’s — that claim… of there supposedly being no dialogue here; tusu never replied.
If tusu doesn’t reply here, on this page, then I’ll simply conclude tusu isn’t actually wanting to notice the dialogue happening on this website — that tusu is not wishing to engage in dialogue here; and, maybe (just maybe) tusu’s stated opinion, that dialogue is supposedly not happening at Mad in America, is just an effect of tusu’s own confirmation bias.
Tusu may be, indeed, creating a self-fulling prophecy — to the extent that tusu is not willing to dialogue.
If tusu is demonstrating confirmation bias and a tendency to create self-fulfilling prophecies, I suppose that might diminish tusu’s claims of having noted substantial neurological differences in the brain scans he studied… (Tusu states: “There ARE anatomical differences – profound ones in severe autism, mild and small ones in mild autism.”)
By the way (for whatever my own inexpert opinion is worth, which may not be a whole lot), imho, in most ways, autism does not compare well with most other so-called “psychiatric disorders” — as I believe that, probably, there are legitimate biological markers for some cases of autism.
Again, I recommend that blog post by Adam Urato — and the subsequent comment discussion…
“…Prison is very expensive and it doesn’t work.”
Fiachra and John,
Prisons (especially in the U.S.) are expensive and have wound up working, in various ways, poorly, in most instances; here (in the U.S.) the prisons are largely filled with folk who arguably should not be there… because they’ve not been convicted of violent crimes.
Their sentencing lacked imagination.
(Note: Generally speaking, I believe in ‘restorative justice’ — wherein convicted ‘criminals’ receive creative sentences so that they can ‘make good’ in the aftermath and wake of the harms they’ve caused… I.e., imo, ideally, most ‘criminals’ should be led, by the courts, to take actions in ways that considerably benefit the victims of their crimes.)
Prisons are, however, necessary… to protect society from criminals who’ve proven to be especially violent. Or, do you disagree?
I encourage you to consider the question I posed in my earlier comment (on October 31, 2014 at 10:51 am).
Consider that news story (regarding the capture of Eric Frein), and tell me, can our society (here in the U.S.) entirely do away with prisons? To me, it seems quite obvious that we can’t do away with all of them.
I sincerely wonder, do you disagree? If you disagree, what would you do with a man such as Frein, as opposed to keeping him in prison?
Looking forward to an answer from yourselves or anyone else who, perhaps, believes (as Fiachra) that prison “doesn’t work.”
Apparently Donna’s comment — to which I was replying — has been removed.
So, here is the link that she’d offered… to Mickey Nardo’s June 15, 2011 ‘oneboringoldman.com’ blog post (titled “detestable…”): http://1boringoldman.com/index.php/2011/06/15/detestable/
Excerpted from an article at Bloomberg.com (dated Sep 10, 2012):
“So what practical steps can we take to defeat the Murphy Bill and oppose Allen Frances’s Great Compromise?” […] Let us join Mia Mingus in believing in ourselves and each other enough to reject Allen Frances’ Great Compromise and carry forth with our “civil war” — a non-violent struggle to build a true alternative to the institutional-industrial complex”
Justin, absolutely, I join you in opposing Allen Frances’s Great Compromise.
But, I do not view Mia Mingus’s program as offering the alternative or solution, to issues being raised Francis.
In fact, much as I get that she has a big heart, Mingus loses me, as she advocates “abolishing prisons.”
Just look at the following news story, from this morning, and tell me, can our society do away with prisons?
I count myself as one amongst millions in this country who are rightly glad to see that man (Frien) handcuffed and sent to jail or prison, awaiting trial.
Surely, many will call for him to be executed. I will disagree with those calls, because I oppose the death penalty in all instances.
Simply (presuming he’s to be found guilty of murdering the trooper), I think he should be imprisoned for life, without possibility of parole (whether or not some ‘mh’ professional — ‘expert witness’ — argues that he was abused as a child and/or was ‘insane’ or “mentally ill” at the time of committing his crime).
Allen Francis is being foolish, as he declares “deprisoning the mentally ill should be an appealing common banner.”
Let’s not diminish the power of our arguments similarly by pretending that no one should be imprisoned.
“If we want to rant against the oppression of the institutional-industrial complex, we need to back up our beliefs with specific political and personal actions that offer a practical alternative. Allen Frances has offered his practical proposal for a Great Compromise. It offers mental health advocates access to billions of dollars through a new War on Mental Illness that would replace the failed War on Drugs. In fact, this new war has already begun. Standing on the side lines is no longer an option. Rep Tim Murphy already has us in his sights — and he is no paper tiger! If we don’t respond, we will soon enter a brave new world of high tech coercive psychiatry.”
Justin, well said.
I agree with Bonnie (and then some), as she says “Well put.”
You’ve written a truly beautiful comment.
Frankly, I am someone who has no interest in seeking ‘services’ from the ‘mh’ system, nor do I recommend to anyone that s/he seek ‘services’ from it (simply, my experiences as a “patient” within the ‘mh’ system were so averse, that, as soon as I got away from it, over 25 years ago, I knew I’d never go back).
However, I can empathize with many people who are seeking help within the ‘mh’ system and can sympathize with many who are seeking a ‘next step’ beyond it.
Your comment is so very well-stated, I wound up looking at your ‘comment history’ and happened to find this from you (in a comment you posted under Corinna West’s blog post titled “Are You Committed to Eliminating Labels and Medications With Emotional Distress?”):
‘I have searched high and low for an alternative doc who takes Medicare with no luck. I have also searched high and low for a therapist who takes Medicare or my secondary insurance who incorporate mindfulness Buddhist practices into therapy with no luck. There are no people who I know of who have learned and practiced intentional peer support in the Northern Virginia area or in Sarasota, FL. All of the people who have been trained in peer support in Northern Virginia have been trained and work within the traditional mental health system. Almost all peer specialists who I know of are not very active in pursuing the rights of their peers within the m h system because they are so low on the totem pole in the system and have so little systemic power that they are afraid to rock the boat. As far as using a “business model” to provide viable and effective alternatives, I’m not too excited.’
Apparently, you are on the East Coast (I am on the West Coast), and I am not a trained ‘peer specialist’ (nor would I ever become one), but, as a long-time practitioner of Buddhism (and self-described “Buddhist”), my aim is increasingly to reach out to psychiatric survivors — as a friend online; and, in that way, maybe I could be of some assistance to you (and you might be able to help me, no less, through simply being an online friend).
I have occasionally mentioned that I am a Buddhist, in my MIA comments. Something I’ve not (until now) mentioned in comments, is that my connection to Buddhist ‘community’ has long been limited to communications online…
That is because, there was a local Buddhist lay community to which I had belonged (for roughly seven years), but I was, one day, suddenly ‘outed’ as someone who is “supposed to be on medications” by a ‘leader’ to whom I’d confided about my ‘history’ as a ‘patient’ of psychiatry. (I had done nothing to prompt his ‘outing’ me; on the contrary, when I’d met him he was a psychiatrically ‘diagnosed’ person who was eschewing psychiatry, so I confided to him, about my psychiatric ‘history’; six years later, he went back to psychiatry and, I guess, felt compelled to to try to drag me back into it…)
I felt so unsettled by that experience, I left that group.
(Note: I was ‘outed’ by that ‘leader’ only seven years after I’d eschewed psychiatry. It was 1996, the Internet was just in its infancy, so it could have become an extremely difficult/isolating experience; however, I wound up meeting my wife-to-be — who is now my ‘ex’ — at exactly that same time; she’d not been a part of that community; so, I simply maintained my Buddhist practice, on my own, and moved on with my life, with her…)
I am (many years later), a single dad, raising his teenage daughter — and, now more than ever, interested in studying and practicing Buddhism.
And, I believe it could be helpful (really, mutually helpful) to simply exchange email with other psychiatric survivors who share that interest, in Buddhism, in common.
Please, if you are at all interested in discussing Buddhism (and, really, I put this out to anyone else who may, likewise, fit the bill of ‘psychiatric survivor interested in Buddhism’), do feel free to contact me via email: [email protected]
Again, great comment…
One who reads your words can only, at best, begin to imagine how scarey and infuriating (and, I imagine, confusing) it must have been for you to have been forced to live in such an environment, as you’re describing…
But, for me, above all else, your story is infuriating to consider.
That is in part because I am the parent of a young woman, an adolescent, 17 years old; and, as I was, at age 21, ‘held’ against my will, by psychiatry, to be stuck with neuroleptic-filled IV needles and tagged with psychiatric labeling, I have unforgettable recollections of harrowing experiences, being ‘psychiatrized’ (including further, similar experiences, over the course of a couple years’ time).
Those were terribly traumatizing experiences; and, so, there’s nothing now (nothing whatsoever) that could possibly stop me from protecting my daughter against being ‘treated’ by psychiatrists. She will never wind up in a psychiatric “hospital” (as I did) — at least, not as long as I live and breathe…
And, what you’re describing is another kind of ‘treatment’ facility, I don’t know if it was called a “hospital,” but it was a place for kids, that could only exist, because of the so-called “diagnoses” that psychiatrists provided…
I presume that place still exists.
And, yes, I certainly recall you explaining in MIA comments previously, that your journey, as a ‘patient’ of psychiatry, began when you were a very young woman.
I am reminded of what you explained previously, by my reading of your story above — and can’t help but shake my head now, having read these further recollections you’re providing — feeling the immense travesty of it all.
Especially, as I read your story in the context of the blog post, by Dr. Allen Frances, which has been brought to our attention, by Corinna, I am struck by a sense of that travesty — and how it goes ignored…
(I wonder, is it possible that Dr. Frances — who was the lead author of the 4rth edition of the DSM — knows nothing of the existence of places, such as that which you’re describing?)
Surely, many young people are still being ‘treated’ as you were ‘treated’ by psychiatry, and many are being ‘treated’ as I was…
Yet, in that October 20, 2014 Huffington Post article, Dr. Francis explains,
Perhaps, too many times, in my MIA comments, I’ve mentioned that I was first ‘held’ by psychiatry after frisbeeing a number cheap plates at my parents’ garage door. Here, one more time, I mention that, such was the ‘incident’ that led to my ‘treatment’ — only to insist, that: Yes, I regret having thrown those dishes, but I threw them at a garage door — not at any person; and, I wish I could ‘only’ have been talked to, by someone who could have listened to me, back then.
And/or, if literally no one could have come to my aid, by ‘just’ listening to me, I wish could have had my day in court — instead of being convinced to meet with an E.R. psychiatrist…
Despite all of Dr. Francis’s fear-mongering, concerning the dangers of jails, I would have much preferred to be jailed (as opposed to meeting a psychiatrist).
Of course, there may have been a danger of meeting a psychiatrist in jail; s/he could possibly have ordered me forcibly drugged, there; and, that would have been a horrible fate, I’m sure; but, had I ‘only’ been promised my day in court, I would have happily risked jail time, in awaiting that day.
I could have avoided so much trauma that way (so could my family and friends have avoided much trauma).
Sorry to have gone on this way…
It’s good to see you again posting comments relating your own experiences with psychiatry…
Maybe as you say “anti-treatment,” what you are really meaning to say, is “anti-forced-treatment.”
Of course, you can tell me if that’s putting words in your mouth; maybe that’s not what you’re meaning to say…
I hope you can clarify…
“I see the anti-treatment groups as promoting a death sentence for the severely mentally ill.”
I don’t see “anti-treatment groups” anywhere on this website.
But, maybe I misunderstand your meaning, as you’re applying that label?
“Anti-treatment” suggests, to my mind, a movement that would strive to prevent people from receiving treatment. (I’ve never seen anyone — let alone any group — express such sentiments on this MIA website.)
Perhaps, you have an idea of what “anti-treatment groups” means, that I don’t understand. Can you please explain what you mean when you use that term.
Thanks in advance.
P.S. — As you say, “There is no ‘dialogue’ with Mad In America. None. To even SUGGEST there is any dialogue anywhere NEAR Mad in America is ridiculous. It is all about one view, and that is NO treatment,” I think maybe you are failing to realize, that: of the two persons whose views are being featured in the ‘dialogue’ above, one is a psychiatrist who is actually promoting ‘treatment’ in a very big way (indeed, he’s stumping for more “AOT” — court-0rdered ‘assisted outpatient treatment’), and the other person is someone who describes himself as accustomed to taking psychiatric ‘meds’ (‘treatment’) and benefiting from doing so…
Allen Frances calls for “deprisoning the mentally ill.”
It’s an outrageous proposal — for many reasons — not least of all this one: It gives psychiatrists all the power in the world, to determine which prisoners supposedly should be in prison as opposed to which prisoners supposedly shouldn’t be…
“Mentally ill” is a label that can only be applied by psychiatry (as the supposed existence of ‘mental illness’ can only be confirmed by psychiatrists).
And, what does “mentally ill” even mean?
Here’s the concluding paragraph (and link) from an article that I’ve recommended previously, in MIA comments (I do so again now, as it’s quite good, imo, and perfectly apropos):
P.S. — John Hoggett, of course, I most certainly do quite appreciate the very last words, of your last lines, recommending “not to force psychiatry on them.”
“The answer to mentally distressed people in prison is to not lock them up and to provide decent housing, benefits, jobs etc etc, not to force psychiatry on them.”
In that last line of yours, you’re making no sense, imo, and (because I know from reading many 0f your MIA comments, that you are an intelligent person) I can’t help but wonder: Do you mean to say what I think you are saying there? Or, am I misunderstanding you? Do you believe that anyone who is arguably “mentally distressed” should not be locked up in prison?
Personally, I think prison should be reserved mainly for violent criminals.
With few exceptions, I oppose, in principle, the imprisonment of those who’ve not been convicted of considerably violent crimes. (Among the exceptions: I will not oppose the imprisonment of those who’ve ‘just’ been found guilty of a conspiracy to commit or incite such violence.)
Imo, violent criminals may need to be imprisoned.
Any policy to remove such persons from prison, only because they seem “mentally distressed” there, would be a certain mistake, imo.
Along those lines, I can’t help but strongly object to Allen Frances’s expressed call (in his blog post, above) to begin “deprisoning the mentally ill.”
That call of his is 100% propaganda (inspired by NAMI and E Fuller Torrey’s TAC) designed to encourage the transfer of as many as 1,000,000 prisoners into the so-called “care” of psychiatry… via ‘mental health courts’ and mandatory (court-ordered) “AOT”.
(I’m sure a significant proportion of those prisoners should not be in prison, because they were not convicted of violent crimes; but, Frances refers to “half a million severely ill patients in prison for nuisance crimes.” I do not think that stat reflects reality, at all, and I do not believe anyone should get a ‘pass’ out of prison, nor either should anyone receive a ‘Do Not Go to Prison’ ticket, merely because s/he’s been ‘diagnosed’ as supposedly “mentally ill.”)
To reverse the rampant imprisonment of people in the U.S. who should not be in prison will require decriminalization of ‘illicit’ drug use.
That other sort of policy (ostensibly “deprisoning the mentally ill”) is just a ruse, of psychiatry, that’s benefits no one, except psychiatrists and Big Pharma.
P.S. — To whoever may be interested (as I highly doubt that Allen Frances will be responding to my comments):
First of all, I suggest, check out: “Community Treatment Orders Don’t Work” http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/04/community-treatment-orders-forced-treatment-dont-work/
For those who may not know, court-ordered “AOT” (“assisted outpatient treatment”) in the U.S. is roughly the equivalent of what’s called “CTO” (“community treatment orders”) in the U.K..
…Over a year ago (maybe it was nearly two years back), on Twitter, to Dr. Allen Frances (@AllenFrancesMD) I ‘tweeted’ a necessarily brief — and perfectly courteous message — that included my recommendation, to, please, take a moment and look into the following Youtube link (It’s a 17 minute Youtube video, in which a woman from the U.K. — now, tragically, deceased — speaks of the effects of the depot injections she was getting, as a result of her “CTO”):
“Depot injection robs artist of her creativity”
I encouraged him to “See the ‘uploader’ notes after watching the video.”
Not surprisingly, I received no response from Dr. Frances…
Here, as follows, are those Youtube uploader notes (copied and pasted):
And, here is a copy and paste of a recent comment from the Youtuber (Sian whitehead) who uploaded the video:
“We have half a million severely ill patients in prison for nuisance crimes that easily could have been avoided had they received adequate treatment and housing. Sleeping on a stoop, stealing a Coke, or shouting on a street can get the person arrested. Once arrested, not being able to make bail and/or not fitting in well with jail routine leads to prolonged incarceration and, too frequently, crazy-making solitary confinement. The U.S. today is probably the worst place and worst time ever to suffer from a severe mental illness.” [emphasis added]
Where do you get that statistic? (I seriously wonder.) Please, do tell.
And, please, consider this: Surely, the U.S. today cannot reasonably be called “the worst place and worst time ever to suffer from a [presumed] severe mental illness.”
(Frankly, I consider the concept of “severe mental illness” to be nothing more or less than a socio-political construct, which serves no one — except for those who wish to force psychiatric “treatment” on ‘others’ who’s behaviors they find ‘abnormal’ thus unacceptable; oh, and it serves to gain and sustain government so-called “assistance” for such individuals, once they’ve been permanently dis-abled by such psychiatric “treatment”.)
But, clearly, the worst place and time was Germany, leading up to and during the 2nd World War — as individuals identified that way were being euthanized there, then; and, in the U.S., in the 1940’s and 1950’s, at least 40,000 individuals (supposedly ‘severely mentally ill’) were lobotomized. Hence, that seems like a worse time, than now, to be viewed and ‘treated’ as ‘severely mentally ill’ in this country (the U.S.).
In fact, as you’re now enthusiastically promoting increased reliance on court-ordered, so-called “assisted outpatient treatment,” you should take a look at Australia. From all that I hear of current Australian psychiatry (as there is no Bill of Rights in Australia nor any rough equivalent of such), court-ordered “outpatient treatment” is proving to be quite the rage, Down Under. Far more Aussie citizens, per capita, than here in the U.S., are now are being, as “outpatients,” forcibly ‘treated’ with I.V. psychiatric drugs (neuroleptics, a.k.a., so-called “antipsychotics”); they’re being forcibly drugged, in their homes… (that is, when they are not ‘just’ allowing themselves to be dutifully coerced into swallowing the pill form of such chemicals — which we all know now for a fact are literally shrinking “patients'” brains, at least 1% every year that they’re used… and which we know are creating, moreover, obesity, diabetes, deadly metabolic disease… when administered continually for any considerable amount of time).
But, back to my first question: Where did you come up with that statistic, that I’ve emphasized, by adding bold print, above?
Pray, do tell. Answer me just that one question, in response to my comment, and I will be be very grateful…
P.S. — Alex, sorry for all the typos. I probably should have gone over my comment before posting; usually, I do that…
Thanks for your very kind words. I appreciate your comment expressions — including your use of words — and deeply respect you for how far you’ve traveled personally (and for how far you continue to travel); that is, you’ve clearly traveled far, in the direction of embracing and embodying your own discovered truths; and, in becoming always more certainly a person wholly true to himself, you set a good example for me and for others.
Regarding this question (about what led to your first encounters with psychiatry),
“I wanted support as I tried to sort things out for myself. I never threw anything, but I felt like it every moment, and because I wasn’t raging as would have probably been healthier for me, I resisted and instead, I became disabled from harboring inside of me volcanoes of anxiety. So by not externalizing my rage, I suffered from extreme self-punishment. Do you think they might be two sides of the same coin?”
Do I think they might be two sides of the same coin (as in, being roughly similar to the emotional and/or family-dynamic conflicts that had led to my being introduced — the hard way — to psychiatry)? lol
Absolutely, yes, in a way… (At least, I can relate to the anxiety you’re describing.)
I would never have chosen to see psychiatrist, had I not been pressured by family and friends, to do so, after I’d smashed all those plates…
Actually, I was totally skeptical of psychiatry, by that point — was, essentially, at least as ‘antipsychiatry’ as anyone I knew, at that time…
However, lead up to that time, I had been, occasionally, consulting a certain therapist.
I.e., prior to that time that I’d chosen to throw those plates, at my parent’s garage door, I was ‘in therapy’ off and on; and, I can still well recall, my #1 reason for choosing to go to therapy, in college, was that: I had come to experiencing (ever since high school) a kind of near-constant ‘free-floating’ anxiety (it was then, to me, ‘unexplainable’).
My therapist was a very well-meaning person, but her chosen style was entirely non-directive, so our ‘sessions’ got me nowhere…
I would eventually quite going to her — having come to presume that all my anxiety was nothing more or less than the function of my ‘artistic’ sensitivity to the historical ‘age’ I was living in.
I came to conclude, that it was ‘just’ the effect of my sensitivity to the then-ever-present Cold War threats, of nuclear annihilation…
(There was, then so much ‘Super-Power’ sabre rattling, in the news — and related, quite horrifying films depicting ‘nuclear winter’ …on TV and in the theaters.)
I would increasingly focus upon those threats (eventually, 24/7), and my anxiety, as a result, grew worse — of course.
Albert Einstein had famously said “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”
I went in search of that new way of thinking — in order to hopefully survive those threats, of nuclear winter.
Though I liked my therapist, and she did, on occasion, offer me bits of good practical advice, I did not share with her the extent of my fears of nuclear war; and, I got no sense from her that she could ‘teach’ me what I needed to know, in terms of a new way of thinking…
At last, I wound up attempting to write a novel, featuring a considerably more ‘entertaining’ (fictionalized) version of myself (his sense of all my ‘nuclear anxieties’ were, in some ways, comical).
I projected myself into that character, my story’s protagonist — a young psychiatrist; he could be very serious, in ways… and would, in the end (i.e., by the last chapter) reject his own chosen profession, psychiatry — especially, all the nonsense that it represents in the criminal justice system…
Note: From the time I was a kid, I had been deeply struck by such powerful impressions of Institutional Psychiatry, as had bee offered by films such as “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Frances” (which came out when I was in college0; but, like most folk, I thought those were depictions of past transgressions, on the part of Psychiatry.
I was mainly aiming to opposed the ‘forensic psychiatry’ that’s practiced in our legal system — especially, what I believe is the insanity of the “insanity” defense.
I really had no understanding whatsoever, back then, about all the ‘medical’ harms that were still being caused by psychiatry.
When I smashed those dishes, I was (I knew) ‘acting crazy’; and, I guess, arguably, then, when I smashed those dishes, I may have been, unconsciously, calling for a more thorough understanding of psychiatry — a direct experience of it.
Thus, I stumbled into my own personal ‘education’ regarding the nature of forced psychiatric ‘treatment’ — and thereby gained much subsequently raised awareness, of what has been, indeed, the ongoing ‘history’ of such harms…
I consider myself very fortunate, having prepared myself, in advance, to reject psychiatry; my unfinished novel remained instructive for me; but, I would not have consciously wish for such encounters…
Such experiences, as I experienced, with psychiatry, were not the worst that psychiatry has to offer; but, on even my worst enemies, I would not wish those sorts of experiences, which I had…
No one should have to learn of such things irl — ‘in real life’ (the hard way).
