Dear Lisa, Thank you so much for having the purpose of mind and garnering the clarity necessary to write a letter of this fine caliber. “Why don’t they know?” Such a good question. I’ve spent many months if not years deeply absorbed in this question above all others. In relating this question to the relationship I had with my last psychiatrist of 5 years who had me on 4 mg K per day concurrently with Adderall, Prozac, and Abilify I would say that foremost she knew her actions were entirely legal. If something is legal it makes it seem plausibly right. As I declined further and further under her care to depths I would have previously believed to be impossible, her sympathy for my weakened state elicited remarks such as, “You are the most treatment resistant patient that I’ve ever seen.” I spoke to my psychiatrist again at years out of her care and 1 3/4 years off psych drugs. She was not interested in hearing about my recovery or my burgeoning awareness of how dangerous psych meds are, she wanted me to come back as a patient again. These days she doesn’t really need me though as her independent practice of two years is flourishing. Thanks for posting your letter, Emily
Thank you so much for having the purpose of mind and garnering the clarity necessary to write a letter of this fine caliber. “Why don’t they know?” Such a good question. I’ve spent many months if not years deeply absorbed in this question above all others. In relating this question to the relationship I had with my last psychiatrist of 5 years who had me on 4 mg K per day concurrently with Adderall, Prozac, and Abilify I would say that foremost she knew her actions were entirely legal. If something is legal it makes it seem plausibly right. As I declined further and further under her care to depths I would have previously believed to be impossible, her sympathy for my weakened state elicited remarks such as, “You are the most treatment resistant patient that I’ve ever seen.” I spoke to my psychiatrist again at years out of her care and 1 3/4 years off psych drugs. She was not interested in hearing about my recovery or my burgeoning awareness of how dangerous psych meds are, she wanted me to come back as a patient again. These days she doesn’t really need me though as her independent practice of two years is flourishing.
Thanks for posting your letter,
As with aria and uprising, if I had remained “med compliant” I’d probably be dead right now. When medicated on psychopolypharmacy I was surely among the living dead, often wishing I were dead.
This is a great article, but unless a person lives it, it can be hard to believe everything that the psych drugs can systemically take from a person. Thank you Monica for showing the path of freedom and regeneration from the cumulative harm done by prescription pills.
“I’ve long suspected that “Do no harm” was a fantasy. I have to come to terms with the likelihood that I’m doing harm when I do prescribe and when I don’t prescribe, regardless of my motivations.” There is just no helping to be done with those as helpless as the seriously mentally ill, is there?
It is my understanding that this piece is relativism at its finest. At the end of it I get the vague feeling that not much changing is going on despite all the vast sums of paradigm-changing information he is given access to.
After I got off my meds for “bipolar”, I got into AA and found a sponsor to work the 12 steps. My sponsor is a social worker and a trained “peer specialist” within her field. She worked at a long-standing, reputable rehab for 14 years. I love this woman and she teaches me much about recovery, but I find her belief system about biopsychiatry fascinating. She has a well-defined and honed sense of right and wrong on just about everything, except what can be done with the mentally ill. Then, it is a free-for-all. I think this is far more prevalent than just her. Exceedingly harmful and/or degenerative treatments are routinely taught to be fair game for those caught in the web of the system.
Outstanding! Much appreciation to you.
I’m sorry to hear that Anonymous, that you were drugged against your will from your home. It’s despicable and I really don’t envy your experience.
I know what the drugs are like, trust me on that one. I know the clouded and slow mind, having my thoughts resemble something like trying to swim in glue. I know what it is like to spend years of my life sleeping more hours than awake because of the heavy tranquilizers I’ve been under.
I’m against AOT, AP drugs, and psychiatric drugs in general. The oppression of the chemical prison, I’m convinced today, is worse than the physical one.
Your MIA friend, happily psych drug free for 2 years,
From the article it says that in the state of New York, there are currently somewhere between 2000-2500 under Kendra’s Law AOT. Though I despise this gross exercise in abuse of power, I appreciate that the number of people under it are relatively low.
I’ve only met one person who was receiving involuntary treatment. His mom achieved a 5 year commitment for clozapine. I only have become curious about other people’s experiences with psych drugs after getting off them and when I heard this I remember being slightly jealous that at least he was only on one drug. In the 12 years that I believed in my “psychiatric disorder” I always swallowed a polydrug cocktail of harmful, interacting substances. Was my brain more ill or was I more brainwashed? Nevertheless, it is a sad, sad day when a person can find something to be jealous of in someone under an AOT!
I represented one of the survivors who just took this course and I found it exceedingly worthwhile. I recommend it to other survivors to check out. It is organized and run by a survivor (of a bipolar diagnosis) named Krista MacKinnon, who also has the same therapist degree in process work as Will Hall.
The class is geared away from polemics of blame and is instead focused on finding ways to well-being as well as an acceptance of some measure of uncertainty along the way as to how it will play out in any given life story. There are many, many strategies presented and the philosophy is to take what you like, how you like.
There are two lessons a week of the same theme for the week. The lessons include intro youtube video of the instructor, the lesson itself, visual art, worksheets to print out, as well as links to audio files, youtube files, articles, and recommended books for further reading. I doubt anyone in the class had the chance to read/see everything as there is such a wealth of material, but since the lessons come to one’s email inbox they can be referenced even after the class ends. Finally, there is the wonderful alchemy of the class participants making sense of the material in applying it to their own lives in the threaded discussions.
As someone who has been an avid reader of Mad in America for a year, I wasn’t sure beforehand that I had all that much to learn. Well, I happily had that wrong! I learned very much and was really inspired by the pioneering format. Good stuff!
It takes courage to build bridges with those who would potentially malign one’s motives. It takes grace to time travel to the most difficult of parts of a personal history with clarity. It takes an inner knowing to let respect accrue rather than come in an upfront payment.
It’s a diplomatic position and I’m so thankful that in Western Massachusetts there are those ready to progress in this underrepresented field of endeavor. Keep up the good work, Sean (and team)!
I hope to meet you someday in the not-too-distant future. Until then, I’m very grateful for your voice as a psychiatric survivor, speaker on trauma, and self-proclaimed rebel. Your leadership qualities and writing skills here at MIA inspire me.
Thanks for being authentic to yourself,
The suffering that we as human beings experience is worthy of dignity, exploration, understanding, and human support; to call it “symptomatic” of a phantom “illness” is to do just the opposite.
How right you are, Laura.
It took so many isolated and dark years for me to learn I deserved better than what psychiatry offered me. I was worthy of the dignity of finding out who I was–or could be–without the pills I was told I would need for life and were “like insulin for diabetes”. Indeed, I could reclaim my dignity by not seeking it in a doctor’s reassurance of an underlying illness. I was not (or would no longer be) just a profit engine for a misguided, faulty industry that proclaimed to reduce human suffering but actually magnified it with tragic consequences for all of society. I did not know it all those labeled and drugged years, but eventually I would walk right out that door and not return.
I did not die (by suicide) in a pas de deux of therapeutic alliance with my doctor of pseudoscientific lies, chemical arrest/assault, instilled hopelessness, Stockholm syndrome codependency, and adding insult to injury shame of “treatment resistance”. I did not develop the permanent movement disorder of tardive dyskinesia from my neuroleptic consumption. I survived. Miracle of miracles, I survived the barbaric offerings of 21st century American healthcare.
