Sunday, May 9, 2021

Comments by GetItRight

Showing 250 of 250 comments.

  • “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.

  • Hi Madmom,
    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.

  • “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.

  • “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.

  • Hello Sera,

    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.

  • “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.

  • Madmom,
    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.

  • “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.

  • Hi Fiachra,
    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.

  • “Prior to medication most longterm hospitalization would probably have been due to discrimination and neglect.”

    Hi Fiachra:

    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).

  • “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.

  • jm,

    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.

  • “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 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.

  • “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.

  • “I’m not familiar with the state of psychiatry at Syracuse or Tufts….”

    Dr. Hickey:

    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.

  • “…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.

  • “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.”

  • “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.

  • Hi Fiachra,

    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.

  • “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.

    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.

  • 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.

    You say:

    “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.”

    Someone Else,

    please consider reviewing Lieberman’s book (Shrinks) on 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.

  • “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.

  • “I think the first order of business is dealing with institutional corruption.”

    Absolutely, and we need to connect the dots to show that mainstream psychiatry is merely the very worst of a bad lot (because of its coercive nature) and that corruption is sadly the norm. Think of the Volkswagen scandal, the GMO hoax, the fact that virtually all members of a panel responsible for formulating cholesterol guidelines had consulting gigs with statin makers. I just read today that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is finally taking aim at certain toxic chemicals in consumer products, over the objection of manufacturers (the “Better Living Through Chemistry” types). I am still waiting for a movement to dislodge the incredible power of the sugar lobby that makes it so difficult to buy food products without added sugar. Or to eliminate gluten as well as all toxic chemicals from our personal care products. Unregulated toxic chemicals and bad food are part of the harmful environment that is a causal factor in behavioral/mental distress. So yes, combating corruption is the first order of business, and it should be tied to the other incidents of corruption, to underscore that it is not just “those people” or “some people,” but all of us.

  • “I don’t think psychiatry is about health so much as it is about social control. Money and power have one more means of assuring their grip over the populace.”

    Right, but mainstream psychiatry continues to be entrenched, despite the fact that it has lost the intellectual battle, because too many have bought the idea that standard treatment relieves the distress of labeled people rather than the fear and discomfort of the larger society. The drug protocol and its demonstrated harm seems like a small price to pay for others to feel safe and comfortable with people labeled as mentally ill. Tragically, this is often the case with their own families (e.g., NAMI), who may be well motivated but are misguided. I continue to believe that the recovery movement, to succeed, must make significant inroads within the NAMI membership; not the leadership that sold out to Big Pharma, but the rank and file who continue to struggle and may be increasingly receptive to our message, having seen the benefit of drugging cocktails.

  • The most effective psychosocial program is a socially integrated society and culture, where people are connected and “It Takes a Village” is a way of life. I believe that is one major reason why the so-called developing countries have better mental health outcomes than we in the west do. The fact that they do not drug distress is clearly a huge factor, but even in countries where drugging is a way of life, social connection makes a big difference. It was reported (on MIA) that psychiatric hospitalizations went way down during the Christchurch, NZ earthquake a few years ago, showing that wonderful things can happen when people come together. When people in distress or in altered states, are embraced, accepted and understood — not shunned, feared, excluded and pathologized — when that attitude and outlook becomes second nature, as individuals and society, opportunistic psychiatry will lose its power. As it stands, many suffer in silence and, upon recovery, are often (understandably) not eager to subject themselves to the stigma and rejection that continues to haunt those with mental illness labels and their families.

  • “The FDA is not the friend of the American people.” Indeed. The profit motive and the attendant corruption — not burning your bridges to lucrative industry employment post government service — works within the government as well as in the private sector.

    One has to go way back to find an FDA official who exemplified the necessary integrity, courage, brilliance and highest motivation to act for the public good in the execution of his/her responsibilities as an FDA official. That would be Dr. Frances Kelsey, who passed away last month, and who is largely responsible for the U.S. bypassing the Thalidomide catastrophe. As The Washington Post put it, “[the] tragedy was largely averted in the United States, with much credit due to Kelsey. … For a critical 19-month period, she fastidiously blocked its (Thalidomide’s) approval while drug company officials maligned her as a bureaucratic nitpicker.”

    One can only imagine the pressure that was brought to bear on this young doctor. At that time, the notion that drugs cross the placenta barrier was an unproven theory. But Dr. Kelsey took seriously the possibility of risk to the developing child, continued to demand more information from the company and held off approval long enough for the catastrophic effects of Thalidomide to manifest themselves. Once they did, non-approval by the FDA was a no-brainer. For the FDA to to cloak itself in her legacy as the “gold standard” government agency because of Thalidomide is false. It was Dr. Kelsey and her (sadly) unique set of attributes that averted the tragedy. Thank you, Dr. Kelsey, and RIP.

  • The “key opinion leaders” or those who prostitute themselves for Big Pharma are unquestionably sociopaths. The run-of-the-mill psychiatrist strike me as mostly dumb; having no clue of what they are doing to people and what causes people to suffer. Also, let’s not overlook the professional and legal risks faced by the minority of psychiatrists who are open-minded, respectful, non-coercive and smart enough to ask the right questions. At least in the U.S., where the legal system judges doctors not on the basis of science, but based on what the majority does, the smarter and braver types are putting themselves at legal and professional risk. Independence of thought and moral courage, which is what it takes to defy the norm, has always been in short supply.

  • Criminal is the right word. Words like “surreal” or “Kafkaesque” do not adequately capture the horror that mainstream treatment allows the poisoning of babies in utero. It is becoming increasingly obvious that our health and well-being (and those of our children) depend on adopting a posture of total distrust toward allopathic medicine (especially mainstream psychiatry); doing our research, and seeking out and supporting alternative providers who think outside the box — or, for that matter, who think — and who seek to heal people rather than peddle drugs.

  • Better Life:

    in his book, The Grain Brain (which I strongly recommend), David Pearlmutter, M.D. elucidates the connection between statins and depression….statins promote it by lowering cholesterol. It has been known for some time that the low fat (meaning, high carbohydrate) diet is the reason for the explosion of obesity and diabetes. Studies increasingly show low fat diets and the obsession with lowering our cholesterol levels are implicated in depression. We need a diet high in good fats (e.g., olive oil, coconut oil, butter made from milk produced by grass-fed cows) for our mental health. Our first food as infants is or should be mother’s milk which is mostly fat and babies do very well on it. Statins are awful; in addition to the side effects experienced by your Dad (discussed by Pearlmutter in his book), statins cause diabetes.

  • Oldhead, I don’t want to go too far afield with politics. The only reason I posted my comment is because of the reference to unbridled capitalism in the article, and the fact that the issue comes up from time to time on MIA. You know, the idea that to fix psychiatry we need to abolish capitalism. No one ever says what we would replace it with (central planning? government dictates?), or how this would lead to excellence in mental health care. Or, for that matter, who would produce the stuff that we rely on the market economy to produce. Overthrowing capitalism makes no more sense than doing away with democracy when it allowed awful things like slavery.. I do not like what is done by the likes of Big Pharma and Monsanto, and would rather focus on making them accountable instead of trying to become the next North Korea. As it stands, the only people who have a shot at good care are those who have the choice and the means to select what they want. I would like everyone to have those options.

  • ERIC, I, too, am very sorry for what you have endured, a vivid reminder, if one was needed, of the danger of speaking out and the likelihood of retaliation against anyone who challenges the prevailing “treatment” paradigm. As brave and honest as that is, I am not sure it is the best way to go while one is in their clutches.

    KELLY, you are the hope of psychiatry. May you be an inspiration to other young psychiatrists who actually want to help patients instead of serving as Big Pharma’s distribution channel.

    As for your reference to “unbridled capitalism,” well, sure, the problem with capitalism is capitalists who behave badly in the pursuit of profits. But that’s what capitalists do. It is the government, at least in theory, that should be the steward of the public interest, to ensure that the game (the workings of the free market, competition) is played fairly and honestly, that what is promoted as treatment is backed up by honest science, that the public is given complete and truthful information about all treatment options. Is the government fulfilling its responsibility to the public rather than serving powerful special interests (such as, Big Pharma that wants to sell its poisons, or the NRA that needs a convenient scapegoat to deflect a debate on gun violence)? It is, after all, a government agency (the FDA) that refuses to ban the drugging of children, a nightmare scenario if there ever was one. It is the government (the U.S. Congress) that allows direct consumer advertising by Big Pharma, effectively ensuring the industry’s monopoly on the dissemination of information. Big Pharma’s ubiquitous and relentless peddling of its offerings is not only annoying in the extreme, it pretty much ensures that mainstream media (mindful of the untold advertising dollars at stake) will continue their self-imposed blackout on covering psychiatry honestly, making it that much harder for the truth to get out. (Not impossible, in the age of the Internet, but much harder.) It is the government that facilitates the worst aspects of psychiatry: — the coercion. That would be the legislators who enact the euphemistically misnamed assisted outpatient treatment laws, and the clueless judiciary that enforces them. Remember the Justina Pelletier story. The psychiatrists were clearly the villains there, but they could not have done what they did without the enforcement machinery of state government. And is it not possible (or, actually, likely) that deep down, the government might like the option of drugging people as a means of social control? Today, it might be people with mental illness labels; tomorrow it could be anyone who thinks and speaks out. We are all at risk.

    Who checks on or polices the regulator or, for that matter, on corporations? I believe there is only 1 answer: we the people; people who are informed. We are from from having the critical mass of support that was necessary to put an end to tobacco company advertising and bring about a settlement with the tobacco companies. I believe that we have to keep working at this, educating people, one by one. I salute you for doing all that you do, to build awareness of the harm posed by mainstream psychiatric treatment, to show that non-drug treatment options work and to grow the critical mass of knowledge and resolve.

  • I am with you on this, Madmom. All abuse involves trauma, but not all trauma involves abuse. This distinction bears repeating to underscore that injury to the psyche need not involve sadism or malicious abuse. I believe that most parents are not monsters or sadists, want to do right by their children, and will welcome and benefit from better understanding of the importance of good nurturing and bonding, especially if they themselves are products of dysfunctional upbringing and/or are raising a child who is more sensitive than resilient. Predisposition is the other factor to consider (yes, I know the idea that some people may be more vulnerable to breaking is not universally popular on MIA). I myself believe that some people are more sensitive and others are more resilient and that, to me, means simply that the more sensitive child (the orchid child) may need much more in the way of nurture and support than the more resilient (dandelion) child. I would not like to see a replay of Bettelheim’s indictment of the “refrigerator mother” based on nothing more than the child’s condition. I consider the Bettelheim saga with autism to be one of psychiatry’s many embarrassments, with an enduring bad legacy: the backlash led many parents to seek support at NAMI, with disastrous consequences, and made the focus on early childhood development and the importance of nurture irrelevant, if not downright controversial.

  • “In prescribed dosages there is no evidence to show that stimulant medication his harmful or addictive.”

    Thanks for the reassurance, but I would rather take Breggin’s word for this. Or Grace Jackson’s or any of the other principled psychiatrists who are blowing the whistle on psychiatric medications. Stimulants are not only damaging to the developing brain, they are a major factor in the bogus pediatric bipolar epidemic that is littering the landscape, and that leads to more drugging and destruction of young lives.

