Thursday, September 21, 2017

Comments by yeah_I_survived

Showing 100 of 107 comments. Show all.

  • This is a frustrating situation for anyone who has been thru “treatment” to witness. So much time and money is being wasted on dehumanizing, degrading, often dangerous “treatment,” while actual solutions to what ails humans today are regarded as “anti-science” or (God forbid…) “anti-psychiatry,” which I suppose is the modern day equivalent of blasphemy.

    Xanax can be more problematic than some other benzodiazepines, sometimes, in some people. Problem there? All benzodiazepines can be dangerous, especially since they’re only safe when used for short periods of time, in limited situations, in some people.

    Honestly, I think one reason so many “experts” are gunning for xanax is because it make some people feel good, for a whlie, plus…there are plenty of other equally dangerous, somewhat less fun pills out there that can do the same thing (“appropriate medical treatment for severe anxiety”). Kind of like…back in the day, Seconal was demonized, then Quaaludes. Quaaludes, of course, have been banned in the US since the mid-80s. Seconal, for whatever reason, has made a comeback recently.

    On and on it goes. It wouldn’t surprise me if Xanax ends up being moved to Schedule II or III in the federal, DEA classification system…once a new, “safe” drug pops up. Benzodiazepines exploded once the barbiturates were demonized. The “atypicals” hit it big time once psychiatrists became honest about how terrible the tranquilizers often were/are, especially the high dose Haldol so popular for way too long.

    As things are going now, its total mind-fuckery. Xanax is being singled out, but our friendly media will, of course, have “experts” telling us that benzodiazepines are “safe and effective, when taken as prescribed…” just not that horrible, awful, no good, very bad, demon pill, Xanax. My wild guess is that overall benzodiazepine prescribing rates won’t even drop all that much, if at all…and, before too long, Big Pharma will rescue us all with a shiny new pill (and then several shinier, newer, “me-too” pills, also) that will soothe the afflicted, safely. You know…a real “medicine,” not a “drug” like that satanic pill, xanax.

    Maybe Szasz was right? Psychiatry needs to be abolished, for the good of humanity….

  • I don’t quite know what to make of this. On the one hand, it kind of makes sense, intuitively. Neuroleptics are highly toxic. The faster a person can drop a highly toxic drug, the better. On the other hand, there’s lots of other data, plus personal experiences, that contradict this latest “development” in the land of Mental Health, Inc.

    My personal opinion–cearly, as a “mental patient,” I won’t find many people who will listen, except perhaps here on MIA–is that there’s tremendous heterogeneity here. If a person is living comfortably, safely, not being oppressed and abused, etc., and they’re also physically more or less healthy and they have some psychosocial support, stuff to do, perhaps some spiritual beliefs+practices, then I could easily see how suddeen discontinuation of a neuroleptic might be a viable option.

    On the other hand, if a personal has been drugged for years upon years, they’re stressed, they have physical problems, they live in isolation, oppression, and poverty (clearly, these factors are interrelated), then suddenly stopping the tranquilizer/neuroleptic might prove to be a hellish experience.

    I think its worth noting that psychiatrists often go out of their way to break people/”patients,” to make us/them more “manageable.” It happened to me, at a young age. Truth be told, I didn’t so much “recover” as I was transformed by a so-called “spiritual awakening” (don’t let the “Christians” on the TV fool you; Jesus loves the least of these, “mental patients” included).

    Once a psychiatrist has broken a person, the torment usually gets worse. I know this from personal experience. Many (most? all?) of them find destroying human beings quite amusing, actually. Maybe that’s why they settle for a field that pays less than other branches of medicine?

    In my own life, I’ve found that once one is healed, transformed, etc., from being broken by Mental Health, Inc., then it becomes much, much easier to get on with things. Of course, the absolute last thing the people of Mental Health, Inc. want, or really what much of society wants, either, is for a broken “mental patient” to be healed and transformed.

  • i now consider myself antipsychiatry. my spiritual beliefs (I’m a Christian), my personal experiences, my reading, my observations…these factors combined lead me to think that psychiatry and psychology harm human beings all the time, and human kind would be be healthier, happier, safer, more genuinely free, and think more clearly if Mental Health, Inc. could be put out of business.

    Having said that, I personally welcome any critical, questioning, skeptical voices, any serious reflection, any serious analysis. The way I see it, Mental Health, Inc. cannot sustain very much analysis, criticism, or really…truth, of any sort…so unleashing a flood of questions and criticism from any and all angles might lead to a sort of death by 1,000 paper cuts. Something like that, anyway.

    I enjoyed the article, btw. Thanks for writing+posting this.

  • I read somewhere that, in psychiatry, drugs are often perceived as more “effective” when they cause the person/”patient” more suffering. Thus, now, the older neuroleptics/tranquilizers are considered “very effective, but can cause more “side effects,” and clozapine is regarded as the “gold standard” in neuroleptic/tranquilizers. This drug actually kills people often enough–or can, anyway– that there’s all kinds of red tape in most nations (I’ve read that China has dispensed with a lot of these regulations…). Instead of looking at the horrible adverse effects of this drug and looking elsewhere, it seems that psychiatrists have chosen instead to look at the pain inflicted upon the people/”patients” as some sort of “proof” that clozapine is some sort of wonder drug.

    I think this clearly shows that psychiatry is about control and punishment, especially when one starts dealing with those labeled with the more “severe mental illnesses,” especially Schizophrenia. The very label of “Schizophrenia,” in and of itself, is a tool psychiatry uses to invalidate, dehumanize, and control people.

  • excellent article. thank you for this. i’ve been doing my own version of Orthomolecular for about 7 years now. My first 6 months I focused on detox, by adding in alpha lipoic acid, NAC, and green tea extract on top of the standard Orthomolecular protocol. Over time, I’ve cobbled together a more or less stable “line up” of supplements. 6 grams niacinamide is the core at this point. 20 grams vitamin C. 3 b-100 tablets. 1,000 IU natural form E w/ mixed tocopherols. add ons are in there, of course…astaxanthin, green tea extract, grape seed extract, biotin, lately large doses of l-theanine.

    I am now remarkably healthy. I’m intelligent. I’m even bright eyed (long story, but a particularly nefarious psychiatrist at a private, for-profit hell hole deliberately left me dead eyed, age 20). My communtiy has now voted me “Schizophrenic,” where before I was labeled with personality disorders and other “defects.” This has taught me a valuable lesson. Madness is real. Very, very, painfully real (indeed). “Mental illness,” on the other hand, is a dangerous, destructive myth.

    Thank you for sharing your story about being “outed” at grad school. I’ve had some similar experiences. The delightful “professionals” of Mental Health, Inc. often go out of their way to keep “patients IN LINE,” from what I’ve experiened+observed.

    Congratulations on your ongoing Orthomolecular treatment and on your new life. I find you and your story inspirational, at many levels.

  • excellent article. psychiatry most certainly cannot be reformed. at the same time, I do not think psychiatry will ever die unless society changes, at a number of levels. My hope is that as the costs associated with all things Mental Health, Inc. continue to increase–the costs of disability, of the drugs, of “treatment” that is never, ever supposed to end, as long as the “patient” is alive–perhaps that alone might be enough to begin destroying psychiatry (and other parts of Mental Health, Inc., too; all of it tends to be oppressive and is based in lies…).

    Honestly, my concern right now and for the near future is that Mental Health, Inc. will respond in a reactionary manner and emphasize more drugs, more “diagnosis,” more of what lies at the core of Mental Health, Inc.–that is, force, fraud, and coercion.

    Again, I enjoyed the article.

  • This is absolutely ridiculous. And yet, I am not the least bit surprised. “Depression” is still a very lucrative market, even though it seems that the emphasis until recently was on expanding “Bipolar Disorder” to include more and more people, who could then be prescribe more and more psychiatric drugs.

    I don’t think the psychiatrists alone are to blame for this. I forget the exact percentage, but the bulk of psych drug prescriptions are written by non-specialists. Family doctors, general practitioners, etc. certainly know that neuroleptics are very serious drugs with very serious adverse effect profiles, but many of them have chosen to dispense Latuda and friends to their patients as “treatment.” My best guess is that a lot of these unfortunate patients are female. A number of people who are given the neuroleptics have their “treatment” covered by Medicare or Medicaid, which brings in race and social class issues, also.

    I find it strange that the neuroleptics–which have long been known to cause intense misery (“neuroleptic-induced dysphoria,” akathisia, etc.)–are now being pushed on people who are so sad that they have been labaled with “depression.” It seems that these modern marvels don’t work all that well, either, which goes to show (once again…) the power of Big Pharma $$$ and “experts” to drive up drug costs, expose lots of people to unnecessary risks, and damage peoples’ lives, all to treat an “illness” that has yet to show up on brain scans, blood work, or even careful inspection at autopsy.

  • Thank you for this. I mean that. I’m beginning the process of genuine, bona fide recovery. Once the psychosocial stuff was taken care of, I made the decision to drop the tranquilizer . I find that I’m doing better, physically, and being transformed into a new human being, one who isn’t “sick” 24/7. Perhaps not at all surprisingly, I find that much of my “progress” has occurred and is happening –despite– Mental Health, Inc. I am blessed, though. Because of social class issues, etc., I get a little more “breathing room” than many of the “patients” I see at the clinic. In fact, my (obviously…) trauam-induced madness isn’t even offically called “Schizophrenia,” because people from “good families” aren’t “Schizophrenic;” we’re “Bipolar I.”

    Thanks again. I don’t think I’ll ever find a “professional” in the land of Mental Health, Inc. who will do a whole lot to help me on my journey , but God has put a genuine, caring, older, wiser, friend+mentor in my life. She helps tremendously. The people of Mental Health, Inc. definitely did not help, don’t help much now, but at least with a “good family” behind me, they seem to mostly stay out of my way.

  • I live in the US. My best guess is that many “experts” here will not only refuse to listen, there may well be a period of active opposition against real and perceived threats to their power and dominance. Ever read about “hippy-phrenia” ? I haven’t read a whole lot, but it was like this…upper-middle and upper-class families sent their wayward offspring to the psychiatrists for “treatment” because they were…well…questioning the status quo, dropping out, etc. Labels varied, but from what little I know of it,various forms of “Schizophrenia” were applied to the ne’er-do-wells, and they were “treated” accordingly (of course, “Schizophrenia” was even more meaningless and vague in the US back then than it is now, so…who knows what “treatment” involved…).