Here is part of a letter soliciting funds that I received this very day from Brain and Behavior Research Foundation:
This is a tremendously exciting time for neuroscience. The President’s [Obama] new BRAIN Initiative acknowledges that neuroscience is flourishing and that new technologies are offering never-before-possible vistas into the brain’s complex functioning. The BRAIN Initiative calls for public and private collaboration to support a multi-year, broad-based research program to unlock the mysteries of the brain. Our Foundation’s history of funding innovative brain research places us in a unique position to provide leadership in this important initiative.
One of our current NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Grantees, Rafael Yuste, M.D., Ph.D, of Columbia University is involved in launching the project. He says, “The BRAIN Initiative will enable the development of novel methods to identify the root causes and improve the treatments of complex mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder and others. We aim to visualize the activity of neural circuits so that we can identify abnormal activity patterns or abnormal firing of neurons and then correct abnormalities. This should also lead toward prevention and cures for these devastating illnesses.”
The extra hubris of adding that prevention and cures can be expected in the future in that last sentence goes beyond the pale. I remember so well from my doctors at McLean on down through the years telling me that someday with enough research a “cure” could come about (to fix my abnormal, genetic derived brain illness). And how I wanted that to be true! I finally found the beginning of my cure in India when I was compassionately and convincing assured, “There is nothing wrong with you.”
My cure continues on here at MIA in finding you last May with the video of your protest the APA in Philly speech. Instantly, it changed me and how I saw myself. A sweeping moment of real recognizing real all over again. Who knew then that I would get to be one of those I wish I could hug each and every human being out there who’s believed the “mental illness” story told so persuasively by Psychiatry, and trusted in it, just like I did. in person?
I love your writing in this post but I love the video so much more because it gives those who haven’t met you in person such a wondrous glimpse into your generous character and even the inspired decorating of your home.
That you are able to witness to the effects of intensive psychiatric treatment 50 years after the event means that you have outlived the unnaturally shortened lifespan of those who stay in psychiatric treatment. You are quite an elder of our kindred.
As with Greg Benson, it absolutely astounds me that you found your belief in yourself and your impetus to leave psychiatry from an actual doctor. My personal experience of doctors around psychiatry is so very different.
Another thing that is very foreign to me and my story is that you never integrated the psychiatric labels such– as “schizophrenia”– into your psyche the way that I did with my “bipolar”. It humbles me that you even wrote of initial sadness rather than “depression”. I’m still, even today, so ingrained with “clinical” terms rather than ordinary ones.
Something we share in common is coming to psychiatry as college students; another is that we were ushered into the supposed best of the best as far as pedigree institutions and doctors. What’s more interesting is that, as we discovered while talking in person, how you found a role model survivor activist in Judi Chamberlin and how I found mine in Laura Delano.
I’m so honored to know you, to have visited your home, to have your poster shown in the video, and a signed copy from you of “A Way Out of Madness” (in which you authored the chapter “Attachments Lost and Found”). Thank you for welcoming me into the survivor community and for remembering that those of us who do find our voices must speak for the others who never get such a chance at a life beyond psychiatry.
With much admiration,
Such a beautiful piece, Laura! As usual there is such a wealth of information and experience here that it takes time and multiple readings to absorb the depth and breadth of it all.
For my tapering and withdrawal, points 7. & 9. were what I used and then nearing a year into withdrawal point 8. came into play with finding you and connecting to others who have gone before me.
I congratulate you on compiling resources on those professionals of varied disciplines who are familiar and friendly to aid those along the coming off process. I would love to help if I can! You know my locale and my contact info so if you’d like me to make calls to people in my area to build the lists for MIA, please invite me in on the protocol.
I saw this the first day it came out on my facebook newsfeed and “liked” it then and there yet it is still haunting me a week later. There is more truth in this little statement about fear and rigid thinking–actively cultivated by mental health treatment modalities–than volumes elsewhere that try to debunk or explain away psychiatry’s lure.
When I was overmedicated on a heavy psych cocktail I am fairly confident my higher reasoning skills were under chemical constraint–which, of course, made me an excellent consumer. How does one help a person under such a physiological and psychological bind of psych meds and indoctrination look at their situation with acceptance, nonjudgement, but also a shred of flexibility?
One person can make a difference.
Everyone should try.
Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.
Scott, change begins as a seed of possibility in individual hearts and minds that another way is out there. MIA is a beacon of light that if you find that you are helplessly trapped in by psychiatry and its required meds: 1. you are not alone, 2. you have other options, and 3. you have a centralized place to start building the knowledge base and personalized supports you need to make your break from meds if you so seek to do so.
You might not see a year of MIA as a big enough presence or as much engine for change as you might like, but try and find anything so comprehensive and accessible like it past or present. It stands alone in fulfilling an unrecognized need for true dialogue and informed consent around all things psychiatry.
MIA is well worth supporting.
(p.s. I don’t know about you but my involvement here has translated into actions in the real world, though I’m not at liberty to put further details here.)
I’ve been med free since 7/1/11. When I started tapering I was on 10 different prescription drugs: 5 of them psych (though one was a prn) and 5 of them for the side effects of psych drugs. I estimate that I was at $3,000 a month then for my meds. In the 21 months that I’ve been off all prescription pills I’ve not only regained my physical and mental health, I’ve also saved $63,000. I saw my psychiatrist at a 50% discounted price of $100/50 min. session a week, which was $400/month. In 21 months this has saved $8,400.
MIA is my method for making meaning of all the senseless madness I experienced in psychiatry. It is my mental health fix. I entreat anyone who sees the unique value of MIA and has the means to do so to please help contribute to the cause of full spectrum ways of dealing with, understanding, and learning about psychiatric issues. It means the world to me and others like me who are struggling to regain our voice and sense of self. Thank you.
(* I also am already a monthly subscriber and thus am included in that pittance of $1,600 total referenced above.)
I’ve heard it said that no one can make you feel inferior without your permission. Once upon a short while ago I used to go to my psychiatrist to label and drug me for my supposed inferiority of being genetically bipolar: a lifelong condition requiring lifelong treatment. I became very, very sick through this model.
Through a series of events that I regard as nothing short of miraculous, I got a chance to walk away from psychiatry and rewrite my life story. Dr. Pies, if you do not care for the discussions found in the MIA forums, then I would suggest that they were not written for you to reinforce your sense of self in your profession. They are written primarily by folks like me whose narratives have been dismissed by the greater society as anecdotal and inconsequential. For myself, I no longer grant a psychiatrist the authority to define me nor alter my consciousness with powerful dependency forming psychotropic drugs.
Hi Sera, I don’t think I spoke clearly. Something that I expressed to you in person is that I’m very interested in leadership for post-psychiatric narratives, psych survivors, what have you. There are millions of Americans who sincerely believe they need to take psych meds for life–I until relatively recently used to be one of them–and that audience needs to be reached. The overwhelming deep-pocketed powers that be seem to have that CT will soon get into the AOT camp.
