Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Comments by Russell Stence

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  • Thanks for this excellent article, Peter. You were obviously unpleasantly surprised, but not too much, by these rejections of your article. As you say,

    “There is a good reason that I called my first psychiatry book, ‚ÄúDeadly psychiatry and organised denial.‚ÄĚ The organised denial characterises this totally failed medical discipline more than anything else.”

    You confronted guild interests a little too directly, and got the predictable circling of the wagons.


  • Thank you so much for this well written and well documented article, Christopher. And thank you for your part in the activism that put this protection in place in Connecticut. May you prevail in keeping it there!

    “‚ĶI have learned how psychiatric care (and other medical care) can sometimes become a vicious cycle in which treatment-emergent or post-treatment adverse effects are misidentified as a new (or pre-existing) mental disorder, treated with higher dosages or more drugs or other risky treatments leading to more adverse effects, and more serious diagnoses until a person is quite disabled.”

    So well stated! This is exactly what happened to my dear daughter, as described in the article published last year on this same site on the first anniversary of her death.

    If we had a law here in New York like the one you helped put in place in Connecticut, she might still be with us today.

  • Thank you for this excellent article, Rich and Elizabeth, and even more, thank you for the work you are doing in Wisconsin, Elizabeth. There is such a crying need for and such a dearth of knowledgeable, ethical, compassionate lawyers, doctors and mental health agency personnel to combat the draconian abuses and violations of human and civil rights of people who fall into the hands of the Gulag Psychipelago.

    Seeing this article, Elizabeth, I was reminded of our phone conversation a while ago. I left no stones unturned, but eventually realized there was really no legal recourse for how are daughter was destroyed following a kangaroo court process that allowed the hospital to involuntarily brain shock her and force her onto a clearly contraindicated antipsychotic medication that caused terrible, torturous side effects. I am truly heartened to hear that you are making some headway on such things in Wisconsin, even though it may seem incremental in terms of what is needed.

    I will requote what has been repeated above:

    ‚ÄúFor everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.‚ÄĚ

    Reading this article made my blood boil once again, but I am very glad for your work. Thank you for shining the light into these dark places. I hope that I can live up to a similar calling, which is the best tribute I can think of for my own daughter.

  • Yes, guardianship can be horribly unjust and abusive, as Marian Kornicki has so well described in this excellent expose. I myself am in the process of attempting to advocate for two of it’s victims; a 60-year-old man diagnosed with schizophrenia and his 66-year-old wife of 31 years.

    As anyone who follows the news knows, Britney Spears had to fight like hell to get out from under a very unjust guardianship even though she was a multi-millionaire and had full mental capacity, unlike this man, who is poor and has a serious disability affecting his cognition, and his wife who cannot afford a private lawyer and thus has no legal representation going into an upcoming “successor guardianship” hearing.

    But there is another side to this guardianship issue, and I’ve been on that side as well. When someone is truly incapacitated, as my young daughter was, without a guardian who is prepared to fight they will surely fall fully into the hands of the psychiatric powers that be, and can be kept entirely out of the loop. In our case, despite going through the expensive and onerous process of obtaining guardianship after she turned 18, we were ultimately unable to protect her from psychiatric coercion and abuse. An article describing our saga, which ended tragically, was published here on this site on the first anniversary of her death, July 29.

    So for this reason I would not support abolishing guardianship. However, it is certainly in need of very close scrutiny, regulation and oversight that would put an end to the egregious injustices that are regularly perpetrated through the process as it now exists.

  • Thank you, Tom. Your comments bring to mind this quote from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

    “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

  • I missed your comment when you wrote it, warmac, and only saw it now because of Grace’s reply. So it’s doubtful you’ll see my response now . .

    Believe me, my wife and I are still haunted by all the woulda/coulda/shouldas… and yes, we do bear some of the responsibility for the horrible trajectory that ensured with our precious daughter. That could be the subject of another article, but this one was meant to expose and portray the horror of falling into the hands of a system that purports to heal while it actually, for some, utterly destroys. Your comment about the runaway having a better chance of recovery makes me wonder if you are suggesting that perhaps we should have allowed our daughter to run away, in a state of total irrationality and emotional disequilibrium, and take her chances on the street. I hope not.

  • Once again, Robert, you’ve hit several nails squarely on the head in this rebuttal to Dr. Aftabs criticism of your ‚ÄúPsychiatry, Fraud and the Case for a Class-Action Lawsuit‚ÄĚ. One of those nails:

    “This is why psychiatry cannot be expected to reform itself. The guild simply can‚Äôt bear to confront the reality of its own research. Perhaps public pressure could force such change, but medical professions in the U.S. are treated by the mainstream media as speaking with authority, and that limits the possibility of public pressure as a change agent. That leaves the law as the only possible lever for prompting such wholesale reform.”

    Yes, indeed…and I learned, very sadly, that the legal profession holds doctors in similar unassailable high esteem. My wife and I were in the process of renewing guardianship of our daughter, for the express purpose of protecting her from the potential ravages of psychiatric coercion. The attorney working with us cautioned us not to criticize psychiatrists in the process, because “judges regard doctors with near reverence.” We were relieved that our guardianship was renewed but, sadly, it turned out to be useless in stopping the hospital psychiatrists from forcibly brain-shocking her and then forcing her onto a medication that was contraindicated by genetic testing and that induced terrible side effects and started a cascade of additional psych meds. As you know, her story (published here on the first anniversary of her death, July 29) had a very tragic ending.

    I agree that lawsuits may be the only way to effect change, but when you understand just how stacked the deck is it is not at all encouraging. It is virtually impossible to find an attorney or law firm that will take on any case against psychiatry, at least when it comes to medical malpractice. But your suggested class action suit would not involve medical malpractice, per se, so maybe there’s a better chance.

    I’m not dismissing the legal avenue, but I’ve come to believe that the “court of public opinion” may be the best avenue to advance reform. If we continue to find ways to “get the word out” to the public, such as through this website and others, and build a grassroots of activism to expose the fallacies and very harmful practices within conventional psychiatry, I believe it could build a groundswell of calls for reform. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.

  • Thank you for this excellent condensation of “Anatomy of an Epidemic”, Penni and Nikkel–it makes a lot of sense (cents)! Seriously, I too have recommended “Anatomy…” to various people, but although it is an excellent, well-documented and very readable book, many just don’t have the time. I think this could help “get out the word” to more people, and maybe whet their appetite for more detail.

