Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Comments by Eric Coates

Showing 100 of 239 comments. Show all.

  • Great article and list of resources! I was particularly struck by the part about “safety.” This was something that always struck me as very odd and very skewed when I was in a psych ward — the constant concern and questions about “safety.” “Are you safe?” seemed like this endless, meaningless refrain that could only result in horrible consequences if answered in the negative. There are lots of questions like this. At the hospital emergency room now (at least in my state) they ask “Are you thinking about hurting yourself or someone else?” Only a complete fool or someone with absolutely no experience of the system would ever answer this in the affirmative. Or: “Have you been feeling down, depressed, or lacked interest in things lately?” Again, another one-way trip to the psych ward, forced medication, and then AOT, if you’re lucky. If you’re not, it’s electroshock and God knows what else. Anyway, the safety thing struck me in particular, but the whole article is well thought out and informative. Thank you.

  • As to the type of comments you are likely to receive, it should be more than obvious that ANY link between improved fitness and the types of drugs that those with SMI are taking is bound to be weak. Metabolic syndrome, for instance, as if the name weren’t enough of a hint already, basically shuts down your system. Massive increased weight gain, lethargy, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes . . . although it may be only anecdotal (will it be more official if I call it a “case study”?) after a couple years on antipsychotics I could not keep up on a walk with my 70 year old mother when previously I had been very fit, and in less than six months off them I was back to my old self — after a lot of work, of course. Add this neuroleptic malignant syndrome, with its loss of pleasure in any activities, including physical, and you not only largely account for what are called negative symptoms but which I believe are actually drug effects, and you describe a situation in which any studies of the effect of physical activity on those with SMI are bound to have weak results. Sorry to go on so long, but I figured I night just as well simply sum up the responses you should be able to expect since they are all so familiar to me.

  • Never having been suicidal myself (except in those few moments of extreme duress when hearing voices that wouldn’t stop, day after day, hour after hour, minute by minute) my principal concern is psychosis, not depression or suicide. Yet the whole question involved in any of these is the effects of modern “treatment” modalities, including drugs, and it has been an eye-opening experience for me to learn about the increased violence and suicidality associated with modern antidepressants. Your report greatly deepens that knowledge. Thank you.

  • Good luck with it all. As you say, it can be — or has been — a pretty rough environment at times, with people doing nothing but insulting psychiatrists, etc., who may not as a general class be my favorite group of people but most of whom I have found to be genuinely caring individuals, even if misguided by the medical model. Even that is something of a generalization — and I am guilty of the occasional generalization myself. However, your guidelines would certainly lead to a more civil discussion arena, in which the various gladiators put down their swords and instead embrace one another in fellowship. Best of luck to you. It’s not an easy job, I’m sure.

  • I call a Nazi a Nazi, Rachel, not some new-fangled marketing term like alt-right. A Nazi is a Nazi, and that’s it.

    I don’t know anything about Breitbart, gay or not, but one thing I can guarantee you is this: when the Nazis take over, they don’t play games with who’s gay or a little different or maybe had a felony once. They kill you. They kill you. Hitler was more than happy to have the gay people and the criminals and the sadists working on his side — until he was actually in power. Then he killed them off, en masse. That’s the reality, regardless of any rhetoric you might have heard. And the Nazis now would do the same thing.

    Real Nazis are about conformity to a certain conception of power, and they have very, very strict ideas about purity and morality, and to deviate from them is to condemn yourself to death, regardless of how they may use you in the short term to achieve their ends.

  • First, I’m afraid that my experience is not much different from yours. As for court-appointed lawyers, they seem to have already decided the case is hopeless and so, rather than listening to you explain things on their merits, they simply go into court and give the same speech they’ve given a thousand times, which might sound good on camera but which addresses none of your individual needs. Second, another thing I have encountered is that court-appointed lawyers tend to be second-rate burnouts who shouldn’t even be practicing law any more; after all, if they were really any good, they wouldn’t be taking cut-rate cases from kangaroo courts where the outcomes are basically predetermined. And third, never trust anyone who wears a badge issued by the institution they are supposedly opposing; if they are that cozy with the opposition, you can rest assured that their interests — their relationship with the other side and the judge — will easily take precedence over defending your case.