Having seen the youtube videos, I see that there is indeed wonderful leadership, but few outsiders are taking notice. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that such earnest and talented voices are braving cold and rejection to speak difficult and marginalized truths, yet I’m chagrined that there is not more of an audience to hear it (that day and by watching it online). Lack of media attention allows for many, many others to follow in the survivors’ footsteps of being incapacitated by psych treatment. Those were my thoughts. 🙂
I did follow your link to Sean Donovan’s speech and many others in Hartford, CT in front of the Capitol building on behalf of Advocacy, Unlimited’s youtube channel. The content and quality of thought and delivery is quite high, yet the true amount of interest in psychiatric survivor testimony is pretty low. For shame. Many, many unwitting others are being set up by the system to follow in the footsteps of today’s survivors in greater rather than lesser numbers. Society could prevent this by listening.
I agree that almost any and all discussions of psychiatry can come down to power differentials. In the “Change a Mind” video with Glenn Close, Ms. Close speaks rather than her silenced and labeled “mentally ill” sister. The sister is written on and talked about without having her own say. It is my hope that the silenced and unnamed sister may one day join our ranks at MIA as a self-determined woman.
This is a skillfully written op-ed that obscures and confuses more than it elucidates. I believe that this is as intended.
Here is a choice one:
“The limited use of antidepressants, which are effective in treating both depression and PTSD [oh really?], is disturbing, too. Antidepressant prescriptions dropped by 48 percent between 2006 and 2009 [for shame!]. Since both depression and PTSD are associated with increased suicide risk, it is conceivable that this drop played a role in increasing suicide rates among troops [yeah, well, just about everything and then some is theoretically “conceivable”]. It seems that the military favors quick-acting– and less effective– anticonvulsants and antipsychotics over antidepressants, which can take several weeks to work.”
The article questions and criticizes the ineffective and unapproved use of sedating anticonvulsants and antipsychotics for mental health treatment among the military in skyrocketing numbers. But here is the kicker final sentence, “And greater oversight could help identify promising innovative off-label uses of psychotropic drugs [more honest than psychiatric medications] that would be of benefit to our troops and the general population and would, of course, [yeah, of course!] better protect our soldiers and their mental health.”
Yikes. So an article criticizing too much drug use concludes with the need for yep, more varied and exploratory drug use. It is, after all, for our own good health…
Lyn, what an astounding story you have to tell. What resilience of spirit it must take to persevere through that many dark years stabilized as “broken” and in need of constant reminding of one’s “symptoms” of one’s lifelong “disorder” of thinking, feeling, being. You are a survivor bar none.
“I began to develop a life of value in the community”, how I would love to hear more about that! Vive the recovery!
What’s up my man Greg! Look at you in a beard, very spiffy. You’re such a talented writer, I hope to see more. I appreciate the argument that even needing an argument against IOC is a misunderstanding of basic rights and a violation of the barest of human liberties. Those are excellent shout outs to Daniel Hazen and Jim Gottstein. The battle for some truth to occasionally peek through in the media portrayal of mental illness is definitely a team sport!
You will be slightly pleased to know that I’m writing a paper for a poli sci class this very weekend on Kendra’s Law! I have only gotten as far as the Wiki entry on the subject tonight and boy did that get my anger going.
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kendra's_Law, here is what principally irks me:
//As a result of the opposition to Kendra’s Law, two studies were conducted on Kendra’s Law. One was released in 2005 and one in 2009.
The 2005 study found:
Specifically, the Office of Mental Health (OMH) study found that for those in the Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program:
74 percent fewer recipients experienced homelessness;
77 percent fewer recipients experienced psychiatric hospitalization;
83 percent fewer recipients experienced arrest; and
87 percent fewer recipients experienced incarceration.
Comparing the experience of AOT recipients over the first six months of AOT to the same period immediately prior to AOT, the OMH study found:
55 percent fewer recipients engaged in suicide attempts or physical harm to self;
49 percent fewer recipients abused alcohol;
48 percent fewer recipients abused drugs;
47 percent fewer recipients physically harmed others;
46 percent fewer recipients damaged or destroyed property; and
43 percent fewer recipients threatened physical harm to others.
As a component of the OMH study, researchers with the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University conducted face-to-face interviews with 76 AOT recipients to assess their opinions about the program and its impact on their quality of life. The interviews showed that after receiving treatment, AOT recipients overwhelmingly endorsed the program:
75 percent reported that AOT helped them gain control over their lives;
81 percent said that AOT helped them to get and stay well; and
90 percent said AOT made them more likely to keep appointments and take medication.
Additionally, 87 percent said they were confident in their case manager’s ability to help them—and 88 percent said that they and their case manager agreed on what is important for them to work on. AOT had a positive effect on the therapeutic alliance.//
They forgot to add that 86 percent said IOC (euphemistically renamed AOT) helped them lose weight. 74 percent said it helped them get a date. 82 percent said it increased sexual performance.
I mean, really, how much more ficticious can it get? But even with all of these doctored up surveys the authors did not dare to promote the biggest fiction of all– that forced neuroleptics could help someone’s job performance. Why? Because the severely mentally ill have nothing substantial to contribute to society other than to be consumers of psychiatry. Real humanists would support job training and placement instead of forcibly medicating a person with major tranquilizers into oblivion.
I’m so glad that you are out there speaking up about this over in your state of CT. Thanks for spurring my thinking for my writer’s weekend!
Rachel, you are so lovely! I love your accent, very posh.
I can relate so deeply to what you say about the experience of being on lots of psych meds completely erodes one’s sense of self and how the process of then regaining this sense of self is a slow one. I too did not feel even human as the result of intense psychiatric care. I too was helped by seeing others devastated by psychiatric drugs as human first before I could learn to accord myself this elevated status. What a shame that it is still considered protocol in your land and in mine to overmedicate young university students who experience emotional distress, which can then alter the direction and course of their whole life. May your work lead many others to a diminished dependence on meds and seeing oneself as primarily an illness.
This is a wonderful development for the MIA community! Well done Laura Delano, Sera Davidow, and Jennifer Maurer! Thank you for representing voices that truly rethink psychiatric paradigms in America.
I don’t think for a second that the practice of psychiatry is going anywhere but bigger– and it is precisely this reason that alternatives and critics are so badly needed.
Aren’t American children privileged to live in a progressive, industrialized country where they can increasingly be treated with the latest and greatest psychiatric medications at younger ages? Anyone who would suggest otherwise is using stigma from letting kids get the help they need! Right?
Seriously, I can’t even imagine a 5-year-old doped up and locked up on a psych ward. It’s crazy.
I preordered your book on Amazon and found it waiting for me when I arrived home one Friday afternoon a few weeks later. I read the entire contents in one sitting later that evening. I loved it, absolutely loved it.
The last paragraph on the last page with that pointed, poignant last sentence will remain with me for a long time. For how many of us is that true?
I also enjoyed hearing about your punk rock teenager years and working abroad in Italy! I hope that you are paving a way for others to come forth with stories of psychiatric pharmaceutical survival, myself included.
Profound. Eloquent. Moving.
-They were wrong. They have to be. Or how else are we still here?
-“[Sticks and stones may break my bones but] Words will never hurt me.” The words hurt. Of course, they did.
-We are of the graduating class of “I made it”.
Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Thank you Daniel for addressing the issue nearest and dearest to my heart: supporting folks who would want to try coming off psych drugs. And moreover, for addressing coming off regarding the most pernicious of psych drugs, the nasty neuroleptics.
I’m all about more dialogue and more action around this topic!
Ahh, yes, the folks at MIA are good people! Though I’m not local to MA, I did get a chance to meet a few of them. You have some advantages of being around some inspiring folks around Boston.
