Sunday, May 28, 2017

Comments by Stephen Gilbert

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  • It’s not just the system. The American public is indoctrinated to take pills for absolutely everything. Remember the last statement in drug commercials on television; “Ask your doctor….” Look into the typical American’s bathroom medicine cabinet and see what you find. When we experience the least little problem with anything to the medicine cabinet we run. We need to educate people to be more discriminating about what they accept as gospel truth about all this. It’s a fact that more GP’s are writing scripts for psych drugs than psychiatrists themselves. We have let this run amok and the system takes advantage of it.

  • Yes, they are absolutely wrong. Trauma can be transcended if people care enough to value your story with honor and dignity, as you do for your wife. The experts never see people transcend trauma because they are not willing to invest the time, effort, and pain in people. This is damned difficult work and few experts know much about difficult work at all.

  • I work in a state hospital where we have medical students and psych interns who rotate through one of the units. These people come from the university medical center in the city. I would have to say that in my dealings with these students and interns that your students are the exception. What Steve describes is the reality with most of the people who come from that medical center. They are totally immersed in the Bio-Bio-bio business and have fallen completely for the lies put out by the drug companies and psychiatry that people have chemical imbalances in their brains. Many of our “patients” can lecture the students in the gaping holes of their education pertaining to so-called “mental illness”. Most of them are also terribly afraid of us and go around the halls in huddled groups with their arms clamped about their upper bodies and constantly looking from side to side as if they’re going to be attacked at any moment.

  • Dickson

    It’s very obvious that you’ve never been held in a psychiatric institution. You make claims that you know very little or nothing about. Why is it that statics show that you’re more likely to try to kill yourself AFTER being “hospitalized” than before?

    Knowing why a person tried to kill themselves or wants to kill themselves is the first stop in helping people deal with all of this. Locking them up in the “hospital” does very little to nothing in helping people because all they do is pump you full of drugs that zombify you; they do not get to the bottom of the issue or issues causing the feelings. You are only trying to treat the symptoms; you are not dealing with the issues.

    The attitude that you exhibit here is exactly the reason that few people approach anyone in the system for help when they’re feeling hopeless and down and out.

  • In my humble opinion I believe that it’s you who can teach the professionals many things. You seem to have a humility and a willingness to admit that you don’t know everything but you’re willing to sit there with all the girls, no matter what. I’ve not seen many professionals with these attitudes and abilities. I wish that, with all the girls’ approval you would write here on MIA about what you’ve learned in the Journey that you have all walked together over these past years. I believe that you’ve achieved something pretty phenomenal here that’s seen very little in the world of “mental health”.

  • Thank you for writing this. I taught high school for fifteen years, mainly fifteen year olds, and never would have labeled any of my students as oppositional defiant. Isn’t this what teenagers are supposed to be as they struggle to mature and grow up? Were there difficult students? Absolutely, but that’s the make-up of being a teenager. I worry about those kids who are sweet and compliant and submissive since I don’t think this is healthy or normal behavior for most kids. Why is it these days that we can’t let kids be kids without trying to poke drugs down them that are detrimental to their growth and development? Why would parents fall for any of this bull manure?

  • What is the figure? Something like 100,000 people a year die due to the “medicines” prescribed to them by their doctors. I had a doctor tell me that I was going to take the Lipitor that he was gong to prescribe to me, whether I wanted to or not! I sat there and looked at him in total surprise and then pointed to my feet and said, “I still have choice, just watch this”, and I got up and walked out of the examination room and never went back to him.

  • You know, I think that when many people write things like these blogs they do so pretty much from their own viewpoint without much thought a lot of times to the many and various groups who do not believe as they do about particular subjects. Boy……that was one long sentence. Then, these writers are shocked when things blow up all over the place. It’s like that Congressman who stated at his town hall meeting that no one ever dies because they don’t have health insurance. I suspect that he truly believes that but his audience knew that his statement was not correct.

    In my work I just assumed that all people locked in psychiatric institutions want a life beyond the walls of the institution and that they want to be recovered and have health and healing and well-being. Well, I’ve been disabused of that thought numerous times in the past seven years and it still amazes me that everyone doesn’t feel the way that I do. I used to go around asking myself the question, “What is wrong with people……..why do they want to believe that they are ill?”. What I’ve learned is that it’s their right to believe that they are ill, no matter what I believe and what I want them to believe. What this has taught me to do is to evaluate anything that I write for the “hospital” community at large and everything that I say to groups, both “patients” and staff. Many of the staff don’t even believe that recovery is possible for people of our experience.

    Although I do not agree with each and every group that I deal with at the “hospital” I have to struggle to understand where they’re coming from in their understanding. Otherwise, I will never learn how to talk with them. It aggravates the bejesus out of me to have to do so but I must do this if I’m going to be of any value to what is going on in that place. The experience has taught me a lot about me not having all the truth about everything, it’s sort of been like trying to develop some cultural competence because the groups within the “hospital” are different cultures and the people who come to MIA are kind of like different cultures.

    I believe that Dr. Steingard and Dr. Joanna Moncrief are two examples of people who have learned how to look at the total broad picture. When they blog here they bring that viewpoint and understanding and seem to rile tempers very little. When there is disagreement between them and some of us they’re able to handle the disagreements with finesse and intelligence and there is very little shedding of blood that takes place. Not all professionals who blog here have developed such an understanding as these two women have developed. We on our side are not as restrained as we could be at times and the bloggers get their defensive hackles up and the battle begins. As far as people with lived experience who blog here; I believe that when contention develops the issue most of the time seems to be the taking of the psychiatric, psychoactive drugs. This makes my hackles go up because I cannot understand why anyone would want to take the things. But what I’ve learned is that I don’t have to respond to a writer when I disagree with them. I can read what they have to say and then move on.

    This is what I am afraid will be destroyed here at MIA if you institute this new policy of yours. I don’t think the blogs are nearly as important as the discussions that are created from the blogs. It takes time and effort to change one’s thinking. I feel sometimes that the expectation is that we survivors and ex-patients are the ones who need to do this while the professionals who blog here are kind of exempt from doing so. This is a two way street.