‘98% of treatment is “voluntary,” or would be if people could make real choices. So yes, Frances is right that arguing about 2% is a paper tiger, if this was an isolated isssue. But he doesn’t understand that the people arguing about the 2% are using it to make a whole bunch of bullshit false claims that confuse people when making decisions about the 98% of “voluntary” mental health care.’
Maybe I’m misreading you, but you seem to be saying that “the people arguing about the 2% [forced psychiatric ‘treatments’] are using it to make a whole bunch of bullshit false claims.”
Are they all doing so, really, you think? (I don’t think so…)
As I am one who argues that forced psychiatric ‘treatments’ — especially, in terms of forced drugging, forced ECT, forced psychosurgery and other neuro-invasive ‘treatments’ — are truly de-humanizing procedures that function mainly as a convenience for psychiatrists and for “hospital” workers and for concerned family members of “involuntary patients”; such ‘treatments’ create, at best, “patient” subservience that may create a temporary sense of ‘peace’ in the psychiatric ‘ward’; but, such ‘treatments’ are ultimately abusive, terribly humiliating; they represent a unique form of personal defilement (ostensibly designed to help “patients”) that rivals the indignity of any form of rape and cannot, imo, ultimately be justified.
Anyone can be far better treated by other measures — non-violent measure…
So, I see that you say, of yourself, “I have not finalized my opinions on forced treatment,” that’s fine. But, I question your saying “I agree fully informed consent is needed” — because any forced and/or coerced ‘treatment’ puts an instant end to the possibility of informed consent.
If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend studying David Cohen’s great MIA blog post, of just a few days ago (October 21, 2014) “It’s the Coercion, Stupid!”
Great comment Alex.
I agree with everything you say in it and particularly appreciate these powerful lines,
“Capitalizing on misfortune, further breaking a broken spirit, domestic and social disease, high priced bureaucrats concealing truth, building an empire from all this. To me, that is what I would call ‘an extreme state,’ and it is systemic and extremely dangerous.”
However, I feel it’s important to point out, that many folk (possibly the majority) first encountering psychiatry, are not broken spirits.
(I myself was certainly not a broken spirit when I encountered it.)
Many, upon first meeting up with psychiatry, are quite like the child described by MissEmpoweredByNonPsychiatry — perhaps, momentarily troubled, but in no way broken.
Though I was legally an adult (twenty-one years old), and that did create special challenges for my family, I was quite like her son, whom she described as acting “Crazy” …suddenly throwing his first-ever public tantrum.
Obviously, he was not a broken spirit, at that time (far from it).
Nor was I, at age twenty-one, when I chose to take a stack of cheap plates and frisbee them, one by one, at my parents’ garage door…
(I had never previously behaved as the ‘rebel’ in my family; only, my adopted siblings had.)
So, yes, the system (of psychiatry) is designed to attract ‘broken spirits,’ but it is also designed to appeal to the most influential ‘leaders’ in conventionally oriented family systems, who have discovered that one of their own is seemingly ‘out-of-control’ and/or is apparently just ‘not himself’ (or, ‘not herself’) and is coming to more or less directly challenge key aspects of what have been long-held consensual ‘truths’ in that family — and thus is threatening the status quo hierarchy of relationships, in that family system.
I was in no way a broken spirit when I encountered psychiatry, but the system (of psychiatry) that I encountered (at age 21) was clearly designed to ‘treat’ me as one; and, it was precisely that system, which you’re describing.
It was designed to perceive my spirit as ‘broken’ (this completely mistaken view of me appealed to my family, as it ‘justified’ their view that I absolutely ‘needed’ psychiatry); moreover, the psychiatric ‘treatment’ I received was determined to break my spirit — no question about it.
I was ‘treated’ (first, in the E.R. and in two different “hospital” settings, thereafter) in ways to break my spirit. This was perfectly clear to me, beginning with the first forced drugging (in the E.R.) that began my ‘treatment’ regimen.
Like you, I got a lot out of reading MissEmpoweredByNonPsychiatry’s comment.
I read it a number of times — and finally Googled her last lines (which probably should have been sandwiched in quotation marks), reminding myself that they’re from a Disney song, in movie that was once a favorite of my daughter…
That makes MissEmpoweredByNonPsychiatry’s comment no less meaningful.
“There are quite a few staff who are aware of the charade of ‘mental illness’ but they choose (like i do) to stay and try to help shift things in tiny stages away from the medical paradigm. I have seen some of these shifts in my time.”
I find those lines chilling, as I presume that thousands of psychiatric “hospital” workers, in every country, are likewise aware of that charade and, probably, most of them, likewise, aim to “shift things in tiny stages away from the medical paradigm.” But, a shift in tiny stages seems a very far cry from what’s really needed.
These “consumers” need to hear the truth, imho.
So, I wonder, are you completely honest and up front with the “consumers” whom you’re assigned to serve?
For instance, have you been sharing your blog post (above) with the inmates who are being called “mentally ill” (“consumers”) in your “hospital”?
Your blog post is very good, Tracey, so I hope you are sharing it with them…
P.S. — I most definitely agree with commenter oldhead’s expressed view, in his comment (on September 7, 2014 at 9:40 pm) about your use of the term “consumer.” You work with “involuntary patients,” Tracey; they are “consumers” of psychiatric ‘services’ much like ducks and geese destined to become foie gras are “consumers” of corn.
P.S. — Still pondering how Allen Frances claims there are “half a million severely ill patients in prison for nuisance crimes,” so I just followed a link, above, to his Huffington Post blog, that’s titled “Stigmatizing and Shunning the Severely Ill.”
It’s dated not quite three months ago.
Did the the number of prisoners with “severe mental illness” in this country jump by literally 100,000 since late July?
Again, I’m wondering: Where is Allen Frances coming up with these statistics?
Basically, I agree with your post, and I’m very impressed by your chart, and I quite appreciate your emphasizing (in bold print) these following sentiments,
“Well, the thing is, most emotional distress is not an illness. Calling it an illness is not a great way to help most people. Therein lies the difference. It’s not a civil war, it’s one view of science vs. another view of science.”
But, why, after that (just a bit further down), do you wind up offering a couple of paragraphs from Frances and then say, “Agreed. The problem is well stated”?
You are referring there to two paragraphs by Frances, and I think the 2nd paragraph may be stated well enough, but the 1st one is very questionable, imo.
Let’s look for a moment, at that one paragraph.
Says Allen France,
About his last sentence, in that paragraph (“The U.S. today is probably the worst place and worst time ever to suffer from a severe mental illness”), I can’t help but firmly disagree, for I believe that, in the U.S., “the worst time ever to [be viewed as suffering] from a severe mental illness” was during the era of lobotomies — the 1940’s and 50’s. (Approximately 40,000 lobotomies were ‘performed’ in this country.)
And, of course, the worst place and time ever be perceived as suffering a “severe mental illness” was Germany, in the middle of that same era (during the WW2).
(We all know, quite well what happened to ostensibly “severely mentally ill” people in Hitler’s Germany.)
I know, as far as psychiatric ‘treatment’ goes, we have all kinds of horrors going on still, today, in this country; e.g., there is still a lot of coerced “brief hospitalization” (which causes far more damage that Frances is willing to admit), and their is court-ordered ‘treatment’ for “outpatients”; not for a moment do I wish to downplay the harms of such abuse.
But, in comparison to the those other times and places (especially, WW2 Germany), most individuals who today are viewed as “suffering from a severe mental illness” actually have a rather fair shot at seeing through and escaping the worst horrors that psychiatry could offer them.
Particularly, with today’s Internet, the average person can rather easily discover ‘alternate’ views of such sufferings — including ‘alternate’ forms of ‘treatment’.
And, then, I can’t help but wonder about this line one: “We have half a million severely ill patients in prison for nuisance crimes that easily could have been avoided had they received adequate treatment and housing.”
Corinna, he keeps referring to “severely ill patients,” as he’s (apparently) meaning to refer to individuals who are arguably suffering ‘psychoses’. (Personally, I’d prefer to say, rather: he’s apparently referring to extremely emotionally distressed and/or acutely confused individuals.)
Of course, it should go without saying, there should not be prison sentencing for any individuals who have committed mere “nuisance crimes” — let alone for such individuals whose emotional and psychological sufferings may be so severe that they are genuinely quite out of touch with reality; having precipitated only committed mere “nuisance crimes,” they should be treated far more mercifully.
But, I seriously question this statistic: “half a million severely ill patients in prison for nuisance crimes”
Half a million???
I would quite appreciate it if you or anyone else can help me to understand where that 1/2 million stat comes from…
To me, it seems like it must be from NAMI and/or TAC (E Fuller Torrey) and purely false propaganda.
It seems a total impossibility to me; but, I wonder, to what extent should we accept any number even close to that one (500,000) as truly reflecting an approximate of how many people, officially identified as “severely mentally ill,” are currently populating our (U.S.) prisons — and indeed for having committed “nuisance crimes” and nothing worse.
Anyone who knows more about this, please, feel free to reply.
One more brief comment here, following up on my two preceding comments, that were in response to the comment (on October 22, 2014 at 11:09 pm) by ‘TheSystemIsBroken.’
(There is more thought rattling around in my head, and it’s preventing me from going to sleep, so I will say this much more…)
While my first response to ‘TheSystemIsBroken’ was to state that I agree with every single word in that October 22, 2014 at 11:09 pm comment, and my second response was to emphasize my agreement, most especially, with the second to last sentence in that comment… Now, actually, upon further consideration, that second to last sentence is somewhat problematic, I think, because there are various ways of interpreting it.
Here it is again,
‘If we want to keep people who are deemed “mentally ill” out of prison, the way to do that is not to lock them up elsewhere- it’s to focus on the decriminalization of drug use and other nonviolent crimes.’
Actually, the beginning of that sentence could seem to suggest that “we” may want to keep everyone who’s been deemed “mentally ill” out of prison.
Certainly, that’s not what I want to do.
That it is not what I want to do, is really what I was trying to get at in my last comment (on October 23, 2014 at 12:32 am).
Really, I do not think anyone’s presumed “mental illness,” of any kind, should ever be considered as some kind of ‘excuse’ for committing violent crimes — nor either as an ‘excuse’ for committing non-violent crimes…
Which brings me, at last, to this:
That sentence ends by referring to, “focus on the decriminalization of drug use and other nonviolent crimes.”
Actually, I am all for the decriminalization of drug use, but I am not for decriminalization of other nonviolent crimes, broadly speaking.
Simply, I think, with few exceptions, sentencing for non-violent crimes should be dealt with in ways that do not involve prison sentences.
‘If we want to keep people who are deemed “mentally ill” out of prison, the way to do that is not to lock them up elsewhere- it’s to focus on the decriminalization of drug use and other nonviolent crimes.’
I agree with your comment (on October 22, 2014 at 11:09), especially that line, which I’ve quoted and placed in italics, above.
But there’s a problem that your comment doesn’t address — that is, many people are (for any number of reasons) deemed “mentally ill” after being convicted of a crime and sent to prison.
The ‘mh’ system (led by psychiatrists) sets up shop in prison systems — so that, upon entering prison or shortly thereafter, each prisoner is “screened” for supposed “mental illness.”
In fact, prisoners may be “screened” for “mental illness” numerous times, in prison — within a relatively short time after beginning to serve their sentence.
Being supposedly “mentally ill,” they are prescribed psychiatric drugs; if they take those ‘meds’ dutifully and behave as “model prisoners,” they may be offered shorter sentences, based on an agreement to enter a ‘diversion program’ that’ll keep them seeing a psychiatrist and taking those ‘meds’ after their release.
Technically speaking, that’s how a lot of supposedly “mentally ill” people get out of prison.
Imho, they shouldn’t have been in prison, in the first place, if they were convicted of non-violent crimes; but, of course, some were convicted of violent crimes…
Hence, more stats wind up created, that connect “mental illness” with violence; and, more people with a history of having committed violent crimes wind up at least partially ‘excused’ (including being excused from serving out their full sentences, in prison), based on their having been, in prison ‘discovered’ to be — supposedly — “mentally ill.”
(Of course, the psychiatrists who run that racket should be imprisoned.)
I completely agree with every single word of your comment (on October 22, 2014 at 11:09 pm).
Here’s my conclusion with a few added words and typos removed 🙂
…In my most optimistically wild imaginings, I picture someday (hopefully soon) up-and-coming psychiatrists, though trained in their residency to administer court-ordered AOT (so-called “assisted outpatient treatment”), could be somehow awakened, en masse, to all the worst folly of their chosen profession — perhaps, indeed, awakened by role-models, in the form of elder psychiatrists who’d begun choosing, together, to practice psychiatry while yet renouncing all psychiatric (‘medical’) coercion…
I realize that may be a mere dream.
“My point about alternative programs is that when the police are called, the person will be taken somewhere. Where do you think that should be?”
Thanks for your further reply. My answer your question is a bit meandering, but has a point or two worth considering, I think, so…
Imho, what’s needed, first and foremost, is a signed (contractual) agreement, from each and every client who enters the ‘alternative program’; that contract would be in large print and could be read aloud to each incoming ‘client’; it could go a long way to help the people with the ‘alternative program,’ to mainly avoid calling the police, but, yes, any ‘mh’ pro (presuming s/he is licensed) is obligated to call the police if/when a client seems to be seriously threatening violence.
(That sort of ‘due diligence’ would be expected of ‘mh’ pros providing ‘alternative programs’ as much any other ‘mh’ pros.)
(Note: By your saying ‘alternative programs,’ I believe this indicates programs representing alternatives to psychiatry, but maybe it means more than that? Maybe it means these people running the program aren’t necessarily licensed ‘mh’ pros. Maybe they aren’t even pros. Maybe they’re volunteering ‘alternative’ services…)
I think, ideally, any good ‘alternative-to-psychiatry’ program would, from the start, with each prospective new client, lay out and explain a standard set of ‘rules’ in a contract…
They’d be clearly detailed parameters, describing what is unacceptable behavior for that program (and, perhaps, would articulate specific expectations of what would be considered self-responsible behavior).
Certainly, the contract would call for non-violent, non-threatening behavior; it would also articulate the possible consequences of ones failing to live up to those expectations.
It would explain criteria for being put out of the program — as well as, beyond that, criteria for ultimately calling the police.
The ‘client’ is thus entering a contractual agreement — including, in particular, his/her recognition and acceptance that, the police will be called in the event of considerable acts of violence and/or any arguably serious threats of violence.
And, since the goal of the program is to be an ‘alternative-to-psychiatry,’ one thing that would be explained to each new ‘client’ would be, that it is in all ways an alternative to psychiatry; hence, along these lines, there would be, at last, a statement to this effect: If/when we may ever have occasion to call the police to remove a client from our program, we will request that the police view the client just as they would any other citizen — just as capable of surviving time in jail, to await a fair trial — and, of course, just as deserving of his/her day in court — a real court — not a ‘mh court’ (i.e., were we ever to find ourselves needing to call the police, to remove ‘client’ from these premises, we’d do our very best to convey to the police that no ‘mh’ judge need become involved).
Imho, the very best ‘alternatives programs’ (in terms of being alternatives to psychiatry) would necessarily require contracts of that sort, which laid out a clear sense of having deliberate plans to avoid calling upon any psychiatrist(s) who practice or encourage ‘medical’ coercion.
Of course, I well understand, such contracts would not appeal to some folk.
And, note: Personally, I have no use whatsoever for psychiatric drugs, but I think some individuals may have occasion to benefit from short-term use of small doses of certain psychiatric drugs; hence, I could easily picture a psychiatrist who renounces and denounces any and all ‘medical’ coercion being considered, by some ‘alternative programs,’ an allied provider of services.
Finally, about your parenthetical conclusion, I have heard of ‘talk’ therapists who’ve chosen to never retire; staying vital by enjoying their work, they lived long lives and went on practicing their almost to the day they drew their very last breath.
If you’re feeling old, maybe it’s what your job is doing to you; perhaps, you could think of retiring from psychiatry yet start a new career, along those lines, as you’ve expressed enthusiasm for the Open Dialogue program.
And, don’t forget Loren Mosher M.D.,
Or, maybe go in the direction of personal (life) coaching, as did the retired psychiatrist, Nelson Borelli, M.D.,
Of course, you can’t go back in time and undo the ‘medical’ coercion you’ve practiced, but it would be great, I think, if — before retiring from psychiatry — you could see your way clear to officially renouncing ‘medical’ coercion…
You could then stand up, in defense of anyone in your care who wishes to be free from their current ‘medical’ slavery.
(Much as I doubt you’ll do that, I hold out hope, you could.)
In my most optimistically wild imaginings, I picture someday (hopefully soon) up-and-coming psychiatrists, though trained in their residency to administer court-ordered AOT (so-called “assisted outpatient treatment”), could be awakened, en masse, to the folly of their chosen professional, by role-models, in the form of elder psychiatrist who’d begin choosing, together, to renounce ‘medical’ coercion…
I realize that may be a mere dream.
Thank you for your response. You explain,
“I think any one who offers services but who limits those services to certain people or who asks people to leave or who ever calls the police because a person can not conform his/her behavior to the requirements of that program, is participating in coercion. At the panel on alternative approaches, virtually everyone admitted to doing this at some point.”
To hopefully clarify the nature of what we’re discussing, here I’ll offer you just a couple more questions, regarding that passage, of your comment reply.
First Q: Do you really believe that “any one who offers services but who limits those services to certain people or who asks people to leave […] is participating in coercion”?
(Honestly, that does not describe coercion in my view. No. Not at all. On the contrary, that describes a totally common practice, in of many kinds of service oriented businesses. It describes someone being discerning when it comes to deciding whom s/he will or will not choose to serve. There is no implication of coercion there, whatsoever — not at all, in my view. Really, emphatically, I must say, that’s not coercion.)
(And, to me, it seems quite perfectly understandable, that “At the panel on alternative approaches, virtually everyone admitted to doing this at some point” — if “this” refers to “[limiting] services to certain people” or sometimes “[asking] people to leave.”)
Second Q: As you are saying “who ever calls the police because a person can not conform his/her behavior to the requirements of that program, is participating in coercion,” I say yes, true, absolutely, that is coercion; however, shouldn’t we presume that, “At the panel on alternative approaches, virtually everyone admitted to doing this at some point” in response to certain perceived ‘imminent threats’ of serious violence from that person?
When providing ‘mental health services,’ one must (by law) report serious threats of violence to the police; and, indeed, people who work in the ‘mh’ field (even those who practice ‘alternative approaches’ to ‘mh’ issues) may, as some point, wind up needing to call for police help, for a client may be truly threatening to cause considerable harm. (In the course of the careers, of most ‘mh’ workers offering ‘alternative approaches,’ I imagine that happens only very infrequently — if at all — because most of those folk are not in so-called “hospital” settings.)
In any case, yes, calling the police is introducing coercion; but, it is not at all necessary introducing ‘medical’ coercion.
I believe we should stick to the topic, at hand — that is, imho, the pseudo-scientific claims of psychiatry (including the sham that is its medical model) and the intrinsically immoral nature of medical-coercive psychiatry.
For countless reasons (including but not limited to the fact that psychiatry’s medical model is a sham), I believe psychiatric ‘medical treatment’ (i.e., psychotropic drugs, ECT, psychosurgery) should never be administered through coercion or force.
You speak of psychiatry’s medical model, explaining, in your comment reply “For many years, I accepted the constructs of mental illness and within that construct, the imposition of force makes some sense – one is “treating” the individual.” Then, after a bit of insistence that you “never took lightly what was clearly an enormous responsibility and authority given to me at a very young age,” you continue “As I increasingly reject this model, the authority is harder to hold so you ask why am I still here? Fair question and for now, I am taking the utterly hubristic notion that if not me, it would be someone one else.”
Frankly, Dr. Steingard, that doesn’t strike me as a highly principled stance (at all).
That’s a horrible reason, imho; really, it seems to me (from what you’re saying), you’re working ways that advance ‘treatment’ procedures including ‘medical’ regimens that must totally contradict what you’ve come to believe would, ideally, be ‘best practices’ in your profession.
Or, maybe I’m somehow just totally misinterpreting your response?
Hopefully, you can realize how your reply is not offering even the least ‘rational’ sense of why you continue to practice medical-coercive psychiatry; at the point that you state “why am I still here? Fair question and for now, I am taking the utterly hubristic notion that if not me, it would be someone one else,” you are basically admitting you have no good reason to continue such work. You could let someone else do it.
The truly feeble nature of your defense of your own coercive practices of ‘medicine’ (at least, if I understand what you’re saying) just doesn’t compute; I mean, it seems totally at odds with your own stated sense of thoughtfully plying your trade; ethically, it is no defense whatsoever; in fact, it seems a very cynical attitude.
Maybe some readers will feel I’m being too hard on you.
You may or may not choose to reply to my comment, but I hope you will do so if I have somehow misinterpreted your words.
Whether or not you do, I continue to hold out some hope, you’ll come up with a way (sooner rather than later) to completely end your participation in coercive ‘medical’ practices…
P.S. — Sorry, I used the wrong ‘reply’ button (had meant to reply via the reply button further down, leaving open the space where David was being asked to reply).
Sandra Steingard, M.D.,
You say in your comment to David (on October 21, 2014 at 7:38 pm), “I have acknowledged that I am a practicing psychiatrist who at times participates in the process of coercing people into hospital settings, I would gladly give up this power.”
A number of questions came mind, as soon as I read what you’re saying there.
First Q: Besides being a practicing psychiatrist who at times participates in the process of coercing people into ‘hospital’ settings, are you not moreover a practicing psychiatrist who at times participates in the process of coercing people into accepting ‘treatment’ in the form of psychotropic drugs (e.g., neuroleptics)?
Second Q: Is it even possible to be a practicing psychiatrist who at times participates in the process of coercing people into ‘hospital’ settings without also being, simultaneously, a psychiatrist who participates in the process of coercing people into accepting ‘treatment’ in the form of psychotropic drugs?
Third Q: With respect to your saying that you are “a practicing psychiatrist who at times participates in the process of coercing people into hospital settings,” what do you mean, as you go on, to say you “would gladly give up this power”?
(I may be wrong, but it seems to me, as I read that line, there’s something missing. I mean, it seems you could be a lot more clear in what you’re saying here, were you to explain briefly why you won’t give give up that power. I mean, it seems to me you’re suggesting that something is holding you up, keeping you from doing what you say you “would gladly” do.)
Fourth Q: Frankly, I wonder, why don’t you do what you say you would gladly do, by honestly declaring “I am now giving up this power!”?
And, about your asking David, “If psychiatry were no longer the instrument of coercion in the setting it serves now, what do you suggest as the replacement?”
Of course, David can speak for himself in answering that question, but here I am taking a quick crack at it (I hope you don’t mind):
Psychiatry ‘serves’ a number of settings (i.e., psychiatrists practice psychiatry not only in so-called “hospital” settings); if psychiatry were no longer an instrument of coercion in any of those settings, there would (I believe) be a considerable increased demand for various kinds of ‘counselors’.
