Thursday, October 29, 2020

Comments by madmom

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  • Forgive me for my skepticism but this therapy seems better targeted at those people with pathological problems such as excessive greed, cruelty, power hunger, etc. The people who are running the Western nations are wrecking the planet out of recklessness, arrogance and low quality consciousness. Consumers in the West who over-consume, whether it be in the form of food, automobiles, over-large houses, psychiatric medications, etc also suffer from low consciousness but many of these people do not identify with having a mental healthy behavior, as their anti-social and destructive behavior is considered ‘normal’

    It would be better to direct your ‘therapy’ at non diagnosed individuals in my opinion.

  • Nev– I am still shaking my head wondering how a disability rights advocate could argue that this site needs to be more inclusive of the voices of people who identify with being helped by drugs, How do you propose doing this? By silencing the voices of another self-identified iatragenically disabled folks? Censoring comments or blogs, regulating the number of pro-v.s anti-drug comments and/or blogs? The voices of those who identify with being permanently socially disabled by their treatment by force needs to be heard even if it makes some disabled people uncomfortable. This is a cross-disabilities dialogue. I’m down for that conversation! it

  • Nev– I am still shaking my head wondering how a disability rights advocate could argue that this site needs to be more inclusive of the voices of people who identify with being helped by drugs, How do you propose doing this? Censoring comments or blogs, regulating the number of pro-v.s anti-drug comments and/or blogs? The voices of those who identify with being permanently socially disabled by their treatment by force needs to be heard even if it makes some disabled people uncomfortable. This is a cross-disabilities dialogue. I’m down for that conversation! it

  • Nev–the phenomenon of pill-shaming is used to shut down opponents of forced drugging people who identify with being helped by their drugs have ample social sites to validate their need for greater social support other than MIA.

    My daughter valiantly tried–for seven years–while locked up in our states most restrictive facilities and as a group home resident — to advocate for her right to reject anti-psychotic drugs while receiving validation of her very real and obvious (to those of us who know her well) psychiatric drug withrawal symptoms as well as support to recover from the trauma of seclusion, isolation, restraints, forced injections, forced group therapy, forced baby-sitting, intrusions on her privacy at the most intimate level. How can you sit in your ivory tower and criticize this site with its life-saving (for some) validation of our loved one’s iatrogenic harm as well as a much needed source of daily inspiration for some of us to get through the day of supporting someone who has been so severely traumatized by her treatment that she can careful function in society.

    It seems that you have become out of touch with those who identify with having been severely impaired by trauma which is primarily iatrogenic.

  • The study would have to be a double blind study because shrinks have blind faith in their ‘treatments’ and will see benefits that are not real. If the shrink is in the room where the ECT is taking place he will know right away if the patient is convulsing so the evaluator taking g part in the study would have to be barred from the treatment room. Also–the patients with prior ECT e experience will know whether they had real or placebo treatment from the headache.

  • Welcome back to humanity. The fraud of psychiatric ‘science’s has resulted in a genocide that most mental health “experts” refuse to recognize, buoyed by the anecdotal evidence of a minority of mental health consumers who claim that psychiatric ‘treatment’ even when applied by force was helpful. Many consumers lie about their ‘symtoms’ to avoid more drugging. Many lie about adverse drug reactions such as when psychiatric drugs cause psychiatric symptoms because t hff e ‘therapeutic alliance’s has been permanently destroyed for survivors of forced treatment. I am a mother of a psychiatric survivor and I have come to fear and distrust nearly all medical doctors–especially psychiatrists because of iatrogenic harm and dehumanizing human rights violations i witnessed. My daughter has been severely harmed by psychiatry and she is not likely to get justice.

  • This is all very well and good but medical doctors do not want to participate in groups. and social workers, when they do participate in groups, they want to be in charge of us and run the whole show. Not counting one doctor who does not keep up her prescribing license, i do not currently know any doctors who I personally trust enough to tell them the truth about how I feel. I generally avoid going to see doctors because I am afraid of their power to harm. I only know one social worker who is not bossy or judgmental. One social worker chided me for insisting that my daughter’s behavior was being driven by the toxic drugs and the lack of ability to go outside and she cut me off from contact with my daughter. I would love to be in groups involving professionals, but how can I? My heart has been broken and I feel afraid to be in the same room as them

  • This is a facinating review. Thanks, I will try and locate the source. I think that the field of psychiatry has moved in absolutely the opposite direction of facilitated communication for people like my daughter whose distress is go great, that her personality fragmented into different voices. One may argue that people’s developmental trajectory is halted/impeded during childhood through faulty parenting, which studies show, have an enormous influence on the mental wellness of individuals. Whatever environmental factors that contributed to a person’s anxiety, depression, or ‘psychosis’ leading them to seek psychiatric interventions, often voluntarily, at first, are nearly NEVER addressed by psychiatry.

    In my daughter’s case, psychiatric treatment had the effect of suppress all of her communication, sometimes reducing her to catatonic ‘mutism’ by disabling her brain, impairing the cognitive functions wshe needs to form basic thoughts and receive/process linguistic information. There is simply no roadmap for restoring communication after one’s voice has been suppressed on such a deep level . Using the failed drug model to heal psychiatric oppression is like asking the fox to bring back a chicken to the henhouse after the fox has been carrying it by the throat for miles and miles. It is no wonder that people want to abolish psychiatry.

    My heart is with the abolishionists but my brain and my practical side is with the reformists. Those of us with loved ones stuck on harmful psych drugs have to deal with mental health professionals on a monthly basis. At this point, all my family can look forward to is to mitigate the harm psychiatry does to my daughter and keep her from getting killed by the deadly toxic drugs. Cold turkey withdrawal leads many to a no-win situation.

  • Dear Mr. McNeill:

    My heart goes out to you for the loss of your incredible son. Please accept my sincere condolences. I wanted to express my wonder and gratitude for your courage to go through your son’s medical records and piece together what happened. Doing this kind of post-mortem detective work must be painful, grueling work for loved ones. I personally know only two parents who did that. One gave a lecture on TedTalks, the other, an attorney who blogs on this site, started a non profit organization to help young adults avoid involuntary treatment or CTO’s as they call it where you are from.

    The shame, anger, sorry, and all of the other emotions that make it nearly impossible for parents and other loved ones to look at the failed drug model and name the institutional betrayal and corruption, and downright evil that it represents canmake it very tempting to simply stick one’s head in the sand and suffer in silence for the remainder of your years on this planet.

    I am grateful for your decision to be out of the closet as it concerns your grief and anger. I hope it gives you some semblance of peace knowing that your story may help another young adult avoid what your son experienced.

    I know other parents whose children (after death) continue to inspire them to seek justice and I hope you won’t stop speaking out. I believe Abraham is shining through you and your voice. I have a young adult ‘stuck’ in the mental health system after years of being forcibly drugged and institutionalized. If you ever need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to write to me. My name is Sarah and my email is [email protected]

  • Oldhead–have you read Ron Bassman’s history, his book, papers, etc? I dont think so. Ron is not one of the a “progressive” professionals you describe as unfit to lead “our” movement. He is a survivor of institutionalization, insulin shock ‘treatments’, ECT, forced Thorazine injections, and a diagnosis of schizophrenia. He went on to get his doctoral degree and start a private therapy practice to help other survivors. He was a part of the “Highland 40” and other historical milestones by psychiatric survivors. He has undoubtedly done a great deal more than the handful of people who make it a full time career to write comments in an echo chamber. As a mother of a psychiatric survivor, I am tremendously grateful to MindFreedom for the practical help they offer to survivors and family members

  • Being ‘ghosted’ is useful term. It aptly describes how society treats many of us who seeking justice or a modicum of understanding for past harm to ourselves or a loved one.

    I had a friend once complain that when we got together, I appeared t be obsessed over my daughter. I’ve heard the same thing reality for grieving family members who are told to ‘get on with their lives.’ At the time she made this complaint, my daughter was constantly under siege by the mental health system and once, she came within inches of losing her life to overmedication while being institutionalized against her will. Had my daughter been kidnapped in a foreign country by terrorists and held hostage for years and years, if under those circumstance I and my husband had to track our daughter down and come up with a hefty ransom and work through the embassy to get her back, I’m sure my friend would have drawn a different conclusion about my so-called ‘obsession’ People are not prepared to accept some people’s pain.

    I honor you O.O. for the honesty with which you describe your social situation challenges and I hope that you will participate in many future town hall meetings

  • Being employed either as a wage earner or an entrepreneur need not be divorced from a person’s ability to find purpose and meaning. The two are not mutually exclusive or at odds with one another. The missing element that young adults are lacking is ‘vocational discernment.’

    Vocational discernment as practiced by the Catholic Church is spiritually focused and not ‘market’ focused (i.e. obsessed with the highest wages that society will reward you for your skills and aptitudes) Some kind of spin-off of this approach, as opposed to vocational rehabilitation, a loathsome segway into repetitive and meaningless work—would be helpful as well as safety nets for young or elders getting re-integrated after a protracted crisis or period of institutionalization– a form of universal income or at the very least, health care coverage while they explore creative options or public service options

  • James, this is very disturbing, moreover because you were referred to this harmful ‘treatment’ by a primary treatment physician. Huge disconnect from someone who is supposed to follow an ‘evidence based’ model of care. It is critical that your doctors considers the evidence you present with your body before he refers more unwitting victims to this barbaric ‘treatment!’

