Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Comments by madmom

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  • Fantastic story! This gives me great hope and courage. My favorite part was “I learned something that may seem very simple but was very complex for me: to identify the social barriers that make me very nervous and may lead me to have a psychotic break in places where I am at risk of being institutionalized against my will. I discovered that these situations are situations of disability, in which my difference in the face of social barriers is expressed as a psychotic break.” If the writer is open to questions, i would love to know two things:

    1) Is your primary written and spoken (outer) language English or Spanish and what language are your inner voices? I ask because my daughters primary, outer language is English (she is bi-lingual English/French) but one of her most friendly inner voices has the intonation of Chinese, even though lingistically, it loses much in the translation and comes out as gobblety-gook.

    2) What role, if any, did family members play in your recovery in the sense of helping you stay out of institutions? In my experience, we had to learn to stop freaking out every time our daughter behaves strangely. In the very beginning, we, her parents were the ones driving her to the hospital. It was our fear that led her to be institutionalized in the first place.. Now, a more common scenario is we, her parents attempting to dissuade her from wanting to to go back to the institutions which violated her sovereignty so deeply.

  • I would like to ask Birdsong and other critics of psychiatry who posted comments on this blog, if you do not believe in conducting constructive dialgues between psychiatric survivors, consumers, family members, and mental health professionals, if you do not believe in recruiting allies from within the helping professions, what is your preferred strategy for implementing a global revolution of the mental health system? What activities do you believe will result in a safer, more humane world? Right now this society does not feel safe to me. I am curious what concrete actions you recommend that people take?

  • First, I would like to say, “Wow!” What a great interview this is. This helps me see how a simple friendship and civil dialogue can influence the trajectory of a person’s worldview and possibly inspire a professional to change the institutions in which they operate. To me, it is no coincidence that this person worked for the WHO, which later became one of the consumer/survivor’s most influential, global allies.

    I also viewed Birdsong’s comments and David’s response with great interest. I would like to know from any student of Gandhi, if Gandhi ever referred to the opposition as ‘enemy’ and if Dr. Martin Luther King ever referred to proponents of Jim Crow as the enemy? I doubt it but then I have not been a serious student of either. I suspect that the religious teachings embraced by both Gandhi and Dr. King would have prohibited each from making sweeping generalizations about those in power they opposed because sweeping generalizations generally contradict both Hindi and Christian teachings about the spiritual value of each individual. In other words to call everyone the ‘enemy’ because they belong to a certain social class, or they have received a particular training that we are critical of such as training in psychiatry, deprives them of their humanity. Human beings are always capable of evolution, change, and redemption and each is endowed with a unique set of attributes/faults which define their potential to do great good or great harm. I believe even violent criminals should be granted their humanity in this respect. For this reason, I am unequivocally opposed to the death penalty and I generally accept David’s response that allies are not formed by walls and contempt but by the degree of diplomacy and respect we are willing to exhibit by acknowledging the humanity. If nothing else, our enemies have more to teach us than our close friends because enemies force us to acknowledge our own shadows and demons. Facing one’s shadow is the most difficult part of being human. There is no law demanding that we face our own demons. Many of us can live long and uneventful lives without exploring our shadow our without acknowledging that we even have a dark side to begin with but if we want to be effective advocates for justice, then we need to attain a level of personal balance (balance and justice are nearly inseparable) to to effective. Only deep reflection and confrontation with the self can prepare people to embark on the Justice journey. Since this site exists explicitly for the purpose of ‘social justice’ I urge others to think very deeply about the appropriateness of making sweeping generalizations about the opposition. As David pointed out, mutual respect is foundational for dialogue and this article proves that dialogue is helpful to our cause!!

  • Ron, excellent comment. I think this is a great topic to explore in a future MIA article. I nominate you to write one! It would also make a great research topic. My own father’s academic career was derailed by his opposition to the Vietnam War, throwing our family into genteel poverty while I was growing up. I often reflect on the courage it took for him as Dean of Students to allow college students to use his office as a organizing hub for planning public protests and how he was later scapegoated when one of the campus protests involved police brutality and became violent. Since he was married and had six underage children, it might have been easier for him to remain quiet. He worked for the remainder of his working life as a journeyman carpenter, postal delivery clerk, maintenance worker, and much later, a social worker! My uncle was a volunteer doctor at a local clinic run by the Black Panthers. He later discovered that his phone had been tapped, but unfortunately there were no grounds to fire him from the hospital where he practiced neurology, despite his association with the Black Panthers, which many people considered controversial at the time. I often contemplate on whether I would be willing to sacrifice my career, everything I had trained for (if I had such as a career/training) especially if I were the sole provider for my family. I can’t fault people for not being whistleblowers in their professions but when it happens, it often makes a huge difference!

