Sunday, October 2, 2022

Comments by Patrick Hahn

Showing 55 of 55 comments.

  • Are the critics of psychiatry right wing? Are they left-wing? Perhaps the best answer to that question is that the old categories of “right-wing” and “left-wing” don’t mean a whole Hell of a lot anymore.

    The term “right-wing” originated during the French Revolution, when the Presiding Officer of the General Assembly seated the landed gentry to his right, as a sign of respect. The liberals were seated to his left.

    Well, guess what? Power no longer comes from land tenure. It doesn’t even come from owning a factory. Power comes from manipulating the language of science, and the appearance of science, in order to control people.

    The drug companies take our money and use it to manufacture demand for their product. Is that right-wing? Left wing? Who cares? Whatever you want to call it, it’s causing us to be drowned in a surge of useless and dangerous medicines.

    In my experience, critics of psychiatry come from all over the political spectrum. And perhaps all of these diverse viewpoints have something to contribute to the task of creating institutions that operate on a human scale and do a better job of meeting actual human needs. I don’t claim to know all the details of what that would look like, but I am happy to have that conversation with whomever wants to have it. That’s the kind of Great Reset we could all get behind.

  • Jay: Great article.

    I also enjoyed our recent little dust-up on Twitter with Bob Kolker, author of Hidden Valley Road:

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2020/08/kicking-straw-woman/

    Kolker’s sneering remarks about “Blaming Mommy and Daddy” in reference to individuals who have been raped, sodomized, and had God knows what else done to them when they were small and defenseless confirmed my belief that biological psychiatry is a field that has lost all sight of what means to be human.

    Be well.

  • “[Psychiatry] has fragile truths to defend & to provide care to those who depend on the services in an era of unprecedented need.”

    When they start spouting platitudes like that, you know they are on the ropes. Let’s not let up now.

    Psychiatry is not medicine. It is pseudo-medicine. They are applying the language of medicine, and the materials and methods of medicine, to problems which manifestly are not medical problems.

    Do doctors who prescribe antibiotics for infections feel the need to engage in flatulent babbling about “fragile truths?”

  • Twin studies are pseudo-science anyway. As psychologist Jay Joseph has repeatedly pointed out, the entire field is based on an assumption which is demonstrably false — the equal environment assumption.

    A century of psychiatric genetics has not produced a single finding that has benefited a single patient anywhere in the world. It’s time to move on.

    We know the conditions needed for humans to thrive. It’s not rocket science. Let’s work on making those conditions available to everyone.

  • The word “X” has meaning only if some things are not “X.” The word “diathesis” means “vulnerability to stress.” So are some people invulnerable to stress? Are there some people who could never meet the criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia, no matter how much stress and trauma and abuse they were subjected to?

    There is not an atom of evidence for that proposition, and if you think about it for a moment there couldn’t be. The definitive experiment in this case cannot be performed (thank God).

  • I am so sorry.

    Psychiatry forces toxic drugs on unsuspecting patients, and then when they have bad reactions to these damaging and violent treatments, instead of stopping them they ply the patient with more drugs, stronger drugs, higher doses, electrical shocks to the brain, until the victim ends up a career mental patient, or dead.

    And if, somehow, the patient’s body adapts to the presence of these toxic drugs and she is able to resume some level of functioning, they attribute her recovery to whatever combination of drugs she is taking at the time. Kind of like B.F. Skinner’s superstitious pigeons.

    “Excited catatonia?” WTF is that? They just make shit up.

  • There is a long and rich tradition of treating the complaints that now fall under the diagnostic rubric of schizophrenia with empathy and compassion, beginning with Saint Luke’s Hospital in the Eighteenth century, The Retreat at York and the Salpetriere in the Nineteenth, Chestnut Lodge and Soteria House in the Twentieth, and continuing to this day via Open Dialogue Therapy. All this is covered in chapters 10-13 of my first book, Madness and Genetic Determinism: https://www.amazon.com/Madness-Genetic-Determinism-Mental-Illness-dp-3030218651/dp/3030218651/ref=mt_other?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=

  • Schizophrenia is not even a coherent diagnostic category. Two people can have a diagnosis of schizophrenia and have NO symptoms in common. There are no measurable signs of schizophrenia, no common outcome, and no treatment specificity. It is meaningless to talk about a cause for something that does not exist.

    Anyone who knows anything about life as it is lived knows that people vary in their susceptibility to trauma, and sure, genes may have something to do with this. And so what? As I asked in my first book, if a child is being abused, do we stop the abuse, or do we give her a blood test? And if the blood test reveals she has a low “genetic risk score” for schizophrenia, do we leave her in the abusive situation?