    As for the The Forced Drugging Defense Package, the attorney I am working with now, who seems honest and conscientious, said that most of it would be impermissible as it would be considered hearsay, but that he would try to work some of it in by having me read sections of it, along with sections of my own letter, into the record to show “the sort of thing that make me question the system of psychiatry and drugging.” At least he’s making an effort.

  • As a person with lived experience who has also been misdiagnosed (over and over), I cannot adequately say how important this article is. I have told people over and over and over again (including in my articles for MIA) that the real way to go about things is to take people at their word, not as you choose to reinterpret it into some framework of your own. This would help things immensely, and clear up much misunderstanding.

  • Thank you. Good luck to your sister. There are still a few states which do not follow AOT orders from other states, although it is not easy to determine which ones. What I suggest is looking around and exploring the options. The other option is simply to move to another country. If your sister receives disability, those payments should continue even in another country, where it might be cheaper to live and where the onerous system of AOT is not in place. Just put on a backpack, get a ticket, and go. This is what I may be forced to resort to myself. Again, good luck to you both.

  • I suffer at times from chronic pain. Does meditation help? Yes, but only so much. Opiates are not the evil they are being made out to be. They may have been overprescribed to people who didn’t need them, but there are other people who do in fact need them. This is how it works: go too far in one direction (prescribing) and then have a reaction and go too far in the other direction (not prescribing) and treat those who need them as mere drug seekers looking for a thrill. This is how it works with medicine, and how it is working now.

  • Thank you. I don’t have time to find an attorney around here (very rural) who could do this, but if I could I would. In the meantime, I am submitting my own letter ahead of time in the hopes that it will be read. I don’t expect it to be, but I had to make the effort.

  • Thank you for your time-consuming and considerate reply. Why no one with legal experience has yet orgnanized such a body is outside my understanding. Certainly I know of a few people who would be capable of starting such a movement. Perhaps I will contact a few of them and see what they say.

  • Congratulations on your success. I also got off scot free for many years, but it was after I withdrew from drugs and had a dangerous neurofeedback session that I became psychotic again and checked myself into a hospital, where they promptly stripped me of my rights. Good luck to you in the future.

  • Thank you for the suggestion. In regards to your earlier comment, I also do not believe this letter will make any difference at all in the resolution of my case. Nevertheless, I am the sort of person who keeps fighting back, no matter how hopeless the cause, and so I had to write it.

  • Thanks so much for sharing this. My mother also did not give up hope, even if she went with the drug model. I guess that’s the only choice for some people. I hope your son is doing well and that you yourself are doing okay. It’s very important for people to share their personal stories. I’m glad that you have.

  • Thanks for your very enlightening and obviously time-consuming reply — I appreciate the effort. You did a better job of explaining my four points than I did, but I was going for brevity, not the whole experience itself.

  • I am neither a scientist nor very well mathematically informed, but what you say about the numbers only makes sense. This is a very clear piece of data (NNT numbers) that I should hope the public would be informed about, but when even I, who reads everything he can about the subject, have no idea what all of this means, then the general public is bound to be hopelessly misinformed of what’s happening. I can only hope that these conclusions will form a chapter of your latest book.

  • Thank you for your comments. Very interesting.

    Personally, I believe that neurofeedback in all its different forms will replace much of what psychiatry is doing now, and the more information we get out there as soon as possible about it, the better. It sounds like you had a more positive experience with it all than me, and I congratulate you on it. Perhaps it will become truly useful and safe in the future.

  • I appreciate especially that you are going to deal with the issue of suffering among those with unusual experiences. There is far too often an emphasis by writers that what they experienced was purely an uplifting experience. This is something that is simply and blatantly untrue for many of us, if not most of us. I hope you are able to explore it well and that people come to a better understanding that it is not one, but both.

    Good for you that you are so willing to do the work that needs to be done.

    Eric Coates

  • Monica, it’s always great to hear from you.

    Like you, I believe that given enough time, we can recover from what was done to our brains.