    The thing that shocks me the most is that you seem to be giving up on this. I don’t know the situations that exist behind the scenes of MIA and I suspect that it’s a real struggle to keep everything moving forward, but I never thought that you’d consider closing comments to blogs. This is disheartening.

    I apologize for such a rambling post.

  • Well stated. I agree.

    I can’t believe that this is happening here because like you I bumbled into MIA by accident after reading Robert’s books. He’s almost like the “patron saint” of our attempts to do something here in my eyes. This place has been a respite house for me from my work in a state “hospital”. MIA has been one of the few places that the voices of people with lived experience are listened to and validated. Reading what you and others write here strengthens me in my resolve to keep fighting and pushing forward, even if it’s only in baby steps. This is extremely disappointing to me this afternoon and I leave with heavy heart.

  • And the Roman Church “rehabilitated” him as a person in good standing with the Church just a few years ago! Give me a break. The man died under house arrest for speaking the truth about a scientific phenomenon. The Church forced him to travel to Rome on a litter because he was extremely ill and bedridden, but the dear cardinals and the pope wanted to interrogate him about his scientific views. Go figure.

  • I agree, Dr. Steingard is spectacular and I would be honored to have her as my psychiatrist, if I dealt with psychiatrists personally. And you can witness a process of growth within her about all of this and she is willing to humbly admit that she doesn’t have all the answers. This kind of open honesty and transparency is highly unusual for a psychiatrist or for just about any doctor not matter what their medical specialty. I’ve appreciated being able to witness her Journey here on MIA because she’s so forthright and honest and humble. She truly cares about human beings. She is an inspiration to me in my own work within the system.

    And she doesn’t cry and ask for special treatment of any kind just because she’s a psychiatrist posting here on MIA. She knows how to hold her own ground and can go straight to the point when she needs to do so. But she always does everything with such respect and dignity for the individual she is responding to. I remember where she once lightly “slapped” my hand about something that I commented on in one of her blogs. I took it to heart and began evaluating the way I see my own ideas and beliefs and it was a beneficial experience and an opportunity for growth. And she seems to grow in much the same way due to her interactions with us here at MIA.

  • Brett

    Joanna Moncrief does just fine as a professional here on MIA and doesn’t request any kind of special treatment. She can hold her own in any discussion since she is intelligent, articulate, educated, and very suave and dignified. She can carry on a conversation with someone who doesn’t agree with her and she smiles encouragingly the entire time as she gives them her full attention. But the biggest thing that you immediately notice about Joanna is that she obviously truly cares about people and their experiences. She never dismisses anyone and treats everyone with dignity and respect. But she never asks for special treatment and I cannot imagine her ever requesting that people not be able to respond to what she writes. She is a professional among professionals and I’d love to sit down with her as my psychiatrist any time. It would be an honor to have a psychiatrist like her working for me.

  • Exactly.
    I learn the most through the interaction that takes place between commenters and the original authors and between commenters and commenters. Let’s face the reality here that most of us already know about what is written about many times. We’re intelligent and knowledgeable people so oftentimes we know the material. It’s in the interaction among all of us, writers and commenters, that leads to a broadening of all our perspectives.

    It’s coming to the point that it seems like MIA is developing the same atmosphere that a lot of college campuses have developed where there cannot be an exchange of ideas from opposing sides because the students feel too threatened by opposing ideas. Well guess what? My response to that is that perhaps you need to consider pulling up your big girl or big boy pants and get on with things and quit being a baby about it all. If someone is going to post here they need to know that they better know what they’re talking about and then be able to defend what they write with intelligence and knowledge and wisdom. I believe that this community does control itself most of the time when responding to blogs. But we will not accept patronizing, patriarchal patting on the head that some professionals approach MIA with.

    I believe that we need to develop understanding between groups but all those groups must want to bring about better communication. I am not going to sit down at the table and sing Kumbaya as I try to hold hands with people that have no desire nor intention of holding hands with me. I’ve been lectured enough, I get it each and every day that I come to work and I come here to MIA to find some respite and rejuvenation from all that. But it seems that I might have to consider trying to find somewhere else to get that from here on out.

  • Are you sure that this new policy is a wise thing? Most of the time, I learn more from the comments that are made about something that’s posted than the post itself. The struggles that take place in the comments section often challenge me to broaden my view of many things. I don’t think that stopping comments is a good way forward with all this. It will certainly lead to me spending less time here in the hopes of learning something.

    Many professionals are so used to never being challenged about anything that they say, even the ones who lean more towards our movement, what ever movement there is. Even the good ones often don’t try to see things from our perspective and lived experience. You may broaden the range of your writers but I suspect that you will lose many people with lived experience.

    This is very disappointing to me, very disappointing.

  • Right. Finding out the “why” often gives you the key to what just may help someone find the solutions to their issues. Where I work I’m always told, “Oh, you can’t buy into patients’ delusions,” and I always respond by saying that asking someone why they feel the way they do does not mean that I buy into or believe anything. But by asking that “why” I just may find out what the problem is.

  • This, for me, was a very enlightening conversation. I don’t quite understand why Brett Deacon got in such a huff and departed. I’ve witnessed a lot more bloodletting about things posted here than what took place for this blog. I thought that everyone was fairly polite most of the time. Of course, I am getting older and I miss a lot of things so who knows.

    As I grow older and try harder to practice Buddhist teaching, especially the teaching about non-attachment, I am getting better at not wanting to defend my position or stand that I’ve taken. My ego is a hard taskmaster and always wants me to let him have total control of my interactions with people. This often causes trouble for me and for others. The more I can look at things objectively, with no attachment to my ideas or assumptions, the more things open up and reveal themselves in ways that are beneficial and enlightening for me. It’s not easy because my ego is constantly saying in my ear, “Yes, but………”. The more I work at this the more I am finding that there is value in what people say, even when I don’t agree with them. There have been exceptions here at MIA, there was a certain psychiatrist who acted abominably. I’m learning that I don’t have to agree to find things of value.