  • Hi Fiachra,

    if you are referring to ADHD as a DSM “diagnosis,” sure, it’s rubbish but the same can be said of any psychiatric label in DSM. The symptoms of ADHD (a better word to use might be brain fog) are quite real. As to why there are more symptoms today than there were 50 years, consider some of the environmental factors that have changed during the last 50 years, at least here in the U.S., where the “diagnosis” or overdiagnosis is more rampant:

    **the radically diminished nutrient content of our food (fruits and vegetables) and poor diets that promote inflammation (i.e., diets based on gluten, sugar and grains);
    **increased exposure to all sorts of toxins and pesticides (e.g., in the U.S., our personal care products contain many more toxic ingredients than what is allowed in Europe);
    **overuse of antibiotics.
    The irresponsible growth of modern technology may also turn out to be a factor.

    Is the condition overdiagnosed? Of course. Should drugs be the treatment? Absolutely not, especially for children. But it is important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater by denying the symptoms (inability to focus or retain things; poor memory; poor organization etc.) which are real and amenable to non-drug interventions, such as supplementation with nutrients (vitamins/minerals) and probiotics; and dietary changes…gluten-free, sugar-free, anti-Candida).

  • Hello Fred,

    I have not heard of any ADHD stats on the Amish community, but I have read that the Amish experience no autism. They do have their share of anxiety, suggesting that even optimal parenting (if that is an attribute of their way of life) and a wholesome, close-to-nature lifestyle may not be fully protective against psychiatric conditions. I do not know the vaccination practices of the Amish, but an interesting theory for the absence of autism in their community is the lack of technology (e.g., no electromagnetic pollution).

  • Hello Dr. Berezin,

    I love this post; one of my all-time favorites. My questions, comments and some nitpicking are as follows.

    (1) Not all trauma is malicious — e.g., parental death suffered by a young child — and I assume that you do not mean to suggest otherwise. Also, what about evidence that trauma can be transmitted to future generations through altered gene expression?
    (2) I believe it is important to emphasize that trauma is broader than abuse; it can also mean the lack of healthy and warm nurturing from a parent who is stressed, overwhelmed and out of tune with the child, no? The focus on abuse makes people defensive (“I was not an abuser”) and more likely to discount the importance of early childhood development and nurturing.
    (3) Not all trauma is interpersonal. Trauma can also be physical and the most obvious example is the effect of psychiatric drugs (the effect of the drugs themselves, in addition to the emotional or interpersonal trauma of being violated through coercive drugging), and psychiatric drug withdrawal. Conditions such as dissociation and psychosis are common symptoms of drug withdrawal.. Aside from extreme states, why is it that interventions such as diet (e.g., a diet to eliminate Candida) can be so effective in alleviating brain fog (probably a better term to use than ADHD)? Why is it that things like fish oil and vitamin D are helpful, possibly by making people more resilient and better able to withstand the trauma that life and people inevitably bring?
    (4) What do you say to those who maintain that talk therapy is not the recommended first-line treatment for traumatized people and who advocate body-based interventions such as EMDR, at least initially?
    (5) One of your sentences does not read right to me; i.e., “Sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, extreme violence, and the absence of warmth, tenderness and caring ought to be a safe harbor for our attachments.” Did you mean to say that it is the warmth, tenderness, etc. and absence of sexual abuse, physical abuse, etc. that ought to be a safe harbor for attachments?

    You sound like an amazing therapist and I wish that great therapy were more readily available. What gives me pause and where I disagree is the notion of “this is it, the whole story, the whole truth; this is all there is.”

  • AA,

    the most recent NYT Sunday book review section had an example of what you are referring to. A review of the book “A Black Man in a White Coat” (about racism in medicine) tells of am African American man who came to the hospital with chest pains. The treating physician (presumably, a cardiologist) prescribed blood pressure medication that the patient declined to take, preferring to address his blood pressure with diet and lifestyle changes. Thereupon the doctor gratuitously labeled him with OCD and put that in his record. This awful anecdote suggests racist condescension on the part of the doctor, which it well may have been, and that would be reprehensible in the extreme.. But it is also a stark reminder that everyone is vulnerable to being psychiatrized, with or without symptoms or psychiatrists.

  • Hello Bonnie, I am late with this but I have 1 suggestion for the movement as a whole…to ally itself with similar causes. I am currently reading Steven Druker’s book “Altered Genes, Twisted Truth,” the GMO story or “How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government and Systematically Deceived the Public.” The themes are eerily similar, actually identical, to those in Robert Whitaker’s most recent book that he co-authored with Lisa Cosgrove: corruption of science with the active participation of mainstream scientists; the government’s (FDA’s) betrayal of its obligation to be a steward of the public interest; the news’ media’s abdication of its duty to inform the public, and the resulting deception of the public and detriment to public health. Environmental illnesses, such as multiple chemical sensitivity, are on the rise, thanks to the chemicals that are allowed to be in all kinds of products, including personal care products. Some of those people have been disbelieved and psychiatrized; we should make common cause with them. I would also look into the telecom industry (e.g., the impact of EMF pollution, the connection between brain cancer and cell phones) and the food industry’s sugar lobby. There is strength in numbers and showing that the harm done by psychiatry is part of a broader trend could be effective. On an individual level, I have found that people (NAMI parents, skeptical doctors) will listen and take note if you can point to a success story and show that non-drug alternatives work.

  • “I will never forget how he smiled very patronizingly, waved his hand dismissively over the collection of materials and said, “I’ve seen all this before”. He was so smug in dismissing me. ”

    What malevolent condescension! The best way to cure this guy and others like him is to make sure that he has no patients. Easier said than done, I know, but that should be the goal.

  • Hello Joe:

    depression is often a natural response to what life and people dish out. If you have endured grief, loss or other trauma, or have scars from childhood, and do not have friends or family to help you through this, please look into appropriate support group(s) as a source of interpersonal, psychosocial support and perhaps new friendships. You may also want to reach out to the individual authors on this site to see if they have specific recommendations for a therapist in your area. Also, if trauma is a factor in your life, Bessel van der Kalk’s book The Body Keeps the Score is great.

    But I do not believe that depression is invariably situational, or always a response to adverse life experience. There are people who suffer from depression even when their circumstances are favorable, and all kinds of physical/environmental factors or causes have been implicated in depression, including low fat diet, low cholesterol, poor gut health, nutrient deficiencies or overloads. To get a handle on those, you would need to become a researcher and a detective/sleuth. The books and blogs that I recommend are:

    (1) The Grain Brain, by David Pearlmutter, M.D.;
    (2) The Brain Maker, also by Pearlmutter,
    (3) Nutrient Power by William Walsh, PhD,
    (4) Earthing, by Stephen Sinatra, M.D. et al.;
    (5) Monica Cassani’s blog Beyond Meds, and.
    (6) Joseph Cohen’s blog, Unhacked.

    Good for you for eschewing drugs. All the best to you.

  • ” I’ve been pretty much run out of the place by the more polarized among members. As nearly as I can tell, my “error” has been in daring to suggest that it’s unrealistic and self-defeating to expect psychiatry to wither away — and irresponsible to propose that it be forced to do so — without offering verifiable and reliable alternative means for assisting people…”

    Hi Richard:

    I am sorry to hear this, but not surprised. I agree with you. It is not enough to curse darkness (what passes for mainstream, coercive psychiatry); we must like candles (show alternative recovery model(s) that are validated, verifiable, and reproducible. Exposing what is wrong with mainstream psychiatry is indispensable, but not sufficient. Please do not give up on the MIA site; your voice is needed.

  • ” However, one could make anti-psychotics restricted drugs that only psychiatrists can prescribe, and then have clear indications, with the necessity of two psychiatric opinions before prescribing psychiatric medication to children.”

    No, no and no. And I would oppose this prescription even if you required 1,000 psychiatrists to certify that neuroleptics (or any other psychotropics) are necessary or appropriate for a minor.

    As for your statement that “(B)ehaviour problems in children should always be seen in a family and social context, that’s a big part of it, for sure, but so are other environmental and epigenetic factors, such as toxins (polluted air and water, chlorine, fluoride, mold, heavy metals, etc.), pesticides, nutrient deficiencies or overloads, poor diet (processed carbohydrates, gluten, transfats), poor gut health, social stress, bullying and discrimination.

  • Maninthemoon,

    you do not seem to appreciate that we have a wholesale epidemic of mental illness thanks largely to drug-based treatment. Children who are shy are labeled with social anxiety and drugged, with bad results. The bogus epidemic of childhood bipolar illness (that never used to exist until Big Pharma started focusing on children) is driven to a great extent by giving children antidepressants and stimulants. Once the child is labeled as bipolar, he/she gets the full toxic cocktail treatment. Yes, children have learning and behavior issues that are manageable and treatable with therapy, nutrients, diet and other non-drug approaches. What can be a manageable problem becomes a chronic serious illness thanks to drugs. But take heart; you are not the only one to miss this. The majority of psychiatrists cannot conceive that a very disturbed person got that way because of “treatment.” Yes, mental illness did exist before drugs, but there was much less of it, and recovery rates were higher.

  • This also goes for industry shills like Quackwatch and such. It is not hard to rent a bunch of doctors who give themselves respectable-sounding names like “Doctors for Responsible Medicine,” and then seek to to discredit every alternative voice. I love your idea of certifying all such organizations.

  • Hi Madmom,

    Of course I want to help. Your daughter and family will need lots and lots of support. I will e-mail you.

    One thing that you said really concerns me: “It is exhausting to protect a young adult who goes gets their freedom and goes cold turkey off his/her neuroleptics.” I hope and pray this is not the plan because stopping meds cold turkey is virtually certain to end badly…more of the dreaded mental health system, perhaps the legal system, and more meds. Even a slow taper carries lots of risk (by the way, Breggin’s formula of 10% of the then current dose every 2 weeks is way too fast for anyone who has taken these meds for more than a couple of months). Alto Strata’s website is an excellent resource for withdrawal issues, and her (very wise) counsel is to go very, very, very slow.

    Locking up your daughter, even if the intent is to protect her from the “mental health system” would not be the answer. You daughter would not like a home prison any more than she likes her current prison, regardless of the different motivations. She needs to be able to go outside. She needs the sun, fresh air, nature, earthing. So it is imperative that she maintain good functioning and not attract the wrong kind of attention of busybodies, police, the mental health system, etc.

    Your daughter will need great therapy and support to rebuild her trust in people. Family therapy can be a very good option when she is accessible and ready. She will need a good diet (organic, grass-fed, free-range gluten free, grain free, sugar free), nutrients and probiotics. (Yes, all that is expensive and I wish I had a solution for everyone..) Everything matters to mental health. For us, the breakthrough came from nutrients. You will need to become a detective and a sleuth who never stops searching. Some things are blindingly obvious (unconditional love, nurture, the human connection), others less so. Would you ever think that earthing, walking around barefoot on ground or grass (not sprayed with chemicals), is healing? (In the winter, in cold climates, you need earthing sheets and mats.) Earthing is healing. It is anti-inflammatory, calming and sleep-promoting; everyone should do it, but it is especially helpful to people trying to free themselves from psych drugs. Don’t forget gut health. Energy work can also be effective. But you need to be very careful. Not everyone who is anti meds is intelligent, capable or well-motivated. There are charlatans out there, ready to prey on vulnerable people.

