Monday, November 28, 2022

Comments by Ann Bracken

Showing 96 of 96 comments.

  • HI Kathleen, Thanks for sharing your story, and I’m so very sorry to hear about the harm ECT has done to you. You’re so right–that the very drugs you were taking numbed you out and even likely caused suicidal thoughts and feelings. The willfull blindness of doctors to their patients’ stories and their refusal to consider other ways of treatment lead them to rely on the brutality of running electrical currents through the brain. Just once, I’d be so grateful if instead of labeling a patient as “treatment resistant”, the doctor would say “Maybe we’re using the wrong treatment.” Yes, the drugs and the brutal treatments like ECT, TMS, and ketamine infusions are the problem. Keep speaking out and thank you for your thoughtful essay and for your clear voice as a psych survivor.

  • Thank you, Angie, for your thoughtful and well-written essay. Yes, you get to the heart of the matter when you say that the psychiatric community has long ignored deprescribing as a strategy—-it’s mind boggling how doctors never seem to consider that maybe the drugs are causing harm rather than helping people. Yes, we need psychiatry to get on board with deprescribing and with more responsible tapering, but I am so grateful all of the online forums exist and that you are out there working to guide people through the process of getting off psych drugs. Kudos to you for your work!

  • I don’t know where this idea came from–giving kids “tickets” and fines for what are usually considered routine behaviors and used to be handled in-house by the admins, teachers, and parents. We should not have any law enforcement officials involved in routine school discipline, and even though I never personally witnessed a “school resource officer” –AKA a cop–discipline students in the high schools where I taught, I know such events happen routinely all over the country.

    Surveilling kids and throwing them into the court system does nothing to help a kid learn self-management skills or deal with the reasons why they’re so disaffected in the first place. Our schools need to be more nurturing and welcoming. Time for a paradigm change!

  • So someone who is feeling depressed or anxious is considered mentally impaired? And telling untrue stories is standard practice in psychiatry? What hubris. I had to keep reading to see if you were actually serious. I found your defense of psychiatric drugs smug and self-serving.

    “And telling stories they know are or may be untrue has become standard practice in psychiatry. After all, we are dealing with mentally impaired patients; we know better than they what is best for them.”

  • So many things I could comment on….but as a reader and someone who values supporting an argument with research, I’d say your writing and report win over anything the APA has to say. One thing that makes this debate about informed consent and revealing the absolute truth about the research on drug & ECT/TMS efficacy is that as a medical specialty, psychiatrists have more power than any other kind of doctor. They can forcibly have you committed to a facility, make you go to court to be released, and drug you and give you ECT without your consent. I find all of that power terrifying and believe we need to seriously hold psychiatrists and the APA to account for all the harm they have done.

    Lastly, you are absolutely correct about your rhetorical analysis of the APA website and the use of the statistic in one PP followed by a paragraph on antidepressants. The word treatment in the 1st PP paired with the statistic is misleading and many people would believe the success rate is due to medication, without the APA directly saying it.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Bob Whitaker, thank you for another stellar article and for the call to action on putting together a class action lawsuit. I’ve written my story and my mother’s of psychiatric mistreatment and would be happy to join in such a lawsuit. How dare psychiatrists try to dismiss the notion that they ever told us we had a chemical imbalance in the brain which caused depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. Many of us here on MIA were repeatedly told this lie and though we may not have a written record of it, we well remember the experience.

    What I fail to understand is that if there is no evidence of a chemical imbalance in the brain leading to mental health issues, why do psychiatrists continue to prescribe antidepressants which then disrupt brain chemistry? And why do they support brain-damaging “treatments” such as ECT and TMS? Oh, yes, I’m all in!

  • While I commend Jim Phelps for his more progressive views on the state of psychiatry and the use of the DSM and mind-altering drugs, I have not found his views to be widespread based on recent experiences of family and friends. I know many people who are still being drugged with numerous drugs and told to stay them forever due to “damaged brains” and “chemical imbalances.” And if indeed “most psychiatrists” believe as Jim Phelps does, then why do they continue the extensive use of drugs, ECT, TMS, and Ketamine? It seems to me that as a field, psychiatry continues to hold on to the view that depression and other states have a biological basis and one of their magic bullets is bound to work—-or else the patient is labelled as having a “treatment resistant” condition.