    I think I see some of this reactionary behavior now, even. In the US, polls show people shifting left, which is to say…society as a whole is becoming a lot more rational about life issues. OK. Good times. One also sees some growing skepticism towards Mental Health, Inc., now and then even the mainstream News starts asking questions, etc. And Mental Health, Inc.’s respoonse? The Murphy Law. Treatment Advocacy Center. More states pushing for involuntary “treatment” and/or expansion of such “treatment.” Considering the way the GOP is now doing their absolute best to rip what remains of the safety net to shreds and also the continuing disappearance of the middle-middle class, the growing numbers of poor people, the “war on terror,” the further developing police state, etc…I don’t think most “mental patients” in the US will be getting any sort of genuine compassion, respect, actual–gasp–“help” anytime soon.

  • thank you so very much for this article. NAMI is a big threat to people with labels and distress, especially those of us who would very much like to decline all the “help” the so-called “helping professions” have to offer, often based on horrible personal experiences.

    Your mention of the “Murphy Bill” got me to thinking a bit. Isn’t it interesting how there’s a growing number of people who are absolutely disgusted by Mental Health, Inc., society as a whole seems to be shifting back towards a degree of skepticism towards all thing Mental Health, and yet…the politicians who oh-so clearly work for the 1% want everybody (and their mama) on “the miracle meds” ?

    Thanks again for the informative, well-written article.

  • I enjoyed this article. Based on my personal experiences, I agree with one essay I read a while back, in which the writer identified the 3 key components at the core of psychiatry: force, fraud, and coercion.

    Psychiatric force can take many forms, but forcing people/”patients” to accept the “experts” view of reality is one major form of psychiatric force. In my own life, I’ve been called first a patholigcal liar because I told the truth about my background, and then I was labeled with “delusions of grandeur.” I thought about it, and the problem is that psychiatrists aren’t simply an enforcement arm of society (which they are, of course), but rather they have their own (limited, dogmatic, self-serving) ideology and “reality” that they–the ‘experts’ with $$$ and power granted to them by the state–gleefully force on those of us who end up in their clutches.

    Not to turn all Marxist and everything, but let’s also talk social class in this situation. If you’re upper class and you think you’re Jesus, you might end up in a posh hospital. The staff will fawn over you. The drugs won’t be as terrible as what they give the commoners.

    Now, if you’re anywhere from poor to working class, maybe even somewhere in the middle class, its party over. Rich people are eccentric (sometimes Bipolar I); the masses are Schizophrenic, often with additional problems (personality disorders, substance abuse disorders, etc.).

    I do think “professionals” sometimes help people. Thing is, genuinely helping the disressed requires open communication, honesty, trust, and a more egalitarian sort of relationship than what 99+/-% of us will find in mental health, inc. Whether its “severe depression” or believing that one is Jesus, human kindness and genuine, open conversation with someone who cares can clear a way forward towards wholeness and growth. Thing is…having a real talk with “patients,” especially those who are female, ugly, old, unemployed, poor or working class, or minorities, is not something most ‘experts’–from the counselors up to the psychiatrists–are all that interested in. For most of us, genuine “help” will only come from non-experts who retain enough compassion and humanity to take the time to have a real talk now and then.
    :

  • My best bet is that the kids given the neuroleptics are from lower socioeconomic status groups and/or minorities. My other guess is that more of the parents of the neuroleptic kids are more abusive than the kids given the uppers. I’m sure there’s family problems and straight up abuse in both groups, but I’m going to guess and say that more hardcore abusive parents would be interested in tranquilizing their offspring.

  • I don’t think Big Pharma is losing any sleep over all this. They’ll get their $$$, especially with the GOP in control.

    The issue, as I see it, is that there’s lots of rage towards “the other” in American society, and “mental patients” and former “patients” (“uppity mental patients,” if you will) are probably not going to do so well over the next 4 years. Its not just Trump, its the way society is going in the US at this point. Try to reduce racism, sexism, stigma, and a whole lotta people react angrily to “liberal PC stuff,” because they’re suddenly expected to simmer down and maybe, just maybe, try civil communication and treating their fellow Americans with some respect.

    Maybe the next 4 years will see a lot of us American change our minds as we see the disastrous effects of social darwninism and xenophobia? Maybe. Maybe not.

  • I think Szasz is/was right…its time to abolish psychiatry. You can’t exactly blame voluntary people/patients when the culture as a whole is feeding us the lies of psychiatry from a young age. Besides, lots of voluntary patients end up disabled and dependent upon the tax payers because of a mix of the drugs and other “treatments” and stigma (which the psychiatrists can and will gleefully use to their advantage, especially against “trouble makers”).

    Psychiatry is draining the coffers and damaging society, and has been for some time. The rational solution would be to get rid of it and use the $$$ for something, anything, more productive and useful. If there are people whose problems–whatever the nature of the problems, whatever the root cause–are made more bearable by the use of psychiatric drugs, then let general practitioners handle those cases. At least the costs will be lower and the people/patients will get proper health care along with the psych drugs.

  • good post, Dr.Steingard.

    Speaking as a current “mental patient” who is (Praise God!) “in recovery” from what is now termed “severe Bipolar I” (please forgive the heavy handed use of ” “), I find this sort of work exciting and encouraging.

    Where I go for treatment, the emphasis is on the medications. I’m blessed in that I have ongoing, easy breezy counseling along with the med checks. I’ve been encouraged to look at my anti-madness cocktail as necessary maintenance meds, similar to people who are on cocktails for hypertension, heart issues, etc.

    Since I’m currently a “mental patient,” albeit one with people with some prestige and resources behind me, I go along with this–for now (I mention my people because I’ve found that social status has been a huge factor in my treatment, even though its not generally openly acknowledged). That’s one thing I like about this approach to madness and severe distress. You and your colleagues are not staunchly anti-psych drugs, but there is more transparency, as you put it, more honesty about the limitations of current knowledge and existing treatments.

    I find that in my own life I’m reflecting on what it means to “recover.” I realize now it is not, for me, a return to baseline, nor can it be such.

    For a season, I reflected on the labels; am I “severely Bipolar I” because of my people? If I was a poor, minority woman, would I be on involuntary Haldol shots? Then I decided to play the hand I’ve been dealt and move forward, as best I can.

    The research on nutritional approaches to these problems is fascinating. I’m on the psych drugs for a while yet, so I’ve also been doing a DIY Orthomolecular cocktail with the drugs. I don’t know about “improvement in symptoms,” but I do tolerate the tranquilizer much better than I did before and I feel the vitamins and antioxidants have made a positive impact on how I react to stress. I also sleep better and my overall physical health seems to have improved, gradually.

    Your posts make me realize that psychiatrists aren’t all sinister, controlling elitists, nor are you all third rate “professionals” who simply couldn’t make a go of things in any other branch of medicine. The situation is more complicated and nuanced, just like the world of madness itself. Basically, the work you and your colleagues are doing gives me hope that psychiatry and the mental health industry in general can, in fact, facilitate a way forward.

  • Good article. Speaking as a current “mental patient,” I agree that multiple factors combine to shorten our lifespans. I think state-subsidized poverty is probably the biggest culprit, personally. Once a person/”patient” is on disability, that’s usually the end of the road. Poverty, shattered dreams, and drugs; lots and lots of psych drugs.

    “Real” doctors don’t much care for us “mental patients.” Part of it is stigma associated with the label, and a lot of it is poverty. Why bother? Doctors generally come from affluent families. The way doctors–psychiatrists and what I consider “real” doctors, too–treat us, the “mental patients,” is a reflection of how society in general treats the weak, vulnerable, the stigmatized. I think it is also a reflection of the values of The Medical Establishment and the elites of society in general. Right now in America, the elites seem to expect the rest of us to work more for less. Those of us who are poor need to stop being poor, and stop feeding off society. There is no sense of obligation to others below them in society, nor is there any sense of obligation to society as a whole. The very concept of “the common good” is increasingly regarded as commie talk. In this environment, one can see the psychiatric drugging and destruction of human beings in the name of “treatment” as a medically-sanctioned act of violence against “undesirables,” often funded by the government.

  • One problem I have is that many of us seem to think that doctors are simply oblivious to some effects of these drugs. I do not think that is the case. I am not suggesting some massive conspiracy, but I am saying that where the rubber hits the roads, the doctors prescribing these drugs have decided that its better to medicalize problems– frustrations, the ill effects of a sick society, etc.– and “treat” these problems with potentially dangerous, often expensive, frequently ineffective “medications” than it is to deal with the problems (and people/”patients”) in a non-drug, possibly non-medical, manner. Power, prestige, profit, etc. all come into play.

    I think, on and individual basis, the popularity of these drugs shows how the elites deal with the problems of the rest of us. A doctor who drugs a lower status person is simply treating the “patient” how many upper class people treat those beneath them.

  • I think there are times when drugs for depression might be helpful. I think too many people are given drugs when non-drug approaches to their problems…maybe no “professional” intervention, at all…might be the better course of action.

    I regret entering Mental Health, Inc. Long story…I think I was going to end up in “the system” for at least a while, because of a lot of comined factors. My intro drug was an SSRI, and it was off to the races from there (common story, I see now).

    These “antidepressants” are serious drugs. Until I miraculously recovered from what was done to me, Mental Health, Inc. had annihilated me, at a young age…and Paxil was the first step on the road to Hell.

  • The drugs create unnatural brain states. This can probably be helpful, for some people, for a season. My best guess is that most people on psychiatric drugs could do OK, possible even better, without them. From personal experience, I also suspect that stigmatized, low status people who could benefit from both a period of treatment with carefully selected drugs and psychosocial assistance are brushed aside. These people often don’t have any medical coverage, minimal or no resources, no status or prestige, and basically “don’t matter” to society, and therefore they “don’t matter” to the people of Mental Health.

    Other times…those who “don’t matter” are pumped full of the most noxious drugs and the psychosocial services are used mostly for control and/or behavior modification, to “keep them in line,” etc.

    My own experiences have led me to believe that psychiatry–at least where I am, in the US–helps create deviants just as surely as society as a whole does. Psychiatry helps create and label “drug addicts,” the “personality disordered,” the “severely mentally ill,” etc. The combined effects of psychoactive drugs, labeling, poverty (for many “patients…”), low status, brain damage, de-humanization, and…overall frustration, which is often present before entering “the system,” is enough to push a lot of people “over the edge.”

    I appreciate the concern about the ill effects of overprescribed drugs. I also think that a number of other factors often combine to send many on a “downward spiral” that may not have happened without the Mental Health System.