    About NAMI. I draw a distinction between the organization, which is a big part of the problem and the desperate families who go there for support because there is no other viable source of support. Not everyone will be persuaded. For some parents, it will be difficult to face up to the fact that they made a terrible mistake in trusting the system and allowing their children to be medicated, often over their objections. Others will be able to face up to this and will be open to non-drug approaches, particularly as (1) they see their children disabled, rather than healed, by drugs, and (2) we can show them that recovery without drugs is possible.. I do like your idea of countering their messaging by downloading MFI materials; I will do just that.

    About contacting your state’s governor; you know better than I the potential downside (retaliation by the system). Ideally, your words, which are powerful, will reach the governor herself and she will turn out to be one of the relatively rare people who are smart enough to ask question, are able and willing to learn, and manage to do the right thing. I am jaded enough to be amazed when people do the right thing (because it is so rare), so I do not know if this is the right approach. It is a tough call, especially if your daughter is not able to weigh in; is she? If you decide to so this, be sure to include some back-up to document that ham that is being done here: e.g., Thomas Insel’s declaration that the DSM lacks scientific validity (so what is the justification for force-feeding people brain-destroying neurotoxins?); Grace Jackson’s and Robert Whitaker’s affidavits (I think they are available from MFI); information about the Harrow and Wunderink studies.

    All the best to your family and especially your daughter. I I will be in touch.

  • Madmom, you are an amazing, extraordinary mom, and your brave and beautiful daughter is lucky to have your love, strength and courage. What will it take to rescue your daughter from the psychiatric hellhole and bring her back to her family? You are a powerful, eloquent voice for your daughter (and every young person in the clutches of psychiatry), and I imagine that if you were to send your post to the Governor of Oregon, it might get someone’s attention. But I have also heard of the system retaliating against those imprisoned by psychiatry, to “punish” their parents’ activism and outspokeness. What can the rest of us do to support your your family and your daughter’s rescue?

  • Sera, I agree with you and do not believe (and was not implying) that you were disparaging the rank and file NAMI members. I would go further…I would engage NAMI members, one at a time, and encourage them not to make NAMI their sole source of information. I have found that when I tell people “here is what is working for us” and recommend books to read, they sit up and take note (and notes). As more people recognize that the drug-based treatment did not deliver what it had promised and became, instead, a path to disability, more people will be receptive to the message that there is something better out there.

  • “I think the most powerful way to silence Pete Earley would be for his son Kevin to vehemently and publicly reject his dad’s pro-force psychiatry campaigning and quit the “treatment plans” that his dad has been “encouraging” him to remain compliant with. ”

    I hope you do not mean that Earley’s son should just stop his meds cold turkey. Were that to happen, he would likely suffer a severe withdrawal reaction, which would be taken by most psychiatrists, as well as the lay public, as proof that he needed the drugs. It would be a score for NAMI/Lieberman/Torrey and company.

    Everyone deserves a chance to be free of meds, but let’s not forget that withdrawal is difficult, fraught with risk, and should not be undertaken without lots of research, planning, preparation and support. A withdrawal that goes badly is not only a personal setback, it is exploitable by the pro-drug forces.

  • Hello Sera:

    I believe that we should distinguish between NAMI (the organization and its leadership) who are Big Pharma’s lap dogs, and individual members who are desperate, looking for answers in the wrong place but who are also potentially educable and persuadable. Not everyone is educable/persuadable, but some will be. They key is that it is not enough to curse darkness (the coercive, drug-based paradigm), but to light some candles…show non-drug alternatives that work.

  • “Good nutrition, fish oil, supplements: they all cost money.

    Some people don’t have the cash for decent food; fruits/veggies/protein is very expensive if you’re living on the margins.”

    You are absolutely right, of course. I imagine this is equally true of decent therapy. It is a tragedy and a travesty that good healing options are not available to everyone and I wish I had a ready answer for that. But if we get closer to a point where there is general recognition that nutrients, etc. beat drugs, then it becomes even more clear and obvious to the society at large that there is a two-track system of mental health treatment: one for the haves and one for the have-nots and that might stir public revulsion as the idea that poor children are drugged and wealthier children get better with nutrients and therapy. At least, I hope so.

  • “The problem with this thinking..?” What thinking would that be? And what would lead you to believe that I favor chemical lobotomy (i.e., drugs)? To say that nutrient therapy has been very helpful to many people is not an argument against psychosocial intervention. I believe that EVERYTHING matters and that no good healing option should be taken off the table. The evidence is all around us that nutrients and probiotics matter, a lot. Why anyone should oppose this type of intervention, in an attempt to eliminate or at least minimize drugs, is beyond me. Note a recent MIA post on the study that shows that Omega 3 fish oil supplementation is helpful in preventing vulnerable people from sliding into full-blown psychosis. The silence of the MIA commentariat was deafening. Isn’t this ultimately about healing and fortifying people in every way possible?

  • Well, I said as much, specifically noting my agreement with the statement.that psych meds do mess up one’s brain, even though such a statement/supposition/hypothesis/whatever cannot be validated by measurement. It is just an assumption, not different from the supposition that neurotransmitters can go awry when one is lacking in key nutrients. We are not born with a lifetime supply of neurotransmitters; we continually manufacture them from raw supplies (vitamins, minerals, amino acids). If there is a nutrient deficiency (which can be validated, at least in some instances, why is it inconceivable that neurotransmitters will be messed up as a result?

  • “Unfortunately, ignoring or misstating key facts can be a very effective and productive tactic, however immoral or amoral it may be. ”

    I would keep Machiavelli out of this. But if you absolutely must try to make his cynicism relevant here, The Prince is the wrong text. The Prince is a discourse on maintaining power that one already has. When it is a question of building a new structure (state, power, edifice), Machiavelli’s counsel is very different, diametrically opposed to what he advocates in The Prince.. Check out the History of Florence.

    The antipsychiatry reform movement, which is still far away from mainstream acceptance (it lacks power), will not get anywhere if it tries to fight corruption with its own dirty tactics. To succeed, the reform movement has only honesty, science and the high moral ground to rely on.

  • “…the emphasis is on providing optimal emotional regulation through attentive, responsive and nurturing care from primary caregivers. Most parents want to do right by their kids. They just don’t always have the necessary skills. This is where education comes in as well as the acknowledgement that it “takes a village”. We will not raise healthy children if we do not invest in their care.”


    I could not agree more.

  • “The free market is not working well with the drug companies, since they use their relative freedom to profit, using lies and distortions to hide the damage their mostly ineffective treatments do to client.”

    And who enables this profiteering and corruption? We might start with our legislators who have allowed direct consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals. Why did they do this? Hint: it is not a First Amendment issue (the First Amendment was not a barrier to the banning of cigarette advertising). Big Pharma’s ubiquitous and relentless promotion of its wares makes it very difficult to get out the true story, because the mainstream news media, even the so-called investigative reporters, will not touch the ssue for fear of losing their advertising revenue. The self-imposed news black-out means that it is that much harder for the public to become informed. Government regulation to the rescue? By the very people who have allowed the status quo and who now propose to gift us with Murphy’s Bill? Who promulgated guidelines (e.g., low fat diet) that turned out to be wrong? The FDA is OK with the drugging of children; some regulator. You also overlook the fact that, deep down, the government might like the option of drugging people as a means of social control. The late, unlamented Soviet Union did it to dissidents who spoke truth to power. I am not naive enough to suppose that this could not happen here….you think our elected officials would like to be held accountable by people who think for themselves and are not easily manipulated?

    Who regulates or checks on the regulator? Ultimately, there is only one answer. It should be “we the people.” The Nestle boycott a while ago (triggered by outrage at the multinational company’s methods of marketing infant formula in Africa) showed that the market power of informed consumers can make a difference. But if too many of us are clueless, indifferent, callous, or afraid to speak out, well, that gives Big Pharma the opportunity to “influence” policy. I would rather rely on my freedom to try to educate people, one at a time. I take some comfort from the fact that consumer sentiment and momentum are shifting away from allopathic (pill-pushing) medicine. Although mental health presents its own special challenges, I see a lot overlap between mental and physical conditions (e.g., inflammation, gut problems) and healthy healing options (diet, exercise, nutrients, earthing) help both.

  • ” I have my biases and of course I use them against certain viewpoints that I don’t like; it’s good to be honest with oneself about that. It is adaptive, up to a point, to deceive oneself or color reality in this way, because it protects one against disturbing awarenesses. It’s a matter of degree and context, but everyone does it.”

    Everyone does not do this; even if many do. Being a straight shooter is its own reward and it is particularly critical when the other side (e.g., Lieberman & co.) is still winning the p.r. war. It is astonishing to me that anyone would think that shading the results of studies, substituting one’s judgment for what is known, misstating or ignoring key facts, etc. is an effective tactic. It is not. It is counterproductive. At some point, the conversation needs to move beyond MIA. How will you ever convince the larger society (those who are educable and persuadable) if you cannot convince someone like me, who already hates Big Pharma, has no use for mainstream psychiatry and believes that trauma is foundational to mental suffering? If the facts on the ground do not line up with your biases, it is time to re-assess your worldview.

  • “…more regulation within healthcare, especially mental health care, would be good.”

    No, it would not. More free choice and opportunity to select the care one desires would be good. As it stands, only those with resources can arrange for optimal care (holistic, nutritionally based, therapeutic). I would voucherize the system so that everyone, homeless vets, foster children, wards of the state, everyone, can choose the provider and the care.

  • Margie,

    this is heartbreaking. I am hoping that your attempts to get the mainstream press to report on stories such as Mickey’s will help. The New York Times strike me as not too bad when it comes to reporting on mental health issues (it is all relative, I know) so I hope you can get them interested. Bless you for what you are doing. What do you suggest the rest of us can do to get the larger society interested? I am afraid of sparking the wrong knee-jerk response, as in “we need more ‘treatment,” knowing what that entails.

  • “For this reason I do not see a person who stays with a parent or parents as something negative.”

    Corey, you make a very good point (lots of good points, actually. You are smart, insightful and articulate. Please do not give up. All the best to you.

  • “…on a low or no medication approach…”

    Can you provide some specifics? What would constitute a low medication dosage? How many people were successfully treated without medication? Over what period of time? I am aware of the 388 program (it is in Quebec City) and I am confident that they are not overdoing it with meds. And I do have some admiration for a discipline (psychoanalysis) that tries to heal a suffering person by treating him/her as a human being (not a diseased organ) and trying to understand what brought him/her to that point. Especially when one considers the brutality, cruelty and barbarity that mainstream psychiatry inflicted on people unfortunate enough to come into its clutch.

    But is psychoanalysis effective for psychosis? Freud did not think so. And in 1984, Thomas McGlashan, a Chestnut Lodge psychiatrist, published a follow-up study of Chestnut Lodge patients who had been treated there. Here is what he said: “The data are in. The experiment failed.”