    We know the conditions needed for human beings to lead long, healthy, satisfying lives — at least for the vast majority of people. We know this perfectly well. Let’s work on making those conditions available to everyone. That seems to me to be a more profitable course of action than pursuing miniscule correlations mined from colossal data sets.

  • Along with some colleagues from ISEPP, I have had the privilege of helping design and conduct a study of NIMH grants. Few of the studies are about psychotherapy, and fully half of those are looking for ways to do psychotherapy on the cheap — internet, text messaging, etc.

    Many of the studies propose to systematically terrorize mice or rats in some unspecified fashion and then use all kinds of fantastically expensive technology to study the effects on their brains. I have a better idea: why don;t we just assume that being systematically terrorized is a bad thing, and if mice or rats or people are being systematically terrorized, put a stop to it?

  • “We remain almost wholly in the dark about the causes of mental illness”

    I disagree. We know perfectly well what causes depression, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, etc. These complaints are caused (not “triggered”) by abuse, trauma, loss, etc. The correlation is robust, reliable, and dose-dependent, it cuts across income brackets, ethnic identities, and national boundaries, and it has been demonstrated again and again in case-control studies, prospective cohort studies, and cross-sectional studies. an anyone show me a study that looked for a correlation between trauma and so-called “mental illness” and did NOT find one?

  • Some associates and I are working on a study of NIMH grants. Some of these researchers propose to terrorize rats or mice in some unspecified fashion and then use all sorts of gee-whiz neuroimaging technology to study the effects on the rodents’ brains. I have a better idea. Why don’t just assume that being terrorized is bad for you, and if rats or mice or people are being systematically terrorized, put a stop to it?

  • Mainstream psychiatry’s position on this sort of thing is a pristine example of the motte-and-bailey argument.

    For those who aren’t familiar with this term, in medieval times, the bailey was the fortified castle – dark, dank, cramped, smelly, but highly defensible. The motte comprised the surrounding lands where the people actually made a living and lived their lives.

    So the serfs would spend their days on the motte, tending his lordship’s fields and pastures and orchards, while the nobility would go foxhunting or whatever they did to fill their days. Then, when the invaders came, all would retreat to the bailey and remain until there, hoping the attackers would eventually run out of supplies and/or lose interest and go home.

    Biological psychiatry is the motte where the psychiatrists earn a handsome living doing fifteen-minute med checks, at the expense of the peasants – oops, I mean the patients – who swallow the drugs – and justify all this by pointing to the petabytes of data generated in the course of neuroimaging studies and genetics studies.

    Then, when some troublemaker comes along and points out that all the billions and billions of taxpayer dollars spent on these studies have not produced a single cure, or treatment, or even a new diagnostic test for so-called “mental illness,” psychiatrists retreat to their bailey of semantic obfuscation until the barbarians go away and it is safe to come out into the light again.

  • Billions of dollars spent on neuroimaging studies of ADHD and other “mental illnesses” and not one patient in any clinic anywhere in the world has benefited.

    Billions of dollars spent on genome-wide association studies studies of ADHD and other “mental illnesses” and not one patient in any clinic anywhere in the world has benefited.

    Is this the modern-day equivalent of medieval scholastics debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    It’s time the taxpayers stopped pouring money down this particular black hole. Let’s take the money we spend on this research, along with the money we spend on drugging kids, and use it to hire more teachers and more teachers’ aides, and pay them more.

  • John Haslam, apothecary to Bethlem Hospital, in 1810 penned the first account of a patient who today probably would be diagnosed with schizophrenia, titled “Illustrations of Madness.” The book told the tale of one James Matthews, who believed he was his mind was controlled by a gang of evildoers by means of a contraption he called an “air loom.” Matthews’s complaints sound eerily like the rants of modern-day “targeted individuals.” So this sort of thing goes back a long way.

  • I didn’t sat anything about outlawing pot or any other drug. Nor did I give an estimate of what percentage of users experience psychosis and hallucinations.

    I do believe that people ought to know the harms of the drugs they are taking — whether we’re talking about Prozac or Paxil or pot. And now that Big Dope and Big Tobacco and Big Pharma are merging into one, look for the media to give the same sycophantic coverage to “medical marijuana” that they have been giving to so-called ‘antidepressants.”