  • Sorry for the delayed response, When. You asked what alternatives to Psychiatry were tried, such as family psychotherapy. I suppose we could have and should have tried to engage her in some kind of counseling or psychotherapy, including family therapy, when she started to disengage from schooling and social activities. But as we said in the article, we tended to see it as a transitional “emerging adolescence thing”. But after the first crisis that landed her in the adolescent psych ward, the rapid decline in her psychosocial and cognitive functioning, along with lack of insight, made it very difficult to enlist her cooperation. There was also the trauma of the hospitalization and her wariness toward anything “psychological”. We did have some limited success in engaging our daughter in psychotherapy during the first couple years after that initial brief hospitalization, but both her willingness and ability nosedived as she was increasingly traumatized and damaged by the forced psychiatric treatments. Early on when we broached the subject of possible family dynamics that might be at play, Dr. G stated his belief that her condition was “ninety percent biological”. As we said in the article, there was no psychotherapy in her psych hospitalizations; I found this shocking. From conventional psychiatry’s perspective, patients seem to be reduced to neurons responding to medications, electric shocks or other biological “treatments

  • Cindi, even though it is now 8 years beyond the publishing of this article, and I know the ongoing saga with your son is at a very different place, I will post here my most recent text to you with regard to the article and our ongoing attempts to advocate for our mutual friend.

    I am so glad and honored to have met you through our attempts to help our friend with her own struggle against the psychiatric and legal system, as it is. I just finished reading this article. Wow! You have articulated so well the horrible imbalance between psychiatry and the legal system surrounding it, and the patients and their families who are trying to advocate and extricate them from its grip. So much of what you said resonates deeply with me in terms of our own experience with our younger daughter, which ended so tragically, and with our older daughter who is free in a sense but still suffering from previous ravages and still in many ways under psychiatrist’s thumb as a semi-recovered patient. I applaud your continuing activism and hope that I will remain true to my commitment to do the same for the rest of the time I have on this Earth.

  • Thank you, Maria, both for your supportive and encouraging comments and for your donation to MIA in Catherine’s memory!

    “While there are many different beliefs on how best to help an individual in an altered state of mind, at the very least, a greater awareness of underlying causes is critically needed.”

    Yes, indeed!

    And thank you for the link to your website. I plan to check it out as soon as I post this reply.

  • Carol and I really appreciate what you’ve shared here, uncommontype. Your story is so gripping!

    “Honestly, I‚Äôve been on I think every medication listed in your article and then some. I am not on any medication now except a birth control (Yas) and a thyroid medication as well as supplements I have chouncommonly.

    While the journey you describe has been harrowing and excruciating at times, as you describe it, it’s so good to hear that you have gotten on a much better and healthier track!

    “…not one person ever stopped to question if perhaps the medications (7 to 10, at one time 12) were causing me harm, not helping. They would max out the dosage and sometimes prescribe higher dosage than recommended”

    From our perspective, this is so typical of psychiatry, and so maddening! They create iatrogenic harm, and then compound it by not acknowledging what they’ve done. The “First do no harm” of the Hippocratic Oath seems to be thrown out the window!

    I’m sorry you had to go through such a horrible withdrawal process, but at the same time I’m glad that that idiot psychiatrist finally “gave up on you” so you could get off all that crap and finally get your life back. You describe so well the totally dispirited and depleted condition you were in under the fog of all those medications, which is how so many people trapped in the system are!

    Just to clarify, my older daughter didn’t die. In fact, she’s your age, exactly! Like you, she has come through many psych hospitalizations, most of which were quite long and often very traumatic. In one instance, they almost killed her by slamming her with neuroleptics and causing neuroleptic malignant syndrome! Thankfully, unlike Catherine, she has been able to recover each time and has been able to work part-time to supplement her SSD income. She has just come through another extremely difficult episode, so now wouldn’t be the time, but I am going to bring your story to her attention at some point.

    Beyond this, I’m wondering how you would feel about our sharing your story with within our circle. We wouldn’t include any identifying information, which we actually don’t even have at this point other than your username on this site, which we wouldn’t share. But if you’d rather not, we understand completely.

    At any rate, our hearts go out to you as well and we wish you all the best in your continuing journey!‚öė

  • Thank you for your sympathy and condolences, Thilia, and for sharing your own ongoing saga.

    “The system is incredibly messed up, and while I do believe that medications can help (to an extent) I do not believe they are an end-all blanket treatment, as it is often portrayed as.”

    It sounds like you are on a better trajectory, and I’m glad you’re with someone who is going by the philosophy that “less is more” when it comes to psychiatric medications, and I’m glad you got off of such a toxic psychotropic cocktail.

    I hope you are able to end up on the “minimal effective dosage” of everything, which might eventually be zero, hopefully.

    Yes, I agree.

  • Krista, my absolute kudos to you as a “freedom fighter” who has made it to the other side! Thank you for sharing this information. I haven’t looked at it yet, but I plan to do so. Our daughter has been beaten down by the system, and we have been devastated along with her, but we will never give up in the battle to bring light to the darkness of psychiatric coercion!

  • Thank you for your sympathy and condolences, Thilia, and for sharing your own ongoing saga.

    “The system is incredibly messed up, and while I do believe that medications can help (to an extent) I do not believe they are an end-all blanket treatment, as it is often portrayed as.”

    It sounds like you are on a better trajectory, and I’m glad you’re with someone who is going by the philosophy that “less is more” when it comes to psychiatric medications, and I’m glad you got off of such a toxic psychotropic cocktail.

    I hope you are able to end up on the “minimal effective dosage” of everything, which might eventually be zero.

  • Thank you for sharing this, Denver Dan. What you said about Seroquel reminds me of an experience of my own. Well before we even had any idea that our youngest daughter, Catherine, would have any similar difficulties, our older daughter had gone through a couple of hospitalizations and was taking that medication. She was ambivalent about it, as it seemed to be helping in some ways, but also seem to be causing some difficulties. So in order to better empathize with her, I took a small dose of it myself. I slept like a log, and when I woke up, the whole next day it appeared as if I had lead in my brain. Everything I did was in slow motion, mainly my thought processes. If psychiatrists, who purport to be doctors who specialize in brain functioning, were honest, there are a whole lot of studies that they could be doing to really explore the effects of these drugs that they regularly use. But I believe that would cause even more dissonance than what they already have, and so we don’t see that. They consistently either deny or downplay side effects, and want to focus on illnesses that are really constellations of symptoms, often misperceived, that have no real known etiology.

  • Thank you so much for your sympathetic and supportive comments, TRM123.

    “Grief from the loss of a child is not a process. It is a lifelong weight upon the Soul’.

    That is so true. To be honest with you, I have no interest in going through a “grieving process” and then moving on with life. I actually treasure that “weight upon my soul”; I want it to be part of the legacy of my dear daughter and a motivator for me to spend the rest of my life working to bring relief to others similarly trapped and to contribute, even if in a small way, to better; more humane ways of responding to those who experience severe psychosocial difficulties.

    “It is so important that all those who have experienced the devastation of our loved ones as a result of coerced, and/or enforced gross toxicities of psychotropic dugs, document our tragedies.”


  • Excellent points, Gilbert!
    “…the psychiatrist can always blame the patient when there are ‘negative outcomes’ and deterioration by claiming that it is due to ‘the natural course of the illness’‚ÄĚ.
    That is a very maddening part of this whole aga, and that of many other people stuck in the mental health vortex, and you have stated it perfectly.