    Relying on medication does not necessarily make one a bad psychiatrist, especially if the psychiatrist provides (hopefully, good) therapy and minimizes the meds. But it raises more questions than it answers. How do we know, really know, that the patient’s improvement is due to the therapy? Who decides what constitutes a “minimal dose?” You may be willing to take the psychiatrist’s word for it (that the improvement is due to solely to the therapy and that medication was the last resort), but I would not. Not until I knew what else the doctor did to avoid reliance on meds. Nutrient therapy is a great alternative to medications; it is complementary to therapy, including talk therapy. So how can anyone justify not trying a nutrient protocol before prescribing even a minimal dose of neurotoxins?

  • A very good book on delusions is “Suspicious Minds (How Culture Shapes Madness” by Joel Gold and Ian Gold.” Highly readable and engaging, it does an effective job of deconstructing the purely biological “blame the brain” theory of psychosis by detailing the environmental influences on mental illness (child abuse, immigrant status, city dwelling, social victimization such as bullying, discrimination). At the same time, the authors do not ignore evidence that biology plays a role, perhaps through predisposition. Most refreshingly (to me) is their admission of what we do not know —” we still don’t have anything like a theory of mental illness that is good enough even to be wrong.”

  • Bonnie, your post was very hard to read, but necessary. Thank you. How hard would it be to get a mainstream media outlet to publish your tribute to Sue and documentation that torture happens to nice and civilized Canada? Am I wrong in assuming that, when it comes to ECT, Big Pharma interests are less likely to interfere with the dissemination of information about barbaric psychiatric practices?

  • I find NYT’s health reporting to be the least bad of the mainstream media. They recently ran a withdrawal diary of a woman struggling to free herself from psych drugs; a few years ago there was Marcia Angell’s report on the state of psychiatry that actually discussed the work of Robert Whitaker. A while back they ran a column by T. Luhrmann that enraged Dr. Lieberman. Compare the NYT to the Wall Street Journal which regularly trots out Fuller “Drug ‘Em Torrey” as its resident expert on mental health and proper treatment. Given the low bar set by consistently subpar mental health reporting across the board, I believe the NYT shines, comparatively speaking, of course.

  • If anything, black-box warnings should be strengthened to inform patients, parents and prescribing doctors that antidepressants may trigger mood swings or rage attacks that will be mischaracterized as juvenile bipolar illness, to be treated with neurotoxic cocktails that will destroy a young life in slow motion. These drugs should be banned for minors outright, but that is not likely to happen in the current state of affairs.

  • “It is of interest that the court makes an exception regarding ‘mens rea’, guilty mind, for drunk driving. It doesn’t allow an insanity plea. There is more of an absence of ‘guilty mind’ in a drunk driving death than there is in the delusions of James Holmes. ”

    Dr. Berezin:

    I agree with your basic point that “guilty by reason of insanity” makes more sense than pronouncing people “not guilty by reason of insanity.” That is already happening as a matter of practice because juries hate the insanity defense and an insanity plea increasingly stands no chance of carrying the day and allowing someone to beat the rap.

    But I do not see the handling of drunk driving cases as an exception to the requirement of mens rea. And I do not agree that a death caused by a drunk driver involves less mens rea than a death caused or triggered by the delusions of psychosis.

    The harm caused by drunk driving invariably results from an individual’s voluntary, conscious, knowing decision to drink and drive, with predictable consequences of risk to others. That is primarily why an insanity plea by someone who chooses to become intoxicated and dangerous would be a non-starter. An interesting variant of this scenario would be a crime committed by someone who became homicidal solely as a result of the ingestion of psychiatric drugs. Should the system hold a person criminally liable if the evidence conclusively shows that the crime would not have been committed but for the psychiatric drugs? I am not saying that criminal liability should play no role here; I just do not think it should be the person who placed his/her trust in the wrong place.

  • “It is important to find allies outside our “comfort zone.” We will have to extend our network and invite people who have experiences other than “mental health” issues. People who know something else about being human, and human beings, and human life conditions.”


    I wholeheartedly agree! The cause of excellence in mental health care will be better served if the movement allies itself with others. One example: a growing number of people (at least here, in the U.S.) have become chronically ill due to multiple chemical sensitivities and EMF (electromagnetic field) sensitivity. These are environmental illnesses caused by bad or even unconscionable industry practices. Some of the sufferers have been victimized by psychiatry when their conditions were not recognized for what they were and we should make common cause with them. Ditto for the non-GMO movement, especially, as we learn how much diet matters to mental health and the risks of genetic tampering with our food sources. Again, this may be less of an issue in Europe, but it is a major problem here.

    Lastly, I would also like to take this opportunity to tell you how much I admire what you have done.. The same goes for the wonderful people who opened their hearts and (healing) homes to fellow human beings in distress.

  • “To me, it seems self-evident, that a person who habitually rages hasn’t acquired the habit of controlling his/her temper.”

    I used to think that people who exhibit this type of behavior are simply ill-mannered jerks who lacked proper upbringing and that can and often is the problem. Psychoactive drugs also trigger all sorts of aggressive behavior. But there is more to it ..the evidence increasingly shows that far too many people suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Please look into pyrolurea, easily treatable with nutrients.

  • Someone Else,

    thank you for your comments. Just one bit of clarification: I did not intend my comment as a criticism (constructive or not) of anything you had previously said. I have read your various comments decrying corruption at the various levels of society (shrinks, pastors, bankers) and I agree with you. I was just focusing on the fact that abusers or exploiters will not stop just because it is the right thing to do; it is up to the rest of us to make them stop. I see the momentum toward alternative therapies as a very promising trend. When people realize that pill pushing medicine is not to be trusted in general, they will, hopefully, come to the same conclusion when it comes to psychiatry. Psychiatry is a more difficult nut to crack for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that psychiatry is not there to help the suffering patient; it is there to make the rest of society feel safe and comfortable. We just have to keep trying, changing minds one at a time!

  • Flimjannery;

    if you look at sites such as, which sells glasses that block blue light and promote sleep if the glasses are worn during the evening hours, you will see that the concept and its benefits are becoming well-known. If your potential customers are facilities, rather than individual consumers, I think that may complicate the situation.
    Are these facilities that promote drugging? If that is the case, I do not see how your product would make that much difference in helping people. Plus, given the importance of Vitamin D in mental health, being indoors 24/7 is not optimal, just the opposite. But I believe what you are trying to do has promise and potential and wonder why you are not seeking to make your product available to consumers, to be used in homes? I believe that already sells LED bulbs that block blue lights (to be used in the evening). I also hope that your LED lighting does not rely on transformers, to obviate the dirty electricity/EMF problems.

  • Someone Else,
    I agree with virtually everything you say, except that instead of saying “But the medical industry needs to …” or “…this needs to end NOW,” I say “Let’s make them stop.” We, as medical consumers, have the power if we make it our business to educate ourselves and act on it. This is already happening, as shown by the increasing interest in alternative practitioners. Allopathic (pill-pushing, industry-sponsored) medicine will not stop of its own volition (why would they?); only we can make them stop. I do not see mainstream psychiatry as totally unique, just the very worst of an increasingly bad lot. There is harm and corruption being done in general medicine, pretty much for the same reasons as in psychiatry: key opinion leaders prostitute themselves for Big Pharma, and the majority of doctors in the trenches are clueless and do not know any better. Is it a big shock that 8 out of 9 members of a panel responsible for formulating cholesterol standards had consulting gigs for statin makers? What makes psychiatry worse, of course, is the coercion and the complete and total absence of any objective metrix supporting the drugging.

    But instead of saying “this must stop,” let’s make them stop. Educate ourselves and others, including those doctors who are willing to be educated. Who else can we rely on? Not the industry and not the government. By allowing drugs to be advertised directly to the consumer, out elected representatives virtually guaranteed that no mainstream news media will expose the harm (who will say “no” to all that advertising revenue?). Good people are doing important work and making healing discoveries as we speak. As medical consumers, instead of blind trust in the doctors and their prescription pads, we need to become medical detectives and sleuths.

  • “For at least the past five decades, psychiatric research has been preoccupied with discovering the biomarkers for the various “mental illnesses” listed in the DSM. Despite the highly motivated nature of this research, the quest has been a dismal failure.”

    Is anyone surprised? Since the DSM and its labeling protocol is an artificial construct, voted into existence by people with perverse and questionable motives, why should anyone expect the human genome to oblige and produce a genetic marker for ADHD or anything else, for that matter? And without a doubt, the mission of mainstream psychiatry is to pathologize every normal human trait or feeling. What used to be called shyness is now social anxiety; grief over the loss of a loved one is no longer viewed as a normal response to a loss but a condition warranting drugging, and even obstructive sleep apnea, a purely physical condition, is listed in the DSM. And as we know, the “treatment” is worse, much worse, than the “disease;” the stimulant drugs used for ADHD are extremely deleterious to the developing brain and are often the trigger of a “bipolar” diagnosis, now to be treated by a cocktail of neurotoxins. I am in full agreement that mainstream psychiatry has much to be ashamed of.

    That said, I do not agree with the assertion that the concept of ADHD is spurious or that symptoms such as inability to focus, poor short-term memory, distractibility or lack of organizational ability are fictitious. The symptoms are quite real for those experiencing them and the response should be finding effective non-drug, non-coercive interventions. Plenty of studies (some noted on MIA) document improvements in ADHD outcomes based on dietary interventions (elimination of sugar, gluten and food additives; nutrient supplementation with vitamins and minerals). In the “Brain Maker,” Dr. David Perlmutter, who strongly decries the drugging of children with ADHD, states:

    “….ADHD should not be viewed as a distinct disorder, but rather as a symptom of various other issues. …ADHD is simply a manifestation of an inflammation gone awry due to triggers like gluten and the downstream effects of a sick microbiome.” In a similar vein, in Nutrient Power, William Walsh describes his nutrient protocols for ADHD (among other conditions) and offers a very helpful prognosis for this condition, based on vitamin and mineral supplementation. That is the direction we need to go in; not deny the problem.

    Just to be clear, in using the ADHD abbreviation, I am not endorsing the validity of this label; I am using it strictly as a frame of reference.

  • Jorwig:

    all the best to you and your young client. In light of the acknowledgment by NIMH’s Dr. Thomas Insel that the DSM is crock (he said it has no scientific validity), ask them to justify the bipolar “diagnosis” in this case and the proposed ‘treatment,” which would be the destruction of a young life by cocktails of neurotoxic drugs. What is the rationale and justification for the “diagnosis” and proposed “treatment” when the highest-ranking mental health official in the U.S. confirms that psychiatric “diagnoses” have no scientific validity? Also, far too often, the “bipolar” label results from other drugs (antidepressants or stimulants). I sincerely hope that the presiding official(s) in your case shows more than clueless deference to the prevailing mistreatment of people in distress.

  • bpdtransportation:

    instead of “external events,” I should have used a different phrase, such as “situational factors,” but I trust that the context of my comment makes clear what I meant. The import of your comment and example was that life’s calamities or setbacks are the sole cause of depression or anxiety and that is not so. Depression and anxiety can be inborn (effect of epigenetic inheritance) and a host of other environmental (physical) factors, such as diet, gut health, environmental degradation and even the prevailing practices of allopathic medicine—-e.g., overuse of antibiotics, bad dietary “anticholesterol” guidelines that promote inflammatory grains instead of good fat; overdoing sanitation. All of these physical causes have a bearing on mental health and they are not susceptible to talk therapy. Your argument against research into the physical causes of mental health issues does not inspire confidence in the ethos you espouse—what exactly are you afraid of? That biology will prove to be a factor?