  • I’m in a situation in which I must take a neuroleptic “voluntarily” (oral route, at home) or…else. Such is the nature of 21st Century American psychiatry. This is a bad situation, but I’m in a better situation than many other “patients” around here.

    I’ve been doing my own Orthomolecular routine. Its just some basic, high dosed vitamins, with an emphasis on c, e, b-complex, and b3. There’s some limited data from back in the day that indicates these sorts of vitamin mixes can considerably reduce the risk of TD. Orthomolecular protocols have also been used to help those who already have TD, with some success.

    So far, so good. No tics, tremors, stiff gait, akathisia, twitches, and definitely no full on TD. The vitamin mix also seems to help reduce major cognitive problems from the tranquilizer, which is a godsend. The neuroleptics are definitely a dangerous class of drugs, but I don’t think the situation is necessarily all doom and gloom. Mainstream medicine may not have any viable treatments, but I think the alternative health people can help prevent and treat TD. There may be hope for a lot of us “mental patients,” after all.

  • Interesting article. The overall impression I’ve gotten from reading the information provided here + my own experiences and observations is that throwing pills at varying degrees of distress will produce more distress and, all too often, downright misery.

    I’m also struck by how psychiatry seems to be based more on assumptions and dogma than on…I dunno…data. The data that is available for psychiatric “treatment” is often low quality and clearly influenced by drug industry money.

  • thanks so much. I think…well, my life has improved dramatically (not because of Mental Health, Inc.), but I still get…pessimistic, I suppose.

    I’m happy to hear that you have moved beyond the (serious, stigmatizing) labels and on to real life, post-psychiatry.

    I’ve been burned by Mental Health, Inc. at all levels…the counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, even the nurses. Such is life when one is labeled a “trouble maker,” etc.

    I’m beginning to see the fuzzy outlines of a life after psychiatry, and I like what I see. The question is…how do I get from Point A to Point B?

    Thanks again.

  • wow. I really…don’t…have..words.

    Szasz, later on in his career, wrote a book about this sort of thing…Psychiatry The Art of Lies or something like that. There’s also an older book I’ve seen but not read…Whores of the Court, something to that effect.

    On the other hand, shrinks sometimes (often?) go after people dealing with criminal charges. I seem to recall Andrea Yate’s shrink falsely accusing her of making things up based on a Law and Order episode. Something like that, anyway.

    Psychiatrists seem to fancy themselves experts…on everything. Raising children, relationships, morality, etc. They are the High Priests and Priestesses of the secular belief system. Psychologists, counselors, etc. generally function as lesser priests and priestesses serving the same religion.

    I get the impression that a shrink is a shrink is a shrink. The exceptions seem to prove the rule. My best guess is that every psychiatrist has something like this in his or her past. This dude may have just pushed it too far.

  • Mental Health, Inc. exists in a social context. American culture is changing, but even the “progressives” think that the solution is more treatment, maybe even bringing back state hospitals (I seem to recall reading an article in Mother Jones about this…).

    Its strange. More people in America are on pills and open about being on the pills and “in treatment,” etc., but there comes a point at which…you’re done. Because you’re on “those pills” and have “that diagnosis” and, often, because you’re un- or under-employed, maybe on disability. There’s a line in American culture, and once you’ve crossed it…you’re part of the underclass.

    So…we, the truth tellers who are in, were in, or are transitioning out of the underclass…here in the US, we’re so caked in labels and stigma that even the so-called “progressives” don’t want to listen to what we have to say. That leaves “experts” and those with credentials to speak for us…

    …and very few of them choose to do so, at least here in these United States.

  • Wow. This makes a lot of sense to me. People I’ve seen fail on antidepressants often have chaotic lives. The success stories I can think of are in people who have more comfortable, settled lives. As for the drugs making one more “susceptible to environmental effects,” I can easily see that, too, from personal experience.

    I’d love to think that this will mean more psychosocial approaches to various forms of distress, but…I’m not so sure, at least…not so much in the US. Not yet. Society isn’t there yet. Maybe in 10+/- years?

  • I’m torn. For this season of my life, I’m on the pharmaceuticals. I also do my own form of Orthomolecular. The combination seems to keep me going at a higher level than I ever experienced off meds or on just the meds, no Orthomolecular.

    I have experienced docs using the drugs–neuroleptics, in particular–as chemical restraints with me. That was mostly when I was younger, vulnerable, and my people weren’t as high status as they are now. Its funny…when you’re a down and out “loser” from a middle-middle class family, its all meds, all the time, no compassion. When you’re “mentally ill” from a “genteel” family, suddenly you have options, and the “experts” will talk to you about your problems.

    That’s the other thing…these psychologists talk a good game about tackling issues that lead to what is then labeled as “mental illness,” but in practice…most psychologists (and counselors) I’ve dealt with are just as elitist, misogynistic, and hyper-conventional as any psychiatrist. I’ve had counselors demand that I take an “atypical” to continue treatment, and then get angry because I walked out.

    I think the real “answer” is in non-professional people helping other people, no labels or power trips or expensive bills for the insurance company. I’ve got a friend now, an older, wiser woman, who has helped me more than any “professional…” for free. Because she’s an actual friend, and real friends are hard to come by for most of us in 21st century America.

  • –sigh–

    I’m concerned that this sort of Puritanical approach might deprive many people of effective care for their pain problems. Plus, a lot of medical “knowledge” seems to be dogma and ideology, not…I dunno…science. In the 50s, docs were so anti-pain killers (but they were cool with uppers and downers, btw) that they’d lobotomize people in severe pain. I seem to recall seeing a couple old Thorazine ads promoting the drug for cancer patients. And then…there’s the industry $$$ to consider…

    It seems that Big Pharma has milked about all the $$$ it can out of pain management with potentially fun drugs, so…time to move on. I guess all the patents on the fancy new “non-abusable” pain killers have expired?

  • —sigh— history repeats itself. I did a small project on America’s on again, off again affair with prescription stimulants. Its frightening, honestly. From day 1, there were some indications that amphetamines could increase hostility and possibly induce psychosis.

    Of course…$$$ makes the world go round. In the early 30s, Smith Kline French (I think that was the grand-daddy of Glaxo Smith Kline) paid a famous psychiatrist to recommend benzedrine tablets for episodes of minor reactive depression characterized by fatigue. This company became “the house that speed built” by introducing benzedrine, dexedrine, and various “goof balls” that mixed an amphetamine (usually dexedrine, but sometimes desoxyn, the prescription version of methamphetamine) with a downer, usually a barbiturate, but sometimes a neuroleptic (ThoraDex, anyone?).

    The FDA didn’t do much of anything until the 70s. Some “goofballs” remained on the market until the early 80s (Eskatrol–one part neuroleptic, one part dexedrine, was still popular when it was taken off the market. It was widely used as a diet pill.).

    So, for a while….many doctors and psychiatrists were more cautious (to a point…). But, once again: $$$ talk. Minor reactive depressive episodes are now reconceptualized as “Adult ADHD,” etc. The practice of uppers for depression never entirely went away, although many prescribers switched to Ritalin, in large part due to the early ad campaigns for Ritalin.

    And now…prescription uppers are once again ridiculously common in America. Even good ole Benzedrine is now back, under the brand name “Evekeo.” New name, same upper (now very $$$, btw). Evekeo retains the approval for 3 conditions the FDA deemed OK for amphetamines: 1) narcolepsy; 2) treatment of “exogenous obesity” when combined with other measures; and 3) treatment of disorders of attention (at the time the FDA handed down these rules, the 3rd indication was understood to be “rare.” Funny how things change…).

    Uppers are often dangerous. “Speed kills,” kiddos. The medical community understood the dangers of uppers….until propaganda and $$$ were pumped into what amounts to a massive disinformation campaign (street meth=bad; expen$ive capsules your shrink prescribed=”medicine”).

    History repeats itself, but I think its far worse this time around.

  • I think now the Bipolar label includes what was once called Schizophrenia and on the less severe end problems that were once given milder diagnoses, or perhaps not even dealt with by Mental Health, Inc. at all.

    I think the growing number of “Bipolar” people/patients is also part of the growing medicalization of life itself, not just psychospiritual issues. Heart burn is acid reflux disease. Twitchy legs at night=restless leg syndrome. Not being able to keep up with insane work schedules qualifies one for a Provigil prescription. On and on it goes…

    …I do think Mental Health, Inc. is particularly terrible about labeling problems and people. Some of it is $$$, some of it is about power and control and class warfare, hiding behind “treatment.” SSI, in particular, has become The New Welfare, especially for people w/ psychiatric labels. The clinics that keep people on SSI have basically become pill pushing, psychiatric welfare case managers.

    I think things are worse in the US than elsewhere because all the $$$ wasted on Mental Health, Inc. aren’t actually wasted; its $$$ well-spent to keep ever increasing numbers of us in line and to stop any serious examination of what it is about our culture that makes so many people sick. I think one reason there’s the beginnings of a shift away from bio-bio-bio explanations of “Mental illness” is because Mental Health, Inc. has burned people with more education and resources. That sort of thing can have consequences.

  • sometimes suffering gets to be too much and drugs can help, for a season. I’m not big on long term drugs or horrible predictions of permanent disability and such, but I’m not anti-drugs, either.

    If a kid is suffering immensely and a pill helps for a while, OK. Stimulants aren’t ideal, but they’re better than,say, neuroleptics. Rx the pills and work on the problems. Oh wait…in the US, the problem isn’t just the family, the school, the community; the problem, for many kids (and adults) is a thoroughly messed up society.

    I think Mental Health, Inc., especially psychiatry, are well-funded because its easier to drug kids and grown ups than it is to take a look at what’s going wrong in 21st century American society and do something about it. ADHD isn’t a brain disease or neurological issue , but treating it as one lets families, schools, communities, and society off the hook and gives the Medical Establishment more power to (re)define “healthy” and “sick” and “treat” the rest of us accordingly.

    So…I guess I”m saying that personal-level and family-level observations, analyses, insights, changes, etc. are valuable and can be quite helpful, but I also think we should remember that “the personal is political” and do what we can to act accordingly.

  • History repeats itself. Even after the BZD drugs were introduced, barbiturates were still prescribed. Quaaludes were a favorite of many shrinks until they were put in Schedule I (because putting them in Schedule II –still– didn’t stop over-prescribing). Other “safe” non-barbiturates that were rather quickly proven not so safe, such as Doriden and Placidyl, remained on the market until government officials intervened. Simply getting the medical establishment to recognize the dangers of the barbiturates was quite a task. Even the notoriously addictive “goof balls,” such as Dexamyl (1 part barbiturate, 1 part Dexedrine) remained on the market until the FDA and DEA stepped in.