  • Yeah, I remember when that NYT article about Dr. Levine came out. He could have resumed his practice of talk therapy, a craft he knew well and claimed to love, and still have been making more money than most of his patients. He could have downsized his lavish lifestyle and created a new one centered on having fewer things and appreciating them more, and carried the lessons he learned over to his practice of psychotherapy.

    By why bother doing all that when all you have to do is tick some boxes on a checklist, write out another scrip, and — KA-CHING!

    And then move on to the next patient.

  • No doubt this post will generate the obligatory smirking remarks about “Reefer Madness.” But there’s nothing funny about any of this.

    I have read Alex Berenson’s “Tell Your Children” and Ross Grainger’s “Attacker Smoked Cannabis” and I have to say these cases of cannabis-associated violence sound eerily like the cases of antidepressant-associated violence I have been collating.

    Cannabis no longer belongs to the counterculture. Big Dope has gone mainstream. Their shares are bought and sold on the New York Stock Exchange by sedate potbellied bald white men.

    And now Big Dope is joining forces with Big Tobacco and Big Pharma — corporations which have decades of experience in hiding the truth and profiting from human misery.

    This will not end well.

  • In his 1981 book Hyperactive Children, Russell Barkely wrote:

    “Is there a true syndrome of hyperactivity in which the major symptoms covary, respond uniformly uniformly to treatment, and have a single etiology? The answer to this question seems to be ‘no.'”

    Oddly enough, this didn’t stop Dr. Barkley from writing a 450-page book about the diagnosis and treatment of a syndrome which, according to Dr. Barkley, doesn’t even exist.

    And here it is forty years later, and he still is peddling the same poisonous wares — figuratively and literally.

  • A couple of years ago I attended the “Science Writer’s Boot Camp” sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions which featured a talk by Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the NIMH. Dr. Volkow showed us a graph depicting the availability of “medication-assisted treatment” by year, and a few minutes later she showed us one depicting overdose deaths rates by year. Only one person there was impertinent enough to point out the two graphs tracked each other almost perfectly.

    https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/op-ed/bs-ed-disease-model-20170304-story.html

  • I’ve read Dr. Francis’s latest missive. Once again he blames those nasty general practitioners. without ever adducing a shred of evidence that they are doing any more harm than their colleagues who are board-certified in psychiatry, and whose entire income stream depends on diagnosing and drugging as many people as possible.

    Some more gems from his article:

    “Between one-third and one-half of patients taking antidepressants long-term have no evidence-based reason to be on them.”

    But since there is no credible evidence that antidepressants produce any long-term benefits, plus lots of evidence of harm, in what sense is there any “evidence-based reason” for anybody to be on them?

    “Withdrawal can be very unpleasant and scary…”

    Why not come out and say “life-destroying?”

    “…for some withdrawal can last 6 months.”

    Why not mention that for some, it can last years?

    “Some highly publicized reviews of the depression literature have concluded that antidepressants are no more effective than placebo. I would argue that this is an artefact caused by the fact that so many of the subjects included in these studies had only milder symptoms that are very placebo responsive. Severe depressions do not respond to placebo…”

    Actually, Dr. Kirsch demolished this argument years ago in his 2008 meta-analysis in PLoS Medicine. All but one of the trials in his analysis had been conducted on patients whose baseline scores qualified them as “very severely depressed,” and exclusion of this one trial did not substantially change the results. Only the most severely depressed patients – those with HAM-D scores in excess of 28 on intake – experienced an improvement that exceeded the NICE threshold for clinical significance – and interestingly, in this group of patients, the increased difference between placebo and drug scores was due to a lowering of the placebo effect, not an increase in the drug effect.

    Nothing new here. The same tired old tropes Dr. Francis has been peddling for years now.

  • Officially recorded suicides have not increased in the United States (in fact they dropped slightly in 2020), but deaths due to “intentional and unintentional injury” have skyrocketed. How many of these were people driven to rage or despair due to the socioeconomic costs of the lockdown?

    There were also ten thousand “covid deaths” with “intentional or unintentional injury” listed as a contributing factor on the death certificate. How many of these were actually suicides re-coded as deaths due to the covid?

    https://patrickdhahn.medium.com/covid-19-and-suicide-can-the-official-death-toll-be-believed-5b6ffa1294ba

  • So you didn’t suffer from “schizophrenia.” You suffered from copper poisoning.

    You raise an excellent point. Any disease can affect one’s mental state. All too often, people with actual somatic illnesses are diagnosed with “schizophrenia: or some other “mental illness” and then given drugs which mask their problems or make them worse, rather than having the actual cause of their distress attended to.

    I hope you have been able to recover from your illness.

