“All of these proposals seem positive and helpful, but the bill is solidly rooted in psychiatry’s spurious medical model. Psychiatric concepts and language permeate the text. The term “mental illness” is routinely used as if it had the same ontological significance as real illness.” The reason to oppose Murphy’s bills is because of its deference to psychiatry, which will mean more drugging and more coercion. And psychiatric practice (malpractice, really) does manufacture mental illness when normal human responses and traits are pathologized and drugged. But that does not mean that there is no such thing as mental illness, or psychiatric disturbance, and arguing along those lines will not advance the goals of psychiatric reform. Also, one aspect of these bills would narrow the HIPPA privacy loophole to allow families/caregivers to receive, or at minimum, convey information. Under current law, a parent is unable to impart relevant, life-saving information to medical professionals treating a hospitalized child (e.g., allergy to penicillin). That’s crazy.
“All of these proposals seem positive and helpful, but the bill is solidly rooted in psychiatry’s spurious medical model. Psychiatric concepts and language permeate the text. The term “mental illness” is routinely used as if it had the same ontological significance as real illness.”
The reason to oppose Murphy’s bills is because of its deference to psychiatry, which will mean more drugging and more coercion. And psychiatric practice (malpractice, really) does manufacture mental illness when normal human responses and traits are pathologized and drugged. But that does not mean that there is no such thing as mental illness, or psychiatric disturbance, and arguing along those lines will not advance the goals of psychiatric reform. Also, one aspect of these bills would narrow the HIPPA privacy loophole to allow families/caregivers to receive, or at minimum, convey information. Under current law, a parent is unable to impart relevant, life-saving information to medical professionals treating a hospitalized child (e.g., allergy to penicillin). That’s crazy.
“Why not emphasize psychosocial supports, including psychotherapy and parenting education, as first-line interventions rather than medication?” I agree, but would also emphasize the importance of nutrition and avoidance of environmental provocation. Parenting and nurture matter a great deal; always have and always will. But physical factors do cause psychiatric symptoms and avoiding healing modalities that take this into account (e.g., nutrients, diet, gut health) do not serve the interests of patients/families… No good healing option should be left off the table.
you are raising a profoundly important issue. Does this initiative represent a genuine commitment to trying the Open Dialogue approach (as one would hope) rather than mouthing the words but continuing mostly on a business-as-usual basis? After Robert Whitaker put the psychiatric establishment on the defensive, there is more pro forma commitment to reform (mouthing platitudes about “judicious” or “minimal” use of psychiatric drugs even as they pile on the antipsychotics) but the substance is often or mostly not there. Mainstream psychiatrists want to reassure themselves that they are “with the program,” on top of everything and that they do not harm patients (even Lieberman reinvented himself and his colleagues are caring, holistic souls)— hence the “minimal use” claims, but I doubt whether they are really walking the walk. Of course, one should not underestimate the professional and legal risk associated with avoiding or minimizing drug use, and kudos to those brave, enlightened psychiatrists who are listening to patients and working with them to avoid or discontinue psychiatric medications.. Having said all this, on the whole, I see reports such as this one as positive developments, but no one’s word should be taken for anything and questions such as those that you raise should continue to be raised and actual practices scrutinized and critiqued.
“I’d say you are kind of making an argument, because some people do have physical conditions, for pseudo-science instead.”
Sorry Frank, I cannot be any clearer…there are only so many ways to say that 2 plus 2 equal 4. I do not dispute that true science is rare and works very slowly, but true science has to be the goal. And, as should be self-evident, I am not arguing for psychiatric drugs which are, indeed, the worst environmental toxin. The focus of the psychiatry reform movement should be to insist on honest/true science, to expose and fight industry corruption; it should not be to foster non-scientific dogma and myth-making. The DSM 3 made everything worse, but fictitious nonsense existed way before, such as the hysterical paralysis label that, amazingly, you seem to think has some validity. The fact that a pro-science argument should be controversial on a site that has “SCIENCE” as its credo is beyond mind-boggling.
“I disagree. Especially as all it takes to make a “disease” is a vote.”
No it does not. Only psychiatry votes diseases into existence; medicine or real science do not. We know MS to be an autoimmune condition because, after many years, science proved it to be so. Until that happened, the pseudoscience of psychiatry labeled it a psychiatric disturbance (“hysterical paralysis”). As we learn more, we are discovering that numerous physical factors cause psychiatric symptoms.
What exactly do you mean when you say “The pressure of proof, by the way, is not on me.” If you are asserting that a condition has a psychological rather than physical cause, the burden of proof is indeed on you. In the Justina Pelletier case, the psychiatrists tried to psychiatrize a condition that was physical (mitochondrial illness) because in their considered opinion, mitochondrial illness was bunk or crock . All this argues for real science which is my point.
” It didn’t even exist until the 1980’s when psychiatrists with ties to the drug companies voted it into existence for the wonderful DSM.”
Much has happened since the 1980s, including the diminishing nutrient content of our food and increased toxicity of our environment. The exploding rates of autism are strongly indicative of environmental etiology. The same may be behind “ADHD.” By that I mean “ADHD” the symptoms, not the label, or DSM, or drugging.
“What kind of science are you talking about? The science of imaginary diseases?”
When I say “science,” I mean real science…the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake where hypotheses are tested and validated by objective metrix. For example, multiple sclerosis used to be known as “hysterical paralysis” until science, real science, established it to be an autoimmune condition. Ditto for lupus. Science has also provided effective non-drug treatments for SAD (annually recurring depression)….e.g., light and vitamin D. Thanks to REAL science, we understand and are able to treat autoimmune encephalitis, or inflammation of the NMDA Receptors which involves severe psychiatric disturbances such as psychosis and catatonia. Science allows doctors who care to learn to understand the etiology of conditions such as NMDA Receptors Encephalitis and treat them effectively instead of labeling someone with schizophrenia and bombarding them with drugs or psychoanalysis that insists that it was all the fault of bad parents. Science, unfortunately moves slowly, very slowly. Even more unfortunately, science is often opposed simply because it challenges some people’s preferred narratives or guild interests. When someone says “ADHD invariably involves parenting issues and such,” he is basically telling us that his toolbox is rather empty. In contrast, Dr. Perlmutter has provided effective non-drug interventions for children with ADHD and autism (among others), and he does not think much of the parent-blaming enterprises.
Not that parenting should ever been taken off the table. Dr. Berezin’s article raises important questions that need to be investigated and answered. I really would like to know what it means that there is no or less ADHD in France. But what does it really mean? Is it because they do not recognize the symptoms and just voted it out of existence? That’s no more an answer than voting something into existence to push drugs. Are French parents better at parenting resulting in fewer ADHD symptoms? Let’s find out. But pending that, we know this…France and the European Union are way ahead of the US on environmental matters. The number of toxic substances banned in the U.S. is negligible compared to what is banned in the European Union. It is inconceivable that living in a toxic soup does not play a role. More need for real science —- environmental/ecological medicine — to provide answers.
My comments speak for themselves. Nothing that I never posted can be legitimately characterized as an endorsement of imaginary illnesses. That is strawman argumentation at its worst, regrettably much too common on MIA, to the detriment of its credibility.
” In my opinion posts like these (and responses like Harper West’s response) can really undermine the credibility of MIA.”
I totally agree. The answers will need to come from science — real, honest science, or knowledge for the sake of knowledge — not industry science which is what we have right now, and not dogma, or individual bias or prejudice.
“Often, though, the discourse on the cause of individual ‘mental illness,’ eschews social and political efforts, focusing instead on biological determinants.”
It is not “biological” vs. social/political. All of it matters and “biological determinants” means much more than genes. Poor nutrition and contaminated (lead-containing) drinking water impact poor and disadvantaged populations much more, and these are biological, environmental drivers of psychiatric disturbance.
Great comment, Alex. Father of he century, YES!
“The medical profession has failed us. The pharmaceutical companies have failed us. The government and the FDA have failed us. As parents, we really are the last line of defense in protecting our children.”