  • I hear you, Bree, and I agree with you that this thing called “mental illness” is very complex and confusing, and there are no easy answers. But I think you are missing the point, which is that people who know very little about what is really going on have way too much power and much too little honesty in this whole process. What happened to our Catherine in this process cannot just easily be brushed aside as needing to cut the mental health workers more slack. No, not when they press on with incorrect information, false narratives, a “knowledge base” that is horribly flawed and the ability to create a hell on Earth to some of the people who come under their power!

  • SuperNOVA, thanks so much for sharing your story…and with such articulate flair! Not only did you survive this ordeal, thankfully, but were able to help some of your cohorts in the process. Outstanding! You’ve hit so many nails on the head that I think you might be in the process of constructing something bigger… like a book, maybe?? I hope so!

  • And thank you for sharing YOUR story, LJM! I find it both amazing and chilling, but I’m glad for the positive turn that it took and the fact that a more positive trajectory has continued. Your story is reminiscent of that of Susanna Cahalan , as related in her book “Brain on Fire”. As I believe she states in the book, had it not been for a seizure that put her in a neurological rather than a psychiatric ward, she might still be languishing somewhere in our psychiatric gulag archipelago, medicated into oblivion, as so many are! And she was fortunate to have a maverick neurologist who thought out of the box, which led to the discovery that she was suffering from a real illness that had only recently been discovered: anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. When she was treated appropriately for that, what appeared to be severe psychiatric symptoms remitted fairly quickly and she fully regained her sanity!

  • Yes, Richard, believe me we have thought about almost every one of the things you mentioned here, and it even gave us pause in our willingness to share this story. After all, Catherine died “on our watch”. But as tragically as her life ended, I am still so glad for the last 10 months we had with her. She was clearly being transformed into a “lifer” in the state hospital, or at least in some highly restrictive place in the mental health system. We’ve seen far too many of those utterly beaten down and dispirited individuals, many of whom have been totally cut off from or abandoned by their families and former friends. And the system was made even worse because of all the added draconian restrictions of COVID. No, we had to get her out of there and she had to know we weren’t willing to leave her languishing in that horribly depressing and demeaning setting!

  • Again; Boans, I appreciate your insightful and incisive observations. You’ve obviously been raked over the calls by the system as it is, but I’m glad you have survived and are giving testimony to it. Probably the only court that you or we have any chance of prevailing in is the “court of public opinion”. That’s a large part of what motivated us to share our story, and we really appreciate Robert Whitaker and the staff at MIA in supporting us in this. So may we continue to get the message out!

  • Thank you for your condolences, huntmila, and for sharing your own ongoing heart-rending and very difficult ongoing saga with your son. To me, your son’s story underscores that there are no easy answers or one-size- fits-all solutions. If no two snowflakes are the same, as relatively simple as they are, how much more so with we human beings! I have certainly witnessed some of what you have shared, with both of my daughters and with others, how the issue of lack of insight in the midst of rather bizarre and sometimes dangerous behaviors can be very problematic. On the other hand, I’ve also seen people who lack insight into how debilitating and dangerous their psychiatric medication regimens have been and continue to be, which is also dangerous and potentially deadly. And then there are a bunch of people in between, where it is difficult to know whether they have been more helped or hurt by their ongoing “treatments”. That’s just my perspective.

    I do encourage you to check into the MIA parent support group that is available on this site. Carol and I have really appreciated and benefited from it. I’m certainly not presenting it as a panacea, but I think it would be worth checking out and you might find some comfort in the camaraderie of others who are dealing with very similar issues with their own family members and trying to find a good way forward.

  • Heather, this is from my wife Carol who is now driving the car at the moment.
    “Heather I really appreciate your validation and your condolences and I just want to thank you for lending your voice to creating a consensus. I would value the opportunity to hear more of your observations and your testimony and do anything I could to help spread your story as we work to build consensus to end psychiatric abuse.

  • Thank you, “Dunwith…”. If there is any strength we exhibit, it comes from a higher source…as I saw on a poster of a person ascending a mountain with a backpack, “The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us.‚ÄĚ (Ralph Waldo Emerson). I’m glad you came through the system. I can appreciate how you feel, though, being in the system and feeling like a hypocrite. I felt some of that in my role as a school psychologist, especially after I saw “up close and personal” just what a terrible and damaging power imbalance there is between these systems and those they purport to serve. As I said above, we still have a sense of “moral injury” in having to cooperate as much as we did in our own daughter’s demise, as we were stuck between so many “rocks and hard places”.

  • Thank you, Wendy. We feel so far from perfect and regularly go through the “woulda/coulda/shoulda” thing as we look back on our daughter’s horrendous saga over the last six years of her life. But as I’ve said, we want our lives going forward to be a tribute to Catherine as we try to both expose the evil of inhumane, coercive psychiatry and try to help those stuck in it.

  • Ted, I’m aware of your story, have seen many of your posts and I believe I’ve even seen/heard you speak via You Tube. Your life has been a testimonial to the resiliency of the human spirit, and I’m so honored and inspired by your comments. Yes, we certainly intend to “fight back” and support others who are doing that. We’re so thankful for the MIA community, and other fellow “freedom fighters” in this struggle!

  • “And if, somehow, the patient‚Äôs body adapts to the presence of these toxic drugs and she is able to resume some level of functioning, they attribute her recovery to whatever combination of drugs she is taking at the time.”

    So true, Patrick. I’ve seen so many of these poor “recovered” souls when I visit a friend in one of our local community residences for folks on disability due to severe psychosocial difficulties (exacerbated by drugs).

    And yes, they certainly do make shit up…it’s the “bread and butter” of the trade!

  • Thanks so much for your compassionate and caring sentiments, Daiphanous. This inhumanity of the system and refusal to even acknowledge the anguished feelings of those entrapped within it is so egregious! As we said in the article, and probably actually understated, we still carry the heavy weight of “moral injury” resulting from our own part in this saga, as even while we were trying to advocate for our daughter and extricate her from the psychiatric gulag, we often had to “go along to get along” to some extent, just to keep from being kept entirely out of the loop.

  • Thanks so much for your comments, Boans. You’ve obviously been there and “know whereof you speak”! Yes, we’ve also seen just how corrupt and deceitful the legal trappings surrounding psychiatry’s coercive practices is, and how much those with the power in this system circle the wagons and protect their own guild interests, above all! Whenever it’s a question of patients rights versus guild interests, guess who wins? One of the saddest and most maddening sub-stories in this, for us, was how the very legal system in our state that is supposed to represent the “voiceless” patient ended up colluding with the hospital and stripping away our daughter’s rights. That could be a story in itself.

  • Yes, you are right on! The false narrative disingenuously sold by mainstream psychiatry inures almost everyone in the system to the trauma and destruction of personhood often caused by their “treatments”! They have everyone indoctrinated into attributing everything to the “illness”. Thanks for your more humane approach, which is so needed by people in distress.