  • Dear Yael,

    I’m sorry that you had to endure so much suffering, including hospitalizations and shock. I most often hear people identify as psychiatric survivors because they were subjected to harmful psychiatric treatment or institutionalization by force. You however, seemed to have voluntarily subjected yourself to harmful, ineffective treatments, yet you do not blame the medical establishment for offering false hope, condoning and promoting harmful, ineffective treatments which are based on fraudulent scientific data, or for inadequately monitoring the long term effects of your past, psychiatric treatment. Your story seems to have some holes.

    Your story makes it clear that you found the counseling and support of both family members and professional psychotherapists to be very helpful, while you found the ECT to be unhelpful. What is less clear is whether you felt hospitalization to be helpful and the daily, psychiatric drug regimen that was no doubt a part of your daily existence.

    Two questions: 1) Is it possible that your mental anguish was caused at least in part, by your religious upbringing? You stated that you felt that God was subjecting you to punishment for ‘past sins’. Is it possible that this propensity to see yourself as a sinful, irredeemable individual was the outcome of faulty religious teachings instilled in you at a young age? Is it possible that you were subjected to psychiatric labeling as a child or young adult in relationship to your propensity to question religious beliefs or values cherished by your family?

    2) Is is possible that the mental anguish that you endured was caused by akasthisia caused by prescribed psychiatric drugs, fast switches from one drug to another or cold turkey withdrawal from one or more psychiatric drugs? If either of these are true, then you are a psychiatric survivor in the sense that you suffered both religious and medical malpractice, however, your story does not delve into this aspect of your experience.

  • We who are dreaming of alternatives to forced psychiatry in the USA can get inspiration from this interview but this is a cautionarytale about what we are up against. The opposition is well funded and will stop at nothing to make us fail, they will even resort to misinformation, sabotage, and violence. Any project of the nature in the USA will have to be planned carefully, years in advance with good legal counsel, PR experts, and most importantly, a small army of dedicated activists. But the truth is on our side and at the end of this world, the sum of our lives IS the love we had for others and what we were willing to sacrifice for this love. All the power and influence and wealth we accumulated in this life won’t add up to a hill of beans, only what we gave away. This cause is worth our very lives, if necessary.