I’m very interested in a survivor activist network– a national one. The closest approximation I’ve found is MindFreedom, of which I’m a member. I’m not interested in giving a full name, email, or picture on MIA at this juncture but I am accessible as a participant here and if you plan on the long haul to be in this “movement” then I will meet you in person along the way sometime.
When I try to self-reflect on just what I was so sure of or so spellbound by with my experience of McLean I don’t really know how much it was my high regard of Harvard educated experts as much as my low self appraisal was the truly the crucial part coupled with my real desire for a quick fix via “science” to be true. Regardless, to be emancipated from psychiatry is the defining moment of my adult life. I will always be grateful to have awoken from my sedated and numbed “medicated” life.
Jeff, thank you for this brilliant article. I’m very glad that it only took two years for you to dispel your “I’m bipolar and need my meds” myth.
I also got a diagnosis of bipolar and ensuing drug addictions known as “treatment” from world-famous McLean. Perhaps in part because I was significantly younger at the time of my indoctrination, and had a less developed sense of self, my diagnosis and drugs clung to me much longer (though I’m now emancipated!).
Was your main doctor there Jay Bonnar by any chance? It is good to find another McLean alumna and fellow psych survivor. Like you, I intend on using my story to reach out to other psych survivors and to others still living the labeled and drugged life.
I dig the the purpose, the place, the plan, the price, but I don’t have the time in my schedule on such short notice.
I hope you do another one next year, and give more advance notice. Also, I look forward to hearing about it in a later blog! You’ve got great ideas and great gusto Corinna.
Yes dragonfly, yes!
The jarring reference of the boy in Oregon ruins the entire theme of “Our Collective Stories Have Power”. It brings into focus what is really going on: wholesale medical deceit and abuse.
Who is advocating for that boy to be something other than a lifelong consumer of psychopharmaceuticals? Not many. Not even here at MIA.
My dear Faith,
It dismays me that most of the country does not realize the lost vitality collectively robbed from us with shoving millions of citizens into the category of “severe mentall ilness” and all the tranquilizers that follow as “treatment” for that. “In the western world, there are thousands upon thousands of visionary and heartfelt people affected by diminishing and distorting mental health treatment.” It is a shame for us all.
Still, what a friend we have in music!
I’m inspired to leave a song that doesn’t remind me of madness, but reminds me a bit of your writing style.
the lips, the heart
the heart, the soul…
big crescendo at 2:34– which is an onslaught of delight for the senses!
Cocteau Twins “Treasure Hiding”
Keeping the faith,
“Jeremy Holmes points out that even in medical conditions that have clear-cut genetic causes (i.e. that arise through non-intentional causality) like a child born with Down’s syndrome, stories remain important in understanding how the family copes, the love they have for the child and the ambiguities of their own feelings about the situation they find themselves in. Intentional causality – the things that happen and arise as a consequence of the decisions we make as human beings – is fundamentally moral in nature.”
How we as a society allocate resources to address emotional/mental distress is “fundamentally moral in nature”. It was never as scientific as our western minds would like to presume that it is.
I went to psychiatry believing that their “medicines” could help me to feel and function better. As Whitaker’s careful research shows this is overwhelmingly a calculated myth perpetuated by economic interests. My meds were nothing more than psychoactive drugs that numbed and distracted me from the real issues in my life.
Necessary life skills of character and fortitude cannot be found in a patented capsule of outlandish chemical makeup– no matter how many stories psychiatrists want to tell about their life-saving cures.
Psychiatry could help people by stopping the lies about brain diseases, chemical imbalances, meds that are “like insulin for diabetes”, and the supposed lifelong chronic nature of severe mental illness.
If they wanted to help a person find an alternative narrative based in the reality of their circumstances, that would be a bonus.
With all my years in psychiatry there is not a single bullet point of physical, cognitive, and psychological harm that I have not personally experienced (and the list is not short at 29 items).
The most reprehensible of all is the last one:
•feeling permanently “other”, broken, different, abnormal, diseased
It may sound plausible and understandable that President Obama– and those who recommend more mental health services for schoolage children (which inevitably means more diagnoses and drugs at younger and younger ages) in the wake of the Newtown tragedy want safety and health for Americans.
Yet look at the gaping chasm of the found consequences of a life spent in psychiatry: believing oneself (contrary to the scientific findings on the utter lack of an organic nature to mental illness) to be permanently other and broken.
Doesn’t the government care more about the ideology of a nation virtuously rid of violent massacres rather than what actually happens to the health, safety, and well-being of American children who are put on the track of lifelong psychiatric disability?
The nation is caught up in an exercise of knee-jerk positions to look and feel good in aftermath of a tragedy without showing much interest to the known consequences of the existing evidence with regards to the outcomes of children on psychiatric drugs.
“Please listen.” I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m listening Laura and I always learn very much from you.
Sera really knows how to look beyond the initial hype for the deeper messages at stake in today’s mental health messages. I deeply appreciate her writing.
If you are interested in your NEC to redirect narratives away from illness management towards recovery, meaning, and living well despite events of adversity, have you considered expanding your database of recovery stories to including the deceased as potential role models?
I haven’t read any of his books yet because I was just turned on to him, but Anton Boisen had extensive psychotic episodes in his life… but he also had good careers and extensive scholarship on a range of disciplines. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Boisen
Stephen, if you read this, you probably know of Anton, because of his great contributions to the field of hospital chaplaincy.
I got an email today with a link to this article: http://www.wilsonquarterly.com/article.cfm?aid=2196#.UOdW1gXGIzk.email
or: Beyond the Brain by Tanya Marie Luhrmann
I was delighted to find your name (which I had just been introduced to with your article here on MIA) as one of the comments:
Agree that there are useful aspects of this article…but am bewildered by the author’s uncritical use of the term ‘schizophrenia’ as if it was a reliable and valid category, which it clearly is not. The points she makes are not about ‘schizophrenia’ . They are about certain types of (often but not always) distressing experiences such as hearing voices. ‘Schizophrenia’ is a concept that exists only in some people’s heads, rather like witches or devils – there are no objective confirming signs that can be detected by X ray, blood tests etc. Rather, there is a circular argument that runs: ‘Why does this person hear voices? Because they have schizophrenia. How do we know they have schizophrenia? Because they hear voices.’ Exactly the same logic convinced people in Biblical times that distress was caused by spirit possession. And while we are on the topic of language…. ‘anti-psychotic’ is a deeply misleading and inaccurate example of drug-company rhetoric, since these drugs have no specific effect on ‘psychosis’ at all – and nor was this even claimed when they were first introduced. If we cannot use language clearly and think logically, we will never achieve the paradigm shift that is needed in psychiatry.
Posted by: Lucy Johnstone | 1/1/13
I like how you get to the heart of the matter, but how do you know that the schizophrenic has schizophrenia? And furthermore, how does the anti-psychotic get rid of psychosis?
Very good questions.
I look forward to reading more of your work.
To Jan Evans and Catherine Clarke:
I’m sorry for my initial uninformed response. I have now downloaded and read your report which I find to be edifying.
I didn’t originally realize that this was an MIA exclusive, so I was being cheeky about not wanting to go to another site to read the findings… It was rude of me, please accept my apologies.