  • Thank you for this excellent and much needed expos√©, Michael. Yes, I have witnessed up close and personal just how Shady the world of ECT is.. I’m also very thankful for the work of two psychiatrists, one of whom you mentioned in your article and both of whom have written articles on this website on the same issue; Drs. Peter Breggin and Niall “Jock” McLaren.

    My wife and I were well aware of the serious dangers of ECT when our youngest of four children landed back in the psychiatric unit of our local hospital, despite our best efforts to avoid it. She had just turned 18 four months earlier, and she was truly very incapacitated– due largely, we believe, to very ill-advised “treatments” in a previous lengthy, traumatic previous experience at the same hospital. We therefore obtained legal guardianship so that we could assure personalized medical services for her and protect her from the coercive psychiatric practices we’d already witnessed, first with her older sister, then with her. But despite our diligent efforts, they railroaded her through involuntary ECT through an egregious kangaroo court process. Then they forced her onto to an “antipsychotic” that genetic testing flagged as one to be avoided. Both of these coercive “treatments” were traumatic and devastating, and did nothing to restore her thinking, behavior or personal relationships. She was discharged in deplorable condition to the local state psychiatric hospital after over four months. After 16 months of languishing in this setting, we were finally able to extricate her. But it appears too much damage was done. She came out of that almost 2-year hospitalization much more diminished and distorted in her personhood after psychiatry had full control of her for almost two years, and she suffered a tragic and ultimately fatal accident ten months after returning home–directly related to drug-induced OCD that was greatly exacerbated and apparently entrenched by the particular neuroleptic medication she was forced onto after the involuntary ECT.

    My wife and I continue to be heartsick about this whole horrific saga. Our daughter was a bright, healthy, creative, athletic and personable young lady when she experienced a precipitous psychosocial decline at age 15. But at every point where psychiatry “took over” with coercive, draconian “treatments” her condition worsened in every way.

    We are in the process of writing a more detailed account of this whole saga and look forward to sharing it when completed.

  • psmama, I have the same problem I had in responding to O.O.’s last comment…no “reply” button on your comment. So this is my reply to your response starting with “Russerford, I was in your daughter’s shoes also”:

    Your comment was a wonderful advance “Father’s Day” gift. Thank you so much for sharing this! It is very affirming to hear from those who “get it”, but unfortunately, that understanding has come at a high cost. I am truly sorry for your pain. Thank you so much for keeping me and my daughter in your prayers. I will do the same for you. To be honest, in my more cynical moments I wonder what good prayer actually does, but I continue to do it, banking on the belief that “a bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out”…and I am certainly that “bruised reed” and “smoldering wick”–how much more my dear daughter! But I am more and more convinced that the good that is done in this world, MUST be done by those of us who allow ourselves to be “His workmanship”, who are “created for good works”. So there is the need for both prayer and action, and prayer that our actions would be in sync with the Lord’s will. And I thank everyone who may read this for your actions on behalf of those suffering at the hands of the psychiatric Gulag Archipelago, even if you are an atheist! (In my opinion, struggling with faith as I am, you’re doing the work of God without even knowing it!)

  • O.O., for some reason there’s no “reply” button on your previous comment, so I’m using this one to reply. You started by saying,

    “I can‚Äôt see, after everything, my journey ever being anything but difficult.”

    I definitely hear the despair and anger in this and what follows. I’m sorry for your pain. But I thank you again for your supportive comments. And I do see strength of mind and spirit in you, and that is a very valuable gift. In saying this, I don’t mean to “whitewash” your suffering, past, present or future.

  • Thanks again. I hear you loud and clear, and these thoughts and suggestions are well taken. We have retained a lawyer, and are gathering some allies around us in this fight, including a survivor/advocate and a couple of holistic/integrative psychiatrists who are some of the few “good guys” among that seemingly conscience-seared cohort. I thank God we at least have the resources we do in this battle. My heart goes out to those that are entrapped in the psychiatric Gulag Archipelago with NO ONE on their side! I want to fight for them, too! I believe it has become my key life mission.

  • O.O., thank you so much for responding to me as you have done… That really means a lot! And all of the things you have shared are very helpful. I don’t want you to think that I’m shooting down any of it, even when some of what we’ve tried hasn’t worked very well to date. From what you said I realized you’re still in a difficult journey, and it probably feels like crap sometimes, plus I’m sure it’s left a ton of scars. But I want to commend you for being able to share as you are doing, and if my daughter could ever recover anywhere near as well as you obviously have, I would feel extremely blessed! One thing that gives us hope is that our older daughter, as I already mentioned, has also come through some pretty horrific coercive psychiatric incarcerations and has recovered remarkably well… although she certainly has some scars, too. You did very well to gather some allies to see you through what appears to have been your last hospitalization. I encouraged and helped my older daughter complete a rather extensive psychiatric advance directive, developed by the Bazelon Center, which definitely helped in a couple of her hospitalizations. When push comes to shove, psychiatrists can override them in many respects in most states (they simply invoke “In my best clinical judgment‚Ķ”), but I do believe it was helpful and kept her from ECT. They were trying to push this on her twice as the only thing left to help her… but she is living proof they were dead wrong!

    “I want to warn you that my relationship was super damaged with my family from what happened. From not knowing who to blame or who didn‚Äôt protect me enough.”

    Yes, thank you for mentioning this. Believe me, it is always on my mind. The way this thing has gone is unbelievably pernicious, and we are between so many rocks and hard places, including that we have to stay in the “good graces” of the ones who are so much in control of our daughter’s life at this point. Our “mental health system”, as it exists, seems almost designed to alienate people from their families. I wouldn’t blame my daughter, based on what she’s aware of, if she hated us at this point! She has NO IDEA how we’ve been advocating for her, behind the scenes. While we have heard mental health workers lament the lack of involvement of families, what they want more than anything, both from patients and their families, is unquestioning “compliance”. When you seriously challenge what they’re doing, or trying to do, they have ways of making you (and your loved one) pay!

  • Jim, I’m glad to see you use that quote. I’ve thought of it many times myself, and if not for my fear that it would come back to bite us as we try to extract our daughter from her current psychiatric captors I would offer to buy them a very large and prominent sign with that very quote to post over their entrance!

  • “And who better to inflict that violence than the people at mental health services, aided and abetted by the people at the Mental Health Law Centre who are prepared to assist in the concealment of human rights abuses whilst claiming to be advocates for those being abused?”

    Yes, what a cruel irony! One that we are in the midst of as I write this. Reminds me of the C.S. Lewis quote:

    ‚ÄúOf all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.” …and in the case of the psychiatric Gulag Arhipelago, calling them “moral busybodies” seems far too mild!

  • “The hospital must know that people are watching. That if Evan comes out more damaged then he went in, that there will be repercussions.”

    This is so true, and it is one of the things my wife and I are trying to do as we continue to negotiate the unbelievably precarious balancing act of maintaining contact and influence with those “treating” our involuntarily hospitalized 19-year-old daughter while trying to extract her from this seemingly No-exit hell!

