Beautifully written. It’s been over thirty years since my last psychiatric lockup. It was truly a formative experience.
Beautifully written. It’s been over thirty years since my last psychiatric lockup. It was truly a formative experience.
I worked at a youth agency serving homeless and foster kids. We had a resident in our transitional living program who abused ADHD medication in order to pull a midnight shift. I posted what I observed in the log but got no guidance from the case manager or the supervisor. At one point, the youth was walking around on the roof of the agency. I no longer work at the agency. The agency publicizing on its website that it offers psycho-pharmacological services at its agency. How best to educate the community at large with regards to this situation.
Old head: I was Psychiatrically incarcerated in 1989 and made the mistake of abrupt withdrawal of Lithium in 1990. I have led a relatively normal life since then as a substitute teacher and youth worker.
However, last summer, I was hauled into HR because
some students said I was acting “irratically.” talk about the lunatics running the asylum! I was requested to get a Pschiatric med check in order to return to work-I got the run around from the behavior health people. Showing up at the crack of dawn on the psychiatrist’s doorstep really got their attention. Thanks to the crisis worker, I beat their attempt to incarcerate me, but still had to appear at the Magistrate because the shrink filed papers for a restraining order, which the deputies tried to serve me while I was on vacation. Any how, I showed up at the courthouse to straighten things out, because I wasn’t keen on the deputies showing up at my house a second time-I was escorted out of the courthouse by five deputees for using my teachers’s voice. The next day, the magistrate ruled that the restraining order be mutual. But now I have the nuisance problem of having to go to a new Pschiatrist every six weeks or so.
Matt: I was diagnosed with Bipolar (Manic Depression) in 1989. Like Schizophrenia, bipolar has fungiiable boundaries. I suffer from kidney disease from years of Lithium abuse. I have a supportive wife who declined to follow the psychiatrist’s lead and have committed this summer, yet as a medical profession she has trouble processing the critique of biologically based human distress. When I experience a long-term course of sleep disruption, it does impact my decision making and tweak my personality. I think my grandiosity is part of who I am, rather than evidence of a
“chemical imbalance.” Since I am addicted to a low level of Zypreza and Klonapin, I have to see a new psychiatrist to write the prescriptions since the primary care physician declines to do so.
White privilege exhibited itself in my upbringing in the form of tracked education. The predominantly white area of South Hills were I come from is largely removed from the day to day struggles of the increasingly Black Westside, plagued with the circumstances brought about by white flight. But with 95% of the population being white, and considering that West Virginia consistently ranks at the bottom of socio-economic indicators, class privilege is more the over-riding feature in our state, whose economy has long been dominated by extractive industries. Within the state, the have and have nots are generally an inter-white caste system based on access to education, resources, and networking.
It is heartening to see community action in the form of the Globe protest, and it can only help our cause by in bedding it in the larger movement for social justice.
While their is evidence of Blacks Lives Matter being corralled into the partisan culture wars, there is also a spirit of confrontation with the powers that be, that harkens back to the best tradition of the Civil Rights Movement-flushing Bill Clinton out of the pocket over Hillary’s sperpredator comment, is a case in point. Michelle Alexander is perhaps the most eloquent spokesperson drawing the public’s attention to the guilt of the bipartisan coalition that created the mass incarceration complex. Black Lives.Matter and their supporters are connecting the dots on this issue at it relates to the foreclosure crisis and the over all disinvestment in the black community-the hardest hit community by the Great Recession, save for Native Americans.
However, the slogan Black Lives Matter, has led to a push back in some communities where the Black Lives Matter concerns should resonate. West Virginiaa is 95% white, and generally competes with Mississippi for the lowest socio-economic indicators. Having said that, like the rest of the country, black communities here have been beset with urban renewal, white flight, and an extremely high rate of juvenile incarceration. I don’t know the answer to this, but as the movement, BLM evolves, maybe more people from all ethnicities will be brought in.
I think the suggestion is that under Jim Crow, blacks lived separately from dominate institutions, and thus were under-represented in psych wards until recently. My guess there is some one on this site who can further explain this.
Would you all consider this a watershed moment?It seems to harken back to the Mad Pride movement in Toronto in the early 1980s. I have recently been having my own run in with Psychiatric authorities in my private and personal life. It is good to know that people are acting collectively on this front.
Thanks for the riveting insight.
I have been browsing and commenting on this site for around three years. If us regulars on the site don’t yet constitute a community of activists, we are at least a proto-community. Some of us, such as myself, have experienced the full brunt of psychiatric tortures. However, I would caution against privileging ex-patients over the experience of dissident professionals. Bonnie Barstow, one of the most committed of theses professionals, recently disclosed her youthful brush with the tentacles of Psychiatry as they intertwined with the educational establishment. Through familial support, she was able to dodge its worst aspects, but it nevertheless proved to be an eye opening and formative experience.
I am a firm believer in community action, and especially embedding anti-psychiatry as a broader plank in societal emancipation. In this regard, I correspond with activists from the Counterpunch website, on an array of issues from corporatized education, opposition to mass surveillance, and political strategizing. I also listen to my Pacifica Radio app when I exercise or are in the car.
On the ground, I spent 10-12 days at the legislature this year in West Virginia, attended three food sustainability workshops, went to the Sanders rally in South Charleston, attended the celebration for our new community radio station, as well as attending lectures at the cultural center where I was the subject of a listening project; I intertwined my memoir of social activism in the 1980s as it interfaced with my run in with Psychiatry.
As a candidate for the Green Party affiliated Mountain Party for the House of Delegates I will be highlighting the negative effects of Psychiatry as it has migrated into the corners of our lives. Just as I support solidarity and community support, I also believe that there is something to be said for the lone individual throwing themselves into the gears of the system. This was basically what I was doing in 1989 when I was ensnared into the system- I was brought up on piddling Alice Restaurant level charges for my efforts, and supposedly done a favor by being handed over to Psychiatry. I slipped up in 1990 with a cold turkey wisdraw and rebound. But since then, the only thing that I have been nailed on is two rolled stop signs.
I currently eke out a living on the margins of the educational establishment as a substitute teacher. I was recently relieved of my duties as a youth worker for an incident of reporting abuse of psychiatric drugs and the lack of attention given to a resident under-going psych drug withdraw cold turkey. Like all whistle blowers, I brought some of my own baggage into the situation, as a result of simultaneously fighting back against Psychiatry’s attempt to deprive me of my freedom. I successfully fought back against a mental hygiene order as well as a restraining order.
The Democrat challenger in the House race represents the most glaring flaw in our current system. As a thirty year aide to the dismal dollar democrat Rockefeller machine, he is the embodiment of the paternalistic trend toward the governance of our state and nation. There is no doubt that Trump is spewing toxic hate, but it is the Hillary supporters in denial who are most responsible for enabling the beast to carry on by destroying our freedom and conducting wars against innocents abroad.
Old head: I was incarcerated and brain washed in 1989 and 1990. I have titrated off of several drugs including lithium, abilafy, prolixin, lamical, and mellaril. I currently take a low level dose of Zyprexa and Klonopin. I have tried titration from Zyprexa several times with no good effects. I do not believe that I was given anything remotely close to informed consent in this process, it is just at this stage of my life, I can not undergo titration safely from these drugs without medical support.
I also agree with your comments about Scientology. They do not represent a model of a community that we should duplicate. At the same time, they are mercifully attacked by two seriously freedom denying institutions-Psychiatry and the CIA.
I am not one for putting all our eggs in one basket and attributing mass murder to psychiatric drugs. However, if you read this site carefully you will see that we have well founded concerns. Issues of life-expectancy, and denial of our basic liberties are two such issues that an out-patient on anti-depressants doesn’t have to face.
Nomadic: It seems that there is a divergent view of Psychotherapy here at MIA. Some take a critical perspective like you, others have even worked as therapists. In the situation I described to you in a post above, I work at a youth agency which used to emphasize Maslow’s needs based theory as well as Reality Therapy-William Glasser, the foremost proponent of the theory, is anything but Pro-Psychiatry. So like, you, I am not a big proponent of Psychotherapy, but you might see how, in this instance how it can be used as leverage.
Nomadic: I am doing my best to stand up to Psychiatry and help the children of today. I am currently trying to get my job back at a Job Corps and at a youth agency. The Job Corps is using the ruse that I need a psych med check-up in order to come back to work-really a ruse to coverup the complaint that I filed against the disciplinary office and the petition I signed in order to get a youth a fair hearing. The youth agency is using my angry remarks in the staff log against me-this after case management failed to follow up on a client using ADHD medication to stay up all night for a night shift-a fellow relief worker logged in eradict behavior and suicidal ideation-which was even discussed in newspaper article about the youth, but never followed up by case management. In another instance a physically disabled youth was left to climb a flight of stairs despite dizziness from psych drug withdraw-this was not treated as an emergency situation.