Interested in your work,
Ahhh, Matt, do not all of us post-psychiatric drug dependents learn at the end of the day that life is by design to be a struggle and therein lies the merit in our step-by-step progress?
My pre-psychiatric self used to be a swift and competitive runner. Getting back to jogging, even though I am now quite a turtle, has been key to finding myself again.
I like the Buddhist perspective, but here I offer a sentiment from a Catholic monk,
“The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.”
Sandy, it is great to hear about how much Whitaker’s work and MIA mean to you. I found MIA about 7 months ago and am similarly grateful for all that I have learned and in being encouraged to stretch my thinking beyond my own constraints.
It is a remarkable thing about the human condition, that regardless of current circumstances of age and stage in life, we all have an inherent capacity for growth and change. Acceptance for uncertainty is part of everyone’s journey (as the American proverb goes, “There’s nothing certain but death and taxes”).
As heartening as the thoughtful conversation and “big tent” debate is at MIA, I look on with muted horror as I pick up my daily metro newspaper that did a special six part series this year on the urgent need for more mental health “treatment”. It actively promoted skewed and misguided notions about the “severely mentally ill”. Now with Sandy Hook, my local paper seems to care as passionately of little else than it does for decrying more investment in mental health services.
Will Hall has been active in alternative mental health education for over a decade and his Madness Radio is going on into its 7th year– yet he goes without funding because he is not seen as conventional/mainstream. His Kickstarter campaign will be all for naught if it doesn’t raise another $1000 in the next 16 hours.
Sandy, if you have personally benefited from your participation here at MIA, would you consider pledging to a fellow blogger, Will Hall, and his important work at Madness Radio? Please visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/madnessradio/madness-radio-book-and-new-episodes to learn more.
Corinna, this might be my fave blog of yours yet. It is very timely for me. Last week I made a mess of a situation in which I ended up disappointing some people that I greatly admire. I felt awful. But I sought out my friends and they comforted me. They weren’t professionals, just good people who care about me.
Having people in one’s life who believe in you and who know that you are better than your moments of weakness is transformational. Yay for nonjudgmental support networks, may yours continue to grow and prosper…
I am not a scientist. I have not read this article and I have not seen these references.
All the same, I would like to conjecture my disagreement with you, janevs.
The total genetic variance between races of the human species is quite small (isn’t it like .2%?).
I had a friend who went into debt to travel to the famed Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to get a genetic test to see which psychotropics would be “scientifically” most suited to her unique make-up to treat her bipolar. What was the end result? Well, debt.
I can’t speak for intensive care in the UK but I can speak to the fact that in America Caucasians are more suspect to believing in the bio-psychiatry paradigm and that the placebo effect of any medication (in any field of medicine) must be taken into consideration. If you were to come over to this side of the pond and attend a prestigious NAMI conference and to look around in the audience you would look in vain for many Asians or African Americans.
Seriously Ivana, all of America is grieving the horrific tragedy of Sandy Hook.
Please extend a little cultural compassion at this time.
Brilliant article, Dr. Middleton! Spot on.
I like the symmetry: seven years on, seven years off. Neat.
Your title phrases, “The Other Side” and “Death Grip” are both apt and evocative. I look forward to more.
Thought of something else:
Jonah, I caught what you wrote to Mary Fry before it went to moderation and it will live on with me forever.
When I was living the bipolar life of a drugged and numbed existence I went to acupuncture, alternative medicine, and all kinds of naturopaths. I would complain mostly of my fatigue. None, not one, had the decency to point out my wrap sheet of psych drugs (which they were privy to) were the probable cause. One M.D. did tell me he didn’t “believe” in anti-depressants. I give him credit (now) for that, but he didn’t give me much of a cogent argument why. Anyways, I now see that there is a collusion of sorts to respect and support other medical professionals’ reckless prescribing regardless of how “naturopath” the doctor calls him or herself and regardless of how adversely that affects the patients. Thank you for saying it should be otherwise.
I love your writing. I followed what you had to say for the first few months I was on MIA over the summer with rapt mind-expanding attention.
I did not know that Mosher and Seikkula are into the affective/cognitive disorder division. I find this interesting and helpful. I think it explains to me why I find Szasz, Healy, and Breggin as mildly revelationary in comparison to Whitaker. We don’t need more psychiatrists debunking mental illness on their terms, we need more social critics and journalists exposing what goes on under the rubric of “health care”.
“[I]f we admit that the medical frame really doesn’t work.”
“If we switch to framing it as non-medical…”
Why all the “ifs”?
Man up, man!
Switch the framework in your mind first. It isn’t a medical issue. And as a social worker, you’re not medically trained, anyways. Yes, it is work to change cultural perceptions, starting with oneself.
Alright, then we agree to disagree. It happens as often as not in a democratic society.
Hey Emma, I like your name!
Hmmm, okay, specifics, huh? Well, my mind is moving in many directions all at once, and I’m not a spokesperson for any kind of soapbox speech but…
Why did Tina do a post just a few weeks ago entitled “Why do so few people know that CRPD prohibits forced psychiatry?” if it weren’t true? Maybe the issue is getting people to know that and why that is important.
I’m a survivor and I’m against forced treatment. I see treating mental distress with the bio model of psychiatry as a failed paradigm of care. I believe in alternatives, in choice, autonomy, and self-determination. Along these lines, I don’t want my rights dictated to me from above at the UN level. I want real alternatives in my local area, which currently don’t exist.
I’m against mental health parity as I believe this legitimizes mental distress as a medical problem and further encourages looking for medical solutions. I believe that the goal of industrialized countries is to take our standard of psychiatry and its approved treatments to the rest of the world, which I’m not in favor of.
What would be good for users/survivors of psychiatry would be more creative problem-solving of our issues and a voice, and the best place I’ve found for that is MIA.
I don’t know as much about this issue as you do Stephen but I find what you say hard to believe. It is a disappointing assessment to say the least.
Ahh, my friend mjk, you are right. I do not envy your current situation of losing your daughters. It is a terrible, terrible thing. I’m very sorry. But I do admire you. You are smart and kind and my world is a better place with you in it. I regret my time in psychiatry, but one of the good things about it is that it brought me to MIA. From the sorrows and tribulations of our lives, promising and hopeful events do arise. I have confidence that you will find your faith again, in your own time.
I’m not convinced that ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would be a good thing for users/survivors of psychiatry. It is a complex issue with many potential unknown ramifications. If I have objections to UN policies I do not need to be equated to “right wing fundamentalists” and Bible-belt Christians. If you are trying to build consensus and respect for a marginalized group of people, using stereotypes and pejoratives against half of the US population is not the best tactic.
The labels are harmful, no two ways about it. But psychiatry no longer has the power to define you, right? You are a mother, a poet, an activist, and a friend.
We know better now than to accept those labels as anything more than a subjective snapshot. We’ve lived to tell the tale!
The ruling was worded as free speech for the “legal off label marketing of FDA-approved drugs”.
I think that this is huge. It encourages broad and irresponsible promotion of destructive, disabling yet profitable drugs. Pharma has everybody in their pocket over in Washington (not to mention, big media, as well).
Forewarned is forearmed I suppose, but who is going to fight the fraud beyond Whitaker? Can’t we scare up a few more journalists with some integrity and an eye for an untold story?
Wow. It seems almost inconceivable to me that the harm of psychiatry can be that blatant and that officially nobody sees it as egregious.