    However, my experience unleashed a period of psychosis that lasted two and a half years. That was when I contacted you for the first time, and you were the only person to respond to my cries for help. For that, I am eternally grateful.

    However, neurofeedback is brand new, and they don’t know what they’re doing yet. I’m glad that it helped you, but it is very important that people know what they may be in store for. I myself had no idea of the profundity of what was about to happen.

    There are people who swear by the drugs, and I am sure there are people who swear by neurofeedback. In the end, I believe that neurofeedback will be a very powerful resource, but I am also sure that when done the wrong way on the wrong brains that it will be just as dangerous, just as powerful, and just as overwhelming as the drugs ever were.

    And with all that said, I hope that you call me some time. It’s always a great conversation, and regardless of our different perspectives, I always come away with something new.


  • i appreciate your concerns, and I also believe that neurofeedback is the future. At this point, however, it is still in in its most dangerous stages, much like drugs in the latter half of the 20th century, or like metrazol or insulin shock in the thirties and forties. There is a lot of work to be done — and there is nothing to indicate that neurofeedback, practiced with our primitive tools, will be any better. In fact, in combination with brains surgery (implants like they do with depression) there is no indication that with our modern technology that they will be any better. But thank you for your response, which I am sure is based on good experience and may lead to improvements in the future.

  • Ummm . . . diagnoses never go away. I hate to say this, but once your medical record is established, any practitioner who reads them will see what other say and what others have repeated. You can disagree, of course, but it’s like any institution. The records are the records. I have personal experience with getting something as simple as high blood sugar taken off my record (gone long ago), and yet no one listens or records this. Never mind a diagnosis of schizophrenia or depression. But good luck to you if you try.

  • The doctor was quite concerned and wanted to do what he could to reverse the process. I guess that’s possible with the kind of neurofeedback I had experienced. At that point, however, with my voices back in full command of my mind, I didn’t feel that going back for more was really the answer. In fact, I will not be willing to undergo any form of neurofeedback or anything else, like transcranial magnetic whatever it is, as these strike me as dangerously powerful and yet very primitive in their effect, which no one really knows about. Thanks for your question.

  • Believe it or not, it is directly physical. Sound entering your ears, magnets on the back of your brain, tapping your fingers to reinforce a good thought — these are all real, and they do have powerful effects. Nothing, however, affects your brain like light entering your eyes or like magnets pulsing in your brain. These are the equivalent of a nuclear bomb going off next to a computer. Your brain is an electric device, not just biological, and the power by whatever means that enters directly into your brain is considerable.

  • Thanks for your reference to the article. Neurology, as it is currently practiced, is a brand-new field with almost limitless potential for damage as well as possible enhancement of human abilities, but I happen to believe that letting nature do its thing like it has for a few million years now is probably the best course — especially with my experience of it all.

  • “Precision medicine” — excuse me, but what the fuck is that? Is this like cancer, where you go after specific cells? Or is this like mainstream fundamentalist religion, where you tell desperate people what they want so awfully to hear?

    The acid test, of course, is whether it works. It won’t. But once again there is going to be a lot of hoopla to make people forget the last round of hoopla, which also meant and did nothing more than the meaningless round of hoopla that came before that. And so on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

  • Yes, I have been force-sedated a few times. I have also been forced to take Haldol, which, as you probably know, can cause some pretty severe akithisia. Why? Is this some kind of contest about who’s had it worse, or was it maybe just that I eventually figured out how to deal with the system better than some other people have?

  • I would like very much if you contacted me, phoenix. We seem to think in very similar ways, and to express ourselves in similar ways. I agree with almost everything you say about the experience, except this: perhaps there is something more to psychosis than we know. It’s horrible at times, yes, as you say, but there is also the incredibly enlightening aspect of it all in which one learns things that would never have been available to use as mere ordinary mortals. If you would like, please contact me at: [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.

  • I would like to add a corrective at this point, which is that there are, in fact, certain real things that psychiatrists should be dealing with sometimes, if only they were trained correctly.