  • Dear Hunttmila, I understand what you are going through. My daughter who is 33 years old, lives in squalor much of the time in her own home; she is often unable to do basic tasks such as putting away leftovers, planning, shopping, budgeting, cooking, cleaning, and organizing, the tasks that many people take for granted in order to live independently. She sleeps much of the time and can often appear semi-catatonic. About ten years ago she was so catatonic that she remained motionless for a week; she couldn’t feel pain; one could stab her with a needle and she wouldn’t respond, she was so catatonic she couldn’t blink her eyes; they remained open while her eyeballs literally glazed over so we had to manually add eye drops every day. She had to be moved like clockwork to prevent bed sores and have a cathater inserted in order to have the dignity of not lying on urinated sheets. Many people on this site do not know how difficult it is so support someone who is in this state. It is like caring for an elderly person with dementia or someone who has had a debilitating stroke, yet they may only be in their twenties, during what should be the golden years of their young adulthood! During your worst days of supporting your son, I’m sure that the talk of trauma-informed practices, psychotherapy, mindfulness, vitamin therapy, etc may seem ludicrously inadequate to help you maintain hope. Just helping your son get through the day with his dignity intact, without either of you getting emotional, takes a force of will that I am certain we both can relate to. I want to emphasize however, that my daughter has come a long way since that long period of catatonia. While she is still on drugs, and while we hope to support her safely titrating off them one day, she still has good days and bad days like everyone else and on her good days she is open to trying new things that might promote her growth and personal development. I also want to emphasize that while she is voluntarily taking powerful psychiatric drugs, including clozapine and lithium, neither of then seem to help her in any way that we can tell. But they come with a host of debilitating side effects. If your son is currently not on drugs, I would give him more time to let his body/mind reach some kind of homeostasis. Meanwhile, learn to not freak out whenever his behavior is bizarre. Learn not to grieve in front of your son as if he is ‘dead’ or his life is over because I can guarantee you that no matter how ‘out of it’ your son is, he knows a lot more than he lets on and he still has feelings. As parents of psychiatrized adults, we must learn not to talk down to our adult children by using clinical language or act as if they cannot hear us when we are speaking about then without them. We need to connect with them and integrate them into the household/family/community to the greatest degree possible and so that they have every opportunity to contribute to the community. I once asked a homeless person what was the worst thing about being homeless and he said that he felt like he has nothing to give others. I think it is the same for our children with psycho social disabilities. They want to participate in social event and have purpose and be contributing members of society but they have been so marginalized, they create inner worlds where they are accepted. I can relate to your son showering outside the shower! Only a couple of hours ago, my daughter stood by the bath/shower, frozen in every aspect, not able to turn the faucet on, undress, or get in the bath. The only thing that she was able to do was spend several hours talking to herself, at times screaming to herself. It is exhausting to observe someone in this state and withhold judgement or take any ‘intervening’ action. Simply being with and non judgmentally observant of an adult child in an extreme state takes such restraint and it is a learned skill but if you learn it, you and your son will both reap rich rewards. My advise is to help your son avoid institutionalization =at all costs and don’t ever adopt a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude on the issue of drugs. Continue to do as you are doing by offering your son a place to live but for your home to be a truly safe place for your son, I truly believe that you have to let him go through everything he is going through. Time and love are two of the biggest, best healers. If your son was institutionalized in the past, or forcibly treated as an outpatient, he went though the ‘ceremony of degradation’ that our society subjects our children to on the basis that they are not ‘normal’. Our children, once discharged from these restrictive facilities must climb a mountain of grief, fear, and shame to regain their personhood and trust. Your son may suffer from dissociative states, or suffer from complex PTSD as the result of past abuse. Perhaps there was childhood trauma that was never disclosed, understood or recognized. But I will bet my bottom dollar that whatever was done to your son in the mental health system was ineffective and inhumane. Try to hold space for your son to recover from past abuse and trauma and I believe you have every reason to be optimistic.

  • Oops. I meant to click on ‘reply’ and clicked on ‘report’ instead, What I intended to say was thanks for sharing MOnkey! I’m glad that you got support that you found useful. Yeah!! I think residential treatment can be useful if it is voluntary. My daughter was forced to live in a residential facility many times and there, her freedoms were always restricted. For some people an ‘open’ facility–a sanctuary populated by people who have the power to come and go as they please, give and receive mutual support, including from humble professionals, may be just the ticket. If the facility is restricted, and residents are court ordered to be there, it can erode trust. Empowerment and choice, even the right to make mistakes must be weighted in favor of the person who is struggling because in the long run, trust is essential for any service to be effective. If a provider lies about a medication or fails to obtain informed consent or later dismisses a side effect or adverse drug reaction, this can erode trust. I agree with you that medications prescribed cautiously for short periods of time can be useful at times, but if the person is forced andor coerced, as my daughter was for many years, and the prescriber or the person administering the drugs by force or coercion uses half truths or downright lies to gain the cooperation of the drugged person, this is gaslighting at its worse. Gaslighting and psychiatric torture can cause a splitting of the self. A person with significant mental or emotional problems can develop far more serious mental or emotional problems if they are exposed, like my daughter was to years and years of forced psychiatry. I consider you to have been very lucky. I hope that eventually my daughter’s luck will turn around and that she will be able to receive appropriate services from so-called ‘professionals’ in a sanctuary-like or homelike, communal environment. But due to her past history of inhumane treatment in the system, some kind of restorative justice is needed as a first step in her regaining trust.

  • Irit,

    Thank you for reviewing the work of Tina, a lioness of human rights. I agree with the words you quoted from her work W]hatever we can do, wherever we are already exercising reciprocity in our lives, where we nurture a whole beyond the parts, where we accept the ebbs and flows of relationship that include forbearance as well as giving and receiving…. Living with enough and giving away the rest, sharing rather than hoarding what we have, means creating the bonds with others that allow us to trust in communal rather than personal wealth…. We need to see each other in ourselves and ourselves in each other, and act accordingly … our crises, our unusual states of consciousness, our distress do not happen in a vacuum.” and I have this comment. The prescription that Tina describes is of a spiritual nature. My spiritual orientation is Christian or ‘Christ-centered’ flavored by Wiccan and Buddhist elements. I have witnessed the co-option of my Christian religion by fundamentalist, right-wing extremists who bring the ‘baggage of exclusion’ as Tina calls it. The spiritual prescription that she is calling to affect the change in the mental health system is already codified in most of the worlds sacred texts and most world religions that I am aware of. The principles of compassion, sharing, interconnectedness, etc are embodied in the lives of the saints, mystics, and justice/peace seekers, however the spiritual texts are being co-opted and abused by people lusting after power. If we want a lasting revolution in the mental health system, we should strategize to create deep alliances within religious institutions but there is no time to waste. NAMI, with its vast network of parent lemmings is already polluting the congregations and temples and mosques, with pharmaceutical, medical model nonsense.