  • Hi Paula:
    Yes, I mentioned Dr. Biederman’s ties to industry. I devote an entire sub-chapter to this in my new book-in-progress.
    I mentioned that women taking hormone therapy had a 29% increase in coronary hear disease. I certainly do not recommend this to any woman.
    I agree that “ADHD” (and all the other so-called “functional disorders” commonly treated by psychiatrists) has no validity. I devote an entire chapter to this point in my new book-in-progress.
    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • The evidence purporting to show the schizophrenia is a genetically-based condition comes from family studies, twin studies, and adoption studies. In my book I argue that all of these studies are fatally flawed in ways that cannot be fixed, and tell us nothing.

    But now the new new science of genome-wide association studies has enabled scientists to go over the human genome with a fine-toothed comb, and that have not found any gene that causes schizophrenia or any of the other functional disorders listed in the DSM. As I stated in my article, the effect sizes of the so-called schizophrenia-associated alleles are on the order of one in five hundred, or even less. All of them put together are said to account for something like two or three percent of the population susceptibility.

    The fact that schizophrenia is not a genetically-based condition should have been greeted as great news, because that means that the deciding factor is in the environment, and that is something we can change.

    I acknowledged that people vary in their susceptibility to trauma, and genes many have something to do with that, and so what? As I asked in my book, if a child is being abused, do we stop the abuse, or do we give her a blood test? And if the test reveals she has a low genetic risk score for schizophrenia, do we leave her in the abusive situation?

  • In the end, this book shows how ridiculous the “it’s in the genes” argument is. Whatever else you can say about these parents, they clearly were not from the shallow end of the gene pool. Especially the father. He was an extraordinarily capable man. He just doesn’t seem to have had much interest in being a dad to the twelve children he sired.

  • The book does mention that several of the brothers remember their mother as a “harsh disciplinarian.” Did the “harsh discipline” ever cross over the line to abuse? Kolker doesn’t seem interested in finding out.

    And let’s try to have some compassion for the lady. This was a woman who continued squeezing out babies for her husband long after almost any other woman in the developed world would have stopped – and then was stuck with the task of raising ten (!) rowdy boys with almost no help from her husband or anyone else. That bespeaks a husband who was a narcissistic manipulator, or worse. Who among us can guarantee we never would have lashed out in anger under these circumstances? Not I.

    In fairness to the parents, they did give therapy a try – but they don’t seem to have tried very hard. The first time one of their sons had a bad reaction to drugs, did they swear off all drugs? Certainly not. The first time one of their sons had a bad reaction to electroshock, did they swear off all electroshock? Certainly not. But a few negative interactions with therapists apparently were enough to induce these parents to swear off all therapy.

    Kolker is maddeningly vague about the details here, as if this were a matter of little import. The only specific complaints about therapy he mentions are 1) The son was resting his head on his mother’s chest during therapy, and the therapist called her out on it, and 2) The mother repeatedly interrupted her son when he tried to talk about his hallucinations during therapy, and the therapist called her out on it.

    In regard to complaint number one: this is clearly not appropriate behavior for a grown man, and the therapist was absolutely right to call her out on this. In regard to complaint number two, this clearly bespeaks serious communication problems within the family, and again the therapist was absolutely right to call her out on it.

    It seems likely this woman was carrying a huge burden of anger and resentment, and may have interpreted any effort to find out what had gone wrong in this family as a personal attack. Perhaps this particular therapist was not skilled enough to find a way to reach past this burden of anger. There may have been all kinds of dynamics at work here that we will never know about. But all these complexities are lost on Kolker, who instead presents us with a false dichotomy: “blaming the mother” or drugs and electroshock – even though, in his own words, “the cure becomes as damaging as the disease.”

  • Sure, people vary in their susceptibility to trauma, and hereditary factors no doubt play a role in that. Anyone who has experience on life as it is lived knows this, and what of it?

    I was just re-reading Dr. Breggin’s book The War on Children. He points out that in the Nineteenth Century, when they found the cause of the cholera epidemic in London — tainted water — they didn’t sit around discussing “genetic susceptibilities” and “stress-diathesis” and so forth. They fixed the problem, and everyone was better off — whether they were genetically susceptible to cholera or not.

    Granted, fixing the problem of adverse childhood experiences is a lot more complex than fixing one city’s water supply infrastructure, but we may as well get on with it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • This is wonderful.