In the meantime, during the process of trying to get the note to go back to work at Job Corps, I had a major run in with Psychiatry. First I beat back a mental hygiene petition and then had a restraining order against me by the psychiatrist settled as a mutual restraining order. I am also running for the local House of Delegates with the Green Party affiliated Mountain Party. I think that people need to know that Psychiatry warrants the same degree of scrutiny as the police and the pentagon.
Cat: About as low as i can go on a Zyprexa dose is about 1.5 MG. Any lower invites a disconcerting insomnia and either loopness or irritability.
Julie: So I am not the only MIA up and at em. Which time zone are you on? I am ready to do battle.
Old head: The long and the short of this is thus; when psychiatry incarcerated me against my will and tortured in 1989 at Springfield Hospital in 1989, the bit off more than they could chew. They messed with the wrong Hombre!
Old head: I will be doing exactly that.
Old head: As I live in the capital city of WVa., I will be visiting US Senator Capito’s office in the AM-she is an old running buddy of Tim Murphy’s. Her father was the former disgraced, indicted, and convicted Arch Moore.
Cat: I concur. I believe these Murphy Bills will bring this all to a head. I know for a fact, that many citizens are all ready up in arms over ADHD drugging of our children. It is only a matter of time, before citizens will call the entire police state of psychiatry into question.
Steve: Thanks for succinctly summarizes that BS shrinkology-did you get a load of my story printed above. I am looking for answers and taking no prisoners.
Chris Bob Reed
Candidate Mountain Party 39th House of Delegates WVa.
Everyone at MIA: Here is part two. After a relaxing vacation in the Poconos and a jaunt to NYC for my wife to pick up items for her costuming business and to view the Free State of Jones (FYI WVa.was born of succession from the Confederacy in particularly the racist state of VA-see the Carrie Buck and Loving Supreme Court cases-did I mention that I am a public figure. I represent the Green Part affiliated Mountain Party in the 39th District of the WVa. House of Delegates).
While on vacation, our next door neighbor informed my wife, the deputee sheriffs from Kanawha County rolled up on us. So first thing yesterday morning, I go down to the Sheriff’s office and the Kanawha County Commission to see what is up. Deputy Sheriff Boone did me the courtesy of allowing me to voice my concern in private and took down my information. However, Commioner Carper’s Secretary, Ms.’Elkins, refused to grant me the same courtesy- “I don’t know who you are.”‘ I proceeded to show her my Kanawha County Schools ID badge, but to no avail.
I proceed to lauch into my complaint against the Ambulance Authority for failing to identify themselves, failing to state their business, and for illegally blocking my driveway-I have a picture on my phone, and I showed it to her. I also voiced my displeasure about the Deputies rolling up on my house. As of the close of the work day yesterday, I have not received any feed back on the ambulance or why the deputies rolled up on me. It was like pulling teeth to get Ms. Elkins to admit, that deputies rolling up on me puts me in a bad light in front of my neighbors. Again I flatly deny any wrong doing on my part.’The Charleston Police were totally disinterested in pressing charges. And now thanks to this whole incident, my wife has been witness to what can only be called a psychiatric police state. I am not done with these folks yet. I still need a note to go back to work, and I still need to know why the ambulance was blocking my path and why the deputies knocked on my door. At the close of business yesterday, I called Commissioner Carper’s office and voiced my displeasure about how this whole situation has remained unresolved.
Today, I will try commissioner Hardy and Sheriff Rutherford’s offices.’
Both Hardy, Rutherford, and I spoke at the meet the candidates forum at Cross Lanes a couple of months back. Hardy’s daughter has performed in Children’s Theatre productions, where my wife is the costumer. Stay tuned MIA.
Fred and everyone here at MIA: I submit that the best defense of your civil and human rights is a good offense. I work at a Job Corps facility that reflects Goffman’s theory about total institutions. I approach my students in a humane manner. I refuse to treat them in any other manner as human beings. I am pushing back against the corruption in the discipline off, by documenting their gross inconsistencies. When approached by a group of students who felt that one of their fellow students was unfairly discharged from the program, I was the lone staff member to sign their position. For my troubles, I was hauled into human resources and accused of being erratic (how overly vague) by a group of students. I was told that I would have to have a psych med clearance and a psychiatrist’s approval to return to work. I was given the walk of shame to the guard shack and shone to my car.
I am one of only two Spanish speaking staff on center-the other staff member-a native speaker-is soon to take other employment. I straight up told the center director that our Spanish language students are under-served, the disciplinary office makes the rules up as they go on, and that their is a jack-legged preacher among the staff who is spewing anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric.
So I went to “Behavior Health at CAMC where my wife is second in command of infection prevention. This was on a Wednesday. The Psychiatrist had not returned a call to me by Thursday afternoon, even though I had implored the receptionist that the matter was urgent and impacted my Livlihood. So I proceeded to the Culture Center-where I worked as an intern in 1995-and got a copy of the city directory and found the home address of the Psychiatrist. I proceeded to his house and left a note on his door. As I was driving, I could not take his call (The incoming call had the caller’s ID unknown and his voicemail provided me with no means to call back. As I as set to go on vacation on Friday June 25 and I wanted to tie up this nagging loose end, I proceeded to his house at the crack of dawn, rang his bell, knocked on the door, and took three steps back, so that he could see who I was. He threatened to call the cops and did so.
I retreated to my car which was parked in a public space, took out my driver’s license, and waited for the arrival of the cops. With my hands held high in the air, the two City of Charleston Police arrived, approached me, and patted me down for weapons.
By this time, the psychiatrist had ventured into the yard. The police were highly professional, and proceeded to take verbal statements from th both of us. At a couple of junctures, the officers chastised the psychiatrist for interrupting. The psychiatrist refused to give me what I requested, a note to return to work. No charges were filed. So I went home.
I then contacted behavior health, again stressing the need for the note, and the desire to put this rigamoreoh behind me befor I went on vacation. The receptionist fumbled her way along and at some point, I handed over the phone to my wife to handle, as a packed the car for vacation. By now the Psychiatrist and the Mental Health Commission were colluding to build a case against me. They plied my wife for damning information to use against me.
They coaxesd my wife to bring me to General Division, where incidently was where the hospital operates a psych lockup. Upon our departure from our residence, an ambulance from Kanawha County rolled up and proceeds to block my car in the driveway. Emergency personnel refused to give me their full names or state their business. I gave them a piece of my mind, and my wife and I proceeded to General Division to get the note for my return to work.
Of course coaxing me to General Division was just a ruse to launch an ambush from Mental Hygiene and the rattled Psychiatrist. We arrived at 3:30, and the whole ordeal would last until 11:15. To digress, I had stated to personnel at Job Corps that my sleep pattern had been a little out of whack, and in fact earlier in the morning I had stopped off at the guard shack at 1:30’AM to write my statement, which the guards on duty agreed to. Like CSI Miami, they are always open. I finished the statement circa and headed for Walmart to get some empty boxes to sort my belongings and prepare myself for vacation. I include this digression because this was the supposed damning piece of information which was to be used against me.
Back at the hospital, my wife, a co-worker of hers who works as a family therapist and I cooled our jets as the attempt to deprive me of my freedom was launched. The physicians assistant first came in to do vitals. I proceeded to ply her with the question of the day: does the precence of a psych drug prescription give evidence of a disease? This is classic Szasz. I then proceed to Virchow and cellular pathology as the gold standard of disease. I mention that on the show House, that sometimes the physician gets the diagnosis wrong. The physician assistant then informs me that this is not TV, and that she is going to stick to her guns that a psych prescription is evidence of disease. I stress with great emphasis that a behavior checklist is no substitute for cellular pathology, and I emphatically state that I do not recognize Psychiatry as a bonafied medical specialty.’ More intermitable waiting ensues. Our therapist heads home, and final show down and the Spanish Inquistion ensues.
The young Pakistani intern enters the room and proceeds to drop everything in his hands on the floor. His main talking points revolve around my prescence at the guard shack and at the psychiatrist’s home. He proceeds to grill me about my life story. He is up in my business from A-Z, even chastising for drinking too much Orange Juice. Finally after about an hour of this grilling, he takes my wife outside to confer with her. My wife states that she does not feel in any danger and does not want me committed. The intern states that we are going to get to go on vacation after-all. He leaves the room only to slunk back in an hour later to inform us that he has been over-ridden by the grand psychiatric inquisitor who stated that my presence on the mean streets of Charleston’s East End in the wean hours of the morning constituted a danger to myself.
So as luck would have it, a crisis worker was available to here my case. As if flown in on the wings of angels, the middle-aged black fellow from Huntington saves the day and overrides the grand inquisitor and we go on our way.