  • Richard

    James is certainly not like some professionals who’ve posted things here on MIA, professionals who seemed to think that they had the answers for everything that ailed us and if we didn’t accept their ideas then we were terrible. But, in my humble opinion he does have some blind spots in his thinking where he seems to refuse to open the door to shed some light on things. This makes me uncomfortable for reasons that I can’t explain when I read what he presents. Perhaps you’ve shed some light on my discomfort for me. We all have our blind spots I suspect. I think your explanation of the Catholic thing makes sense to me and does somewhat explain the niggling little feeling of discomfort I feel when reading his work. I can at least read and consider what he has to say though a lot of times I don’t really agree with him.

    As Humanbeing states below, the word patriarch does make some sense here when dealing with James and again this makes sense what with his total acceptance of Roman Catholic teaching. Patriarchal seems to be the perfect word to describe the Roman Church and all of its mechanizations that it has going on.

  • I think that Postmodernists would argue with you about your concept of truth. I’m not an expert on Postmodernism but I think that it says that every person’s truth is valid, period. There is no absolute Truth. I suspect that Catholics are not great fans of Postmodernism nor would I expect psychiatrists to follow it. Both groups like to claim absolute Truth about a lot of things.

    If a person’s ideas don’t go along with consensus reality but don’t hurt them or others I have never understood why it’s so important for them to be forced into our consensus reality. I suspect that this forcing of people to accept consensus reality is a lot more about power than about helping them find healing and well-being in their own lives.

    I believe that all sentient beings are God. This idea certainly doesn’t fit in with consensus reality (although the mystic traditions in the major world religions, as well as Buddhism, teach this but of course the mystics don’t fit into consensus reality do they). Most of the time I keep this “delusion” to myself since most Christians and psychiatrists try to abuse me into thinking otherwise. But my unusual belief hurts no one and it doesn’t hurt me, as long as I don’t share it with the wrong people.

    So what is the big deal? Why is it so necessary to force people into believing the way that you see reality?

  • I was made to watch a session of shock, I refuse to call it ect since this is an attempt to make what happens sound better than it is, when I was doing training in a large psych hospital in 1971-72. I was doing clinical pastoral education for chaplaincy work and the powers that be decided that my classmates and I should watch someone being shocked. Don’t ask me why they thought that this was necessary but they did. I stood all by myself behind a one way mirror and observed what took place. These were the days before muscle relaxers and anesthesia were used and it was absolutely horrible. I was already against shock because they destroyed my grandmother with it in the 1950’s early 60’s. Watching them torture this person with electricity was awful and I could do nothing about it to help the person.

    How dare them call this a “good treatment”. I don’t see psychiatrists or other clinical people rushing to get shock for themselves or their families.

  • I don’t have Netflix so can’t watch this but am glad that someone is trying to address this topic of concern, especially for young people. I watched PBS News Hour where they had a pro and con presentation about this. The con person was a young woman psychologist who heads the support services for some school system that I don’t remember. She went on and on about how people should not be allowed to watch this because it would cause copy cat suicides all over the country. At the end of her presentation she stated, “After all, in the end Hannah’s suicide points to the fact that she had an underlying mental disorder that was never addressed or treated.” It still shocks me how “mental health” professionals are still spewing this tripe to the public every time that they get a chance. Excuse me!!!! Trying to kill yourself does not mean that you are “mentally ill” or have some kind of “mental disorder”. It points to the fact that you’ve lost all hope about your life where you are experiencing overwhelming distress concerning things you are experiencing or did experience or things that are done or were done to you. Here this woman is, a person in a high position of authority who coordinates services for thousands of kids and she’s spewing out this bull feces on national television on one of the most prestigious news organizations in the country.

    I know about suicide since trying to kill myself is what got me into the wonderful “mental health” system. When you have no hope and feel that you have no one to turn to who cares about you, suicide is the place you tend to end up going to. Our refusal to address suicide full on in a realistic manner is no help at all. And the most unhelpful people of all when you reach out to them in desperation are the people in the so-called “mental health” system. The one thing that they care about is liability to them if you kill yourself after dealing with them. They don’t really care about you. If they did they would sit down and ask you what was going on in your life to drive you to this point and then they would listen to what you have to say. Instead, they strip you naked, make you put a paper gown on that you can’t use to strangle yourself with, and then they cart you off to a locked ward where you will get zapped with the toxic drugs against your will. And never once will they ask you about what is going on in your life. I speak from experience. When I tried to talk with the psychiatrist in charge of my case he stated that he didn’t have time to listen to “all that” but was I taking the “antidepressant” and the mood stabilizer? The only ones who cared enough to listen to me were student nurses and I suspect the reason why they did listen is that they were new and innocent and the system hadn’t turned them to the dark side yet.

    Yes, people need to watch this program and then they need to talk about what they saw and how they feel about it. And if a majority of people are truly honest they will have to admit that they’ve considered or thought about taking their own life at difficult periods in their lives.

  • truth

    Exactly, the nurses think that the quiet smiling done by the “patient” shows how much better they are when in reality it points to traumatic brain injury. I can induce the very same behavior by smacking a person in the head a couple of times with a baseball bat but I wouldn’t call my behavior “good treatment”. Idiots without any humility who think they know absolutely everything. They need a couple of good whacks with a bat.

  • By the very fact that these toxic drugs are used to control behavior in people with dementia just goes to show that they are nothing more than major tranquilizers and nothing more. They certainly do not treat any “disease” known as “mental illness”.

    It’s not bad enough that a person is old and can’t make heads or tails of what is going on around them, confused and distressed. Now we drug them with neuroleptics so that their brains will be even more messed up than they already are. Using these drugs on the older population just goes to show that the drug companies are throwing their nets wider and wider to capture more people in an attempt to make more money.

    There are former drug reps who’ve turned whistle blowers who talk about how they were instructed by their supervisors to go into nursing homes and push the medical directors and staff to use these drugs on people who have great difficulty getting anyone to listen to them and take up for them. I listened to one interview with a former woman rep describe how she went into nursing homes and pushed these drugs. She said that in one place there was a very striking older woman who dressed well, did her own make-up, and who was very much with it. But she was opinionated and spoke out when the staff did not do their jobs. The drug rep said that the next time she saw this woman she was locked in a geri-chair and was drooling on herself because the staff took her advice and zapped this woman who once spoke out for her own needs.