Very, very true. Your daughter is very fortunate to have you. The “black-box warnings” do not come close to identifying the manifold risks of giving antidepressants to teenagers or children. Antidepressants are a major driver of the bogus bipolar epidemic that is littering the landscape and that has led to the drugging of children and destruction of young lives. It is great that you are able to support and protect your daughter from psychiatric harm, even as your daughter learns that it is OK to feel bad sometimes; it is a perfectly normal reaction to life’s losses and curve balls. Drugs are not the answer; there are much better ways to get through the rough spots.
Fiachra, I love your story and wish it were everyone’s story. You must have had an uncommonly, extraordinarily capable and effective therapist. Lucky you. I myself believe that “mental illness” or whatever passes for mental illness — psychiatric symptoms is a better phrase — can have psychological as well as biological etiology. I just abhor psychiatric drugs and would look for natural healing therapies in addition to psycho-social support.
“In my opinion there’s nothing speculative about ‘supersensitivity.”syndrome.”
Interestingly, mainstream psychiatry recognizes other withdrawal effects; for example, delirium due to alcohol withdrawal. They refuse to acknowledge the effect of withdrawal from psychiatric drugs because they peddle them.
Ah, credentialism…the last refuge of the scoundrel. These psychiatrists are so consumed by their inferiority complex — like Rodney Dangerfield, they get no respect from the other medical specialties — they leap at the chance to lord it over a journalist, even as the evidence against antipsychotics mounts. For all their preening, these guys are industry hacks, and their “scientific” bona fides are on the par with tobacco company science that used to tell us that nicotine was not harmful or addictive. For a a fascinating look at what is possible when psychiatrists stay out, Pies & co. should read Suzanna Cahalan’s Brain on Fire. This young woman made a complete recovery from madness because, for once, psychiatrists of all stripes (those representing the drugging establishment as well as the Freudian dogmatists) knew their place, did not muscle their way in (unlike in the Justina Pelletier case), and let the real doctors and real science do their work.
your Boston Globe guest editorial ( ‘We’re Missing the real story on mental health’) was brilliant. It is not just what you said, but how you said it. You delivered an important message and share vital information in a way that, one hopes, will cause more people to question the prevailing mental health practices. I also give the newspaper credit for publishing it.
Thank you so much, again, Nesrin. Can you provide your contact information for those who are interested in testing or more information? I would also like to make this information available to my daughter’s doctor who is uncommonly intelligent, open-minded and eager to learn. Thank you again.
“Megadose niacin is also an anti-inflammatory.”
The amino acid glycine is a also powerful anti-inflammatory, in my experience. I agree with your perspective and I, too, look for different healing options and modalities. I believe that mental illness has bedeviled the “professionals” because they do not operate this way…It has not been an not a collaborative search to solve the puzzle, it has always been a contest between competing pet theories and guild interests, with too many claiming that his/her piece of the puzzle is THE answer, and it is not. For me, epigenetics has been a game changer, because it fosters a new understanding of how the environment changes biology and how profoundly everything matters.
“Connection is central to our humanity. It regulates our physiology and protects against the harmful effects of stress. Its absence, the profound aloneness that accompanies difficulty in communicating with others, is the common factor underlying all forms of mental distress.”
YES, but this goes well beyond mental distress. Loneliness is a major — the greatest — risk for physical ailments as well. The line between physical and mental illness may not that bright after all; mental illness is not totally unlike physical illness and vice versa.
wow, indeed. Why do I think your amazing daughter gets her strength from you? I wish I could offer more than an expression of my awe and admiration for you both, for bearing the unbearable with such grace, strength, dignity and resilience. I can only hope that these qualities will allow your daughter to persevere, to keep going, to become more optimistic about the future, and to feel that her life has meaning and purpose. There surely is a reason for someone with such attributes to be here; I hope she feels it more and more and that it gives her the strength and will to keep going. Blessings to your daughter and your family.
“… I hope to see the day where all first episodes of psychosis will be tested.”
This should become standard rule-out protocol. But is this condition invariably acute, or can it also manifest itself as a lower-grade, chronic inflammation that presents the symptoms less dramatic ways? This, I think, would make the condition more likely to be psychiatrized. Do you see any value of a regimen of anti-inflammatory supplements, either prophylatically or as part of one’s maintenance protocol? We inhabit a pro-inflammation world…stress is inflammatory, our diets are inflammatory, toxins in the environment are inflammatory, but not every succumbs. Is it known what predisposes people to this—e.g., a more permeable blood-brain barrier in case the antibodies originate outside the brain (do they?)? Inability to detoxify?
I want to thank you again for this incredible contribution to our body of knowledge. All the best to your daughter and you.
” I don’t think any researcher, including William Walsh, has got it right.” I agree that no one has THE answer or the full solution. A number of people (Dr. Walsh, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, Dr. Perlmutter) have advanced the body of knowledge, but thus far no one has brought us to the Promised Land. I am cautiously optimistic about the inflammation/immune system angle, though, because the dots to be connected are starting to line up. For example, the fact that a physical, autoimmune condition such as lupus can morph into psychiatric disturbance (Lupus Cerebridis) when the inflammation reaches the brain. The fact that people often benefit from non-inflammatory, or better yet, anti-inflammatory diet (e.g., gluten free). The fact that psych meds, however horrid, do have some anti-inflammatory properties which may explain why they subdue symptoms. Until science (i.e., not psychiatry) finds the answer, I wonder how a regimen of non-drug anti-inflammatory supplements might work.
“People diagnosed with schizophrenia often report that they never developed childhood illnesses, even being impervious to the common cold.”
this correlates with 1 biotype of schizophrenia, the low-histamine, overmethylated individual who has no inhalant allergies. The following is from Linus Pauling’s
Orthomolecular Psychiatry on the low histamine child:
“The patient is a hyperactive….child who is unnaturally healthy. For example, the rest of the family may get head colds, but this low histamine child misses the cold or the virus infection fails to produce a rhinitis. He is hypo-allergic..he may show no signs of pain even when seriously bruised or when a venous blood sample is obtained….The child is constantly active and sleeps poorly. His attention span is short so learning is poor. Although his ability in some areas may be high when tested, a high degree of disperceptions may be present, such as sensory, time, body, self, and perception of others.”
This is in contrast to the regressive biotype, involving undermethylation/high histamine, where the break happens after great functioning up to that point. According to Dr. William Walsh (of Nutrient Power), the psychotic manifestations of the overmethylated biotype are mostly sensory (hallucinations, hearing voices), whereas thought disorders (delusions) predominate in the regressive, undermethylated biotype.
“This may be trivial, but I wonder if there’s something to this with the convulsing patients.”
bcharris, I do not think what you are saying is trivial at all; it is quite insightful. It would be interesting and worthwhile to correlate the drug-induced psychosis with each individual’s histamine status (i.e., were these all low histamine people?). Most histamine dysregulation involves high (not low) histamine, and since only a small minority of people suffered psychosis as a result of the anti-epilepsy drugs, your hypothesis is sound. ..It would be good to know if the people affected were indeed histapenics.
Thank you so much, Nesrin, for sharing this vital information and thanks to MIA for giving you the space to do it. And kudos to the scientist who solved this particular mystery. It is worth recalling that multiple sclerosis, another autoimmune condition, used to be known as “hysterical paralysis.” And, lupus, a decidedly autoimmune illness, quite often presents psychiatric symptoms.
“Does that mean that they were never really mentally ill or clinically depressed, but just grappling with life circumstances?”
Yes, in some cases, maybe even in the majority of cases, but clearly not in all cases. Life’s adversity takes it toll and the worst thing that could happen to a vulnerable person is to inflict pharmacology on him/her. But to try to extrapolate from this that there is no such thing as mental illness, only life difficulties mistakes the part for the whole. People have suffered serious depression or broken down without anything being wrong in their life. Ellyn Saks does suffer from life circumstances; she has a supportive family, loving marriage, lots of friends, professional success. Her life adversity is having a difficult disabling illness.