    Recently, I received an advertisement from a TMS provider in Eugene, Oregon, asking our organization to help him ‘advertise’ this ‘groundbreaking’ new treatment to psych survivors. My response was shock. Didn’t he read our organization’s website? My response was to write a single page letter, sending it to the TMS provider. I had hoped to get a dialogue going, maybe a face to face meeting. No such luck. Tellingly, I never received a response even though his office was only blocks from my office.

    How would you suggest educating primary care physicians about the danger of this ‘treatment’? Could we wage a letter writing campaign targeting your treatment provider? Please feel free to write to me at [email protected].
    How many providers of TMS are there in the Pacific Northwest. With your background in computer science, perhaps we could wage a smart campaign on social media.

    I am concerned that as more and more of the data about the harm of psychiatric drugs is exposed, new, even worse ‘novel’ treatment will strive for ‘market share’. I can imagine the cognitive dissonance that will follow as TMS providers invest tons of money in this new technology hoping to win many new patients.

    Since both my son and husband experience tinnitus, both military related, and my husband experiences hearing loss, and Menniere’s disease to boot, I understand the horrific ramifications of hearing loss and vertigo that you are experiencing due to this awful ‘treatment’.

    My son’s only relief from his tinnitus is playing the harp and the violin. He finds tones and chords that match or are in ‘harmony’ with the exact vibrational pitches (Hertz) of his particular tinnitus and cancels out the annoying sound at least once daily. He also runs a fan at night when his tinnitus bothers him the most. This white noise is helpful. My husband experiences tinnitus periodically, often related to changes in the barometric pressure and unfortunately, must resort to sleeping pills when it is very bad. Vertigo and hearing loss are constantly dogging my husband; it is hard enough for my husband to bear but he is seventy-two years old, is retired, and finds great solace in nature and solitude. I can’t imagine how it must be to be in your ‘prime’ and go through this hell, as a provider. My heart goes out to you.

    Have you searched for an attorney yet? I am hopeful that you will find justice and pave the way for the inevitable other casualties of this ‘miracle’ break-through ‘treatment’

  • Well written. Things long covered up are being exposed by this tiny virus. The cruelty is being unveiled. Hopefully, the outcome will be long needed action such as universal income replacing disability (SSDI/SSI) which are absurd because they rely on fraudulent, non-existent mental ‘diseases’ and require compliance with harmful life-long ‘treatments’. A much more humane way of supporting through difficult times would be universal income which was unthinkable until Yang brought it into the national conversation and the sensibility was crystalized because of the current crisis. I agree with you that this would lower the suicide rate. Keep writing and don’t let anyone call you naive. On the contrary, you have a lot of sense.

  • Very exciting. Count me in! You correctly state: “inequalities that come with ownership or authority over a physical space”

    Recently, like many, I have been attending more than the usual number of Zoom meetings because its the only way for most people to meet right now. Since Coronavirus, most of the meetings have been characterized by by a sense of relief not just because people are more ready to let the veneer of professionalism drop a tad bit, after all we are supposedly in this crisis together, so people are uncommonly ready to talk about their struggles and make themselves uncharacteristically vulnerable. Seeing everyone in there home environments can have the effect of being an ‘equalizer’ when people feel more empowered in their home environments.

    For survivors of forced drugging and institutionalization, the prospect of going voluntarily to a clinic for a simple med check, can be a daunting experience, even after decades of living peaceably in the community outside of an institution. Even attending a hearing voices support group can be challenging, depending on one’s past experiences.

    Acquiring the etiquette of an online town hall meeting will have a learning curve but for many, it could be a way to gain trust in community again and reintegrate.

    I just hope that the facilitators will make a place for people in altered states or whose boundaries need work. People who are cognitively impaired or whose personality was altered by state sanctioned torture are often said to be in a state of ‘decompensation’ or extreme disorganization’ or to have a ‘personality disorder.’ This leads to discrimination and they cannot practice reintegration, even in the very meetings that purport to exist for their benefit!

    Their failure to communicate ‘normally’ is often used against them. They may be banned, furthering their frustration and isolation.

    I hope that there will be a dedication to including all voices using the principles you cite.

  • I didn’t mean to convey hopelessness by laying out what it is like for our family as a result of my daughter’s long period of forced drugging. On the contrary, there is a lot of hope. When one wishes to paint a full picture of a particular set of challenges, one risks painting a picture of hopelessness which is not how I feel. We take every day as a gift. As one who finds out that one only has a short period left to live, we find joy in the small things and relish the tiny acts of kindness that has come to characterize our healing as a family. Even on the darkest days, there is at least one spark, one bright spot, one tiny prayer answered, one baby step, one little flicker of joy and those baby steps are not limited to the person who is the ‘center of concern’. Theya apply to everyone in our family. Like many, we are learning that what we call ‘mental illness’ doesn’t originate in a vacuum as geneticists and brain researchers would have us believe. It originates in the qualities of human connections, personal relationships and the power imbalances that exist in communities which can originate in the smallest social unit, the family. And when those flickers of insights and those baby steps occur, you can’t imagine how strong the ripples are in our family. From the outset, we decided to stick together as a family; a difficult decision. When tragedy befalls a family, often it destroys the very fabric that upholds family life. When the narratives held by family members collide, as so often happens to families under great stress, We chose to stay together, all of us wounded together. At first, we didn’t see a lot of daily benefits from that other than the economic sharing of resources. Now we are starting to see other emotional and psychological benefits. It’s not rocket science but it takes a lot of faith.

  • I would like to know what psychiatrists really think when they are not maintaining a professional facade. The dissident psychiatrists are the exception and not an indicator of where the profession is going. I would like to know how shrinks discuss their difficult patients in private. With contempt? compassion? consternation? Severely iatrogenically harmed patients probably consumer many of their private conversations. They rarely hold their colleagues to task for iatrogenic harm. How do they refuse to see what is front of them?

    How can their training wipe out their eyes and ears? How can they chalk up every complaint by a patient, no matter how inelegantly conveyed or inarticulate to by a symptom of illness or anosognosia?

    I would also like to know how they speak to colleagues in private chat rooms. Some chat rooms organized and administered by emergency care docs are very casual and I was able to follow some eye opening conversations in which they spoke of their preferred treatment (Haldol) on unruly patients with an astonishing lack of compassion. Some comments were abusive. I have overheard conversations about my loved one between docs in ER hallways that I was not intended to hear leading me to believe abusive, unprofessional conduct is commonplace. Doctors are abused in their training and residency requirements. That is why the rate of suicide among docs is so high. They continue the cycle of abuse on their patients.

  • I applaud your accurate portrayal of the modern psychiatric hospital. I am glad you are free to write about your experiences.

    You state “in some establishments, there are people who stay there for years, injected with drugs against their will, losing all hope and desire for living” Our loved one is among those “who stayed for years in institutions, injected with drugs against their will” and I am in daily contact with other mothers of people who belong in this category, in various stages of healing.

    In our situation, it took one psychiatrist to admit that the system had failed our daughter miserably. He made a valiant attempt to wean her off several medications while in an institution that still greatly restricted her liberties.

    The damage of institutionalization and forced drugging can be very deep and more than some families are prepared to deal with. My heart goes out to families who want to do right by a loved one but are forced to rely, almost completely on public health services, while supporting that loved one’s recovery from psychiatric harm and abuse. Though my daughter is free from living in an institution at last, a fact for which I am very glad, the challenges of keep her safe from further psychiatric harm and abuse is at times, enormous.

    She cannot always state her preferences. I sometimes serve as her memory, based on what she told me in times of greater clarity. She has no psychiatric advance directive in place. It also hurts greatly to talk about advance care issues with her.

    Daily living is challenging. Sometimes, rather than relishing her liberties, she regresses to the survival tactics the she acquired from years of hospitalization and forced drugging and obsesses on conformity to rules that she no longer has to obey. She is no longer comfortable in her inner most place; the cathedral of her mind was shattered by accusations of sickness and abnormality and by drugs that caused psychiatric symptoms, for which apologies were never issued. She periodically dives deeper inside herself to avoid harm, making it even harder for family members to relate to her.

    Sometimes, she loses the ability to communicate. Language itself, one of the hallmarks of humanity, can be impaired by the culture of disempowerment and objectification in these institutions. Tellingly, her loss of communication is always chalked up as a symptom of her ‘illness’ never as the result of psychiatric harm and oppression.

    Sometimes the drugs and shock can physically damage the part of the brain where language itself lives. This iatrogenic harm is callously referred to as a part of her original illness. Her subjective experience of being harmed in the hospital is never discussed in clinician appointments. Sometimes, she reverts to mutism. Sometimes, she uses sign language. Sometimes she is incoherent and speaks in highly symbolic styles that are difficult to decode. On a deep level, I think she has not lost hope for herself, but she has lost hope in convincing mental health professionals that the way they approach her kills hope and since her survival tactics for the last ten years have evolved mainly to cope with oppressive mental health professionals, it is frighteningly difficult for her to imagine herself in a state of full emancipation. This would require the demolition of a toolbox that took years to build and the creation of new coping skills.