    I once worked in a very good nursing home and saw the very same thing happen there to people who were outspoken and who complained that staff didn’t do their jobs. If they spoke out too much they ended up being drugged to the gills so that they could do nothing more than sit in the corner and drool on themselves.

    This is criminal and people should be in prison for all this but instead they’re pulling in salaries in the millions of dollars and are making bonuses hand over fist. There is no justice in this world.

  • Shock has always been used more against women than men. In the 1950’s, important men in the community often had their wives hauled off to the local asylum if said wives were not doing and acting as their husbands wanted them to. And in the asylum they were shocked. So being a rebellious woman is reason enough to get you a good dose of electrified brain cells. Being promiscuous ranks right up there with being rebellious and would get you zapped as well. Shock has been used as a means of social control in much the same way that the neuroleptics are used to control social behavior. Nowadays it’s grieving older widows who are prime targets for this barbarous torture. Shock has absolutely nothing to do with “good treatment”.

    I was once at a meeting where the virtues of shock were being extolled to great length. I asked the young psychiatrist why it was that all other medical specialties worked their behinds off to keep people from having seizures while the specialty of psychiatry claims that it’s a treatment in good standing. I couldn’t believe it when he said that the seizures that psychiatry induces by shock are special and different from all other seizures!!!! I’ve never heard such tripe being propounded in public in my life and sat there amazed. A seizure is a seizure is a seizure, period. He then claimed that shock today is safer than it was in the 1950’s at which point I’d had enough and stood up and stated that this was not true. Using oxygen and anesthesia on people while you’re shocking them raises the bar for how much shock you must administer in order to cause the seizure so it’s actually more dangerous now than it was in earlier decades. Well, the entire room erupted in shouting and yelling, on the part of the psychiatrists there, attacking me from all directions. It was amazing. The emperor does so have a beautiful new set of clothes and no one better say otherwise. He is not naked!!!! It’s simply torture and nothing else.

  • I agree. Life has changed tremendously since I was a kid many years ago. It makes me upset to wonder where it’s all going to end up. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have the Koch brothers actually in charge of everything. They’re in charge of a lot right now; one of my dear senators is one of their flunkies and the second one might as well be. He probably is at this point.

  • I agree. He doesn’t seem to think deeply about much of anything. He also refuses to read and one article stated that the only way his aides can get him to pay attention to material in briefings is to cut the written part into snippets and then have pictures or photos next to the writing. This doesn’t surprise me considering that his favorite means of communication seems to be by 144 characters or less. His education seems to be lacking in many areas and he doesn’t pay a damned bit of attention to anything unless it somehow concerns him.

    I suspect that Trump knows nothing more about this epidemic of “mental Illness” than what he sees in drug commercials on television. I’m not being cynical or negative here, just stating what I’ve learned about him over the past months by my own personal observation and that of news articles. He will be more of a liability than a help in our struggle, even if he is interested, which I don’t think he really is.

    I don’t think that we can look to the government at all for help since all sides seem to believe that the best thing to do is drug us to the gills and make us compliant and quiet. And you know that Big Pharma is pumping money like mad into Congress to influence the attitudes there. We only have ourselves to rely on in this struggle.

  • If this woman doesn’t believe that it’s possible for people to recover from “mental illness” how does she explain the tens of thousands of us who are recovered; with no revolving door admissions to “hospitals” or drugging? This is one dangerous woman and she has no business holding any position in the government, no matter who appointed her.

    It’s time to do away with psychiatry, period. Many doctors in other medical specialties are bad enough to deal with these days, what with their arrogance and superior attitude and lacking any real concern for their individual patients. But psychiatry is the worst of the worst for its doctors having such know-it-all attitudes and their thinking that they’re the experts on everything. It’s time for us to rise up and begin the dismantling of this quackery.

  • But adult babysitting is what some people who’ve been in the system seem to want. The people responsible in my state for creating the training and certification program for peer specialists went out into many communities across the state and asked people who’d been in the system what kind of services they wanted from peers and the answers were things like, “I want someone to take me to my doctor appointments”, or “I want someone to take me shopping, or do my grocery shopping for me”. Things like this formed the majority and bulk of the information that was gathered. I didn’t find much of anything dealing with people wanting motivation towards moving out of the system and leaving it behind. There was nothing mentioned about facilitating discussion groups or things like Hearing Voices groups. Hell, almost no one in this state knows what Hearing Voices groups are to begin with.

    Granted, peer workers in the community do a lot of things like what I mentioned above but in the doing they’re supposed to form relationships where they walk with people so that these people find their own voices and strengths so they can evolve to the point of being able to stand on their own and hopefully do these things for themselves. We are not about keeping people tied to the same place and can gently challenge people to look at things in new ways so that they find what it is that they need to fulfill their own lives. I believe that peers fail in their work if all they do is continue to do what might be seen as “babysitting” work.

    But what I’ve also found is that many people who’ve been in the system learned their lessons well and continue to believe that they’re not capable of taking control of their own lives, even if this takes some time to accomplish. I guess that this is to be expected since very few people have ever told them anything different. I help facilitate a recovery group where I work and when I ask people what their definition of recovery is I hear a litany of “take your meds and work your program and stay away from people that will try to lead you astray from this.” It’s like a mantra tape that is turned on immediately when they hear questions like this. When my partner in crime, the other peer worker, and I introduce ideas like becoming recovered everyone looks at us as if we have horns sprouting out of our foreheads. If I didn’t know better I’d think that they make the sign against the evil eye behind our backs when we’re not paying attention! I run into very few people like you or Oldhead or FeelingDiscouraged in my work and it’s extremely frustrating and it saddens me. How do you separate people from the learned helplessness that they learned so well when they’re frightened of even thinking about a different life for themselves? What I’ve found is that the idea of recovery is more frightening for many people than it is intriguing or positive because it requires taking responsibility for your own life. The system has deprived people of doing this at the appropriate age and it scares the bejesus out of people when they’re in their late 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Who wants to become responsible for their own lives, especially in today’s world where so many things are in flux and so few things are certain? This is the challenge handed out to peers in the state “hospital” where I work. It is challenging to figure out how to help people wean themselves off of the learned helplessness and gradually replace this with personal responsibility. I think it can be done but it’s time consuming and you have to keep faithfully hammering away at it each and every day. But of course, all the other staff in the “hospital” give them the totally opposite message and theirs is the prevalent message. So people are faced with a choice of opting for our peer message or continue to drink the Kool-Aid and repeat their mantras.