    My psychiatrist told me I had a damaged brain and would be chronically ill if I refused medication. I’m happy to say he was wrong, and I’ve been drug and depression free for over 20 years. Lastly, I know of no friends or family members who have ever been given fully informed consent when told to take psych drugs. One friend who was recently hospitalized asked me “What’s informed consent?” That’s why so many of us are here at MIA—we’ve experienced the dark side of psychiatry and are happy to explore other options.

  • HI Sera, Thanks for your very thoughtful and informative critique of the comments on the NYT article. I was actually quite happy to see them print something that tells a different story about meds and hearing voices. The comments seem to reflect how thoroughly brainwashed people are about “dangerous” others and what a good job pharma has done with obscuring the facts about their poisons.

  • Dear Ryan, Bravo for you and your courageous journey. Your determination and fortitude got you out of the hell of turning to shrinks for help……and I do think anyone who would give someone over 100 ECT treatments is negligent. I’m glad that you’re writing and think you did a wonderful job chronicling your story. Here’s to finding your way out of the psychiatric hamster-wheel…….

    I have a story of overmedication and recovery that will be out in the fall. What I discovered in going through my mother’s records is that the drugs the docs gave her most likely kept her locked in depression and anxiety for over 40 years. This madness has gone on for far too long.

  • Miranda, thank you for sharing a part of your story and for your thoughtful review and critique of the film Just Like You. My heart aches every time I hear someone on the news talk about the “teen mental health” crisis, and they act like problems with anxiety and depression come out of nowhere. There’s always a reason why someone becomes anxious or feels depressed and instead of offering compassion, careful listening, and support, our society tells people there is something wrong with their brains. At the rate this “brain disease” is sweeping across our country, it’s a wonder anyone is surviving.

    I experienced a traumatic event when I was a young teen and managed to push my way through the dense fog of depression and anxiety and move on with my life. As a teen, I would hear been devastated if a doctor had told me there was something wrong with my brain.

    Thanks for your continuing advocacy for kids and families and for your insightful and thoughtful writing.

  • Dear Phil,

    I’ve always been impressed with your thoughtful and thorough critiques of psychiatry and its so-called research. Your expertise helped to enlighten many of us, and you will be greatly missed.

    With appreciation for everything.

  • The hubris of this new diagnosis is almost impossible to fathom. And I knew a new drug–or use for a drug–would follow right behind the diagnosis. I say stay away from psychiatrists, find a kind and compassionate counselor, and surround yourself with loving friends and family. How dare they think they can determine how long anyone should grieve?

  • Hi Kevin, thank you for your kind words about my essay. I’m so glad that what I had to say was meaningful to you. And I’m equally sorry that you had to endure being medicated with Ritalin during your developing years. We need to shift our perspective in how we view our children and our students. There is no one way to behave and learn that constitutes normal. The irony is that teachers are always directed to “individualize” lessons and create meaningful experiences. We need to see our students the same way–as young individuals with their own particular backpack of needs, worries, hopes, and challenges.

    I refuse to hand the drug industry a victory even though I am well aware of how thoroughly accepted medicating children has become. We need to change the environment to meet the children’s needs, not change the children to meet our needs.

    There are so many of us singing a new song, I just have to hold on to hope!

  • Grace W, you are doing a wonderful job as both a mom and a wife. I believe that all kids need help to learn to handle challenging emotions–none of us come into this world knowing how to handle the crazy that’s all around us. And bravo to all of you for having the courage to look inside and figure out ways to manage feelings of despair and stress. Thanks for sharing your story with me.

  • Hi Rebel, I are with you that the stimulant drugs are dangerous no matter what we use them for and they should NOT be given to children. The mindset that says it’s OK to drug kids because they have “ADHD” and they won’t be harmed is the same as the mindset that says you can’t get addicted to opioids if you use them for pain. The drugs have certain fundamental effects no matter who is using them. Honestly, we need a wake-up call as a society—we need to stop looking for “easy” answers in the form of a pill.

  • Hi Steve, yes, you’re absolutely right–we are using drugs to tie kids to chairs. I hope this essay can be one of the little holes in the dike, so to speak, to offer a different take on using drugs to manage behavior. That practice is still very accepted and when I look at the actual research and the potential harms, I can’t believe where we are.

  • Dear Bradford, thank you for your vote of confidence in both my education and my teaching and mothering skills. I think now that I know so much more about the effects of stimulant drugs on both children and adults, I can’t believe how casually we used to recommend them to parents of kids who were somewhat distracted and didn’t finish work—as if those are real obstacles to achievement. To me, part of the problem is a lack of creative thinking.One day standing in front of a high school class, I realized we had tried to change everything but the actual classroom environment. I see kids with “ADHD” as the canaries in the coal mine, indicators of what’s not working in your classroom. It’s the job of the teacher to bring everyone along, and sometimes that means changing up your lesson plans and imagining new ways to deliver your lessons.