“If you are too angry, you can’t get on with YOUR life, you are giving “free rent” to the person in your mind/head.”
markps2: I love your comment and the Szasz quote. I would not judge anyone who cannot forgive, but I believe that a person is better off is he/she is able to forgive. Forgiving does not require befriending the person who is forgiven or allowing him/her into your life; it is not about white-washing the abuse, and it certainly is not about forgetting it. Forgiving also does not mean giving up one’s legal rights. One can forgive a thief or a rapist even as one pursues justice. Forgiving is about moving on and letting go; It is about freeing yourself, from being consumed by anger, resentment or or any other corrosive emotions. It may take a very long time before one is able to forgive, and some may not be able to do it ever. That is OK, but if one can get to the point of being able to forgive, I believe it is liberating to the person doing the forgiving. Is one really free is one is consumed by rage or revenge fantasies?
“Hey, no one could possibly make massive profits from this kind of cheap intervention. It has to be stopped!!”
Do you also want to put an end to light therapy for recurring seasonal depression? Why not just leave it to science to determine whether these glasses help bipolar people. When I say “science,” I mean real science, knowledge for the sake of knowledge, not industry science that serves industry interests. I know that real, honest science is hard to come by these days, if it exists at all, but that needs to be the goal. The amber blue-light blocking glasses actually do have a number of validated health benefits; e.g., when worn in the latter part of the day, they block blue light, promoting the natural build of melatonin to help people with sleep issues ….something of particular interest to anyone trying to withdraw from psych drugs..
‘Mental illness’ is not an illness, it is a natural response to a toxic environment, be it social or environmental.”
The evidence is mounting that environmental provocation plays a huge role in mental (as well as physical) illness, but that does not negate the “illness.” Smoking causes cancer, but that does not make cancer any less an illness. Ditto for diabetes which can be caused by excess sugar consumption.
“I think people are overthinking this. It was a violent political act, period. …… It certainly has nothing to do with the existence of guns.”
I agree. The slaughter in Orlando is not unlike the terrorist massacres in France and Belgium, where guns are clearly not a factor. Terrorists will get their arms no matter what. More facts need to come out, but political correctness may have been more of a factor. Why was this disturbed guy working as an armed security guard?
“Meanwhile, little consideration will be given to the great likelihood that this man who committed this heinous act was likely himself abused, neglected, and/or discriminated against for long periods of time, had no one to talk to about it, and gradually internalized more and more hatred and sense of alienation that eventually led him to kill.”
This is beyond parody. What exactly are you advocating, therapy for would-be terrorists?
“But, he didn’t do it because he was mentally ill. Whatever his allegiance with various groups, ‘terrorist’ is also not an adequate answer.”
On the terrorism point, the shooter begged to differ; he took the time from his rampage to call 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS. What else did he need to do to demonstrate his terrorist motivation? And how do you know that he was not mentally ill or that mental illness was not a factor? Reports from his former wife and co-workers paint a picture of an individual who was clearly unwell.
“…. autism and homosexuality are not great comparisons on this topic… we don’t have much data indicating that parental abuse and trauma cause those ways of being.”
BPD, this misses the gist of my comments which was not to equate mental illness with autism or homosexuality, but to note that psychiatry and psychiatrists have the habit of opining and blaming without knowing what they are talking about. For example, Bettelheim had no basis for attributing autism to poor mothering, and he certainly had no basis for concluding that autism was due to the mother wishing her child had never been born. I am not familiar with the methodology of John Read’s work and cannot comment on what his data prove (e.g., causation vs. correlation). I do not need to be convinced that child abuse is a monstrous thing and that parenting and nurture matters; it clearly does, and that is simple enough. But the etiology of mental illness is complex and multifactorial and, absent evidence to the contrary, it does not follow that the parents did it. The fact that discussion of early childhood trauma has fallen out of fashion is most regrettable, but let’s put the blame where it belongs.
” Ineffective, immature, unskilled parents don’t want to face their own pain or guilt nor the sense of loss that would be evoked by realizing what a poor job they did with their psychotic or depressed child. By deluding themselves that a child has a brain-based illness, their denial and avoidance is enabled.”
Blanket statements such as these illustrate yet another reason for the the reluctance to discuss the part that early childhood trauma plays in mental illness. That would be psychiatry’s ignoble tradition of parent-blaming in the absence of any knowledge or understanding. Bettelheim’s indictment of the parents of autistic children is one example, but not the only one. Freudians also used to blame parents (i.e., mothers) for causing their sons to become gay; at least until the APA removed homosexuality from its DSM listing of disorders. And there was the schizophrenogenic mother of Frieda Reichmann, whatever that means…Was this mother cold and rejecting? Intrusive and overprotective? Both? Neither? And what exactly did she do to drive her otherwise healthy child to madness? To make extraordinary charges such as these, shouldn’t one be able to back them up with science? Yet another contribution of Freudian psychiatry was the Munchhausen by Proxy syndrome that facilitated the persecution of innocent parents who were accused of harming their children or faking their symptoms to get attention for themselves.
What is badly needed on MIA is an open and honest exploration of all that can bring about mental illness, a discussion that is free of dogma, egos and guild interests. Does parenting matter? OF COURSE IT DOES.and there most certainly should be no taboo on discussing parenting and nurture and their role in mental illness. But other things matter, too, because EVERYTHING matters. Nature, nurture, the larger society and the environment all play a role. Biology as a factor in mental illness should not be a taboo subject either, as it is becoming increasingly clear that biology is a significant factor in mental illness and biology can be a big part of the solution (e.g., micronutrients, diet, gut health, sunlight, earthing). The problem with the current system is not biology; the problem is coercion, corruption, greed and guild interests that rely on industry science. The response to corrupted industry science is to insist on real, honest science (including science that validates the importance of early childhood experience), not Freudian dogma and myth-making.
“Something as simple as a parent having unrealistic academic expectations or treating one child favorably over another can have long-term mental/emotional impacts of great significance, but this is not something we’re allowed to discuss.”
thanks for a great comment. I am on-board with everything you said, but see a bit of irony in one statement (cited above). Having unrealistic academic expectations or putting pressure on one’s children is sadly, way too common in our competitive society. But if this type of parental ill treatment were enough to cause psychosis or serious mental illness, we would have many more people breaking down. I know people who were far too demanding (including the wretched Tiger Mother) and their kids thrived under the pressure. And kids with good parents have broken down. Something else is in play, and that would be the nature factor. So I firmly agree that discussion of nurture and family dynamics should never be taboo (and to the extent they are on NAMI or elsewhere, that is wrong, wrong wrong). But nature, biology, predisposition, etc. etc. should not a taboo either. Everything matters, above all, the truth, which means that nothing should be beyond discussion or investigation.
By the way, I could not reply directly too you comment, and made an inadvertent “report” of one of your comments. Sorry about that…I did not mean to do a report or complain (I liked your comment); I was just hoping to find a way to reply directly to your comment.
This — making MIA a 501(c)(3) organization and contributions tax deductible — is a very good move. Please consider also giving people the option to contribute OTHER than online (e.g., by sending in a check or arranging for it by phone).
“On the other hand, I have communicated with people who say the antipsychotics do help them, so you may be one who is actually helped by them.”
Hi Someone Else,
I wonder about this. I find the mainstream system — essentially playing Russian roulette with dangerous neurotoxic drugs — beyond abhorrent, especially when drugs are given coercively. And yet, there are people, possibly a very small minority, whose functioning depends on these drugs (e.g., Ellen Saks). When Bob Whitaker’s Epidemic came out, there was a long back-and-forth running commentary in Amazon’s review section. One young woman, who did not give the book high rating, said Whitaker should have acknowledged stories such as hers — she was a successful, very well-functioning professional with fantastic parents (she said) and a serious thought disorder that she kept totally in check by antipsychotics which she took knowingly and voluntarily. At the time, I thought she was deluded about what drugs do, etc. and ready to pile on her, along with the rest of Bob Whitaker’s fans. Now I am less sure. I remain convinced that the drugging paradigm is manufacturing mental illness in unprecedented rates and believe that drugs should be the very last resort, and never given to children. But real serious mental illness, which is thankfully rare, pre-existed drugging and for some people, these drugs might be the magic bullet, as much as I do not like saying this. I am convinced that much more remains to be learned than we already know — the field is still in the Dark Ages — and we all should keep that in mind.