I think that, almost inevitably, a lot of those ‘counselors’ would be designated as ‘mental health’ specialists; however, I’d hope that quite a few of them would not be designated as such, because, personally, I am quite skeptical of ‘mh’ pros of virtually every kind, including ‘mh’ counselors — as they tend, in a pinch, to become subservient to the practice and/or views of psychiatrists.
So, if there came an end to medical-coercive psychiatry, I presume there’d be a considerably increased demand for counselors; hopefully there could be many counselors whose specialty would be defined not in terms of “mental health” — but along the lines of ‘problem solving specialists’ (they’d be trained to help clients solve ‘problems in living’) or else ‘solution finding specialists’ (to help clients find creative ways of moving forward, in life).
Some could be social workers.
Also, if there came an end to medical-coercive psychiatry, I believe there’d still be psychiatrists — only they would not be allowed to impose their ‘treatments’ on anyone.
So, in fact, I think there could be an increased demand for psychiatrists; over time, there could be increased demand for truly understanding psychiatrists, who’d be far more effective in addressing problems of living, that some clients wish to frame as ‘mh’ issues and some clients would view as requiring help that only a licensed physician could offer; i.e., psychiatry could possibly become a fairly respect worthy profession, if psychiatrists could not resort to coercion, could not impose their ‘treatments’ on anyone.
At least, that’s what I speculate…
Thanks for your reply. About “Ultimate Truth”: I strive to avoid latching on to reductionist explanations, in complex matters, yet I do believe there is usually one key factor (or maybe two or three combined) that quite well explains the existence of a society’s ugliest and seemingly most intractable problems, and I believe such factors tend to vary little, from one major problem to the next.
For example (one such problem now on my mind, as it was raised by MIA blogger Jonathan Keyes, in comments under MIA blogger Richard D. Lewis’s most recent blog post):
There are “…350,000 people with mental illness in prisons and about 35,000 in hospitals” in the United States. (Or else, as a recent article, on the MotherJones.com website, recently declared, “There Are 10 Times More Mentally Ill People Behind Bars Than in State Hospitals.”)
How we choose to frame our problems can be the main problem, and often it is; for some frames, though they present real facts, do little more than promote dangerous myths – such as the myth (or myths) of ‘mental illness.’
I believe there is typically a key factor (or set of factors), the exposure of which, can virtually explode the various myth(s) of “mental illness” that convince folk, that those ‘problems in living’ (as Szasz described) are what the typically assigned ‘authorities’ on such matters say they are…
Such key factors are what I call the Ultimate Truths, usually having to do with more or less unspoken greed and/or avarice, representing mainly unspoken power struggles, that most of the top players involved are all but agreeing outright, amongst themselves, to brush under the carpet.
Interpersonal battles will be waged, sometimes to the death – but quietly – usually at the expense of sacrificing innocent lives… as those players strive to become Kings or Queens of their hill; interpersonal battles… politely expressed… and all the while, the lives of innocents are at stake.
The Kings, Queens (and would be Kings and Queens) smile and say “Hey…,” as their discussions become increasingly circular — eventually trailing off altogether. (They move on to matters more personally satisfying.) It happens continually in family systems — and in whole societies…
Those Kings and Queens, in Psychiatry, are Emperors and Empresses with no clothes – as are those who hope to replace them…
Few common folk will ever choose to call their views naked lies, lest they’d wind up inciting a rebellion of otherwise ‘compliant’ identified “patients” of psychiatry. To speak up could also get them deemed “crazy Scientologists” (or else, just plain “crazy”).
[Note: I am not a Scientologist, nor will I ever be one.]
Hence, most folk wind up turning a blind eye to this fact, that biopsychiatry, which is based on pseudo science, is an increasingly influential force in our justice system; most folk could hardly care less.
Indeed, some become champions of that psuedo science, while forever aiming to pass themselves off as devotees of real science — in that realm of biopsychiatry… because, whether or not they fully realize it, they are clinging to and disseminating heaps of B.S. — claiming to promote “mental health” — not so much to help others — but to help themselves… primarily to maintain and gain rank in their existing social circles.
For some folk, these MIA discussions are mainly political exercises – personal politics – these circular discussions… (Here I am speaking of those who maintain that maintaining some level of ‘medical’ coercion is absolutely necessary.)
In fact, all that the majority of psychiatrists are doing (whether or not they’ll ever completely realize it) is pretending to be scientific while sharing, amongst themselves, a common desire to control the seemingly out-of-control ‘Other’ (and, though they won’t discuss this, they’re typically fearing nothing and no one more than the ‘Other’ who’s seemingly threatening to take over their own families and maybe even their own minds).
“TUT” (‘The Ultimate Truth’). I recommend announcing (and celebrating) its exposure, as such, whenever and wherever it is exposed — because it is just too seldom exposed…
So, though you say you have no access to any Ultimate Truth, but you do (I say), and I encourage you, say “tut-tut” the next time you hear someone aiming to defend psychiatric psuedo science and the coercive policies that it serves.
That the coercion depends on the pseudoscience and vice versa is The Ultimate Truth, of Psychiatry and it is exposed by your blog post (above).
Oh, and I have (moments before beginning this comment) finished reading your previous MIA blog post (“ADHD in France and America”). It is quite good, informative; it, too, reads very well (as though a good dialogue or interview). Really, it exposes the pseudo science of Psychiatry very well — and, in particular, the extreme pseudo science of American (APA-approved)Psychiatry.
I’ll recommend it to anyone who is interested in a cross-cultural view of how child psychiatry is being practiced.
(While drug ‘treatment’ of “ADHD” is its focus, much of what you’re saying there applies to other childhood ‘diagnoses’ in psychiatry as well – most especially to the ‘diagnosis’ of so-called “childhood bipolar disorder.”)
(Note: I’d also recommend, to anyone who reads that blog post, read the brief comment discussion below that post. It is interesting. The commenter Tyler expresses what I feel are very genuine and meaningful concerns.)
Yes, I will email you (if I can just figure out that email address you’re offering 🙂
(This probably would have been an email had I not been somewhat confused by the email address you posted.)
Thanks again for the comment reply… and for the invitation to email.
P.S. – At first, I hesitated to post this comment, feeling some might disapprove of it, in ways. Then, I remembered that their disapproval would not be my problem. 🙂
(I think to myself: ‘Let them disapprove! Let them even say “tut-tut” if they wish…’)
Wow (and wow again). Really… wow (three times).
Somehow, you have just managed to articulate in this blog post of yours (above) the Ultimate Truth, about Psychiatry!
And, you did it with fewer than 1,000 words — so clearly spoken…
This blog post of yours is a definite keeper — (wow, again, truly); it’s one to share with anyone who can read English and has at least half a mind to know the ultimate Truth about Psychiatry… because it is so clearly stated.
I will be sure to do my best, to spread this blog post of yours far and wide — and, in particular, will pass it along (at least, casually) to those ‘mh’ pros, communicating online, who, I notice — despite their claims of being ‘critical’ of psychiatry — continue to defend some supposedly ‘limited’ practice of psychiatric coercion and/or support, in particular, the some supposedly ‘limited’ use, of the direct assaults with drugs (’emergency forced drugging’) that’s sanctioned in every psychiatric “hospital” and in hospital E.R.s (‘Emergency Rooms’) everywhere.
(I considered myself a critic of psychiatry prior to my actually meeting up with medical-coercive psychiatry, at age twenty-one; but, it was such an assault, as that — and a few more subsequent, similar assaults, in the course of two years’ time — that led me to really understand the nature of the Beast that is medical-coercive Psychiatry.
(Sometimes, I wonder if anyone can really understand the nature of that Beast without having been clobbered by it — or without having had a beloved friend or relative quite blatantly clobbered and destroyed by it.)
I sort of wonder how you came to your understanding of the nature of medical-coercive psychiatry; I think you may be somewhat new to MIA? But, your bio indicates you’ve been on this path for quite a while. (After reading your post, just moments ago, I clicked on your name, read your brief bio and discovered that you have posted one blog previously.Your bio is intriguing, and I’m now eager to go and read your previous post — indeed, will do so immediately after posting this comment.)
Well, maybe I’ve heard mention of your name previously (I’m not sure), but I have not, prior to now, noticed your presence here, on this website…; so, welcome!
Thanks for posting! …and thus putting the Ultimate Truth of Psychiatry it into such a clear-spoken message! Keep up the great work!
P.P.S — If such a person was given the option and did choose to receive counseling, I would hope that the counselor could have the good sense to explain to that person (in case #2) something to this effect:
“Just because someone tells someone to go jump off a cliff, doesn’t mean that person should go jump off a cliff. (We all know this, right?! It’s what our mothers taught us, when we were just kids… Well…) Along those same lines, if a ‘command hallucination’ tells you to break into someone’s home and steal a Bible, that doesn’t mean you should go ahead and do it. (I guess you understand that now.)”
P.S. — About my recommending non-medical counseling, in my comment, above, please, understand, I would not want any sort of counseling to be forced on anyone, here I am actually suggesting a possible option that’s offered the defense counsel — as opposed to automatically ordering a convicted ‘criminal’ to do prison time; it’s an option, as a way to essentially reduce the severity of sentencing…
Jonathan Keyes offers two hypothetical situations (on October 20, 2014 at 4:54 pm); I know he’s offering them to another commenter, but, oh well; I can’t resist offering the following response…
Hypothetical Situation #1
“A man is in his home going through some delusions that his parents are aliens and they need to be killed. He actively starts hitting and attacking them. Police would likely be called…but where should he go? Does he deserve to be tried in front of a court and put in prison for this episode?”
To answer Jonathan’s first question, above, I must say…
Actually, there could be no way of knowing for certain whether (or to what extent) such a hypothetical man truly believed that his parents were aliens — as opposed to this possibility, that he was just claiming to believe that his parents were aliens.
Likewise (and, possibly, more to the point), there’s no way of knowing, to what extent such a man had truly believed they ‘needed to be killed.’
A man could have just been claiming to have believed such nonsense, because he had surrendered to a passionate urge to attack his parents, and now has been arrested, and he knows (just like most people who have access to mainstream media news and the Internet know) there have been past cases wherein individuals (and their defense lawyers) have entered an ‘insanity’ plea, claiming that the defendant had come to believe that certain other individuals (those whom they attacked) were ‘space-invaders’ (“aliens”) who ‘needed to be killed.’
Haven’t most folk heard of such stories, by now? Yes…
But, putting that aside (indeed, putting aside the question of what he actually believed), dealing with what would be the verifiable facts of his case (not speculations about what supposed delusions he supposedly believed that supposedly led him to commit such a crime), just addressing the hypothetically verifiable facts, I say: Most definitely, that man should go to jail — to await a fair trial.
Furthermore (because it’s remotely possible that such a man could be as totally confused as he claims to be), for his own protection, he should — and almost certainly would — be kept in his own cell and completely separate from the general population, of prisoners, at all times.
Jonathan asks, “Does he deserve to be tried in front of a court and put in prison for this episode?”
Absolutely, he deserves to be tried in front of a court (a real criminal court, not some kangaroo “mental health” court).
Whether or not he should be put in prison should be left up to the judge, at the time of sentencing.
If a man such as that pleads ‘insanity,’ then he will not get off any easier; even and especially if he winds up being deemed “not guilty by reason of insanity,” he’ll be totally screwed by the so-called “mental health” system.
Hypothetical Situation #2
“…someone is on the street with command hallucinations telling him to break into a house and find a Bible? What should happen if they do that? Prison for breaking and entering?”
Again, I must say, there’s no way of knowing for certain whether (or to what extent) that person has actually been motivated by ‘hallucinations’ to commit such a crime. There may or may not have been what you (Jonathan) call “command hallucinations” telling that person to commit that crime. But, even if there were such “command hallucinations” being created, in that person’s mind, why should that matter?
Did that person not know that s/he was committing a crime? Breaking and entering is a crime that most people well understand is a crime; if they commit that crime, they should be ready and willing to be arrested and face a judge (and, ideally, a jury) at a fair trial (i.e., not some in some ‘mh court’ judge, in a ‘trial’ orchestrated by the whims of psychiatrists).
In response to Jonathan’s question, “Prison for breaking and entering?”
This hypothetical (case #2) is a non-violent offense and arguably a petty offense (that is, if the only damage done was the theft of a Bible). I am all for mercifully sentencing people who commit such crimes.
Though I would be much more willing to see that person briefly jailed, awaiting a swift trail, than I would be willing to see that person forcibly “hospitalized,” no way would I wish to see that person sentenced in a way that led to being imprisoned.
(It’s really a very, very, very different sort of case than case #1.)
If s/he literally had done nothing but enter someone’s home illegally and take a Bible, and I was aware that a coming verdict in the case could be somewhat harsh, I’d be (and, I presume others would be) quite adamant in calling for mercy…
Certainly, no prison — maybe parole, including, perhaps, some mandatory non-medical counseling.
P.S. — @ gardenlisa,
If you are interested in finding a personal coach for your son, were I you, I’d Google these four words: “William Glasser Choice Theory”
(Note: Dr. Glasser was a psychiatrist who developed a clear method of helping people, that effectively teaches self-responsibility, the importance of making healthy choices; he was not into prescribing drugs, nor was he into “hospitalizing” people.)
In any event, he must be offered choices…
“I know many of you won’t like what I have to say, but…”
From what you’re saying, it seems maybe you’re worried about being judged here, but it’s hard for me to imagine that anyone could read your comments, by this point, and come to judge you.
Anyone who reads all your comments fully should realize, you’re doing the best that you know how to do, and you’re learning as you go along.
(Of course, I’m only one person, speaking only for himself; others may feel differently.)
(I suppose someone could possibly judge you, upon read your comments, because this is the Internet, after all; there’s always the possibility of being judged here, even over the smallest of matters.)
I hope you don’t mind me saying, I think, from what you’re describing, that it’s most important that your son be viewed as someone who can become fully self-responsible, in time — and (moreover) happy.
I know what I’m saying could seem presumptuous, I could seem as though someone lacking enough understanding, to offer suggestions; but, were I you, I’d think of this time, currently, as your son’s low point, in life.
He has hit ‘rock-bottom’ (from all you’re describing).
I would do everything possible to begin developing complete faith that he will get better and better, from this point forward — if only gradually (beginning now).
This may seem like wishful thinking, but it needn’t be that; you can develop a plan, which helps to make it so…
I would develop a plan and assure myself that any set-backs will only be temporary.
Essential to that plan, is that, beginning now, I would envision my son becoming a fully self-responsible man; toward that end, I’d become absolutely determined to methodically encourage my son to become more self-responsible.
I would do that by offering him healthy choices.
In one of your comments (I believe it may have been on a different MIA comment thread) you mentioned mild autism.
Possibly, that indicates his troubles began in his gut (i.e., sensitivities in his digestive tract).
And, here (in your comment above), you say “He would often stand in front of the refrigerator, with the door open for an hour or more, tapping something over and over.”
Perhaps, he was doing what we all do, as we’re trying to find something satisfying to eat? …only, he may be somewhat more perplexed than most people are when they stand there.
He has to learn how to eat in a way that is right for him.
That takes time — and initiative.
In my humble opinion, he has to learn that others have raised themselves up from roughly where he is in his life, now.
He needs to realize, happiness is possible.
He’ll need to well consider and make healthy choices… that can effectively take care of himself physically and take care the environment in which he’s living… because his environment is mirroring his life condition.
The more he can take responsibility for the condition of his environment (of course, at first, he may need help caring for it), and the more he can learn to make healthy choices, eating and caring for his own physical hygiene (even if/when those positive changes come gradually), the more you’ll see improvements in his life condition overall, his ability to experience happiness.
And, he may need help from an understanding personal coach, to get him moving in those directions.
In any even, he must be offered choices.
Everything you’ve said has indicated that, all along, you’ve been doing the best that you know how to do for your son.
I fully trust you’ll continue doing so.
“I would not want my sons to be living together if one was psychotic.”
With all due respect, I can’t help but wonder: Why are you using the “psychotic” label to describe commenter gardenlisa’s son?
I have (earlier today) read all of gardenlisa’s comments (i.e., all that she’s posted on this website); and, like you yourself describe, I too have been following the comment discussion that’s been generated by gardenlisa’s comments here on this page.
Also, I agree with you as you indicate that markps2’s suggestion is correct: from all gardenlisa describes (not only in this MIA comment thread but also in previous MIA comment threads), there may be some considerable potential for violence erupting, between the two of gardenlisa’s sons who are now living together, as long as those sons continue to live together with no clear resolution of their differences.
(Please, note prominently: As I speak of their differences, I am refusing to presume that all the problems between them are derived from just one of them; though, yes her family is now apparently most troubled by their most seemingly troublesome one-time identified “patient” — who is notably, as well, from gardenlisa’s description, a victim of psychiatric abuse.)
Actually, I deeply respect gardenlisa, for she is very sincerely striving to resist initiating another psychiatric “hospitalization” for her son.
That continuing resistance of hers is very good for one and all, imho.
Moreover, it’s very good, I think, that none of her comments ever refer to “psychosis” (she literally never refers to “psychosis” nor calls anyone “psychotic” — at least, not thus far — in any of her MIA commenting).
I don’t know what her thinking is, regarding that label, but I view it as worse than needless, as it is (imo) inevitably personally damaging.
I am very glad that markps2 completely opposes forced drugging, but I do not agree with him as he claims, “If you are reasonable you would see the need for forced hospitalization.” (Note: he was not referring to gardenlisa’s son, at that point; she had not yet posted her first comment on this page.)
It’s my conviction, that no one should ever be “hospitalized” (and, certainly not against his/her own will) for emotional, psychological and/or behavioral issues — nor either for any kind of relationship difficulties, whether in and amongst family systems or elsewhere.
Clearly, from what she says in her comments, gardenlisa’s son who was formerly accepting his role as psychiatric “patient” is now rejecting it. To reject that role should be his right, no matter what…
It’s a very smart move, on his part, that he is rejecting it (as I believe he is rejecting it, based on my readings of his mom’s MIA comments) and is rejecting “hospitalization”.
No less, I think he should refuse to allow himself to buy into psychiatry’s labels — including that “psychotic” label, which you’ve now casually placed upon him.
I know you mean well, but many people claim to have been “psychotic” — and describe having gotten over the sufferings that that label implied (and, furthermore, others may accept they are over those sufferings); but, somehow the “psychotic” label continues to haunt them.
After all, many folk will never accept as ‘fully recovered’ any friend or relative who was ever once officially deemed “psychotic”; and, so, I think that any and all seeming validation, claimed verification and acceptance of that label should be avoided.
Let’s leave ‘hospitals’ for actual medical issues and let’s find language that’s not pathologizing, to describe our human experiences.
Even when encountering individuals who want to be called “psychotic” (some folk who I otherwise respect seem to enjoy claiming that label, as a fairly descriptive reflection of their own experiences), I will not accede to join them; I will not refer to them nor to their experiences in that way…
(Always I keep the terms “psychotic” and “psychosis” sandwiched in quotation marked or inverted commas.)
Likewise, while some claim to have had positive experiences, in psychiatric “hospitals” (especially amongst those few who experienced no psychiatric coercion), I know far more people claim to have had negative experiences in them — including, of course, countless “patients” who’ve been “involuntarily committed”.
And, I can’t help but question the various accounts I hear of supposedly “positive” psychiatric “hospital” experiences…
(Note: I believe that many who’ve been involuntarily and coercively ‘treated’ by psychiatry claim to have had positive experiences in psychiatric “hospitals” mainly to avoid ‘medical’ persecution by their doctors, family and/or ‘friends’ — or else, are simply suffering from Stockholm syndrome, which is a very real and serious psychological problem, that is often caused by medical-coercive psychiatry.)
I believe such “hospitals” (and, in particular, “involuntary hospitalizations”) cannot reasonably be expected to teach any “patient” either how to better understand themselves or how to relate better to others.
Nor either does the classic psychiatric “hospital” designation of “psychotic” teach anyone anything…
Please, forgive me for having gone on and on more than I probably should (perhaps, I am beating a dead horse); I guess this is an extension of my earlier entreaties, to you (of more than a year ago), to consider the many potentially negative consequences of your referring to your son with use of the term “schizophrenia”.
But, I realize you are doing your best and am truly wishing you and yours well, always…
I agree entirely with your last comment (on October 19, 2014 at 3:34 pm).
You are quite right as you say, at last, to Jonathan Keyes: “Your stand lacks moral consistency.”
I would just add, that, while it seems to me Jonathan has many good intentions, Jonathan’s ‘stand’ (such as you are referring to his stand against any and all police involvement in the “hospital” where he works), is, above all else, self-serving; and/or, it is a stand taken more on behalf of his fellow psychiatric “hospital” workers, than it is a stand taken on behalf of the psychiatric “patients” he is claiming to serve, by taking that stand.
I presume a majority of psychiatric “hospital” workers love to think of their workplace as their own domain, that’s immune from police interventions…
After all, no police interventions means less oversight of “hospital” workers themselves.
Jonathan explains, “Any survivor story here strikes me as a blatant abuse of power. I am against any blatant abuse of power.”
But, even when there is not blatant abuse of power, there is a lot of subtle abuse of power in psychiatric “hospital” settings.
Much of that abuse provokes seeming threats of violence, from “patients” who are involuntarily “hospitalized”.
Few psychiatric “hospital” workers will openly call for authoritative oversight, of such.
Well-trained police could mediate such conflicts — and, as they would be trained to listen carefully to one and all (including the “patient” who supposedly is creating a scene), they could even be authorized to make arrests against abusive “hospital” workers, who may, in fact, be responsible for inciting violence.
In various comments to Jonathan, over the past more than a year since he first began posting here at MIA, I have mentioned the following study (he has never replied to my doing so),
Consider the possibility of well-trained police being called to ‘containment events’ wherein a “patient” was claiming to have been provoked by some “hospital” worker(s).
Very few “hospital” workers would ever choose to call for police, in such instances; and, I do not doubt that the majority of ‘containment events’ in psychiatric “hospitals” are provoked by “hospital” workers…
Whether or not Jonathan would ever admit it, I believe that is why Jonathan does not say, at last, that he’d quite happily lobby to have specially trained/unarmed police intervene, when “hospital” workers make claims of serious threats coming from “patients”.
Most psychiatric “hospital” workers surely appreciate the power that’s given them, to quell all seeming threats by way of forced drugging.
Jonathan exclaims (on October 19, 2014 at 11:41 am), “‘I will fight you or any others who try to suggest that hospitals should now have police involvement in matters of violence.”
To me, that ‘stand’ of his is morally indefensible but quite understandable.
Additionally, in reference to my last comment, above (on October 19, 2014 at 2:20 pm):
Beyond their being afforded what should be considered an inalienable human right to refuse neuro-invasive procedures, individuals who are quite seriously threatening to commit violence against others (and who are, thus, rightfully detained by police), when seeming especially confused and/or troubled emotionally (perhaps, suffering significant cognitive impairment) should, of course, be segregated from the general population of the jail (or the prison) to which they are delivered.
And, they should be offered special counseling there.
But, they should be afforded the right to refuse any counseling that they wish to refuse; and, most certainly, they should be afforded the right to refuse psychiatry.