I am so sorry for your loss.
So if you believe in peer support and if parents do lose children to suicide, who is there to address the legitimate concerns of these families in their grief? Is there a competing model to AFSP? How to create one?
I have witnessed an “Out of the Darkness” walk and it was huge. I saw well over a thousand people who had all paid something to attend. There was also a lot of corporate sponsorship with incredibly generous gift certificates being spread around. The people who attend think that they are raising money for a good cause to lower suicide rates. They want to help. How to redirect them to another way?
Just thinking aloud here, but thank you Julie for critically examining AFSP and thinking the families affected by suicide deserve something better.
“…[T]here is nothing inherently suppressing about neuroleptics. It is all about how these agents are used.”
Hands down, the most creative thing I have read on MIA. Now that is some serious “crazy talk”.
I appreciate your thinking here in this comment, Daniel! Biopsychiatry objectifies “consumers” by presuming a pill(s) could possibly satisfy the infinite longings of the human psyche, heart, and mind.
Humans may naturally desire to categorize but only human folly could attempt to contain the nature of a human mind (and its unwritten human potential) in a label on behavioral “symptoms” while lacking genuine objective scientific markers. Psychiatry in the western world presently gets carte blanche to commit wide-scale societal guinea pig neuro-experimentation on people who are caught misbehaving/underperforming at the “wrong time, wrong place”. Glad to hear you escaped your AD addiction.
Write on, mjk! I’m so glad to share this community space with you and so many other smart, connected psych drug survivors.
It all sounds pretty evil to me. At least they admit upfront that the benefit is to the stockholders and maybe caregivers and NOT the “consumer”!
I agree indeed that you are a gifted writer and storyteller.
I find this line particularly fascinating: “I have my condition now by choice.” Does this mean that you accept that nothing is biologically wrong with you as a person who identifies as bipolar?
It is very interesting that your post concludes with, “The experience of manic-depression has made me who I am–connected me to others and, as my daughter would say, to the ‘piece of God’ in all of us.” because Steven Morgan’s piece The Wind Never Lies– also published here on MIA– similarly concludes with, “And thank God, for what a liberation it is to know that–just like you–I am plainly human: irreducible to theoretical constructs, unfathomable in my fullness, aching and celebrating with pain and love, moving in all directions at once, complex and stacked, an imperfect being and a sliver of God’s perfection.”
The whole piece can be read in its entirety here: http://www.madinamerica.com/2012/08/the-wind-never-lies/
I feel like an intellectual have-not reading this, because I have no idea what you are trying to say. What does “multigenerational poverty” have to do with marketing psychiatric pills have to do with managed care?
Answer me this: is the problem with psychiatry too much treatment or not enough treatment? Moreover, does America need more government funding to set up extensive mental health clinics in urban and rural areas afflicted with lower employment rates?
Gotcha, thanks for clarifying. I thought I was complimenting you on how many people you have reached online whose opinions are just as valuable as your doctor. But I can get how it was interpreted otherwise.
I’m relatively new here to thinking critically and speaking up about my 12 years as an overmedicated bipolar in psychiatry. I am eternally grateful to have made it to psych-free living, 16 months and counting. My desire is to someday (e.g. maybe another two years) start and lead a 12 step support group in my local area to help others go through the withdrawal process of psych drugs and the mentally ill identity that goes with it.
Reading your blog gave me courage to be able to think my thoughts and feel my feelings about what happened to me with the knowledge that I could move through the hurt with time and use even my most painful experiences for positive change. Basically, it was like auditing an online 12 step class! You have helped me, Monica.
Thank you for your advocacy,
This is a shockingly forceful and biased response, Monica. If I was a little surprised by your phone call to your old psychiatrist, I am a lot surprised by the venom directed at me here.
“It’s convenient and sometimes satisfying to imagine all these prescribers as evil.” This is not your best use of your professional communication skills as it is attributing to me something slanderous and untrue.
I haven’t called anyone evil. I am suggesting that money has something to do with the policies of prescribers. My psychiatrist did not support me in going off of my meds. I believe this has to do with her lack of monetary incentive to do so.
“It’s better that we support each others unique skills rather than question their value.” You could try this out for size by supporting me as an individual with valid experiences and valid opinions that are not some pigeon-hole of a reductionist us vs. them rallying call.
I am interested in helping others to not live out my particular mistakes with psychiatric drugs, and I have sought out dialogue with others who are not part of any particular faction. I don’t appreciate your prima facia assertions about me and my motives.
I hope I have misread your response as you might have misread mine. Regardless, I admire your work.
Your writing has personally made my life better. Your early angry blogs directed at your former psychiatrist has helped me to process through my anger at mine. I am a little surprised that you would want to contact him by phone when you have an infinitely more varied, intimate, and interested audience listening to you today through your blog. Forget what the professionals think about your experience, what is more important is what us patients and former patients (yay for me!) think… And I think what happened is a travesty. I don’t believe your psychiatrist was well-intentioned at the time and I don’t believe he is being very frank with you today. I conclude my psychiatrist– whom I had a very close trusting relationship to at the time of her prescribing me my 4 psych drug cocktail, plus a Xanax prn, plus stuff like Metaformin to address the side effects of my psych drugs– did not truly care about me or my health/well-being as much as she cared about making money off of me. My misery and dependency worked entirely in her favor.
It sounds good to say that a psychiatrist who would prescribe in excess of three different kinds of drugs at a time actually cares but let’s be honest and look at what happens. Psych olypharmacy solves nothing, absolutely nothing; it creates additional new problems.
I had a check-up this morning with my upper-cervical chiropractor (my alignment was holding after 7 months!) and he told me that two Mds who he has in his care said they would recommend his services for their family but not for their patients. Remember that. Family is family and business is business.
Americans are 5% of the global population but consume 70% of the world’s prescription drugs. Overmedicating is a growing national health care problem across the board. The sad fact is that with psych drugs, not only are the numbers growing unabated, but they are spreading particularly to the more vulnerable among us like children, prisoners, and the elderly.
I’m glad to have survived from my withdrawal healthier than I have been since before I got medicated (I was 19), but I hear this is not the same for you. Still, we both have made it to the other side and have clear minds to celebrate! Cheers to you, Monica!
I appreciate the positive can-do attitude. I also think that reform would better come from outside the mental health system than within. I don’t see any serious self-reflection from within; besides, when they make that much money selling illness what is really the problem? Psych survivors need a structured path to wellness (a community that would support them living an undrugged life) that involves using their talents instead of thinking/talking about their supposed deficits. There are some great ideas here that I hope grow and spread to other towns outside of Kansas City.
Complaining about real actual abuses of power and true legimatized/institutionalized deception has its proper place and can be used constructively to promote change for us all. But there is certainly more to being a survivor than that…
Love your work Corinna!
A big whatever to those who want to believe that bp and sz both are neurocognitive impairments, but I’m all for the continuum/overlap theories. What is China doing researching western capitalistic diseases anyway? Does anyone in mental health actually listen to Chinese research?
Likewise, my friend.
At this point I’m not too interested in reading abstracts outside of MIA, but I love surfing the headlines and intros you write, Kermit. It is my lived experience as a bipolar for 12 years that shame was a huge part of my illness. I appreciate the attention linked to this Adam-and-Eve-old concept.