    Thankfully, she never justified her state sanctioned torture with any statements and/or actions that could be construed as suicidal or homicidal. she did share that her hope lay in ‘outliving the mental health system” which I interpreted as the opossum’s strategy of survival, ability to feign death until a predator loses interest. This has worked to a point.She is simultaneously thrilled that the mental health system is rapidly losing interest in her but she is also frightened.

    Her ten years of being highly restricted has destroyed her social network. She was finally granted the right to live with us after years of being denied that choice but our family is no substitute for a network of friends and allies.

    All of the mental health services she receives currently are ‘voluntary’. I use the term voluntary to remind folks that after years of forced drugging and institutionalization, how voluntary can it really be to pick up a monthly refill of dope that one’s brain has become habituated to? After years of being observed and talked about as a passive object in an artificial environment, she lost all hope in convincing mental health professionals of the appropriateness and feasibility of her living a ‘drug free lifestayle’ and she uses the term ‘med compliant’ on a near daily basis to justify why folks should treat her with compassion and sympathy.

    Furthermore, she seemed to have lost, at least temporarily, the ability to govern even the smallest, most simplest of daily activities without a great deal of support. This is called institutionalization.

    This is the most unforgiveable act of modern psychiatry, by building a pseudo-scientific foundation of lies about some people having genetic abnormalities or permanent chronic brain conditions, the stage was set for zero, non-medical non-harmful interventions for people in distress, effectively lowering the threshold for these unfortunate individuals to lose all of their civil liberties. This has a crushing effect on many sensitive and freedom loving individuals

    Now, despite the plethora of survivor narratives confirmed by scientific studies, showing the harm of drugging and shocking people in distress, psychiatry has painted itself in a corner. They have chosen to dig in deeper by refusing to acknowledge that the enormity of harm by the medical model approach and what challenges this has laid at the feet of society, as survivors age out in the system.

    The vast majority of folks being treated in the mental health system are suffering from potentially irreversible injuries to their brains, central nervous systems, and other organs, leading many to early graves and undignified, premature placements in nursing homes where they will inevitably be subjected to rampant medical discrimination because of their psychiatric labels/histories. The probability is that most, like my daughter will never see a full restoration of their rights, liberty, independence. They will never receive an apology or financial restitution for the reckless harm that was done to their bodies. Still, as a mother, it is my responsibility to convey optimism, not despair to my children. So, I look for the best in people. While secretly remaining a skeptic, I look for psychiatrists to take full responsibility for their harmful past actions and I imagine families and communities taking creative measures to protect their most vulnerable from further harm in the mental health system. This will require nothing less than a full scale revolution. I remain hopeful on this account.

    I have resolved to remain in solidarity with my daughter and support her efforts to resist, to the greatest extent possible, those services which are delivered in a manner that diminishes, while being open to services which empower or at least do not harm. She is dependent on the system for her dope. Until there is a revolution, this culture does not support her withdrawal from harmful psychiatric drugs. We are working people of modest means, and not likely to have access to expensive private services for help in this regard, now or in the near future. Yet I hope.

    Even though every fiber of my being longs to speak truth to power at every possibility, I have learned to cultivate duplicity, in order to avoid pissing off some sadistic public mental health professional who could stick a foot out in order to trip my daughter even further. So much easier to scapegoat the chronically ill, refractory, or ‘treatment resistant’ patients, than to discuss, let alone take responsibility for iatrogenic harm.

    People like my daughter may never fulfill their pre-torture potential due to a combination of permanent, physical injury and the difficulty of finding mentors and therapists who are able and/or willing to make effective and consistent services available to the most psychologically and economically harmed. But as a mother, my role is to protect my family against all odds.

    Our villages have been destroyed by capitalism, greed, and oppression. Psychiatry is a symptom of a far bigger threat to humanity than we ever imagined. As David Oaks declared, ‘Normal behavior is killing the planet!” Psychiatry is a form of social control that is being used to kill the most sensitive among us, often children. Our children are canaries in the coalmine. Before our little fledglings make it back to the surface with their message of ‘danger!’ psychiatry colludes with family members to kill them, all out of the best of intentions, of course. I don’t know what the future holds but the survivor movement with its history of providing authentic peer support has the most helpful road map I can think of. I hope that we can set about the rebuilding of our villages that have been destroyed with this road map.

  • Sam- I agree with you that without input from people with lived experience–it will be a flop. Moreover–survivors need to be involved not just in the design but also in the leadership and delivery. Why not issue a call to action for survivors/leaders/peers nationwide to flood this program with resumes and stimulate a massive migration of the most experienced and talented survivors to travel to Hollywood to ensure success?

  • Will:

    Thank you for sharing this inspirational story. My daughter has weaned down to 25% of her lithium dosage which she was put on during a brief hospitalization caused from a cold turkey withdrawal from a daily dose of 100 mg of clozapine. She worked hard to get to that point.

    When she experienced an emotional wound during withdrawal- was rehospitalized and restarted on a higher dose of clozapine as well as an additional drug (lithium). Rebound psychosis sucks! Thank you for validating my frustration!

    Her shrink, once supportive of her withdrawal– then cowered into state of conformity more in alignment with his more traditional colleagues. He no longer supports withdrawal because he considers himself a young rogue in the profession and wants to have his cake and eat it too–pad his career with success cases-while avoiding risk.. He no longer sees hope for my daughters full recovery which is reflected in the diminished time he spends with her and his prescribing.

    My husband adviced my daughter “fire your shrink” but when this was explored at her last appointment, my daughter’s shrink responds by saying “if you fire me, wait till you see what my colleague are like!” By bringing attention to his self-perceived tolerance for my daughter’s odd behavior–of course–his comment–whether intentional or not–put salt on our deepest dread as a family–another involuntary commitment followed by another ling year in a state mental hospital.

    Can you offer some advice for family members? If a loved one is experiencing an extreme state during withdrawal coupled with PTSD from psychiatric abuse– is it better to engage knowing I may get scared and project my fear onto to my co-struggling loved one–or leave my loved one in isolation even if she is obviously suffering as evidenced by her shouting to herself or defacing her environment? My daughter is showing a lot of progress healing from emotional wounds: in her many periods of clarity I see that but on the bad days I identify with family members you described who were hyper vigilant so I dont know if I should hover-as a traumatized witness whose only function is to offer ocasional meals, clean up her house, offer rides, etc. –or walk away and disengage because she would experience greater healing in privacy?. I have no roadmap and I’m terrified to consult with mental health professionals when she is struggling. I fear they will reinforce the negative labels/messages about herself she has already internalized and reccomend dosage increases–or worse–add another drug to her cocktail. But her suffering in isolation scares me equally with lly.

    My hope is my daughter can start weaning off clozapine soon but there are very few professionals who will validate our hope so we remain isolated and try to shield our daughter from psychiatry at the cost of enabling her to be dishonest. The clozapine has caused her so many side effects I cant bear to think she will be on this drug for life! Any advice you can give is greatly appreciated!

  • Some parents I know in the USA are seeking alternative options like the hospital described in this article because they support their loved ones desire to live a drug free lifestyle but want a safe and supportive place to optimize their loved one chances of success during the tapering process. Medical tourism may be the only solution for some families in the USA as long as psych drug withdrawal is not viewed by mainstream psychiatry as a serious option for people who have been involved in the mental health system for years.

  • Leah: Thank you for this great interview. Thank you Celia for the awesome description of your early years in this movement. Your work provides a shade tree for many of us who are newer to the movement.I get so discouraged at times and this interview made by day! Beautifully written! One bit of wisdom that I thought was buried in this interview was when Celia said “I think we need to get outside of us.” Would you care to elaborate on this point?

  • I would like to see this beautifully written piece be distributed widely and required reading for mental health clinicians. Unfortunately–as with most survivor narratives and critical studies by degree’d professionals confirming the psychological and physical harm of involuntary ‘treatment’, it will only be read by the converted and those with lived experiences of these horrors. Survivors and allies–in the words of the late, great Justin Dart–known as the father of the Americans with Disabilities Act- we must “unite and organize” to overthrow the DSM and all of the harmful ‘treatments’ to which our children and loved ones are subjected!! We have to bypass the corrupt, corporate mainstream media which trumpets the fictitious successes of the guild of psychiatry and raise public awareness of the torture that masquerades as state of the art ‘treatment’!

  • This is a very disturbing example of the corruption of mainstream corporate media. According to Pro Publica, every major news franchise except CBS, has at least one board member who also is a Board member of a major pharmaceutical company. The Pro Public report didn’t mention the influence of medical device manufacturing, just big Pharma. Obviously the shareholders of the company developing this this medical device has some kind of major influence with CBS. Someone with excellent research skills should find out what the connection is.