    I’m sorry to hear one of your teachers tied you to a chair, but glad that you slipped her trap so easily. What an awful thing to do to a child. We, as a society, need to lift the veil on our use of drugs–psychiatric and stimulants especially–and investigate their effects and all the harm they can do. If we had truly informed consent, I think we’d use far fewer drugs to “help” people manage their behavior or deal with life’s sadnesses.

    As for teaching in college–Alas, I never earned a PhD, so I can’t get hired as more than an adjunct—and that’s another essay. :))

  • Thank you, yinyang. The more I think about my trajectory as a teacher–and what my daughter is now experiencing as a teacher–I’m struck by how boxed in we are in our thinking. Teachers need to be able to see the children in their rooms as little people who may need something different from sitting all day in rows and doing work on paper. That not all bright kids want to do their work–like my son Connor–who saw no sense in doing tasks he already felt he knew.
    But honestly, teachers and parents need a deep-dive into the effects of stimulant drugs and the actual results of using them. Bob Whitaker and all the folks at MIA are a wonderful resource for beginning that journey.

  • Thanks, Willoweed. Once I learned more about what the drugs actually did to kids–and adults–I became even more convinced that we shouldn’t be using them, especially for kids. I do hope more parents and teachers will begin to question the wisdom of using the chemical cure for things that could be handled with kindness, understanding, and behavioral interventions.

  • Dear Lisa, Thank you for sharing your story and Marcello’s. It’s one of the most heartbreaking reads about using psych meds that I’ve come across. You detail the journey so perfectly–that as parents and patients, we have to trust people who seem uninformed themselves, and certainly, when they don’t believe patients, they disempower people.

    I totally agree with you that no one would be drugged against their will, and when people are “noncompliant” with meds, they must have a very good reason–probably self-preservation. No one should have to go through what you have as a family, and I am so sorry for Marcello’s pain. I wish that you’d send this essay to every doc and therapist who “treated” your son so they could face the awful harms they’ve inflicted.

  • Hi E. Baden, thank you so much for your honesty and your sincere attempts to help people with as few meds as possible. You might want to get in touch with the folks at Medicating Normal–a film about the harms of meds with 4 compelling personal stories. Also, check out Adele Framer of Surviving Antidepressants Many folks who want to come off of psych drugs use her forums for assistance since so few doctors are either willing or able to help people withdraw safely.

    You are right about trauma–past and present–being one of the leading causes of feelings of depression and anxiety. If only more docs were of your mindset, but it’s so hard to go against the grain.

    You’ll find your tribe—and thanks for speaking out.

  • Kathleen,

    I’m so sorry for all the suffering you’ve endured in the name of insomnia. Your story is horrific, yet you’ve handled your recovery with such dignity and persistence. My mother suffered from TD probably due to the Thorazine and other neuroleptics she took in the name of treating depression. I’ll be happy to send you a contribution and kudos on your work.

  • Thank you, Bob, as always for your measured and thoughtful response to the issues. It is truly mind-boggling how MSM continues to pound away at the medication-is-the answer, despite mountains of evidence in the opposite direction. I will read the Harrow and Jobe study with interest. I have a few family members who carry a “schizophrenia” diagnosis and two of them are nearly completely disabled; the other cousin died a couple of years ago in a very debilitated state. The Irish have a saying that a thin veil separates this world and the next, and I think of that with the mainstream mantra of “drugs are the answer” in opposition to all of the books and research I’ve read. It’s a thin veil…..and how do we break through? I keep hoping, and I know MIA is part of that work. Keep up your wonderful writing and advocacy. Onward!

  • Thanks so much for this powerful essay on the negative effects of ADHD drugs. What a frightening scenario, and I’m not at all surprised that the ER doc was in denial about the effects of the drug. Most people think if a kid can’t pay attention or is distractible, they need drugs. And most people believe the drugs are safe. We need informed consent around ADHD drugs as much as we need informed consent around psych drugs. And more people need to know about the very short-term usefulness of stimulant drugs. As a special ed teacher, I’ve often thought that we try to change the kid more than we try to change the environment. So often, the kid with ADHD is very bright, very bored, or very troubled.