At this point I should note that all this bureaucratic nonsense was taking place against the back drop of WVa. Thousand Year Flood. It was not safe to travel Friday night any way, so we left for our time share in the Poconos 9:00’the following Saturday morning.
Speaking of environmental causes, I always thought that societal emphasis
on conformity to beauty standards emitted by the media was the chief catalyst for middle and upper-class young women conditioned to become perfectionists was at the root of eating disorders. Also some suggest, that the desire to hang onto adolescence lay at the root of the problem. Any way, why would a behavior issue that effects only a certain strata of society assume to have a genetic cause?
Sera: I work as a substitute teacher and youth worker, so the issue of psychiatric diagnosis does come up frequently. I try to push back on this as best as I can. I sense from previous posts, that you are enmeshed in more full-time social activism work.
Cat: I am running for the House of Delegates in West Virginia. (Green Party affiliated Mountain Party).I am torn between going to a meet the candidates night or a rally put on by the local AFT to protest ALEC bought and paid for members of our legislature. Rhetorically, AFT is opposed to the charterization of our schools, but their willingness to go along with Common Core and high stakes testing is a bridge to far for me. They and the Department of Education cavalierly dismiss the concerns of parents who opt their children out of these tests. Moreover, AFT President Randi Weingarten has used her office to undercut the BDS movement on college campuses, which together with the opt-out movement, black lives matter, and the Sanders campaign, represent a necessary upsurge in activism. AFT’s endorsement of Clinton is particularly tone-deaf when one considers that her campaign chairman, John Podesta, is past President of the Center for American Progress.”-CAP’s vision of corporate school reform dovetails nicely with the Chamber of Commerce, and the American Enterprise Institute with which it has shared event stages.
So in order for critics of psychiatry to make headway in the Progressive Community, I feel that we need to be part of multi-issue and multi-ethnic coalitions. Also in my travels, I have noticed quite a few people who do not buy ADHD.
Sera: I was ensnared by the mental hygiene regime in 1989. It is really like finding yourself in an alternative universe. Around this time (During the switch over from manic-depressive to bipolar) there really did seem to me to be a lot of support in the entertainment media for “mental health advocacy”). Movies and television shows, with either plots or subplots of character off their “meds,” seemed particularly prevalent. This became so ingrained in American culture at the time to influence the good natured or not, ribbing of people to the “affect have you taken your meds today.”With the recent passing of Patty Duke, I am reminded of the made for tv movie concerning her life with bipolar. Given this cultural apparatus and the bipolar support group that I was funneled into, I would have to have been the ultimate shit-heel to question the benevolence of Psychiatry.
The liberal social justice mantra you describe is the mirror image of the right-wing echo chamber of Fox News and talk radio. PR campaign debunker John Stauber, along with his “anonymous” source in the 99% Spring activist campaign, exposed it as a front for the Democrat Party, much in the same way Moveon helped to shift its followers from anti-war activism to Democrat electoral politics. As a whole, Counterpunch broaches a wider variety of topics and reaches out to fly-over America better than other Left communities, It is probably so coincidence, That MIA author gets his widest exposure on Counterpunch.
Oldhead: I am running for the state legislature here in West Virginia. My involuntary commitment from 1989 and 1990 is pretty much an open secret, including a letter to the editor of mine to the Charleston Gazette alluding to the fact. I welcome getting this out in the open as several other issues, but at this point, it is basically anyone’s guess as to how it will play out.
Bare in mind, that Tsarnov was convicted under a federal statute, because the murders involved explosives or arson. MA does not have the death penalty. Also consider the youth of the offender, the influence of the older brother, and the fact that Turkey could not be considered for membership in the EU unless it abolished the death penalty.
Sarah: I have noticed Tina Minkowitz on this site broaching the legal
aspects of our situation, but I find you incorporating a more multi-
disciplinary approach. It is interesting that you note that 90% of us
involuntarily committed are suffering from trauma. I have spent
3-4 months of my life institutionalized-1989-1990- in two state,
one private hospital, and one low security (crisis intervention unit).
My sense was that my fellow patients were mostly downtrodden-I never feared for my personal safety from them. Growing up, I experienced life with a mean drunk
spousal abusing father, but I had been living away from home for four
years, so I am kind of dubious to the notion that my experience was
trauma induced. The one thing that everyone around me kept harping
on was my cavalier disregard for my money-I gave it away-I guess you
could say that was a currency abuser, and I also threw a stack of
that sorry excuse for a periodical (Washington Post) into the corner of the food co-op in a snit. All crimes of the century as you can see.
I noticed this article on Counterpunch earlier in the week, and I applaud Dr. Levine’s efforts to link the struggle on MIA against psychiatric abuse to wider social justice concerns. Of the left-wing websites, I find that Counterpunch reaches out to the broadest array of societal concerns. And while not all on MIA tilt to the political left, I find that social justice activism best dovetails with our concerns. I recently attended a workshop of the local WVa. Public Workers union which falls under the Union of Electrical workers umbrella. Recently, its members rallied at the state legislature to beat back a bill to privatize four state run nursing home (these nursing homes provide psychiatric services and are affiliated with the two remaining state psychiatric hospitals). I was invited to the organizing meeting as a member of the Mountain Party-I am running for statewide office in the 39th District of the House of delegates. From what I can gather, the UE has a more democratic structure than is typical of the business unionism of big labor, and UE was one of the few unions to remain steadfast and to survive McCarthyism with its principles in tack. During breaks in the meeting, I focused most of my attention on union related activities surrounding legislation pertaining to school privatization I am a member of AFT. It is my hop that I will be able in the future, to voice my concern on the issues surrounding psychiatric care.
1990 was the last time that I was denied liberty by psychiatry, although I am dealing with Iatrogenic harm. Back here in West Virginia I am the Mountain Party (Green Party affiliated) candidate for the 39th House of Delegates seat. On Tuesday at the State House in Charleston, there is to a rally of state hospital workers who object to the efforts of the Governor to privatize three psychiatric facilities. Understandably this causes me mixed feelings. While I have no love loss for psychiatrists, there were times when orderlies treated me as a human, and served to lessen the blow.
BA: Has anyone else been following the unearthing of Heidi Cruz’s brush with the “danger to herself” tribulation. While no fan of the Cruz’s political outlook, it is a good day when anyone manages to right their situation without becoming ensnared into the mental health-big pharma industrial complex. It was Szasz’s contention that psychiatrists and lawyers (the two professions most directly involved in civil commitments) avoid at all cost from becoming the subject of that process.
The cat: While I had fleeting suicidal thoughts prior to my civil commitment, I can state unequivicatly that the only time that I constructed a plan was after my back to back experience with two state hospitals.
Old head: I voted for Nader in 2000 and 2004, Mckinney in 2008 and Stein in 2012. because of a quirk in WVa. campaign laws a jail bird from Texas got on the Democrat Primary in 2012. Given that the Democrats purposefully leaked details of the drone program in the lead up to the election to out hawk Romney, I had the opportunity in the primary to vote for the lessor criminal.
Also, it might be useful to pin down what a politician means about additional funding for mental health. Too often people on the political left off-handily refer to the large number of “mentally ill” in prisons. Wether they mean to or not, I think this conjures up in people’s minds the need for funding for old-fashioned psychiatric treatment.
Old head: I was ensnared into the system, in 1980, so I can’t really speak to the sea change brought, allegedly or otherwise, by the DSM III. I did buy a book about Psychiatry and its depiction by Hollywood, a few years back. The psychiatrist who co-authored the book, seems to be pushing back against the negative depiction of psychiatry in film, which I hazard was capturing, or at least refracturing public sentiment of the time.
Bonnie: I have been reading your posts and others here for about two years.. I also read Robert Whitaker’s latest book over the Summer. As someone trained as an Historian, I can understand the emphasis on the release of the DSM in 1980, as a watershed event. Hopefully, one outcome of this site, will be a success effort to recognize these sea changes as they are unfolding, rather than just documenting them for posterity after the fact.
While some of the contributors here are psychiatric survivors, and others are dissident mental healthcare providers, I am like some on this site, who have a foot in both worlds. I met with my supervisor of the youth agency where I work, wherein we discussed psychotropic medication along with other topics-I loaned her a copy of Anatomy of an Epidemic. She was also encouraged by my decision to run for the local legislature. In my experience, I am not familiar with an office holder who is open about past experience with involuntary commitment.
John and Sera: I responded to Richard’s article written a few days ago regarding whistle blowing. I think my response to Richard indicates that I am in a position to better draw the community I live in into a discussion regarding the issues of our education and mental health systems which you touch on here.