    As for the efficacy (or lack thereof) when it comes to talk therapy, it is important to be precise in identifying the therapy involved and the condition. I do not have data or studies, just experience and the knowledge that our family’s experience is not unique. Since you contend otherwise, perhaps you can point to studies that show that psychotherapy (without drugs) is effective for psychosis, disassociation, other extreme states or pre-verbal trauma. Are you aware of any successful therapeutic programs for these serious conditions that do not rely on drugs? Everything matters, and I hope that MIA will embrace the holistic model. I believe that the success of the movement that Robert Whitaker started depends on it.

  • “My instinct is that the money put into research like this would go further if spent supporting distressed people at a relational whole-person-to- whole-person level – i.e. promoting support groups, family and individual therapy, and other forms of human-to-human support.”

    Not all depression/anxiety, etc. is due to external events. The concern about Big Pharma turning this into another cash grab is valid, but that calls for being watchdogs and calling out corruption, not opposing this very promising research. And, sorry to say, talk therapy has not done all that well..far too often, it is the gateway to drugs.

  • msbauer,

    have you looked into orthomolecular (nutrient) therapy? Your diet? The state of your gut? A few books you may want to read before you decide that drugs are necessary:

    Nutrient Power by William Walsh, PhD
    The Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, M.D. and
    The Brain Maker, also by Perlmutter

    I am not foreclosing any other therapies of healing options. I believe that trauma, inherited or experienced during one’s lifetime, is foundational to much of mental distress. But trauma does change one’s biology (that’s the lesson of epigenetics), and body-based interventions should not be taken off the table.

  • Hi Tabita,
    thank you for telling your inspiring story and for giving people hope and encouragement to free themselves (or their loved ones) from the scourge of psychiatric drugs. You were and are indeed lucky in many respects: figuring it out quickly and losing no more than 1 year to our “mental health” system. Most of all, you were lucky not to get entangled in a prolonged withdrawal that is, for the most part, not recognized for what it is (dysregulation of the nervous system due to the habituation of drugs that should not have been prescribed in the first place), and is mistaken for a rebound of unmasking of the “underlying illness.” I hope your book includes a strong warning about the risks of discontinuing or tapering psychiatric drugs. Not that it should not be attempted — everyone deserves the chance to be free of drugs — but not without lots and lots of careful and thorough research, preparation, planning and support. And it makes all the difference whether ones has the economic resources to tap into the various holistic healing options to pieces together a recovery program. That this is not so is a tragedy and a travesty.

  • “Biology and environment do not work separately or in quantifiable distinct ways. ” I agree and never said or suggested otherwise. The interaction of environment and biology — indeed, the fusing of the two down the road — is the essence of epigenetics but epigenetics impacts biology. Trauma (and other environmental insults) change one’s gene expression; when these changes are transmitted to future generations, they becomes inborn.

    The drugging paradigm, which I totally reject, asks: “what’s wrong with you; what label can we pin on you, so that we can subdue the symptoms that we do not like?”

    The questions should be: (1) what happened to you, and (2) what caused you to be overwhelmed by what which happened to you. These are 2 distinct questions. It is not invariably one’s life experience alone; it could be, but often is not. Trauma and stress is all around us; it is an inevitable part of life, unfortunately. Some people can take a lot of body blow and keep standing, others succumb with much less provocation. We should want to know why. There is far too much evidence that physical causes impair mental functioning. Why not acknowledge this and work toward a holistic paradigm of healing that takes nothing off the table? Increasing healing options is the right thing to do for the people affected, and it is the smart thing to do. More of our society might accept our view of drugging if they know about good alternatives such as nutrient therapy. The physical actually goes beyond one’s genes. The bacteria in our gut is not us genetically (they will be around even after we die, working to decompose our bodies) but they have a lot to do with our mental health. But our genes may play a role; for example, by producing enzymes that impair the gut bacteria, or by preventing the absorption of certain nutrients. So, I am all for more research into the biological causes, with a caveat that, given the perverse motivations and incentives of Big Pharma, we must be vigilant and for misuse and corruption of research (to make more drugs). It should go without saying that none of this should detract from the psychosocial or human causes, which are so much more difficult to address. How do you change society to make people more connected? I wish I knew the answer. I believe Open Dialogue is a great start but I am leery of overselling it, expecting more from it than it can deliver, thereby emboldening the druggers.

    On the efficacy of talk therapy, we will just have to agree to disagree. I know it has helped some people and I would never dissuade anyone from it. But the record is not great and overselling it does not help the cause of psychiatric reform; just the opposite. There are conditions for which talk therapy is inappropriate (e.g., retained infant reflexes, certain types of early trauma). Don’t you think it is somewhat probative that so many psychoanalysts rely on drugs even as they tout their therapeutic prowess?

  • “Have you considered that maybe these people who “break down” more easily have had more extensive experience of trauma and/or other stresses?”

    Of course I have, and I don’t discount that this happens. But the opposite happens as well; people with good lives and families have succumbed to mental illness. My argument is against reductionism of any stripe or either of the extremes of the nature/nurture debate. I find epigenetics to be the most convincing explanation of mental illness, and epigenetics is ultimately about trauma and other environmental insults changing one’s gene expression. But these changes survive cell division and are transmitted to future generations, making those who inherit such changes more vulnerable to new environmental insults. Not defective, just more vulnerable or susceptible. When I say that biology matters, I mean that things like nutrients, good gut health, good diet, absence of toxins, pesticides, EMF and dirty electricity matter. Some people have been healed by orthomolecular (nutrient) therapy and amazing things are done with the microbiome. That is the type of “biological” intervention that I support.

  • “We would start asking people what happened to them and what is causing their distress.”

    I totally agree, but it is not always or solely emotional distress that causes/triggers/explains mental problems. The low-fat diet craze and obsession with low cholesterol levels has led to increased levels of depression. The wrecking of beneficial gut flora (thanks to the overuse of antibiotics, poor diets and heightened sanitary practices) has produced more anxiety and other ills. Ditto for poor nutrition; progressively decreased nutrient content of our foods; pesticides and other environmental hazards and the irresponsible growth of modern technology. I am not discounting or minimizing factors such as trauma, social isolation or lack of social integration; far from it. But when we ask: “what happened to you to overwhelm you,” we should not take anything off the table, including real physical causes that diminish one’s resilience. Interestingly, mainstream allopathic (pill-pushing) medicine has done more than its share to push people over the line. Mainstream psychiatry is just the worst of an increasingly bad lot.

  • bpdtransformation,

    I agree with everything you say, as far as it goes, but believe that there is more to it. Invariably, it is interpersonal or environmental stress or trauma that triggers (not necessarily causes) a crisis, but not in everyone. People with difficult childhoods have done very well (think Elon Musk), and people from good and loving families have broken down. If interpersonal trauma alone led to mental illness, wouldn’t just about every Holocaust survivor be psychotic? Wouldn’t every combat soldier, instead of 15% or so, suffer from PTSD? The issue centers on what makes a person “vulnerable” or predisposed to a breakdown. So, yes, I am convinced that biology, nature, the baggage that we come into the world with, matters a lot and taking it off the table, instead of adopting a holistic understanding and approach to treating mental illness undermines the movement (reforming psychiatry) and, most important, the healing of people. The overselling of talk therapy, with its underwhelming results, while failing to take seriously biological and environmental factors such as nutrients, gut health and the ever-present toxins in our environment, does not do much for the credibility of the movement and may propel some people toward psych drugs.

  • Hi Dr. Hoffman, as opposed as I am to psychiatric medications — I believe they should be banned for minors and given to others only upon a full disclosure, and the patient’s meaningful, freely given and informed consent — I do not believe it is ultimately about drugs, but about trust. Trust in the competence, wisdom, motivation, integrity and humanity of the psychiatrist. You come across as a rare psychiatrist who warrants this trust and I am glad that you are posting at MIA.

  • “…the most common attribute of all “schizophrenics” is childhood trauma or abuse..”

    Kind of like autism being caused by refrigerator mothers?

    I am a believer in trauma as being at the root of mental distress and do not advocate giving anyone a pass. But channeling Bettelheim is not good strategy, unless the objective is to do more recruiting for NAMI or help Jeffrey Lieberman sell books. Everything matters. Including diet. The evidence is all around us, including right on this site. Take also a look at Dr. Perlmutter’s “Grain Brain.”

  • Dragon Slayer,

    You ask “why should the psychopharmaceutical industrial complex manage our nutrients?” They don’t and won’t because there is no real money to be made there. If they could monetize nutrient therapy, they would be all over it, but they can’t stake out any IP claims to vitamins or minerals. Also, big pharma is in the commodity business, and from my experience with my loved one, to be effective, the nutrient protocol must be individualized. What does “work” in this context mean? Look at my comment above regarding the late Dr. Pfeiffer and his treatment of a hopelessly catatonic patient. I would say that’s treatment that works.
    My question is: why are we going back and forth about nutrients and whether or not there is such a thing as mental illness? I just finished Whitaker’s new book and I am seething with anger at the enormity of the corruption and the staggering betrayal. The focus should be on defeating this malignant force and its stranglehold on society. The idea that there is no such thing as mental illness is Szasz’s opinion, at his provocateur best; it is not the gospel or an established fact. Aside from anything else, making this argument is not good strategy or tactic or a good way to get allies.

  • Monica,

    thank you for your last round of comments. We are a family that continues to benefit from the information that you share, and we are grateful more than we can say. I was not arguing for synthetic supplements vs. natural nutrients from whole food. I hope that nutrients will not continue to be depleted from food sources and also, in my daughter’s case, her orthomolecular regimen is such that it would be difficult to get everything from her (whole food) diet, though we try.

    It is very dismaying but, unfortunately, not surprising to hear that your experience with orthomolecular treatment was not a good one. I see the alternative field as bit of the wild west. Not everyone who is alternative/holistic/homeopathic/anti pharma is competent, well-motivated, respectful of the patient or willing to learn. We had our own disappointments with alternative providers along the way. Finding the right helpers is a task in and of itself. But I was very glad to see what Dr. Judy Tsafrir had to say about Dr. Walsh (author of Nutrient Power) and Dr. Mensah (trained by Dr. Walsh) who is our daughter’s orthomolecular doctor. She took the words right out of my mouth. For our daughter, orthomolecular treatment has worked, and I would encourage others to give it a try.

  • Monica,

    the challenge is that, as time goes on, our foods have fewer and fewer nutrients. This point was made in the article Vitamin Cure by Susan Freinkel about 10 years ago (the article is the story of the genesis of TrueHope, and Bonnie Kaplan and Charles Popper, mentioned in her most recent post, figure as real heroes in that story; you can get the article by googling it). The article said that, when they compared produce grown in the 1980s vs. produce from the 1930s, there was a huge percentage drop in nutrient content. You can imagine that it has only gotten worse since then. So, like it or not, that may necessitate continuing reliance on supplementation.