    One thing I’ve learned from Sera in all of this is that nothing is simple or easy. Lots of times it’s a huge mess to be waded through without drowning in all of it. One thing that I do know for myself is that I don’t want to babysit people.

  • Perhaps psychedelics help people to see the world and Truth a little more clearly and big business and much of the government and the religious institutions do not want people who understand what is actually going on. The jig is up once people have true understanding and can see things clearly for what they are.

    I think you are right about this.

  • Your experience reminded me of the first night I spent at the state “hospital”. When introduced to the unit where I would stay the nurses were going through their check lists of things I needed to do. One of the things was the shot for the TB skin test. I can’t take that test because the last time I took it I reacted so strongly that my arm swelled up. Doctors told me to NEVER, EVER take the skin test again.

    Well, here came this snotty acting little nurse with the needle. When I asked her what she planned to do with it she smugly stated that I’d better put out my arm so she could give me the skin test. I explained that I could no longer take that test and she came at me with the needle anyway.

    I backed up and stated that I would not take the test since it would result in harm to me. By golly, she came at me again. So I backed up again and balled my fist up at my side. I told myself that if she didn’t stop I was going to punch her in her smug and snotty face. At about that time the charge nurse stepped in and told her to leave me alone and we’d get it straightened out in the morning. The snotty nurse stated that she was going to give me the skin test no matter what because it was the rules. The charge nurse told her to stand down and leave the area since she was being insubordinate. It was unbelievable.

    The next morning it was confirmed by my medical records that I should never be given the skin test!

  • But you are sounding mighty dogmatic right now. You may have seen people on the wards that may have experienced problems with psychedelics, true. But you didn’t see all the people who didn’t have problems with them and who found them useful in integrating their experiences so that they could move on with their lives. The problem with the psychiatric “hospitals” is that all you see are people experiencing problems. These are not the places where you find people who have dealt with their emotional and psychological issues and found healing and well-being.

    The use of psychedelics for healing trauma must be approached with seriousness and planning. It doesn’t help everyone but it seems to help many.

  • Thank you for your statement. LSD is probably not for everyone but can be extremely useful in helping some people deal with PTSD and trauma issues. It seems to allow some people to look at the trauma objectively and without fear, something that usually doesn’t happen for trauma survivors. It also seems to keep the ego from getting involved, which may lead to the increased objectivity.

  • I actually get paid a really good salary; far better than what I was paid for teaching high school for fifteen years and as a hospital chaplain for fifteen years. Of course, I suspect that this varies from state to state. If we had peer workers in the state where I live they probably wouldn’t be paid as well as I am since I get paid by the state since I work at a state institution.

  • When they drug test they do not text for psychiatric drugs to see if people are med compliant. Not every peer takes the drugs, some do but many do not. I do not take any of the drugs and have been randomly drug tested many times with no problem about whether I was taking the drugs that I left the “hospital” with when discharged. I suspect that these kinds of things would be a HIPPA problem since you’re not to reveal anything about a person’s medical records. Unless I reveal it, no one in the ‘hospital” where I work, which is the same one I was held in, no one knows my diagnosis or the drugs I was supposed to take. These would be huge HIPPA violations that I could bring suit against the “hospital” for, under federal prosecution.

  • I am not meds compliant. I threw the bag of drugs they discharged me with in the trash when I got away from the “hospital”. There are not many peers in my area so I have no way of knowing if you’re correct or not from where I’m at. I know two peer workers with one being very compliant and one who takes nothing at all, like me. I’ve wondered about this myself from time to time. But of course we’re not supposed to talk about the issue of who takes their drugs compliantly and who doesn’t, or at least this was the instruction that I received from my training. It’s made a personal choice issue.

  • One of the possible problems I see with peer workers is that if they haven’t had at least some basic training they can end up doing to others what was done to them. I’ve seen former “patients” who have been given the title of “peer specialist” simply because they are a former patient. They totally lacked any training but were turned loose on the people in the units of the “hospital”. Obviously, the Administration didn’t have any idea what peer workers are nor what we’re supposed to do. It was awful and there was more drama than you’d ever want to see. These people set staff against the “patients” and the “patients” against the staff. It was one, big pile of turmoil on the units on a daily basis. I finally went to the people up front in the Administration and told them that if they didn’t want a lawsuit brought by “patients” or family members they’d better get their “peer specialists” off the units. One such “peer worker” who hadn’t seemed to have resolved his issues about his time spent in the “hospital” seemed to be playing out his own stuff on the people in the units. It was very apparent that he liked the power he had over the “patients”. Fortunately, he no longer works at the “hospital” any longer.

    I don’t believe that we have to get a college degree in order to be people who are willing to walk with people through their issues, but I damned sure do believe in some basic training, especially about self awareness and self understanding.

  • I forgot to mention that each peer worker will be required to, get this, have one hour of supervision per week with a psychiatrist! I thought that any supervision given to peer workers was to be done by and with a supervisor with lived experience. I suspect that clinicians had a hand in creating this requirement in an attempt to control peers.

    You’ve pegged it correctly in that this is just turning into one, big mess. And as usual, the people who will really be adversely affected are those still locked in the system.

  • I respect Andreasen’s decision to talk about this since she is the Grand Dame of the Bio-Bio-Bio psychiatry. She stated this in 2008, and yet two months ago I heard a young psychiatrist state that she was so happy because she’d convinced a young man who didn’t want to be “medicated” (I called it drugged) to take the antipsychotics because it would keep his brain from being damaged any more than it already was by the schizophrenia! I was so angry that before I thought I said, “Give me a break”! After everyone at the meeting looked at me they ignored me as if I’d said nothing at all. Here it is 2017, nine years later and Andreasens’s message goes ignored and unheard!

  • Well stated. Speaking of “help” when it comes to the homeless. There is a lot of coercion that goes on in the homeless shelters in the city where I live. All but one of them are Christian based and require attendance at chapel or prayers and going to prayer groups. Your discussions better contain lots of references to Christian beliefs and biblical teaching. This is “help” with a stick or club.