    Point is…encouraging the The Medical Establishment, especially Mental Health, Inc., to self-regulate is fairly pointless. Most doctors I’ve known come from upper class families and have serious ego issues. Because of the MD, they have status and prestige that most of us can’t imagine. Add in coming from an affluent background, plus the authoritarian attitude of the Medical Establishment, and one can see why the government has had to intervene.

    I’m not big on government intervention, but…the government (read: tax payers) already pick up the tab for a lot of The Medical Establishment’s “services,” and society has to pick up the tab to take care of the victims of The Medical Establishment (especially Mental Health, Inc.). In the interests of the Common Good–a concept the US needs to revisit, btw–I think the government needs to step in and regulate BZD prescribing and do something constructive about the problems with opiate prescribing. What I can’t understand…many people cannot get proper pain management, but other people happen upon Doctor Feelgoods and end up dead.

    The BZD drugs are horrible, especially over the long haul. My own use of Klonopin (by prescription) in my late teens ended horribly. The worst part? If you get addicted, you (the “patient”) have “an addictive personality.” If the doctor gets called out on giving a 19 year old 3mgs/Klonopin per day, plus Sonata at night (every night), the “patient” is deemed “manipulative.” I don’t hold on to much anger about it these days, but…I get angry when I realize that I ran into just 1 run of the mill psychiatrist who quickly destroyed years of my youth…and I have been blamed not only for the doctor’s prescribing habits, but also for the subsequent fall out….and I’m just –1– “patient” this has happened to.

    By the grace of God, I’ve survived and recovered, but…what of those who aren’t so fortunate? Who don’t have loving parents to nurture them back to health and normalcy? Who don’t regain their intellectual capacity and bounce back enough to build a new identity?

  • drugs affect the brain? drugs affect childrens’ brains in big, big ways?

    Here’s the thing…as another poster has pointed out, that’s fairly obvious. Leave it to psychiatrists to ignore the obvious in favor of dogma and dollar$.

    What’s particularly troubling to me is that Ritalin may be one of the less dangrous drugs that kids these days are exposed to. The “atypicals” are often given to kids, especiallly foster kids, minority kids, low income kids, etc. Those drugs are dangrous in ways that make Ritalin look like…well, child’s play.

    Hopefully, more people with credentials–MDs, PhDs, etc.–will speak up and do something to help people in Mental Health, Inc. Until then…research like this is interesting, but it probably won’t do a whole lot to change prescribing habits.

  • oh man. Another satisfied customer out of Mental Health, Inc. I’ve been there, too. I was punished for getting too many “good” pills. Apparently, “middle class losers” don’t “deserve” amphetamines, benzodiazepines, etc. Its straterra and zoloft all the way, baby. Who knew?

    I’m glad you’re outta there. I’m glad you got into school and moved on. I’m kinda sorta doing the same thing myself, now. At the ripe old age of 32, I’m finishing an undergraduate degree. People–former “patients”–like you provide hope for people like me. I was regarded as “uppity” and such, so the experts put me through it. I only recently genuinely recovered from all that excellent “treatment,” and now I find that reality hits: what are you gonna do now?

    As for drugs from vending machines…if only. I think they’re fairly certain we’d all go for the golden oldies (uppers, downers, etc.), leaving all those Miracle Meds–you know, the ones for “serious conditions”–in the machine.

    Anyway…thanks again. I’m stuck in Mental Health, Inc. for a while yet, planning on a more or less graceful, hopefully very quiet (maybe even silent) exit, hopefully sooner rather than later. Its funny…now, my “genteel” family is behind me, so I get treated better. That’s great. Its also…a bit too late for all that, honestly. I can’t un-see the truth about psychiatry and friends.

    I’ve rambled…thanks, yet again, for sharing your experiences and your progress forward, out of labels, out of Mental Health, Inc., out of the “patient” role. I find your writing helpful and your story inspiring.

  • Concur. The older psychiatric text books are fairly blunt about the effects the neuroleptics. “Patients” lose interest in the “symptoms,” along with life in general. In low doses, the neuroleptics were used, sometimes in combination with other drugs, to treat low mood. ThoraDex, anyone? A lil bit of Thorazine, a lil bit of Dexedrine…a lil bit of apathy, a lil bit of stimulation. Sort of like Prozac, but probably more fun. And faster acting.

    At best, I think psychiatric drugs maintain people at a certain level. Some people may function reasonably well, others not so much…the so-called “symptoms” are suppressed, and the person/”patient” is tranquilized into a steady state, neither actively “crazy” nor growing, making progress towards autonomy and such. That’s probably one of the better outcome scenarios. More often, especially with the working class, poor, and minorities and women…the person/”patient” deteriorates over time, physically as well as mentally, and the deterioration is blamed on an underlying “illness.”

  • Sometimes I think…the problem isn’t all the drugs shrinks use per se; its Mental Health, Inc.

    Some people do find that low dose neuroleptics help them, at least for a season. Antidepressants can take the edge off some forms of distress, at least for a while. My problem is that psychiatrists, counselors, etc. trap people with their labels.

    I’m not saying the drugs are perfect, but…think about it… if someone diagnosed as, say, “Schizophrenic” could take a low dose neuroleptic until he had things sorted out in his life well enough to start tapering, was given psychosocial support, etc., and then given medical assistance should any major problems with tapering the drug(s) pop up…if people were allowed to taper off and exit the sick role…would we have so many problems with the drugs? I used the example of neuroleptics, but the same would definitely go for “antidepressants” and other mood and anxiety drugs.

    Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. I don’t agree with that (not an NRA fan), but couldn’t that line of thinking extend to the drugs psychiatrists prescribe?

  • ugh. more of the same. mental illness is a brain disease, right? the more severe your “mental illness,” the more diseased your brain. This must explain why the “severely mentally ill” are given some of the most noxious drugs –ever– , often against their/our will, many times enforced by the legal system. “Mental patients” apparently don’t need brain cells…

    I hope something good comes of all the $$$ pumped into all this. When you think about it…spending this kind of $$$ to maintain the useful fiction of “mental illness” is probably less expensive than investing in safer, more humane communities and dealing humanely with people who go off the rails, on way or another. But then…low status, labeled, stigmatized, oppressed people would have to be treated…like…PEOPLE. Nah…just spend the billion$ on pseudoscience.

  • I”m glad people are doing this kind of research now. Some people do benefit from “antidepressants,” although I think very long term use, particularly of the SRI drugs, is a bit…troubling, given the lack of long term data and the problems that many have reported since the early days of the next generation “antidepressants.”

    “Antidepressants” are safer than many other options (neuroleptics, for instance), so think they do have some value, at least for some people, for a time. I think there needs to be more research on how to taper and what to do about problem that come up during dosage reduction (and, for some people, after a time on the pills–“Prozac poop-out,” etc.).

    I think it goes without saying that many people are handed an Rx when non-medical solutions could have been used. I know its bad in the US and the UK…I don’t know about other places. I think the only way to “fix” that problem would be to work on taking more and more of our lives back from Mental Health, Inc. and, honestly, the Medical Establishment as a whole. I think that’s probably more do-able in Europe, the UK, etc…more humane, live-able societies. I’m not saying those places are Utopias, but I am saying that the US, right now, is not exactly poised to change its ways dramatically.

    I get the impression that a lot of people are on “antidepressants” because society and the economy don’t give most of us time or space to think, feel, etc. With the “New Normal” taking the place of the American Dream (which never was accessible to many people, anyway), Prozac and friends make life/existence more bearable and keep up the myth that pain is sickness, inability to keep up is illness, and (probably above all else) that these are “brain diseases,” or at most…”personal problems,” etc. I think the truth–“The personal is political”–isn’t all that palatable anywhere, but in the US…stating the obvious is blasphemy against the quasi-religious dogma that’s been engrained in all of us from childhood on up.

  • I think neuroleptics/major tranquilizers/ “antipsychotics,” along with “schizophrenia” are psychiatry’s golden cows (I seem to recall a Szasz book about this same issue…). De-institutionalization was underway in some areas before Thorazine and friends hit the scene, but shrinks insist the miracle pills paved the way for “schizophrenics” to live in the community.

    I think its difficult for psychiatrists–both as individuals and as a group, as a profession– to take a long, hard look at their “life saving” tranquilizers and rethink what they’ve been taught (and assumed) for so long. I think some people do well on neuroleptics long term (probably low dose). Others only take the tranquilizers in times of stress. Others taper and never look back. Some should never, ever be on neuroleptics; the risks and problems far outweigh any benefits.

    Point is…I think admitting that the miracle meds have serious limitations, that much of the supporting data isn’t very high quality, and that standard practice is not always in the best interest of those “treated” requires a level of humility that psychiatry lacks, at least in the US. I think shrinks find it easier to label all serious criticisms (even serious questions) as “anti-psychiatry” than to address the questions and concerns that many people have raised and are raising.

    Of course…calling questions and criticisms “anti-psychiatry” may be somewhat effective now, but…my best guess is that the stigma attached to “anti-psychiatry” has lessened, and is lessening, which means that the psychiatrists will eventually have to deal with people and groups who question their practices, tools, beliefs, etc.

  • I am currently stuck in Mental Health, Inc. I’m planning a gradual, graceful, quiet exit. In the meantime…

    …I can tell you, as a tranquilized “patient,” that these drugs aren’t so great, especially once all the intense, initial problems have calmed down (which can happen for a lot of us with or without meds). For all the talk of “recovery” and such, the treatment for more severe diagnoses is still….meds. Meds. Occasional counseling…to encourage you to stay on your meds.

    I think part of the non-medicated peoples’ success is due to stopping the neuroleptics (obviously), but I do wonder if maybe the non-medicated also found other forms of support, possibly outside Mental Health, Inc.

    To be fair, in the US we have very poor psychosocial programs in most places…plus, the hyper-individualistic culture denies that “illness” occurs in a social context, because in the US…we don’t believe in “society” so much as we tend to emphasize individuals who just happen to live near each other. If you lose it to the point that you can’t bring home the $$$, then you’re given the cruel compassion of “Schizophrenia” and this “illness” is to be aggressively treated, blah blah blah. I’m just sayin’…I don’t think its just Big Pharma or what have you, I think US culture lends itself well to labeling and destroying society’s “rejects.” Problem there is…the way things are going, more and more people are going off the rails, falling into the hands of Mental Health, Inc. and/or the criminal justice system.