I could not post a reply to your last comment, so I am responding to my own last comment and hope that you will see this. I have no doubt that medication is the culprit in a great many instances; that’s the conclusion of Robert Whitaker’s work, and I buy it. But does it follow that it is always true, in each and every case? I do not believe so. Mental illness (real mental illness, not just life problems that we all have) existed long before meds made their appearance. I do like your inspiring story very much but I do not think you can generalize from your own experience and conclude that it will be true of everyone else. Why do you think the majority of psychoanalysts (at least here, in the U.S.) rely on meds?
Hi Paris and thanks so much for your comment. I agree that epigenetics puts environment and environmental insults front and center as the cause of mental distress or suffering. (I am familiar with Bruce Lipton’s work and attended a fascinating lecture by him earlier this year.) And, yes, epigenetics will most likely rehabilitate Lamarck and his work. But epigenetics also validates certain aspect of the biological perspective as well, showing that the environment does change one’s biology and those changes are passed on. Epigenetics shows that altered gene expression is transmitted to future generations, and not just through the modeling and repetition of dysfunctional parenting (which, I am sure, does happen), but genetically as well. So, the original sin, or the trauma that originated from the environment, people, life, etc. becomes embedded in one’s physical body and in each subsequent generation, the person with altered gene expression becomes more vulnerable to new environmental insults, bullying, rejection, exclusion, social defeat, etc., leading to further degradation of gene function until, several generations down the road, someone breaks down. Does it follow that the parents did it, or probably did it? I do not believe this is what you intended to say. I actually liked your article very much and I am totally against making parenting issues a taboo subject. I am just arguing for balance and for being open to the whole truth.
Hi again, Fiachra:
Stress, trauma, suffering, abuse are, regrettably, all too common and take their toll. Some people succumb, others endure unspeakable horrors and do not break down. Why? Obviously, there is more to it than one’s own life experience. It is an issue of predisposition (greater resilience vs. greater sensitivity), and the emerging science of epigenetics bears this out.
“I think it’s remarkable what humans are capable of doing and overcoming, when the chips are down. ”
Quite so. On the other hand, people do break down without having been abused or neglected. The difference is that some people are more resilient and others are more fragile. The issue of predisposition is missing from the discussion,
“Prior to medication most longterm hospitalization would probably have been due to discrimination and neglect.”
Discrimination and neglect are certainly bad and unhelpful to anyone’s well being, but are these in and of themselves sufficient to cause serious mental illness? Common sense, to say nothing of science (epigenetics), answers this question in the negative. How is it that the the Holocaust survivors, who witnessed, endured and suffered the unimaginable did not as a group become psychotic or serious mentally ill? Actually, as a group, they were a pretty resilient bunch. Often migrating half across the world and starting news lives, they led functional and productive lives, personally and professionally. By the same token, this population does have a higher rate of suicide and their descendants have higher rates of mental illness. That’s epigenetics at work. Environmental factors (e.g., trauma, abuse, starvation, etc. etc) do change one’s biology and those changes are passed on to future generations, making each succeeding generation progressively more vulnerable to new environmental stresses, until, down the road, someone does break down. Does that follow that the family caused it? Does that warrant playing the blame game?
“People in this thread are working overtime to distance themselves from the word ‘blame’. It looks to me like the taboo is still very much in place.”
It would be more accurate to say that writers and posters on MIA take pains to avoid using the word “blame” even as they blame away. There should certainly be no taboo on discussing the role that family dynamics (or anything else, for that matter) play in mental illness. As for blame, there are good reasons for restraining the blaming impulse absent evidence or basis for assigning blame or responsibility (think Bettelheim).
“Hooray! More of psychiatry’s and NAMI-families’ greatest nemesis: the TRUTH! Thank goodness for the Internet and social media. This may be Mad in America’s first article to go viral. Way to go, Mr. Williams!”
The TRUTH means or should mean “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Notably missing from the article is any mention of epigenetics.
“Many people, from what I read, appear to believe that the families were demeaning and stigmatizing from the get-go, and that’s WHY the person had a break. Consider, though, that it is very easy for families to become that way AFTER the person has had a break. It’s damn hard to live with someone in an altered state.”
You raise a very important point, Rossa, that goes to the chicken/egg -which came first distinction. Here is what the book Suspicious Minds, co–authored by Joel Gold, M.D., a psychoanalyst, has to say about “expressed emotion:”
“High EE does not contribute to people developing schizophrenia, but it is an important aspect of life for those living with it. Ironically, high EE is often stimulated by schizophrenia itself. As Gillian Haddock and Will Spaulding put it, ‘this behavior is generally considered to be a result of a normal reaction to the incredible stress associated with experiencing a relative who has a psychotic illness.'”
An argument for more, better and more effective support for affected families, a support that helps educate caregivers about how family dynamics can make things better or worse.
“…. an America the leaders of which, in various fields, collectively act like arrogant sociopaths or greedy ruthless children. It’s pretty disgusting.”
Disgusting, indeed. It is a societal betrayal on too many levels to count. Big Pharma; its distribution channel (the shrinks), the bought-off and paid for legislators who allow direct consumer advertising and now propose to gift us with Murphy’s law, the FDA regulators (probably looking for big payday in the industry they are supposed to regulate once they leave government work), the newspapers who are mostly silent in documenting this outrage. Kudos to the NY Times for covering this, although I wish they did this more forcefully and comprehensively. When will it stop? Only when enough of “We, the People” become knowledgeable, informed and ready to hold the powers that be accountable.
Thank you, Dr. Berezin…Have you considered submitting your post to the NY Times?
“….the first thing about many of the NAMI mommies…”
I am no expert on the thinking of individual NAMI families (as opposed to the positions taken by the organization and its leadership). But the few mothers that I do know are disillusioned with the drugging paradigm, continue their search for answers, and keep asking themselves, over and over, what they may have done to cause their children’s mental illness. Some of them venture on this site, looking for answers, to encounter demonization about them and their motives. I do not see this type of demonization or wholesale indictment as helpful to the recovery movement. At some point, the discussion needs to go beyond MIA…to convince the larger society. If the NAMI parents, who, I believe, are for the most part, well motivated, are not on board, what hope is there to convince the larger society that the system of care needs to be rethought and reformed?
Discussing family dynamics as a factor in mental illness should not and must not be a taboo. Understanding mental illness must be a search for the truth, which means that nothing should be suppressed or distorted however inconvenient or difficult to face. By the same token, the sorry Bettelheim episode argues for some restraint in pointing fingers, without facts or basis. What exactly justifies the accusations hurled against “NAMI mommies” that is beyond the pale when it comes to parents of autistic children? It is now socially or politically beyond the pale to demonize parents of autistic children; rightly so. But research shows that some of the factors involved in autism (nutrient deficiencies, gut issues) are involved in mental illness as well. Most important, epigenetics shows how adverse environmental conditions (including abuse) changes people, and those changes are passed on making it that much more likely that future generations become successively more vulnerable to bullying, social isolation, parental neglect or abuse. Do family dynamics matters? Of course! How can they not. But questions that ought to be asked (and that argue for restraint when it comes to fingerpointing) include: does parenting or current life experience alone cause psychosis? Does this happen within a single generation, or does it take several generations before the successive harm manifests itself in psychosis or breakdown? There are too many instances of people with toxic childrehoods who did not lose their minds, and children of good parents who did break down. Taboo? No. But appropriate restraint? Absolutely.
Sorry, I misspelled Dr. Natasha’s last name — it is Natasha Campbell-McBride.