  • Dear Gail:

    You stated that Leslie was not psychotic or suicidal as the justification for her not being hospitalized but even if she was ‘psychotic’ or ‘suicidal’ (very subjective states which can vary tremendously depending on the person doing the checklist interview) there is a great deal of evidence that the hospital is still not the safest place for individuals who are in disorganized or distressed states known as ‘psychotic’ or ‘suicidal’. The hospital was never, ever safe for my 29 year old daughter who was kidnapped, restrained, forcibly injected and secluded in a hospital many, many times. This is abuse, regardless of whether the person meets your criteria for admission by being ‘psychotic’ or ‘suicidal.’

    At many important junctures in my daughter’s nightmare (a decade of psychiatric oppression) she was denied the right to live at home with us her biological parents–upon discharge—because the county had documented us as being critical of psychiatry during treatment team meetings (we were eventually blacklisted from such meetings). She was always discharged to the state hospital, a group home, or another restricted facility (24-bed) even though she specifically requested several times during different years that she be allowed to live at home.

    Many of our complaints had to do with her psychiatrist du jour always telling her that she could never to safely taper off medications even though all of them had horrible side effects and made her chronically ill (no one believed her or we, her parents, when we claimed that many of them actually made her MORE ‘psychotic’) and none of them were sympathetic when her court ordered drugs made her withdrawn and cognitively impaired, non-functional in terms of employment and social relationships, incontinent, diabetic, fat, lethartic, unmotivated, etc.

    Every psychiatrist called as a witness at these degrading commitment hearings described her non-compliance in great detail. None of them testified as to the possibility that she was suffering from WITHDRAWAL, not a ‘return of the original disease.’ Of course, we couldn’t afford to hire an expert witness to the tune of $10,000. We were lucky if her treatment ‘team’ even informed us of the date/location of the hearing.

    The non-stop psychiatric oppression and the utter lack of non-drug,non force alternatives caused a chronic seven year cycle of actute hospitalization, court commitment, restriction/disruption in state hospitals or locked 24-bed facilities or group homes, elopement, withdrawal state, disorganization, rehospitalization.

    I believe that she endured the humility of 14, back-to back court commitment hearings, costing the tax payer and our private insurance company (Blue Cross) over 1.5 million dollars (conservative estimate) with nothing to show.

    When they recommended that she be shocked (also by force) that was the straw that broke the camel’s back; my husband and I sought legal guardianship of our adult daughter, even though it went against every fiber of our being. We fired our attorney because he said we would lose because the state had painted us as being ‘non compliant’ parents who were critical of drugs/psychiatry.

    We operated pro se. After we received guardianship of our daughter, only then was she able to live at home. She has been living at home for three years now. Some of the benefits of living at home: she has not had to beg administrators for permission to purchase and keep micronutrients, to do overnight travel to family weddings, funerals, attend overnight dance or meditation retreats, take her out of state to attend hearing voices trainings and other events organized and presented by people with lived experience.

    She has a long way to go to heal from seven years of institutionalization. Ten years ago, she had a spiritual emergency complicated by recreational drug use and childhood trauma. Access to peer respites at critical times, a residency in a Soteria House during her first ‘break’, or access to Open Dialogue could have prevented ten years of unimaginable suffering and exorbitant waste of chronic service dependence, and taxpayers expense.

    I hold that your profession has done more to harm to my daughter than than if a freight train had run over her body and severed her legs from her waist, by taking away her civil rights, permanently disrupting her social network, causing a catastrophic loss of personal confidence, locking her up for years in institutions where she acquired negative personality traits such as learned dependence and helplessness (years of being having an attendant go with her to public places) and most abusive of all, by violating her most sacred personhood by denying her the right to determine what goes into her body. Her very body was violated.

    Even rape survivors get their ‘me too’ moment. But where is my daughter’s acknowledgement of the rape of her many forced injections? Shame on anyone who continues to profit from this abusive system.

    You rightly point out many of the idiotic things that happen when clinicians follow a ‘decision tree’ or ‘prescribing algorithms’ and other one-size-fits all criteria for moving people like cattle through the chute of our ‘mental health system’ but the very foundation upon which your profession is based is on the notion that it is OK to use force and coercion when people are experiencing the worst day of their lives.

    I hold that most board certified psychiatrists not only routinely violate the Hippocratic oath to ‘first do no harm’ but most have permanently destroyed the therapeutic alliance their profession purports to promote between themselves and their clients.

    When psychiatrists and family members loudly claim that the system is ‘broken’ and they beg for more psychiatric beds and more funding for mental health, my eyes get as big as pinwheels. Are they asking for more violations of my daughter’s rights? I am aghast at the disconnect between physicians, what they dish out to their clients and their denial about the the level of harm they have meted out to those who are getting 100% access to mental health services, like my daughter.

  • You reach the correct conclusion that people, especially people who purport to help (clinicians) must take responsibility for their violence. To work within a violent mental health system that labels, locks up people who have broken no laws (often on the say so of an abusive family member), forcibly poisons and electroshocks them is supporting violence. As for other violence–such as the violence against women, children, and the planet–i am equally concerned about victims of those acts of violence but those victims actually have real advocacy working for them–broader movements funded through philanthropy, shelters, networks, and real legal and constitutional rights they can exercise. Thanks to the pseudo-scientific profession of psychiatry and pseudo-consumer advocacy groups like NAMI which promote pseudo scientific mumbo jumbo such as anagosognia my daughter is sub-human and has no rights under the law.

  • One way to fight back against the media is to support campaign to end direct to consumer advertising. I don’t have a figure at hand, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount of advertising revenue on mainstream media from big Pharma constitutes 15-20% of the advertising pie. Even the AMA is proposing and end to direct to consumer ads on TV. Australia and the US are the only counties that permit this. Another way to push back is to create and enforce stricter rules regarding board of directors. All the major news outlets save CBS have at least one board member who sits on the board of a major pharmaceutical company. So when it comes time to run a story, or debut a new miracle drug, media board members, whether consciously or not are making decisions that have to do with content and news, that directly impact an area of their lives in which they have a vested interest. This is a conflict of interest plain and simple. We need to strategize some campaigns around this. I think Ralph Nader and Pro Publica and the AMA are possible partners. Anyone?

  • I posted at the source. I encourage MIA readers to post on Scientific American. I have to believe there are still publications who know the difference between rigorous studies and industry propaganda. If we can reach out to critical thinkers-one by one–God willing– we will resist Darth Vadar–big Pharma and suppression of science.

  • All of us can learn to hold space for someone in an altered state of conciousness until their needs are known and can be addressed. Most professionals and family members are in the grips of fear. Their instinct is to round up the individual who is at the center of concern like a wild horse and contain it and sit on it until it is broken.

    If professionals and family members could suspend their fear long enough to cultivate curiosity-they might stop being blinded by their fear and observe subtleties and clues beneath the surface of a persons appearance and outward behavior.
    Somewhere–n someone’s odd behavior—even in the throes of a crisis–lies a Rosetta Stone for resolving the situation. So many visits to the ER, resulting in harmful involuntary commitment could be avoided if individuals and families had access to other, better options.

    Mutuality and mutual trust are critical for communication. Involuntary commitment destroys both.

    My daughter at times cannot comprhend or speak in English-her birth language. This became more pronounced after a period of catatonia followed by ten years of institutionalization. Her inability to communicate is trauma based and complicated by years of forced drugging. Drug induced dissociation, depersonalization, as well as drug induced cognitive deficits that can mimic aphasia, dementia, etc. are episodic and dynamic–not a static. While inconvenient-it is rarely dangerous and certainly non-violent.

    Symbolism and non verbal communication can fill the gap when spoken language doesn’t work. Ironically- so-called professionals by training are not aware of other forms of communication other than spoken language. It is tragic that psychiatrists, in their science based training, (or pseudo science based) are starved of the very symbols that would help them them communicate with people who navigate the margins of human experience–the humanities, comparative religion, philosophy, visual arts, anthropology–this is the ocean of human experience in which our children are drifting without grounding or guidance.

    Involuntary commitment teaches our children nothing except base obedience in the same way that animals are domesticated. We can condition people to conform to rules of daily conduct through involuntary commitment-but we cant teach them to communicate what their desires are–how they view the world-and how to find their innermost purpose with the base language of force

  • Frank, you are spot on. My daughter was very non compliant and it didn’t go well for her in the long run. Additionally, my husband and I supported her non compliance and this was used to leverage our relationship with our daughter, restrict our visiting privileges, and conveniently leave us out of the loop as it regarded hearing dates/locations, important medical decisions, etc. Sadly, I have learned that it is important, when outsiders are supporting people who are on the ‘inside’ tread carefully. Yes, it would be wonderful if staff would take an oath of non violence. But that is never going to happen in the current paradigm.

  • Since when does food and housing were listed as ‘social risk factor?’ Give me a break. These are primary needs. You can bet your bottom dollar that people who display unusual behavior such as PTSD from past psychiatric abuse or harm, they will get discriminated against. If their medical records follow them, they cannot get on ‘regular’ low income housing lists like those operated by HUD. They must wait for ‘special’ housing for the ‘mentally ill’. Workers at food banks and overnight shelters are not trained to handle behavior that is typically labeled as ‘psychotic’ such as hearing voices or loudly talking to oneself. Lack of training and empathy in dealing with people who experience the world differently results in fear, escalation and aggression. This article is asking for hospital staff to be educated on how to make referrals that will reduce people’s ‘social risk factors’ but the medical model is the bully in the room that makes it so easy for workers in the poverty services community to disengage with their psychiatrically labeled clients, bouncing them back to the mental health system/jail system by calling 911 to quickly deal with unusual behavior that can so easily be prevented from escalating.