  • I find it very interesting that in the state where I live they are planning a certification program for “certified peer specialists”. The requirements as far as continuing education and professional development are concerned are totally outrageous in that they require so much time involved in attending things that you won’t have any time to do any work! A good friend of mine looked at the proposed requirements. This person is a licensed social worker and a registered nurse as well as a peer. This person said that the requirements are higher than that required of anyone in going into social work or nursing. They even require people to attend ethics classes and workshops, something that will be fairly difficult to do since we are a rural state with little access to formal education in the form of college classes etc. Don’t get me wrong, we must be ethical in our dealings with people but I don’t think that our jobs require us to attend two ethics classes every other year. And I don’t think that ethics change that much from year to year to require this kind of thing.

    I don’t think that they will find people to be certified because of these herculean level requirements. Are they setting us up to fail before we even begin?

  • Why is it that the expectation is that we talk about being “in recovery”? As far as I’m concerned I am recovered. I am not “in recovery”. I have found healing, well-being, and balance in my life and I don’t plan to spend the rest of the days I have monitoring symptoms and worrying about whether what I’m feeling today means that I might be getting “ill” again. I am not going to live like that.

    When I and my companion peer worker expresses this idea everyone where we work look at us as if we had horns growing out of our foreheads. Someone even corrected us one day in a discussion and said “you are in recovery”. I thanked them not to try and decide for me what I mean when I say something. When I say recovered this is exactly what I mean.

  • I agree.

    Being labeled as “mentally ill” certainly did not help me when I tried to take my own life. What helped was when someone was willing to listen to what I had to say about why I tried to kill myself, what you referred to as someone validating my feelings. I was helped by compassionate student nurses and a Wiccan nurse more than by anyone associated with the “mental health” system. In fact, the very people who would not listen to my story and who acted as if my feelings were of no account were the psychiatrists and nurses in that very system. I got my life back despite the system. I had a few good friends who cared, and the student nurses and the Wiccan I met along my way to the state “hospital” where I was held. They were the ones who helped me to change my life and to gain the balance I needed to see things more clearly. There were good reasons why I no longer wanted to live but these people listened and in the end it all helped me to move on and get my life back.

    I also believe that the “antidepressant” that I took mega-doses of, was also responsible for my trying to kill myself. When I realized what a zombie I’d become from the “medicine” it was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Thank you for writing about this.

  • This aptly describes not only the condition of the “patients” in the forensic side of the “hospital” where I work but the condition of the rest of the “patients” in the units that are not forensic. A very large number of “patients” not on forensic units come from jail. The “hospital” has turned into one, large forensic unit. The system was bad enough as it was but now the law and legal systems have their fingers in the pie and the mix makes for a very nasty tasting pie for the people labeled as the “patients”. The “hospital” even has its very own court that is part of the city court system. If you aren’t compliant enough for your psychiatrist in the community mental health center that psychiatrist can swear out a petition on you and you will receive a summons to appear in our court. This can happen to people who are not court ordered for treatment as well as those that are court ordered. If you don’t kow tow deeply enough and show the level of compliance that your psychiatrist thinks she or he deserves you are up for grabs and the summons will be in your mail box. And if you decide to not appear in court on your assigned date they will send the deputy sheriffs to your front door that very afternoon and you will be dragged down to our “hospital”. It’s all about compliance and power and putting us in our rightful places.

  • I agree totally with you in your deep distrust of the medical system. Any doctor, no matter what her or his specialty, must prove to me beforehand that they are worth enough to treat me. I don’t necessarily accept something just because a doctor said it. I worked too long in hospitals to have much respect for doctors in general. I saw doctors make horrible mistakes and then lie about it and the rest of the hospital staff were expected to support the lie so the doctor wouldn’t have to face consequences. It’s not just psychiatrists who are unreliable and deceptive. Doctors are part of a guild that will do anything to protect those within it, at all costs. Consequently about 100,000 people lose their lives every year to doctors’ mistakes. And yet how many are prosecuted and brought to justice? Sorry that I got on my soapbox here but doctors are just not my favorite group of people after I worked around hem a number of years.

  • Your description of what happened to you at your doctor’s office, as compared to what happened to your fiancé, reminds me of what I witnessed with my roommate numerous times. He experienced very terrible symptoms where he lost control of his muscles and had seizures. This happened more than once. We would go to the ER and everything would be just fine until they learned that he had been in the system. Automatically they would become cold and distant and tell him to make an appointment with his psychiatrist the next day and would not do any further work for him. I think it was the psych drugs that he religiously took that affected him but he wouldn’t consider any thing of the sort.

    Once during one of these trips to the ER they called a psychiatrist and I sat and watched him try to convince my roommate that he was “bi-polar”. When I’d finally had enough to make me want to vomit I interrupted and told the psychiatrist off. I was so angry I nearly spit. Of course, the psychiatrist never knew that I also had a history in the system. If he had he probably would have ignored me. As it was, he stopped his spiel about being “bi-polar” and quickly sent us on our way.

    It really is disgusting, to say the least. We cannot get good, proper, and decent health care because of our backgrounds.

  • One of the things that the system tries to teach us as “patients” is that you can’t rely on your own intelligence and intuition to guide yourself through life. You must always rely on someone else but never, never yourself. And as you point out so eloquently this leads to fearing our very own selves. I believe that this is one of the most destructive things that the system does to us.

    But, you made it out of the system!

  • What has happened is that the drug companies and psychiatry in general, thanks to psychiatrists like dear Joseph Beiderman, were able to pathologize many aspects of normal childhood and growing up so that they could be turned into diagnoses. And then we know the next step; they get drugged to the gills, which is quite profitable for both the drug companies and the psychiatrists who call themselves “child psychiatrists”.

    There is no doubt that children find themselves under more stress and anxiety now than my generation did as children, but rather than work with kids to understand where the problems are stemming from many people, both parents and teachers, find it much more convenient to drug them to the gills so that they don’t have to put up with aggravating behavior. Also, the expectations that parents and society in general have for kids these days are unreasonable and basically unachievable. School is boring, which causes problems for kids that have lots of energy or curiosity. This leads to their getting drugged for having ADHD, one of the biggest hoaxes perpetrated in all of time. What it boils down to is that kids can no longer be kids anymore, and if they try to be anyway they will end up being drugged to the gills.