    I do think more people could recover with no meds, fewer meds, a shorter duration of use of the neuroleptics, etc. I think the tranquilizers can help some people, for a season, get things together, but…long term use, especially at standard-to-high doses, causes lots of problems. Having said that…creating the sorts of programs that will facilitate long term, genuine recovery+healing with (far) less reliance on heavy meds will require a change in how society deals with low status, stigmatized people.

  • I think psychology can be damaging (not to mention expensive and time consuming) to many of us…and in the US, its more common to have the talking professionals working with the prescribing shrinks, with result of additional costs and ever increasing layers of pseudoscientific jargon and straight up bullshit.

    I don’t think all that many people in Mental Health, Inc. do much good for their “patients,” “clients,” “consumers,” etc. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule; some “professionals” manage to genuinely help the people in their care. Most of the time…from what I’ve seen and experienced…Mental Health, Inc. covers up social problems and genuine problems in living with whatever flavor psychobabble is en vogue at the moment.

    And of course…both the MDs and the PhDs have a power that is denied all “patients”: the power to label, to define, to construct a life story. A doctor who does a 15 minute med check now and then…and psychologist who babbles on for an hour, as long your insurance is shelling out…they are the recognized “experts” on the “patient,” his life, her experiences, his heart of hearts. By the time the “patient” realizes that its overpriced, damaging, often straight up dangerous bullshit…its too late.

  • While I am morally opposed to suicide, I view it as a civil right ((not something I would do, but I think other people should have the right to suicide)). What bothers me about “assisted dying” is that it brings suicide under the control of the medical establishment and government. In addition, I think that such legislation puts all kinds of vulnerable people–both those with and those without psychiatric labels–in a potentially dangerous situation. With the mentally distressed, “assisted dying” gives Mental Health, Inc. an even greater level of power and control over “patients.”

  • Thank you so much for this. I’m currently trapped in psychiatry, but planning an exit. Sometimes, its hard to lose sight of any sort of future, and its also easy to get brainwashed into believing the BS that is Mental Health, Inc.

    I am sorry about your kidney situation. Lithium is a terrible, terrible drug and should not be used on people, especially vulnerable, suffering people. I can kind of relate…I had a tic disorder following “atypical” antipsychotic “treatment” and heavy, involuntary shock “Treatments.” Not fun. My tics went away following high dose Orthomolecular supplementation, but…those couple years were rough as hell.

    I’m glad there are some former patients out there who can be vocal about their past and try to steer others away from Mental Health, Inc. All too often, its a death trap.

  • Mental Health, Inc. demands docility and compliance. As a “non-compliant patient,” I’ve been subject to the worst sorts of punishment (electroshock against my will, for instance) basically for being a “trouble maker” and “not knowing my place in society” (why the ” “? Because these are, in fact, direct quotes…).

    Mental Health, Inc. is usually more subtle in its control the medicalized…but not always. Trust me. Just “get uppity” and see what happens.

  • To me…”schizophrenia” is a way of saying: you’re not a member of the community. You are the Other. In my own life, I’ve been diagnosed as Bipolar I by doctors who had an interest in seeing me do things. “Schizophrenia” has been slapped on me by doctors who sought only to invalidate me and control me.

    Not that being “Bipolar I” is ideal, but…I read “Bipolar I” as meaning you’re still in the human race, albeit barely. “Schizophrenia…” not so much.

    My personal suspicion is that a lot of this is more social class than race per se. The lower status you are, the worse your diagnosis (and prognosis).

  • Maybe this is the extreme end of what psychiatry offers most people? Pills that numbs the senses, dull the mind…shocks that take that a step further…surgeries to make personal pain more bearable, by destroying perfectly good brain tissue…

    …and now, physician approved, physician assisted suicide, the extreme end of the available “treatments.”

  • I’m glad there are still Mental Health, Inc. people willing to stand up and speak out. My own experience has been that they (Mental Health, Inc. employees I’ve encountered in the US) strive to make good patients, but do not want the people/patients to become good people, good citizens.

    Of course, that was my experience when I was younger and my people were considered “rinky dink middle class” (a former counselor’s exact words). Now, I’m a tad older and my people are well-established and more affluent, and I find that, suddenly, the Mental Health, Inc. employees at least go through the motions of showing compassion and listening to me. Not to get all Marxist on everybody, but my own life experiences have led me to believe that race, gender, and SOCIAL CLASS (screaming caps intentional..sorry) play a huge role in “Treatment.”

    Again, good article.

  • Sometimes, I think madness serves as the only way to exit a harsh reality (I’m thinking of the current US here, btw). Disability comes to mind. How else can most people take a breather and recover from life?

    I’m not saying its intentional, calculated…”I will be diagnosed xyz so I can live off disability and have some time,” although SSI has become the new welfare, so that does happen. I’m saying…well, the role of mental patient/victim of madness isn’t a one size fits all role. Sometimes, its nothing but condemnation. Sometimes, it has perks, both in society as a whole and within smaller communities and within the family. The nature of the patient role will vary based on a bunch of factors, it seems (race, age, gender, social class, education level, diagnosis).

    Oh, and while we’re talking about trauma=mental problems…what about the trauma mental health “professionals” deliberately inflict on people/”patients” ? They do it to make us/them more “manageable” and, I think, create lifelong victims/”consumers” of Mental Health, Inc.

  • I get the sense that many psychiatrists know that the DSM codes don’t describe brain problems, but they use them anyway, both to “help” and to deliberately harm. I’ve had conventional shrinks who don’t do therapy and aren’t trained in psychoanalysis or anything of that nature pull out the Freud on me. The old psychoanalytic theories and labels –are– sometimes used…in a campaign of labeling, shaming, and condemnation. This same shrink now tells people (its a small town, lol) that I’m “schizophrenic.” Again: labels used as weapons, to shame, demean, and invalidate a “trouble maker.”

    Caring, compassionate psychiatrists who will take the time to listen and talk have always been around…for people with money and status. The impoverished, the stigmatized, the low status; for us/them, there’s somatic psychiatry. I think it was Szasz who wrote something to the effect that the psychiatry currently en vogue is the same sort of psychiatry poor people have always received, the somatic psychiatry born of the madhouse.

    I applaud your efforts, but your profession, and Mental Health, Inc. in general, are riddled with problems. How can anyone recover when even the counselors, armed with only a masters degree from 3rd rate schools, think they are superior to the “patient” and focus on making money and keeping the person/patient “in line,” not helping him resolve any issues? When even the lowly LPCs in Mental Health, Inc. are so self-important and elitist (not to mention racist, homophobic, and misogynistic), how does anyone, anywhere, get any meaningful assistance?

    There are some compassionate, creative, insightful people left in mental health, I”m sure. I just don’t think there are that many. When an entire profession is marked by rampant fraud, lies, deception, incompetence, cruelty, and various forms of discrimination, then its probably time for those of us who deal (or have been forced to deal with) that profession to do what we can to get out and find new solutions.

  • What was one of Szasz’s examples to show the ludicrous nature of anti-drug laws…if you have an Rx for amphetamine, you’re a “patient” with a “legitimate need;” if you just happen to have some tablets of some flavor Rx speed, you’re a criminal, and you’ll be treated accordingly (especially if you’re poor and/or a minority).

    Drugs are drugs. What really irks me about the ADD/ADHD, Rx speed thing is that…hey, we’ve been down this road before! Amphetamines were handed out like candy in various forms…methamphetamine, amphetamines mixed with some sort of sedative in one pill, etc. Back then, it was mostly adult women who were targeted. Then the 70s came and suddenly Rx speed was a potentially dangerous substance, prescribe w/ caution, etc. etc. etc. And now, even with the speed in Schedule II, the stuff is prescribed to people of all ages, with minimal (if any) precautions that should be taken w/ controlled substance prescribing.

    Its definitely not just the shrinks. Counselors and the “talky” mental health people are in on it, as are GPs, pediatricians, etc. Oh, and the schools…I’m hoping its mostly the public schools that push parents to medicate.

    Mental Health, Inc. creates victims+lifelong consumers/customers/”patients. Its what they do, apparently. The latest episode in America’s love affair w/ Rx speed is just one more example of how the “helping” professions are creating problems on a personal, family, community, and nation-wide scale.

  • I dunno. I’d take a benzo over long term, high dose SSRI treatment. Benzos are also helpful for extreme emotional states, like mania, hypomania, psychosis, etc. And of course…sleep. Drug sleep isn’t as good as natural sleep, but if you’ve been sleep deprived, a lil bit of Restoril can make a huge difference.

    That said…docs’ behavior needs to change. I’ve had 2 docs do quickie tapers off full dose Klonopin, with absolutely no concern about side effects. These days, I do Orthomolecular. The high dose niacinamide makes life much, much easier over the long haul. Anyway, it shouldn’t be OK for docs to yank people off long term sedatives (or any drugs, for that matter) just because…well, who knows. Shrinks will prescribe like its the 60s and then try to act like a Puritan. Its…well, crazy.

  • This is good stuff. I particularly appreciate the emphasis on *not* allowing sudden tapers and such. I was Rx’d Klonopin as a teenager. At a certain point, my doc decided I needed to stop, so she did a rapid taper. I was miserable; she kept tapering and called me a “drug seeker” and an “addict.” She, of course, was the one who had kept an 18-19 year old on full dose Klonopin, plus Ambien and Sonata, and then abruptly decided to pull the plug. I hear this happens a good bit. Hopefully, this legislation will pass and other states will follow with their own regulations.

  • Psychiatry is a reflection of an increasingly sick society. Poor people, working class people, even middle-class people…their/our problems don’t matter. Shut them up, one way or another. This goes double for unwanted people in families of any social class…always has, now that I think about it. I’ve heard shrinks say that so and so wasn’t “good enough for an atypical,” so they get Haldol. Not “good enough” for Xanax, so its Klonopin.

    I realize that psychiatry has always been about control, but I get the sense that for a while there psychiatry had…I dunno…a softer touch, maybe? We’ve gone from Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity (and, rarely, Temporary Insanity) to having psychoprisons and a growing prison psychiatry industry. I think this reflects an increasing level of inequality and class warfare in American society. Gone are the days of noblesse oblige when the upper classes would at least throw scraps at people below them in social hierarchy. Now the rich have a genuine contempt for the masses, and everybody hates the poor. This shows up in “Treatment.”

    Talk helps…if you can afford it. For most of us..its pills, shock, etc.

  • Terrifying story. And…sadly, your story is not all that uncommon. Well, the torture isn’t. The recovery and rediscovery of your humanity…tragically, I’m finding that part of the story is relatively uncommon.

