Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Comments by A. S.

Showing 13 of 13 comments.

  • Sometimes I read articles here that make me cry – this is one such. I cry out of hope. I think this text holds something very true, that I can relate to from experiences of having been in the state called psychosis, that loss of everything ordinary and a place in the world. All I wished was to get back some ordinariness in my existence. It is very hard, when what is left of sense of identity and agency is also questioned or even taken away by psychiatric treatment.

  • You are so right! Very good analysis. Reminds me of how affect is theorized in disciplines like anthropology and cultural studies (for example by Kathleen Stewart).
    But in psychiatry, there is really no interest in understanding how affect works in the lives of people. All the questionnaires just serve as tools for diagnosis (categorization) and medication. I had to work full-time filling in questionnaires when I was hospitalized, and really could have needed some rest. Potentially I had all the disorders there are. Just by the act of filling in the questionnaire, this is confirmed, that the disorder in question is at least to some degree suitable. If I protested, and said that I really do not find this relevant, or that it is not possible to answer this – then I was seen as a “bad patient”. One nurse said mockingly that “you, who are so intelligent, you surely can fill in this”. In the end, the psychiatrist started to talk about a personality disorder questionnaire with several hundreds of questions. They just had to make the correct finding nailing down in what way exactly I was “wrong”, not normal.
    Then there was of course also the psychologist working at the ward, who needed to make “cognitive tests”. Didn’t matter that I said I feel tired and not very clear because of medication. They also had to decide exactly how stupid I was. Yes, stupid, because then the psychologist said to me “good”, that I was “good” here, “above normal”. So yes, it is a question of hierarchies, of good and bad, stupid and intelligent. These things of course affect people’s view of themselves and what they imagine their future can be, in this new form that is being sculpted for them within psychiatry.
    Then the psychologist needed to do Rorshach tests. There my results very not good, “unusual”, they did not fit what people most often interpret the pictures to be. It is good to have an imagination that fits some statistical average, it is not good to see something differently. So, psychiatry operates with many different ways of trying to determine the normal, but as a patient within the system you are already not normal. The question is just a matter of determining how much medication you need, and for how long you will be on sick leave. But in the process so much more happens, a new sick “figure” is made, a new history and a new future for that figure, that person.

  • I strongly agree, it is very important that the practices, ideas, ideology of psychiatry is brought out to the public, asking: do we really want to live in the kind of society that can treat people like this. That can treat YOU like this. Still, I think that standing up for myself while hospitalized, keeping on asking questions, remaining true to myself and my own judgement really helped me to survive this hospitalization and to go on with my life. I could simply not believe it! I couldn’t believe that psychiatry is a discipline that seems to have been hiding under some rock unable to grasp anything about what it is to be human. It was surreal. So much for the psyche, the life or soul, that has given psychiatry its name. It is rather like a practice of trying to draw the life and soul out of a person – and then, of course, the person dies. But the psychiatric system believes it has identified and killed “the disease”.

  • Thank you Peter for keeping on. I once, while hospitalised, asked a nurse about side effects of the medication I was given, I was worried and tried to report what I was experiencing. I asked her, “have you tried taking them yourself?”. Then she laughed and said “that would be like a man taking contraceptive pills”. I will never forget this. That is how “the mentally ill” are construed by psychatriy, that othering, in a myriad ways. No points of comparison, no equality, no empathy.

  • I have enormous respect for what you do, and you should not be left alone! When I had psychosis nr. 2, not so long after I was hospitalized for the first time, I had been seeing a psychiatrist as an outpatient. I had told both him and my family about the disasters and mistreatment at the locked ward I had been hospitalized in. I had their support, but I was very broken and maybe not so surprisingly this resulted in another psychosis (that and the medicine they had been forcing me take, that I dropped right after I was discharged). But this time my parents came and brought me to their home. I am so lucky to have them! It must have been very difficult for them, but they were also talking now and then to the to the psychiatrist I had seen and so was I, so in that way they had some support. This happened in Finland, but in a system that was not familiar with Open Dialogue. Still, as things happened, the method we together invented resembles something like Open Dialoge.

  • To the moderator: I didn’t at all mean to sound sarcastic in relation to Moncrieff’s research, but I can see it can be read that way. Could I edit the last paragraph and add something?: “Thank you for your extremely important work, which helped me trust I that I had made the right decision in not continuing to take “antipsychotic” medicine after I was discharged from the hospital. An important question is in what ways psychiatry takes up new research on these medicines and how it shapes psychiatric practice. In the case described above, new information was coming in through a doctor in training to become a psychiatrist, but she probably didn’t have power to change anything in practice and I cannot know if she would have wanted to. She did thank me on the last meeting we had, for “having taught her alot” – I still regret not having asked what exactly she learnt.

  • In one and the same hospital department several different theories can ciculate, as in the case of my hospitalization for “first episode of psychosis” in 2014. The practice didn’t differ though. One younger doctor under training said, when I asked, “we really do not know much about how the antipsychotics work” and when I asked about side effects she said “the effects can also resemble psychotic symptoms”. Then I said what if I do not want to take them (risperdal)? She replied that then they must inject me. And when I asked how long I need to take them, she said 1-2 years. This was all extremely shocking to me. Even psychiatrists who admit that medicines can have effects like that (and also unknown effects) do not hesitate to force people to take them. At the same time, how would they ever listen to you if you experienced side effects, if those effects could be interpreted as “more psychosis” thus requiring “more anti-psychotics”? I felt trapped in a nightmare. Another psychiatrist at the same department said to me when I was about to be discharged “we know very well how these medicines work” and talked about chemical imbalance, calling me (and others who had doubts) paranoid and believers of conspiracy theories. He said that I will very likely have another pychosis if I do not take the pills. He also said that psychosis is the worst thing that can happen to a person. That sums it up, I do not think that doctor would have liked to try his own medicine. I am very happy I did not follow his advice (or rather listen to his treath).Thank you for your extremely important work! For me personally it has meant a great deal too, and strengthened me in a time when I needed it most.

  • Precisely, important to keep focus on the foundations, the institutionalized and “normal” taken for granted ways of thinking and acting that make possible the kind of psychiatry that hurts people. Just imagine, having to be “strategic” in the midst of a crisis, knowing that the practitioners of psychiatry have power to destroy your life (conversation from hospital: “do you hear voices?” “-No” (because already figured out that a positive answer means more medicine that makes me sick and a risk of a “worse label”).) Diagnosis is very random.

  • Thank you H. S. for writing and sharing. “You are not alone” sounds like a cliché, nevertheless that’s what I feel when I read about your experiences. I was a PhD candidate who had moved back to my homecountry Finland after many years abroad and a painful breakup from a long term relationship. I was very busy that autumn, and, like you I experienced something of a breaktrough in my research. Then I collapsed, had a psychosis and was hospitalized for about 1,5 months, forced to take anti-psychotic medicine, interrogated with the whole arsenal of questionnaires on disorders (all!) they had at the department. What I told myself about what had happened was not enough. Even in my “unusual state” I understood that it had something to do with very big changes and confusion resulting from this, a crisis. Instead my identity was re-defined and my voice taken from me. It is very ironic, in a setting where it is stated that “patient centered care” is offered. It was patient centered only insofar you were willing to play “the patient”. I only found out about Open Dialogue when I started to read and research after getting out of the hospital. I can assure you that mainstream psychiatry with its theories on chemical imbalances in the brain is alive and well in Finland! Question this as a patient, and you are considered paranoid and laughed at. My way of coping after this traumatic hospitalization has been dependent on finding sites like “Mad in America”, and reading about experiences such as yours. Thank you!