All forced neuro-invasive procedures should be abolished.
After that point at which anyone becomes perfectly convinced (such as I am perfectly convinced) that any and all forced neuro-invasive procedures are a violation of ones humanity, one may, of course, ask oneself: How can any modern society (and/or any family) best address the seemingly very real threats of violence that may be posed by a potentially deeply emotionally troubled (and, perhaps, also severely cognitively impaired) individual member of that society (and/or family)?
Typically, such individuals are perceived as suffering a ‘mental disorder.’ Very unfortunately, now more than ever, societies everywhere surrender themselves to the whims of Psychiatry; that leads countless seemingly troubled individuals (including, sadly, millions of young folk) to receiving “diagnoses” of supposed “serious mental illness.”
Once those “diagnoses” are given, psychiatrists take over.
At that point, those supposedly “mentally ill” individuals are given no true recourse to justice.
Fortunately, there are at least a few wise leaders in the world, who hold positions of authority, who are in a position to see through that travesty.
Please see, for example, the “Statement by Mr. Juan E Mendez Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” (March 4, 2013):
“Under the European Convention on Human Rights, mental disorder must be of a certain severity in order to justify detention. I believe that the severity of the [supposed] mental illness cannot justify detention nor can it be justified by a motivation to protect the safety of the person or of others. Furthermore, deprivation of liberty that is based on the grounds of a disability and that inflicts severe pain or suffering falls under the scope of the Convention against Torture.”
In my humble opinion, only the severity of ones crime and/or the verifiable proof of an intent to commit that crime can justify ones detention.
No claims of “mental disorder” or “mental illness” should dissuade a society from allowing the police to detain individuals who prove to be seriously threatening.
But, I do believe that there should be police who are specially trained in detaining individuals who are seemingly especially confused and/or emotional and are, perhaps, being called by some folk “mentally disordered” or “mentally ill.”
@ Richard D. Lewis and Jonathan Keyes and all others who are participants in this convo,
In Jonathan’s most recent comment (on October 19, 2014 at 11:41 am), he states,
The comment to which Jonathan is replying (Richard’s comment on October 19, 2014 at 12:16 am), contains Richard’s adamant conveyance of what is, in my opinion, a perfectly reasonable view, that the police should, of course, be allowed to address extreme threats of violence within psychiatric “hospital” settings and elsewhere.
I agree with that sentiment of Richard’s (except, were it my comment, I’d wish to be clear that some forms of ‘law-breaking’ behavior are quite justifiable).
Indeed, I deeply appreciate Richard’s blog post and his subsequent comments — especially, that most recent comment to Jonathan Keyes.
I most completely agree with Richard, as he conveys his sense of consternation, in realizing that Jonathan aims, essentially, to make psychiatric “hospitals” into police-free zones… because I do not believe that anyone should be considered ‘above the law’ — not “patients” nor “hospital” workers.
(Also, I should add: I believe there can be police who are specially trained to address “hospital” incidents.)
But, to clarify my own position, here I am taking the liberty of repeating myself verbatim (by providing the most essential excerpts of my first comment above) because I wish to avoid the pitfalls of engaging in a ‘force versus no-force’ argument (even and especially to Richard, who has suggested that Jonathan’s argumentation has included evasiveness — such as a “straw man” — I suggest we stay on point):
Force may indeed sometimes be needed, to defend individuals (or, perhaps, to defend a number of individuals) who may be vulnerable to a particular person who proves to be threatening.
But, what kind of force?
I completely object to force that is designed to be in any way brain-disabling.
Hence, of course, I object to forced use of neuroleptic drugs (so-called “antipsychotic medication”) and forced use of any other kind of psychotropic drug… and forced use of ECT… and use of tasers.
In my opinion, there are always better ways of containing people who seem threatening.
Behavioral interventions should never come by way of forced neuro-invasive procedures…
Simple as that.
P.S. — @ boans,
I only saw your last comment, after posting my last comment; so, here I will comment just this much further:
The ‘trap’ that you’re describing exists, of course, not only in your country — but, more or less, wherever psychiatric “hospitals” exist — and wherever, nowadays, court-ordered so-called “outpatient treatment” exists.
In fact, that trap you’re describing is the very essence of medical-coercive psychiatry, everywhere….
Though I’ve never been to your country, and I can’t reasonably claim to know much about it, I do know (mainly from documentaries) that it (Australia) is a beautiful place (i.e., the terrain itself is gorgeous); and, I’ve long been intrigued by what I’ve read of the traditional ways of the Aboriginal people.
But, then there’s Australian government — that’s apparently fast becoming Big Brother.
What is desperately needed in your country is a Bill of Rights.
The most basic human rights, in every modern industrialized country are now threatened by the machinations of medical-coercive psychiatry — but nowhere more than in your country… because there exists no Bill of Rights.
Honestly, were I you (or anyone else in Australia likewise ‘marked’ by psychiatry), I would seriously consider any and all possibilities of expatriating to a country with less hostile laws.
But, as long as you remain there, please, continue to tell of what you’re observing of the goings on, in the realm of Aussie psychiatry…
Rest assured, you are serving us all well, here in the U.S. (i.e., you’re serving psychiatric survivors here), as you’re helping us to know what utterly criminal practices modern psychiatry itself can and does lead to, once it has gone totally unchecked by a Bill of Rights.
Thank you again for your contributions to these MIA conversations. Stay strong whatever you do.
Thank you for contributing to this conversation. I have never heard of a “code black,” but what you are describing is what I experienced, in the following way (on the occasion of being forcibly “hospitalized” the first time):
In a sideroom (of the E.R. — “emergency room”), after being ‘evaluated’ with a battery of questions, I was told to lay down on a gurney, and I do so. A chaplain sat beside, holding my hand. Then, in came two orderlies armed with a syringe. I screamed, “NO!!!” as they moved the chaplain aside, held me down, pulled down my pants and shot me up, with neuroleptics (so-called “antipsychotic medications”).
There was no conceivable ’emergency’ — only the psychiatrist’s claim that I was supposedly “a danger” to myself, because I’d answered “Yes” to a question, “Do you believe you’ll die and be reborn in a new life.” (Or, maybe the question was, “Do you wish you’ll die and be reborn in a new life.” I have forgotten their exact wording.) In no way was I literally planning to die, at that time. I was not suicidal.
And, hours later, after awakening from that forced drugging, again I’d be forcibly drugged.
Who knows what kind of ’emergency’ they were claiming to perceive, at that point. (I was not told why they were forcibly drugging me and never saw my medical records, of that time.)
I agree with boans.
There is nothing but a pretense of rights-to-refuse forced drugging.
That right is non-existent, in reality.
The article that you (Jonathan) presented in defense of your views (i.e., the article “The Right to Treatment and the Right to Refuse Treatment” by Lloyd I. Sederer, M.D.) is just political posturing.
It’s title describes nothing more or less than the ultimate, most frequently heard self-congratulatory lies of medical-coercive psychiatry.
In practice, psychiatrists and their ‘helpers’ in “hospitals” can and do very frequently call for forced druggings — especially that of any sort of momentarily ‘resistant’ individuals…
Any “patient” is seen to be presenting an “emergency” when appearing as though ‘resisting’ in any way whatsoever.
Along those same lines, “patients” are very frequently coerced into allowing themselves to be drugged with pills in psychiatric “hospitals” (i.e., they are led to ‘voluntarily’ swallow pills) by transmission of veiled and not so veiled threats, that they will be forcibly drugged if they do not go along to get along.
I suppose, if you like, you can consider your “hospital” a rare oasis of ‘righteous’ applications of ‘mh’ law; but, think twice before continuing to propagate the classic lies being told by Lloyd I. Sederer, M.D..
The title of his article (“The Right to Treatment and the Right to Refuse Treatment”) is, at best, wishful thinking, in most psychiatric “hospital” settings.
In most psych “hospitals,” in the minds of psych-techs, talk such as that reflects nothing but nonsense, to be laughed at…
It is just plain B.S. in actual practice.
In this comment, as follows, I’m posting the conclusion of my preceding comment, to Jonathan Keyes… as it wound up posting in way that I had not intended it to appear. (It nested within a block quote, so here it’s in a more entirely readable format.)
Again, note the last three words, in the passage of California law, above; the last three words: “treatment and evaluation”
And, realize: To secure a California 5150 (a 72-hour “hold”), no court order (i.e., no judge) is required.
Again, a 5150 is for “treatment and evaluation.”
When “evaluation” suggests that “psychosis” is what the “patient” is experiencing, “treatment” quite often includes forced and/or coerced drugging.
A judge is required for extended “holds,” beyond 72-hours; but, the judge often sees a “patient” who’s been forcibly drugged in that initial 72-hour period.
I know that to be the case, from repeated experiences (over the course of two years, that began in the mid 1980s).
Please, don’t claim to know what you don’t know; especially when it comes to ‘mh’ laws, speak only of you know in your own experience, in your own state…
And, offer clear citations of the laws themselves (not loosely written, broad statements, from Wikipedia).
Do you actually think that very loosely worded passage from Wikipedia, which you’ve quoted, represents the truth of ‘mh’ law as it’s applied everywhere?
Perhaps, it reflects what you’ve seen, thus far, of ‘mh’ laws, where you live and work. Maybe.
(Really, I don’t know the laws in your state, so I say maybe that Wikipedia passage is an accurate reflection of them.)
Actually, I’m willing to presume, that passage in Wikipedia (from all that you say) does reflect your general observations, as a part-time psychiatric “hospital” worker, of psychiatric “hospitalization” — as it may reflect key aspects of ‘mh’ law in your state; but, it does not reflect the realities of psychiatric “hospitalization” and the guiding laws of such in many U.S. states (and it certainly does not reflect ‘mh’ laws and corresponding psychiatric practices globally).
Frankly, I would like to think your citation of a terribly weak passage in Wikipedia is ‘just’ an indication that you are sadly mis-informed (not that your are deliberately misleading); you are relying on your personal experiences and on Wikipedia in a way that is incredibly careless; for, you posture yourself as an authority on psychiatric “hospitalization” (you have been doing that here, on this MIA website, ever since you posted your first blog).
But, you are not an authority on anything but your limited experiences. You are spreading ‘facts’ regarding ‘mh’ law that are just plain wrong (seriously wrong — critically wrong) as you seem to suggest they reflect ‘mh’ law everywhere.
I have been pointing this out to you ever since you posted your first MIA blog post; but, to this point, what I say to you never has sunk in…
If your readers should have the sad misfortune of taking you to be a legitimate authority on ‘mh’ law, they will be led to believe that psychiatrists have little or no power to choose to forcibly drug the “patients” whom they ‘care’ for; and, that is a dangerous lack of understanding.
They will believe psychiatric “hospitalization” rarely ever leads to forced drugging without court orders from a judge.
You must stop and think about what you’re doing, in that respect…
Please, get this: To suggest that psychiatrists cannot unilaterally choose to forcibly drug “patients” and/or coerce “patients” into taking drugs, is just plain wrong (except maybe where you live and work and in a limited number of states that have ‘mh’ laws similar to yours).
Why do you think that your psychiatric “hospital” is governed by a universal reality?
Is it because you are believing everything you read in Wikipedia?
Please, get this, Jonathan: You have cited a classic misleading statement about psychiatry, from Wikipedia. (There are a lot of those, on the Wikipedia website.)
What Wikipedia is suggesting, in the passage you’re citing, is simply not true for many ‘mh’ system jurisdictions; I guess it represents what you’ve observed in your little corner of the world, so you continue to spread your supposedly authoritative view of your psychiatric “hospitals” generally — as though your view is fairly representative view of all psychiatric “hospitals” everywhere.
Really, I am choosing to presume that you are not being deliberately misleading.
In these regards, you are, perhaps, ‘just’ suffering from confirmation bias.
But, I cannot fail to point this out to you, because what you’re saying can lead to tragedy.
If I seem to be making a big deal about this, I am — because I want you to finally get this: It is wrong to downplay the power of psychiatrists and the dangers of forced “hospitalization”.
You are continually down-playing those dangers; that is what you’re doing (whether you realize it or not) ever since you posted your first MIA blog post; you’ve been continuing to misinform MIA readers, by explaining that psychiatrists cannot forcibly treat “patients” without court orders; you say a judge is required. Perhaps, that is the case, where you live and work. But, it is absolutely not the case everywhere.
You seem to think that your observation of psychiatric “hospitalizations” are representative of psychiatric “hospitalization” generally speaking. That’s mistaken thinking and misleading speaking.
Now, I well know I’m repeating myself in this comment, in so many ways, but that’s because I just can’t understand: Why do you continue to preach from a position of such limited knowledge?
And, why speak of laws without offering citations of the laws themselves?
E.g., you reference the year 1975… suggesting the existence of law(s) enshrined then, which would make it virtually impossible for psychiatrists to order forced druggings.
Please, know: Your referencing a year (1975) does nothing for me.
Cite a law, why don’t you?!
Why remain so nebulous? Why keep up this nonsense, which you keep up, suggesting that my experiences of having been repeatedly forcibly drugged by psychiatrists — without court orders — were somehow illegal and unusual “treatments”?
Numerous times, I have pointed out that you are wrong about this matter.
Why are you relying on a generalized statement in Wikipedia to inform you regarding these laws, Jonathan?
These are state laws, varying from one state to the next.
While civil commitment laws in the U.S. are, to some extent, uniformly guided by U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the passage you cite from Wikipedia quote is simply incorrect — as applied to much (probably most) of the U.S. — and certainly wrong if taken to suggest the way ‘mh’ laws work in the rest of the world.
It’s bad information you’re spreading…
You’re not describing a true reflection of how involuntary drugging happens, in many instances — e.g., not in my experience — nor in the experience of literally millions of others who’ve been subjected to it…
Countless thousands “hospitalized” on relatively “brief holds” in my state are forcibly drugged without court orders, every year.
Again, I say: maybe what you are saying applies to the laws in your state. I don’t know.
At last, please, just consider the Welfare and Institutions Code, of California State, regarding “Detention of Mentally Disordered Persons for Evaluation and Treatment” (note prominently the word “treatment” and note also, that: many states have modeled their own ‘mh’ laws on California law).
In my preceding comment (above), I’ve described Jonathan Keyes as being “a part-time worker in a psych “hospital” that is apparently (from what he describes) actually quite unique for its tendency to ‘treat’ its “patients” in a way that’s relatively humane.”
On second thought, I really should have inserted at least an asterisk — a bit of a qualifying statement there.
E.g., could well have added these words: “many of…”
Such is to say, here I’m correcting myself, referring to Jonathan’s “hospital” as being apparently unique for its tendency to ‘treat’ many of its “patients” in a way that’s relatively humane.”
After all, meanwhile, of course, we know…
While Jonathan will not say he has ever been in the practice of “treating” his “patients” forcibly (because he does not use the word “treat” to describe the forced druggings that he’s participated in; according to him, that’s not “treatment” at all), I am now, suddenly, once again recalling those forced druggings, which he has referred to…
That is, I realize: I should not have said, in my preceding comment (on October 18, 2014 at 6:46 am), that Jonathan’s “hospital” has a tendency to ‘treat’ its “patients” in a way that’s relatively humane.
That’s was too generous of me — really somewhat inaccurate — broadly speaking…
Jonathan has described his participating in (and has persistently aimed to defend) certain forced druggings, in his “hospital” setting.
That’s really my ultimate concern with his practices.
(How could I have forgotten it even ‘just’ momentarily?)
Steve, that’s very well said.
And, yet, in response (on October 17, 2014 at 9:43 pm), Jonathan Keyes explains,
I’ll tell you what I think is ‘seriously wrong’ — is that first short paragraph of Jonathan’s…
Really, it’s totally wrong (except maybe in the province where Jonathan lives).
Jonathan continues to repeat such notions (he has done it many times on this website); again and again, he’s getting his facts wrong about this. I have told him previously that he’s wrong; indeed, I have detailed that: First of all, individual “patients” of psychiatry are frequently called “a danger to himself or herself” for errant reasons; this is to say, for instance, over the course of their careers, many countless psychiatrists will view many of their “patients” as ‘suicidal’ who are not at all truly suicidal.
That’s how I first wound up “hospitalized” by a psychiatrist, nearly three decades ago. (I have briefly detailed, in more than one MIA comment, how that happened. And, that would not be the last time that I’d be forcibly “hospitalized” as a result of being falsely painted as someone presenting “a danger to himself…”)
Each time I was “hospitalized” against my will, it would come ultimately as the result of my being falsely accused of being a danger to myself. And, each time, I’d be forcibly drugged. Never was I committed by a judge.
Jonathan consistently fails to acknowledge that this happens.
Perhaps, in Jonathan’s “hospital” setting, people who are viewed as ‘suicidal’ are treated with the relative degree of respect that he’s describing, but why does he generalize?
Ever since reading Jonathan’s first MIA blog post (“Inpatient Hospitalization: An Inside Perspective” November 30, 2013), I’ve noticed that Jonathan tends to express his views of psychiatric “hospitals” in a way that is generally speaking, as though he believes the protocols of his own “hospital” are representative of the protocols of all psychiatric “hosptials” everywhere.
His views of psychiatric “hospitalization” are not at all representative of psychiatric “hospitalization” generally; they are not universally applicable.
He has a couple of years’ experience as a part-time worker in a psych “hospital” that is apparently (from what he describes) actually quite unique for its tendency to ‘treat’ its “patients” in a way that’s relatively humane.
His experiences and observations of psych “hospital” settings are thus quite limited.
I wish he’d stop aiming to speak/write as though he’s an authority on all matters of psychiatric “hospitalization” everywhere.
Your responses to Jonathan are good, but I’ve become convinced that nothing will cut through the ignorance that he’s spreading, as he persistently aims to ‘justify’ his practice of forcibly drugging those so-called “patients” in his “hospital” whom he believes pose a particular threat to others and or to themselves.
(Jonathan Keyes — in his first MIA blog post: “I have taken part in restraining individuals and delivering injections of medications to patients who become severely hostile, threatening or self-destructive.”)
Again, Richard, thank you…
Once, not quite twenty years ago, I bought a bed — thinking I was ready to sleep in a bed.
But, I wasn’t. I couldn’t.
And, ever since then (which is to say, in the more than one full quarter-century that has passed, since the last time I was involuntarily “hospitalized” by a psychiatrist), I have rarely ever slept in a bed — only, at best, on foam mattresses that have been laid on the floor.
Most often (like now), I have not even slept on foam mattresses, because they can seem too much like a bed.
Beds, to me, are not an invitation to sleep…
That is because of my unforgettable experiences of being strapped into beds and forcibly drugged in beds, in various “hospitals” were so horrifying.
In fact, my first night of “hospital” experience was spent strapped down on a bed, in isolation, forcibly drugged, and my second night, I was placed in a large room with roughly a dozen beds. I couldn’t sleep that night — because the environment was so strange, so foreign and unfriendly.
All the other men were sleeping, except one, who somehow realized I was awake.
He got off his bed, walked slowly over to mine, stood over me, and stared at me — and finally explained to me that he was being “hospitalized” for a “homicidal psychosis.”
(Of course, I was terrified by him, and I’m sure that it was his intention to scare me…)
To be perfectly honest: rarely do I sleep well…
Like now, I am sitting on my ‘bedroom’ floor, at a few minutes past 2:00 a.m. and am speechless, as this is a blog post that you’ve written is unlike any other.
I am wide awake — not sleeping, considering what I’ve just read…
But, thank you. As tragic as Gloria’s story is, you have shown us the dignity of her life.
I am praying that she will soon be living with Jeff.
Thank you for sharing with us her humanity and Jeff’s — and yours.
Great blog post (and thanks for the kind mention).
It’s good to have allies — i.e., genuine defenders of justice — on the inside; you are one such person, and I feel fortunate to have ‘met’ you via the online discussions that are generated by this MIA website, it bloggers and commenters.
I have only one matter to critique, of your post:
Force may indeed sometimes be needed, to defend individuals (or, perhaps, to defend a number of individuals) who may be vulnerable to a particular person who proves to be threatening.
But, what kind of force?
I completely object to force that is designed to be in any way brain-disabling.
Hence, of course, I object to forced use of neuroleptic drugs (so-called “antipsychotic medication”) and forced use of any other kind of psychotropic drug… and forced use of ECT… and use of tasers.
In my opinion, there are always better ways of containing people who seem threatening.
May all forced psychiatric ‘medical treatment’ (whether it’s by use of syringes filled with psych-drugs or it’s by machines delivering ECT — or, as it was in the past, by knives and picks designed for performing lobotomies) become a thing of the past (sooner rather than later).
Behavioral interventions should never come by way of forced neuro-invasive procedures…
Simple as that.
@ truth and @ boans (and whoever else may be interested),
In a brief comment above (on October 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm), I indicated that I’d be posting my replies to you down here, later in the day — but never did… until now.
And, by now, I am feeling rather burnt out on my own words (that happens not infrequently, after posting any considerable number of MIA comments); so, this will be my last MIA comment for a while, and I won’t say much in it.
Mainly, I’m choosing to offer two links, to videos that I find inspiring.
They are both fairly popular videos, so you’ve probably seen them, but maybe not, and they are worth watching more than once, imo.
The first is a 2008 commencement address, at Harvard University, given by J. K. Rowling:
The second is an address given in July of last year, by the recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, human rights activist Malala Yousafzai (she happens to be speaking to a U.N. Youth Assembly, on her sixteenth birthday):
[Note: In one of my comments, above, yesterday, I offered a few words about my general sense of academia (e.g., my inclination to warn young people, beware what they’re learning in college) including the fact that I’m proudly a college drop-out. Here I’ll add, I tend to be most skeptical of the education offered to Ivy League students. But, I am a strong believer in the power of education to advance the underprivileged, so I fully support the message of Malala, and it was a truly exceptional address, that was given by the authoress of the Harry Potter series, imho…]
With respect to the issues you two raise in your comments, because I am now feeling at such a loss of words (and, really, must take a bit of break from not only from visiting MIA, but from the Internet generally), I will only say here, that: I deeply respect your expressions of truth (very much so); and, I do believe in the rule of good laws…
Psych-rights laws are most definitely not good enough now (of course, that’s putting it mildly), but we can improve them, I feel.
I think Ted Chabasinski and Phil Hickey are entirely correct in suggesting that ECT can be abolished.
I think the history of the meteoric rise and fall of the lobotomy is instructive.
[Note: Imho, commenter Belinda offers much insight into these issues, and I am aware that Australia is in terrible shape, as far as psych-rights are concerned, but I take issue with her expressed view (October 12, 2014 at 2:19 am) that lobotomies are making a “massive comeback” in Australia. (If Belinda or anyone else has information about the current stats on how many lobotomies are being performed, please post links.)]
I believe the process of accomplishing that fete, of abolishing ECT, will require eliciting supporting views from a fair number of psychiatrists — most who prescribe psych-drugs.
I don’t believe psych-drugs will ever be abolished (except for some of them, when proven individually to be considerably more harmful than the others).