Paris: Your articles on family dynamics do ring as an element of truth to me. I was civily committed in 1989. I grew up in a violent household, and in 1989 I was sharing a household with five other social activist-sort of like a surrogate family. As such, I agree that my actions, whether correctly termed as irrational or self-defeating, would have better seen through the relationships with my housemates and the overall context of my life, than through biological psychiatry.
Richard and others: This article is timely for me, since I am confronting Psychiatry from multiple angels while simultaneously involving myself on other social justice related issues. First off, as I have written here before, I was involuntarily committed and brainwashed into biological psychiatry. I have successfully titrated myself off Lithium, which damaged my kidneys, as well as other psychiatric drugs. I am still taking 2mg of Zyprexa and .5mg of Klonapin. I have been in touch with my primary care physician in hopes that she can set me up with a psych-drug withdraw program-in my experience withdraw from Zyprexa is extremely tricky, combined with the problem that both drugs come in tablet form making dose withdraw on my own imprecise, Also on MIA and else where, it has come to my attention that with draw from Benzos is no easy matter.
In my professional life I work three jobs-as a substitute in the school system and at Job Corps. I also work as a youth worker at a non-profit. As a result Richard, I am not completely beholden to one job, thus making it safer to speak out. (My wife has a secure position in the hospital, my son is on scholarship, and we have little remaining debt, which makes speaking out easier). My employers at Job Corps know that I take psych drugs, and thanks to the understanding of the human resource manager, we established the fact that someone with a Danger to Himself or Others classification can work for Job Corps and the Department of Labor. Likewise, I made my concern known to my AFT rep about what I consider the spurious diagnosis of ADHD. (I also discussed my concerns with my labor rep regarding the privitization and charterization of the public schools through such vehicles as No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Corps. I also brought up the issue of Boycott, Divest, and Sanction-a movement opposing Israel’s occupation that has caught hold, particularly in the California system. I also talked to the AFT legislative rep as well as the local Green Party affiliated Mountain Party with regards to my running for the local legislature).
At my non-profit I have discussed my concern regarding the influence of Psychiatry as it impacts our foster youth. I loaned my supervisor a copy of Whitaker’s book, and we set up a meeting on January 7, to discuss my concerns. I have also been in contact with the local WV branch of ACLU regarding their efforts to spear-head the opposition to a 70 bead juvenile psych lock-up in Logan County.
Moreover, I was formerly a student in the counseling program at Marshall Graduate College until I was bullied out of the program on account of my anti-psychiatric views. I have recently been in contact with my advisor and the department head in order to file a complaint of discrimination. So you can see, that I am confronting Psychiatry from a number of angles. Moreover, as someone who will be running for political office on a Green Party affiliated platform,I stay abreast of numerous other issues including being involved with local environmental organizations as well as a foreign policy study group at the local library.
Bruce: I have been following your posts on MIA and Counterpunch for some time.
It seems to me that most psychiatric survivors who post here tilt to the political left.
Occasional this causes a dust up wherein someone accuses someone of dragging politics into the equation. I have read most of Szasz’ books. Of course he tilts to the the Libertarian Right, where as I tilt towards the Noam Chomsky Libertarian Left. Szasz ways in on a lot of questions which are not directly related to psychiatry. I think this is to the good even if I don’t agreewith him,’because it allows me as a reader to gain a better understanding of how he arrives at his conclusions.
I believe that your ability to navigate the dual worlds of MIA and Counterpunch is a huge plus-in my opinion I believe that Counterpunch is the best left-wing website because they broach the widest number of topics. We still have a long way to go on the left to move the discussion forward from the simplistic notion that psychiatric patients in prisons just need more good old fashioned psychiatry-E. Fuller Torrey still has tremendous sway in some left circles.
As for me personally, I was civilly committed in 1989 with manic depression and forcibly restrained and drugged. I made the mistake in 1990 of tedoxing too rapidly from Lithium and since have avoided subsequent incarceration. I personally think my situation is closer to what you describe as those dissenters taken off the polical battle field, rather than someone experiencing an extreme state.
I have been reading the posts and commenting on MIA for a couple of years. It seems to me that most people who post here lean to the left and those that don’t fall on the Libertarian side. Szasz was a libertarian, at least in his later writings. Just as those on the left on MIA voice their opinions on other political issues, so did Szasz. What he are up against as psychiatric survivors really is not an exclusively right-wing or left-wing assault on our civil liberties. Congressman Murphy is a Republican and Senator Murphy is a Democrat. Someone on my Facebook page who is a self-identified leftist and member of the Green Party posted a link to E. Fuller Torrey who was highly critical of Ronald Reagan, and of course as everyone knows on MIA,’highly inflammatory against people diagnosed with “severe mental illness.”
I would not waste my breathe on the NYT. They are out and out pond scum, whether supporting our country’s murderous military adventures or military coups-notice Hilary’s
coup in Honderous, and the massive meddling in the recent elections in Venezuela and Argentina. If you think their foreign policy coverage is horrendous, which it is,’try their coverage
of Coomon Core and school privatization on for size-which is being shoved down our throats by the “liberal media,”‘and both political parties. Noam Chomsky’s dentist and his wife advised him to stop reading NYT as it was understandably causeingmhim to grind his teeth.
Obama is simultaneously the patron saint of all kids picked last in kick ball,’and confessor to the killing establishment of the much fawned other special’forces-if you haven’t yet come done from your euphoria over the death of Ben Ladin, I have news for you-it was an assassination.
Dr. Hickey, I was incarcerated in two state hospitals in 1989 and a private hospital and a crisis intervention unit in 1990. I raised a son who is on a merit scholarship. He is a track, math field day, and quiz bowl champion. This was all accomplished by a parent’s nurturing and my son’s dedication. When I was ensnarled into the rabbit hole thankfully I already had a firm sense of who am and my role in the world.
However,’there were moments of self doubt brought on by the totality of the myth of biological psychiatry shot throughout all realms of society.-medicine, education and popular culture. My general sense of my fellow “patients”‘was disempowerment. I never felt unsafe in their prescence. I had a friend with a serious drug problem who was also diagnosed as bipolar-the Lithium gave him terrible shakes, and he eventually committed suicide. Another friend, the son of physicians, was also diagnosed with bipolar-the parents steeped in the Eugenics of mental illness scapegoated each other for passing on the gene. My friend is still waiting on the magic medicine to come down the pike-he has never successfully held a job.
Given what you have uncovered from the writings of Pies, I find it highly ironic that according to Torrey and others that I have the diagnosable condition Anglossia (sic) for failing to accept a disease that Pies says does not even exist.
Obama FDA= Big Pharma;,EPA= Mountain Top removal has reached Kanawaha
State Forest on the outskirts of Charleston; Dept. of Interior=Monsanto;Economy geared to whims of Summers and Gaither-Solis at DOL packed bags and returned to LA-Obama
flies over Wisconsin rebellion with tweet. but campaigns for buddy and foe of teachers union Mr. One Percecent Emmanuel; -who is a dual loyalist with strong family ties
to Israel, which brings us to Edward Said Palestinian-American activist and literary critic (Obama once shared a table at an event with him-another stab in the back see destruction of Gaza).;Obama jails journalists and whistle blowers-Assange is a journalist-George Stanapolis is a presstitute for the Clinton Foundation. ;Obama risks war with Russia over Syria and Ukraine while coudling Bush Neocons in his administration see Victoria Nuland. ;And given his proclivity to avoid show downs with the powers that be-the only thing keeping Obama from joining the chorus of Tim Murphy and the Treatment Advocacy Center is that he may run out of time. ;Did I mention the hotel heiress at Commerce?
I don’t own a gun nor am I particularly concerned about yours. As for abortion, if forced to vote simply up or down, I am pro-choice, but realizing that a discuss of Eugenics, forced sterilization, the genetically engineering of Downs people out of existence are huge consideration-not a big fan of single issue pro-choice campaigns.
As I have made known here, for the. last year or so, I have been geering up for a serious push back-my son is off to college out of state, the cars are payed for and the house nearly so and I have three jobs Where my “history” is common knowledge. I feel that a certain obligation falls on those better situated to take the brunt.
Julie: I remarked in the past that the sentiment reflected here is the most opened minded in the areas of Anglo heritage.
Eric: I think that any success that we have will result as being part of larger movements opposing mass incarceration, the surveillance state, and the endless. Some people could judge me negatively for my “history of mental illness, and being “just” a substitute teacher. But sometimes you just have to take a risk and roll the dice-let the chips fall where they may.