“Sandy doesn’t always end up at the point that I think she should be at, but it’s not for me to say where she should and needs to be.”
I certainly agree with this. My concerns are really about where I am and what I believe. Considering the paths of others, though, can be helpful to better understand my own trajectory.
Thanks for the response, Sandy. There is much to muse about. I appreciate your interest in learning from others who are not colleagues and I appreciate your use of the word ‘humility’ (which definitely cannot be found anywhere in the DSM or most writing involving psychiatry). My experience of psychiatry has taught me much about transforming humiliations into humility! It is an ongoing lesson…
Hi Rossa! Interesting question. It seems straightforward enough, but really covers a bigger issue of where I have been, how I identify and encompass all of those experiences, and how I make sense of it to others.
The easiest thing to say is that the only mental health community I run in is MIA. I don’t really know what is popular or what the cool kids are doing.
When I think of the word ‘sober’, I think of not drunk, of alcoholics, of somber clothing or thinking. But I also think more broadly of coming to a new realization of oneself and liberation from a destructive way of living. It is this latter description that I seek to capitalize on to describe my situation of no longer identifying as mentally ill, no longer taking pills, and also feeling like I have recovered my dignity in the process.
If you are further interested in this topic you might want to check out the Beyond ‘Anatomy’ forum thread “The Problem with Language” where I am the 13th entry to weigh in thoughts on words and wording. http://www.madinamerica.com/forums/topic/the-problem-with-language/ You might even want to add to the discussion.
Sandy, when I read your articles I try to see what Whitaker sees. I believe in him and he believes in you. But I don’t see what he sees… I see, in my perception, someone who loves being a psychiatrist and doesn’t yet accept the limitations inherent in psychiatry and its conceptual understandings.
There was no suitable pill for the particular pain of that teenaged girl then in the early eighties, just as there is none for a analogous American girl today. The big difference now is quantity.
When a girl is hospitalized in the 21st century, she would be ashamed to only receive Depakote! A girl today can also expect a SSRI/SNRI, a benzo, and perhaps a special added touch of a 3rd generation antipsychotic of Abilify (it is a great add-on to depression!). I would know as I was never on fewer than a three psych drug regimen since my initial diagnosis in 1999 (though I’m now newly sober for the last 16 months). “Monotherapy” is for underachievers, both patients and clinicians alike! Why not get more creative?
This is one of the fundamental improvements in mental health care that you have no doubt witnessed on your watch as a psychiatrist in the last 30 years. I can only wish my comment was mere hyperbole. Or maybe you don’t see that.
I’ve read a few of Oliver Sacks’ books over the years. Dr. Sacks is eminently readable, endlessly prolific, and helplessly humane. It would be a dream to have him Op-ed at MIA… In fact, taking that thought further, I could envision him doing a book on MIA culture. I urge Kermit et. al to consider contacting him!
Thanks David for attributing to me the idea of looking to the general public but it is not mine. It is what I read from Corinna’s post. She is out there doing some really important work!
Alto, I applaud you for your good and faithful service to our community of persons who have been deceived and harmed by psych meds. Yup, there are many of us with gut-wrenchingly depressing stories out there that could use some help that is currently not being offered by professionals. Nope, I don’t want your job.
But you didn’t write the booklet on coming off of psych drugs– Will Hall did. He has provided something of invaluable help to many when nothing out there existed like it. He is a pioneer who has been there and done that in the alternatives mental health field for over a decade. His blog deserves more consideration than you are presently giving. His point on diversity is very salient and very sincere.
I think this quote by the economist Thomas Sowell sheds light on the biased perspective of prescribers who have no idea what it is liked to be trapped in a numbed spirit and heavily sedated mind that follows with taking psychiatric meds as directed,
“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”
Alto, you are coming off as a bit obsessive here on this post. You don’t own the subject of coming off of psych drugs just because you host a different site regarding such.
Will’s revolutionary idea here and elsewhere is for psych patients to learn to trust their own inner voice and spirit, and by doing so, learn better coping mechanisms to take care of themselves beyond a blanket acceptance of meds doing all the work.
He is about self-determination and listening to individual narratives. I think you are wholly missing the point. Will would never contradict your personal experience, but likewise he won’t generalize it for others. We could all stand to learn from his respectful position.
Laura, you have come so far in your thinking in just the few years that you have left psychiatry. Sometimes I read your work and I feel breathless! I am still trying to fully process your powerful October 6th speech protesting the APA meeting in NYC.
It is all an enormous paradigm shift, to say the least.
I think the driving force of my ingratiating compliance to psychiatry throughout my twenties was my complete acceptance of the supposed chronic nature of my supposed bipolar. I believed I would be irresponsible not to treat my condition with the best modern medication science had to offer.
It astounds me that once I got that bipolar label that I never once challenged it, and moreover, not many of my friends and family did either. It was just assumed to be true.
I only survived because of the kindness of a few strangers who did not know enough about mental health dogma to believe the hopeless mantras of my illness as I recited them. They did not see a bipolar patient in me, they saw another human being lost and afraid. I did not get off of the drugs on my own. I made it because others supported and helped me (though it is true none of them knew by training or experience what I was going through). A lifetime of gratitude will not be enough to repay the individuals who saved a temporary wretch like me.
I am so healthy today like I could never fathom in my drugged years. I have vibrancy and newfound perseverance. What a gift indeed you have to deliver if only those who would listen can find the support they need to go through with the temporary process of withdrawing from the drugs and the mentally ill identity.
Fascinating stuff, Corinna.
There is no more paradoxical and confounding industry out there like the mental health industry. I like how you follow the money trail a bit more than most bloggers here at MIA.
I think your most powerful realization is that the general public is probably more receptive to recovery without medications than the mental health field is, and that is who needs to be educated about what really works for people trying to survive a psychiatric diagnosis of lifetime illness.
On the lower right panel of MIA’s home page, I noticed and listened to Laura Delano’s October 6th, NYC APA protest speech today. After it ended, You Tube suggested Will Hall’s speech next.
So I clicked and watched that, too.
Wow, do I wish I could have been there. That is a seriously beautiful speech, Will. Your spirit has been “contagious” for me.
I look forward to meeting you someday, perhaps 2013.
I would be interested in reading further blogs about the development of this email group. I’m eager to hear more about witnessing and organizing efforts.
Fact: Despite billions of dollars of research from the best and brightest neuroscientists in the world, there is yet to be a single biological/genetic indicator of schizophrenia.
Fact: In lieu of a true medical indicator for schizophrenia, it remains a subjective diagnosis of external “symptoms”.
Fact: The current approved treatment in the western world for schizophrenia is extremely expensive, creates long-term disability, causes cognitive and physical decline, gives poor quality of life, increases risk of suicide, and lowers an individual’s lifespan by decades.
E. Fuller Torrey is responsible for destroying human life, plain and simple. It is a great shame that he receives the accolades and attention that he does.
Bob, your job of investigative journalism into psychiatry does not offer a fraction of the power, prestige, and profit that Fuller enjoys, but hopefully you know how badly you are needed to fight the fraud being waged on innocent lives (particularly foster care children). Thank you for listening to those with lived experience (and not just the obsequious patients proclaiming their life saved).
You have given me a voice. Something that I would not have developed in the absence of MIA. I have learned an astonishing amount about the policies and procedures of what happened to me in psychiatry here. I have networked with a veritable who’s who of those making change in the mental health field.