    In my book Madness and Genetic Determinism: Is Mental Illness in Our Genes?, I examine the evidence and conclude that a century of psychiatric genetics research has failed to produce any credible evidence of a strong genetic component to so-called “mental illness.” On the other hand, there is overwhelming evidence that the complaints that fall under the diagnostic rubric of “schizophrenia” are caused (not “triggered”) by child sexual abuse and every other form of adverse childhood experience.

    https://www.amazon.com/Madness-Genetic-Determinism-Mental-Illness/dp/3030218651/ref=sr_1_1?crid=4ENFO53A7A5G&dchild=1&keywords=madness and genetic determinism&qid=1594074380&s=books&sprefix=madness and gene,stripbooks,141&sr=1-1

    Thanks for writing this.

  • Billions spent on genome-wide association studies of complex diseases, and not one patient in the world has benefitted. The only purpose these studies serve is to bamboozle the public onto thinking these conditions called “mental illnesses” are matter beyond their ken.

    There isn’t a word in the English language to describe the fatuity of conducting a GWA study on post-traumatic stress disorder. In calling it that, they’ve already identified the source of the problem — trauma! Why bring genes into the argument at all?

  • I agree.

    The whole “blame-the-mother” or “blame the parent” argument is a lovely example of a false dichotomy. If a child is having problems, do we blame the mother (or the parents) or do we drug the child?

    Here’s an idea — of a child is having problems, instead of drugging the child or arguing over who is to blame, how about we look for solutions?

    I believe any family therapist worth his or her salt will tell you the purpose of family therapy is not to assign blame to a specific individual — it is to get the family members to look at patterns of interaction that are not productive, and replace them with those that are.

    And if your therapist feels otherwise, I would suggest getting a new therapist.

  • An article by Joseph Biederman and a colleague makes my point perfectly. In a commentary on psychologist Jay Joseph’s devastating review of family, twin, and adoption studies of ADHD, they write:

    “Moreover, Joseph fails to show that psychosocial theories can stigmatize families. We recall the now-discredited theory of the schizophrenogenic mother which burdened an entire generation of mothers of schizophrenic patients.”

    Biederman, as you all no doubt probably know, has built a career on diagnosing toddlers with “bipolar disorder” and drugging them with major tranquilizers.

    Here’s the link to the article:

    https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2000-16958-004?fbclid=IwAR2PBiyLWifUkT_rWqYRUfyGAraeJqqNJ3XoRQGSqZG8S_f99tQiCrkZQdU

  • From the NYT obit: “’They’re trying to claim that there’s no such thing as psychiatric illness, and I think she did a lot of damage with the publicity she got surrounding that,’ Edward Shorter, a professor of psychiatry at the university and a longstanding critic of anti-psychiatry, said in a phone interview. The university, he said, ‘made a big mistake in setting up a special scholarship fund in her name; it’s an anti-psychiatry fund that legitimizes the movement.’”

    Shorter’s History of Psychiatry skips over the atrocities of Nazi psychiatry in less than a paragraph, ridicules the value of psychotherapy, and sings unqualified praise for bio-genetic explanations and drug-centered treatments for so-called “mental illnesses.” In fact, twenty-five years after Shorter’s mammoth tome was published, there still is no convincing evidence of a strong genetic component for “mental illnesses” and no known measurable biochemical, neurological, physiological, anatomical, signs for any of the so-called “functional disorders” commonly treated by psychiatrists.

    What’s more, as consumption of psychiatric drugs has skyrocketed, so has the proportion of the population disabled by “mental illness” and the suicide rate. This is not what happens when treatments work.

  • From the NYT obit: “’They’re trying to claim that there’s no such thing as psychiatric illness, and I think she did a lot of damage with the publicity she got surrounding that,’ Edward Shorter, a professor of psychiatry at the university and a longstanding critic of anti-psychiatry, said in a phone interview. The university, he said, ‘made a big mistake in setting up a special scholarship fund in her name; it’s an anti-psychiatry fund that legitimizes the movement.’”

    Shorter’s History of Psychiatry skips over the atrocities of Nazi psychiatry in less than a paragraph, ridicules the value of psychotherapy, and sings unqualified praise for bio-genetic explanations and drug-centered treatments for so-called “mental illnesses.” In fact, twenty-five years after Shorter’s mammoth tome was published, there still is no convincing evidence of a strong genetic component for “mental illnesses” and no known measurable biochemical, neurological, physiological, anatomical, signs for any of the so-called “functional disorders” commonly treated by psychiatrists.

    What’s more, as consumption of psychiatric drugs has skyrocketed, so has the proportion of the population disabled by “mental illness” and the suicide rate. This is not what happens when treatments work.