While my psychiatric inprisonment was not directly linked to my revolutionary politics, I do think that indirectly it was. Social control in our society is more
diffuse than it was in the Soviet Union-the main reason we have so few
real dissidents in our society is that people are afraid of being embarressed and shaming of their family if they speak out-It took a whole lot of soul searching for the senator from Alaska to will himself to introduce Daniel Elsberg’s testimony into the Congressional record. In my case-a white dissident person barely beyond his formative years is not taken seriously as a legitimate commentator on society-yes I was pushing the envelope in a brasher manor than I would be today. But I fell on my sword at the time, but you know what-my critiques that non-profits aren’t going to change the world, “liberal establishment press like the Washington Post are more guilty for keeping us all in line (thanks Noam Chomsky), any form of multicultural organizing that fails to take regional issues out of the equation will be unsuccessful-I am from Appalachia, and taking one luxury hotel off the market to house people priced out of the housing market is a good idea.
By the way, I sternly informed the nurse practioner at my psychiatrist office ( in no uncertain terms I might add), that I am angered beyond belief about my damaged kidneys, and there will be hell to pay if anyone comes at me with assisted out patient BS.
Saul: why there is nothing approaching an absolutely controlled experiment: nonetheless I feel that my sense of hopelessness upon being released from the psych ward was a product of societally induced stigma. I never experienced it before or since.
Joanna: I was diagnosed with manic depression 1989, which later morphed
Into bi-polar. I was involuntarily committed, but no one actually shoved the
pills down my throat, but it became pretty clear to me, either do as you
are told or be exiled from the human race. I knew nothing of the Mad liberation
movement, even though I was and am a committed leftist. During this juncture of history, chemical imbalances were the rage in popular culture-think of the Patty Duke Story,’and all the condescension directed at mental patients in cop shows of the time-the poor souls neglected to take their life saving medicine. Now where full circle back to locking up the crazies for their own good, either with more “hospital” beds ‘or outpatient commitment. If I remember correctly, the original threat of the madman was his ability to convince his fellow peasants to revolt-sort of how John Brown was retrospectively recasts a generation after Harper’s Ferry as a “crazy.” Quite a bit different than when I was comforted by stories of Abe Lincoln having been a manic-depressive.
Iam glad to see Counterpunch being referenced on this website. Bruce Levine who posts on MIA also posts on Counterpunch. While Counterpunch articles on Mental Health issues do not always dovetail with the general views expressed here, I do find the site to be more open to a diversity of opinion on the subject than other prominent left-wing sources such as Democracy Now, which stay pretty close to the mainstream view by reporting the unverified statistics regarding the number of “mentally ill” in prison.
‘The current fashion of trying to root out “psychotics”‘through greater surveillance and intervention does run up against the hard numbers which point to the relative
lack of mass shootings in other countries-it must be added that many gun-control
advocates have a smilarly disparaging view of those labeled “mentally ill.” As for the medication themselves being at the root of the problem, isn’t there a similar problem of equating cause and effect with the spread of bio-psychiatry to the rest of the developed world?
Frank: I served a 30 days to life at Transallegheny in 1989. Six years I drove the hundred miles north from my home town to take a tour. The tour guide (a former employee) couldn’t have been any more contemptible to us inmates. The only good news to come out of that place was the jury award given to a young man who had been chained to a table and left alone in a room.
Sandra: It’s been awhile since I have posted on your blog, and I haven’t followed MIA as religiously in the past year. I have posted about my own experience with civil commitment and drug withdrawal as well as my interaction with psychiatry in the work place and graduate school.
At Job Corps, I let my superiors know about my “history of mental illness,”
And I broached my concerns about students and psychiatric drugs to my supervisor,’other employees, human resources and AFT. Part of my concern was that we were instructed to treat sleeping in class as a disciplinary infraction, even though I knew first hand that for some students the problem was the on again off againregiment of ADHD medication. I didn’t get very far with this endeavor, but I did set a legal precedent that someone with the dreaded categorization of “dangerous to yourself or others” could be employed at Job Corps. I also have long suspected that my blacklisting at the hands of the Kanawha County Schools resulted from knowledge about my history making its way through the grape vine. I successfully circumvented the blacklist, and I now work as a substitute at both Charleston Job Corps and Kanawha County Schools. I also work as relief staff in the Transitional Living Program as well as part-time at the foster homes for a non-profit. Three months ago I appraised them of my history and concerns about our residents and psychotropics. I also gave my supervisor a copy of Whitaker’s new book. Yesterday the agency had a briefing with the National Organization on Accreditation. The head of the team is a professor of child development from Vancouver and the assistant is from my home state of Wva. Who works for the Department of Human Resources in Maryland. I had the opportunity to talk to the social worker about the agencies, including my concerns about psychiatric diagnosing and psychotropic medication. She noted that she does not consult the DSM but of course her agency does make referrals to psychiatry.
Three months ago when I made my history and concerns known I reassured my supervisors that I do not broach this subject directly with the residents, though I will add here that circumstances often beg the question of me as to what I think about the situation. I advised one girl whatever you do, never go off these medications cold turkey. I have also become aware of the stories of foster youth who have self-advocated to avoid being prescribed ADHD and anti-depression medication. I have also not followed up with my direct supervisor about whitaker’s book. And I am pondering my next step with the accreditation folks.
At Marshall Graduate School of counseling I feel that I was practically run out of the department for my criticism of psychiatry. This was before my participation on MIA, and I had been relying mostly for my information on Szasz, Goffman, Foucault,’and the writers from the Journal Ethical Psychology and Psychiatrry started by Breggin. The instructor of the intro to Mental Health Counseling came from the perspective of psychiatry as new and improved and her anti-stigma diatribes were highly stigmatizing as was that of her acolytes. She called me out on the discussion for including my own experience with institutionalizations- really the on-line discussion very often did beg the question.
So I think that you would agree that I have interfaced with psychiatry in a number of ways. I also appreciate your honesty about the effects of psychiatric drugs and your willingness to take a risk and post on MIA.
And as a post-script, I feel it is important to engage in a wide range of endeavors so as not to become a zealot. I also participate in a foreign policy study group at the library, I attend history lectures at the archives, I help my wife with her children’s theatre costuming and attend her infection control conventions,’follow sports and entertainment as well as chiming in on websites such as Counterpunch, Z magazine, Truthout, and follow the developments of the teaching profession at Rethinking Schools as well as by visiting my son at the University of Kentucky. And I would like to be the first candidate for Congress to be open about my history-remember Thomas Eagleton.
Don’t forget that Eugenics which along with Nordic Sepremacy, anti-semitism were the pillors of Nazism. Eugenics was an American export.
Although as most of us know here, psychiatry is not really part of medicine.
However, because of the roll of Big Pharma, psychiatry and medicine share some of the same problems. Thanks to my Pacifica Radio app I can listen to engaging commentary on Against the Grain, while walking in my neighborhood for exercise.This week’s broadcast included a critique of preventive medicine (in some twisted way, civil commitment is some form of this-early intervention). Although the broadcast doesn’t delve into psychiatry, many of the lessons drawn are relevant to our movement.
Iden writes here of the intersection of civil rights movement and the rights of those labeled and stigmatized with psychiatric labels. From the original reconstruction era after the civil war through the black liberation struggle today this is inarguable the high water marks of our nation. There is no simple solution to the “disability”‘debate. The MIA contributor here Tina Minkowitz has done much on the legal and international level to protect our rights through the prism of disability. Personally I don’t feel disabled, although I benefited from SSI to pay for my tuition.
When I was brain washed into the system in 1989, I was most definitely, told that my “manic depression-bipolar” was a chemical ilmbalance.Yet psychiatry is in absolute denial of this-Thanks to MiA contributor for pointing this out. Also it turns out that delusional thinking is not based on the merits of one’s thoughts or beliefs, but wether or not a percentage of people believe them. People who believe in alien abduction,belong to cults,’or subscribe to conspiracy theories like the illuminati are not in prisoned in psychiatric hospitals. My own particular heresey was to believe that a luxury hotel should be taken over and used as a homeless shelter and also no self-respecting food co-op should be selling the tree killing CIA friendly Washington Post. Thanks to conventional organizing techniques, the rate of union
contracts in hotels has all but disappeared, and Jeff Bezos of Amazon who purchased the Post has a contract with the CIA. Also as has been pointed out by Szasz, the powerful are seldom on the short end of the psychiatric stick-when was the last time thatvinvoluntarily commitment proceedings were instituted by a student against a college dean? For that matter, the president is permitted to view his ascension to the highest office in the land as the fruition of the legacy of Martin Luther King, even though he threw his minister and mentor Rev. Wright under the bus, praises Reagan who rose to prominence on the strength of white backlash sentiment-see his trip to Philadelphia MS where he championed “states rights,” and as well as extending the war on terror to seven countries-remember King spoke forcible at his 1967 Riverside speach against the evils of US militarism.
Besides the dreaded Axis I Bi-polar, I also have an Axis II for Narcicism.
But in the end, I seem to have only two widely contrasting views to believe about myself-either I am a helpless mental case who is tormented by the now admitted phantom “chemical imbalance,” or I am a man ahead of my time.