I wholeheartedly endorse your comments. I view Bettelheim’s ignorant, malevolent and baseless indictment of the parents of autistic children as one of psychiatry’s great embarrassments. I also view this type of thinking as complicit in the disastrous drugging paradigm that followed….Without minimizing the role of Big Pharma and its distribution channel (the drugging shrinks) and their perverse motives and incentives, I believe that the well-founded disgust and rejection of Bettelheim-type thinking helped the druggers. I say this as someone who believes that trauma is foundational to mental illness, but that is quite different from saying, without having any facts to back up one’s opinion, “the parents did it.” The science of epigenetics shows that trauma (physical or emotional) changes one’s biology and those changes are passed on to future generations. So while the importance of good parenting and nurturing cannot be overestimated — the fact that it is out of fashion to emphasize this is another aspect of Bettelheim’s unfortunate legacy — it is also true that good parents can and do have children with autism or mental illness. Good people doing detective-like important work in autism (and mental illness) include William Walsh, PhD, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBridge and David Perlmutter, M.D.
“Are there drug companies that will benefit financially when many nutrients are by prescription?”
Considering that New Zealand, together with the U.S., bears the dubious distinction of being 1 of only 2 countries that allow direct consumer advertising by Big Pharma, it would seem that the industry has a great deal of power and influence in N.Z. So, one need not to be a conspiracy theorist to suspect Big Pharma of playing some role in this nefarious development.
Thank you, Bonnie and Julia, for your research on how nutrition (diet, nutrient supplementation and probiotics) affect mental health and help alleviate psychiatric symptoms/mental illness. I will definitely contact the Government of NZ and voice my strong opposition to the proposed scheme.
“Doctors can basically do whatever they want, however stupid, as long as lots of other doctors are doing the same. Something needs to be done to create some accountability, in psychiatry and in medicine in general.”
That is our dumb legal system at work. Doctors and their treatments are judged not based on science and ethics, but based on the so-called community standard (what the others in their community do). That is why the treating psychiatrist of Rebecca Riley is still practicing at Tufts…What she did is not out of sync with what the mainstream does. When the whole rotten system is guilty, no one is guilty (except, perversely, those who take a stand against the prevailing practice). It is the the doctors who abstain from drugging who are at a greater legal and professional risk.
The jury in the criminal trial of Rebecca Riley’s parents showed much more common sense and good judgment than the representatives of our legal or medical system..They said the psychiatrist should also have been put on trial (she was granted immunity to testify against the parents). We need to keep spreading awareness of how mainstream psychiatry manufactures the destruction of innocent lives.
“… helping parents deal with and resolve their own issues with their own childhoods is an excellent way to help the next generation experience happier and less stressful and more productive lives.”
Very well said, Steve. Thank you for your wise and insightful post.
Fantastic idea. I am in.
“I seriously don’t get people’s obsession with Jobs. He was an extraordinarily good salesman and a***ole at the same time, bordering on a sociopath.:
Job was much more than a great salesman. He was an authentic genius and visionary; there is no getting around that. As an entreprenurial genius (only in that narrow sense), he was one of the heroes of capitalism. I am not making any comment about his personal character, conduct, mental state or suggesting that he was an admirable sort or worth emulating as a person. I was making a limited reference to his role as an entrepreneur.
I am not saying that the Germans are better people. I am saying that cultural differences are real, they matter, and countries like, say, Scandinavia (very low on the corruption scale, government by consensus instead of confrontation) are different from the U.S. And, of course, culture changes over time.
“I would recommend that Dr. B have a family member who is a mother read his work before publishing it. ”
having a mother read Dr. B’s work before it is posted may or may not make difference. People whose lives and children turn out well may believe that everything turned out well because they did all the right things (i.e., they are deserving rather than lucky). It could be that they did indeed do everything right, or that they were lucky, or a combination of both. I do not pretend to know. By the same token, I would not conclude that the parent of a schizophrenic child was a sadist or an abuser merely because of the child’s condition.
“… many therapists oversell their particular brand of therapy as THE answer, Gift From Heaven that Saves Humankind from Disaster.”
Anyone who says “I have THE answer and my therapy is THE solution to whatever ails you” operates in the realm of dogma. A corollary of this is the claim that one’s pet theory, dogma or belief system is superior to anyone else’s. Therapy would be a wonderful alternative to mind-altering drugs if it actually worked. I can’t think of a greater vote of confidence in one’s therapeutic prowess than to forgo reliance on psychiatric medications and charge by successful outcome instead of time.
“These words ring true. I think you should write on this site more often.”
I could not agree more. Timgoes has great wisdom and insight and I also hope that he will share it by writing more often on MIA.
“There are quite a few things that are the most important information to know but you will never be told the by mental health profession even if it’s obvious you need to be told. Here are some of them.”
Here is another thing that no mental health professional will ever tell anybody, guaranteed: “I do not know what or who caused your condition. Haven’t got a clue.” I love your idea of paying therapists for results.
Low fat diet and low cholesterol levels have been implicated in increased rates of depression. Probiotics are calming/anxiety reducing. A good diet can be a huge factor in improving one’s mental health.
what is your view/theory of the etiology of autism? Is it a condition caused by maternal deprivation (or worse — according to Bettelheim, the refrigerator mother wished her child had never been born), or is does it have a biological basis?
“I’m not familiar with the state of psychiatry at Syracuse or Tufts….”
Actually, do have some idea of the state of psychiatry at Tufts, and the bar they set could not be any lower. Please recall that Rebecca Riley, the Massachusetts toddler who was labeled bipolar and drugged with psychoactive neurotoxins was treated by a Tufts University Medical Center psychiatrist. The following excerpt is from Dr. Bruce Levine’s April 17, 2014 post on MIA:
When Rebecca Riley was 28 months old, based primarily on the complaints of her mother that she was “hyper” and had difficulty sleeping, psychiatrist Kayoko Kifuji diagnosed Rebecca with ADHD. Kifuji prescribed clonidine, a drug with significant sedating properties, a drug that Kifuji also prescribed to Rebecca’s older sister and brother. The goal of the Riley parents—obvious to many people in their community and later to juries—was to attain psychiatric diagnoses for their children that would qualify them for disability payments and to sedate their children making them easy to manage. But apparently this was not obvious to Kifuji who, when Rebecca was three years old, added a bipolar disorder diagnosis and prescribed two additional heavily sedating drugs, the antipsychotic Seroquel and the anticonvulsant Depakote. At the age of four, Rebecca died due to the toxicity of these drugs. After Rebecca’s death, Tufts-New England Medical Center, Kifuji’s employer, told ’60 Minutes,’ ‘The care we provided was appropriate and within responsible professional standards.’ ”
So, there you have it. According to Tufts, what happened to this little girl was appropriate and responsible professional treatment. This underscores the very point that I believe you are making: when everyone, the whole rotten system, is guilty, no one is guilty.
Thank you for pointing this out, Sandra. This program, while emphasizing more therapy, does rely on neuroleptics from the get-go but the neuroleptic regimen is ostensibly decided upon with the patient’s consent or participation. A step in the right direction, but most likely not as big a step as we might like.
“…little Rebecca Riley, dead due to the very Risperdal that Lieberman took so much money to champion for children.”
I believe you meant to refer to Harvard’s Joseph Biederman, who popularized the bogus childhood bipolar disorder for his Big Pharma paymasters, allowing children, even toddlers like Rebecca Riley, to be labeled and drugged. But I totally agree with the general premise of your comment. What does it say about Lieberman to call Bob Whitaker a menace to society, not Big Pharma and its minions, including academic psychiatrists, who set up children for destruction. At the risk of trespassing on Lieberman’s territory, I think he is in a major denial.
Maybe, just maybe, the Dark Ages of psychiatry are finally beginning to recede. I certainly hope so. But I am not holding my breath waiting for Lieberman to issue an apology to Bob Whitaker for calling him a menace to society.
Let’s hope this study puts the brakes on the Murphy Bills.
“It is impossible to make something from nothing.”
Steve Job did just that with Apple. I am sorry you are unable to perceive this.
“Somehow I don’t think social democracy has been tried recently in Illinois.”