    The orthomolecular regimen that my daughter follows is based on William Walsh’s “Nutrient Power.” Walsh (a colleague, collaborator and intellectual heir of Abram Hoffer and Charles Pfeiffer) believes that many mental illnesses are epigenetic in nature, resulting from trauma-caused errors in gene regulation (the turning off or switching on of the wrong genes). In Walsh’s experience, when people stopped the nutrient protocol, they regressed. Because the protocol has worked so exceptionally well, I could not imagine not continuing the supplements.

  • Monica, in addition, growing one’s own food, to the extent possible, is a great joy and part of the healing. For some, this could be the best option for obtaining wholesome, organic produce. I would just add one point of clarification regarding the difference between nutrition/nourishment/diet, on the one hand, and nutrients (minerals, vitamins and amino acid supplements), on the other hand, They are not one and the same, though they work in tandem and both are important. It is best to get as much of the nutrients as possible from food. But the nutrient regimen that has done so much good for my daughter and made withdrawal possible requires vitamins/nutrients/amino acids in much greater doses that one can obtain from food.

  • Rebel:
    Sleeep apnea is a real, physical condition. The very last thing a person should do for it is to see a psychiatrist and take benzoes or other sleep aids. The point is that if you stop breathing, you do want to wake up and not turn sleep apnea into an adult-form of SIDS. For some people, a dental device will do the trick; others end up on oxygen machines. People have also been able to reverse obstructive sleep apnea with weight loss. The condition is real but it is not a psychiatric disorder, just an example of how psychiatry wants to extend its malevolent tentacles over all facets of human existence, including real physical conditions.

  • bpdtransformation,
    there is a fascinating anecdote about the late Carl Pfeiffer, MD/PhD. He was working in a research hospital in the 1950s and encountered a catatonic patient who had not walked or talked in months. Pfeiffer treated him with a cocktail of nutrients and within days, the man made a Lazarus-like recovery, speaking and acting normally. The hospital authorities determined that what Pfeiffer did had nothing to do with the man’s recovery. With the patient’s permission, Pfeiffer stopped the nutrient regimen and the man promptly reverted to his catatonia. Pfeiffer cycled the man in and out of his catatonia several times by stopping/re-starting the nutrients, each with the same result. The official verdict of the hospital officials was that what Pfeiffer did had nothing to do with anything. Case closed; nothing to see here.; nothing to pursue or investigate. So who were these naysayers? Doctors beholden to pharma interest? Perhaps, but this was the 1950s, so it could also have been the Freudians. I do not know, but regardless, it is clear that these worthies were not primarily motivated by patient welfare, but their own agendas, biases or pet theories. I wholeheartedly agree that love, acceptance, kindness and all the facets of psychosocial support are indispensable to healing. But I would not call nutrient therapy secondary.

  • Hello Dragon Slayer,

    this “micronutrient fad” is no fad; orthomolecular therapy dates back decades and its early pioneers were Abram Hoffer and Carl Pfeiffer, true greats, in my opinion. Feel free to disagree (just as I disagree with the hyperbolic pronouncements of Thomas Szasz that you are so fond of quoting), but let’s keep in mind the difference between our respective opinions, on the one hand, and facts or universal truths on the other. Getting back to nutrient therapy, I have seen it work amazingly well and I am happy that it is being rediscovered.

  • Hi Daniel,

    I agree with what you say, including “…there is often a big push to let parents off the hook..” That is very true and it made the drugging and the rationalization for drugging (chemical imbalance) more salable. But, historically, and in some quarters even today, there is the tendency to blame the parents first. I am convinced that most parents do their best, and their best (however much it falls short of the optimal parenting experience) would be good enough for a child who comes into the world with some vulnerability, predisposition or some such “baggage.” I do not believe that we are born with a blank slate. Some people are orchids, others are weeds…they will do fine even without great nurture. I believe the focus should be on educating parents to make them understand that a vulnerable child needs more nurture, more love and acceptance (not drugs) precisely because because of the child’s nature.

  • Alex,

    what you say resonates greatly — as the oft-cited cliche has it, forgiveness is to help the forgiver, not the party being forgiven. But I wonder if Daniel’s point is coercion—i.e., the therapist insisting that the person forgive (not helpful), rather than showing that forgiveness can be healing in and of itself, and letting the person decide.

  • “I think we can make common cause with many other groups of people who feel more exploited than served by modern, profit-driven corporate medicine.”

    Quite so. We should also make common cause with those who are harmed by other powerful industries that deny and suppress the harm caused by their products (e.g., the telecommunications industry, the food industry). The irresponsible growth of modern technology (cell phones, wi-fi) is producing EMF damage to the body and mind that is just beginning to be recognized, not by the industry or government “watchdogs” (at least not in the U.S.) but people who have been harmed and by dissident, visionary doctors.

  • The fact that so many therapists, including Freudian analysts (!), rely on drugs attests to the limited efficacy of therapy, either because good therapists are hard to find, or therapy (I assume you mean talk therapy) is not appropriate in all situations, or some combination of both. Early childhood experience is of paramount importance (Bessel van der Kalk makes the case brilliantly in his book “The body keeps the score”), but assuming that it ALL boils down to bad parenting is reductionist, non-scientific and ultimately not helpful to the cause of effecting positive change in the mental health system (channeling Bettelheim is not good strategy). Early childhood experience is critical, but there is more to it than that. A recent study from the UK found that bullying has a greater (negative) impact than parental shortcomings. An article previously posted on MIA (Inheriting Stress) speaks of the intergenerational transmission of trauma (the impact of epigenetics) even with OK parenting. A wise therapist needs first to come to grips with what he/she does not know, and help the client identify the best intervention, which may be outside the therapist’s experience or area of expertise.

  • OMG, every time I think I see psychiatry hitting rock bottom, I read something like this and realize there is no rock bottom. We need to keep spreading the word, not only that drugs are the problem, but that there are better solutions. I have seen nutrient (orthomolecular) therapy work very well, and I would encourage every one, especially the NAMI famillies, to give it a try before becoming ensnared in the drug trap. I am not claiming that nutrient therapy (vitamins, minerals, probiotics, amino acids) is the sole solution for everyone. For some people, it might be; for most, I suspect, it will not be enough and other therapies and support will be needed. But the idea that nutrients alleviate symptoms much more effectively than drugs, without toxic side effects, should give everyone a pause before taking the drug plunge.

  • Bob,
    another barrier to change is our legal system, with its emphasis on the community standard of care. If everybody is zigging (drugging), the one good guy who is zagging (helping people to withdraw), is legally and professionally at risk, particularly if something goes wrong, which it easily can. (You may cover this in your book, which I have not yet read)

    There is no one more suited than you to take on the system, but the challenge is enormous because it is not just psychiatry that it is corrupt, it is the larger culture. It is the news media that consider advertising revenue in determining who gets a platform; it is also government bureaucrats angling for more lucrative jobs with Big Pharma, or schools that pressure parents to drug their fidgety children, or politicians who exploit tragedies for their individual agendas, such as opposition to sensible gun control.

  • “If I’m not to trust my psychiatrist or the safety of using the drugs she prescribes, what am I to do? If I question her decision or ask questions I’m described as being unwilling to accept that I have an illness.”

    Please continue to educate yourself. I particularly recommend doing a lot of research on nutrient (orthomolecular) therapy and the brain-gut connection. Bonnie Kaplan has posted great stuff on MIA; I also highly recommend William Walsh’s “Nutrient Power.” Don’t stop there; read everything. No one can tell you what to do; only you can decide how to proceed and what risk you are prepared to take on (drug withdrawal is very difficult and very dangerous and should not be undertaken or even thought about without lots of research, planning and preparation). You must first arm yourself with information that will enable you determine whether your psychiatrist is competent and trustworthy. But only you can and should make that call.

  • “Why should the therapeutic state have jurisdiction over the health of citizens?”

    Szasz posed this question because this is a question a libertarian would raise. Unfortunately, far too many people, quite possibly, the majority, view the mission of psychiatry as protecting the public from crazy and dangerous people, people who shoot up schools, who push unsuspecting bystanders off train platforms, or who fly planeloads of innocent passengers into mountains. Demonstrating that psychiatry is irredeemably corrupt as well as harmful to the people directly involved is important and necessary, but it is not enough. We have to show that it is unreliable and harmful to the society at large–e.g., that school shooting are due to psychotropic drugs, not “untreated mental illness.”

  • Sa,

    I wholeheartedly agree that it will strengthen our movement immeasurably if we can convince enough NAMI families that they put their trust in the wrong place, that the current mainstream treatment is brutal and deadly, and that longitudinal studies show that, long-term, people do better without drugs. I plan on going to several NAMI support group meetings, not to seek support, but to bear witness to what is making possible my daughter’s healing without drugs.

  • Alex, many, many thanks. I am actually the mom, and I posed my question on behalf of my 20+ daughter who is recovering from a drug regimen that she should not have been on in the first place (an adverse reaction to antidepressants, leading to a bogus bipolar label and lots of drugging—you get the idea). What you say resonates a great deal and helps me help her. My daughter literally craves energy healing, which has been very helpful in her withdrawal. I have heard of Carolyn Myss and will get the book you mention (I read Barbara Brennan’s Hands of Light and became a believer). I agree with everything you say, but would also add that, in our case, nutrient (orthomolecular) therapy has proven to be surprisingly and extraordinarily helpful and effective. I believe in the body-mind-spirit connection and would leave no good healing option off the table. Many thanks again for your wise, beautifully expressed comments.

  • Mr. Gottstein,

    is it realistic to look for help from overseas (i.e., the European Union)? If the European authorities force drug companies to make full disclosure of their research data, it will be out for everyone to see. If they take stronger steps to protect the public (e.g., banning psychotropics for children), might it not shame the FDA to the same? Do you keep track of what is going on elsewhere and do you see it as potentially helpful?

  • Ted, I am not in favor of politicizing the issue, and I am not inclined to look to the government for help. Think Justina Pelletier. Psychiatric drugging is a of form of social control, and I have a sneaking suspicion that government authorities like having the option to subdue outspoken, inconvenient people. Change will come only when there is a critical mass of the public ready to hold Big Pharma and government “watchdogs” accountable. It can — and I believe it will — happen, just as it did with the tobacco companies (no right to advertise their offerings, big liability settlements), but, unfortunately, we we are not anywhere near that point.

  • “It sounds like some FDA bureaucrats are reluctant to alienate potential future employers. The system is truly rigged.”

    Yes, this, too, is the profit motive at work. They either sit around in bureaucratic stupor, unwilling to make waves until they retire with taxpayer funded pensions, or they are angling to make serious money working for pharma. There is no benevolent, ethical or competent government authority to protect us, including the most innocent, defenseless and vulnerable members of our society. We are truly on our own.

    This is America’s shame. I did not think it was possible to top the abuse of psychiatry by the late, unlamented Soviet Union, who drugged inconvenient dissidents who dared to speak truth to power, but I was wrong. Drugging children who have zero choice (the dissidents had the choice not to speak out — not much of a choice, but a measure of choice nonetheless) is the lowest of the low. For shame.

  • Crimes against humanity, indeed.