  • Dr. Caplan:

    Thank you for your unwavering support for survivors who have been harmed by pseudo scientific psychiatric labeling. Thank you also for your support of returning Veterans.

    I highly agree with you on the need to report on mental health issues objectively without the use of DSM labels. The medical model had led to a lot of harm and oppression. I am not opposed to the use of the medical model but the default use of medical model terminology in a field as complex as mental health gives the medical model more status than it has earned with scientific merit.

    I prefer the use of disclaimers because often MIA is reprinting articles from other sources. Putting quotation marks around every psychiatric label may present a huge, extra burden on editors and it may even raise copyright issues to alter quotations from other authors who are not affiliated with MIA.

  • I share the concerns of CatNight, Kindred Spirit, Frank Blankenship, and PacificDawn. All of them brought up really good points. But Catnight suggested a built in solution which resonates with me. Take steps to innocolate this modest initiative (17 million for ACES v.s. 5 billion in big Pharm funding is a drop in the bucket but we will take it!) lest it get swallowed up in layers of federal and state bureaucracy or co-opted by big Pharma front groups. “Policies and legislation no matter how well intentioned will far apart fast if not backed up by a system wide learning and nationwide outing of the corruption that had almost destroyed our country.” CatNight suggested a Nuremberg Trial. I doubt society is ready for that type of restorative justice but even nationwide listening sessions would be awesome if they were organized by survivors, not treatment providers, in other words, experts by experience, not experts by training. For a good model, see the wonderful ‘truth and reconcilation’ circles organized by Rethinking Psychiatry. HERE

  • So true! We helped my daughter plant a garden behind her cottage and she has been planting-watering and weeding consistently this year-and we can tell the benefits to her clarity of mind are discernible. Some of it is simple pride. Six years in the backwards-she was not only deprived of all wilderness and organic beds–there was no purpose given to the inmate-patients. Just from the savings on expensive brand name antipsychotics if we drugged people less-hospitals could use the savings to build greenhouses and beds

  • The blatantly racist quote cited by the author of the paper is very disturbing. It is from a senior psychiatrist and is grounds for dismissal or disciplinary action. This is a violent blatantly racist statement; it is documented from a credible source. I’m sure the author would have no reason to slander someone or use hyperbole to make a point. Therefore, wouldn’t the senior psychiatrist who is quoted as saying a ‘bomb’ should be dropped on an entire community of people of color be subject to some disciplinary action or licensing review for unprofessional conduct at the very least? I know a civil rights attorney who may have some suggestions for actions if someone could verify the facts in this paper? Logically, even without the advice of an attorney, it seems like if this psychiatrist is working for a hospital that is accredited by Medicare, then this would violate some basic civil rights standards and a grievance or human rights complaint should be lodged against this facility that could employ such a monster. I’m assuming the comments were made ‘on the clock’ and surely there are standards of professional conduct that a licensing board that this person could hold its members to.

  • Dear Elizabeth- im thankful your son is doing well now that he is out of the clutches of Mcpsychiatry and Mctherapy. Do you know where your sons original anxiety develooed? Sensitive, smart children face so much adversity from climate change, school drills for mass shootings, bullying, etc. Adverse drug reactions are common but they go unreported. I am the mother of a daughter who has become habituated to a powerful antipsychotic drug and traumatized by years of forced drugging in institutions. Because of the powerful lobby of big Pharma and the domination of the disease model of mental illness–no alternatives exist for people when they experience extreme states-even those that are directly linked to an adverse drug reaction. I hope your sons former psychiatrist reads this letter. I also believe that you can report his failure to report an adverse drug reaction. I urge you to stay involved and continue to tell your story. Until NAMI rejects all funding from drug companies and accurately prioritizes trauma as the number one way to combat ‘mental illnesses’ we need all dissatisfied parents to push back and demand better for our family members.

  • The author of this article impressed me by getting this published on Pete Earleys blog. That is surprising. In this article she question AOT and the odious Family to Family curriculum by NAMI (FtoF states clearly on the cover that it is funded by a drug company) I dont agree with her support of the clubhouse model–i think clubhouses have been co-opted by medical model practitioners with the result that they ate not friendly to people who want to organize, protest, revolutionalize, innovate, or make waves.

  • Thank God for this legal decision- perhaps other European nations will follow and then perhaps Canada and the US-if only my daughter had the law behind her when she tried to resist (futilely) and was forcibly medicated many times-she might be better today. Her rebound psychosis was not recognized and she was polydrugged to cover up the iatrogenic harm-now her brain is habituated to neurpleptics and her dad and I dont know if she can ever safely titrate off them to deal with her original emotional wounds and live an independent life-we try to remain hopeful and resist despair but these kind of protections are important to give the next generation of young people a shot at true healing.

  • I posted the following comment on the original Medscape article; doubt it will get published

    The former editor of the New England School of Medicine resigned because she claimed that over 50% of the medical literature is junk science funded by industry.. According to ProPublica, MedScape receives HUGE funding from industries that profit from pharmceuticals and medical technology companies so I’m skeptical of everything on this site.What I would like to know is if the author would have brought attention to this major mistake without outside pressure? In other words, was her mistake outed by another scientist? At least Medscape published the retraction which probably won’t happen with the other downstream fake news articles that cited this terrible study. At least this author took responsibility for the error unlike the author of 329 the ghost written article written by SmithKline downplaying the adverse effects of paroxetine on adolescents, a study with glaring conflicts of interest which was never retracted by the journal (JAACAP) to my knowledge. The thing that slays me is even though I hate Trump, he is right. A lot of news is fake news. Everywhere gullible readers are exposed to media stories cut and pasted from PR firms press releases about miraculous new advances in neurobiology and psychiatry and most of it is JUNK. Researchers like this one give credence to claims of people like Trump. and his claims of fake news

  • Dr. Moncrieff:

    I am increasingly of the belief that doctors should not be able to prescribe these pills any longer and parents should not give them to their children unless they have first taken a course on the risks which is developed and/or informed 100% by psychiatric survivors. I think this would go a long way in solving the problem of reckless prescribing and failure to conduct research that could inform clinical practices as it concerns de-prescribing.

    I would go even further and require that prescribers and parents be legally REQUIRED take a ‘sample’ of what they are dishing out. I took one of my son’s pills once and it took me three days to recover cognitively and physically. Taking even a small bit of another’s prescription medication may be illegal but I did it to find out what it would do to my brain and it reinforced in me the belief that psychiatry lies and kills and it had the effect of radicalizing me. I now feel that our society urgently needs to correct the power imbalance between doctors and patients before more lives are lost.

    Thankfully, my son withdrew cold turkey from Seroqel without any major withdrawal difficulties (he had only been on it for one month during a crisis) and with the help of yoga, friendship, cross fit, ballet, kickboxing, free counseling from the Returning Veterans Project, and hobbies such as harp playing he is med free and gainfully employed.

    Now our family is focusing on supporting our others adult child’s withdrawal from Clozoril.

    How can one find an expert in tardive dyskinisia? I don’t think she has tardive psychosis, thankfully. She still experiences long periods of daily clarity that we build on. But several years of clozoril usage have made a noticeable cognitive impairment around her focus and memory which prohibit her from successfully making goals, and following through. It is hard for her to hold onto a thought longer than a minute. David Oaks described Thorazine as a ‘wrecking ball to the cathedral of his mind’ and this comes close to describing what I observe in her.

    I think many younger survivors are starting to articulate a widespread common drug induced impairment that has often been blamed on the progressive nature of ‘schizophrenia’, inability to simply THINK. Executive functioning is a spectrum of different functions such as focus, memory, and organizing. These functions are impaired by long term neuroleptic use, I’m convinced. Just as there is a lack of research around withdrawal, there is a lack of research around cognitive impairments that are drug induced. Can you refer us to any studies where this link is established?

    I also believe that my daughter is experiencing a less common form of dyskinisia that affects her respiratory tract so that many times, within about twenty minutes of taking her daily dose (at night) she feels that she is suffocating. It is very scary and unpleasant and causes her to panic. It is scary side effects like this that caused her to be med compliant on many occasions which gave the state it rational to lock her up for years and drug her by force.

    I believe that past trauma of psychiatric interventions coupled with cognitive impairment impacts her ability to talk cogently and honestly about side effects with her prescriber and I am afraid to get involved with her psychiatrist for several reasons:
    1) intruding on her privacy and independence.
    2) My own past failed attempts to influence a prescriber to de-prescribe which sometimes backfired
    3) The fear that the prescriber will simply give her another med to counter the side effects, the prescription cascade, so to speak
    4) Being forbidden to be a part of her life due to ‘parental lack of insight’

    Any suggestions as to an expert that we could take her to to sort out the side effects from the trauma? Especially someone who is an expert on dyskinisia?