    One of the things I’m thinking of as I write this is to enlist friends who know us and our daughter to stand with us outside of the hospital with signs simply reading “We are watching you, _______, _______, and ______ (with the names of the attending psychiatrist, Chief of Psychiatry and Clinical Director in the blanks).

    But here’s a chilling reality in our ongoing saga: Our daughter did, in fact, come out of a 74-day “psychiatric incarceration” much more debilitated than when she entered back in 2017. Were there repercussions? You bet, but not against the hospital! They managed to “spin” things in a way to actually blame us for her deplorable state. It has taken us until recently, through extensive effort, to get her hospital records amended to remove erroneous, misleading and pejorative information from this hospital’s records…after they got her back in their grip and perpetrated even more harmful, coercive and damaging “treatments” on her!

    Having said this, I still appreciate all you’ve said. And of course, we will never give up!

  • Hello Jim, because of the delayed timing I wonder if anyone will see this…but I’m following through on one of your suggestions in our email exchange on this article and posting my comments to you here:

    Thank you so much for sending this notice, and even more so for writing this article, Jim!

    I was struck by your comment near the end, ” I am very concerned that Evan is about to be devoured by psychiatry‚Äôs maw.”

    For the past 17 months my wife and I have been essentially reduced to watching helplessly as our now 19-year-old daughter, now in the 17th month of an involuntary psychiatric hospitalization, has been subjected to forced ECT followed by coercively ramping up a neuroleptic medication that was specifically contraindicated by genetic testing! Oh, we have been far from passive in this process, but as you know it is virtually impossible to wrest a loved one from the grip of the psychiatric Gulag Archipelago, especially as they become increasingly incapacitated by the coercive, draconian measures imposed!

    And our situation is nuanced in a way that may be hard to understand, even for some of our compatriots in the psychiatric resistance movement. My wife and I obtained NYS Article 81 guardianship of our daughter, but for the opposite reason that most people do this: to keep her from being swallowed up by the system and kept in a very dispirited and diminished state, as I have witnessed happens to so many in the system when they have the kind of severe difficulties that she is experiencing. We would not have done this if she had retained enough of her capabilities to advocate for herself, as our older daughter has done. She has also been “through the mill”, but thank God she made it through and is now of very sound mind!

    We are certainly not rich, but thank God we had the resources to do this, unlike many if not most of the people who get similarly caught up in our wonderful mental health system. But despite our efforts on behalf of our younger daughter, the very thing we feared is happening right under our noses!

    As an added cruel twist, Mental Hygiene Legal Services, the very agency in New York that is charged with being the “voice for the voiceless”, actually colluded in the process of forcing ECT on our dear daughter (although they will never admit this and shrewdly seem to have covered their tracks).

    How I wish there was someone to write such an article about our daughter’s horrible ongoing saga. I know you have a lot on your plate and I’m not asking you to do this, Jim. It’s just heart cry of an anguished father.

  • Kayla, my opening comment about Sandra being perceived as a “collaborator with the enemy” (i.e., mainstream psychiatry) was based on previous responses (by some) to articles she’s written here. I hadn’t read any of the comments here beforehand and agree with you that most of them have been positive. And in speaking of “real world credibility”, i was in no way trying to deny or denigrate the experiences of those, like you or my older daughter, who have been victimized by forced or strongly coerced psychiatric treatments that seemed to harm much more than help them. I am trying my best to advocate for such people, and I’m sure many others who comment here are doing the same! At the same time, my own experiences and those of a wide range of people I continue to hear from leads me to have an appreciation for just how knotty the dilemma(s) can be for anyone dealing with a severely psychotic state–the individuals themselves and those who love them and are trying to find the best way back to sanity. My sense is that some people (not you) find it easier to “posture” in a stance that something is always wrong or always right than to deal with the hard realities of situations in which each path is fraught with serious potential difficulties. Having said that, I am firmly in yours and Sandra’s camp in terms of strengthening the safeguards against forced drugging. Hope I’m not coming across as a politician here!

  • Bravo, Sandra! I’m commenting before looking over other comments, knowing there are certainly some if not many here who see you as too much of a “collaborator with the enemy”. I do not, even though I have a loved one who has many times been on the “sharp end of the needle” and was deeply wounded and damaged by “the system”. In fact, I am currently in the midst of a crisis involving yet another family member who is in the throes of a first episode psychosis. Fortunately, we got her out of the hospital fairly quickly and we are blessed to have a very thoughtful, careful, recovery-oriented psychiatrist (like you!) and many caring friends working with us. Once again, I applaud your courage, passion, honesty and candor. As I’ve said before, you have what I call “real world” credibility since you’re not just posturing but actually working to help people recover. Thank you for your advocacy and willingness to “go against the grain” of your profession.

  • Thanks for the heads up on this Bob. Its timely for me, as I’ve been thinking a lot lately on how to get the word out to doctors and mental health professionals that I know. Although my professional experience is nowhere near as extensive as yours, as a retired school psychologist who became enlightened on these issues fairly late in my career, I share a number of the feelings you express, particularly about regrets versus moving forward to promote positive change. I am most concerned about making a dent in the “false knowlege” that abounds among mental health professionals. Are there posters and/or flyers that can be printed about these courses?

  • John, I didn’t say the original design study was flawed, although it might be (consider there was no true control group; i.e., a group for whom there was NO treatment, which would control for the placebo or Hawthorne effect…but I realize there may be ethical concerns in offering participants “no treatment”). What I meant was that the conclusions drawn by the researchers after the 14-month study appear flawed (overly benign and lacking in cautionary information regarding the intensive medication group), at least in light of subsequent follow up information. I believe if researchers and mental health practitioners had the well-being of children at heart first and foremost, they would make a strong effort to counter or at least question the initial finding that appeared so favorable to intensive medication treatment for ADHD. I see no such strong cautionary statements; in fact, as has been stated, they appear to have “spun” the latter findings in a way that tends to support the initial “drug-friendly” conclusions.

    Your point about your own experience is very well taken, and as Steve said in his reply, it brings to mind critical psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff’s recommendations for a “drug-centered” rather than “disease-centered” approach to treating mental and emotional symptoms. Unfortunately, owing to the predominance of the current disease-centered approach, the concept of “informed consent” is regularly violated (in my opinion) and many people (including kids) do not have the option of discontinuing a drug when its harmful effects outweigh its helpful ones (if such effects were ever even present).

  • Your point seems valid and is well taken, John. I only saw it after posting my comment below. Yes, from a strict scientific point of view, the “study” was not maintained as such after the 14-month period for the reasons you mention; therefore, the post-14-month follow up findings are mitigated. However, I believe the follow up strongly suggests the initial findings may be quite flawed. This seems consistent with short-term versus long-term research on other “psychiatric conditions” (none of which have any conclusive validity as “brain diseases”, to my knowledge), and the strong tendency in mainstream psychiatry to trumpet and base treatment standards on these short-term studies while ignoring or even denying the findings of long-term studies.