  • Sarah, thanks so much for your incredible work to bring the harms of ECT to a broader light. My mother and I both had ECT many times–because doctors told us it was the only way out. I’m fine–as far as I know–but Mom suffered terribly, mostly from memory loss. How anyone thinks provoking a seizure is a good idea is beyond imagining. Your bravery and persistence are much needed and appreciated. Blessings on your work.

  • Dani, Your story made my heart ache. I’m so sorry for all of the pain you’re enduring and for the awful treatment you received from this psychiatrist. At the very least, you could register a complaint with the FDA adverse activity website—-not sure of the exact name, but TMS sounds an awful lot like ECT minus the seizures—and you had one. I bet seizures are out of the ordinary for adverse reactions. I hope you can find a good ally in your search for healing.

  • Thank you, Bob, for another thorough and thoughtful essay. I have to say, reading all of this information about the corruption at the FDA as far as approving questionable and dangerous drugs, is it fair to assume that the same practices happen with other classes of drugs—-and vaccines? In relation to vaccines, most people I know are not eager to line up for the new Covid vaccine when it comes to market.

  • Thank you, Phil, for this powerful and disturbing article about the distorted practices in psychiatry. The very idea of sedating people for weeks and subjecting them to ECT and other “treatments” is horrifying. Any doctor or nurse who would engage in such practices is truly operating outside of human decency. I have read about insulin coma therapy, which I thought was horrible, but this sleep therapy is beyond imagining. And the sexual abuse Bailey engaged in? Truly sick. I was just doing some research on doctors’ attitudes toward patients in the 50s and 60s and I came across a British psychiatrist who defended lobotomy as a legitimate form of treatment. My heart breaks even as I feel enraged.

  • HI Gail,

    Thanks so much for writing this enlightening essay, and thank you for being a compassionate psychiatrist. It is beyond shocking that so many psychiatrists engage in the mind game of not believing patients because of course, someone who is “mentally ill” doesn’t tell the truth. My heart ached for the men you described, even as I raged inside at the stupidity and arrogance of the psychiatrists and courts. Many years ago when I told my psychiatrist I had stopped taking my meds, he told me I had a damaged brain and would get “sicker” than ever if I stopped the meds. So happy I was secure enough not to listen. To this day, I don’t reveal any past experiences of depression for fear of being boxed and labeled once again. Keep up your wonderful work!

  • Thanks, Peter, for your wonderful work on this article. As I was reading it, I kept thinking “How can we ever trust any drugs?” The corruption is good to know about, but as ordinary consumers who may need medication, what actions can we take? I remember hearing one researcher say to never take a drug that’s been out less than 5 years…..Any other ideas? Thank goodness for people like Amsterdam.

  • I was in therapy for 20 years and had about 4 episodes of depression during that time. No one ever mentioned emotional /verbal abuse as a possible cause of the depression. According to what I’ve read in a few places, most of the field of psych workers didn’t recognize verbal abuse as an actual entity until about 1994. I divorced in 2000 and haven’t had an episode of depression since, despite losing both parents, changing jobs, and navigating relationships. Depression always happens for a reason and once you can address its roots, you can find a way out of the darkness.

  • Thank you, Bob, for sharing Zel’s story. It is heartbreaking to know of his work and his dedication to science and his own suffering due to the drugs that so many of us have been told are the answer to our emotional distress. It is hard to imagine akathisia so bad that one cannot sleep, and that sounds like an awful way to try to live. MIA is doing great work here, and I wish doctors from all over the world would read Zel’s story and face the truth.

    Reading MIA and reading mainstream media info on psych drugs and their efficacy is like living in two different worlds—right next to each other, but so far away. Stories are a powerful way to get at the truth, and Zel’s is powerful, brave, and profoundly sad.

  • HI Bob, Congratulations on all of the fine work that MIA is doing, and I have no doubt that you are having an impact for the better. This site publishes so many thoughtful and well-researched articles, and there seems to be no end of the variety of topics that are covered. And while some people are convinced to make a change once they learn facts, others need a combination of facts and personal stories, which you provide as well.

    I’m happy to read that the major medical journals are publishing pieces that challenge the old narrative, but in my dealings with friends, I find that kind of information hasn’t filtered down to the average person yet, nor do I see much of the new narrative in mainstream media.

    While the chemical imbalance narrative may have the sound of being scientific, its utter failure to deliver should render it powerless. I take comfort from the work of Masuro Emoto who wrote Messages in the Water. He talks about the idea of morphic resonance and how if something is happening in one part of the world, that energy makes it possible for the phenomenon to happen somewhere else. For example, if “medication-free” treatment is possible in Norway, it’s possible here as well. MIA is helping to build the critical mass that is moving us inexorably to a tipping point where great change can happen. I’m happy to contribute to the fine work everyone at MIA is doing. As I’ve told you before, your book saved my life, and I’m sure countless others as well.