    An example of this would be infantile paralysis, in certain manifestations. There would also be dementia. At one point in time, the only people who were making significant progress in protecting us from syphilitic brain problems or epilepsy by trying to find out what was at their heart, was psychiatry (with neurology for an assist). The problem, in other words, is not with psychiatry itself as a general field (there are actual brain diseases and disorders) but with how their practice is plagued by conditions that are simply outside their range of experience and ability to determine a cause because it lies outside medicine. Schizophrenia, so-called, is outside their domain. So is bipolar, or personality disorders, or whatever. But your daughter’s problem is exactly the sort of thing that a psychiatrist, a medical doctor dealing with the effect of disease on the mind, SHOULD be dealing with. And good for you that you stuck it out until a real medical problem was determined, rather than the elusive and chimerical “mental illnesses” that they talk about. If only they concentrated on actual diseases instead of these chimeras, there might not be such hatred of them as there is nowadays.

  • You’re right, Frank: just going along with what they say is usually the quickest way out.

    That said, I have asked a psychiatrist why they were releasing me — what had made them decide on that course of action. What the psychiatrist said was, “We don’t feel we can help you.”

    Sometimes it does work to resist.

  • Sounds like you had a pretty bad experience. Even as a man myself, I have a sort of knee-jerk dislike of anyone who harasses anyone else, and these harassers are usually men.

    I think the forgiveness thing is not so much for them as it is for yourself. I’m not advocating it, just noting that it has its effect on your mind. You relax a little more and you hope for the best, even when people don’t live up to it. Again, I’m not advocating it. Sometimes anger is a better route to go. Let it change how you think about yourself and world so that you are more motivated to change things for the better. Different ways of dealing with it has different benefits. Which one do you really want?

    Again, sorry to hear about your experience. Good luck.

  • I’m sorry to hear that you’re suffering with the damage of the drugs. I have been extremely fortunate in that none of the damage done to me has been permanent, in terms of either my body or my mind, but I’m completely aware that things might have been otherwise. I hope you get better.

    I was also, by the way, an extremely self-conscious person when I was young, largely due to the bullying and hazing that I had to deal with from other people my age. I don’t have a story filled with the kinds of obvious trauma that so many people have had to deal with. But, between my older brother and my peers, I lived more or less in terror half the time as a kid, to the point where I not only developed such a hard shell that no one realized how nervous I was all the time because I got so I just kept an armor shell on all the time. I learned to at least look like I was fine, to the point where people thought I was extremely arrogant instead of realizing that I was just good at walking around like I couldn’t give a shit. Anyway, I feel for what you had to deal with, and I hope that you’re able to come to some sort of peace with it, if you haven’t already.

    Good luck to you.

  • That’s an interesting thought. I have had it myself: why change the language, since anything you come up to replace it will only be warped and distorted in its turn? The recent spate of interest in abolishing the term “schizophrenia,” for instance, is often based on the ideas that 1) there is no discrete entity that could be called schizophrenia, since the diagnosis is based on such variable factors that you might as well say they’re just aspects of that person’s experience that may be unrelated to each other in the way that a disease entity actually would have its parts related to each other as part of a clearly distinguishable whole, more or less, or that 2) it’s just stigmatizing to label someone that way. In terms of the second, it might be an uncommon point of view, but to me switching the name instead of simply using it and then working to change the perception, as the gay pride movement has done with words like “queer” or “gay” or whatever, is sort of a waste of time. By switching to the term “psychosis spectrum,” we will in no way substantively change the perception that people have from how they saw the old schizophrenia. Sooner or later, some people will start talking about “psychotics” (or “psychos”) the same way they talk about “schizos” now. But who am I? The powers that be have largely decreed that the change of name will take place if they have any power over the situation, regardless of the fact that it’s just polishing brass on the Titanic, more or less. I would think the preferable alternative, if you have to switch names, is simply to abolish the naming things as a group completely and drop everything, including the catchall term “psychosis.” If someone hears voices, say that. If someone has unusual beliefs, say that. Just drop the whole thing about generalizing a category and call things by specific name.

  • Couldn’t agree with you more. Unfortunately, the only vaguely complete language for it all — misleading and non-illuminating as it may be — is psychiatry’s. Some day I hope we will change that. I’ve brought the language issue up with people many times, but I can’t seem to find anyone who wants to sit down and create a new one that actually represents it all as it really is.