Richard D. Lewis, in his most recent comment (on October 14, 2014 at 12:20 am), expressed his long-term vision, describing that,
“After generations in the future have completed successful tapering from all psychiatric drugs and all harmful and coercive forms of “treatment” are outlawed and abolished, psychiatry as a profession will simply wither away because no one will have any use for it. Those formerly interested in it will find other more productive and helpful things to do with their life.”
I don’t believe psychiatry will wither away. I think there will always be psychiatrists, because there will always be a certain demand for psych-drugs.
But, psych-drug prescribing could be greatly curtailed, in time — somewhat like cigarette smoking has been curtailed here in the U.S.. (I believe some of the legal and social mechanisms that led to reduced smoking could be applied to psych-drugs.)
In any event, let’s keep fighting a good fight, that can improve psych-rights laws.
And, never lose hope, that justice will eventually prevail…
P.S. — Philip Hickey, thanks for another great blog post!
Jonathan Keyes (in his first MIA blog post):
“I have taken part in restraining individuals and delivering injections of medications to patients who become severely hostile, threatening or self-destructive.”
P.P.P.S. — Imho, we live in an extremely imperfect democracy — a democracy which is, in many ways now, utterly failing to be democratic. I think there are signs of emergent fascism in this country. And, the country may possibly give way, one day, entirely to fascism; but, imho, that hasn’t happened yet, and it won’t happen if enough of us come to respect the Bill of Rights and the power of good laws (which are, necessarily, aimed at defending and upholding its principles).
P.P.S. — About your saying “Have you taken on the role of the grand inquisitor and do you really believe we live in a democracy ?”
You had previously thanked me for my having suggested to you a couple questions to ask yourself.
I guess it was overkill to ask a question or two after that… offered too many question, I guess, at last… won’t ask you any more questions.
“it IS correct to fight for the ABOLITION of all forms of coercive and harmful forms of so-called “treatment.””
Quite honestly, I don’t have a sense of what my ‘better posts’ are.
P.S. — And, this should go without saying, but I say it anyway: I believe that, if they will not voluntarily cease from practicing at least coercive psychiatry, they should be compelled, by law, to cease from practicing it…
Medical-coercive psychiatry should be abolished, imho.
“Let them voluntarily cease from practicing at least coercive psychiatry…”
Amen to that!! 🙂
You think I’m overreacting, but I don’t think so.
Simply, I am an advocate of non-violence. I have been, formally, since I was a teen (and informally even before then); thus, when, at age 21, I chose to throw plates, I went outside and threw them at a garage door (being quite certain that no one was in my line of fire).
Also, I am totally opposed to every kind of involuntary neuro-invasive procedure — including use of tasers.
So, I don’t feel I’ve overreacted here; and, until now, I’ve simply enjoyed reading your MIA comments… had never (before now) seen you or anyone posting advice to commit acts of violence on this website.
And, what “derogatory labels” and “disrespect” are you referring to??? Really, I have no idea, and I’m quite sorry you feel I’ve been disrespectful.
For any way that I have been disrespectful toward you, I quite apologize, sincerely, as you have been respectful toward me, and I’ve meant you no disrespect.
Finally, about academia: I was raised in an academic atmosphere, but it was never for me; I am totally unimpressed by academia and am actually an autodiadact; anything I say that seems somehow ‘academic’ is just what I’ve read or observed entirely on my own; in fact, I advise young people to beware of what they’re taught in college (as I’m proudly a college drop-out).
Oh, and, Fred, whenever I say “respectfully,” I most definitely mean it, in all sincerity; however, I’m well aware that when I’m ‘arguing’ with someone, it can seem to that person like I don’t mean it…
Again, yes to “Let them voluntarily cease from practicing at least coercive psychiatry…”
“Don’t let anyone tell you to endanger yourself or other peers.”
That’s excellent advice (that one line); indeed, I judge it your best advice of all, thus far, in this entire conversation. I’ll take it, thanks — because it perfectly contradicts your incitement to taser psychiatrists.
You begin your comment by saying “I am reconsidering,” but I don’t see what you mean by that, as you are, by this point, continuing your encouragements to establish an “International Taser a Psychiatrist Day.” That is incitement to commit terrorism, Fred. I strongly suggest you completely rethink what you’re advocating, in that respect; imho, you need to continue your process of reconsidering…
And, along those lines, one thing you could possibly do, is carefully study the difference between these two terms: ‘deterrence’ and ‘interdiction’
I’m sure you know what they mean, but I suggest you place them side by side and seriously consider their differences…
Many who become quite fired up with bold plans to hopefully ‘right wrongs’ fail to make any distinction between those concepts (at their own peril and at the expense of sacrificing innocent lives).
The failure to distinguish between would be strategies of deterrence, on the one hand, and strategies of interdiction, on the other hand… has led to much needless harm, throughout history.
Terrorists especially (but not only terrorists, many ignorant lawmakers who claim to stand for ‘law and order’ as well as muddleheaded war-planners) tend to lose sight of the difference between these two concepts, and their doing so leads to all sorts of unanticipated and/or unacknowledged ‘collateral damage.’
It’s irresponsible of you, and I think you’re failing to make that distinction as you say “These psychiatrists I have seen seem to me for the most part to be above average cowardly. They may back off when they start to get tasered . At least back off the children.”
You imagine that a psych-survivor who’d taser a psychiatrist would be saving children in the process? I think quite the contrary. Such an individual would be leading more psychiatrists to drug more children more heavily.
You say “I see psychiatrists much like hitler’s ss.” (Fred, that’s such an extreme statement.) Again, you’re failing to make distinctions.
I think you are currently demonizing psychiatrists as a group, and far more harm than good will come of your continuing to do so; I pray you will realize, soon enough, that every psychiatrist is an individual, and at least a small minority of them are actually quite genuinely caring and decent human beings (but, of course, they’re not perfect, because no one is).
Observe the very real distinctions between the various psychiatrists who have expressed themselves (their professional views and practices) via their blogging on this website (that’s what I suggest).
Surely, one or two of them could appeal to you as, in fact, a decent human being who does not deserve to be tased?
I leave you with that question. But, frankly, you should feel no compulsion to answer it, as I don’t need an answer from you, and I am aiming to discuss other matters in my next comment(s) here — later today.
Oh, woops, correction — I mistakenly said “@ boans” — had meant to say “@ uprising.”
Thanks for chiming in! I quite agree with you — except as you say “I think that psychiatry should be and can be abolished,” because I don’t believe it can be abolished. (Simply not possible to abolish psychiatry in a democratic/pluralistic/secular society. It just won’t happen.)
See my parenthetical ‘challenge’ in my comment above (on October 11, 2014 at 10:21 am).
Thank you for your further reply (on October 13, 2014 at 4:03 am).
And, @ boans, thanks for your kind words.
I’ll be responding with another comment or two, as soon as I have a moment to gather my thoughts and write one. (That’ll be some time later today.)
You’ll find my further comment(s) at (or near) the bottom of this page; I’ll post them there, as I think we may be running out of comment reply buttons up here.
Excellent reply. I love everything you’re saying here, in your latest comment (on October 12, 2014 at 3:18 pm); but, to be clear, I must state, your first paragraph suggests to me, you may have misunderstood me…
You’ve apparently taken my wording as indicative of some kind of wishful thinking. (?)
Please know, I do believe that laws can be passed, which will effectively restrict psychiatrists against doing harm.
I do believe that is a long road to hoe (as I said).
But, really, I do not advocate waiting around in hopes that such laws shall pass.
I think we should take action, to find capable people who can help us to craft such laws (Ted Chabasinki is one such person, he has the expertise and experience, and from his commenting, above, I think he may be ready for a new campaign…). Once those laws are crafted, we should together take action to gain popular support for them, so they can be successfully passed.
I agree with Phil Hickey, in his simply put comment reply to Ted Chabasinski (on October 12, 2014 at 11:41 am), as he said: “Ted, Thanks for coming in. It [(ECT)] is definitely a weak spot in psychiatry’s armor.”
And, I agree with the over all gist of your comment.
Therefore, as you conclude by asking, “So, how does one choose to be “selective” in choosing what harms need to be eradicated?” …the first thought that comes to mind, is this: ‘Let’s eradicate ECT.’
I believe in the rule of good laws, ultimately.
I believe good legislation could eradicate ECT.
Crafting such legislation requires, of course, requires lawyers.
As far as I know, here in California, there’s no better lawyer than Ted for this sort of thing.
Educating the public (including but not limited to key legislators) is ultimately necessary.
Non-violent direct action may be needed.
I don’t know what I personally can do, because my responsibilities at home significantly limit my ability to travel. (I’m a single dad, currently living on a relatively limited income — and am caring for not only my daughter but also my elderly dad.) Most of what I can do is whatever I can do from home and/or in my local area.
You or anyone else who’s interested in discussing non-violent prospects for eradicating ECT, please feel free to contact me: [email protected]
Thanks for your pointed comment replies…
I personally take responsibility for all my comments. Sometimes I joke this time I’m as serious as a supreme court judge. Nobody is going to torture children as young as 2 with electricity or brain damaging drugs let alone successfully continue to hold hostage an entire population of people with pseudo -science based torture techniques without being as they step it up opposed with stepped up counter measures to address the emergency which has been escalating.”
I am sincerely hoping you will reconsider what you’re saying there.
Please, think this through (i.e., take some time to contemplate your last two comments, including that one, above) and contemplate what I’m saying, as follows:
You wrote (on October 12, 2014 at 1:40 pm), “I’d like to declare an international Taser a Psychiatrist Day the day the opportunity presents itself. Don’t be recognized and don’t get caught.”
Ask yourself, first of all: Do I really wish to indict all psychiatrists equally because reportedly some psychiatrist(s) somewhere electro-shocked a two-year-old?
(I ask you that question because your proposal in your comment on October 12, 2014 at 1:40 pm seems to suggest that you’d call for a day in which all psychiatrist would equally become potential targets of taser attack.)
Now, ask yourself, specifically: Do I really wish to call for threats of violence (attack by use of tasers) against all psychiatrists?
And, if you answer ‘Yes’ to that 2nd question, then ask yourself: What harm would I do to my fellow psychiatric survivors by forwarding this plan?
I am dead serious, Fred, when I say this: Your plan is a very bad one, in all ways.
Your plan, which (as you put it) is “to declare an international Taser a Psychiatrist Day the day the opportunity presents itself. Don’t be recognized and don’t get caught,” to whatever extent it could be proved a genuine threat, being implemented by any number of activists, would only add to society’s fear of ‘mental patients’ and former ‘mental patients’ — thus driving many of us all the more deeply into hiding (because, indeed, many or most of us already feel, that we are forced to live largely in hiding, due to the inherent stigma of being ‘mental patients’ and ‘formal mental patients’). Do you wish to produce that effect?
Much as I feel the utmost sympathy for how you were harmed by psychiatry and much as it pains me to know that countless numbers of kids are currently being harmed by psychiatry, I am not at all “in Solidarity” with you, at this point — because you are advocating violence (indeed, violence against some who may be quite innocent of the crimes you’re aiming to deter); and, moreover, you are advocating utter irresponsibility.
(Oh, and, by the way, you suggest I should take a look at videos of the late activist, Russel Means. I have, in the past, studied some of the writings of Russel Means. Some of what he said made a lot of sense to me, but not all of it did…)
To me, it seems that psychiatric survivors (such as you and I) could do well to plan thoughtful campaigns of non-violent direct action.
I’m not sure, but maybe I would seriously consider taking part in some sort of non-violent direct action that required anonymity. (Maintaining anonymity is something that I feel benefits me and many other psych-abuse survivors.)
I think you may be using your real name here in your MIA commenting.
But, here you’re simultaneously promoting violence and saying “Don’t be recognized and don’t get caught”; in my view, that is a classic expression of cowardice, actually.
You begin this comment of yours (above), saying “Jonah, I personally take responsibility for all my comments.”
Well, if you think violence is somehow necessary to combat the harms of psychiatry, and if you are going to take action, violently, …then you take responsibility for your actions.
That’s what I recommend. Take responsibility from beginning to end.
After all, the biggest problem for so many people who are ‘mental patients’ or former ‘mental patients,’ is that society views us as (A) potentially “a danger” and as (B) incapable of being responsible for our own actions.
Please, don’t be encouraging the spread of such seemingly endless ignorance.
Rethink your proposition.
If you cannot imagine creative ways of fighting psychiatry’s violence with non-violence, then, at the very least, encourage taking responsibility — full self-responsibility.
Anything less would be %100 folly, in my opinion.
P.S. — Fred, I deeply believe, that each and every psychiatrist is an individual and should be treated as one — because, as a psychiatric survivor, I know the many needless harms caused by the ways conventional psychiatrists tend to depersonalize “patients” and their issues. Not all psychiatrists are monsters — which is to say, for instance, not all of them would approve of electro-shocking a two-year-old child. Probably, only an extremely small number of psychiatrists would approve of that…
“My educated opinion is that the general public overwhelmingly sees electroshock as damaging and barbaric. But our movement, because of its virtual takeover by the “mental health” system, has not acted on this.”
I’m sure you’re right about that, but there’s more to the story (I’m sure, you well realize).
You know as well as anyone what I’m going to say here about psychiatry and the current resurgence of its widespread use of ECT, but I say it anyway:
Psychiatry is a global cult led by thousands of physician-psychiatrists who are all fully dedicated to battling so-called “mental illness” (which is actually a metaphor suggesting the existence of more or less seemingly ‘serious’ and/or relatively ‘disturbing’ psychological and/or emotional issues).
The vast majority of those physician-psychiatrists view human life and its problems neurocentrically (i.e., generally speaking, they see our own brains as the prime directors of each one of us, so a ‘mal-functioning’ or ‘disordered’ or ‘diseased’ brain must be what’s causing most of our problems).
Hence, countless problems of life that are addressed by physician-psychiatrists tend to be perceived, by these physician-psychiatrists, as organic problems, of their “patients'” brains; and, yet, these physician-psychiatrists do not truly understand the brain.
Few of them examine the brains of any “patient”; indeed, there are no ‘biological markers’ — let alone neurological markers — which can definitively prove the existence of any “mental illness”; and, really, the human brain, generally speaking, is mainly a mystery to most psychiatrists.
In fact, most of them have only a very basic — even crude — working knowledge of the brain; for, few amongst them are trained neurologists after all.
(And, really, even neurologists have only relatively limited understandings of the human brain, as compared to other physician-specialists who concentrate on the ‘disease’ of other organs — because the brain is such a complex organ, far more complex than any other.)
Those who seek answers to problems of life through Psychiatry are usually perceived, by their psychiatrists, as most likely having some form of so-called “mental illness” that is also said to be a “brain disorder” — regardless of these facts, that: The brains of psychiatric “patients” are only very rarely examined, and no official diagnosis of “mental illness” is ever proven, as originating in the brain.
What’s going on here? Well, it’s really a faith-based cult — Psychiatry is. Its faith being in the notion that countless problems of life are, indeed, neuro-centered.
Increasingly, for the past half-century, its practitioners have come to push ‘medicine’ in the form of psychotropic drugs, which act directly on the central nervous system generally and the brain specifically; usually, these drugs are delivered by pills… sometimes by syringe (when the claim is made that application of force is necessary).
But, also, there’s ECT.
ECT ‘providers’ represent a relatively minor cult within the Psychiatry cult.
It’s relatively minor, as, not too long ago, there were movements that largely discredited the use of ECT.
But, as psychiatry has come under increasing fire for its ‘overuse’ of psychotropic drugs, ECT ‘providing’ physician-psychiatrists have become emboldened, pushing ECT as “in a sense, the penicillin of psychiatry.”
[That line is from David Healy and Edward Shorter’s book, Shock Therapy: A History of Electroconvulsive Treatment in Mental Illness (2007) — the writing of which, was, according to ECT.org, financed by Max Fink. (“Public records show Fink’s foundation paid the authors $34,000 to write this book.”) http://www.ect.org/?p=796 ]
Were it not for KOL psychiatrists such as Healy and Shorter taking their lead from Max Fink, promoting his views and following in his footsteps (Healy directs an ECT clinic), I am certain that ECT would not be making the resurgence that is making…
I believe that Healy (along with his cohort Shorter) paints himself as such an undying critic of Big Pharma and as the ultimate psychiatrist-man-on-a-mission rooting out distorted research results, he becomes an incredibly popular writer amongst so many critics of Big Pharma, within the ‘mh’ field, his promotions of ECT automatically take on a sense of legitimacy.
I know there are a number of frequent MIA commenters who greatly appreciate Healy’s books; but, most have not read his ‘history’ of ECT.
In my humble opinion, those who wish to abolish ECT should seriously consider picking it up and studying at a library (as I did, because I would not at all wish to pay for such garbage); they should study it and then decide whether or not it doesn’t make sense to boycott his writing altogether. I suggest, those who wish to boycott his writings (as do I) can come together and have a small bonfire, burning any and all of his books that they’ve come to collect…
And/or, they could each have their own small bonfire, of that kind — recorded on video — uploaded to Youtube.
After all, certainly, there are other books by writers whose styles of writings are just as good or better (truly, I feel there are far more entirely credible and compelling writers), who likewise write critically of Big Pharma and the many problems of applied psychopharmacology.
I think that’s not a good joke, as someone could take it seriously, and that would only serve to discredit our movement.
Surely, you must understand that nothing I’ve said has been to defend David Healy’s work.
Imo, his promotions of ECT and his practice of ECT and, above all else, his consistent denial of the harms caused by ECT, are ultimately indefensible — especially, as he aspires to paint himself as one of the world’s top experts on how it is that adverse effects of other ‘medical’ treatments (specifically, drugs) tend to be denied by those who profit from peddling them.
And, about psychiatry: Simply, I don’t believe it can be abolished, so I conclude it needn’t be abolished.
I presume there are ways its standards of practice can eventually be legally ‘regulated’ such that its practitioners are more or less restrained, by law, against doing harm; but, that is a long road to hoe.
I do agree with Ted Chabasinki (on October 9, 2014 at 3:46 pm) as he says “a concerted campaign against shock, focusing on parts of the country most likely to respond, could lead to its abolishment.”
Finally, as I’m on the topic of ‘truisms’ (having just mentioned my appreciation for one that was offered by Sinead, in a comment, above), I feel I must say, to you, I can’t see your quote from Unen Ameji as being an example of an entirely realistic truism (maybe it is a difficult quote to translate precisely from her own language?), because I do believe that the ability to make compromises is a necessity; even the most ethical people compromise, in ways, at times. They must.
But, they do not compromise their own most deeply held values.
Along those lines, I wonder if Robert Whitaker has not, perhaps, been somewhat compromising his own deepest values as a dedicated science-journalist, as he’s doing so much to support shock-doc David Healy’s work, as a researcher of adverse drug effects.
I say that because, frankly, I do not find Healy to be a credible researcher of adverse psychopharmaceutical drug effects, as I do see a considerable (imho, quite blatant) conflict of interest, in the fact that he runs an ECT clinic and promotes ECT as being, in many instances, the ideal alternative to psychopharmacology.
Really, I see him as being completely incapable of being objective, considering his consistent denials of the damage done by ECT and his consistent blaming of all complaints of such, as being mis-attributed adverse drug effects.
I believe Healy is (for whatever reasons, I really don’t know) literally incapable of admitting that ECT causes lasting harm. I think it’s unnecessary for me to belabor that point any further here, especially as I’ve recently expressed it in various comments under Pat Bracken’s recent MIA blog post.
Suffice it to say only, that Healy and his ECT ‘history’ book co-author (Shorter) call ECT, “in a sense, the penicillin of psychiatry.”
That’s absolutely outrageous, imo.
I would be very happy to see Robert Whitaker addressing this issue; imho, he might need to raise it at some point, should more MIA commenters begin challenging Healy directly, under his MIA blog posts, regarding his consistent denial of the harms that ECT causes.
“EVEN an asshole can be helpful– in certain circumstances, that is.”
hahaha lol 😀
I haven’t time now to respond completely — will almost certainly attempt later to formulate a response that’s more fully meaningful than this one, but I will say that I’ve read over your comment a couple of times, in order to hopefully understand you more fully and must say, that line of yours (quoted above, in italics) made me laugh out loud, each time.
Because imo it’s such a good line (really tickles my funny bone) and seems such an obviously useful truism, I cannot help but wonder why I’d never heard it previously? Did you think it up yourself?
I tend to figure it’s virtually impossible to come up with any really clever new truism that’s not actually already in use, because an Internet search can typically prove that others have used every conceivable turn of phrase before us.
So, I wound up Googling “an asshole can be helpful” and came up with only 5 results.
From that point of view, I congratulate you, concluding you’re amongst its earliest of users; and, really, it’s not just those five words in succession, it’s that entire line of yours, with the additional five word phrase at the end (the entire ten-word line) which is so funny and perfectly true, imo…
Of course, persistent contemplations and/or convo on matters of psychiatry and its usual methods, can all-too-easily become sadly dispiriting.
Today, fortunately, after posting my preceding comments, I was able to make time for a long hike, and that was really necessary, to clear my mind…
Thanks for giving me something to laugh about, afterward; I deeply appreciate the moments of levity.
Yes, Fred, In Solidarity.
First of all, I will say this (and I hope you can take it to heart):
Your contributions to this discussion are incredibly valuable; each and every one of your comments is full of priceless, purely instructive first-hand observations, concerning ECT.
But, now I add this:
I can’t help but disagree with a couple of thing you’re saying….
1. You say (in your comment on October 10, 2014 at 9:09 pm), “Bottom line: psychiatry needs to be abolished. It is a cancer, a plague on humanity that contributes to countless deaths and un unmitigated suffering.”
Imho, psychiatry does not need to be abolished, nor can it be abolished.
Here I will say just a few words about that…
Much as I agree, generally speaking, psychiatry is doing far more harm than good in the world (and, that means, in fact, I believe most psychiatrists are doing far more harm than good), I don’t believe that literally all forms of psychiatry practice are bad. (Most of them are, but not all of them are.)
I can count on only one hand the number of living psychiatrists whom I’ve heard of, who I think might be practicing in really entirely efficacious ways.
So, to be sure, I think the profession is mainly populated by quacks.
And, yet, really, I don’t believe there is even a snowball’s chance in hell that psychiatry is going to be abolished.
Psychiatry will not be abolished, ever — at least, not in any democratic, pluralistic society.
(Note: I can remotely imagine the possibility, that psychiatry could eventually be abolished, in some non-Westernized country — that would be either a dictatorship or a autocracy — as the result of the edict of some dictator or group of elite leaders coming to oppose it, on religious grounds. Meanwhile, I challenge anyone to offer me even one reasonable hypothetical scenario in which psychiatry could be abolished here in the U.S. or in any other established, functioning democracy. I’m sorry, but I don’t see that happening under any circumstances.)
2. You begin your latest comment (above) by saying, “I hate to say it, but fear seems to silence even the kind or well-meaning…”
Again, I want you to know, I find your comments highly instructive — including this one (on October 11, 2014 at 2:27 am). I appreciate very much the points you’re making… including the point, that fear rules many people, effectively silencing them.