  • Dear Sam, Thank you for sharing your story with me and for your kind words about my mother, I think she did remarkably well, especially now that i know all she was struggling with. My mother was kind, creative, and courageous, and I so appreciate everything she did for all of us. Yes, I agree, women need a good support system, but that’s not how things were set up bak then—-even now for a lot of people. I agree with you about your dry skin story—OMG, psych docs ar esophaguses hubristic—–and usually don’t really have a clue about human beings.

    Thanks again for sharing with me. All the best, Ann

  • I’m curious about the guidelines that say to use the antidepressants for nine months—–seems very arbitrary. Is it no longer than nine months or up to nine months? What is the source for this information?

    I agree that most people are very afraid to discontinue antidepressants—and I know many who have been taking them for 10-25 years. I just wonder what that stuff is doing to them. Some seem fine, others struggle with depression despite meds.

  • Dear Amanda, Thank you so much for sharing your story of courage, resilience, and recovery. You are so right when you say that the psychiatric diagnosis overshadows anything you might say to a doctor about physical pain–you are not believed. It is criminal to dose people with powerful psychiatric drugs and at the same time, to be ignorant of the withdrawal process and associated problems. Many people resort to online forums for peer-supported withdrawal advice, and sadly, I can see why.

    You are incredibly courageous. Many of us join you in demanding answers. Unfortunately, I think most people working in the so-called “mental health” system believe all of the propaganda from the drug companies and only rely on the poorly designed and weak “studies” designed to get the drugs approved as quickly as possible.

  • HI Mike, thanks so much for posting about your experiences working for NAMI. I have not been involved with them on a personal level, but they offer many support groups in the Baltimore area and are highly regarded. I’m a real outlier when I talk about their relationship with Pharma as many I talk to still believe the story about chemical imbalances. I participated in a community event and engaged in a conversation with a NAMI volunteer, and the longer I talked to her, the more I noticed her jerky movements, eye-blinking, and head-shaking. She was explaining to me how much the drugs helped her bipolar disorder, but all I could think about was the possibility that she was experiencing akathisia from the drugs. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I abhor the idea of “mental illness” and wish we had a better term for the emotional distress caused by trauma and abuse or difficult life-circumstance. Bravo for your work.

  • I am not a veteran, but I greatly appreciate you sharing your story. You detail the overmedication that happens to so many of us when we enter the mental health (?) system. I have often wondered about the role of overmedication in veteran suicides and am so glad you are speaking up and raising the issue that many might be unaware of. Thanks also for providing an alternative form of therapy. Bravo to you for your courage.

  • Dear James, thank you for posting your compelling story about the great difficulties you are experiencing with getting off of psychiatric medications. My heart goes out to you and to everyone else who finds themselves trapped in the vortex of drug withdrawal. Stories like yours help others to know about the dangers lurking behind the simple directions to take pills to manage intense feelings of pain and despair. I will be sharing your story with many friends. Thank you and all the best with your journey.

  • Lauren, thank you for sharing your story. You are very brave and are definitely doing the right thing to get off of drugs slowly and to tell your story. Everyone needs to know of the incredible harm that can come from taking psych drugs which are presented to us as benign pills meant to soothe and calm us or restore some kind of imbalance that was never there to begin with. Many blessings on your journey!

  • Dr. Gordon seems to have experienced the game that psychiatry frequently plays with patients who question the treatment–his sanity is questioned and he’s told he’s unwell because of course, the drugs are good for him. He’s a truth-teller who is being discredited and marginalized by those who want to protect the status quo. Everyone deserves the choice of how they want to live—with or without medication–and should be believed when they report adverse effects. He’s got my full support for his courage and honesty.

  • Michael, I also wanted to say that schools do a very effective job of scaring parents, and so many teachers just accept the drugs as the way to go. In all the years I worked as a special ed teacher, I never had an in-serivce on the use of amphetamines for managing ADHD, but the drug’s use was very common in all the schools where I worked. Once I read Anatomy of an Epidemic, I became firmly opposed to using the drugs. There are so many better methods to offer to children and families–but it takes more time and more skilled people. Kudos to you for your work.