  • Yes, I’ve seen all kinds of interesting dynamics work in the relationships between staff and the “patients” on units. As a patient don’t you dare show yourself to be better educated or more intelligent than the staff running the unit because you will pay the price in many small but very subtle ways. I experienced it myself as a “patient”. If you are labeled with a diagnosis and have been in any psych unit you automatically become lower than anyone else.

    It saddens me that your friend bought into all the lies that the system perpetrates on people.

  • Unfortunately, in the state “hospital” where I work giving a “patient” a hug can get you fired for “breaking boundaries”. We have paragraph after paragraph describing what kind of physical contact we can and cannot have with “patients”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t not believe that staff should be able to have just any kind of physical contact with “patients” since staff have power over those they are supposedly working for and with. You absolutely have no right to take advantage of this power with anyone else. My point is that once again, the system goes too far in the wrong direction when they remove all human physical contact from “patients” lives.

    As a former hospital chaplain I know how important human touch can be for people who are struggling with emotional and psychological distress and dis-ease. All humans need some kind of human contact, especially when going through difficulties.

  • Exactly. Here in the United States it’s not uncommon to see kids on a so-called “antidepressant”, an “antipsychotic”. and a benzo and all at the same time. You are right when you state that this isn’t medicine but mass poisoning of children.

  • The staff spends so much time in the state “hospital” where I work insisting that the “patients” who are delusional need to have reality-based conversations. It’s written into their master treatment plan. The staff spends so much time telling people that they are wrong. The staff spends so much time remembering and writing down every little tidbit of conversation or every little statement that proves that a person is delusional. And then the staff go around talking about the “chemical imbalance, broken brain, it’s in the genes” stuff and I have to wonder who the truly delusional people are.

    When I was admitted to this very “hospital” the staff claimed that I was lying about and being delusional concerning being a hospital chaplain. Of course they had to eat crow when a social worker who worked there and was a friend of mine confirmed my claim. And then we had the case of an older woman who was delusional when she claimed to have a master’s degree in political science. She actually had a doctorate in political science. Perhaps she knew better than to outright claim the truth because she would never be believed. We all know that “mental patients” can never be hospital chaplains or have doctorates in political science. So much of this boils down to a power trip with the staff thinking that they’re so much better than the “patients” they’re supposed to be working with to achieve wellness and healing.

    Your last paragraph is wonderful. You learn so much more about people when you quit fighting with them and just listen deeply to what they have to say.

  • Really……..oh those poor, poor European, white colonizers! Being murdered by blood thirsty savages just because those colonizers were stealing land and murdering off entire tribes and communities of indigenous peoples! Those savages should have been so ashamed of themselves! How dare them stress these poor white colonizing conquerors.

    I’m with Oldhead on this one.

  • And explain to me again why we should pay any attention at all to studies and trials done by drug companies. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that you can’t trust any studies done by the drug companies since they have a vested interest to make money for their investors and so that the CEO’s of said companies can rake in millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses. I think we should call for an immediate stop to the prescription of these devil’s tic tacs to kids, period. If adults want to take them, after being informed of the fact that they don’t work and they cause horrific effects to deal with, that’s just fine. But they should never be forced on kids.

  • On the news last night, in the city where I live, there was a report concerning how the suicide rate for girls 10-14 years of age has skyrocketed over the past decade. The doctor being interviewed claimed that this is due to social media. Bullying on social media certainly is a problem, but I suspect that this rise in deaths probably follows fairly well the rise in the number of girls in this age group being drugged with SSRI’s. And I wonder how many of these girls were labeled as “bi-polar” as a child, thanks to dear quack Joseph Beiderman, which then led to them being put on things like neuroleptics. And then we have the rise of the supposed ADHD label for girls where you get legal speed along with your drug cocktail.

    It always interests me that they never look at their contribution to all this and always point out other things to be the cause of the problem. Kids should not be given “anti-depressants”, period. Is growing up difficult for kids these days? Yes, absolutely. But we are not doing them a favor by filling them full of drugs that supposedly take care of some kind of broken brain due to chemical imbalances. What a bunch of bull manure.

  • Feelin

    I’ve started thinking the same thing as I contemplate the revolving door that we have in the Administration Dept. in the state “hospital” where I work. We set people up for failure when we discharge them with their big bag of drugs and absolutely no support where people are going back out to live. We have no programs for preparing people to be more successful for when they’re discharged back into society. We just throw them out the back door and say: “Good by and good luck, see ya.”

  • Why all this fuss about diagnoses when the treatment is always the same for every label? We all know that, no matter what, you’re going to end up on “antidepressants” or “antipsychotics” or both! The DSM is only a nice, fat source of revenue for the APA and an excuse for psychiatrists to say that they are valid doctors because they can diagnose “mental illnesses”. It’s the goose that lays the golden eggs for the APA, drug companies, and psychiatrists but in realty is only a source of stigma and destroyed lives for those it’s applied to.

  • And the truly big thing that I’ve discovered about all this is that you teach better by example and by being the change that you want to see in the world than you do by haranguing people and clubbing them over the head to try and force them to change their thinking. You pique their interest by quietly going along and doing what you need to do for people and maybe they will begin to wonder and to ask questions. It’s a long and very drawn out process.

  • What I find about all this is that the other peer worker and I are treated with a touch of paternalism but with a great deal of support and respect. Both of us have a work histories prior to our experience with the system in areas that seem to generate respect from others and both of us are capable of carrying on a conversation where we can hold our own with those at the top. I suspect that it doesn’t hurt that I was once a chaplain. It also doesn’t hurt that I work with the Division of Behavioral Health in planning programs for peer workers in the state. Division is the organization that oversees the “hospital”. I think it’s important to never shove this in peoples’ faces but it’s important to let it be known that you’re involved in these places and organizations. And I suspect that they had no idea what peer workers really do when I was hired and it’s been an experience of trying to teach them and the rest of the staff what peers are and what they’re required to do for the people that we walk with. The doors in administration are always open to the two of us and they do listen to what we have say, though they don’t go up against the doctors very often.