Actually, the ruling party maintains that it is trying to do just that, even as it enriches itself and its favorite constituents. How do you propose implementing social democracy in Illinois? Vacuum out Illinois’ entire population and settle it with Scandinavian? Sorry, culture and customs matter. A lot. Much more than the law or a particular political system.
“You can call it a paradox but having the state regulate market in a more socially just direction actually promotes genuine competition between small businesses as opposed to hegemony of big business and cronies.”
It is not a paradox. It works where it does (e.g., Scandinavia, Germany) because of that society’s culture. Try that in the U.S. (a high corruption/low competence society) and you end up with a man-made disaster like the State of Illinois.
“The term Liberal is closely tied to individual rights, and the majority of survivor’s want human and civil rights.”
it would be more correct to say that “liberal” (i.e., classical liberalism) USED to be closely associated with individual rights and personal autonomy. Today, the commitment to individual autonomy and personal freedom is the hallmark of libertarianism. Modern-day liberalism has devolved into group-think, identity politics, group grievance-mongering, political correctness and statism. A state, by definition, means coercion, and I can’t think of a group less in need of state-supplied coercion than people who have been through the coercive mental health system.
“It is human nature to innovate and invent things to make life easier, and also to create works of art in many forms.”
Yes it is, but not in the absence of freedom. How much freedom — where does regulation/taxation get oppressive and stifling — is where the debate needs to be. I am not here to defend the excesses of capitalism or capitalists who behave badly I certainly do not subscribe to the idea that all rich or successful people are job creators or have earned their success through hard work and innovation, but the entrepreneurs (those who take the risk and create something out of nothing) have and we all are better off because of them. We as customers, voters and shareholders already have a lot of power to hold corporations/executives accountable (they do care about reputations and opprobrium/shaming can be quite effective in policing shameful behavior), if we would only use it.
“The neoliberal doctrine fails to take into account all the non-monetary incentives such as morality, love, empathy, altruism and so on. ”
This is a function of culture. The success of the Scandinavian countries, which I happen to admire despite my libertarian sympathies, derives from their culture….low corruption, governing by consensus over confrontation; values that emphasize the public good; greater social integration; lack of tolerance for the excesses of unbridled capitalism (e.g., excessive, obscene executive compensation). None of that is imposed by the state; it is a function of societal values or cultures. Scandinavian countries also tend to be more homogeneous, and that promotes the “us, we all in this together” mindset as opposed to “us vs. the other.”
Fred, what you write is horrifying and inspiring at the same time. The fact that you prevailed, freed yourself from all this, is a testament to your spirit and strength. I did not think I could dislike mainstream psychiatry and its practitioners more than I already do, but your post made me loathe them even more.
“It seems to me that a subtle form of hubris – a.k.a. “ableism” – is present when mental health providers look at the people they serve and almost triumphantly say to themselves, ‘I could never be like you!’ ”
are you suggesting that psychiatrists/psych professors (or at least some of them) are arrogant, self-important, self-enamored twits with big egos? Wow, as I process this shocking revelation, I would say the following. Yes, trauma of all sorts (interpersonal and environmental) is all around us, and trauma (people, life, all that) does take its toll. Trauma is where I would look first to try to understand why someone is in an extreme state, and in the nature/nurture inquiry, I would definitely not shortchange nurture. That said, not everyone who suffers breaks down (e.g., most Holocaust survivors did not become psychotic).
And, no, I would not assume or presume to say that anyone with the schizophrenic label was driven to this by his/her parents; doing so would be presumptuous in t he extreme. It simply does not follow that when there is an extreme state, “the parents must have done it.” Some people are more sensitive and others are more resilient and a predisposition (be it genetic, epigenetic, spiritual, metaphysical, etc.) could be the difference in how people process and respond to what life and people dish out. The biological reductionism that most on MIA oppose should not give way to reductionism of the other stripe (e.g., the Bettelheim mindset).
Corinna, thank you so much for sharing this information. For clarity…are you saying that the higher the binding constant, the more difficult, problematic, relapse-ridden the withdrawal? Does it follow that Risperidone would be more difficult to withdraw from than Zyprexa?
“That was a terrible and harmful comment. Shame on you.”
I also believe that you overreacted and took things too personally. While I myself might have phrased things differently, I read and understood the offending comment (“Psychotherapy is to normal human relationship as prostitution is to sex with a loved one or a friend. You pay…”) differently.
I did not and do not see this statement as equating therapists with prostitutes. It is analogizing one situation where a wounded/broken/lonely and suffering person needs to pay someone to pay attention, listen to him/her, spend some time with him/her. I can see why someone who is already feeling low would feel even more demoralized, demeaned, diminished or wounded by this. I am not saying one should, but I can and see why one can. The relevance of the prostitution analogy is not to call anyone names or to equate therapists with prostitutes, but to appreciate that someone who is already down feels acutely the indignity of having to pay someone for a bit of attention.
“I for one will never fault you for your comparison of psychiatry and its so-called “treatment” to the Nazis and the things that they carried out against people.”
Hear, hear. The “studies” conducted by the University of Minnesota on people subject to involuntary holds are right out of the Nazi medicine playbook. When the Nazis embarked on murdering the mentally ill (i.e., “Life not Worth Living”), the only therapy afforded by Nazi psychiatrists was to absolve families of any unwarranted guilt.
“I still fail to understand how these studies are clear evidence that psych drugs are causing violence.”
There is more than enough evidence (black box warnings and the studies/stats underlying these warnings, a number of trial outcomes concluding that, but for, the psych medication, the violent crime would not have occurred) to warrant a thorough investigation. Given the limitations involved in these types of studies (research studies or observation studies), we may not get the degree of certainty that one could obtain from a controlled experiment. Obviously, controlled experiments (loading up people with drugs to see if they become violent) are not in the cards, so the next best things is to do the studies that are feasible.
But the main thing here is to start the public, societal discussion about what psychiatric drugs (i.e., the “treatment”) actually do or can do. The point is not that everyone who ingests these drugs goes on a murder spree, but that enough people do to warrant warnings. The public discussion needs to happen. The knee-jerk reaction to these mass atrocities is for many to call for more “treatment;” without a focused discussion of what exactly is involved in “treatment” and that more “treatment” might mean more risk.
Beyond investigating the link to violence, we need to have a public discussion of whether drug treatments are effective/safe and whether the drugs are addictive and leading to increasing rates of mental disability. The petition’s mandate (“We the people of the United States demand a formal and public investigation into the relationship between the FDA, the Pharmaceutical industry, psychiatric drugs and treatment”.) is broader than examining the link between drugs and violence and that’s good.
To me, the main value of this endeavor is the process; the debate. The opportunity of experts like Breggin, Glenmullen, Healy to have their say. Right now, the only people having this say are the Liebermans, Torreys and Jaffees of this world, and their say is tantamount to settled science. The more public airing of these issues, the more likely it is that at least some people will think twice about embarking on meds and that, too, is a good thing.
I am disappointed that the petition is not gathering more steam. Also, our entire household signed, but I had difficulty finding my own signature. I am not trying to be paranoid about this, but I would urge everyone who signed (and I am asking everyone to please sign) to double-check and verify your signature and participation.
As one of the commenters who tends to be somewhat skeptical of therapy’s ability to heal extreme states without drugs, I totally accept and honor your experience. I am happy about your good outcome and wish this could be replicated more widely. I do wonder if your good experience with therapy is due to the fact that therapeutic standards and practices are higher or more evolved in the UK. — based on the insights reached and positions taken by UK psychologists (away from the biological model and drugging, more human support) that could well be. I also believe that good therapy outcomes depend on the relationship and the quality of the therapist, more than the modality or theory. Some therapists have that magic or spark to connect with troubled souls, and that is wonderful, but many do not.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate the practices of American mainstream psychiatry (academic, clinical) from those of Nazi medicine or psychiatry. The fact that this does not appear to be readily prosecutable as the crime this is, or that holding the University of Minnesota legally accountable does not appear to be slam-dunk, says a great deal about our societal values. But what about the people of Minnesota..are there not enough decent people who are willing to stand up and say “NOT IN MY NAME, NOT WITH MY TAX DOLLARS?”