  • This is one of the most frightening articles I’ve read in a vey long time. And the wording is so wishy-washy—-why do people fall for this crap? I was a special education teacher for many years and worked with a lot of students who were on medication before I knew of all the harm. Even then, I would often tell parents that pills would not “fix” the attention issue and that more was needed to help the child process what was going on inside. I believe that schools will change everything but the environment—-and then kids suffer because so many teachers don’t have the knowledge and training to offer appropriate guidance. But electrical current to the brain all night? I am heartsick over this. How did this ever get approved? Oh, yeah, same way Esketamnie did……

  • Thank you, Rosalee, for your kind words. I am stunned that a psychiatrist would mock you for side effects and describe you as noncompliant. From all the reading and research I’ve done, I believe that they fully embrace their paradigm of chemical imbalance and therefore, chemical cure. They lose sight of the person across from them that has a real life with real pain and distress. I honestly don’t know what doctors don’t believe their patients–I think they are truly acculturated to believe that if someone objects to the meds, it’s because they are “crazy” and not in their right minds. For all of those reasons, when I discontinued my meds, I worked with my therapist to taper and never mentioned it to the doctor until I was off the meds. Believe in yourself and all the best to you!

  • Thank you for writing this powerful article. I am deeply disturbed that now many people who don’t respond to two antidepressants are considered “treatment resistant” and immediately recommended for ECT. When I begged for it in 1995, I thought it was my last hope to get out of depression–now I cringe inside that I was every willing to subject myself to such a thing. But of course, everyone told me how safe it was. All of us need to join together and stop this horrendous practice.

  • HI Lily Pad, thanks for your kind words. I’m very sorry you’ve taken multiple meds and experienced ECT multiple times–I did as well and it was quite terrifying. At the time I thought it was my only way out of depression, Now I think I felt so dead inside due to the multiple meds I was taking—they call is psychic numbing. I kept telling my doctors I couldn’t feel anything–none of them blinked ar told me that such a feeling could be due to the meds. I’m telling my story and my mother’s for all those who are on the same dark road. They deserve to know there’s another way out.

  • Thanks, Julie. I’m so grateful to be able to tell my story and to offer hope for life after meds. I appreciate your story as well about your awful experiences with Lithium and look forward to your book. I think it’s vital that people know that choices exist to help with mood swings besides the dangerous drugs so often prescribed.

    When friends bemoan how some people with manic-depression don’t want to the the drugs–I tell them “With good reason” and then I describe my expires with Depakote—shaking, word-finding difficulties, weight gain, and feeling like my personality was weighted down with a wet army blanket. My doctor wouldn’t listen to me and kept me on Depakote for two years.
    Please send me a message on FB so we can talk off line. All the best!

  • Dear Rachel, I’m so sorry to hear what happened to you with medication. Stories like ours need to be shared so that more people can begin to learn to ask serious questions about psych drugs. I also had the experience of doctors not believing me when I talked about drug effects. There are two kinds of people who are easy to dismiss: imprisoned people and people with “mental illness”–which I prefer to call emotional distress. We’ve got to work to change that situation. I hope you are doing better now. Blessings to you and thanks for sharing your story.

  • Hi Catnight, thanks for you thoughtful comments. Both of my parents are dead and so are their siblings, so I am left with letters and memories. From all that I’ve discovered by looking at my dad’s files, he did the best he could to help my mother. The medical treatments of the time were crude and my mother and many people like her suffered at their hands. Doing the research on the treatments of the time (50s, 60s, 70s) was very painful for me. But my hope is that by shining a light on our stories, more people will seek an alternative path to healing.

  • Hello Someone Else, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I’m sorry for the difficult road you’ve had to travel and hope that life is better for you now. I hope that by sharing my story, the issues of overmedication and iatragenic illnesses become more than ideas discussed in journals. Real people are harmed by drugs and by a model of care that neglects the human aspects of suffering.

  • Thanks, Julie, for sharing this powerful warning. When people are in desperate situations, they will follow what the so-called experts tell them, especially if a child is having an emotional crisis. I appreciate you sharing your story and good luck to you in everything.

  • Dr. Coleman, I am so happy that I’ve found your work. I had the challenge of a lifetime about 25 years ago when I tried to tell psychiatrists that my severe migraine was a symptom of emotional distress—-instead of working with me, they dosed me with numerous drugs, including OxyContin and Methadone, alone with psych drugs. I was so over-medicated that I had two car crashes and finally found real help with an energy healer. The greatest help for me emotionally came from poetry–from the metaphors of dealing with darkness and having a fierce determination to keep struggling towards what my soul directed.