    My own misadventures in Mental Health, Inc. are somewhat similar. Shock, drugs, more shock, more drugs. I’m blessed that I now have my family behind me, even though psychiatrists set out to keep us apart…and succeeded, for a season. I’ve come to the realization that some of those people chattering to themselves on the street aren’t really “in need of treatment;” they’re the “trouble makers” of yesteryear.

    I’m tempted to ramble on, because I see so much in your writing that articulates what I’ve long thought, and some of what I’m just now coming to realize. I’ll stop here and say simply: Thank you.

  • I’m glad NIDS is getting attention. I seem to recall reading about it when the atypicals were first introduced, and all the professionals were saying that NIDS and the dysphoria that comes from many neuroleptics were both a thing of the past. And now…

    …well, at least these doctors in Tokyo are talking about it. Maybe docs in the US will talk about it in 10, 15 years. Probably whenever Latuda goes off patent.

    I do find it interesting that one reason this is attracting attention, it seems, is because of neuroleptic use in Bipolar Disorder. I think the issue there is that people who are diagnosed with Bipolar I are often white, have more education, and are more affluent than those diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Not always, but..often. I think what it boils down to is that patients who are supposed to be high functioning are having problems from the meds, so docs are willing to admit…yes, its the meds (at least…they are in Tokyo). Schizophrenic/Schizoaffective patients…still don’t matter (we/they apparently still need our AbiliQuel, obviously).

  • I think the problem is…addressing the real causes of “mental illness” on a large scale would mean admitting that 21st century societies tend to be sick, and that these sick societies create sick people. It would also mean looking at family dynamics after decades of NAMI-style dogma that absolves all families of any responsibility for the “mental illness” of its members.

    Blaming the brain, pushing pills…its not just that psychiatry is now ideologically dedicated to somatic treatments. Society as a whole, right now, seems interested in maintaining the illusion that society is a-OK and those who fail to function as expected are “losers,” unless of course they have a label, in which case they are subject to the “cruel compassion” of being a mental defective.

    I think this may explain why many European countries and the UK are more willing to try psychosocial treatments and at least allow people to discuss different ways of understanding and approaching “mental illness.” I think the great myths of American culture–anyone can succeed, pick yourself up by your bootstraps, “personal accountability,” etc.–when combined, create an unwillingness to reflect upon the world around us.

  • I’m glad this issue is getting more attention. At the same time, I can’t help but notice that the discussion about SSRI-induced problems is happening after the SSRI drugs have gone off patent. I think this is similar to how the “atypical” neurolpetics are coming under more scrutiny, just as some of the more popular “atypicals” have gone off patent. And similar to how the benzodiazepines were further examined…once the best-sellers were off patent.

  • Psychiatry is undoubtedly part of the problem. Labels, pills, disempowering people/”patients”. There was a book back in the day, about how psychologists and counselors create victims. I think that is true of Mental Health, Inc. as a whole. Counselors work with shrinks who work with therapists who work with hospitals…the end result is a web of brain damage, lost hope, shattered dreams, lost potential, and wasted money. This, of course, is blamed on an “illness” or, many times, the person/”patient” for any number of reasons…”personality disorder,” manipulative, uncooperative, non-compliant, malingering, etc.

    I think another part of the problem is that the economy has tanked and people are, understandably, checking out of “the system,” whether its a conscious maneuver or not. Jobs now are not steady, wages have fallen, stress levels are higher, worker protections have eroded. Society, of course, does not care. I think “mental illness,” right now at least, is keeping the whole thing (somewhat) steady. The problems are socioeconomic, political in nature–“The personal is political”–but they manifest themselves in individuals, in families, in communities (particularly “sick” communities). Labeling the individual and then blaming the brain and throwing some $$$ towards the “sick” person’s upkeep is an expensive way to maintain stability. If you don’t fit in, if you’re not a good worker bee, if you can’t keep up, if your life seems hopeless and meaningless…you’re “sick.” “Sick” people under-perform or can’t keep up at all, so here’s some $$$. Stay “sick,” you keep getting the money. Have the audacity to get better…you’re on your own. Only the “truly sick” get the bread crumbs.

  • My shock was not voluntary. The shrinks declared it necessary because of an “emergency situation.” I think that’s fairly typical of involuntary shock for poor people, uppity women, trouble makers, etc…its always some sort of psychiatric emergency, the “patient” lacks insight to see how necessary high voltage is to their stability, etc. I think the best course of action would be to ban it outright. As long ECT is available, there will be victims. As long as ECT is profitable, the government and insurance programs will be bilked out of $$$ paying for torture.
    Sort of like…lobotomy was initially used as a last resort, and the early research on it is remarkably straightforward and blunt about the procedure, results, etc. By the 1950s, lobotomy became ever more popular on both an in- and out-patient basis, and the procedure was used on groups of people who were known to derive little, if any, benefit.

    I think shock–wait….ECT…–is pretty much the same. It was once ElectroShockTreatment (EST), and the docs were fairly blunt about what they were doing, the outcome, etc. Now, its ElectroConvulsiveTherapy (ECT), and its supposedly cleaned up, safer, a reasonable option in some cases, etc. I think a ban is probably the best course of action. Give (most) psychiatrists an inch, they’ll take a mile…and charge top $$$ for it, too.

  • Shock is torture. I think shock shows us what psychiatry really offers…amnesia, brain damage, blunted emotions, reduced cognitive abilities. Take the memories away, take the pain away,…something like that, anyway. I guess turning people/”patients” into vegetables is “therapeutic,” right? Right.

    Heavy shock can be worse than a lobotomy, from what I’ve read. Lobotomies were/are terrible, but the brain damage is more targeted. Shock somebody enough and they have fried brain cells all over the place. And then, of course, there’s “maintenance ECT” for the treatment and/or prevention of “relapses.” And ongoing Rx drugs. It just gets better…

  • This is good news. Some people do better on neuroleptics, at least for a season. Some don’t do well, but find themselves coerced or straight up forced to take them (sometimes by injection) for a season. My own limited experience tells me that even for people who respond favorably to neuroleptics, there are probably other drugs that could ease threm through a rough time w/ far fewer problems (and probably lower drug acquisition costs, too). I seem to recall reading some small studies that showed “schizophrenics” benefitting from diazepam and other flavors of benzodiazepines. Not ideal, but I’d rather be on Valium than on Haldol…far more humane.

    Its funny to me…lately, “Narcissism” has been the It disorder. Shrinks are all over the media talking about NPD, writing books, etc. Perhaps…they should start by developing some humility as a profession (?). There’s so much that is not known about severe distress and how to deal with it, different kinds of distress, what “recovery” is and what it involves, so on and so forth. I’m not looking for the shrinks to give up their prescribing privileges and find different jobs, but some honesty and human decency would be most appreciated.

  • In countries that aren’t quite as “sick” as the US, people w/ problems do better. They don’t always get the shiniest new pills (or as many pills), but there seems (from my limited perspective) to be a bit more understanding of the limitations of “treatment” and the fact that, well…life is hard. Not everybody’s a “winner” or an above average worker bee.

    Now, in the US…its crazy. The gov’t will spend more on 1 Rx than on the small disability stipends they give to the masses of “mentally ill.” Not just for cases of “treatment resistance” or whatever, but…all the time. Routinely. Meanwhile, its never enough $$$ for the “compassionate treatment providers.” The level of cruelty is unimaginable.

    If you’re caught with xanax w/o an Rx, you probably go to jail. If you have a huge Rx, your doc shrugs it off, unless something bad happens, and then you’re a “drug seeker,” “manipulative,” etc. The shrinks routinely create “addicts” and then refuse to let us/them truly recover. One can “recover…” on their terms, of course. Otherwise, its not recovery; its ongoing “sickness.”

    I’m proud of the whistleblowers, but…hey…this is how the system works. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here…

  • American culture in the 21st century doesn’t value character development. Winning, or at least…avoiding becoming a “loser…” seems to be value #1, above all else. Losers suffer. Losers don’t matter. The only people whose suffering really matters in 21st century America are the affluent and the attractive.

  • My wild ass guess tells me that poor and working class women are over-represented among those who are prescribed ADs during pregnancy. My best guess tells me that there’s less tolerance for “weirdness” the lower on the social status scale you go, so their offspring are more likely to be diagnosed and drugged for any number of reasons, “autism” included.

  • I’m so glad I’m not a kid in this generation. Teachers only teach to test, the economy is terrible, the future is uncertain at best, and economic inequality is growing. Lots of kids live in varying levels of poverty, which certainly can’t be good for “attention span.” Add in…crumbling communities, job insecurity, marital instability, the rising cost of…well, everything, but college, in particular…its a rough time in which to be a kid. Plus, as if giving Rx meds to kids for…well, being kids…wasn’t bad enough, we now have police officers in schools, 0 tolerance policies across the board, social media (now there’s No Escape from those school bullies..thanks, facebook), and a culture that demands strict conformity. No, we don’t have as many state mental hospitals…we now have jails, prisons, boot camps, some private, for profit mental facilities…its a hot mess, really.

    Ever noticed how now that the state mental hospitals are gone, we’re encouraged to check ourselves for signs of disorder? Seroquel wants to know…”Do you have Bipolar I?” Vyvanse wants to know…”Wouldn’t your life be better with a slow release amphetamine?” I mean, who needs the big state mental hospitals if the people/patients/consumers check each other and themselves for signs of disease and disorder?

  • Ugh. Electroshock. 10 years after my first (involuntary) round, nearly 8 years after the second (also involuntary) round…I’ve largely (by the grace of God) recovered.

    My parents “moved up in the world” a bit…well, enough for me to be treated with some compassion and for the “professionals” to pretend to listen to what I have to say. Before, back when they were “rinky dink middle-class” (a former counselor’s words, not mine), I was tormented and dismissed. “Not good enough for…” anything but harsh, inhumane, somatic “treatment.”

    Shock is what they do when you don’t matter, for whatever reason, and nobody cares. And when they’re done with you…well, it just gets worse. “Too smart” becomes “too dumb,” or at least “too average,” and the person/patient’s life gets that much more difficult. My case is somewhat unusual…I started out a bit “too smart,” then I was stupid, now I”m “too smart” again…but because of my parents and a good attorney, I’m mostly beyond the former shrinks’ control. The current docs more or less leave me alone.