However, there is another factor in play, which should not be ignored, that is: In the course of attempting to hopefully solve problems, most people are quite willing to make certain ‘compromises’ that they well realize shall entail a substantial possibility of creating harmful outcomes — and maybe even a certainty that some amount of harm shall be created…
People are often willing to accept that some amount of ‘collateral damage’ will be created as a result of their actions.
They allow for such possibilities, in many instances, not because they are being ruled by fear; to the contrary, many people (perhaps, most) will choose to make such ‘compromises’ while very sincerely believing, that their ‘compromise’ shall ultimately guarantee the creation of considerably more good than harm.
I will give you just one example, here, of what I’m talking about, as it relates to this MIA website (you are probably aware of this already):
On the bottom right-hand corner of this web page is promotion for RxISK.org, an organization founded by David Healy, that’s aiming to solicit personal account of adverse reactions to prescription drugs.
On the RxISK.org website “About” web page (under the heading “Our Medical and Research Team”) one sees — below David Healy’s profile — amongst others, the profile of Robert Whitaker (who is, of course, the founder of this MadInAmerica.com website).
Whitaker well knows the history of ECT and knows the harms it causes — and does a superb job of summarizing the essence of these matters — in his book, Mad in America; and, yet he chooses to ally himself with Healy, at least to the extent of agreeing to become an integral part of that RxISK.org “Medical and Research Team” and then placing that portal to RxISK.org at the bottom right hand corner of every web page on this website.
In fact, I’m willing to bet there is no one on planet Earth (nor then either is there anyone in the Universe) who’s currently doing more to promote RxISK (other than Healy himself…) because this MIA website gets a lot of daily views, and most of those views are from people with certain complaints about ‘meds’ of various kinds, and this site is highly regarded by plenty of folk who are fairly serious critical thinkers.
Healy, though he heads an ECT clinic (and, of course, Whitaker is well aware of that) gains a lot of credibility this way; indeed, that RxISK.org signia, link and search engine, at the bottom right hand corner of this page, all lend Healy tremendous credibility, in the eyes of countless MIA readers, I’m sure.
So, my point…
While I don’t claim to know Robert Whitaker personally, I have met him briefly, and my impression of him (including the impression gained from reading his writing and watching and listening to his talks that are posted online) is that, in his career, he’s not being ruled by fear, at all.
Nor, by the way, do I believe he is a particularly ‘selfish’ or ‘self-serving’ person.
Rather, I think he’s a very bright guy — and a well-meaning guy — who has made a calculated decision, in teaming up with a prominent shock-doc (Healy).
That is because, besides being a shock-doc, Healy is a popular critic of Big Pharma.
I believe, Whitaker most likely made that decision to become a part of RxISK (and to promote RxISK.org prominently on this website) while sincerely believing it would lead to the creation of considerably more good than harm.
Is it a decision that I know for certain I would not have made, had I been in Whitaker’s shoes.
No way would I have done so.
I think it was a very poor decision, on Whitaker’s part, and I would hope that there could, at the very least, be an additional portal created, next to the RxISK.org portal, that would lead to the collection of adverse reactions to ECT. (Of course, I would not trust Healy or his organization with the task of collecting of such data.)
“They broke me I was terrified and it was ongoing with no one to understand what I went through or believe me. I only knew this could happen again…”
Thankfully I never experienced ECT, and I’m sorry you did….
From all I’ve read of what it is, I realize ECT is an utterly inane form of ‘treatment’; and, forced ECT is surely the worst abomination now being practiced by psychiatrists; I am so glad I’ve never been subjected to it myself; but, actually, what you’re describing there (in the lines I’ve quoted, above) is familiar to me, for it’s a fair description of how I felt, upon being forcibly ‘treated’ with psychiatric drugs (four times in the course of two years).
If you’ve read my comments previously, you know: that way back in my early twenties (going on nearly three decades ago).
I hope you can forgive me, as I’m going to recount some of those experiences here, because something about your story is leading me to explore my own, once again; I guess it’s reading about how your dad came to apologize…
I can’t reasonably blame my parents for what I went through in the first “hospitalization” I experienced, because they had good reason to be worried about me (I was the “easy kid” in the family, who’d suddenly thrown a stack of plates, one by one, at the garage door, in my parents’ backyard); they had perfectly good reason to think I’d gone totally nuts, and they could not have anticipated the sort of ‘treatment’ I’d receive through the ‘courtesy’ of their health insurance plan (it was purely horrendous ‘treatment’).
I was perceived as ‘psychotic’ — not only because I was reported to have broken all those plates; but, also because the psychiatrist had been told that I believed I was Bob Dylan.
You see, I’d been listening to a lot of old Dylan music, and I was feeling rebellious, like Dylan… And, a trusted relative came to me after I’d broken those plates and asked me, “do you feel like anyone else, not yourself,” and I had answered, “I feel like Bob Dylan.”
(That relative, I noticed, spent a long time with the E.R. psychiatrist, making sure I’d be well ‘cared for’ — surely with the best of intentions. Then, years later, I’d find out from him, that he’d thought I had actually come to believe that I was Bob Dylan.)
In the course of being “hospitalized,” that first time, I was massively ‘medicated’ — put in restraints and forcibly drugged by syringe (twice on the first day — and would spend that night tied down, on a bed, in seclusion) and was eventually fed a variety of pills, until… a bit over a week’s time passed, I’d be released from that place… utter messed up, as the direct effect of that ‘treatment’ I’d been receiving.
I cannot possibly explain, in few words, how totally screwed up that place was and how messed up I was when I came out of there. Only, I can say, my experience there felt as though, all along, that of having my brain literally cooked in a pressure cooker.
In that last day or two, I was being drugged less heavily; but, I figure, considering how heavily I had been drugged, there must have been some ‘meds’ in my bloodstream…
And, in any case, I wound up, quite unexpectedly, experiencing myself as somehow emotionally ‘uncorked’ as I was leaving that place; indeed, within minutes, I’d begin raging at my mom (as I had never done previously nor ever again afterward), because, I discovered, my parents (who’d arrived precisely as I was exiting) were, in fact, perfectly certain that I needed to be immediately “re-hospitalized,” in that house of horrors.
That is to say, they wanted me put back in; and, so they were doing everything possible to have the night ‘orderly’ take me back in.
But, he wouldn’t (apparently, he couldn’t). It was late at night, and the psychiatrist was gone; no one in that “hospital” could or would take me back in; so, somehow, by phone, my parents located another “hospital” that would receive me…
My parents called some friends of mine, who had helped them in getting me into the first place; they rushed to the scene, I got into their car, and off we drove, to a new venue…
(I can still recall the sense of feeling ‘uncorked’ during that car drive; it led me to prattling on, about my various observations of the “hospital” I’d just left — and the “patients” therein…)
In the new venue (the new “hospitalization”), I’d be yet again restrained, forcibly drugged by syringe, put in seclusion and let out of seclusion the next day — again, to take pills… but this time not just for days, for weeks on end — nearly two months…
(I.e., the ‘treatment’ in the 2n place was little different from the 1st place, but it went on for a much longer period of time…)
It was during that 2nd “hospitalization” I’d receive my official ‘diagnosis’ (note: I have never known which doctor gave it to me; I was told of it, by a nurse); my parents and I were told, my ‘diagnosis’ indicated the existence of a “brain disorder” a “serious mental illness” requiring a lifetime of psychiatric ‘care’ (you know, so-called “medications”).
Now, in retrospect, more than ever, beyond any shadow of a doubt, I’m absolutely certain that there was never any good reason for me to have been “medicated” at all, ever — let alone forcibly.
Simply, that’s how “patients” are broken down and kept under control, when being “hospitalized” against their will, upon having first been perceived as (theoretically) ‘psychotic’.
Really, I don’t think “psychotic” at all well-described my state of being, until after my first days of being ‘treated’ by medical-coercive psychiatry.
That is to say, I believe the restraints and the forced drugging of that first “hospitalization” were making me crazy, in way that could well have led me to be perceived as ‘psychotic’; I really was not well-described as such beforehand, I think; but, I do understand why my parents thought I needed that first “hospitalization” …and then “re-hospitalization,” as I had broken those plates and was not at all myself, seemingly; and, they could not understand that the horrible shape I was in…
The raging I did, at my mom, when I found that she and my dad were striving to get me put back in… (my dad was off trying to find a pay phone, as I raged at my mom) was all due to my having been literally tortured with massive doses of absolutely mind-twisting psychiatric drugs.
After the second “hospital” experience, which lasted nearly two months, I’d be totally broken down, in every way. Completely demoralized.
A couple of years later, as an ‘outpatient,’ I’d stop taking the pills I was being prescribed…
I would flush them down the toilet in my apartment; and, despite the fact that I was bothering no one, I’d wind up “re-hospitalized” then …because, very naively, I’d told the same relative whom I’d told that I felt like Bob Dylan (I really looked up this relative), that I’d thrown ‘my meds’ down the toilet, as they were, I felt, slowly killing me; I told this trusted and well-meaning relative that — and, also, that, if I had gone on taking any more of those pills, I might wind up taking all of them at once.
I was being entirely honest — and, thus, incredibly naive…
It truly seemed to me, that I could no longer stand to take any ‘meds’ — and would rather be dead than go on taking them. I should have kept that information to myself entirely.
But, I was not in any distress whatsoever, and I wanted to my friends and family to understand, I was much happier now than I had ever been in the past two years, since first being “hospitalized”.
As I explained, to my relative, that I’d flushed the ‘meds’ down the toilet and was feeling certain that such was for the best, unfortunately, that did not sit well my relative — nor with the relatives (including my parents) with whom this relative subsequently spoke…
Nor would any of my friends relate well to these facts concerning my new found autonomy from psychiatry and ‘meds’.
Considering they all knew me now according to this psychiatric label, which indicates “serious mental illness,” of course…
Soon, everyone I knew was confronting me, urging me to go consult with a psychiatrist (they were considering that maybe I needed to see a new one); and, sadly, I eventually did so, because, naively, I thought I could effectively assure him, that I was OK without those so-called medications…
You write about your dad, “Years later when he was 90 years old he said to me that he found out I had been telling the truth and the authorities were wrong that he made a mistake and was sorry…”
I was “hospitalized” against my will four times altogether — each time as a result of one psychiatrist or another gathering false information and/or twisting the meanings of my words, in order to described me as someone supposedly at serious risk of harming himself (“a danger to himself”).
From what you describe of your ECT experiences, I guess you were a minor; so, all it took to get you “hospitalized” was a parent’s signature.
Of course, it was a terrible ordeal that you went through, having been forcibly ‘treated’ with ECT.
As I say, I never received ECT, but I was broken down with ‘meds’ repeatedly; and, I can certainly relate to your having been “hospitalized” on false charges.
But, imho, you’re ultimately really fortunate to have had a dad who was, in the end, so fully willing to admit his own error, as you indicate he was. (I envy you that aspect of your story, really.)
My mother (may she rest in peace) was, after all, a good listener, so she’d eventually allow me to tell her of the “hospital” ordeals I suffered, including my having been put in restraints and forcibly drugged, and I could tell she understood me when I told her that those assaults had felt like being raped.
She was clearly sympathetic with my sense of having been deeply traumatized by those experiences, so she eventually acknowledged, that, obviously, the psychiatrists had been wrong — at least, in the sense that they had insisted I could not survive without their so-called “medications”.
I know she never meant to have any harm come to me. She truly loved me and was taking action in ways that she believed were in my best interest. I am very fortunate to have had such a genuinely well-meaning mom.
But, no one in my family — not my mom nor my dad nor my siblings nor any of my other relatives nor either any of my friends who’d all participated in getting me repeatedly “hospitalized” — ever apologized to me.
(And, I highly doubt that any of them ever will.)
So, I must constantly remind myself, that: In choosing to break those plates as I did, I was acting ‘crazy’ in a way that seemed to warrant “hospitalization.”
Afterward, all the further seeming ‘craziness’ came from my being tortured with psychiatric ‘treatments’; that would, quite inevitably, appear to observers (family and friends) as though the effects of “serious mental illness.”
And, no one would much care that psychiatrists had lied and/or twisted my words in order to claim I was supposedly a danger to myself, because, really, they all truly believed I was in desperate need of the ‘care’ of those psychiatrists.
Thank you for sharing your story…
“This is especially true for people who aren’t bipolar, but had a hypomanic episode on an anti-depressant.”
“Bipolar,” as the term is applied to ‘diagnose’ countless ‘patients’ of psychiatry and an army of colluding ‘mh’ pros, is forever an abstraction — very vaguely conceived.
I understand, from what you’re saying, that you feel you were wrongly called “bipolar,” because you were tagged with that label only as a result of experiencing what you agree to call “a hypomanic episode” that was apparently the result of taking prescribed “anti-depressants.”
But, why should anyone be called “bipolar”?
For example, let’s say an adolescent or young adult — or anyone else for that matter — chooses to push the limits of his or her own personal capacities, aiming to more fully consciously and deliberately experience and make the most of life… by mainly staying awake for an unusually long period of time. Let’s say, in a quest to be more ‘productive’ and/or ‘creative,’ s/he may come to experiment with eschewing sleep at night — and instead of bedding down at all, grabs only an hour or two of naps, during the day.
Let’s say s/he does that for a week or more — and, in that time, eventually comes to feel more entirely alive and positively awake than s/he can ever recall feeling previously.
Perhaps, during that time, s/he’s come to certain genuinely meaningful conclusions, about the limits of the sort of parenting s/he received, as a child.
Maybe, too, in feeling so much more awake, s/he becomes far more sensitive to the workings of her own bodily processes than s/he has ever been previously — and, by feeling those processes, realizes (beyond any shadow of a doubt), that s/he’s spent too many years eating far too much ‘fast food’ (really, in all reality, it is junk food that s/he’s been living on, for years), so s/he winds up deciding to just plain stop eating that food…
And, nonetheless, s/he’s failing to realize, that, of course, a healthy replacement diet is, quite soon, going to be entirely necessary; hence, she, is in effect, largely (but not entirely) fasting.
After a couple of weeks, s/he’s lost a considerable amount of weight and is becoming a bit ‘ungrounded’ in her ways of relating.
And, at last, s/he is experiencing life as somewhat more ‘dreamy’ than usual; though, really, s/he’s not delusional (at least, not any more delusional than the average ‘seeker’ who’s likewise happily toying with newly adopted — ‘spiritual’ — ways of perceiving life’s possibilities).
I supposed, s/he could, at that point, be called “hypomanic” fairly reasonably.
But, is s/he “bipolar”?
In my view (as far as I can tell from experience and observation), the truth is, literally anyone could choose to become seemingly “hypomanic,” that way; and, really, “bipolar” is just a label, an abstraction.
“…ultimately, perhaps, this whole essay is just a reflection of the insanity, fragmentation, and obsession with labeling and categorizing of our mental health system, or mental illness system, depending on your point of view.”
Another fine blog post that reads well — except as you get to your very last sentence (imo). Of course, it’s possible I’m misreading you, in those concluding lines, but you seem to express doubts as to whether there would really be much difference, after all, were you to hand in your State-sanctioned credentials and then put up a shingle, advertising yourself as an unlicensed personal coach (as opposed to a licensed psychotherapist).
Prior to that point, your blog regards your psychotherapist’s licensing, so you are openly pondering, in clear/concise terms, an array of very real and potentially insurmountable issues for any would be licensed therapist who is totally awake to the realities of psych-survivor issues (as you are awake to them); and, moreover, you possesses an awakened conscience.
Hence, throughout the brunt of your blog post, you’re addressing consequential issues, pertaining to what are increasingly intractable problems throughout the system, issues that can’t help but plague the all conscious professionals now striving to earn a living as licensed ‘mental health’ pros…
That’s not to say I think I know what’s best for you (but, I will say I do appreciate Richard D. Lewis’s four points of advice, in his comment on October 7, 2014 at 9:58 pm and also Alex’s advice in his comment on October 7, 2014 at 12:06 pm… oh, and also Sharon Cretsinger’s October 7, 2014 at 7:48 pm comment is very powerful and moving, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to you, as it seems to me, from my limited readings of your online offerings, you aren’t a psych-survivor).
Anyway, I think you’re getting a lot experienced advice on this page, you’d do well to take many of the comments to heart, and though I’d not want such a ‘mh’ license of any kind, that’s just me; I’d not judge you for keeping yours, because…
I think there are really are (rare) individuals who do far more good than harm working in the ‘mh’ system (of course, they are those who are willing to buck the system, from within, as Richard D. Lewis describes); I know there are a number of such individuals who are associated with MIA, as bloggers and commenters; but, I just know that I personally would never choose to work (note even for a moment) in any way that ever required me to seemingly affirm for anyone the supposed reality of his or her psychiatric so-called “diagnosis” or “diagnoses” (committee-approved label/s).
To encourage people to go on believing in those totally pseudo scientific ‘diagnoses’ — suggesting they and/or others whom they know should or can be well described as “mentally-ill” or “-disordered” makes no sense whatsoever to me. To prop up the medical model in that way would be contrary to every bone and ligament in my body.
(Of course, there are folk with verifiable neurological disorders who some therapists may address in the course of developing a career.)
In any case, it’s more than obvious from reading your words, you are a man with considerable integrity, so I’m quite sure you’ll make the best possible choice, that’s in accord with your Path (and your conscience).
Reading (and rereading) both of your comments on this page, I can’t help but want to say: hey, what you’re saying makes a lot of sense.
Thankfully I never received any ECT, but from what little I know about it, I believe it most certainly can have highly confounding effects; it seems to me, the combined effects of long-term use of psych ‘meds’ and even ‘just’ a relatively limited course of ECT could produce unanticipated, negative synergistic effects.
However, the human brain does have a lot of inherent capacity to reform damaged neural pathways.
Much of the healing that I experienced, in the months following my final withdrawal from psych ‘meds’ (more than 25 years ago) came from having and maintaining faith, that I could and would heal, soon enough.
I was coming off a lot of ‘meds’ then; however, fortunately, I had not been on all of them for long… (and, all told, I’d been ‘medicated’ for only three and a half years).
Yet, the healing did take patience.
I wonder, have you read Linda Andre? Imo, you have a much to offer psychiatric survivors by telling your story, as did she (in book form) and as you are telling it, at least in part, here.
I have gotten a lot out of telling bits and pieces of my own (‘psychiatric-survivor’) story through MIA comments. Along those lines, I hope you can realize that you are a gifted writer, as is Monica. (I mention her writing to you, because I see, from what you’re saying, you admire what she’s done with her writing.)
If you don’t have your own personal blog, I wonder, have you ever considered starting one, as she did? (Note: I tried to start a blog and did not go far with it, so I know it would be daunting for anyone to imagine aiming at emulating blogging success, of the kind that Monica has achieved, and I wouldn’t suggest that anyone one try to do that. In fact, I don’t like my own writing, and the mere act of comparing my writing to anyone else’s is almost certainly not useful for me; so, it’s not my intent to compare your writing to anyone’s either; but, your writing is clear (hopefully, you realize that); and, imo, this site could well use more contributors who are striving to transcend not only enduring effects of psych ‘med’ withdrawal but also confounding ECT effects. So, please, even as Monica has suggested there are other websites that help more specifically with issues of withdrawal from ‘meds’, do keep posting here, in these comment threads.
Please, do continue to share whatever you wish to share, whenever you feel the inclination. And, whatever you do, don’t let that gift of yours for communicating with words ever wither or go to waste.
Take Good Care…
“I’m in general agreement with pretty much everything you said…”
Thanks for your concurring reply! (Good to be in agreement; but, of course, I would have been fine with disagreement as well, for I am ‘in general agreement with pretty much everything you said’ in your comment reply to me also… :))
(By the way, in case you missed it, in that last parenthetical sentence, there’s a bit of very direct and deliberate mimicry for you!)
There are (I know you well realize) brilliant systems of mimicry — including age-old systems — such as yoga (which I recall you mentioning, you’ve come to practice and appreciate for its healing powers).
One can’t possibly spent time online without realizing there’s a lot of mimicry all over the Internet — e.g., call and response tweets and re-tweets — repetition of messages (for better and for worse).
Repetition that apparently lacks any individuality whatsoever may be the kind to most seriously avoid; after all, what you’re saying at last is especially important; it bears repeating imo (so, here’s one last bit of deliberate mimicry before I go):
“…ultimately if we individuate successfully we bring all we learn together in a completely unique way and cannot rely on anyone else ever having done that before.”
Yes, well said! If that was a tweet, I’d retweet it!
Great post! (Short but sweet.) Your story is poignant, and the brief trailer to “What Happened to You?” is very promising.
I have occasionally mentioned, in my MIA comments, that, at age 21, I threw a bunch of cheap plates from the kitchen cupboard, at my parents’ garage door, in their backyard.
I have described, the next morning I consented to allow myself to be driven by my friends to a nearby E.R., where I’d have my first encounter with medical-coercive psychiatry.
I was quite nervous and somewhat sleep-deprived, but in no way whatsoever was I being combative, nor would I become in any way combative in that E.R., but I would eventually be tied down there, on a gurney, to be forcibly injected with so-called “antipsychotic” drugs (nueroleptics).
I was then swiftly carted off, in an ambulance, to a nearby”hospitalized” against my will… and, just hours later, forcibly drugged again — no one ever asking why I’d thrown those plates.
Days later, as they were having me pop a variety of pills (more neuroleptics mainly) in that “hospital,” I’d beg to be provided a therapist to speak with, but that would not be allowed.
I’d wind up, from that point forward, “hospitalized” in two settings — for nearly two months altogether… and would never, in all that time, be provided even a moment of personal ‘talk’ therapy.
Years later, my mom would explain that she was told by her contacts, in that “hospital”: I could not receive therapy then, because therapy could not help me.
She was told that, before any therapist could work with me, I’d need to be “stabilized” with “medication”. (She said they called it “sealing the patient.”)
In fact, I would eventually be provided a bit of ‘out-patient’ therapy; but, that was mainly designed to acquaint me with my newly discovered ‘need’ for constant “medical” help, in the form of daily pills… and designed to ‘help’ me to fully accept this supposed ‘fact’: I was now known to be afflicted with a serious “mental illness” — a “disorder” widely considered to be genetic in origins.
I’d soon hear from one friend of mine, that his older brother (a massage therapist) had suggested to him, that, probably, something had happened in my childhood, which led to my eventual moments of personal crisis.
Such a notion was completely at odds with everything that I and my family were being led to believe, by psychiatry.
For years, no one ever asked me why I’d thrown those plates.
I rarely speak of why I did. Sometimes, in my comments, on this website, I’ve mentioned why…
But, there were a number of combined reasons, and I’ve only shared some.
I hope you will please excuse the indulgence of my sharing all that, about my own story, here.
And, please, excuse me, as I’m going to post even more… because, “What Happened to You?” is such a compelling question, and only moments prior to logging on to this website and seeing the brief intro your post (which had apparently just appeared at the atop the Home page), I’d been writing and sending, in an email message to fellow psychiatric survivor friend, the following recollections [note: here I’ll formally sign off, respectfully, saying thank you, Brenda, for posting such a wonderfully inspiring blog post):
…surely, WWII provided a most outstanding case of victors writing history, here in this country.