  • Regarding the MTA study on ADHD treatments, this is what I found on the NIMH (who funded the study) website, under “Questions and Answers”:

    “Because their treatment after the end of the study was not controlled, it is not possible to draw accurate conclusions about the effectiveness of interventions beyond 14 months, or determine if treatment improves long-term functioning. However, the observations collected from these uncontrolled follow-up assessments can provide information about the long-term course of ADHD itself. These data are being analyzed and reported as they become available.3”

    Is this why they trumpeted the initial 14-month results (most favorable to intensive medication treatment) but have muted subsequent results that have shown either no difference between treatment groups or worse long-term results for those in the more intensive medication treatment group?

    No matter how you explain this, it seems to be a prime example of how money and guild interests have come to trump honesty and commitment first and foremost to the patient in health care–especially in psychiatry. It is particularly egregious when children’s brains are increasingly put at risk from this dishonesty!

  • So sorry for the tragic loss of your precious son, Steven. I couldn’t agree more with your strong caution against relaxing the standards regarding “off label” use of psych meds with kids. I know from my many years as a school psychologist that the use of psych meds with kids has risen exponentially, with no sign of abatement. And the concept of “informed consent” is regularly violated in that the proposed benefits of medication are overinflated and the risks greatly understated; furthermore, dangerous falsehoods about the drugs balancing brain chemical imbalances and being “like insulin to a diabetic” continue to be blithely perpetuated. Even Dr. Duckworth, the Medical Director of NAMI (which tends to be VERY friendly toward psychotropic drugs and the biopsychiatry mindset), has stated that he NEVER prescribed antipsychotic medications to children. Thank you for this article and for sharing your very valuable “insider’s view” in exposing the dangers our children are being subjected to by the existing psychiatric system.

  • You make an excellent point here, Norman. I notice that many who have been indoctrinated in the “faith” of biopsychiatry confuse denial of the medical basis of psychiatric diagnoses with denial of the symptoms (which few if any of us in the “resistance” movement are doing. If the disclaimer you suggest was put into practice, and if a “drug-centered” rather than “disease -centered” approach was used (as suggested by psychiatrist Joanna Moncrief), then at least there would be some honesty in the process.

  • Once again you’ve hit the nail on the head, Phillip. Thank you for another excellent expose of the chicanery of psychiatry. Funny, as I was reading this I was thinking to myself, “What is that other new bogus childhood ‘syndrome’ they recently came up with?” And then there it was, just a few paragraphs down: “Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder”. What an outrageous crock of crap! As a retired school psychologist, I’m well aware of how parents can be bamboozled and pressured to buy into this pseudoscientific crap! Thanks for your diligent, persistent, articulate presentations. You are giving us good ammunition to counter the harmful lies, half-truths and deceptions of modern biopsychiatry.

  • Yes, yes, David…I think I follow you. So do you think if the primal parents had been active participants in real trials with Eden Pharmaceutical, as co-producers, maybe the one son would’ve had the benefit of some good Ableify, thereby not engaging in delusional behavior that incurred the lethal fury of his brother, who was apparently jacked up on coCaine?

  • Thanks for another excellent article, James. I share your righteous indignation with the “never mind the conflicting and mitigating factors, just diagnose!” nonsense you bring to light here. I see a strong parallel to our special education system, in which i was immersed for many years as a school psychologist (now retired, still involved part-time). Like the DSM diagnoses, several of the special education diagnoses are quite ambiguous (e.g., “learning disability”, “emotional disturbance”, “other health impairment”) and subject to a variety of confounding factors, which can be difficult if not impossible to sort out. There’s a missing classification that i believe has at least as much validity as these ones I’ve mentioned: “School Toxicity Syndrome”. And the remediation is much more clear cut: change the environment! (Maybe I’ll see if I can get “The Onion” to publish my research on that one!)

    But back to the parallel between the mental health system and the special education system. I see a similar problem that stems partly from the erroneous application of a “medical model” to behaviors that really have no clear medical etiology. Furthermore, even with the best of intentions (which I’m not assuming are always present), the “cures” to these supposed “illnesses” have a rather dismal track record, whether in educational or mental health outcomes. With regard to both mental health and education, the difficulties that individuals experience are very real and often do need attention. And unless one is blessed with a built-in, supportive social network to provide that attention free of charge, someone has to pay for services. I won’t be so cynical to say that funding is the ONLY reason for the DSM and the special education classification system in our country, but it sure is a major factor! No label, no services. On the one hand, you could say it could be no other way; after all, we don’t have unlimited funds. So if you’re “in the system” and want to get needed services for your client, it appears you have to “hold your nose” and pick the best label.

    But as you, James, and several others have pointed out, there are many problems with this–some of them very grievous. Perhaps the worst is that the onus for the problem is placed squarely on the child or individual, who may have to drag that label (with all of it’s limiting implications) around for the rest of his/her life. And maybe even worse, in the case of DSM diagnosis, there is the strong likelihood of being subjected to a variety of mind- and body-altering drugs or other harmful “interventions”. And in any case, the REAL problem may never be addressed or even identified!

    Another problem that seems inherent in either system is that an ever-expanding array of procedures, regulations, specialists, etc. are interposed between the person needing help of some sort and the actual service! So funds that could be used for those in need get eaten up by the bureaucracy (and maybe that would include me!)

    I certainly don’t see any easy solution, but I do think we need to move toward a system that identifies specific needs tied to services, without reliance on bogus labels. Such a system would involve a complete overhaul of the current funding system. With the guild and financial interests at stake (as Robert Whitaker and Lisa Cosgrove so clearly elucidate in “Psychiatry Under the Influence”) that will surely be a daunting task!


  • Excellent points, Duane. Like you, I’m not an anti-capitalist and do not think the “creeping socialism” we’ve witnessed in our country over the past fifty years or so is a good thing. Even though I detest collectivism as it’s manifested in totalitarian states over the past century, i increasingly believe that a loving, very supportive community is very conducive to real healing for those suffering from extreme emotional and mental distress. “Bear one another‚Äôs burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” In such a community, perhaps the expensive psychotherapy would not be necessary…or at least less so; or the community of caring friends would pull together to cover the expense, sort of like the Amish do in building a barn for one of their own. One other thing on this: Here in New York State, insurance covers psychotherapy with the same co-pay as medical conditions, due to “Timothy’s Law”.


  • Mickey, I heartily accept your apology and thank you for a very thoughtful reply. It’s clear to me that you’re a very honorable man. I was sincere in my first comment and I really admire your passion and commitment to translating these passions into corrective action! In my own passion I have sometimes said things that I later regretted… so we definitely share that human tendency. Keep up your strong voice and the honesty and good will you’ve demonstrated.

    In solidarity,


  • Mickey, much of what you say resonates with me. I especially like your suggestion of “ju-jitsu techniques calculated to employ psychiatry‚Äôs own claims and tactics against itself.” I believe that is what Robert Whitaker has done and continues to do, in part. In my own small way, I believe I’m also employing that tactic in advocating for a couple people close to me who are to differing degrees caught in conventional biopsychiatry’s web. And I’ve also been active in trying to get the truth out in a number of other ways, and I do see a place for strong and active resistance against the “false knowledge” in contemporary mainstream psychiatry.