    Shock is…terrible. Relapse rates are high, lots of problems pop up that they don’t tell potential customers/patients about…rough stuff, that EST. I do think it should be banned. Give the shrinks an inch, they’ll take a mile (as a group, not all of them individually). Better to take this one out of the tool kit.

  • Psychiatric dogma changes as society changes. In the US, society seems to slowly becoming what the media calls “more liberal,” and what I think most people would call…more humane, or at least more rational. In society where we’re talking about decriminalizing drugs, reducing prison sentences, and we’re even sometimes having open discussions about socioeconomic inqueality in America, it makes sense that psychiatrists would also dust off the old books about psychosocial treatment and try their hand at something a little more…humane, or at least rational.

    Oh, I think also a lot of the major psych meds are now off patent. Whenever that happens, shrinks suddenly get really honest about ill effects of the meds and the limitations of drug treatment. When the drug that goes off patent is a controlled substance, shrinks will all of a sudden open up about dependence, dosage escalation, diversion, etc.

  • Psychiatry runs on trends and dogma, not science. My best bet is that Allen Frances “sees the writing on wall” re: scrutiny of psychiatry. Time to update, re-brand, stay current, etc. Hardcore biological psychiatry is evidently quickly becoming passe.

    Risperdal is rough stuff. I was briefly on it while in a psych ward, following heavy, involuntary shock treatments (hey, psychiatrists in the south…its the 50s down here, y’all!). The akathisia was intense, and I was pretty much left to my own devices, so I paced around the ward for hours upon hours each day. I really didn’t see what was so modern or “atypical” about Risperdal…just another mind numbing tranquilizer that clearly creates problems.

    What’s truly upsetting is how psychiatrists have, as other posters pointed out, used resources that could have helped people recover (with or without meds) to push a bio-bio-bio model of distress (“mental illness”) on both the people they label (“patients”) and society as a whole. Of course, psychiatry reflects society, to a certain extent; perhaps we should also be asking what it is about modern culture, particularly in the US, that allows this sort of abuse of power and outright corruption to flourish.

  • At least shrinks are getting to the point where they’re (once again) admitting that the antipsychotics have very real, sometimes crippling, effects on people. Personally, I think its because many of the atypicals are now off patent, and they didn’t turn out to be such wonder drugs, anyway.

    Antipsychotics aren’t ideal, but I do think low doses can facilitate recovery in some people, if med treatment is mixed with housing, psychosocial programs, vocational help, etc. You know, all the stuff that gets people into society. Without all that, you’re just throwing pills at emotional and social problems and then blaming the “disease” when the person/”patient” fails to become normal and self-supporting.

  • I’m excited. I think, personally, with more and more “wonder drugs” going generic, we’ll see more and more research on psychosocial treatments, nutritional treatments, etc.

    I learned (from a former shrink, no less) that psychiatry cannot be separated from the society in which it exists. This is probably why the Sociologists have a sub-field, “The Sociology of Mental Health.” Many of the problems that we here at MIA and “patients” in general have experienced have more to do with the societies in which we live than with individual psychiatrists, hospitals, etc. For me, that means that a lot of my terrible “treatment” (read: abuse) was because I was/am “different” …in the extremely conservative, class conscious Bible Belt. Predictably, I entered Mental Health, Inc., and predictably…I was promptly destroyed. I’ve only now recovered.

    I guess I’m saying that to point out that these studies are long overdue in the US…because of US culture. These findings will take a good, long while to affect most people/”patients”…because of US culture. This sort of treatment is popular in other places…because their cultures are different, more humane, that 21st century US culture.

  • I enjoyed your post. Nice use of the “goof balls” to illustrate your points. 🙂

    I think there can be good psychiatry, or at least…humane, skilled use of drugs to help people in distress. My question is, though: if psychiatrists give up the disease model, if they start being honest about what is known and is not known about distress, and along the same lines try to work with people rather than control them…will it still be psychiatry, at least as most of us know psychiatry?

    I’m not trying to criticize you or be too harsh towards your profession. I’ve come to the conclusion, personally, that many of my problems with Mental Health, Inc. were really problems with American culture…the shrinks and others just happened to be more conservative and have more power than a lot of other people in the culture.

    I’m just thinking that if psychiatry as a whole–probably starting with shrinks like you, at an individual level–gave up the power to coerce and control and label, the disease model, the hubris…then it wouldn’t be psychiatry anymore, at least not psychiatry as most people have experienced it.

    If psychiatrists start being honest about human distress and such, what would society do? I mean, I go to a shrink. He’s nice enough, probably because I have upper-middle/upper-class people behind me. If he were to drop the diagnoses and say “You have problems, and I think its because….” and let me know, that’d revolutionize our (cordial) relationship. If shrinks started doing it in droves, psychiatry might cease to exist, because I think one reason so much $$$ is pumped into Mental Health, Inc. is because many modern societies–especially the US–use psychiatry to deal with victims of society. What’s American culture going to do when the shrinks get real about mental distress and the social environment in which it occurs? And when “patients” can no longer be silenced under the stigma of “mental illness” ?

    Of course, you’re just one (thoughtful) psychiatrist. I applaud your efforts, honestly. Disease- or drug-centered model, people go through terrible things, and many of them/us end up in Mental Health, Inc. Its good that at least some professionals are re-thinking the status quo.

  • I filed a medical board complaint against an ex-shrink because she got me hooked on Klonopin as a teenager (now 18/19 year old needs 3mgs/day Klonopin, plus Sonata). As part of the investigation, lots of people got subpoenas for my records, and now…retaliation. My recovery has only intensified things, honestly.

    If it wasn’t for my upper-middle/upper-class people behind me, I’d be…somewhere terrible, for sure.

  • Therapy can easily be as harmful as psychiatry. The two often go hand in hand, anyway. I’ve survived some terrible counselors. Even now, as I recover from “treatment,” some counselors in my area are going after me. Bipolar. ODD. OCD. ADHD. NPD. Diagnosis as a weapon…its not just psychiatrists! Actually, come to think of it…here, in my little corner of the world, my recovery seems to be “triggering” terrible (mis)behavior on the part of some “professionals.” Troublemakers…aren’t…supposed…to…recover.

    I find that many MH people are elitist, too, or at least extremely class conscious. Why don’t working class and poor people get good therapy? Because they’re not good enough. Drug em up, send em away, basically. Now, if you’re upper middle class or above (or have people like that behind you), then…well, maybe some compassion is in order…

    I think part of the problem is all these mass-produced masters in counseling people who are paid too much (For what they do) and think too highly of themselves, while failing to deliver anything useful. Not that training is all that important, but…give some of these asinine creatures a masters, they think they can rule other peoples’ lives. It used to be said, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” I think now this is true of counseling…”Those who can, do. Those who can’t, counsel.”

    Just my experience, that’s all. 🙂

  • Psychiatry fits a social need. Its stated mission is to “treat mental illness.” Its actual purpose (I believe sociologists call this the “latent function”) is multi-faceted, but is mostly to keep people in line, maintain the status quo, and blind us all to the social factors that make many of us “crazy.” I sometimes think selling pills is really just a side benefit. Even before the bio-bio-bio perspective took hold, shrinks were essentially “blaming the victim.” “Therapy” can be just as damaging as drugs and shock in many respects.

    As Norman pointed out, even is psychiatry is thoroughly debunked, there will emerge new ways of keeping us all in line…that is, unless there is serious social change. But who listens to “psychiatric survivors” ? Its like in Suddenly, Last Summer, when the evil aunt is about to have Catherine lobotomzied. The doc says something like “an operation may not stop the babbling,” and the evil aunt responds “but after the operation, who will listen?” Psychiatry helps discredit and control and silence people.

  • I’m all for this and research into other less expensive, safer, more humane ways of handling distress. Yes, psychosocial programs are important, but I think an exclusive focus on psychosocial factors ignores the fact that severe emotional distress can cause physical problems, and can also be the result of physical problems (at least in part). When I was deeply psychotic, I had major skin problems and hair loss. Part of recovering, for me, was getting these and other physical maladies under control along with my distress. For me, that meant Orthomolecular, which has been absolutely wonderful for me. Other people prefer different forms of healing and health-boosting. I think one wonderful thing about alternative health is that its not as controlled by experts, so there’s a kind of do-it-yourself aspect to the process. For people (“patients”) who have seen and experienced the worst the medical establishment has to offer, that can be very empowering.

  • I don’t think the criminal justice system is much better than Mental Health, Inc. I mean, if you can afford adequate legal representation, then the criminal justice system isn’t so terrible (it also helps to be white, of course). American prisons are torture chambers, and they drug people up in jail and prison just as surely as they do in mental hospitals.

    Having said that…E. Fuller Torrey truly scares me. I’ve dealt with some terrible shrinks over the years, and he shares a lot of the same traits as those shrinks. Force, fraud, coercion, straight up lies, forcing (or trying to force) people into what Szasz calls “Psychiatric Slavery.” shrinks like Torrey are sadistic, power hungry, cruel, and ruthless. They also lie. They lie to the people they turn into patients, they lie to families, they lie to the public, they lie to themselves.

    I’m personally sick of the lies and the sadism. The best you can get when you’re “severely mentally ill” is cruel compassion…”s/he can’t help it….schizophrenia, you know?” that sort of thing. If you disagree you’re in denial or don’t realize how sick you are. If you ask for the fun, good pills you’re a “drug seeker.” If the meds don’t “work” you’re “treatment-resistant” and probably have additional problems, usually a “personality disorder.”

    On and on it goes. I’m looking forward to the day I can exit “The System” and get on with life.

  • Good points. Personally, I’ve found that “mental health professionals” are often more concerned with keeping people “in line” than with helping them/us. That’s certainly true of many I’ve encountered at the clinic I go to. Actually, its true of both private practice and community mental health, now that I think about it. Its hard to be anything more than a “compliant patient” when dealing with “professionals” such as these. I’m blessed because I have upper-middle, maybe upper class people behind me, so I get more leeway (although I still get comments and sneers at the clinic).

    Anyway, society creates deviant individuals and then punishes us/them harshly, especially those who are low on the totem pole to start with. “Personal responsibility,” “accountability,” etc….all those buzzowords that seem so popular in American culture (and often in the mental health arena, too). In the US, social problems are apparently “personal” problems. You’re homeless because of “poor life choices.” Oh, wait…you’re schizophrenic. That’s it… You’re in jail because you deserve to be. You need to be punished. I don’t wanna hear your sob story. On and on it goes, as the mental health and justice systems get bigger and bigger and ever more vicious.

    Again, thanks for the article.