    The one thing that we can’t do is directly confront any of the psychiatrists. This sounds kind of Machiavellian, but you have to form alliances with those psychiatrists who have any leanings towards listening to anything different from the “drug them up and head them out” mentally. I know that many here at MIA say that this is going over to the Dark Side but I say that it’s like working in the French Resistance.

    We survive here because the administration supports us and most of the administrators are people that you can speak with honestly and freely. It’s interesting that many of them know that what peers stand for; freedom of choice for “patients” and against forced “treatment” should be the reality for the “hospital” but in this state everything dealing with “mental illness” is determined by the old paradigm, and it’s very apparent that many of the psychiatrists are not well informed at all about what’s happening in the wider world. Even the psychiatrists we can work with didn’t know who Nancy Andreassan (sp) is! They were not familiar with her two studies (2007) that prove that it’s not the “schizophrenia” that causes people’s brains to shrink but the drugs and she’s the Grand Dame of Bio-Bio-bio- psychiatry!

    I guess what it boils down to is that we’re lucky plus we’ve worked hard to be competent and professional people. We are seen, not as auxiliary staff who are there to do the grunt jobs, but staff that are complementary to clinical staff. We are not under the Dept. of Nursing but stand alone as a department of two who answer directly to the Director of Clinical Services for the entire “hospital”. The psychologist who has this position is totally behind peers and set it up this way so that we have more freedom than we would have under another department.

    I have been attacked openly by psychiatrists and some psychologists when speaking in open meetings. This usually happens when I try to introduce some different ways of “seeing” the supposed “mental illness”. All in all, we are lucky.

  • Your response here reminds me of an experience that I had when I first started working in the state “hospital” where I’d been held as a “patient”. I was in new employee orientation and the assistant CEO of the “hospital” came to give her little speech and welcome to all of us new employees. She’d worked at this “hospital” for 27 years and this is what she said to us: “The people you will be working with here are the worst of the worst, the sickest of the sick, people who’ve burned their bridges everywhere else and are now with us.” I sat there stunned and angry and totally flabbergasted.

    After her little speech she asked each of us to introduce ourselves and to state what department we would be working in. When it came my turn I said my name and then stated that I was a peer worker. This administrator got a puzzled look on her face and asked me what peer workers were. I said: “Well, I’m the worst of the worst, the sickest of the sick, and according to you I burned all my bridges getting here. I’m a former patient”. She couldn’t get out of the room fast enough.

    I knew before I started work that the attitudes were bad, after all, I’d lived on one of the units for almost three months. But here was an administrator stating this kind of attitude in public for all to see and hear and she thought that it was perfectly acceptable. When people at the top say these kinds of things it’s no surprise that people in the lower ranks have such a horrible viewpoint of the people they are supposed to be working for to find recovery and wellness. Thankfully, this woman retired the year after I started working. She always avoided me in the hallways until her departure.

  • This is not surprising when every word, gesture, look, etc. is observed and interpreted through the lens of pathology. Thank you medical model, which is a deficit based model rather than a model that emphasizes strengths. One of the biggest things that I fight against in the “hospital” where I work is this attitude of interpreting every little thing that the person says or does through the lens of their diagnosis, through pathology, rather than just seeing them as human beings with some quirks here or there. And on top of this, no matter what you claim or say, if your are or were a patient clinicians always believe that you are lying

    I know an older women who was held on one of the units where I work. During her intake interview with the treatment team she stated that she had a masters degree in Political Science. The entire team automatically dismissed her information and said that she had no such degree. Well……come to find out, she was being humble and it was discovered that she actually had a doctorate in Political Science. All I could do was laugh out loud as I handed the salt and pepper around at the treatment team meeting so that everyone could eat the crow that they had dished out on their own plates. Most days I just want to slap everyone silly since they’re already pretty stupid.

  • Like you, I’ve always believed that if you begin to understand the person’s reality you create a door that allows at least some understanding about what motivates the person. But clinicians immediately dismiss the person’s reality as having no value, since they don’t live in the consensus “reality” that the clinician wants to impose on the “patient”. We must quit labeling people as “patients” and deal with them as real people whose realities are valuable in themselves.

    To be gifted by someone allowing you to enter their reality is both a humbling and enriching experience.

  • And I believe that some people recognize that the system maintains its hold over people labeled as “patients” by perpetuating lies about “sick for life” and “you must always take the drugs” and the “you have a chemical imbalance”. There is almost no way that you can know this and stay working in the system. To know that the system creates harm for its own existence is too much and people leave.

    I agree that activism needs to go beyond just our particular area and we need to join forces with other groups working for some bit of social justice.

  • Oh thank you for setting me so straight on all of this. I base a lot of my understanding on my grandmother who was a Wise Woman and healer of an indigenous tribe here in America. She was of the Lakota nation, from one of the reservations in South Dakota.

  • All I know is this: I took these damned drugs long enough to know that they were extremely detrimental to me. I will never touch another one of these devil’s tic tacs, no matter what. They turned me into a zombie who was separated from his feelings and emotions; an uncaring and detached person who didn’t care what was happening in life around him. And I didn’t care about what was happening to others around me either; this was somewhat detrimental since I was a hospital chaplain.

    Another thing that I know is that depression is not a disease or an illness. This is one of the two great lies perpetuated by drug companies and psychiatry about these drugs; they’re supposedly a “treatment” for an illness or disease. The other great lie is that they cure some kind of serotonin imbalance in the brain. This is the great lie put out by drug companies and psychiatry. When dealing with me do not, under any circumstances, try to foist these two lies off on me because you won’t like the response that you receive.

    I am for free choice when it comes to the use of psychiatric drugs. I will never, ever touch the damned things ever gain but if others believe that they help them and want to take them then I support their decision. But, I hope that before they make any such decision that they will investigate the effects of these drugs on the health and lives of human beings.

    So, they can produce all the studies of this kind that they want, but it will not convince me that they are something that I should ever take. I remember what my life was like while under the influence of these so-called “antidepressants”, a supposed cure for a disease that doesn’t exist.