    The late, unlamented Soviet Union abused psychiatry when it came to dissidents. Speaking truth to power carried a well-understood risk of being labeled “crazy” or antisocial, and forcefully “medicated” with neurotoxic drugs. What we do in this country is much, much worse. We forcefully drug the most defenseless and vulnerable members of our society, our children. At least the dissidents had some choice in the matter. Not much of a choice (to stay silent), but some measure of choice. These children have no choice at all. For shame.

  • “The folks in our movement who have been oppressed by psychiatry lack legitimacy not only with their oppressors, but also with the general public, and must find a way to neutralize that situation.” Indeed.

    Even more to the point, the antipsychiatry movement lacks legitimacy with many people most directly affected by psychiatric abuse, who do not realize that they (or their loved ones) have been injured by psychiatry, such as the NAMI families. Here, I would draw a distinction between NAMI, the organization and its leadership, that sold out to pharma and became a big part of the problem, and the many NAMI families who are simply desperate, alone and dependent on the support they get from the organization. They are not all dumb boobs who enjoy drugging their children for the thrill of it. I believe this group (or many of them) can and should be convinced to join the cause, provided they are presented with healing options that actually work. The antipsychiatry movement needs more allies and this would be one group that I would target.

  • A drugging psychiatrist who believes that tardive dyskinesia and brain shrinkage are minimal side effects (he did say that Risperdal is a wonderful drug with minimal side effects) is calling Bob Whitaker a menace to society? Wow, now that is rich. I read Lieberman’s tome (“Shrinks”) and was struck by how much Bob Whitaker and the movement that he sparked got to Lieberman. I urge everyone else to read it as well (don’t buy it; spend a couple of hours at Barnes & Noble, which is what I did) and then let’s all review it on Amazon to counter the lame and laudatory reviews that he has been garnering..

  • “…the fact remains that you will be speaking to the choir…”

    Do we not need to move beyond preaching to the choir to change things? As for what it will take to change anything, I do not believe it is a question of what is sufficient (nothing in and of itself will suffice) but what is indispensable. And I would put recovery or healing at the top of the list. It just makes it that much less likely that people will take the fateful step to take psychoactive drugs if they see better options that work.

  • Dr. Burstow:
    you say ” I have focused on practices so horrific that they scream out for redress—ECT, for example…” Do you believe this is what it will take to change psychiatry, shine more light on its abuses? I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for those who expose what psychiatry does, but don’t see how this will change things. Even Fuller Torrey decries the drugging of children and the way in which doctors prostitute themselves for big pharma, so it is not as though there is not enough information about psychiatry’s abuses. (Breggin took his principled and courageous stand decades ago, and we are still where we are.) I am convinced that for meaningful change to occur, we must show that recovery is possible, not just in a few isolated cases, for the vast majority of people. I believe in recovery, I have seen it and believe recovery and healing needs to be the primary focus.

  • “The ‘movement’ would be united if people of average intellect, morality and common sense just read the right books, instead of absorbing all of the propaganda and misinformation that is funded by pharmaceutical companies.” The “right books?” Who decides? Dividing the world into a pro-pharma and anti-pharma camps is not accurate. There are brilliant and honorable people not funded or tied to pharma who are doing serious work that advances our knowledge of mental illness who, to my knowledge, have never been featured on MIA. I do not agree with your larger point as to what it will take for the movement to prevail. It will take more than books that indict the drug paradigm. It will take a meaningful alternative to drugs. It is not enough to curse darkness; we must light candles of drug-free recovery.

  • I signed a petition directed to the FDA to ban outright the prescription of all psychoactive drugs to minors. In my comments, I asked that this be done in the name of Rebecca Riley, the tiny Massachusetts girl who was “diagnosed” bipolar at 2 1/2 years of age and died of her “treatment” at the age of 4. For non-minors, I asked for mandatory meaningful full disclosure (of what these “meds” do and the actual basis upon which FDA approves their marketing and dissemination). Needless to say, nothing much came of it. The sorry state of affairs, when it comes to mental health in the U.S., represents societal betrayal on too many levels to count: first and foremost, organized psychiatry, but also government authorities that do not protect vulnerable people and are often complicit in psychiatric abuse; (think of all the legislators that take pharma money); our judiciary with its clueless deference to organized psychiatry and, let’s not forget, the mainstream media that do not tell the story. I would also add NAMI, a parent organization, that allowed itself to become a pharma lapdog, instead of an effective advocate for people with mental health challenges.

  • “A timely reminder: No biological sign has ever been found for any ‘mental disorder.’ Correspondingly, there is no known physiological etiology.” (p 75)

    The evidence is all around us, including on MIA, that this is not so. Numerous studies have shown that deficiencies of key nutrients (e.g., Vitamin B12, Vitamin D) are implicated in mental illness. The emerging science of epigenetics shows that environmental insults (physical or emotional trauma) change gene expression (not DNA structure), and those changes survive cell division and are transmitted to future generations. And the person with altered gene expression becomes more vulnerable to other environmental insults (e.g., bullying, childhood deprivation, drugs, toxins and who knows what else). What is inborn and what is experienced in one’s lifetime become fused. Acknowledging the obvious is not to embrace the drug-based paradigm — I yield to no one in my loathing for coercive psychiatry and the use of neurotoxins — but it leads to better, more effective interventions than talk therapy.

  • Cpuusage,

    You say ” i disagree that orthomolecular therapy is the solution in all cases.” I did not say (and would never say) that anything is the solution in all cases. I did say and affirm that I have seen orthomolecular therapy work wonders and I would make that the default option. Try that first. Although I do not agree with most of the comments leveled at you, I understand that people have been badly hurt by the system (and I believe the U.S. system is much more brutal and degrading than what you experience in the U.K.), and that stirs a lot of passion. To my way of thinking, you are definitely not a troll and you raise a valid question: what does one do for people with severe symptoms for whom nothing else works? I can accept that for some people, drugs may be the answer (there are psychiatrists posting on MIA who do not like drugs but still use them); but I would still go to the end of earth to avoid them. By the way, when I extol the wonders of nutrient therapy, I am referring to the treatment protocol developed by William Walsh. If you have not yet done so, do yourself a favor and read his book “Nutrient Power.”

  • Cpuusage,

    You say: “… a large part of the difficulties would be resolved if the worried well stopped seeking psychiatric treatment to begin with.” I agree that society would be better off if most people stayed away from psychiatrists, but institutional psychiatry must stop pathologizing normal human behavior (grief, shyness, etc.). People, and most tragically, children, end up on psychiatric medications because of conditions like depression, anxiety or inattention and thanks to “medical intervention,” they end up labeled as bipolar or schizophrenic, leading to further drugging. And if/when they figure it out and try to withdraw from their meds, all hell breaks loose. No one would tell an alcoholic or a user of recreational drugs “you are relapsing because your system needs more alcohol or street drugs,” but that’s exactly what the majority of psychiatrists will say to people experiencing withdrawal psychosis or other distress. So quite a few (though not all) who suffer from serious psychiatric disturbances suffer iatrogenic injury; something relatively manageable that could have been addressed with psychosocial support, diet, nutrients or good healing practices (yoga, meditation, etc.) leads to disabling mental illness. So what do we do for those who suffer serious mental illness? I have seen orthomolecular (nutrient) therapy work wonders, and if it were up to me, that would be the default treatment.

  • Thank you, Suzanne, for your heartbreaking and inspirational article. I am appalled, but not surprised, by Psychiatric Times’ refusal to run your story because it did not coincide with its agenda. The clueless deference to mainstream psychiatry by the likes of Judge Bender compounds the tragedy and travesty of what happened to your son. My heartfelt condolences on the loss of Jake and thanks for all you that do to help others avoid a similar fate.

  • LoganBerman:

    Antidepressants (and all other psychoactive substances) should be banned for children, period. For anyone else, I would mandate a meaningful disclosure—e.g., all potential side effects; the fact that antidepressants are not appreciably better than placebos; the basis upon which the drug was approved by the FDA (including the fact that drug companies are not required to conduct longitudinal studies or submit all data), and the fact that nutrient therapies deliver superior results.

  • Dr. Berezin, you state “In the best tradition of science, one exception proves the rule.” I believe you meant to say “one exception disproves the rule.” But that does not advance your argument or help the cause of replacing the current, drug-based treatment paradigm with humane, non-coercive, healthy treatment options. Good psychotherapy has been a great blessing for some, perhaps many, but it has not worked for everyone. Not even the vaunted Chestnut Lodge healed every person. That, of course, does not invalidate psychotherapy; it just means that it may not be the answer in each case.

    I am also puzzled by your distinction between schizophrenia/bipolar disorder on the one hand (which, you allow, may involve genetics or biology), and the other, lesser conditions, such as depression, anxiety or ADHD, on the other hand. What is the basis of this distinction, other than the fact that in the case of the more severe conditions, psychotherapy is more obviously ineffective? Why exclude the possibility that the various manifestations of mental distress are all part of one epigenetic continuum? I am in no way supporting the current, drug-based treatment paradigm. But I have seen psychotherapy not work at all, and I have also witnessed, in the case of the same individual, extraordinary healing delivered by nutrient (orhomolecular) therapy. Can’t we acknowledge the obvious, common-sense truth that everything matters, nature and nurture, our biology or the baggage that we come into the world with and our life experiences, as well as environmental influences, such as toxins, pesticides, diet and medications?

  • B–
    I do not buy Lieberman’s contrived story about the schizophrenic Yale student either. But I disagree that the reach of our message can be separated from our ability to show that people can and do get well without drugs. I would love to see Big Pharma held accountable through a tobacco company-type settlement, but we are not anywhere near that point. To mount an effective human rights campaign, we need a critical mass of support from the society at large. We are very, very far away from that…we do not even have that type of support from the majority of those directly affected mental distress, such as the NAMI families. The fact that Lieberman wrote his opus shows that Bob Whitaker and the antipsychiatry movement really got to him. Good. But to win this this thing, we have to show alternatives that work. It cannot be just about cursing the darkness. We do need to light the candles and show the way.

  • Gavanshir,

    you think the backlash against psychiatry is driven by the public’s “misunderstanding of psychiatrists’ intentions and what it is they do?” No, the profession’s low standing owes to the caliber of the majority of its members. Being a good psychiatrist requires more than good intentions; it takes brains, wisdom, respect for the patient, a thorough understanding of the workings and risks of the various treatment modalities, and a willingness to learn. Your unbridled enthusiasm for Risperdal, coupled with an apparent lack of awareness of what the longitudinal studies show about the effects of antipsychotics, is not a good sign. And you are wrong when you say that Risperdal is the best we have got. Are you familiar with/aware of the late Drs. Abram Hoffer and Carl Pfeiffer, the early pioneers of orthomolecular therapy? They had very effective treatments decades ago; thankfully, orthomolecular (nutrient) therapy is being rediscovered today. Bonnie Kaplan, PhD, whose work you can see on MIA, has done extensive work in this area; so has William Walsh, PhD, the author of “Nutrient Power” and the collaborator/colleague of Hoffer and Pfeiffer.
    You are mistaken about the efficacy/effectiveness of FDA as the guardian of the public’s interest. The FDA does not test anything, and it does not require longitudinal studies. What’s more, the pharmaceuticals get to cherry-pick the studies and data that they do submit to the regulators. Any idea as to why they fight so hard not to disclose all their data, even as they press regulators to approve their lovely offerings?