    However, I totally disagree with your following statement: “Jesus has often been cited as such an example [a “power-free good example”], but Jesus was murdered, and the example of the life he led has hardly had an effect on the quantity of evil in our contemporary world.” First off, I believe Jesus was and IS anything but power-free. I believe his life has had inestimable influence and real effect in dispelling evil in the world and promoting love, including in myself (although I’m very much a work in progress, continually in need of God’s grace). Clearly, evil still abounds in our contemporary world, including harmful practices in psychiatry and, in some cases, through “religious”, misguided people who claim to be acting in the name of God, or even Jesus! However, I will contend that the power of Jesus is very real, was perfectly manifested in his life, and has been very evident throughout history in the “good works” even of the very flawed people who (at times) through faith allow him to work through their lives.

  • Yes, Sandra, what you say brings to mind what I understand is one of the key principles undergirding the Open Dialogue approach: “tolerance of uncertainty”, which goes hand-in-hand with a humble honesty that acknowledges there is still a tremendous amount of mystery in all the states of mind and being that we call “mental illness”. I see the connection you mention with Joanna Moncrieff’s blog, as well as your own in reflecting on “Psychiatry Under the Influence” and “Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)”. I think it would certainly be more honest and avoid some of the more egregious treatment mistakes to approach things from a “drug centered” rather than a “disease centered” perspective, as Joanna has suggested. And your comments on the way doctor’s in training, by necessity, concentrate on absorbing a tremendous amount of information from their mentors, at the expense of critical thinking, certainly helps in understanding how faulty information and practices are perpetuated.

    I so appreciate your portrayal of the “lose-lose” scenario it terms of the way acute psychiatric hospital staff regard someone who ends up in the hospital while attempting medication taper, versus those who end of there while being “perfectly compliant”. I’ve witnessed both of those scenarios and it is truly maddening!

  • Thanks so much for this, too, Jim. I’ve long suspected this is the case and keep looking to see what “evidence” is used to support this apparently fallacious notion. We really need to bring this fact to the forefront, and confront the “false knowledge” of conventional psychiatry strongly, relentlessly, at every opportunity. Their myths have become far too entrenched, and it looks like unquestioned acceptance of such erroneous information played a significant part in the closing of Soteria Alaska and CHOICES, Inc.

  • Man, you’ve really nailed it here, Michael, in terms of what is needed and how much better it would be than the immediate and unrelenting brain drugging that almost every unfortunate soul experiencing a first episode psychosis now faces! It’s disgusting but not really surprising to hear that NAMI joined the gang responsible for closing those good programs you mention and were a part of. I’m trying to be a dissenting voice within my local chapter of that organization, but it’s increasingly hard. We need an alternative.

  • Jim, thanks so much for your efforts in Alaska, and your continuing work through PsychRights to bring needed attention and advocacy to those who continue to be caught up in the Gulag Psychepelago here in “the land of the free”. I like your following portrayal and rationale of Soteria Alaska: “… it is designed to prevent people who experience a first psychotic break from immediately being put on neuroleptics (hyped by the marketers as “antipsychotics), and thus transformed into chronic, disabled mental patients. It is pretty fair to say that 80% of such people so treated can get through their experience and on with their lives, compared to 5% of the people who can be considered recovered under the current psych-drugs-for-all, mainstream approach.” I find it both incredible and intensely frustrating that so very few in our current “mental health” system seem to have any inkling of this. Yes, to be fair, the 80% recovery figure (assuming this is that reportedly achieved by Open Dialogue treatment methodology in western Finland) needs to be replicated and corroborated. But what you ran into in Alaska seems to epitomize the saying that “false knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance”. The “psych-drugs-for-all” mainstream approach, as you so aptly put it, appears to be based on the false knowledge that psychosis is the manifestation of a progressive neurological malignancy that must be arrested by drugs at all costs. Ironically, this false knowledge often results in the very thing it purports to prevent: progressive neurological deterioration as a result of the intrusion and continued bombardment of toxic substances in the brains of its victims!

    Anyway, thanks for continuing to “fight the good fight”!

  • Laura, you da woman! This looks great, and I can’t wait to dig in! This kind of information, forum and dialogue is so desperately needed. I happen to think it’s the most needed of anything in the “mental health” domain. Unfortunately, it may be that not everyone who has been debilitated by psych drugs will be able to successfully taper completely off…but they sure have the right to try, with as much support as possible–and to at least reduce them as much as possible. As you know, there is precious little support for that among medical professionals with prescribing power. Thanks for your valiant efforts to help others achieve the freedom you’ve been enjoying since getting off your own toxic psych med cocktail. Your life is a great testimonial and inspiration to me, and I’m sure many, many others!

  • “Dr. Marder knows Elyn Saks who was the recipient of long term high quality psychotherapy yet, as she writes in her memoir, when she finally agreed to use neuroleptics, she felt much better. I think we can no more discount her story than discount the story of Joanna Greenberg or many others who recovered without using drugs. ” [I’ll add Laura Delano, David Oaks, Will Hall, a few personal friends (anonymous, since i don’t have their permission to mention their names)…as well as those who only use them only on a self-directed “as needed” basis, like Keris Myrick, Jim Gottstein, and another anonymous personal friend]

    I was just looking back at your response to bpdtransformation, and i do appreciate this comment.

    It resonated with me in terms of what I’ll call “real world balance” (something i see in all of your articles)–meaning it avoids posturing in a dogmatic way that essentially denies the real life experiences of some in order to maintain “purity” of an ideological viewpoint. I am incensed by the degree to which i see this kind of one-sided posturing happening by the promoters of the “chemical imbalance” theory of mental illness–those who, unfortunately still hold most of the power in the mental health industry despite the lack of valid scientific support for their ideology. I think those of us who are very critical of mainstream psychiatry (justifiably) need to scrupulously avoid that same error. While we rightly bring to light those who have successfully come off of debilitating psych meds, to deny the experience of someone whose life has been improved by use of these same meds is wrong, and detracts from our overall credibility.

  • Thanks again, Sandra, for your honest, candid, caring approach, and for co-presenting this extremely important workshop to some of those who most need to hear it. It is encouraging to hear of the high interest level.

    I see some references to Open Dialogue in the comments. bpdtransformation raised these questions/issues very articulately in the second comment above, so I won’t try to reiterate them. But I would like to ask, is Dr. Marder aware of the work in Northern Finland, and if so, what does he think of it? Does he believe they’re lying, or distorting the results in a self-deluded manner? Of course, first-episode psychosis cannot be equated with schizophrenia, notwithstanding the issue that “schizophrenia” is a rather ill-defined and far from unitary state of mind/being. So is that his “out”–that the success reported with Open Dialogue is because they are dealing with first episode psychosis, which may be transient anyway? If that is his position, would he be in support of refraining from use of neuroleptics, if at all possible, when treating first-episode psychosis? I seriously doubt it!