Tracey: In my personal life: I was institutionalized in 1989 and 1990’and diagnosed with manic-depression which later morphed into bipolar.’I find it difficult to drop under 1.5 mg. of Zypreza and I also take .5mg. of clonipin. 20 plus years of lithium damaged my kidneys. I am none to happy about this.
In my professional life I work as a youth worker and a substitute teacher. So
the subject of psychiatric medications comes up from time to time. This puts me in a bit of a quandary. I have logged my concerns about psychiatric drugs with the youth agency and was told to refrain from talking about it in the log.
But sometimes clients and students beg the questions and I feel that I would be less than honest if I did not respond to their concerns.’At least two clients managed to avoid being ensnared into the psychiatric drugnet. Some staff have
also expressed reservations about ADHD medications. Above all else, I always
advise young people to avoid an abrupt cessation of the drugs. I also loaned my
direct supervisor a copy of Whitaker’s new book, but as of yet, I have received no feedback.
Jay: I like that you include foreign policy in your discussion by mentioning
Chomsky and Herman. Unfortunately, most Americans rely on mainstream
media-news and entertainment-for their views of the world. In the third or fourth episode
of season two of the Blacklist, the plot delves into the violence gene (warrior gene on the show) as well as mentioning secret government programs of thought control such as MK Ultra). This gave me the opportunity to explain a little about this to my wife, who is a health care professional. From what I remember, younger siblings of Juvenile
delinquents were given spinal taps as a means of uncovering “the violence gene.”
Activists pushed back against a violence gene conference in the DC area, and until the Blacklist episode I have heard nothing else about it. It is safe to say, however, that we still live in the shadow of the Eugenics Movement.
In my home town on Charleston, the private hospital is advertising
depression screenings. They do an excess amount of radio ads
generally-is this common else where. Also, they were recently denied a
permit to build a high fence around their property to keep people in.
In today’s Charleston Gazette-Mail (WVa) a Parenting columnist John Rosemond called into question the medical diagnosis of ADHD. It seems that Roemond has
been accused of taking up the cause of Scientology for questioning the use of ADHD medication. Just thought I would pass this along as evidence that the public at large is exposed to criticism of psychiatry.
Sera: Here is another example of “mental health providers” speaking in our name. Weston State Hospital ( Civil War era construction). closed in circa 1993 in WVa. A private entity bought the building and the grounds and changed the name to the original Tranallegheny Lunatic Asylem.-They conduct tours daily and have a Bedlum Ball on Halloween. This got the hackles up of the profession class who were appalled about “lunatic.” I sort of took it,’as what is in a name. Others have pointed out, what other reputable profession is constantly changing its name-Asylem,’sanatarium,’hospital, mad, lunatic,’crazy, mentally ll.
Sera: Thanks for pointing out what could be called major micro-aggressions. I was incarcerated in two different mental hospitals from March-May in 1989- in the neighboring states of WVa and MD. I found it curious that the two varied considerabley when it came to procedure.’One had a coed unit, the other did not. In the older hospital, the isolation room was off to the side, while in the newer one, it was locatedmore centrally, so as to make the victim the center of attention.- see Foucault and panoctopain (sic). In the newer hospital I was de-loussed. While in the later, my blood pressure was taken seemingly every hour. In Maryland, There was no set date for an assessment of progress and release, but in WVa it was a thirty day evaluation. For an institution which claims to be a branch of medicine, it struck as odd, how different the ground rules were. Fenway Park and Wrigley field have their unique character, but the game of baseball at least follows a tried and true formula.
My son attends the University of Kentucky in Lexington. NAMI has an outreach center with “Peer”‘in its name. I am looking forward to stopping by there to get a first hand sense of how it operates.
Jennifer this is the first that I remember seeing you here. You’re thoughts are encouraging. What walk of life do you come from?. I work as a substitute teacher and youth worker.’My lived experience with diagnosis and hospitalization was 1989 and 1990-From what I gather, and Whitaker’s historical context provides a good back drop for what I personally experience, as well as a jump off point for discussion with my supervisor at the foster home. (this was a time when bio-psychiatry was really being driven home.-1989)I gave her the book. I also have been logging my concerns about the role of psychiatry in our residents lives.’I feel like that I have been taking a personal risk n doing so. The director of the agency was concerned that I wasn’t discussioning the issue directly with the residents-a valid concern and something I don’t do.
Margaret:’From 1989-1990 I spent 4-5 months of my life in two state hospitals,’a private
Psychiatric hospital, and a crisis unit. Many auxilary personnel for genuinely decent
people,’and this greatly softened the blow on institutionalization and stigma.
Carina: I just posted on an another article today which ties in a bit with what you were saying.I felt like when I was hospitalized in 1989 that I was being singled out in a group dynamic that was not functioning completely well-a loosely based communal living arrangement where in we were left-wing political activists of various hues. I think that I now understand that I was too indirect in voicing my criticisms and acting out in a
disconcerting manner. After having read Whitaker’s recent book and having participated for several years on MIA, I see where the drugging was the most expedient
and cost effective measure to address my behavior. The books detailing of PR strategies and prescribing protocals, mirrors much of what I experienced with the choice
Of medication given to me.’I would only add, that it seemed to me in the late 1980s and early 1990s that many film and television productions also contained a pro-medication message. I think that a lot of the concern here on MIA is to find less obtrusive measures to reintegrate people that don’t stigmatize and cause long term health problems.
This information affects me personally as well as professionally.
I am experiencing reduced kidney function due to 20+’years
of lithium. I am none to happy about that.’I have been off lithium
for over four years without any hospitalizations. My last hospitalization
was’25 years ago. I still take a low dose of Zypreza 2mg and Klonapin .5 mg.,
and given the horror stories I have heard, I am in no hurry to detox from these drugs.
I work as a substitute teacher and and a youth worker so this issue impacts
me at work. A couple of years ago I asked the AFT rep about their policy regarding psychiatric medication. I was informed that they had none. This was the same answer given by the HR person from the company that contracts out services
at Job Corps.’Recently, I logged in my concerns about the increase in the use of
these drugs at my agency. I agreed with my supervisor to keep these comments
out of the log book in the future.’But I did make it clear that I would be making my concerns about this trend in the public policy arena. The agency is small, so it makes sense to target bigger fish such as APA and the Department of Health and Human Resources. Also several years ago, I was enrolled in a
Counseling program at the local graduate college. I felt that I was
Basically run out of dodge for my negative assessment of psychiatry.
Now with Whitaker’s sweeping assessment of the last 35 years of psychiatry, I have gained insight into the various ways I was treated by Psychiatry. In as well, thanks to this book, and MIA generally, I think I have more of a leg to stand on as I advocate for myself, and in the letter that I am composing to the head of the counseling department.
I was diagnosed with manic depression in 1989. Perhaps I could have done a better job of explaining what it was that my housemates were doing that was bothering me. But given that I grew up in an atmosphere of child’ abuse (mean drunk parent) I am not the best at standing up for myself. Also given, that no family member came forward to protect me from this abuse, it made it hard for me to fathom that my mother was saving me from myself by committing me. By 1990, my mother had fanagled the system to the point that I was receiving an SSI check. I went back to college, got married,’obtained a semblance of a career, and managed to avoid being sidelined from life which I sense happens to many with a mental health diagnosis and a disability check.
I have managed to reduce the psychotropic medication and get the weight gain under control. But I still find myself angry about my experience with the hospitalization and subsequent damage done to my kidneys as a result of the lithium. Also, my displeasure with psychiatry has caused family strife in that my mother feels like she had no choice, and my sister has been in search of the right medication to help with her depression. I also feel like there is also a correlary narrative running along side the critical narrative of psychiatry that we present on MIA. In my own case I was transferred from jail, where I was being held on a pretty minor offense of disturbing the peace to the mental hospital. Much attention on the political left, where I reside, is given to mass incarceration and in particular to the problem, which is described as the imprisonment of the mentally ill. I feel like that this is pretty grey area politically and for me personally. I just recently finished whitaker’s new book, and I feel there is sufficient documentation of the shortcomings of psychiatry to force open the door for a more honest interpretation of psychiatry in our society. In my role as an educator and a youth worker, I have been open about my “history of mental illness”!as well as notifying my employer about becoming more visible in the community and the political arena on this topic. I feel that as someone with credentials who is involved in a many civic endeavors, that I am poised to make a difference. First thing, I will be contacting the graduate school where I feel like I was pushed out for being critical of psychiatry-I have more confidence now, and the case against psychiatry has grown. I will be following up with the teacher’s union regarding the concerns I expressed concerning children and the use of psychiatric medications-previously I was told that they had no written policy on the matter.