    But I do applaud you for wanting to educate yourself more, and here are a few suggestions:

    “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.;
    “The Myth of Chemical Cure” and “The Bitterest Pills” by Joanna Moncrieff, M.D. and
    “Nutrient Power” by William Walsh, PhD.
    I assume you have already discovered the work of Robert Whitaker; his work is a must-read.

  • B–

    do we need more success stories, more drug-free recoveries? Of course, we do. Otherwise, what is the point? Just to lament and let off steam? Thanks largely to Bob Whitaker, mainstream psychiatry has been put on the defensive; more people are ready to be persuaded that the current paradigm is ineffective and inhumane. The fact that more NAMI types flock to MIA to get information is a very good sign. But it’s not enough to say that the current treatments (shock therapy, drugs) are barbaric. We need a good answer to questions such as” “Well, drugs may be bad but it is the best that we have got.” We need to be able to point to effective treatment alternatives.

  • For Lieberman, it is all about his quest for self-validation: he wants to feel like a “real doctor.” For those who abhor his message, the question is: how do we take him on and win? How do we change societal acceptance of the idea that psychiatric drugs are a safe and effective treatment? How does one teach the lesson of psych drugs to those who have not been burned by them? Is it even possible? The obstacles are daunting—Lieberman, Torrey, etc. get a platform in mainstream media; Bob Whitaker does not. But some obstacles are within our control. We should not fight their reductionist models with our own reductionist thinking. We should partner with psychiatrists who are open-minded, non-coercive, respectful and smart enough to ask questions. They are there; not nearly enough of them, but they exist. We need more success stories, more drug-free recoveries. It is not enough to curse darkness, we need to light candles. In the meantime, I can’t wait to read your new book.

  • Dr. X:
    Anything you can do to help defeat Rep. Murphy would be great. But I would not put too much hope in the Democrats either. In my benighted state, psychologists now can prescribe psychiatric drugs. They wanted to get in on the drug-dealing and the heavily Democratic legislature gladly obliged, for once acting in opposition to the psychiatrists, who fought the law for obvious, self-interested reasons. My letter to my representative (a prominent Democrat) got a perfunctory, meaningless response; the representative voted to allow psychologists to prescribe psych drugs. One way to look at it is that they are all bought and paid for by Big Pharma), but it is also hard to convince legislators to oppose a measure that is supported by NAMI.

  • Someone Else,

    I totally agree with your post. The late and unlamented Soviet Union used psychiatry and psychiatric drugs against dissidents. An individual brave enough to speak truth to power was at risk of being labeled, drugged and abused. But I do not believe that what is going on here (e.g., in the U.S.) is the same; I believe that drugging — especially of children — for profit is much, much worse. The dissidents understood the risk they were taking; they had some choice in the matter (not to speak out). Not much of a choice, but some measure of choice. The children, their parents, and all those who put their trust in institutions that betrayed them (mainstream psychiatry, the FDA, NAMI) have no choice at all. And I say this as someone who is generally right of center, politically speaking.

  • Duane,

    don’t forget Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, the other orthomolecular pioneer and collaborator of Dr. Hoffer. Today, their work is carried on by Dr. William Walsh, their collaborator and intellectual heir, and the author of Nutrient Power. Our daughter has been treated by Drs. trained by him, with great results.

  • Duane,

    Talk therapy is also of very limited (or no) utility where trauma is embedded in the body, and where body-based therapies (e.g., EMDR, sensorimotor therapy, neurofeedback) are more effective. Talk therapy has its place, but to make it the only option or the only alternative to drugs will result in more drugging for the simple reason that, far too often, talk therapy is not effective or appropriate. I really wonder if we would have ended up with the disastrous drug-based paradigm had orthomolecular therapy been taken more seriously.

  • Thank you very much, Dr. Kinderman, for your wise words and insight. The fact that nature (our genetic or epigenetic inheritance) plays a role should not and must not detract from the importance of nurture; just the opposite. Those with inborn vulnerabilities or predispositions need more and better nurturing, not less. But mental illness and developmental disorders also manifest themselves in loving and responsible families. We need to get away from reductionist dogma (“brain diseases”or or “terrible mothers”) of any stripe and focus on providing gentle, effective and non-coercive healing options.

  • So, a “broken heart” should be thought of literally, as well as figuratively. This makes sense to me. For me, the biggest insight or “aha” moment is recognizing that trauma, which originates outside a person, changes one’s biology, and some very effective interventions — e.g., body-based sensorimotor therapy, nutrient therapy — occur at the body level. In some cases, healing at the body level must occur before the individual can benefit from talk therapy or psychosocial support.

  • AA,

    as to your point that you felt worse after taking a modest amount of a supplement, Dr. William Walsh (author of “Nutrient Therapy”) emphasizes that nutrient overloads (too much of a vitamin/nutrient that is wrong for you) can be more of a problem than nutrient deficiencies. Dr. Walsh is a proponent of biochemical individuality (as was his mentor, Carl Pfeiffer, M.D.). and he recommends a nutrient regimen that is individualized based on one’s history, symptoms and lab results. Herbal supplements are different from minerals or vitamins; unlike minerals/vitamins (which occur naturally in your body), herbals have have psychoactive properties…a good reason to shy away from them, in my opinion. And no, not every alternative provider or dispenser of nutrient therapy is trustworthy, competent or well-motivated. This may become even more of a problem as more people seek out nutrient therapy; there always have been charlatans and quacks who prey on vulnerable people. Drs. Kaplan/Rucklidge/Walsh are the real deal and a great starting point for any research.

  • Hello B:
    For an answer to your questions, please read, with an open mind, “Nutrient Power” by William Walsh. I am not exaggerating when I say that reading and acting on this book has saved our child and family. But I still remember how hard I had to work on breaking down my resistance to the idea that disordered brain biochemistry is involved. So, above all, keep an open mind.

  • Duane, many thanks for your comments. I, too, am somewhat out of sync with the prevailing mindset at MIA. I disdain and oppose with everything in me the prevailing drug-based paradigm. At the same time, I am convinced that the idea that biology plays no role in mental distress will not stand the test of time. The evidence is all around us — including right on MIA — that vitamin/mineral deficiencies (or overloads) are implicated in mental illness. Orthomolecular (nutrient) therapy has done wonders for my child and made me a believer in nutrient therapy. Nutrients are the insulin for the brain; that is the right analogy.

  • You are an amazing mother and your daughter is blessed to have you with her on her journey. Your post brings to mind the story of Louis Zamperini (the hero of Unbroken), who was healed of PTSD upon meeting Billy Graham. My own daughter, who was also very badly served by mainstream psychiatry, has done very well on orthomolecular therapy. Having seen first-hand what nutrients can do, I have become a big believer in nutrient therapy, not in lieu of but in addition to, psychosocial support like Open Dialogue. Best wishes to you and your daughter.

  • Very well put, Monica. In our daughter’s case, psychotherapy was the stepping stone to drugs, when the therapist, though well meaning and caring, said “she is not responding to therapy and needs psychiatric medications.” An adverse reaction to antidepressants led to a bogus bipolar label and ultimately a multi-year struggle to withdraw from the “cocktail of medications.” We tried multiple therapists, and none of them could help when the withdrawal went badly. Today, our daughter is doing very well and is free of meds with the exception of a very small dose of 1 medication that we hope to be done with at year-end. What did help? Orthomolecular (nutrient) therapy and energy healing.

    As you say, people and their healing paths are different and insisting on a single modality smacks of coerciveness. Not only that, psychotherapy has not been universally effective for severe cases (some people spent decades at the Chestnut Lodge without recovering) and overselling therapy may propel some people toward drugs.

  • Indeed, but don’t forget the media (not about to disrupt the gravy train of pharma advertising by telling the truth about psychiatry or publicizing Whitaker’s work), or, for that matter, our legislators/public officials. That, too, is the profit motive at work. A well-informed public that will hold public and private institutions accountable is the only safeguard. Alas, the most logical source of outrage at psychiatry — NAMI — allowed to turn itself into a pharma lapdog, with predictable results.

  • Thank you for another awesome post. Given that Lieberman seeks to defend the indefensible — the pseudoscience and fraud of biological psychiatry — the only means at his disposal are those that he is employing: dishonest spin and propaganda. I fear that it will take much more than the self-enamored, arrogant and dishonest pronouncements of APA officials to expose the sham. Our institutions (courts, elected representatives) that should protect the public are too clueless, or perhaps intentionally complicit, to protect the public.

  • Vera, thank you for the great post and for everything that you do in the cause of human rights. Your point about abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union vs. that in the USA is particularly apt. It is well known that the late and unlamented Soviet Union abused psychiatry to crush dissidents. One imagines that that even the likes of the Wall Street Journal would frown on that. But what is being done in the U.S. is much, much worse…abuse of psychiatry for profit. At least the Soviet-era dissidents had a choice: they knew that speaking truth to power would get them labeled crazy — only a mentally ill person would speak out against the motherland. Not much of a choice, but some choice. Rebecca Riley and millions of others had no choice, and our institutions (courts, gov’t agencies) abet and enforce the abuse. Ditto for many in the media. We discontinued our subscription to the Wall Street Journal because we could no longer abide their mental health “coverage.” Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Thank you for stating the truth in such a compelling and articulate way! The problem is deeper than the corruption of Big Pharma and mainstream psychiatry. It also extends to our elected representatives (bought and paid for by Big Pharma contributions), the media (not about to take a pass on the advertising dollars), and, most tragically, NAMI, which became a Pharma lapdog and is part of the problem. In a way, NAMI is aptly named. We should think about forming a competing organization —National Association for Mental HEALTH, to educate the public and those NAMI families who are educable. Politicians will not listen until they are confronted with a political force and pressure and that can only come from a groundswell of informed and passionate voices.

  • Not nearly as hard as MSNBC. But let’s not get side-tracked here. The general failure of the mainstream press to expose the quackery and abuse of psychiatry is one more betrayal by our societal institutions —on top of the betrayal by the psychiatric “profession,” bought-off and/or clueless legislators, or incompetent bureaucrats and judges…as vividly demonstrated in the Justina Pelletier case. Kudos to Megyn Kelly for taking this on!

  • I would defer the attempt until we reach a critical mass of understanding about the current state of psychiatry. We are slowly but surely getting there (e.g., recent pronouncements by Dr. Insel about the DSM or the implications of the Wunderink study; the position taken by the UN that coercive psychiatric drugging is torture), but our society and its institutions — the courts, the media, our elected representatives — still largely labor under the assumption that psychiatric drugging, including forced drugging,is “treatment” and psychiatry no different from, say, internal medicine. The lone brave voices (e.g., Drs. Breggin, Jackson, the late Loren Moser) can still be dismissed as “controversial” or outside the mainstream, so the fact that there is a difference of opinion among psychiatrists is not yet enough to dispel faith in the drug-based paradigm. I believe that a challenge to coercive psychiatry on due process grounds is more likely to succeed in the context of a greater recognition of the inherent unreliability of psychiatry and the harm that psychiatric drugs can visit, and we are not there yet. As it stands, NAMI, which, too, is changing but which still continues to confuse pharmaceutical interests with the interests of the mentally ill, could well end up on the other side of any fight before the Supreme Court, and they would be given great deference.