    I have not had any depression since 1997 and have been drug free since 2002. My last psychiatrist told me I had a damaged brain….luckily, I’d read Glenmullen;s book Prozac Backlash, and I did not listen to him. I’ve been fine ever since. But due to my awful experiences with overmedication and doctors not believing me, I have major skepticism when it comes to Western medical treatments.

    Keep up your great work and I hope more doctors will hear your words and wake up. Is there any way to email you offline? I am working on a book and would love to consult with you.

    Thanks for your work!

  • Yes, ECT damages the brain. On the other side, no one thinks that people with epilepsy are helped by having grand mal seizures, so why should such a seizure help anyone with depression? The problem of emotional distress is not a malfunction of the brain—it is a problem of some kind of injury to the spirit. No electricity or drug can help that. Sadly, the medical paradigm is pretty solidly believed, except by some of us who have experienced it and come to believe in another way to wellness.

  • Thank you, Dr. Breggin. My mother and I both had many ECT treatments—My mother said they helped her, but she was also very drugged and over-medicated. I agreed to them for one reason: I was desperately tired of suicidal thoughts; no medication had worked for me after trying many, many kinds. Now I honestly believe that I felt suicidal because of the numbing effects of the drugs—and no one told me that they could cause psychic numbing. Once a person enters the rabbit hole of western psychiatric care, they are in a perilous place. Now I tell everyone how dangerous ECT is and that I would never do it again—-I still don’t know if people believe me when I talk about harm.

  • Well, I did have many ECT treatments because I felt so desperately suicidal for a number of years—a feeling which I also attribute to the over-drugging. My mother had 39 ECT treatments in 2 years with a doctor who gave them in his office—all of this I describe in the book. I could barely read some of the historical documents because fo the callous attitudes expressed by doctors.

    Now I am very much opposed to ECT and am beyond furious that the medical profession keeps situating the problems in some kind of brain disfunction, despite all of the research to the contrary.

    I have a couple of advanced degrees, but they are not in the medical field. All of that to say that if someone like me can find and understand the research, why can’t doctors? They seem to be so stuck in their model that they cannot see any way out.

    What really helped me to have a breakthrough was a CD by the poet David Whyte called The Poetry of Self Compassion. Mary Oliver’s fabulous poem, The Journey” spoke to what I was experiencing –not a chemical imbalance, but a soul-journey to save “the only life I could save.” Check it out! I eventually did training as a poetry therapist. My poetry book about my journey though my childhood and depression experience is called The Altar of Innocence. The artwork on the cover is by my mother. I believe that I had all of those experiences so that I could reshape them into art that other people could relate to. You as well!

    Blessings to you, Starr.

  • Thank you, Starr, for your kind response. I am working on a memoir about my experiences and awakening about depression and telling my mother’s story in tandem. Last summer I found my father’s records for 30 years of my mother’s psychiatric treatment, and it provided nearly all of the answers for why she never recovered. It’s shocking to me to see that we were both treated in nearly the same fashion despite the intervening years. I’ve done a lot of research on the doctors attitudes towards mental health treatment in the 50s and 60s and it’s been a very enlightening journey. I am hoping that by telling our stories, I can reach back in time to heal her and reach forward to offer hope to others.

    One thing that really burns me is the term “treatment resistant depression” which was even used back then. No one asked–or asks now– if the treatment was correct–the problem was always situated in the patient–as if we wanted to resist. I could go on, but you get the idea.

    I think of people like us as the scouts—like in frontier days. The scouts would ride ahead and see the dangers that were out there and ride back and tell the rest of the people. So often they were dismissed. We just need to keep riding!

  • Bravo to you and screw the JHU Mood Disorders Clinic. I volunteered at JHU in a depression support program back in the 90s and all they cared about was finding a gene for each illness. Now that we know the DSM is bs, the challenge is to come up with a new label—–I hate the term mental illness–which implies some kind of brokenness……I think emotional distress or appropriate sadness/confusion is a much more apt description. I never met anyone with any kind of emotional struggle who didn’t have a darn good reason for feeling the way they do.

    I am more and more on the side of a humanistic approach to trauma and distress. We need to support each other and care for each other, not drug each other.

    And yes, I can think again and feel again as well. My biggest complaint when I was on psych meds was that I couldn’t feel—no one told me that was due to the drugs—I thought I was just too depressed to feel anything. Just awful what docs do to people. And what drugs do.