  • Sa, I’m probably posting this too late for you to see it (unless you checked the box for an email notice when there’s another comment on the same article)…Anyway, I REALLY appreciated your last response in our exchange on this article that starts with…

    “Sa on May 9, 2015 at 4:28 pm said:


    I really ‚Äėhear‚Äô you on the point that vocal family advocates in leadership roles often seem very concerned with protecting the image of the psychiatric profession and supporting the resulting drug recommendations ‚Äď I have had the same experience.”

    Your analysis of why so many family members seem blind to the pseudo-science behind the so-called “evidence base” in psychiatry was excellent, and resonates greatly with me. You brought out so many things I’ve also witnessed, such as the following:

    ” When confronted with stories of people who have recovered, many of these family members seem at some level so unable to imagine that recovery is possible, that they do not believe these people were ever severely ill.”
    Some years ago a colleague of mine, knowing the story of my daughter’s horrific experiences in psychiatric hospitalizations, mentioned a film that i finally checked out of the library: “Lorenzo’s Oil”…It’s very heart-rending, but I highly recommend it. It’s about the absolutely heroic efforts of two parents to advocate for their son, and eventually contribute to a breakthrough in treatment that helped prolong his life some, and greatly helped others with the same rare and usually fatal disease. One of the most poignant and disturbing issues brought out was how their efforts were actually OPPOSED by the advocacy group in place for this disease! They resisted them on the basis that “you are giving people false hope”!

    Also, your following point is key in this discussion:

    “Now add that for some families -although certainly not our family and according to the research not for the majority of people ‚Äď dramatic positive changes can happen after drugs are introduced particularly in the short term, and even for a few, the benefits last long term. All of this helps me understand how families have been led to so fervently believe that the psychiatrist just needs to find the ‚Äėright‚Äô combination of drugs to make this miracle happen for their loved one.”

    I think this last point is SO important for people to note and understand! I believe it is a huge factor in perpetuating the aggressive drugging of altered states of mind and emotion. Because SOME people have an initial, dramatic positive response to medication, it is assumed that everyone needs this…and when they don’t respond as expected, higher doses and/or different drugs are thrown into the mix…or ECT, if all else fails! And the same holds true of those whose initially positive response turns not so good over time…Rarely is the thought of carefully tapering the medication given credence. And, of course, when a person sees their loved deteriorate after stopping medication (usually abruptly, because they feel so crappy and no one shows any interest in helping them carefully taper), this then confirms the myth that they have a “brain chemical imbalance for which they need to take medication for the rest of their life”.

    This is tragic, frustrating and disheartening. But, in the words of Winston Churchill, “Never give up!”

    Thanks again, Sa, for your very insightful comments.

  • Madmom,
    I want you to know that even though (as I said above) I’ve rejoined my local NAMI chapter, I’ve done so with the intention of being a dissident presence within this organization. Not to oversimplify, but i see three types of people at NAMI meetings: 1) Anguished and devastated newcomers (usually referred by someone in the mental health system), desperate for support and direction; 2) People who have been coming to meetings, feel they and their loved one has been positively supported, and have more or less bought into the biopsychiatric model of mental illness that NAMI promotes; and 3) the leaders, who have been thoroughly indoctrinated in the biopsychiatric model. Those in group 1 are the ones I’m most hopeful of supporting and those that are the most receptive to honest, open information and discussion; some in group 2 seem open to re-evaluating the “truth” of what they’ve been led to believe; group 3 vary from somewhat open (if they’re relatively new to leadership) to extremely defensive to the point of shutting down discussion or doing everything they can to prevent it in the first place.

    As I said, I’ve stepped back from involvement lately as the meetings have left me with feelings of frustration and futility…it just feels too much like paddling upstream against a powerful current.

    You mention “NAMI is supposed to be advocating for my daughter but they aren’t.” From what you’ve written in other posts about your daughter, I have much empathy for you on this. I have also experienced the leadership of my local NAMI showing no inclination whatsoever to intervene on my daughter’s behalf in terms of correcting potentially harmful, erroneous information in her hospital records. They bill themselves as “the nation‚Äôs largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness”…yet, in my view NAMI’s leadership seems much more concerned with protecting the image of the psychiatric profession and the pharmaceutical industry than standing up for individuals who are harmed by them–in fact, they seem to be in denial that such harm even exists!

    I’m thinking more and more that an alternative to NAMI is sorely needed, and hopefully I’ll be a part of that.

  • I think you make a good point here, Sa. In keeping with the mantra “Think globally, act locally” I rejoined my local NAMI chapter expressly for the reasons you mention, since this is the organization that virtually ALL people/families in emotional/mental crisis get sent to in my area. I want to reach out to families in distress and try to be a “different voice” to the struggling and desperate family members who come there. At times I think I have had a modest, positive impact. I sense that families are very open to information when it comes from someone else who has experienced similar things.

    Unfortunately, I’ve been AWOL for a while now because of the feelings of discouragement and futility I was left with the last couple times. Sometimes there is so much erroneous information being endorsed by the leadership that to confront it all I would have to make myself even more of an irritating presence to some than I’ve already been, and I just don’t have the temperament for it lately. I may be coming to the point when I feel that the negatives outweigh the positives in terms of my continued involvement. Admittedly, I’m less hopeful than I was a couple years ago when Bob Whitaker was invited to present at NAMI’s national convention, and when Keris Myrick was the board president….but I’m hoping to regroup and get back in the mix.

    I keep musing about starting up some kind of local alternative to NAMI…a place that wouldn’t be beholden to the drug companies (who heavily fund NAMI) and where people could get honest, complete information and support, with no effort to coerce them toward a way of thinking that primarily serves the “system” rather than the individual experiencing mental and/or emotional distress. The trouble with this is I just don’t currently have the time and energy for such an undertaking…and I’m not sure if i have the personal skill set for such a venture.

  • “And with that example of activism in mind, I am now thinking of whether MIA could host a public discussion on ‚Äúsolutions,‚ÄĚ and also mount a public campaign to publicize this issue.”

    Okay, I’m in! Here are two suggestion for rallying cries for such a campaign:



  • Very well said, Sera. Your articulate words speak for so many of us. I think the persistence of this “chemical imbalance” belief system is bringing out the bipolar in me! Just when I’m becoming more hopeful that this destructive myth is crumbling, I see depressing evidence that it just seems to keep chugging along!

  • Anyone remember Justina Pelletier? It was this kind of “junk science” diagnosis and “treatment”, coupled with draconian police state tactics, that kept her incarcerated at a locked psych ward at Boston Children’s Hospital and separated from her loving family for over a year. I was proud to be one of the protesters at the “Occupy the APA”/Free Justina rally in NYC last spring, and I’m glad to say justice (finally) prevailed…although it will not be complete until those responsible for this travesty are appropriately disciplined.