  • This article is consistent with the work of Dr. Pamela Wible. When I complained to Dr. Wible about psychiatric abuse, she claimed that psychiatric abuse is a part of the cycle of abuse starting with the way medical students are treated. While I sympathize with doctors who have their hands tied and cannot adequately treat their patients in the current system, this article takes the issue to a new level by claiming that doctors who must work in a profit driven business model are ‘morally injured’. I am skeptical of portraying doctors as victims. Studies show that most doctors enter the field to enjoy the good life. Check. When my dad was the Dean of Students at Portland State University in the seventies, he risked everything to supported his student’s first amendment right to protest the Vietnam War for which he was later blacklisted/dismissed. Our family experienced poverty after that but I have only admiration for my dad’s moral stand. My uncle, a physician, volunteered on the weekend to treat patients for free at a clinic founded by the Black Panthers for which his phone was tapped, even though my uncle was a pacifist Quaker and didn’t have a violent bone in his body. I think that doctors suffer less from moral ‘injury’ and more from lack of moral backbone.

  • I am angered by Dr. Horowitz’disclosure of his ephiphany as it relates to the challenges of withdrawing from psych drugs. He mentions that most of his information on the subject was from medical school training and was not helpful.Are pre med students not taught to think critically? Dont young medical students ever question why their training is not informed by service recipients- especially in the practice of psychiatry? Dont they have any common sense thinking skills that allows them to smell the corruption? Good Lord- what a bunch of zombies med students are becoming! No wonder the doctor suicide rate is exploding: disconnection-putting career and financial security above the interests of their own and their patients spiritual mental physical and emotional health-the lack of moral compass to speak out against the colonization of health care by industrial interests.

  • By the way, I should mention what a wonderful person my daughter is! She doesn’t give up and just the fact that she gets up every day and tries to live life on her own terms, despite the years of psychiatric abuse she has endured is a tribute to her wonderful spirit and grit. She is my teacher everyday and I just hope that someday, her tenacity and optimism will be rewarded with an opportunity to enjoy regular, genuine conversations with a psychiatrist, one who is open minded, compassionate, not someone with an eye on the clock and a pipeline of patients outside the door, someone who will treat her like a human being with strengths and abilities and take professional risks to stand in solidarity with her desire to live a med free existence

  • How do I feel about advocating for my loved one’s right to taper off her medications with her psychiatrist? Terrified. If a loved one has been involuntarily committed, forcibly drugged, and institutionalized for nearly a decade, the psychiatrist has all the power in that situation. He/She has the power to fire your loved one. That means your loved one will have her drug supply disrupted. Since her brain is highly habituated to the poisonous cocktail she has been taking for years, disruption of your loved one’s drug supply puts him/her at high risk of a rebound psychosis which is commonly called ‘relapse’ by clinicians.

    Your loved one will end up in a hospital where every progress he/she has made deprogramming the internalized messages of hopelessness fed to people in locked wards, will be set back yet again. Any progress he/she has made tapering down in cooperation with his/her shrink, will be reversed. At the hospital, they will once again be drugged to the gills.

    You must perform and instruct your loved one to perform and get through the med check interview by being as cogent as possible, cheerful, on point, etc.

    You and your loved one must find, at your own expense the one in a thousand psychiatrist who is open to the possibility that your loved one’s best shot at long term recovery may be attainable only by getting off meds. This search can take years. This person must be in private practice and willing to treat someone who they may consider a ‘severe’ case. Most shrinks in private practice want to treat only the worried well who have good insurance.

    As a parent, I have witnessed first-hand the way that my loved has slowly deteriorated while being ‘med compliant’ but neither she nor I can open the conversation in these 20 minute med checks by ‘educating’ the psychiatrist about the psychiatric abuse and horrors that my daughter has experienced in a host of locked back wards. In twenty minutes, I can’t begin to describe to the shrink in front of us why I or my daughter have zero trust in his judgement. There is never enough time in a med check to recount the horrors that are routinely meted out with inpunity by members of his profession.

    And side effects, you can’t dwell on those either. You cannot open the conversation by describing in detail the times you have held the vomit bowl for your loved one because of the clozoril, the number of times you changed the sheets because of the incontinence caused by the lithium, the neuropathic pain and the labored breathing and feeling of being choked by respiratory akasthisia. You cannot describe the cognitive damage, the memory issues, the inability to read, write, comprehend speech, the lack of focus, desire, or motivation and the chronic fatigue. They will just say you are crazy. The whole family is crazy. They are ‘anti-med.’

    You cannot dwell on the side effects because to that psychiatrist, they only care about one thing, that you are not ‘floridly psychotic’ and you are not suicidal. You also don’t have dystonia or tardive dyskinisia yet! Wow, you are med compliant and you are living at home or in the community! You must be stable, therefore you are doing great! Stability is the holy grail of psychiatrists who treat the ‘SMI’ even though underlying that ‘stability’ is the reality that people labeled with ‘SMI’ who are polydrugged are only ghosts of their former selves.

    Most parents of children who have been labeled ‘SMI’ know that their child is slowly being destroyed by the drugs but they are in denial, a state of mind reinforced by organizations like NAMI which programs people to believe that their children’s ‘mental illness’ is a chronic brain disease caused by faulty genes and a neurochemical imbalance and that the only way to manage ‘disease’ is by taking debilitating, poisonous drugs for life.

    There is absolutely no talking to these shrinks as long as they are unwilling to support their clients in undoing the damage their colleagues have done. While there is a noticeable shift taking place, and the false chemical imbalance narrative is starting to fall apart, we with loved ones in the trenches who are still heavily drugged and holding onto life by their fingernails have to approach each and every day as if they are climbing Mount Everest. My daughter wakes up each day to climb Mount Everest, then goes to bed, only to wake up and have to start climbing Mt. Everest all over again.

  • I am glad this article inspired comments from people on both sides of the spectrum. Father John’s article resonated with me. If psychiatry were to disappear tomorrow as a result of track record of harming millions by falsely framing all people’s problems as biological in origin and coming up with deadly and addictive ‘treatments’ then what would fill the place of psychiatry? Cognitive behavioral practitioners belief that everyone who receives talk therapy can talk and ‘think’ their way through their problems. Integrative medical practitioners think that we could all benefit from a colon cleanse and remove the environmental toxins from our organs. Practitioners of mindfulness, think that we become more at peace with our problems through meditation and yoga. Art therapists think we can dance, paint, sing, or act our way to sanity if we can express our emotions and receive validation. Spiritual solutions work best for me but I realize that they don’t work for everyone. But training in spiritual discernment and pastoral counseling is one possible pathway to healing and resolution for trauma, grief, and other things that usually get pathologized. It is one of many things that could fill the void if psychiatry is rightfully abolished or is given a buzz cut. As long as religious leaders are respectful and not ideological, ,abusive, or cult like, their views are very welcome here as far as I am concerned. I am just very grateful that some religious leaders/practitioners are willing to have a different perspective as it concerns their fellow ‘mad’ human beings. Most religious practitioners walk past mad people like the person on the road who was robbed and was finally assisted by the Good Samaritan. Most religious absolutely wash their hands of mad people, so great is their fear of liability. When mad people show up to the free breakfast at a typical inner city church, what should be a sanctuary for lost souls turns out to be very unsafe for mad folk. For example, if a person started shouting to him/herself, most parishioners wouldn’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 and have the police come and pick up someone for disruptive behavior. Learning to calm others, and learning to distinguish between violent and disturbing behavior, and learning how to de-escalate distressed people is a skill that can be learned but church leaders don’t seem to interested in modeling and training parishioner in the power of being present in this way. So much easier to use threats, wield authority, ultimatums, etc. So much easier to be influenced by all the media hype about those violent ‘psychotic’ people who need to be locked up.

  • Stephen:

    Thanks for validating my despair of generally not finding solace for despair within the institution I belong to! I like your term: ministry of presence. Being present is not something only priests should be trained in. Lay people can and should be trained to be spiritually present and help individuals with spiritual discernment. I am suggesting is that they be trained by people with training in theology or sacred texts and not be associated with cults and ideologically rigid institutions known for their human rights abuses

    Priests, rabbis, guru’s, shaman’s etc. are all human and have bad days. I remember when I was in my twenties, I made an hour long appointment with the priest of a large, urban church. I conveyed my litany of troubles to him as he sat directly across from me. At the end of a particularly long and weepy confession, I looked up and to my chagrin, I observed that his head was bent over, touching his chest, and he was snoring, in a deep sleep.

  • Thank you for sharing this! I hope you write regularly on this blog. I’m very relieved that someone with theology is not afraid to point to the rich heritage of healing within the Christian teachings. The leaders in my Protestant -Episcopalian Church have outsourced the care of those of us with broken hearts, disturbances of the mind, existential despair, trauma, etc. to secular psychiatry only to have nearly all of our suffering medicalized and secularized. Who is teaching the next generation of spiritual guides how to discern the spiritual aspects of what I am experiencing? Who can I and my family members turn to? I know my church has a rich heritage of ministering to people in psychological distress, using the healing power of prayer, ritual, and touch (laying on of hands). But I know of this generally from reading about it. It is not widely practiced in my church. If religious leaders don’t reclaim this rich heritage, and use it to meet the huge demand, the only practitioners of spiritual healing will be those with very limited education, superstitious, pious, dogmatic, ideological, cult-like, and harmful.