“And it would never come out as malpractice.”
No, it would not, since the profession itself is malpractice or worse. The psychiatrists who are at legal and professional risk are the ones who abstain from drugging, thereby deviating from the norm or the community standard.
However, I do not believe that most psychiatrists are smart enough to abstain from the drugs they are dispensing. Lieberman was sharp enough to protect his own son, but quite a few of them have inflicted this on themselves as well as their own children. The fact that this may be changing and also t that they are prescribing lesser doses is thanks to Whitaker and the movement he helped bring about, not the profession’s innate ability to reform.
“…the proposal would entail a huge expansion of the psychiatric net, a diligent ferreting out, so to speak, of those “mentally ill people” young and old, who are “not being served,” and lots of additional jobs for psychiatrists.”
Every time I think I have seen organized psychiatry hit rock bottom, I see something like.this. The creepy thing about this is that some people will be misled, thinking they are getting integrated, holistic care of the type offered by Dr. Brogan (relying on nutrition, nutrients, energy healing, etc.). Instead, as Phillip says, they will be swept up in the widening psychiatric, neurotoxic net, courtesy of their trusted (but clueless) family doctor. But in fairness, psychiatry could not pull this off without the complicity of government officials. Colorado should see its count of the mentally ill go way, way up…First, legalizing pot (Rocky Mountain High), now this. The state should be renamed Moron Territory, but the rest of America is not far behind.
“…so why do people think psychiatrists’ oversight and consent is necessary to come off meds? ”
BPD, it is great to hear that you were able to pull this off on your own, without the help of (or even in spite of) your former psychiatrist. And while it is totally understandable, human and perhaps even inevitable, to generalize from one’s experience (we all tend to do this to a degree), we must not minimize the risks and difficulties associated with withdrawal. You may have had an easier time because you figured this out quickly on your own and did not allow yourself to be trapped and immobilized by drugs for years. Everyone deserves a chance to be free of drugs; they are disempowering, exactly what a person who already feels powerless does not need. But let’s not minimize the difficulties of withdrawal. Forewarned is forearmed.
Not everything that is alternative, holistic, natural, homeopathic, etc. is legitimate. There are plenty of charlatans out there preying on desperate and vulnerable people, and I would never suggest otherwise. People still need to do their research, validate the claims made for the treatment and make knowing, informed choices about the treatment itself and the individual provider. Just do your homework. I do, however, believe that for psychiatry to survive, the typical practice needs to look more like Dr. Brogan’s practice.
“NO: Just leave kids alone, or help families and communities to support them in loving, human ways!”
There is a world of difference between good nutrition, healthy eating (e.g., organic, non-GMO, gluten free, sugar free, hormone free, antibiotic-free, etc.), detoxifying one’s environment and body and good healing or calming practices such as yoga or energy medicine, on the on the hand, and plying children (or adults) with psychoactive drugs on the other. During the last 50 years or so, the nutrient content of our food went way down, and toxins in our environment and everything that we use, including personal care products, went way up. This has taken its toll on our health, including mental health.
“Playing devil’s advocate, your thoughts about one particular incident are not proof for or against psych drugs and violence.”
Psychoactive drugs carry blackbox warnings for a reason. And this is not because the FDA was particularly diligent in mandating the warnings. The FDA was actually slow on the uptake, following the lead of its German regulatory counterpart and Dr. Breggin.
In the penultimate sentence of my comment above, I meant to say “…who made lethal weapons and target practice available…”
“The mass media and governments ignore the connection between psychiatric drugs and violence because that connection does not suit the agenda.”
I agree with your well-articulated comments, with one caveat. I do fault the mother for making lethal weaponry accessible to her troubled son; ditto for the mother of Adam Lanza. Who knows how things might have turned had there been effective social supports and empathic people befriending and encouraging these guys instead of neurotoxic drugs. Perhaps it might have made a difference; perhaps not. There is evil in the world. But I firmly believe that one’s individual circumstances, no matter how tragic, cannot and must not be allowed to spill over to harm or endanger innocent bystanders. And while I do not like to assign blame to parents without knowing the specifics, I have no hesitancy putting the blame on the mothers (Harper and Lanza) who made lethal weapons and target available to their disturbed sons. The Second Amendment is not THAT sacred to me.
“”….to my ears just the fact that he, Elyn Saks and Alice Flaherty said that they believe the medical model was a way of pointing out the fact that another perspective exists! If we didn’t want to convey the other side – that some people don’t believe the medical model – we wouldn’t have had them state that they believe it.”
so, the fact that your film allows Lieberman & co. to articulate their belief in the biological model means that your film effectively conveyed that there is a contrary view? No need to give the platform to Breggin, Moncrieff or someone of that stripe because Lieberman already addressed it?
Are you serious? This statement is causing me to rethink my earlier comment crediting you with good intent or motives.
“Once at least one state looks into this, I am sure it will spread.”
I sure hope you are right about this, but I am not overly optimistic. After all, too many in the U.S. Congress see the wretched Murphy Bills are the solution to mass killings.
Some 3 years ago, Mary Flowers, an Illinois state representative, introduced a resolution to the Illinois House of Representatives calling for a ‘Task Force on Mental Diagnosis and Illinois Law.’ The task force was to investigate “at least 3 false epidemics causing countless persons to be prescribed expensive, unnecessary, potentially dangerous psychotropic drugs.”
This was actually reported on MIA. https://www.madinamerica.com/2012/04/illinois-rep-calls-for-investigation-of-false-epidemics-and-psychotropic-drugs/
Her resolution was voted down and, for good measure, Representative Flowers’ benighted colleagues in the Illinois legislature voted to allow psychologists to prescribe psychiatric medications. (When it came to the expansion of prescribing powers to psychologists, the psychiatrists vigorously opposed it, for obvious reasons. But Big Pharma money was on the psychologists, because Big Pharma’s interests lay in expanding its distribution channel. It is not a stretch to conclude that Big Pharma did not care for Representative Flowers’ initiative either.)
Obviously, it is a good thing when anyone begins to question the drugging paradigm and the link between drugs and violence. Kudos to the Nevada legislator for raising the question; I hope he/she is not drowned out by Big Pharma money that can buy lots of votes. I still hope that you are right…please share any additional information you have on the developments in Nevada.
Thanks, Sera! You are a very effective film critic and your post was very inspirational and thought-provoking.
I personally do not have a problem with your inclusion of people like Lieberman/Ellyn Saks to state their beliefs in the medical model. My problem with the film is what it does NOT say and WHOM it leaves out. Having allowed Lieberman to say his piece, in a white coat no less, could you not have given an opportunity for the expression of opposing views by the likes of Drs. Breggin, Berezin, Moncrieff, Jackson, etc., so that the viewer is aware that a genuine debate exists among credentialed professionals as to what is the etiology of mental illness and what should be first-line treatment? How about more balanced information about standard “treatment;” its effectiveness and safety (e.g., sharing information about the Harrow and Wunderink studies)? What about other treatment options that have shown promise (Open Dialogue, nutrient therapy)? What about the reform movement spearheaded by Robert Whitaker, and why was he not given a voice? Why was David Oaks’ presence so short-changed? The film refers to a new civil rights movement in a rather meaningless, platitudinous way, without ever explaining what drives the need for such a movement: it’s not stigma, but psychiatric coercion. I take you at your word about the good intentions, but I am disappointed that what came out of this is little more than a NAMI infomercial.
“If the mental health system were in fact a solution rather than a problem, then this idea could have merit. As long as psychiatry retains and employs the power to destroy lives, this will be a bad idea.”
I agree. “Mental health screening” in out MHS means more and earlier opportunities to subject vulnerable people to neurotoxic treatments; and scapegoat (conduct witchhunts against) people labeled as mentally ill.
People impacted by war are on the front lines of trauma; so are people impacted by terrorism, persecution, famine, or other type of group or individual maltreatment. Also their descendants, as Madmom points out.
Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your spiritual /transformative experience; it resonates deeply with me. I am convinced that you had indeed found your family’s burial place in that pond. I also believe that your story may illustrate epigenetics at work.
“I was well-clothed, well-fed, physically safe in a comfortable, stable environment. At least it looked that way on the outside. On the inside, however, I felt like I was living in a war zone.”
This is consistent with the data developed by the eminent epigenetist, Rachel Yehuda, about the effect of trauma on trauma’s direct victims and succeeding generations (e.g., Holocaust survivors, U.S. veterans, workers who were in the World Trade Center towers on 9-11). The emerging science of epigenetics may go a long way toward unlocking some of the mysteries of what happened and why. If a short-term adaptation (changes to the trauma victim’s gene expression) is transmitted to future generations, the descendants may inherit coping mechanisms that are out of sync with their actual environment or circumstances, perhaps overreacting to stress that may be much better tolerated to someone without the inheritance of intergenerational trauma. Thank you again, Lauren, for your deeply moving and powerful piece.
The following (your own words) is very a propos to the claims that you are making for the efficacy of therapy:
“Depression” is not a valid, reliable illness. The reliability ratings for major depression in the DSM 5 field trials were close to 0 (0.2-0.3). That means that whether or not one gets labeled with depression or some other “illness” is usually arbitrary.”
“Feelings of depression of varying degrees can be caused by a multitude of different internal and external causes, and the combination of causes in each case is unique to the individual’s situation. Therefore these studies of “major depression” should be viewed with extreme skepticism.”
I agree with your statement. But the inherent unreliability of psychiatric labeling and the multitude of causes that bring about psychiatric conditions is also relevant to any assessment of claims of successful psychotherapeutic interventions. How do we know that those alleged to have been “successfully treated” even warranted the “diagnosis” for which they got treated? How do we validate the severity of their conditions in order to judge the usefulness of therapy?
If depression is not a real illness, or schizophrenia is not a real illness, etc., what exactly are the people who get better with psychotherapy healed from, nothing? Let’s be consistent. I am all on-board with the idea that there is no such thing as a psychiatric diagnosis, only descriptive labels of symptoms. But in that case, let’s not elevate such labels to something real and meaningful when it comes to claims that psychotherapy is effective.
The sources that you cite put forth claims, not evidence of the patient’s condition, its severity, causation, etc. Ditto for claims of effective intervention without reliance on drugs.
I would love psychotherapy to be THE answer for all psychiatric distress, severe as well as mild, so that drugs never rear their ugly heads. Unfortunately, the evidence (evidence, as opposed to claims or wishful thinking) and the life experience of too many people does not bear this out. Why do you suppose Lieberman came down so hard on analysts? (In posing this question, I am not suggesting that Lieberman is an authority for anything; I am talking tactics here.) Well, I believe he skewered the analyst types because he knew that they would not and could not defend themselves. And they didn’t. (If there was an effective response from the analytical community, affirming their ability and successful track record in healing people without drugs, I missed it.) They could not and did not mount an effective response to Lieberman’s attacks because most of them do rely on drugs.
To say, as you do, that, by and large, “people are better off with psychotherapy than without” is not the point. I don’t know anyone who disagrees with that (not even Lieberman or any run-of-the-mill psychiatrist). The point is: is talk therapy alone, as a rule, sufficient to heal severe mental distress (e.g., extreme states and such)? As much as I would like for this to be so, I do not see the evidence or the basis for your optimism.) As to your point that one has to give therapy enough time to see its benefits, how about the decades that most patients spent at the Chestnut Lodge without getting better?
To repeat myself, I am not against therapy; far from it. I am against overselling it.
“’Our findings indicate that psychological treatment is efficacious and specific…”’
I love how this truism is pronounced as if it is something insightful or revealing.'”
So, no issues with any research that is consistent with your own view or your truth. Such studies and their conclusions merely state the obvious. As in duh.
But, of course, the operative sentence reads in its entirety: “Our findings indicate that psychological treatment is efficacious and specific, but, as in the case for antidepressants, less than the published literature conveys.” The last part you do not like, so that part of the study (its methodology, assumptions, etc.) is not valid.
The conclusion reached by this study strikes me as credible and consistent with the facts on the ground: psychological intervention is helpful, but not to the extent claimed; it is a good thing, but for many, far too many, it will not be enough. Given a choice, most people would rather talk to a therapist than take a pill. The fact that so many do end up on medication cannot be attributed to Big Pharma and mainstream practitioners ALONE. The overwhelming majority of therapists (including those that decry medication use) rely on meds. Clearly, therapy (i.e., talk therapy) has its limits, and overselling it as a panacea does not further the cause of reforming the mental health system, imho.
I know that people have been helped by therapy alone and there have been amazing therapists who were able to connect with troubled souls. Unfortunately, that is more the exception than the norm. Most therapists (including Freudian psychoanalysts) do rely on meds. In making this point I am not extolling meds, merely observing that therapy is not all that is it often claimed to be and claims of therapists and their successes should also be taken with a grain of salt.
In fairness to therapy and its practitioners, it is a very tall order to help someone who is in crisis or deeply troubled when all that a therapist has at his/her disposal is a limited amount of time with the person. The best type of therapy or psychosocial intervention is an integrated society where “it takes a village” is a way of life. Interventions like Open DIalogue and Healing Homes are so promising precisely because they seek to surround a person in crisis with caring and supportive people. Through no fault of the therapist, the therapist cannot give a person the social capital and connection to other people that are indispensable to healing (when I say “indispensable,” I mean indispensable as in necessary; even these vital connections may not suffice). A big part of the answer may lie in building, from the ground up, healing, supportive and welcoming communities that place a premium on human connections.
Corinna, to piggyback on what Peter just said, thank you for sharing your recent experience and using it to educate and help others. It would be wonderful if people could just free themselves off medications once and for all and live happily ever after, but as we all know, that does not always work out that way. Your story is a powerful reminder that stress and trauma is all around us and setbacks or relapses do happen. But as you so eloquently demonstrate, a relapse is merely a detour or a temporary setback; it is not a defeat or failure. A relapse is most certainly not proof that “you needed the meds” or that “your underlying illness is manifesting itself without the meds.” The key is to be aware, in charge, and able to to make informed choices and decisions. Just as you are doing. Thank you again and best wishes for a speedy and complete healing and recovery.
“…plus emailed him with the medical proof that the neuroleptic drugs are known to create both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia.”
please consider reviewing Lieberman’s book (Shrinks) on Amazon.com and counter his propaganda (e.g., Risperdal is a wonderful drug with minimal side effects) with a summary of your research. You need not (and should not) buy his book…you can get through it in a couple of hours at Barnes & Nobel or your library.
This is Liebermanesque…trying to justify and defend the indefensible.
Like news media coverage of street crimes…It is a reportable story only when it happens to those to whom this is not supposed to happen.
“That being said, I hope Mad in America will widen their authorship to include a more measured guidance of holistic healing that doesn’t pivot and try to monetize experience.”
I am hard-pressed to understand how anyone could question, let alone impugn, the motives of the author of Beyond Meds. As someone who has learned and benefited enormously from the information that Monica Cassani has shared about her healing journey, I am unable to discern anything in her work and motivation as anything but a gift of extraordinary generosity and selflessness, using the wrongs done to her and her own experience with healing to help others. I assume you are not familiar with Beyond Meds; otherwise you would know that no one is more emphatic about everyone being different, the fact that something worked for her may not work for others, and that people on this type of path need to become detectives and find what works for them. That is a recurrent theme and mantra of Beyond Meds and I have found it to be true with my loved one whose recovery I am supporting. If the links in the post above constitute a technical violation of MIA’s posting policy, fine, let the editors fix that. (I personally do not mind them, because all this does is help my own research; it does not propel me to buy anything.) To suggest that there is anything untoward about Monica Cassani’s work or motives strikes me as not only as wrong-headed, but indecent in a profound way.