  • If psychiatrists, who have all of the power in a relationship/treatment ‘team’ meeting, show even a modicum of care about the patient’s dignity and autonomy, it could do so much good! It could do even more good than a highly trained psychotherapist with many years of experience who has very little power in most psychiatric settings. By power, I mean influence over the circumstances that really matter in the life of a labeled person.

    Psychiatrists in an in-patient setting have all of the power. They can reduce or increase drug prescriptions, authorize special privileges (such as ethnic or dietary preferences being honored by staff, enabling a patient to a different level of the hospital where there are more fun things available, or authorize discharge. They can influence a judge in a hearing, they can squash hope or they can create hope.

    With such huge things at stake, imagine the good if a psychiatrist who is considered the number on ‘authority’ were to display more than a modicum of concern for the dignity and autonomy of the patient!

  • Francesca,

    Thank you for writing this incredibly important critique of a powerful but misguided advocate in Canada who manage to put some very harmful things into print!! That article was a wake up call!

    As a parent of a psychiatric survivor, I am ashamed of the influence of a uniquely American hate group known as the ‘Treatment Advocacy Organization’ which has seeped so far to the North that a Canadian citizen would use it as a rational basis for making it easier for Canadians to subject their children to forced psychiatry!

    While I am horrified that American continues to exports its failed institutions and practices abroad, through the DSM, the APA, and its misinformation pulpits via so-called consumer advocacy organizations like National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), Moms of the Mentally Ill (MOMI) and Mental Health America (MHA), please know that there are other organizations such as MindFreedom International headquartered in Eugene, Oregon (USA) which are doing the exact opposite: trying to amplify the voices of people with lived experience so that policy/lawmakers are informed of what really works and what will utterly FAIL.

    Force and coercion ALWAYS fails. In fact, it often maims and kills.

    my email is [email protected]. If you email me, let us privately communicate on how to take away the bullhorn away from this so-called mental health advocate who clearly is intent on weakening the already weak protections in Canada and give it to the people that count, people with lived experiences.

    As family members we really need to overcome our fear of standing up to these lunatic psychiatrists and their unchecked power. We need to demand that our loved ones have access to choices and alternatives, including the right to choose non-drug options, which logically extends to the right to receive support while de-toxing from powerful, harmful psychiatric drugs.

    We need to learn how to truly support our loved ones.

    Obviously, this mother, Susan has one thing going for her. She knows how to get the attention of the mainstream, corporate media in your country. Let us take a play from her playbook and get equal attention in the media for all of our children’s sake!!

  • Where is NAMI and MHA when there are egregious human rights issues.at stake? NAMI and MHA have the numbers to pack these advisory committees and town hall meetings when rights are being eroded but their leadership is too obsessed with major COVID relief funding coming down the federal pipeline to care about something as significant as human rights. This is where the consumer-run organizations care more about their funding than those they purport to represent.

  • I appreciate your comment here Dr. Ruby. While I identify strongly with Sam Ruck’s description of his wife’s dissociative ‘walls’ based on my observations of my own daughter (who is not being able to universally access key traits and mental functions when switching from one ‘personality’ or ‘alter’ to another) I think that your assessment is more hopeful than concrete pathological explanations, Psycho-social-spiritual approaches are far more ambiguous and subject to a near infinite number of environmental variables, which is why they are not favored by medical professionals. I also have followed Sam Ruck’s story and know that he has invested decades of personal experimentation, keen observation and unconditional love and support into his wife’s recovery. One cannot dismiss Sam’s approach easily and I find Sam’s observations to be extremely ‘scientific’ in nature but I do not think that what has worked for him and his wife cannot be replicated easy by others. Sam himself would admit this. He did observe his wife experiencing occular events, fluttering eyelids which he described as seizures, which is a very concrete or neurological expression of trauma, and so one cannot dismiss the grey area between mind and matter!