  • I agree with kindredspirit: Pushing back against the trainers and the mental health ‘authorities’ and ‘experts’ is hard enough but to do so publicly in a way that could put you at risk of being defamed, blacklisted, or fired by your colleagues is very commendable. By going public, the rest of us don’t feel so all alone in our individual battles. Each of us must come out of the closet a little bit more and exhibit just a little bit more courage to do what we know is right. Speaking truth to power is like a muscle that gets atrophied for individuals and family members who get ensnared in the mental health system but the more people exercise that muscle the more people can protect themselves and their loved ones from harm. The more they can protect themselves, the more people they can shield with their example, Eventually, a small army of well conditioned people will be able to shield themselves and others.

  • Hi Krista:

    I want you to be a guest at our home in Oregon and dine with our family so we can toast to your success, revel in your new life, and bask in your light. Inspired is an understatement of how I feel after reading your blog. I know many people who, like me, are at risk of having their wavering, tiny candle snuffed out by the mental health disease industry. We are forced to observe our daughter’s health deteriorate every year due to her psychiatric ‘treatment’ and we are very keen to support her safely titrating off Clozoril and lithium before her brain, esophagus, thyroid, stomach and kidneys are permanently damaged, yet we, her parents are terrified that if she ends up in a drug-withdrawal induced stupor, she could end up yet again for the zillionth time, in a hospital where she will be subjected to yet more torture, blame, labeling, and personal disruption. Your experience needs to be sung from the rooftops and printed in the New York Times. Thanks for sharing! My friend is going through the same thing with her son; she believes that all psychiatrists that have treated her son are ‘psychotic’ themselves and detached from reality. Maybe she is right. Most psychiatrists secretly admit to their colleagues the toxicity of their cocktails, sometimes, they drop hints that they know that what they are prescribing is sh*t but they can’t deal with the liability issues. Some brave prescribers, having supported a client’s unsuccessful drug withdrawal ending up in front of a review board.

  • I agree with Frank Blankenship that people have the right to decent employment. I would love for our movement to focus as much on poverty and the right to a decent standard of living in ADDITION to treatment by force. Poverty is a part of a wider conversation and I’m assuming that Universal Guaranteed Income is only one of many poverty alleviation strategies and since I know very little on the topic, i don’t know if Guaranteed Universal income can go hand in hand with economic development, job development job training, vocational rehabilitation, subsidized housing, supported employment, etc., I would love to have a discussion about job discrimination and how this may prevent full inclusion in the formal economy among those who have been psychiatrized.

    If we are talking about a guaranteed universal income as a pathway out of permanent poverty that is one thing. Currently, not enough focus is put on poverty alleviation for those who have been psychaitrized. Supported employment for the ‘mentally ill’ should be under scrutiny because if the work is tedious, dead-end work, such work would be counterproductive to mental and emotional wellness.

    In this sense, we should talk less about employment and talk more about purpose. Everyone needs a purpose. It is empowering to know that one is important and needed. I don’t think the Highlander 30 Statement of Principles listed meaningful employment as a human right (I’ll check) but if it was not listed there, I think the movement needs to expand as Will suggested by enlarging the scope of what we ask for in ADDITION to ending force and coercion in the mental health system because I agree with Frank that employment is a right.

  • One underdeveloped piece of your argument is the universal guaranteed income could potentially pit individuals against one another, some individuals need greater supports, such as those with complex medical needs, therefore there couldn’t possibly be a one size fits all guarantee universal income that would eliminate are the need for medical diagnoses, of course if people with psycho social disabilities had fruitful dialogues with people with physical disabilities and there could be flexible systems for evaluating people’s physical, mental and needs under the umbrella of estblishing dignified yet pragmatic universal guaranteed income , I guess anything is possible

  • Thank you Adrian for all your dedication and love and commitment. This is a beautiful and moving description of the successful effort to save 2nd Story. I look forward to the Third Story, the Fourth Story, etc until we have peer respites in every community. I was speaking with peer activists in Seattle who explained their strategy to seeking system funding to launch two peer respites in Seattle. One strategy that they may use to to obtain the same license that owner of a B and B must obtain! There are many ways to skin a cat apparently and just a reminder that every community must find their own solutions/strategies! The important thing, as you point out is love. There must be alternatives to locking up people and drugging them. This is not love, not by a long shot. People deserve kindness, compassion, choices and options, warm places to sleep, peace and quiet, privacy, community and social opportunities, warm meals, etc. Peer respites is one way to provide these things and more. Go Santa Cruz! The challenge is on for other communities including mine to unite around human rights and alternatives, no matter how many barriers we encounter. (Glad NAMI supported this in Santa Cruz!)

  • If you get caught with a camera, as I did once in the same state hospital that Stephen Gilbert works at, you stand the risk of being blacklisted. I’ve smuggled in a smart phone twice so my daughter could access her email. Both times we were caught resulting in a warning. Failure to heed a warning can result in being forbidden to enter the facility again. Think about that. If you have a loved one in a facility, you will not be able to see them for what could be an entire year or even longer.

  • Your experiences mirrors my own. I logged hundreds of hours as a visitor and I witnessed ‘bum rushes’ I witnessed one male patient being stalked by three male staff members in a manner that was incomprehensible and irrational. Have you ever been in a line at a grocery story and there is a mom swatting her kid for misbehavior in a manner that could be called compulsive, as if she is in a trance? And everyone in the store who witnesses this abusive behavior knows that it is not only mean but its irrational because the kid keeps acting up and the mom keep reacting as if both are locked in a vicious cycle? And everyone in the store is embarrassed but no one will say anything? This is how I feel about psychiatric abuse and oppression. Family members and allies of feel cowed by the prospect of relating authentically what they observe at these places.

    My loved one was hospitalized more times than I can remember. The conditions are what you describe everywhere I visited her, including a the private hospital called Sacred Heart hospital in Eugene, Oregon and Oregon State Hospital. Yes, as my husband reminds me constantly, there were staff members who were kind and had their humanity in tact, but these single people could not make up for the cruelty that is baked into the system.

    I know from experience that criticism from an outsider can result in even worse treatment and ‘retaliation’ against a patient, leading to progressively more serious labels, more forced drugging, more restraints, and the likelihood that they will be moved to a more restrictive facility or their discharge date will prolonged indefinitely, until individuals lose all sense of personal agency and hope . The mental health system in my community successfully cowed my daughter and our entire family into a type of hopelessness that we are trying to heal from together as a family.

    Treatment by force in big box institutions needs to be called out and named for what it is: abuse, pure and simple. Psychologists and counselors, including those in private practice cannot treat victims of psychiatric fraud and abuse. The treatment for victims of treatment by force isn’t medical, its called restorative justice. My daughter has a complicated relationship with hospitals now. She thinks that she needs to be in a hospital anytime she experiences uncomfortable feelings, voices, or conflict. After years of hospitalizations and treatment by force, it is hard for individuals and families to break free of this co dependency and regain a healthy sense of outrage for how they were harmed, let alone get to a place where they can organize and advocate for change without fear of retaliation.

    Restorative justice will help individuals and families tap into the inner voice that never went away, the voices that are silienced but never stopped saying ‘This is wrong!” “This is a horrible way to support people in distress!” “Labeling and forcibly drugging people is wrong!” “Isolating people even more who are already marginalized in society by secluding them in cells and restraining then is idiotic and cruel!”

  • I have a lot of problems with this essay. I appreciate the author’s descriptions of iatrogenic harm, for instance, her Zoloft induced mania that landed her in a locked ward. The author however, assumes that the unfavorable behavior displayed by other psychiatric inmates is the fault of character flaws or addiction (“personality disorders”) blaming individuals who may also be suffering from drug induced behavior and psychiatric harm and abuse that manifests itself differently.

    Besides, addiction doesn’t just relate to street drugs or recreational drugs. It also relates to the use of and withdrawal from legally prescribed psychotropic drugs that were/are taken voluntarily or involuntarily. Psychiatrists habituate their patients to all kinds of psychiatric drugs, then gaslight them to believe that their psychiatric symptoms can’t possibly be related to intolerance to the meds they hook people on. They willfully ignore the existence of withdrawal symptoms, rebound psychosis as well as the paradoxical effects these drugs can have on many people, they rarely recognize, let alone know how to reverse, drug induced violence and akathisia. Institutionalization can result in people’s personalities changing dramatically for the worse.

    The back ward of the hospitals in which the author was describing contain the individuals who have arguably been treated the most poorly, who are chemically straight-jacketed to deal with the drug induced paradoxical reactions they experienced, such as compulsive behavior, dis inhibition, akasthisia, violence, and other reactions to drugs. This is ableism at its worst. People who cannot physically tolerate their torture and forced drugging get blamed by other patients for not being ideal patients.

    Very disappointing. I have learned to expect this from the staff of most psychiatric hospitals, but coming from a victim of psychiatric harm and abuse, its demoralizing.