Here, we are all taught, from a very early age, that we were ‘The Good Guys’ — period — case closed. (Just forget about the all that firebombing we did, in Germany and Japan. Forget about the two atomic bombs we dropped…)
(Note: As it happens, i grew up in a house where U.S. ‘American’ History books of all kinds were standing around, on shelves…)
Really, ever since i was a very small child, it has struck me as incredibly bizarre (truly, outrageous) that we ‘Americans’ are taught, by our school systems, that we’re the world’s ‘knights in shining armor’ …because (i can recall) my earliest half-way conscious exposures to the ‘news’ on television (i.e., memories from age two+) that led me intuitively to sense (and, i well knew, consciously, by the time i was just four years old) that, the Vietnam War was nothing more or less for us than the purest folly, ideological and needless, a devastating exercise in futility.
Of course, it helped that my parents were opposed to that war.
Back in those days, ‘body-counts’ were reported, in the evening news broadcasts, on network TV, in this country, as though the scoring of distant sporting events.
‘We Americans’ were expected to approve of the jobs our leaders were doing, as long as considerably more Viet Cong were reported killed than South Vietnamese and U.S./American soldiers.
Fortunately, my parents were wise enough to oppose that war.
But, i should point out: they were not inclined to have us watching those news reports during dinnertime.
I watched those daily death tallies in TV news reports, only when i’d eat over at the house of this one-and-only neighborhood friend i had — a schoolmate who lived a few blocks away.
As we ate his mom’s mac and cheese or hamburger dinners, I was always attempting to understand why it was happening; why was that war happening?
Eventually, it was, in large part, that same very same sort of — really quite deep and persistent — questioning (and, really, also quietly perplexed horror), but with respect to my pondering the nuclear arms race, at its height (30,000 nuclear warheads on each side, by the time i was twenty-one years old), which would lead me to ‘explode’ momentarily (throwing plates against my parents’ garage door), at age 21.5.
No less, in those moments, i was quite aware of my coming to simultaneously (at last!) rebel against the way i’d been raised, during that above-mentioned time…
Such is to say, i had, in my mind’s eye, been going back in time, for a number of weeks, late at night; these were deliberately conjured ‘age-regressing’ efforts, leading me to re-experience sensually feelings i’d had throughout the height of the Vietnam War (as a kid, in the late Sixties and early Seventies); i was listening to a lot of old Dylan music — and Joan Baez, then… and began conjuring, unexpectedly, an unending sense of being overwhelmed by my older brother at home, threatened and humiliated, almost constantly… and the sense of futility… in that there was so much contradictory ignorance and just plain incompetence coming from our Dad, who had never had any dad around when he was a kid.
My brother was four years older than i, he knew how to find my weaknesses and push my buttons… and did so for a number of years, back then, non-stop, day and after day.
My dad’s interventions were entirely ineffective, and often he was just not around… because, of course, he was working.
My mom could protect me — but only when i was able to stay by her side; so, i was “Mamma’s Boy” (according my brother).
I had always been far more frail than he — skinny as a rail… and was in all respects “the easy kid” in our family (that’s how my mom described me), as i was so quiet.
Sometimes, my mom would encourage me to “get angry” at my brother, but she never told me how (i guess, in saying “get angry” she was hoping i’d find a way to voice some direct opposition to him, as opposed to my just plain hiding or whining to my parents, about his behaviors); but, as a kid, i only got angry at him one time: I was either ten or eleven years old and a was finally feeling totally fed up with being humiliated by him. He was going at it, pushing my buttons, and i suddenly picked up my plate of spaghetti and meat sauce and tossed it, hard as i could, in his direction. It hit the opposite wall, in the living room.
As the plate was flying, i shouted at my brother, calling him “N—-R!!!” (Note: There are no African Americans in our family; but, you should know, i come from a family of ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ …all who fully supported the Civil Rights movement; hence, in those days, the “N-word” was, as far as i knew, the very WORST possible label that anyone could ever use to describe anyone else.)
My dad wasn’t around, at that time. My mom immediately sent me to my room — which was not a harsh punishment, of course, but it was unheard of, because it was not my nature to require ‘punishing’ of any kind…
I mean, my brother was sent there (to our shared bedroom) not infrequently; it was not a horrible punishment for him; it didn’t modify his behaviors; and, i wasn’t to be kept there long very long after throwing that plate of spaghetti…
But, should i have been ‘punished’ at all, I wonder?
As a parent, now, I can’t help but think about how I would have parented myself differently.
In retrospect, i think my mom should have just had me cool off, in there, for a brief bit of time, sure — but then should have come in and praised me.
She could have docked me somehow very mildly (maybe taking 50 cents out of my allowance) for using the “N-word”; she could have then suggested some better words to use while explaining it was wrong to throw the plate. But, no less, she could have praised me for finally getting clearly pissed. (Then, after praising me, she could have told me i had to clean up the mess i’d made.)
I actually think it would have been good had i been taught how to effectively ‘fight’ my brother — with words.
In those days, he was always putting me down with the most humiliating terms, which left me feeling small and degraded.
(I strongly feel that the psychiatric labels eventually used to describe me were quite like ‘medical’ versions of my brothers terms for me.)
Indeed, like my later being told of the theoretical genetic defects that had supposedly created my supposed “mental illness,” my brother, when we were young, would frequently tell me, “You were never supposed to be born” …because he well knew that my mom had had miscarriages as well as still-births before i was born; she’d had a number of them… and there were complications with my birth, which required special medical procedures; i would not have survived otherwise.
In retrospect, i think i should have been led, by my parents, to realize, that: i could well have chosen to counter my brother’s arguments against my existence, with the fact that he was adopted.
I.e., to his “You were never supposed to be born,” i could have countered “You weren’t supposed to be a part of this family,” but i well understood his sensitivity to that subject; indeed, even the suggestion of such, now, seems taboo; the nature of such a suggestion seems too cruel…
But, would it have been any more cruel than what he was getting away with, really?
From a very young age, much as my brother was inclined to taunt me and overwhelm me with half-veiled threats of violence, i felt sorry for my brother, that he was adopted, so i would not have countered his taunts by referencing the fact he was adopted; and, my parents would have never allowed me to get away with repeating such a phrase as, “You weren’t supposed to be a part of this family.”
He he’d receive years of therapy, to deal with his anger around that issue. (It’s quite common for adopted kids to hold a lot of anger, considering their feelings that they were rejected by their ‘real’ parents.)
And, there was our younger sister (who, like my brother, was also adopted by my parents as a newborn infant); i would need to consider how any expressed negative attitude toward adoptions could effect her, and she came along when i was not quite four years old.
By that point, had i in any way slighted my brother for his being adopted, it would have been a slight of our younger sister, too, and, as a kid, i always felt very protective of her.
“To See a Professional or Not”
Over the years, since I put psychiatry out my life, there have been many times that I’ve found myself happily sitting and reading J Krishnamurti’s writings and his transcribed talks… (and, recently, as well, watching and listening to his recorded talks, some of which can be easily accessed online, via Youtube). His conversations are always, I find, good reminders that the ‘ultimate guru’ resides within ones own life.
But, his message can seem somewhat self-contradictory, because, really he was himself a kind of guru (albeit one who would not ever choose to describe himself as such and who would, in many ways, refuse to put himself on a pedestal), and he was forever offering advice — but a very, very basic kind of advice… to look within.
I guess I’d call him an ‘anti-guru’ guru — and do consider him to have been a very ‘safe guru’ …because, after all, he was a gentle man, who, it seems to me (from what I can tell, through studying his writings and talks), really had no desire whatsoever to control others and no interest in recommending any particular creed nor any practices other than the most basic sort of meditation.
I think his message was quite basic and sincere, and it could easily become the basis for anyone’s beginning to develop a healthy, daily meditation practice, free from dogma of any kind.
That said, I do think his message can tend to obscure this fact, that people tend to learn by mimicry, and nearly every form of discipline has had its masters, and some of those masters have been great teachers who inspired their students to excel in their field.
Every society, if it is to thrive in the best sense, can and will produce at least some few prominent leaders, in every field of professional endeavor, to model excellence; and, excellent character can be modeled; indeed, kids need some amount of more or less direct exposure to wise/self-responsible adult role models, in order to become themselves, soon enough, wise and self-responsible adults.
So, I do not take J Krishnamurti’s message to the extreme. I have looked for wise counsel at various points in my life, and I think, with respect to the question that’s implied in the title of your blog post (“To See a Professional or Not”), it depends on what kind of professional we’re talking about.
For anyone who’s on the fence, wondering whether or not to begin seeing a licensed ‘mental health’ professional, I say: caveat emptor (“Let the buyer beware”).
In the majority of instances, their training is not great (I do not hesitate to conclude, often it is quite bad); and, not only that…
Also, the licensing of ‘mental health’ pros tends to make them literally a hazard to many (if not most) of their clients, especially those clients whose expressions (of thoughts, emotions and/or behaviors) seem in any way particularly worrisome or troubling.
Licensed ‘mental health’ pros are all required to report — to law-enforcement authorities and/or to psychiatry — clients who seem to be ‘a danger to themselves’ or ‘a danger to others.’
Of course, those criteria are vague, they reflect highly subjective judgement calls, and (I know all-too-well, from repeated personal experiences, now thankfully decades past), of course, it’s not unusual for licensed ‘mental health’ professionals to judge a client as “a danger to himself/herself” mainly because s/he’s ‘confessed’ to being (or, perhaps, has been ‘outed’ as) someone who’s lately refusing to be ‘medicated’ with prescribed psychiatric drugs.
This was long before the advent of the Internet. I had no knowledge of anyone successfully eschewing psychiatry after having been forced into accepting it (as I had been forced into accepting it); and, everyone I knew had been programmed to believe that the psychiatric labeling I’d received meant that I literally could not survive without psych ‘meds,’ so ridding my life of those ‘meds’ required my choosing to end therapy and put a considerable distance between myself and all the ‘mental health’ professionals amongst my family and friends (there were more than a few).
As a result, I would become an ‘outsider’ of sorts; but, that was not necessarily a bad thing; and, after a few years, I did find myself consulting with various non-licensed professionals (‘healers’ such as massage therapists… and also yoga teachers… and ‘life coaches’ and hypnotherapists), some of whom were quite helpful for a time.
Wow, look at the time! (I need to go catch at least a couple hours of sleep…)
Thanks for a positively thought-provoking blog post, Monica (I see it’s been generating some moving comments, I may respond briefly to one or two of them, just a bit later today).
I too agree with John’s comment — and feel you’re offering an excellent point, Fiachra! 🙂
Thanks much for your further response.
I sincerely appreciate your sharing those recollections of having talked that ‘patient’ out of accepting ECT; it’s a wonderful story, which strongly suggests you’ve long felt (rightly) that ECT is potentially quite dangerous.
But, about your saying “I am on the same page with the ONE victim of forced ECT that you somehow know I have talked to,” …I’m scratching my head.
I don’t get why you say that, Sinead.
After all, there should be no sense of mystery about how I know this, as I already told you: “I am aware that you’ve spoken with one victim of forced ECT — at least, via comments on this website.”
Of course, that simply meant, I can recall seeing your exchange of comments under his blog post, in late December, as I was also posting comments on that page too, at that time. (In fact, I recall you’d offered some very informative comments in regards to issues surrounding the topic of that post.)
You describe yourself as being on the same page as that MIA blogger…
However, I can’t help but wonder: are you really entirely on the same page with him when it comes to ECT generally? …because he’s worked to abolish its use in California; and, meanwhile, you say “I think that being against ECT is a natural response, but there are many medical and surgical treatments that make me queasy, or cringe…”
Maybe I’m misinterpreting you, but your saying that suggests to my mind that you are probably not on the same page with ECT abolitionists. (Note: I do count myself amongst such folk, as I believe ECT is such an ultimately dangerous crap shoot, no one should be licensed to administer it.)
And, frankly, I don’t get your wild (shouting, all-caps) enthusiasm for Healy and your insistence that he’s an indispensable ally.
To me, as far as his professional practices go (from what I can tell, by way of my online study of them): but for the fact that he enjoys jousting with Big Pharma and its minion, he seems a fairly conventional psychiatrist, in most ways.
He’s a fairly classic, modern ‘biopsychiatrist’ — promoting his own genetic theories of “mental illness” …whilst believing “schizophrenia” is a perfectly legitimate/valid diagnosis (a real disease) that shall inevitably require periods of psychiatric drugging as well as shal, in some instances, positively call for electro-shock/ECT.
(He also suggests drugs and/or ECT for ‘mania’.)
All the while, he paints himself as a long-suffering “heretic,” opposed to Big Pharma; and, he is one, certainly, as compared to psychiatrists who never question Big Pharma; but, he paints himself the Lone Ranger (battling Big Pharma), even as he’s standing on the shoulders of those who came before him (e.g., Peter Breggin).
After reading this last comment of yours, I watched Healy speaking in the video he posted on his latest MIA blog post, and I think it’s sad; he’s appearing there a bit of a shambles, way overplaying his ‘victim’ card.
(To one extent or another, he’s been doing that for years. I suppose he gains sympathy from his fans that way?)
To the extent that he really is a heretic, he’s not the ultimate heretic amongst psychiatrists — not at all. Breggin is far more ‘heretic’ than Healy… being that Breggin began his fight with Big Pharma long before Healy (of course, being that Healy is younger than Breggin, that’s not Healy’s fault), and, more to the point: Breggin altogether opposes the use of psych ‘meds’ and totally opposes ECT and encourages the complete rejection of psych labeling to boot!
(Probably, it goes without saying, Szasz was the ultimate ‘heretic’ amongst psychiatrists — because he was the first psychiatrist to completely reject the medical model, and he totally opposed psychiatric coercion.)
Finally, you indicate that Healy’s no longer ordering ECT, and I don’t know why you say that… (Have you any documentation, in those regards, or is that speculation? maybe wishful thinking?)
Surely, your heart is in the right place, Sinead, that’s more than obvious, as it seems to me that you know ECT should be abolished, but you’re painting Healy as some kind of Savior nonetheless, because you view him a Giant in the fight against Big Pharma; I don’t view him as such; indeed, I view him as a perp of classic psychiatric abuse (note: you say, at last “please consider what is at stake for everyone not lucky enough to choose their ‘poison’” so, again, I point out: Healy argues that forced psychiatric drugging is, at times, necessary).
I think Bracken is moving in the right direction (and I think you do not realize, he is far and away less of a ‘biopsychiatrist’ than is Healy); Healy supports and upholds the medical model (Bracken not so much); and, Bracken is, for my money, a far better communicator.
But, that’s just my personal opinion.
I have carefully read both of his papers that are posted above. The first one reflects a pipe dream, I think; the second one is more compelling.
But, please understand: Bracken is no hero, in my view, nor is any other psychiatrist — i.e., not Breggin (who once was a hero in my eyes) nor even Szasz.
It seems to me you are indicating that Healy is a hero in your eyes? (I could be wrong about that, I may be misinterpreting your final, all-caps expressions, but if he is a hero of yours, that’s fine, go with it…
From the unmistakeable passion of your expressions, with respect to your concerns regarding the tragic impact of psych ‘meds’ on our society, I do feel your heart is in exactly the right place, and however you view Healy is fine with me.
I was just addressing you (in my first comment to you) with a mind to hopefully elevate the ‘moral’ status of Bracken, in your eyes somewhat (and, indeed, elevate him over Healy), because, much as I do agree with your concerns, my own first concerns regard use of coercion and force, in the ‘treatment’ of so-called “mental patients”; and, yes, I find it a travesty that Healy, a psychiatrist who makes it a point to solicit and to consider as quite legitimate countless complaints about ‘med’ effects, is someone who refuses to acknowledge any and all complaints that lasting damage is being caused by his own ‘treatment’ specialty, ECT.
I will let this convo rest now… fully respecting your right to view Healy and his contributions to this movement however you wish.
Be Well Always…
“I do believe some people can be very contradictory in their belief system…
Before I address that point you are making, about contradictions, I must say thanks for the welcome back and for alerting me to your comment under Jonanna Moncrieff’s August 26 blog post. I had not been aware of it, and, now, having read that comment of yours, I must say, I quite appreciate your kind gesture, offering to speak with my dad and vouch for me any time! (That’s really very kind of you, very thoughtful.) You also ask a couple question of me, there. I’ll ponder them just a bit more, then respond with a comment (or maybe an email) later tonight or tomorrow.
About being contradictory…
You mention an intention to remain “scientific” in your evaluations. In the context of this discussion, wherein the value of the work of Pat Bracken is being compared to that of the work of David Healy, I think it’s important to recognize, that Healy is a researcher who’s most often claiming to prove himself as a critic of Big Pharma; hence, he strives to develop a special expertise in knowing the downsides (a.k.a., “side-effects”) of psychopharmacology. I believe, in most instances, he’s not going to shun these various pharmaceuticals; he’s in no way ‘anti-psychopharmocolgy,’ nor does he reject the traditional psychiatric ‘diagnoses’ (labels); but, all the time, his running themes suggest that he’s uncovering ‘negative’ effects such drugs. Meanwhile, there is his resounding approval of and support for ECT; and, he runs an ECT clinic; and, whenever presented with claims that ECT is causing lasting damage (enduring “side-effect”), he counters those claims, denying they are valid… while typically insisting they are coming from “patients” who are actually experiencing negative psych ‘med’ effects. He does this quite regularly — never conceding that ECT can create lasting damage.
To me, he hasn’t the capacity to be objective, and I don’t trust the results of his research. (If you wish, you can see my further comments on this matter, including a couple of links that I recommend, at the bottom of this page.)
For whatever it may be worth, here I’ll add: I’m on a big ‘focus’ kick lately — aiming to be more focused, in every aspect of my life.
So, in the interest of staying focused, I’d like to do my best to keep the content of my MIA comments fairly well directed on the context of the discussions being raised by the bloggers and address other commenters who are fairly well staying on topic; your above-mentioned questions to me may be out of context, relative to Dr Moncrieff’s post; hence, I may email you instead of post a comment reply on that page.
I’ll have to go back to that page, take a moment to read that blog post by Dr Moncrieff… and then decide how to respond. (To whatever extent that I can, I will reply to your questions in a way that utilizes the topics raised by the blogger… that is, if I can find a way to weave the various themes together in a relatively natural way, such that I can leave at least a brief comment reply for you there — at the bottom of that page.)
Expect a comment reply there or else an email, sometime in the next 24 hrs.
Thank you very much for clearly articulated comment reply. Imo, you and I are basically in agreement about much of what we’re discussing, especially as you say, at last, “I would never refer anyone to a psychiatrist, much less seek one out for my own issues.” However, it’s true that you (and I, too) will, at times, refer certain individuals to certain writings of certain psychiatrists…
In fact, I don’t fault you at all for your recommending those books by Healy, which you’ve found so useful for the way in which they confirm your observations as a professional; you should recommend them, as they are illuminating, in your view. And, I want to emphasize this (before going further): The sense I get from reading your comments (including your comment on October 4, 2014 at 3:30 pm, to Dr Goldstein), is that you are surely doing your clients immense good, in your ways of working with them. In fact, I suspect you do enormous good in your work.
Only, we do disagree about Healy’s ultimate legacy — particularly when it comes to the effects of his being a ‘schock-doc’; and (to be perfectly frank), from what you’re saying, I think you are uninformed about the true nature of ECT.
From what you’re saying, I gather you’ve not ever been exposed to anyone who, to your knowledge, has spoken of being harmed by ECT.
Yet, I presume you must realize, there are many people who say that they’ve been seriously harmed by ECT. (Surely, you must realize that’s true, I image.)
(Actually, I am aware that you’ve spoken with one victim of forced ECT — at least, via comments on this website; but, from what you’re saying, I conclude you never discussed his experiences of ECT with him.)
Also, you may or may not realize: there are quite a few individuals who’ve committed suicide not long after receiving ECT; I can think of a couple of them who were well-known ‘celebrities’ in the world of literature. They may or may not have complained of ECT’s effects, but (I believe, without a doubt) the effects of ECT do, at times, drive psychiatric “patients” to committing suicide.
But, on the other hand, many people have been positively helped (even ‘saved’) by ECT, according to their own reports.
This is what makes the procedure so controversial, that: there are such mixed reviews.
Many say they’ve been greatly helped by ECT, but many people who’ve received ECT feel they’ve been harmed terribly by it, and I deeply believe many have indeed been harmed by it, quite…
By this point, I myself have only had conversations with a relatively small number of such individuals, and their personal stories, of having been harmed by ECT, are, to my mind, entirely convincing.
ECT-providers (‘shock-docs’) are, generally speaking, notorious for flatly denying the existence of any such harm.
Healy is one such a doctor.
In Healy’s view, it is psychopharmacology alone that can and does often wind up causing considerable harm to “patients” of psychiatry. (However, note: Healy finds some applications of psychopharmacology to be quite useful — and does sometimes recommend its forced application.)
I think Healy’s calls for genuinely careful/minimal/judicious use of psychopharmacology should not to be dismissed (they are valuable recommendation, because they are harm-reducing recommendations) except at the point that he’ll recommend involuntarily received (i.e., forced) applications…
All of psychiatry’s forced use of psychopharmacology is wrong. (I am totally opposed to any and all forced brain ‘treatments’ that are ‘prescribed’ for so-called “mental illness.”)
And, I believe Healy’s pat denials of the harms caused by ECT (whether it’s conscious or unconscious denial, I really don’t know) are inexcusable.
There is no doubt in my mind about this: harms that ECT (not infrequently) causes can be personally devastating…
Indeed, all the more devastating for those who are harmed by ECT, is this fact, that ECT providers will not acknowledge it ECT can cause harm…
This denial on the part of ECT providers leads countless vulnerable souls to accept the recommendation that they should receive ECT.
Afterward, if/when they feel harmed by it, they find themselves in a no-man’s-land, haunted by a deep sense of being personally damaged… and enduring the experience of being rebuffed by their doctors, once they complain about such effects; to be left with a long-enduring sense of having been ‘taken’ is then virtually guaranteed.
ECT providers (such as Healy) are uniform in their responses to claims of harm being done by ECT; once that very real harm that can be done by ECT becomes an issue, they become defensive if not ‘just’ stone-faced.
Healy’s standard line, to those who insist they’ve been damaged by ECT, is that (here I paraphrase): there are no negative/lasting effects of modern-day ECT treatments; any seemingly negative effects will pass after six weeks’ time, and any other negative effects that (to the “patient”) seem to last longer, are not really ECT effects.
Consistently, Healy insists that such “patients” are mis-attributing enduring effects of harm that was actually done by psychopharmacology, to ECT. (And, of course, ostensibly, he’s referring there to drug ‘treatment’ that “patients” had been prescribed by previous doctors… who were not properly versed in how to judiciously prescribe ‘meds’ as is he.)
I’ve seen Healy engage in such automatically defensive conversations online.