  • Thank you. I’m glad you liked the piece. I am also, like you, opposed to forced treatment. Although it may actually have so-called “benefits” in the short term, I think that it inevitably costs you in the long run, whether in terms of turning you into a zombie, destroying your health, shortening your life, or actually denying you the opportunity to come out on the other side of it all as a new person with new possibilities and potentials in front of you. And like you, I do grow a little worn out from all the expressions of pain and rage, even though I can relate to them. There is, after all, a lot more to all of this than just what was done to you, important as that may be. But, people do need to get it out of their system sometimes, so I can more than understand, and I do my best to pay attention to the people who need to speak out. Hopefully we can get to a place where the first thing (forced treatment) and the need for the second (anger) will go away. Good luck to you and your daughter and the rest of your family.

  • Thanks for this important podcast.

    My only complaint about all of this is that the very term “Power Threat Meaning Framework,” while it is quite clear about its different subject matters, is actually sort of alienating. Once one is familiar with its constituent parts, it makes sense, but when approaching it at first sight it is quite alienating. I hate to say it, but a simpler name would probably have put people off less.

    As usual, James, you home right in on important questions, and I want to thank Dr. Johnstone for explaining what she and the others in her working group have done to advance the cause of psychology.

    Eric Coates

  • I haven’t listened to every broadcast (they started before I was aware of them) but those I have listened to have always been full of valuable information. I thank you, James, once again, for taking the time to make these broadcasts available to us all.

    I want to also thank Dr. Moncrieff for taking the time to make her views clear. I have read many articles on MIA (and increasingly in the wider-spread media) that are critical of antidepressants and other drugs. As a psychiatric survivor who was on antipsychotics for many years (during which time I degraded and was turned into a zombie), I am still learning about the effects that all of these drugs — antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-ADHD — have on the people who are unfortunately either convinced or forced to take them. Thank you.

    Eric Coates

  • Congratulations, Sera! You’ve now outed yourself as a voicehearer. Not every voicehearer is the same, but you seem to more than qualify. A voice in your head that seems to not be yourself that talks to you? No better definition of it. It may be subtle, it may be quiet, but if it’s talking to you from the outside, then you’re a voicehearer. Congratulations! It’s a very select, special club.

  • Julie, love it!

    On my last psych admission I got really out of control. I basically stole a huge, plastic Scrabble board and the tiles to go with them (assembled from who knows how many different Scrabble games?). I had to get this monster out of the game room and into my own room and then sweet-talk the staff into letting me pay for it all with a replacement scrabble set, which I promptly handed to the biggest scrabble player in the place and encouraged her to steal.

    There was actually a sort of thievery ring at my last admission, who raided people’s rooms and sold stuff between the different units. I figured out who they were pretty quickly, and I would taunt them with my iPod Nano all the time. But I was smart: I kept the iPod in my pants pockets 24 hours a day, whether that was in my daytime shorts or my pajamas at night. No one was able to steal my iPod. I did the same thing with my money.

    One last thing I will say is that I always make sure to steal a book from the library. You can only have 1 book out at a time, and you pick the very best book you can and hold onto it until they let you out, and you take it home with you. I have two awesome books that I would never have otherwise had because of it. Thank God for the prison library! I have also acquired 4 Bibles in different versions (Bibles are a kind of addiction for me) and a magisterial version of the Koran — all books that were just out on the ward.

    Anyway, congratulations on that pool ball!

  • Sa, I did perhaps overstate my case about violence a little bit. There are indeed some people who are so far out there with their beliefs that they can’t help reacting with violence, whether out of perceived self-defense or some other reason, and I appreciate that perspective. However, most of the people I’ve known in psych wards who were violent were simply aggressive persons to begin with, and they would have been violent in any aspect of life, whether in a psych institute or some other aspect of life — normal life included. But thanks for speaking up, because it is important to do so.

  • Thank you for being one of the few psychiatrists out there who is willing to speak about the human cost to your profession as well of the medical model. People quote Dr. Szasz all the time, but tend to forget that he, too, was a psychiatrist. I hope there will be more like you in the future.