Yes indeed: I was hauled into the court of the inquisition for delusions of grandeur for trying to kick start a revolution-step one of the plan was to commandeere the Historic Willard Hotel two blocks from the White House and turn it into an acceptable mode of a homeless shelter. That was 1989. Fast forward to 2016. Keep your eye on the Second Congressional race in WVa. in the Republican Primary.
James: respectfully- I was dragged to Springfield Hospital in March 1989. When my daring escape was foiled I was summarily gang tackled put in a choke hold dragged to the isolation room, straight jacked to a bed shot full of Thorazine and left to defacate and urinate on myself. Later I was put in lock down mode trundled off to a near-by hospital and forced to undergo I suffacoting claustrophobic inducing Cat scan in order to locate a non-existent medical problem. More than a little punchy after all of this treatment I was discharged at the height of this anxiety inducing experience. Yes, I had one flat
Out panic attack shortly upon my realease as my mom and me tried to ply the crowded
Streets of DC.’After a harrowing trip of my mom’s non-driving skills we landed back in Wva. Where upon I settled an old score
With the neighborhood bully, where upon I was trundled off
To the Trans Allengheny Lunatic Asylem where I was left to rot with a thirty days to life situation.’Upon my release,’I retreated to my bedroom where upon I conteplated suicide.’after about a month of this in got my bearing and got
back in the saddle and completed
A bicycle race after seven weeks of training. 44 miles at the same time as
This was September 1989. After much haggling, I was finally placed in vocational rehab in March 1990.’I was separated from the lithium as it was at the nurse’ s station. I was unable to reach the desk at the specified time.’The withdraw did indeed leave me a
Little punchy. After about a month of
bouncing around town, my mom had me committed to a private
Hospital for three weeks I was then transferred to a community crisis
Unit where upon I finished my sixty day sentence. Upon my release into the community, I was first placed into a group home and subsequently given my own apartment
With a roommate. Diagnosis Manic Depression which morphed into Bi-polar
affective disorder with get this an Axis
II diagnosis form Narcism. By this time they were hitting with a stronger battery of drugs which slowed my hour speed on a
Bicycle from around 25 mph to around 23.5’mph. During this 15 month process
I was subjected to what amount to AmSpanish Inquisition and the ever helpful Rorscact (sic) test.’fast forward
to today.’I have
Whittled my psych drug intake to 1’mg of Zypreza and .5′ Klonapin.’I take
Small dose of blood pressure medication-I am currently about 20-25’lbs.’above
My fighting weight. At 54 I can still go toe to toe on the basketball court with inner city
kids at Job Corps,’and beat the foster kids to the top of the hill.’Oh did Immention that the Lithium damaged my thyroid and kidneys and that upon my
release in 1990’that I chanced upon a glimpse of my release papers (chronically
Any way I have not consulted with my psychiatrist for 25′ months. In order to mollify my
wife’s concerns about my sleeping patterns,’i got myself penciled
In to see the psychiatrist’s nurse practioneer.’Where upon I put every one on notice,’that should anyone from the psychiatric profession come out me side ways’its going
To be WWIII. I have been compared favorably to Paul Westfall on the basketball court,’back in the day I was the Eddy Mercyx of the local
Vandalia Velos bicycle club,’and when it comes to urban guerrilla warfare,
Che Gueverra’s got
nothing on me. Keep your eyes peeled on old WVa, it’s going
to be one hell of a bumpy ride up ahead. The long and the short of it is that the APA
Went and messed with the wrong hombre-Ps the psychiatrist just refilled my Zypreza
prescription without an appointment.
If John Hinkley can be said to be responsible for the death of a 74 year old man that he injured 35 years ago, then it is a good question why psychiatry is not crimally liable for the deaths of much younger people.
Stephen: I was on the SSI dole for around three years and even had a disability half fare bus pass. Somehow as a disabled person I was able to complete three degrees and ride my bicycle thirty miles a day. Thinking back on this, it is pretty absurd, though the money is not enough to live independently,’unless one works the system as well for discounted rent and free food.
Nancy: It’s seems that you are suggesting that the issues at stake are larger than the APA and Big Pharma. On the legal front, I have noticed that therevis much haggling over the possible release of John Hinkley. It is my understanding that he was forced into the insanity plea. As convoluted as his stated motives for his actions may be, I believe that there is a double tragedy at place here-the lack of the ability to have one’s day in court,’as well as the bodily injury that he inflicted-now upgraded to homicide with the death of James Brady who died at 74, the approximate life expectancy of an American male.
Part of what I objected to in my experience was the open-ended term of my sentence-30
days to life. As many MIA readers know, a still considerable
Number of “patients” are held for long durations-or transferred to mental “hospitals”
whentheir sentence runs out. I am not a lawyer, but could this not be an opening. If James Bradey’s injury can be classified as a murder resulting from paraplegia 35’years after the fact, then could we not open the door for charges of negligent homicide for iatrogenic deaths due to forced treatment for what is now freely admitted by the psychiatric authorities ie “there are no chemical imbalances.”
GM: I am in a similar boat except that for some reason my psychiatrist continues to fill my perscriptions without having to meet with him (two years). Since I went off of lithium four years ago, there is no mechanism in place to determine my compliance. I was last institutionalized 25 years ago and have confidence in my self. I am still on a low dose of Zypreza 2mg and .5mg of klonapin. I would like to be free and clear of the “profession,” but Zypreza withdraw is difficult, and I have heard many horror stories about detoxing from Klonapin.
Or forced down their throats
It is damn difficult to taper off two mgs. of Zypreza. I have also heard many horror stories about detoxing from klonopin. Even with insurance coverage, I have spent a small fortune on psych. drugs in the past 25 years.
Alex:’Actually knowing that people have successfully exited from psychiatry is quite a relief and empowering. As we speak, author Jon Ronson is on In depth on CSPAN BookTV right now. One of his books is the Psychopathology test which is being made into a movie with Scarlet Johansen. He is quite critical of some of the psychiatric labeling that is taking place. His newest book deals with the social media practice of shaming, which I believe is the main function of psychiatry. Social media shaming is a cathartic substitute for social justice. Psychiatric is a misplaced form of “help” whose real purpose is the creation of otherness.
Dr. Scull: thanks for bringing an historical perspective to the table. I received my BA in Sociology from West Virginia State College in 1984.’There I studied Durkheim, Parks and Burgess, the Franfurt School, and C. Wright Mills, while many of my contemporaries were swallowing Reagan’s Morning in America BS. I moved to Southern Maryland in 1984, bounced around the restaurant circuit as a waiter for a few years, and ended up as a bicycle messenger by day and a young urban revolutionary by night. 1987-1989’were heady days indeed: Central American solidarity activism, anti-Apartheid vigils at the South African Embassy, UN protests over the 20 year occupation of Palestine, and anti-CIA activism-I attended a seminar in Culver City in the summer of 1988’given by ex-CIA and FBI where former agents came clean about their bag of dirty trips.
Back in DC, I became inpatient with the ritualistic manner in which my companeros approached the revolution. There was much talk of grants, as if large foundations were going to under-write a revolution.’Anti-racism work seemingly excluded a white working class perspective let alone an Appalachian one-I am from WVa. Afterall. A housemate concerned about my “mental health” contacted my mother-said housemate subsequently
Segued from sowing her radical wild oats to a more responsible line of work at the inter-American Development Bank. She was a Notre Dame Grad, a product of prestigious private schools,
and her dad was part owner of the Cleveland Browns-much talk about sexism and racism, not so much about classism, but I digress.
Any way after the authorities caught up with me, after I tried to take over the Willard Hotel-I had walked the picket line there in what turned out to be a doomed indeavor.’Deputy Bennie Bustamante got the drop on me at the Bethesda co-op parking lot which set the whole nuthouse circuit in motion. (The clerk at the co-op had jumped down my throat for picking up an apple’ and my eyes had locked in on the stack of tree killing and Yanqui propagandizing Washinton Posts, which I summarily picked up and through in the corner. “Get this CIA rag the hell out of here.”I have detailed my experience at the receiving end of psychiatric “help”‘elsewhere on this site.’The one thing that seemed to get everyone’s attention was my utter disdain for my own money.’Giving it away was a sure Fire indication of Manic Depression I mean Bipolar Illness. I now drive a late model Suburu instead of a Volvo or a Mercedes,’surely the crime of the century. In case , if anyone failed to notice, traditional forms of unionizing have gone down the drain, and Jeff Bezos from Amazon with his CIA contracts made it official by buying the Washington Post.’But what do I know. I am only a lowly mental patient.
Dr. Speaking of responsibility: I would be tickled pink to face what I consider as Alice’s Restaurant level charges from 1989, which remain on my record. I never had the right to defend myself, as I was in disposed at Springfield Hospital in Maryland, where I was allegedly being helped. I believe that I conducted myself with dignity throughout the process, and I believe that I established proper and friendly protocol with the arresting officer along with the orderlies.