  • Thank you for this post. Usually, those who are victimized by psychiatry die and nobody cares. I chose my screen name because yeah, I survived…2 involuntary rounds of heavy shock before age 25. The first one was done while I was suffering an OD. I didn’t find out about the “treatment” until I had to get a brain scan a couple years later. Awesome.

    Anyway, I think it was Szasz who said that psychiatry is a human rights abuse. Its not a couple bad apples; its the “profession” as a whole. I personally think that electroshock and psychosurgery reveal what psychiatry is really about…destroying minds, destroying lives, making people “more manageable.”

    Thanks again for this post. She was a wonderful woman, and I think its important that her life and her death are noted, that something is said.

  • This is ridiculous. I think it was Szasz who pointed out that pill and shock based psychiatry was always the psychiatry given to poor people. Now that everybody’s on meds, I guess poor people are being given the most noxious, over-priced medications available.

    Class warfare, I think. What do poor people need brain cells for, anyway?

    My own experience has been that docs are elitist. When I was poor, I was shocked and doped and abused. Now my somewhat affluent people take care of me, and I’m given counseling and some compassion, blah blah blah. The medical establishment gives you about as much compassion as you “deserve,” based on you (or your peoples’) social standing. disgusting.

  • I can relate to the “downward spiral” caused by mental health “treatment.” I lost 10 years of my life to “treatment,” stigma, and punitive psychiatry. The only reason I’m “in recovery” now is because of my upper-middle/upper-class family taking care of me after reconciling ( did I mention that the shrinks are part of the reason we were estranged?).

    Its crazy, being locked in the cycle of punishment, pain, and stigma. I feel for this individual, I do, and I hate the way Torrey is always seizing upon tragedy to make his case for controlling and drugging those deemed “severely mentally ill.” Brain disease? As I recall, in the 60s and 70s, Torrey tried his hand at being the next Thomas Szasz. Apparenly, there’s more money and prestige in his current breed of psychiatry than in his old one.

  • Mental health usually = violent control of people who don’t matter, the “expendables.” Even if you start out with enough status, money, prestige, what have you to “matter,” the experts’ use of stigma and diagnosis will invalidate you…and you will be an expendable.

    I’m a Born Again Christian. I’m also increasingly frightened by the number of M.Divinity holders in mental health, fee based pastoral counselors, and the “mental health awareness” that so many churches are engaging in. Locally, a NAMI group meets in a Methodist church just up the road from me.

    The only group I can think of that still speaks out against mental health–because there was a time, not so long ago, when many Christians recognized that mental health treatment and Christ are often, perhaps usually, maybe always, incompatible–are the Pentecostals. Call them “holy rollers” if you want to…they read and teach the whole Bible. My real “counselor” at this point in my life is an elderly Pentecostal woman. Raised Pentecostal, all that. She’s more insightful and wise than anyone I’ve ever met. And, without having ever read Foucault, Szasz, Goffman, etc…she’s decidedly “anti-psychiatry.” I told her my story, of forced shock and violence and docs “making an example” out of me because I was/am a “trouble maker,” and she told me: they torture people. She briefly worked, on weekends, in a pscyh ward. She quit because of the screams of the shock patients and the torture she saw. Most people wouldn’t have quit. Real Christians have a conscience.

  • I too have the dreaded “Bipolar I.” If it wasn’t for my somewhat affluent parents supporting me, it’d be “schizophrenia” and I’d be pumped full of some sort of antipsychotic on an involuntary basis. As is, I’m on a lovely 4 drug cocktail (no lithium or depakote, praise God), chasing the side effects wirh Orthomolecular. My counseling is pleasant convo and talk about meds. Such is the nature of Community Mental Health around this part of the US.

    Anyway, I enjoyed this article. Its crazy, how little evidence is there for any one (often noxicous) pill, much less combinations of little pills. I think maybe the rat race is one reason psychiatry flourishes. Who has the time and resources to step out of society, slow it down for a moment, truly recover? Very few. Factor in how blaming the brain shifts the focus from society and family dynamics to a “sick” individual, plus profts involved, and…you’ve got a hot mess.

    It seems to me that psychiatry sometimes offers “treatment” through penance. Lithium, for instance; “harsh, but effective.” You tolerate it, you suffer for your sin of being crazy, bad, what have you. I would argue that clozapine falls in the same category…”treatment=pain” is also “highly effective treatment=lots of pain.” I don’t get it.

    Me, I’m on coerced “voluntary” treatment. Take your pills, dearie, or you go to either jail or a mental hospital. Definitely better than what your typical Community Health patient gets, but…yeah. The places where law and psychiatry intersect show you the true nature of both.

  • Neuroleptics undoubtedly cause a lot of these problems. I think there’s other issues, as well, such as social isolation and poverty, that are being “diagnosed.” Is there an anti-poor pill? Can I have one?

    Neuroleptics are very powerful drugs. I’m stuck on one…newer one…and its OK. I do hardcore Orthomolecular with it, so at least I can tolerate it and its non-sedating. Still, the Orthomolecular people have a term for the tranquilizer’s effects on people, which they borrowed from some 50s British shrink (back before tranquilizers became required treatment): the “tranquilizer psychosis.” The Orthomolecular shrinks are remarkably honest about how tranquilizers can switch one psychosis–the “positive” symptoms, I suppose–for another one…the so-called “negative symptoms.” Neither form of psychosis lends itself well to…well…living all that well.

    Personally, I think that madness+stigma+social isolation+low status+(usually) poverty=a lot of what experts choose to call “negative symptoms.” Plus, “schizophrenics” can’t really win. Everything about us/them is apparently diseased and disordered. Considering that the label itself is often applied to people already low(er) on the totem pole–poor people, minorities, etc.–and I think you can see what the real problem is. It isn’t just that shrinks don’t listen to “schizophrenics” (although they don’t, trust me), its that shrinks choose to call low status people “schizophrenic” and then there’s a whole new level of stigma and labeling (poor and “schizophrenic.” Minority and “schizophrenic.” Drug addict and “schizophrenic.” Unemployed and “schizophrenic.”)

    A part of me wonders if the “negative symptoms” maybe represents low status people taking a little vacay from their/our lot in life…which shrinks do not allow, of course. Everything about a “schizophrenic” person’s life is apparently supposed to be under control of Mental Health, Inc.

  • The SSRI drugs are off patent. The media is making benzo addiction more of an issue lately. I think we’ll soon see a whole new, patented, expen$ive group of “innovative” psych meds for…everything. Anything. Whatever ails you.

    First we had barbiturates. Then Valium was safe and good. Then Valium was bad, but xanax was good. Then the SSRI drugs were the best thing ever. For a time, everyone was bipolar I-V, so tranquilizers for everyone (hooray!). Now, even the atypicals are going off patent…plus, TD lawsuits are expen$ive, soooo….a whole new generation of Holy Grail pills is coming our way. Get ready!

  • This is good stuff, and it rings true in my own life. When I had my crack up, I had to use cortisone products on both my face and scalp. My hair was thinning rapidly. I had health problems. Ah, but once hospitalized and shocked…my problems were reduced to psychiatric issues. Was something wrong physically? Absolutely. Did the experts care? Hell no.

    I’m just 1 person with a story like this. Its crazy, really. I’ve recovered, praise God, but…here in the US, “recovery” is damn nigh impossible. For a lot of “mental patients,” the only doc they/we’ll ever see is a shrink. Even if they/we go to a real doc, that doc may just ignore the problems. Just a drain on society…

    Thanks for the article. Weirdly enough, I’m starting to think that having more people on psych meds might prove to be a good thing. I mean, when enough people are failed by “standard treatment,” maybe more resources will be allocated to actually helping people.

  • Many of us know how heartless “well trained mental health professionals” are. The quality of their “training” is an issue for another day.

    I OD’d in a mental hospital…a private, for profit, overpriced hell hole. I was left wallowing in my own urine and denied any medical care for the ill effects of a massive Restoril OD. This was part of my “treatment.” I’m just one person who’s been put through Hell on earth by people in the so-called “helping professions.”

    I think taking emotional distress back from the “professionals” is step #1 towards helping more people get better and get on with life. These people, with their often mass-produced degrees and psychobabble…infuriate me. I think, especially in America, and especially since Reagan, psychobabble has had a very mean spirited, blame the victim flavor to it. “Losers” don’t matter in America.

  • When you have a prescription, its medicine. When you don’t, its a drug. Ugh. I’m all for keeping people on safer forms of opiates. I mean, a schedule III Rx pill versus injecting heroin? Yes, Rx the pill. In terms of cost:benefits, I would imagine that maintaining people, rather than focusing on 0 drug use, works better and more cheaply.

    I just wish there was a way to empower people, rather than either maintaining them or punishing them. But then everything would have to change, especially our attitudes (in the US), which are still extremely punitive and harsh, compared to many other countries. We’d have to look at social factors that lead to deviant behavior, including drug abuse, and see about…I dunno…adressing them, lol. I think one big reason the medical establishment has been able to take control over more and more of our lives, I think more so in the US than in a lot of other places (I could be wrong…) is that doing so makes some people a lot of $$$ and also effectively turns widespread, socially rooted problems into individual “issues,” so things just keep on going as usual.

    Until and unless lots of people start taking a deeper, more honest look at our society…I guess the best we can hope for is maintaining people on their chemical(s) of choice.

  • This is sad times. Not only are more people in the US going to be put on depot neuroleptics one way or another (cough–court orders–cough), the practice will persist even when these drugs go off patent. Mental Health, Inc. just gets worse, the more control you give it.

    I’m also wondering…why is it OK to torture “schizophrenics” like this, but not others? Are we that low on the totem pole? (Ohhhh, wait…yeah…yeah, we are). Any antipsychotic will cause changes in the brain. Rapid withdrawal of said drug will cause problems. The problems aren’t actually a disease, and the effects of withdrawing a psych med suddenly can be Hell on earth, especially w/ a heavy hitter like an Antipsychotic.

    Sad times. Stating the obvious–that drugs cause problems, sometimes worse than the original problems–is dangerous. All research, all discussion about “mental illness” has to occur along pre-approved lines. Truth is irrelevant.

    Ugh. I read this abstract of a study from the late 70s, maybe 80s…they compared Valium to Prolixin in prevention of relapse of psychosis. Valium actually did pretty well. See…that’s my other problem…not all drugs are terrible. People would line up for a Xanax depot, lol. But shrinks refuse to give potentially fun drugs to low status people, choosing instead chemical straight jackets. Sometimes, drugs do help severe distress…I just think its a question of which drugs, and who decides….