  • Shaun:

    You are the exception not the norm. Are you in private practice? My husband was informed by a social worker at a hospital that my daughter’s ‘mental illness’ was like diabetes and that she would have to take medication for the rest of her life. Social workers, counselor workers, psychologists, and peer specialists at hospitals and secure facilities nearly always espouse the medical model. If they didn’t, they would get fired. Most choose to keep their jobs and espouse nonsense. People in private practice may be more at liberty to take a different tack but most people considered to have ‘severe persistent mental illness’ are receiving public services populated by professionals who espouse the medical model exclusively.

  • Robertj: My heart goes out to you and your son for not receiving supportive services in your time of need. I totally get where you are coming from. It is very painful to seek help and not be able to find help for a loved one in distress. You say that your son spent six months in a hospital and ‘did not get any better’. Your son probably did not get better because treating someone for a bioiogically based ‘disease’ when in actuality they have a lot of problems in life, social and psychological and spiritual in nature is the elephant in the room that Sera courageously addresses but NAMUI avoids. I took took the Family to Family class and it is horrid!

    NAMI absoutely must be held to account for their one-size-fits-all embrace of the medical ‘disease’ model of ‘mental illness at the expense of every other, credible model out there.

    My daughter, like yours spent time in a hospital. She spent about ten times the amount of time in a hospital that your son spent in a hospital. Like your son, my daughter did not get better. The treatment by force and institutionalization made her far worse. What parents like us have to realize is that any kind of treatment by force, especially treatment involving powerful drugs which reduce a person’s cognition, make them fat and sleep sixteen hours a day is degrading and dehumanizing for 99.9% of the individuals involved. NAMI advocated for treatment by force when it was presented to Congress in the form of the Murphy Bill. NAMI applauded when the Murphy Bill was rolled into the Cures Bill and signed into law by President Obama, despite hundreds of psychiatric survivors and organizations opposing it. This bill dangerously expands the use of force and coercion against our children.
    Sera Davidow and many other ex patients work tirelessly to pressure lawmakers and policy makers to create supportive services for our children. When they are critical of NAMI,, they do so for very good reason. NAMI does not advocates for more force/non drug alternatives that are proven effective and humane.

  • Sera:

    I agree with you on most points however people who may experience disturbing voices on a daily basis may get blamed for being lazy and unproductive. Dealing with negative voices or intrusive thoughts/perceptions may require a lot of intense work and the work may appear to others as a character deficit because it takes away from a person’s ability to focus on activities that are group related. I’m sympathetic to the folks who claim that these simulations are ‘better than nothing’ Although I don’t completely agree with this statement, one of the points of the simulation is to elicit empathy from the general public. It would be better if your criticism came with an alternative public education plan. It’s not very practical to suggest that people supporting loved ones who hear voices in a home=based environment, enroll every household member in a four day IPS training. These trainings are financially beyond the reach families like ours. I think the point of the simulation is to create something that is within reach of most famlies.

  • Dear Megan:

    I liked this article. Thank you for contributing. As a cradle to grave Episcopalian, I am particularly keen to see religious leaders calling for a more honest dialogue about this topic, rather than the usual call for ‘more treatment’ I read your article entitled: “My first guest post for Women in Theology: An Introduction to Mental Illness in a Theological Context” and I really liked it. Any chance you might contribute a piece to Mad in America about the failure of liberal Protestant churches to deal honesty with mental and emotional pain? Church leaders (with the exception of Evangelical or charismatic churches) have been basically outsourcing all spiritual emergencies and distress to medical professionals for half a century with dismal outcomes.

  • I was recently offered an opiate derivative pumped directly into my bloodstream during prep for a colonoscopy. I refused due to being allergic to opium derivatives. The coloscopy procedure ended up painless. The pain treatment for colonoscopies is opt out rather than opt in. It costs $ 1,200. I’m confused why the default assumption is that everyone will need a pain killer for what was, at least for me, a painless procedure. Drug company influence? Hospitals padding their billing?

  • Cheri:

    NAMI had no right to silence your voice. NAMI silences a lot of voices out of fear. Thank you for bringing up the topic of reproductive rights as it concerns people with mental health labels. This is an important topic that needs to come out of the closet. When my daughter was in hospital, she harbored a belief that she was pregnant (she wasn’t). To me, this belief though dismissed as a ‘delusion’ by the medical authorities, was something she was working through, it had to have meaning even though I didn’t understand it. Unlike ‘experts’ and other family members I didn’t see any point trying to convince her that she wasn’t pregnant, even when she cradled and refused to be parted from a silly wadded up ball of plastic and fabric ‘baby’. Later, over the course of many years of conversations, (she sometimes swings between the extremes of mutism and a stream of unfiltered thoughts) sometimes the shards of meaning became illuminated from the ‘static’ and began to present itself with greater clarity. I began to see she had many challenges establishing the difference between sexuality and intimacy and she needed to establish trust in at least one person before this could take place. I now believe that her biggest problem, is not a genetic or chemical imbalance but a broken heart that has been coloring her life for some time and the hospitalizations, forced medication, restraints, seclusion were distractions at best, and a compounding of trauma and erosion of trust at worst. When one acquires a mental health label, one may be condemned to a life of extreme isolation. My daughter who I now know is capable of loving very deeply, was stripped of her freedom and ability to explore her sexuality at what is considered the ‘prime’ of one’s life. After her diagnosis and many years of being locked up, she harbored a terrible fear of never being able to experience intimacy, even though she was beginning to understand her issues with greater clarity. So, by the time she began to take responsibility for her issues around sexuality and love (she no longer believes she is pregnant but is seeking an outlet for her maternal love as well as a healthy and safe outlet for her sexual desire) a secondary trauma presented itself: The fear of unrequited love due to mental health stigma (who would want to date a crazy person) not to mention the neuroleptic induced sexual dysfunction which i pray is not permanent. You see, people who are on heavy drugs, cannot often enjoy orgasms and then there is the dilemma, if someone who IS on neuroleptics wants to have a baby, how does one safely wean off the neuroleptics during the pregnancy to protect the brain development of the fetus? There are many issues that NAMI won’t deal with but we must talk about these issues honestly to help our children who have been labeled fulfill their greatest potential, not just as potential artists, healers, leaders activists, etc but as potential lovers. After all, they should be afforded the same rights of ‘normal’ people to express their sexuality, bear children and receive and give love.

  • Many plants contain linalool not just lavender: hops, cinnamon tamala, mugwort, Cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, etc. Some linalool containing plants are overharvested such as rosewood which grows in Brazilian rainforests. To preserve rosewood, tiny amounts of real rosewood essential oil are mixed with other linalool containing essential oils for a remarkably high quality imitation oil.

    Avoid artificial lavender and look for scents that are naturally derived or plant-based. Febreeze and other products containing artificial fragrances are bad for your health. 95 percent of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum (crude oil) and include benzene derivatives (carcinogenic), aldehydes, toluene, and many other known toxic chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, central nervous problems, etc.

    Most candles are artificially scented. To enjoy a scented candle, put a drop of essential oil in the well of molten wax when burning a candle

  • Oh happy day! My gratitude goes out to each and everyone who helped to attain this groundbreaking settlement! From the early pioneers who spoke out such as Dr. Breggin, to MindFreedom members and other activists like Leonard Roy Frank, Ted Chabasinski, David Oaks, Celia Brown, and Mary and Jim Maddock (as well as other members of the international ‘shock committee’) and more recently, activists like Deborah SCHWARTZKOPFF , founder of ECT Justice. Well done!

  • Slaying the Dragon of Psychiatry:

    I agree with you that we urgently need to take action and that there is a social justice aspect to the problem of unbiased data trickling out through back channels that may never see the light of day as it concerns the general public. One gets a sense that this is a part of a systemic problem that is not limited to psychiatric and pharmaceutical corruption. One gets a sense that this is related to a larger problem of lack of morality and ethics in business and the lack of connectedness of wealthy business owners to their customers. A parallel can be found in mining companies that capitalize the short term gains and socialize the clean-up costs (Noam Chomsky).

    The vast majority of people are taking anti-depressants voluntarily. If people who are depressed were offered different options such as support rebuilding their lost social connections, help spending time in nature, etc. they may not always go for the ‘magic bullet’ solutions. But whose job is it to educate people about the wealth of unfunded alternatives? Whose job is it to pay for them? Is it my job to educate my neighbors? Is it the government’s job? We certainly can no longer rely on professionals.

    Should alternative professionals (the people who ‘first do no harm’) such as naturopathic doctors, somatic practitioners, music therapists, art therapists, peer specialists, massage therapists, life coaches, process psychologists, cognitive behavioral therapists, personal trainers, yoga instructors, nutritional counselors, etc. be offering their services for free to accommodate the high number of people who can’t afford such services?

    Special interest groups are waiting in the wings to fill the void with other magic bullet solutions but most people know deep down inside that personal mental and physical wellness is achieved by de-cluttering the mind and de-toxifying the body, ridding oneself of the myriad of bad habits acquired by dealing ineffectively with pain and trauma which everyone experiences. This is a personal process that everyone must make, rich or poor.