Do you have any idea how to go about reopening a case so as to use as leverage to highlight the absurdities of the claims of psychiatry.’For what it is worth, I believe that in the last 25’years I have established myself as a Bono fide human being.
Boans: In the US is it possible to have a relevant and upstanding public persona if one has the dreaded ” history of mental illness” hanging around one’s neck, and at the same time denounces psychiatry and refuses their drugs?
Another thing that these drugs rob you of is time. I find that I spend more time in bed sleeping than before.’ Thankfully now that I am off lithium,’ I no longer have the embarrassing shakes. I would like to be completely
Off these drugs, but zyprexa titration at low doses is extremely difficult.’I have also heard horror stories about coming off klonopin.’moreover,’how does one drop out of life long enough to go through detox?
Yes, I picked up this valuable book at an independent book store in Asheville, NC. I haven’t read Black’s book on IBM, but along with Charles Highman, and the authors of books on Operation Paper, and I believe Robert Procter on psychiatry in Nazi Germany, it is apparent that the US Govt. has been soft on fascism. Of course Stalin and his fellow travelers were evil, along with Andre Marty, the commander of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, but our “leaders,” entertainment media, and textbooks whitewash their complicated with the Nazis and other tyrants out of our history. I find it more fruitful to judge revolutionary governments on a case by case discussion, rather than to listen to anti-communist demagogues.
Also on a related topic on Pacifica’s project censored, the host and the guest discussed mass incarceration, and included psychiatric incarceration in the same breath. Most of the broadcast was devoted to the private corrections system as it intertwined with minimum sentencing guidelines, private prison control of immigration prisons, and the requisite lobbying and scare mongering that takes place in the electoral arena. The broadcast mentioned, but I did not catch the name of the prison located next door to the “psych hospital for pedophiles.” of the same name. Apparently there is another one of these afoot in California in the Stockton area. (Film maker Louis Proyect featured the “hospital” in one of his documentaries). The broadcast did not go into detail about the role of psychiatry in this project, but it did take a couple of much needed side swipes at the unholy alliance of mass incarceration, moral panic, and the pseudoscience of psychiatry. The broadcast took pains to note the massive cash cow generated by this, noting the high salaries of the psychiatrists and the profit motive of the private prison industry.
I have the same question. I never thought that I could be a physician. I have considered studying law, but the thought of becoming a cop, a psychiatrist or a soldier never occurred to me, except maybe as a guerrilla fighter or a soldier in the Spanish Civil War. Before I was blind sided by psychiatry, if one had asked me my opinion, I would have stated that the two sides were in an intractable opposition to one another, and it is obvious that one should be rooting for the underdog-the patient.
I have posted on earlier posts that our US Senator and former Congress women Capito is in cahoots with Murphy in many unsavory ways.
Someone else: Our mainstream media constantly harps on the evils of various potentates, strongmen, evil dictators like the Kim Dynasty in Korea, or the Assad family in Syria. The great labor leader, presidential candidate, and war resister Eugene V. Debs once remarked, when asked, what he thought about the threat of the Prussian Junkers:Debs remarked, that he was more worried about the American Junkers-today’s Cintons and Bushes.
Stephen: My uncle is buying the Hawkings book for my son’s graduation. Nice to see Hawking stand up for Palestinian rights. Woody Gutherie had Huntington’s Disease. Current gene therapy to detect this disease now exists. Had this been used at the turn of the century, there would have been no This Land Is my Land This Land Is Your Land, nor Arlo’s Alice’s Restaurant.
Duane: I was just listening to a Pacifica Radio broadcast about the implications of the Hyde Ammendment on public policy- This seems to be on the one hand and on the other hand issue. Senator Henry Hyde was a philanderer who made hay out of Clinton’s picadelos (sic) what ever one thinks about abortion or Bill Clinton, both figures helped two ingrain a Dickensian double standard in our society. The Hyde Ammendment does little to impede well-off women from getting abortions, but it does render poorer women with fewer choices and greater financial burdens for carrying them out.
On the other hand, NOW oriented feminists who priviledge reproductive rights over other social issues, likely don’t take into consideration the Eugenics slant when it comes to socially engineering Downs people out of society, the forced sterilization of black and white mountain women, or how Russia women feel about abortion being the defacto only form of birth control available. I find the Comstockery Right-wing in this country to be a nuisance, but Third World people treated to Sangerism family planning may well be put more upon.
Dr. Hickey: I work at a Job Corps in West Virginia. Neither my direct supervisor, the director of human resources, nor the American Federation of Teachers rep can explain to me the policy of the center with regards to psychotropic drugs. it is as if these drugs oozed into our society with little explanation and little oversight. At the foster home where I also work, I have noticed the staff doling out medication-I have not been trained to do this, and I am not rushing to do the training which would certify me to do so.
How we as a culture have come to accept this practice is intriguing. My own diagnosis of manic depressive in 1989 occurred about the time that it was morphing into bipolar. I believe that the entertainment media had a good bit to do with this. The Patty Duke story being an example of the fare that was offered at the time. Also, lurid crime shows around this time were adept at including plots and subplots surrounding the use of drugs and the “mentally ill. “Undoubtedly, NAMI and its acolytes are involved, in one way shape or form in advising the content of these shows.
David: Yes in deed, the defenders of ADHD diagnosis are coming out of the woodwork on this one: contributors whom I have not seen on MIA before. The United States has the largest percent of its population incarcerated along with one of the largest percentages of its population under some form of psychiatric supervision. With the high rate of foster children falling under the purview of one or more of these systems, it is getting harder and harder to distinguish between the system of incarceration and the system of social welfare. The impetus to drug test “welfare recipients,” demonstrates the impulsive desire of the “upstanding'” members of society to control the troublesome rabble. “The path to hell is paved with the best of intentions.”
I have worked with at-risk youth in one shape or form since 1998: alternative high school, Job Corps, and foster homes. If in deed psychiatric diagnoses are like any other medical diagnosis we wouldn’t be finding such a disproportionate rate of psychiatric drugging of at-risk children. Job Corps and Foster Youth are under a much higher rate of surveillance than other youth. Job Corps youth undergo an initial drug screen upon arrival at the center, and they have 30 days to get their THC levels down below an acceptable level, upon which they are retested. Also, upon the discretion of the drug counsel, they can be subject to random drug testing. Foster Youth are regularly tested and always so upon their return from a home visit.
One of the more odious tasks that I was asked to perform at Job Corps was to write discipline referrals for kids sleeping in class. I butted up against management on this issue: In my experience, sporadic compliance with ADHD medication is one factor leading to sleepiness in class. Also given the high rate of usage of psychotropics in the US military, I deduced that similar usage was taking place with my students. Interestingly, neither my manager, the human resources director, nor my union rep could come up with a stated policy from the Department of Labor concerning the use of psychotropic drugs (Job Corps is run in partnership with the the Department of Labor and a private contractor-The prior contractor Management and Training Corporation is also in the business of running private prisons, including the one in Texas, where the most recent uprising occurred).
The widespread drugging of these youth has occurred by the complicity of governmental authorities, which has allowed psychiatry to run unchecked. Piierre Bordieu (sic) the French sociologist posited that conservatives selectively rant against governmental social programs (the soft arm of the state) while valorizing the strong arm of the state (police and the military). Given the creeping mechanisms of control, including the clamor to drug test “welfare recipients’, the line between the two is becoming more blurred.
US Senator Shelley Moore Capito (formerly Congress women from WVa. Second District), was a co-signer on Murphy’ s most recent mental health bill. The two attend pro-coal conferences together and are pictured standing behind Boener with regards to the Keystone pipeline. I had the occasion to stop by her office on Thursday to voice opposition to her signing of the anti-negotiations with Iran Letter. If Murphy and Capito seem to be reviving this measure, I will be glad to again voice my disapproval in person.
B: I don’t envy smokers here in the states. The sharp increase in restrictions regarding the use of tobacco creates a nuisance situation for smokers, who at least on the back of their brain, are plotting how to get their next smoke. Quitting smoking is surely a destressing experience, if you are able to achieve it. As for the use of tobacco itself, Thomas Szasz, no fan of medicalizing “alcoholism,” recounted that in his day psychiatrists smoked like fiends at the conventions he attended, and they were none to happy with his off-handed suggestion to medicalize their habit as nicotinism.
Currently there is a student led and faculty supported strike on going at the University of Amsterdam. Whether this reaches the level of critical mass as in the student strikes in Chile or Quebec remains to seen.
Ted: This is how I generally feel about politicians who go off the script in a manner that sheds light on the dysfunctional political system. Keep them talking. Let them inadvertently lampoon the whole system.