If I were Torrey, I would be very jealous of what you have accomplished in such a short time with MIA. Well done, Bob!
This sure gives me pause. Mental illness is such a social construct that is used to subjugate undesirable ideas as well as undesirable behaviors.
I doubt they can afford to drug Chinese dissidents with heavy tranquilizers (aka antipsychotics). A schizophrenic-labeled individual in China will still live a longer life and a life with clearer thoughts over there.
I like your vision of Mad Pride very much inarticulatepoet. Thanks.
Getting “more sensitive and nuanced approaches” to treating psychosis and schizophrenia starts with writing less sensationalistic exposes on the subject.
Anonymous, I’m grateful for your involvement on this site and I’m grateful for you pointing out the supremacy of personal responsibility over what you call “drug blaming”. Yet, you were on these drugs for 6 years. You know they are dangerous. You know that they adversely affected your mental as well as physical health. Give the drugs an ounce of credit for helping people to self-destruct!
Maria, thank you so much for writing here on MIA. I think your situation shows the gravity of what is at stake with drugs that double the likeliness of suicide. I am very sorry for the tragic young death of your only child. I have spent a few hours reflecting on what that would be like– it’s so awful.
I know that when I think back on the twelve years I spent enslaved to psychiatry, I want answers to why policy and procedures went as they did, but mostly I just wish I could have those years back without the psychiatric influence. When I realize this, I then wish for others to avoid the trap of psychiatry. I’m grateful to be alive and to be able to have a voice on the horrors I experienced under the influence of psychiatric drugs.
I realize that many parents who lose their children to suicide often become big supporters of psychiatry and giving/raising money to find the “cure” to depression/bipolar/schizophrenia/etc. I’m grateful for your witness of finding psychiatry to be a guilty factor and not a solution.
Thanks so much Vanessa! A little encouragement can go a long way, particularly when one is a newcomer/beginner at something. I will be emailing you by November 18th, as that is the date for a story about coming off psych drugs!
If I were a better writer, I would have wrote this. Thanks Vanessa. There is nothing in the whole mental health industry that can touch the effectiveness of AA. It is an “incredible model”. I am not a part of it, but I want to be! I’ve seen what it has done for others.
I’m completely fascinated by the phenomenon of human exceptional-ism.
‘Clinical depression must be medicated, but only around a quarter of people who say they’re depressed actually are.’
I would always read mental health articles and convince myself that I was part of that small minority that was “clinical” and “must be medicated”. What a farce put on us all with these made up statistics.
I will never again read these statistics of clinical as serious and I will never again fall for a “medicated” existence.
Hey Rossa, I have read your comments on this site before and am already familiar with your story. I like your writing.
I have to say that I am slightly bemused that four different people found the time to criticize my opinions, yet no one had the time or the compassion to say, “Gee, I’m sorry for your friend Chris’s loss.” Thanks MIA community!
Rossa, you might not be tracking my story, but I was taking multiple psych drugs for my “treatment resistant” bipolar disorder for 12 years. When I finally had had enough and wanted to get off of my drugs, my psychiatrist was not there for me. My friend Chris was. He had two years of sobriety at the time, achieved through old school AA, meaning the free, peer-driven kind. My deliverance from psychiatry was in no small part to my friend Chris’s belief that I was not crazy, the drugs were.
My friend Chris is suffering yet today because of his loss of a fellow friend to addiction. He is not paid to care, but he cares more than money could buy. He was at the club today talking with John’s sponsor and his fiance and organizing his final affairs. That is the power of the AA community.
I identify with the MIA community because of my lived experience of clinging to a psychiatric diagnosis, psychiatric drugs, and psychiatrists for 12 years. But maybe MIA could learn from the AA community about compassion.
I did not read this article, but a special police unit just for mental health spells trouble. It justifies the notion that people undergoing a mental health crisis are a special kind of people requiring a special kind of treatment.
Does Portland’s government have too much money and not another way to throw it to the wind?
I know that Will Hall lives in Portland and is a big supporter of social service budgets but I can’t imagine he would want this.
Actually, I don’t think anything on this earth, AA included, is above criticism. I don’t think the fundamental problem with addiction is flawed models for recovery. Maybe it has more to do with dealing with flawed people. Of which we are all one. Experts included.
This is a very disappointing post, Richard.
Very big sigh.
First, it is too long and convoluted. Second, the title and subtitle do not match the content of the article. Third, AA is founded on the principle of addiction as a spiritual illness, and therefore, not a biological disease. If persons in AA subvert the original message in order to benefit psychiatry and other medical institutions, that is not the flaw of AA.
AA helps people. It works better than anything else out there. I don’t intend to read your part 3. that suggests you have a better plan for addiction recovery than AA. I don’t believe you do.
“Shut up and get stupid; your best thinking got you here.” This is brilliant. I’ve never done AA and haven’t yet heard this one. Thanks for this. AA sayings are priceless.
Today is a gorgeous day where I live in America. I’m going to spend sometime outdoors today with my friend Chris. Chris has the day off of work today to grieve because his friend John died.
John went to an AA meeting Tuesday night and then scored some bad heroin. When the cops discovered John OD’d, they checked his cell phone to find the dealer who sold him the smack.
AA does not fail people; drug pushers (including psychiatrists) fail people. And people fail themselves.
I can guarantee that John’s AA friends will have as much or more sympathy for his passing as his coworkers and family. His AA friends will remember him as more than an addict.
As an addiction specialist you would do well to remember the level of caring and resiliency found within the AA community that you cannot buy from another recovery model.
Hope you enjoy your day, too.
Must look up your Little Anytown, USA one of these days.
Thank you for your generosity of spirit and further explanation… You are killing me with kindness!
Yes, change takes time. This I can understand. But still, it is a great excuse of people who do not necessarily mean well to suggest, “further study recommended”.
You are not one of those people using that kind of cop-out.
I can get a little possessive of such a rich resource such as Laura to want to represent the patients’ perspective vs. the experts, but in reality she represents both. True life goes beyond the limits of an us vs. them paradigm.
You’ve won my confidence,
A lot of people use the term “building bridges” and really mean nothing of the sort. You, on the other hand, are part of an iconoclastic and strange breed that absolutely means it. When you say it, I believe you and commend you for it.
Not many people can present at the APA and then protest it without some serious hypocrisy. You can. I love it! Go Will! You are a cult of personality. I, too, hope you do a TED talk…
Thanks for living beyond labels,
I’m not convinced that what is needed to spare someone from a lifetime of “mental illness” is more “thorough study”.
My psychiatrist claimed to not be able to help me get off of the drugs she prescribed for me because she wasn’t trained to help me taper. She needed some “thorough study” that she did not have nor ever intended to waste her time getting.
Ignorance of the “tricky” details of an alternative way (which is a life without experts) is nearly always a clever excuse for maintaining business as usual (which never had anything to do with health, anyways).
Also, who is the editorial “we” that you are referring to? Because Laura is not a “trained” mental health worker, as far as I know.
It takes the experts to get people hooked on legal drugs… All 62,000,000 Americans today. The experts have done an excellent job.
Where would my life have led me had I not sought out such expert ‘help’?
Sorry for coming on harsh here as I know that you are working very hard to not pathologize people in your work,