  • I saw a doctor at Johns Hopkins back in the 90s. My psychiatrist sent me there because I’d taken a number of antidepressants and none of them were working. My shrink threw my file onto a table and said, “I’m sending you to Hopkins. They deal with people like you all the time.” So the Hopkins doc read my file, asked me questions for about 30 minutes, and when he found out that Elavil made me feel really good for a few days after a previous 18 month depression, he diagnosed me with “mild, atypical hypomania.” That’s all it took for everyone else to treat me for bipolar I…….After I read Glenmullen’s book Prozac Backlash, I decided to discontinue all psych drugs and got off of them. I’ve been drug-free for 17 years with no occurrence of depression. I think the docs had me on so many drugs that it was impossible to tell a drug reaction from my real personality. They did the same thing to my mother back in the 1950s, so not much has really changed.

    The worst part for me? No doctor believed anything I had to say because who has to believe a psych patient? I can’t wait to read your book, Bruce. Bravo for your work. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I am an anti-authoritarian, which is why I had so much trouble in the mental health industrial complex.

  • HI Starr! Thank you for sharing your very courageous story. I resonated with your experience, especially the part about feeling like you never fit in or weren’t good enough. So many of us feel this way, and it helps to know that fact alone. The goal is to learn how to activate your inner resources, usually with the help of a kind mentor, so that you can undertake the very human journey of blossoming into wholeness.

    I went through an experience very similar to yours in the 1990s as did my mother back in the 1950s. Both of us were so severely overmedicated that it became impossible to tell what was a result of the drugs and what was a result of inner struggles. I was also medicated with opioids for a migraine along with taking psych drugs—mind-altering drugs. When I read Joseph Glenmullen’s book Prozac Backlash, I decided to discontinue all of my psych drugs and tapered off easily from them, except for an older tricyclic. That took me almost a year and I had lots of rebound symptoms. I got off opioids with the help of an energy healer in 4 months and the headache disappeared.

    When I had tapered off the drugs and told my psychiatrist, he told me I had a damaged brain and would get more depressed than ever without the drugs. Now I know that may have happened, but it would not have been depression returning, it would have been withdrawal symptoms. Seventeen years later, I am drug and depression free. I am so grateful to be well!!!!

    It is hard for anyone to speak out against the drug paradigm—even though the chemical imbalance myth has been thoroughly debunked–it persists in society at large. Most people think I’m on the fringe when I talk about the harms of the drugs…..I am so grateful that you made it out of drug hell and can help people in a more holistic way—-and sorry that your job has such constraints around the drug issue—–which is all about money anyway.

    I am taking the webinar offered on MIA on informed consent…..maybe you could advocate for that in your workplace. Bravo for you and for all the good work you are doing!

  • How did you get from financial stream and insomnia to bipolar??? Oh, wait, you must have seen a psychiatrist. I have never heard of full moral status before, but I applaud your decision to go through the process and have your diagnosis formally removed. As Paula Caplan says, the problems begin once you have a diagnosis. I had a diagnosis of mild, atypical hypomania because I felt really happy for a few days when the depression lifted and the doctor told me that I was too happy for too many days. As if there is an arbitrary normal. I stopped taking maintenance psych drugs in 2002 and have been free of depression since 1997. I think my story stands as an example of how the chemical imbalance theory is deeply flawed. When I told my doc I was discontinuing the drugs, he told me I had a damaged brain and would get sicker than ever without drugs. Wrong again. Thanks again for your story and for your courage. No one should have to fear a diagnosis, but sadly, the mental health diagnoses are fraught with tremendous peril for those who carry them.

  • Wow, thanks so much, Sarah. I love that you take the language of psychology and break it down with a very clear analogy to explain what’s going on. As I read, I thought about many years ago when I was in an out-patient program and met a woman who was catatonic….it seems to me that maybe catatonia fits into fright. But instead of any kind of holistic treatment, she had some ECT treatments and then got “better.” I could cry at the thought of what might have been for her had anyone seen her in a different light.

    Yes, we all have agency and are not at the mercy of imbalanced brain chemicals. Keep writing to create a new paradigm!

  • I found this interview to be very hopeful for the future treatment of emotional distress- the idea of learning to manage your feelings and symptoms and learning how to live with your circumstances is really the key to full recovery as opposed to symptom relief. I found a few professionals who were willing to really assist me, but the others kept throwing pills in my direction. Dr. Van Os may sound radical because his voice is far outside the mainstream, but I’d put my ship in with his any day rather than trust the traditional practitioners. Thanks for a great interview.