Frankly, because Healy is so totally dedicated to denying the cause and effect relationships that potentially discomfiting ECT “patients” report to him (here I’m referring to causes and effect regarding how they’ve, indeed, quite likely been harmed by ECT), I do not find Healy to be a credible researcher.
He accepts countless complaints about psychopharmacology effects, as valid — but invalidates complaints about ECT effects (most especially, long-term ECT effects).
More than anything, its that aspect of his professional practices, which leads me to compare him to Pat Bracken in a way that is quite unfavorable. (I.e., in my way of comparing the two, Bracken is the better man and the more efficacious professional, by far. Of course, being that I don’t know either of these men personally, I can’t claim to be any kind of ‘ultimate judge’ of their work, but…)
My sense from what little I do know of them, through my exposure to their writings and talks online, is that Bracken, as a psychiatric ‘therapist’ …will always be superior to Healy, because Bracken (as far as can tell from reading his writings) is the rare psychiatrist who will be genuinely careful to listen to his “patients” — and will not dismiss the observations of his “patients” to defend his own interests and positions.
I strongly suggest taking time to carefully study the offerings at both of the following two links:
“Book Review: Shock Therapy by David Healy, Edward Shorter (and Max Fink)”
“Linda Andre’s New Book, “Doctors of Deception: What They Don’t Want You to Know About Shock Treatment,” Just Out From Rutgers University Press!”
That first link offers a very thorough analysis of Healy and Shorter’s book on the history of ECT, which I mentioned in my first comment to you, above. (I have read most of that book, and I think it’s a disgrace, as it is such a one-sided take — pro-ECT all the way.)
That 2nd link refers to a book that is widely considered excellent, by survivors of bad ECT experiences. As you have never exposed yourself to anyone who (to your knowledge) had a bad experience with ECT, I strongly recommend your taking some time to read carefully through the comments of that 2nd link.
Again, Sinead, thanks much for your very clear reply.
Regarding the passage of your comment (on October 4, 2014 at 1:44 pm) wherein you write,
Sinead, I appreciate your critiques of psychiatry, emphasizing, as you do, this reality, of psychiatrists’ general lack of credibility, as physicians. They are good critiques you’re offering, imo.
You emphasize the way psychiatrists have, in the main, sold out, to Big Pharma — and how their selling-out was largely a result of their being relatively poorly trained and/or under-practiced, in real medicine, as a rule (in comparison to other licensed physicians). I agree with you, on that.
But, I seriously question: do you mean to paint the psychiatrist, David Healy, as some kind of heroic “heretic” and place him somehow morally ‘above’ Pat Bracken? (That seems to be your intent.)
While I personally view psychiatry as being, at best, a superfluous profession (it’s really unnecessary, in my opinion, so I have no use for it), I can say, hypothetically speaking, were I ever to be again forced into accepting the professional ‘help’ of a psychiatrist, the blogger posting on this page (Bracken) could well appeal to me, as an ‘OK’ choice of psychiatrist; he’d be acceptable to me — if I was being legally compelled to consult a psychiatrist.
On the contrary, Healy would be amongst the very last choices (of any psychiatrist living today, whom I know of) that I’d ever recommend to anyone, under any circumstance.
I would not ever recommend his ‘services’ to anyone, under any circumstance, because, after all, he’s a true-believer in the supposed ‘good’ of electro convulsive “therapy” (a.k.a., “shock treatment”).
In fact, Healy is a major promoter of ECT… even runs a shock ‘therapy’ clinic.
His professional views of ‘best’ practices in psychiatry are, to some extent, chronicled in his book, which he co-authored, with Edward Shorter, Shock Therapy: A History of Electroconvulsive Treatment in Mental Illness (2007).
(It’s really an ECT industry promotional tome — the writing of which was reportedly funded by one of the world’s foremost shock-docs.)
Here, as follows, are just a few excerpts of that book, by Healy and Shorter:
Along with his co-author (Shorter), Healy calls ECT, “in a sense, the penicillin of psychiatry.” In my humble opinion, that’s an absolutely outrageous line — which, in and of itself, tells me that I’d never want myself (nor anyone whom I care for) to have anything to do with Healy.
If, perhaps, you are unfamiliar with the well-chronicled problems of ECT, I suggest to you the following link — to an article that was authored by John Read and Richard Bentall, “The effectiveness of electroconvulsive therapy: A literature review” (2010):
[Note: As it happens, Bentall was once a student of Healy.]
Consider, if nothing else, the summarized ‘Conclusion’ of that paper, which (on its first page) reads, in part:
“Given the strong evidence (summarised here) of persistent and, for some, permanent brain dysfunction, primarily evidenced in the form of retro-grade and anterograde amnesia. and the evidence of a slight but significant increased risk of death, the cost-benefit analysis for ECT is so poor that its use cannot be scientifically justified.”
Essentially, Healy can be considered a ‘heretic’ when it comes to his critiquing Big Pharma in its failure to come clean, in regards to the real effects of its drugs; yet, meanwhile, he has not the least interest turning that critical eye of his to the harmful effects of his own, most beloved psychiatric tool of choice (ECT) in psychiatry’s ongoing, ever-lasting battle against so-called “mental illness”; Healy has nothing but praise for electro-shock/ECT…
Of course, we all know certain unflattering terms that are used to assail the quality of character of one who is apparently choosing to condemn certain decidedly bad practices amongst his/her colleagues whilst nonetheless turning a blind eye (and even highly praising) equally bad practices that just happen to provide the basis for his/her own income.
Some such terms, of course, come to mind, as I write about Healy’s love of ECT; but I will not include any terms of derision, in my MIA comments, for then there would be the risk of having my comments removed (as they could become less than civil in the view of the MIA moderators). Just, please, understand, Sinead, I have not the least respect for Healy, as a professional; but, I do not mean to critique your views overall; indeed, I quite appreciate your professionally informed, clearly impassioned commenting, in this discussion and elsewhere on this website (including the extent to which you are here challenging the expressed views of MIA’s newest blogger, Pat Bracken).
As a psychiatric survivor who is now thankfully more than a quarter-century free from psychiatry and its ‘meds’ — and who is also minimally familiar with your work as a psychiatrist (that is, I have exposure to various selections of your writings and talks online), I say without hesitance, thank you for your work’s message, I am truly glad to see you posting on this website.
Though I wish you’d keep the terms “mental illness” and “patient” sandwiched in quotation marks, what you offer here, in your first posting, is positively meaningful (and is, I believe, fairly representative of the over message in your work). It’s a good sample of your professional wisdom overall.
But, regarding your suggestion, that what you’re describing could somehow become the (really, incredibly bright) dawn of a new chapter in psychiatry, well, I feel certain you are expressing an impossible dream.
Psychiatry cannot be what you want it to be, Dr Bracken, because most psychiatrists (unlike you) haven’t got the capacity to work in the way you’re describing. Most haven’t the self-awareness or the disposition, so they will never be even minimally what you hope they will be.
And, the profession of psychiatry, as a whole, is just too far gone, down the road of ‘brain worship’ (thus, psychopharmacology-worship… and, for some psychiatrists, ECT worship) already; its practitioners have become (almost without exception) individuals who have no measurable interest practicing anything like the hermeneutics that you’re suggesting — nor anything even remotely comparable.
Psychiatrists are not often also liberal arts majors, Dr Bracken; they’re not lovers of great works of art, in the way you may be (some may collect art, I knew one who did, but he did not appreciate artists in the sense that your are describing); they are mainly folk who are awed by the latest brain science and by the now-standard, digitized color images that are created by brain-scan machines, fMRIs.
So, what you’re offering, in your encouragements (toward a world of psychiatry that would embrace hermeneutics), is really quite overly-optimistic, I think; it’s your dream/vision of what, I suppose, plenty of psychiatrists could ideally be in some alternate universe.
They’d be medical specialists who are adept at understanding the products of our life as would a great art historian understand Picasso’s most celebrated paintings! Wonderful…; but remember: in this universe, psychiatrists are (most of them) working directly or indirectly for governments — indeed, for government agencies that are unsurpassed by any other government agencies in their tendency toward bureaucracy.
In fact, these are agencies guided by laws, which are designed to control individuals’ thoughts, feelings and behaviors… at the expense of sacrificing their civil liberties.
Psychiatry is, above all else, a key System of Control, in modern/industrialized/secular societies; and, thus, rarely ever do any psychiatrists work entirely on behalf of their “patients” (they can’t).
Always, psychiatrists are beholden to the dictates of the System of Control, which guides their practices — which means there’s a constant threat of forced ‘treatment’ behind even their kindest offerings.
The psychiatric “patient” must ultimately bow down to the dictates of a State, which fears ‘deviance’ above all else, and it will always be psychiatrists, first and foremost, who will make sure that every “patient” in the ‘care’ of psychiatry does so…
To be marked as a psychiatric “patient” is almost always to be viewed (especially, by strangers) as potentially threatening, by society. Thus, no psychiatric “patient” can speak entirely freely about being a psychiatric “patient” …and their lives will inevitably be largely a mystery to their psychiatrists, as the “patient” who somehow ultimately ‘fails’ to ‘properly’ (in the eyes of psychiatry) present a current image of himself/herself that conforms and abides with the psychiatrists’ sense of propriety, will be subject to medical incarceration and forced or coerced brain treatments.
The “patient” of psychiatry must largely remain in hiding, as compared to others, who are not “patients” of psychiatry… because always are ways of being shafted by society, when one is known as a “patient” of psychiatry; and, there’s some implied coercion, in the psychiatrists’ officially prescribed recommendations, always.
This is all to say, in most instances, “patients” of psychiatry will not be fully known or understood by anyone — least of all their psychiatrists.
The stigma of being a “patient” of psychiatry is crippling in a way that most psychiatrists cannot admit to themselves; and, then there’s the stigma of psychiatric labeling…
Dr Bracken, few psychiatrists can or will ever feel free to fully enter the ‘world’ of their “patients” — especially, not those who are called “seriously mentally ill.”
Most psychiatrist fear that world terribly.
The psychiatrist is not a shaman, after all; s/he has not been ‘initiated’ into — has no knowledge of — the ‘underworld’ …that’s so well known by so many “chronic patients” of psychiatry; the shaman (i.e., real shaman) knows how to transcend that realm, overcoming any tendency toward living a life of persisting fears and anxiety, because s/he has face and overcome fear-of-death itself.
I’m not sure if you can understand the importance of that (probably, you can, but most psychiatrists can’t); most people who can appreciate what I am saying here will know what I mean, as I say: Psychiatrists are mainly bound to be and remain forever inept, at their work, with so-called “psychotic” people… because they have no first-hand, lived experience, no first-hand knowledge, of how to transcend ‘psychosis’ without resort to psychopharmacology.
And, consider this: The practice of shamanism (which, in modern times, has largely been replaced by psychiatry) was never traditionally a full-time job. The shaman was only a part-time shaman (traditionally); s/he was also a hunter and/or a gatherer — as well as, unusually, an artisan.
The psychiatrist, of course, is forever dependent upon being a psychiatrist (which typically requires pedaling emotionally and mentally suppressive drugs) to earn a living; and, in all eras and places where psychiatrists have put up a shingle, to earn a living, while they have worked full-time doing so, at most, only partially have they worked for the good of their “patients”; for, they are working to support themselves and their own families firstly, and, then, secondarily, they work for their society and for the families of “patients” who wish for nothing more or less than seeing the so-called “mental illness” of the identified “patient” controlled — which means the “patient” must be subdued — most often, chemically (if not by electric shocks).
(The “patient” of psychiatry is to be made subservient, to one and all; she is not to be encouraged to live a life of full self-expression, as did Picasso! Goodness, no…)
So, society allows the psychiatrist to earn his/her living by scheduling periodic fifteen minute sessions, to consult with “patients” on “medication” effects and so-called “side-effects” …adjusting ‘meds’ …as the “patient” slowly succumbs to “medication” induces metabolic disease and brain-shrinkage; and, that is it.
(I know that describes psychiatric practices here in the U.S. more than anywhere else, including where you live, but…)
Frankly, precisely because psychiatry has hit such lows here in this country, it is very easy to shun psychiatry altogether.
So, instead of psychiatry, I suggest the Ways of shamanism and Buddhism and yoga — all without government involvements. (Other psychiatric survivors have come to appreciate religious faiths and spiritual traditions, that work well for them…)
And, yes, that Way of yours (the hermeneutics that you describe) sounds perfectly good, too; however, much as I can and do appreciate the vision for psychiatry that you’re aiming to encourage, there’s just no way that it will happen on any considerable scale, because psychiatry has always been more or less obsessed with materialist-reductionist theories and labels (called “diagnoses”), and those theories and labels work best for the government control systems.
I assure you, no society can train professionals to appreciate human life and culture as you appreciate them; and, without a doubt, psychiatry will never adopt a great Way for knowing and appreciating the lives of “patients” in the way that you do…
Sorry to bust your bubble.
P.S. — Much as I appreciate its over all message, I think your post fails to convey the reductionism that’s inherent in psychiatric labels. So, here’s a blog post that I recommend: http://mbramham.blogspot.com/2012/02/people-not-labels-or-categories.html
“I would say that about 1 person per 1000 might be genuinely ‘schizophrenic’, the same as genuinely ‘Manic Depressive’.”
Question: Why would you say that?
What would it be, to be “genuinely ‘schizophrenic'” or “genuinely ‘Manic Depressive'”?
At what point is anyone’s life (or presumed life-condition) genuinely well-described by either of those labels (“schizophrenic” and “Manic Depressive”)?
In my many years of considering them (and also the label “bipolar disorder,” which many people use interchangeably, with “Manic Depressive), I’ve never been able to view them as anything better than extremely blunt instruments.
The divisions between the phenomena that they are supposed to suggest are vague (hence, there is the nearly all-purpose cross-over label, “schizoaffective disorder”).
I have found not the least bit of credible, scientific evidence, which could lead me to conclude that there is a ‘genuine’ version of any of these supposed “mental illnesses.”
I sincerely wonder why you or anyone else (including Dr Moncrieff, whose work I generally admire) who is (as you really obviously are) so basically well-informed on these issues, winds up concluding that such nosology is at all credible or positively meaningful.
P.S. — In relation to my expressed questions and concerns, please, when you have a moment, consider the brief ‘Argument’ and ‘Conclusion’ of a paper titled “Psychiatric diagnoses are not mental processes: Wittgenstein on conceptual confusion” (2012) by coauthors Rosenman and Nasti — via the following link:
Correction — inadvertently left out a key word (“not”).
Here’s what I’d meant to write:
That sort of ‘medical treatment,’ which Jonathan describes, I recall not unusually began with psych-techs pinning down “patients” and forcing neuroleptic drugs into their veins, via syringe.
Jonathan Keyes refers to “multiple high doses of meds that lead to numerous health and wellbeing complications” and also to “meds radically changed, stopped and started, upped or reduced radically, all with severe ramifications.”
That reminds me of my own (quite long-ago) experiences and observations, of psychiatric “hospital” protocols, which led to my relatively brief (three-and-a-half-years) in the ‘care’ of psychiatrists.
That sort of ‘medical treatment,’ which Jonathan describes, I recall unusually began with psych-techs pinning down “patients” and forcing neuroleptic drugs into their veins, via syringe.
Those effects of those so-called “antipsychotic” drugs are unpredictable; they can have what are called “paradoxical” effects; i.e., they can create an apparent ‘psychosis’ where none truly exists previously.
That is what happened in my case.
(In fact, I was — twice in one day — forcibly drugged, in exactly that way; for, I’d been “hospitalized” against my will, having been called a “danger to himself”; that verdict came as a result of my answering “Yes” to this truly inane so-called ‘psychiatric assessment’ question, “Do you think you are going to die and be reborn?” Or, come to think of it, maybe the question was “Do you wish to die and be reborn?” Honestly, it was such a long time ago, I am finally forgetting…)
“And yes,” explained Jonathan Keyes, in his first MIA blog post, “I have taken part in restraining individuals and delivering injections of medications to patients who become severely hostile, threatening or self-destructive.
To clear my mind and focus on practical matters, at home, I was taking a bit of off from visiting this website (it’s been roughly a month away). Now, upon visiting it briefly, considering only your blog post and the comment thread it has inspired, feel I may need another month off…
But, please, don’t take offense at my saying that. I had at first intended to take two month off; and, my issue, this feeling irked by some of what I read in your post, is my issue; it’s my choice to read your words; and, I see considerable value to be gained in studying them, contemplating your evolving ways of thinking about your professional role as psychiatrist.
I appreciate that you’ve generated much meaningful discussion on this page.
Now, I’ve entered the conversation a bit late and don’t necessarily expect any replies, but commenter Nijinsky has indicated in a subsequent comment, below (on September 30, 2014 at 12:03 pm), that he won’t be responding to your comment replies, but it is such a compelling reply you’ve offered him here. At least, to my way of reading it, I find it begs for a response, so I’ve decided to take the liberty of responding to it, just briefly with a question. It’s very nearly the exact same question I asked you in a comment under your February 17, 2014 MIA blog post. Here I’m repeating it, for it comes to mind as your saying to Nijinsky “I think our goals are similar – to find respectful ways of helping people that do not include any form of intervention that the person rejects.”
(That’s such a compelling line you’ve offered him, I feel — a wonderful line, really…)
That leads to my question, Dr. Steingard, which is simply this:
Should we presume that, perhaps, you’ve come to a turning point, in your career? I.e., you’ll no longer order nor condone any forced drugging of anyone, and you’ll not support coercive drugging (nor any other forced or coercive brain ‘treatment’) in any instances?
I certainly hope that’s the case…
Excellent points you’re making about the intended audience for Michael’s address; and, from me, here’s a resounding ‘Yes!’ to your conclusion.
(It deserves serious far more serious consideration than it gets from Michael, in his address; and, it certainly bears repeating…)
“If Szaszianism means abolition of forced psychiatry, I think it high time we tried it.”)
Thanks for sharing the link to the TEDx talk by Phil Borges. I’ve seen the promo and outtakes from his upcoming film (“Crazywise”) and found them compelling, so I’ll surely watch the Youtube you’re recommending, as soon as i have 14 extra minutes. 🙂
Like you and like the commenter ‘uprising’ (above), I quite appreciate what Rossa Forbes has (in her comment, on August 28, 2014 at 2:52 am) brought to this discussion, of Michael Fontaine’s address to the APA.
For Michael to have said, parenthetically, in his address, that, “In antiquity, the shamanic model was only believed in by the lower classes and because it is obsolete today, it does not interest us here” …is somewhat outrageous, I feel.
(It is a statement so perfectly emblematic of the precise sort of intellectual and economic elitism, that forever stinks up the halls, of that much vaunted but truly decrepit organization, the American Psychiatric Association).
Psychiatry, which is often government-funded, has long been trampling traditional non-Western healing traditions, in the name of ‘treating’ so-called “mental illness.”
Though I put no faith whatsoever in any government’s ‘mental health system,’ I am sympathetic with certain views of a number of activists who, as self-described ‘mh’ reformers, express themselves, their activist ideals and their professional agendas, through their blogging, on this MIA website.
Richard D. Lewis is one such individual, who’s views I mainly appreciate. But, he is quite skeptical about talk of ‘spiritual’ healing. Therefore, not long ago, I recommended a Youtube video to him, which I will recommend here, again… for whomever might be interested.
It is a talk, just 21 minutes long — by an ethnographer, named William Sax:
That Youtube is titled “Healing and Psychiatry in South Asia”
Upon recommending it to Richard, I mentioned to him: Somewhere near the middle of Sax’s talk, there is a concession that he makes to bio-psychiatry, which may be obligatory and which I think is unnecessary; but, otherwise, I find it to be an excellent and important talk.
Perhaps, Michael Fontaine should watch it.
Considering your comment (on August 29, 2014 at 1:31 am), I suggest to you a paper, by Steven P.R. Rose, as food for thought:
“Human agency in the neurocentric age”
(Under the title, appears a very brief synopsis: “Philosophers and scientists resort to dualistic explanations to reconcile the age‐old dichotomy between determinism and ‘free will’, but agency is an integral part of human biology.”)
Rose is emeritus Professor of Biology and Neurobiology at the Open University and Gresham College, London.
You can access the full paper via the following link:
In my opinion, it’s well worth reading.
I appreciate your sharing that experience, but it raises many question in my mind.
For example, I’m wondering, what sort of disturbance were you causing that led your friend to call the police? (Were you ‘disturbing the peace’ in some way?)
And, as you’re referring to that experience, as what you call your “first episode of psychosis,” and you explain that, “unnecessary force was used” by the police… and then conclude by stating, “…I think it’s important to also recognize that it’s sometimes the best anyone could do to restrain a person in the throes of psychosis and it can be in that person’s best interest at the time,” …reading all that leads me to wondering, were you also forcibly drugged? (I’m guessing you were, because I believe forced drugging is the standard form of ‘care’ for most people who are arrested and said to be “psychotic”.)
Also, I wonder, as you now look back to that time, when your friend was calling the police, do you believe you were delusional?
I’m guessing you probably believe that you were delusional, because, almost certainly, you realize that, technically speaking, every psychosis is characterized by some supposed delusion(s).
I.e., according to standard definitions of ‘psychosis,’ delusion(s) must be present; there’s no ‘psychosis’ if there’s no delusion(s).
So, finally, I’m wondering: If, looking back to that time, you do believe you were delusional, do you believe you were so very delusional that, in lieu of calling the police, literally no kind gesture from anyone could have led you back to a relatively self-controlled (and, perhaps, even peace-loving) state of mind?
Of course, you needn’t answer any of my questions.
Just wanted to convey my curiosity.
P.S. — Really, I feel quite certain, that Michael’s address is referring to what he considers “the Failure of Thomas Szasz.”
“Whose failure is Michael actually talking about?”
Let’s see if I can field your question…
As mentioned in my previous comments (above), Michael begins by informing his APA listeners, that Szasz killed himself, and he offers no further words about that. Then, he suggests that Szasz lived and died unnoticed (even though he admits afterward, that Szasz was once the most famous psychiatrist in the world). And, finally, his two concluding paragraphs begin by stating “Szasz failed” and “Szaszianism has failed.”
Oh, and let’s not forget, that the title of his address is: “On Religious and Psychiatric Atheism: The Success of Epicurus, the Failure of Thomas Szasz.”
(Yes, the fact is, the last five words in Michael’s title are “the Failure of Thomas Szasz.”)
Of course, you can feel free to disagree with me (maybe I’m just jumping to conclusions or, perhaps, being too literal in my interpretations); perhaps, you think maybe he’s being ironic when he paints Szasz a failure? I don’t know.
But, to be quite honest, I don’t think there’s even a hint of irony in his tone.
In fact, I must say, my only way to answer your question, is by simply pointing to those facts, which I’ve pointed out, above…
From those fact, I can’t help but conclude: Without a doubt, Michael is talking about what he believes was “the failure of Thomas Szasz ” (and, yes, this is what the prevailing, status quo mindset, at the APA likes to hear).
Again, no need to agree with me; and, admittedly, I could be completely missing some coded (‘contrary’ or ‘counterculture’) message in the body of his text, that you are detecting.
Maybe he can tell us if that’s the case.