    I think both of you could agree that some people appear to have ‘walls’ insofar as their minds have purposely compartmentalized certain painful memories and experiences. In dissociative states, the compartmentalization seems to have been so effective that the mind has effectively created walls. An outsider may despair that the person disposed to dissociation may have ‘forgotten’ where the windows and walls are and seem to be subject to the whims unconscious ways of being or responding to environmental ‘triggers’. The person may also not witch smoothly from one way of being to another because the ‘ego’ has collapsed due to the magnitude of the trauma. if one defines selfhood as the ‘ego’ the loss of ego signifies the loss of a unifying self, and the loss of an ability to filter all environmental stimuli through the values and survival strategies of the self. The loss of the ego also entails the loss of an overarching traffic controller for all thoughts. While

  • Dear Hazel:

    Thank you for this wonderful story which gives me great hope that my loved one will one day experience a similar empowerment, insofar as her regaining the ability to pick and choose which thoughts she will pay attention to and which thoughts she will ignore. I believe this is an important part of free will.

    She is able now to switch back and forth between her internal conversations and external conversations with family members more frequently and more fluidly. It is now as if she can be in two realities simultaneously. This is progress! We can now arrive at her home, knock on the door, and there is a very good chance that she will respond within seconds, even though she may still be engaged in a spirited conversation with unseen individuals, even having a heated argument with herself. I think she is becoming more aware of the difference between her internal world and her external world. Its taken a long time for her to get to this point

    These conversations she would have with herself, especially when she would shout by herself used to disturb me and other family members greatly; sometimes we would be so disturbed that we would cry or get angry, or terrified. On several occasions, I even barged into the privacy of her home without permission, thinking there was some grave danger to her person. In retrospect, our behavior may have been more irrational than hers.

    Our progress is mixed up with her progress. Because she has been patient with us and decided to trust us, we have established more mutual respect and understanding. Boundaries are better. And we feel heard by her. Our words no longer fall on deaf ears when she is focused on internal realities; we can now remind her it is time to put wood on her fire,
    or empty the garbage and she isn’t offended. She is more open to being redirected, this is a child development milestone.

    I used to blame the mental system almost entirely for her withdrawal from consensus reality: I blamed the trauma of her diagnosis of schizophrenia, her many years of incarceration in institutions, her many years and years of forced (court ordered drugging) and her forced separation from family, factors leading to a complete loss of personal identity, pride, and autonomy. But now I believe it is more complex.
    Although I continue to believe that she is a victim of profound iatrogenic harm and egregious human rights violations, I also believe that she is unpacking years of pain which started before she was diagnosed and forcibly treated. Much of her pain is a mystery and complicated by the fact that she is still taking psychiatric drugs that reduce her cognition and actually cause somatic pain as well as other side effects but I am profoundly grateful she is no longer in an institution or being humiliated by a court order to take drugs.

    Unlike your journey in which you seem to have experienced a dramatic breakthrough at a specific time that you can remember (1985) my daughter seems to experience progress more incrementally. And maybe she will be in and out of alternative realities for the rest of her life. I still love her.

    The more we simply accept her for who she and learn how to be ourselves around her, and the more positive family experiences we have with her involved, the less important her peculiar behavior seems to be and we can just get on with the business of enjoying one another’s company. Certainly there are times when I wish she could stop. When we are kayaking, I wish her strange word salads couldn’t be heard by other boaters on the lake, but I am glad she has muscle memory and can paddle against the wind while she is babbling incoherently. When she disrupts the entire yoga class, some of the participants are angry and some are compassionate. Reintegration isn’t easy especially for people who have been institutionalized but I feel hope and your story reinforces my hope

    I visited your website and noticed that the link to I Got Better directs one to the home page of MindFreedom International. I believe you want to direct visitors to http://www.igotbetter.org which is a website managed by MindFreedom International

  • My weight gain is disabling. It is putting extra pressure on my knees and muscular skeletal frame which in turn causes pain and inflammation which results in a vicious cycle of avoidance of physical activity which leads to more weight gain. I am obese by medical standards. As a result of my obesity I have developed sleep apnea, a swallowing disorder, a chronic cough related to acid reflex as well as a host of negative self perceptions fed by shame and guilt. I identify with proponents of social change who want to remove the shame I feel such fat phobia and fat-shaming in the media. I want full exclusion in society. But will the elimination of fat-shaming help me get up the stairs faster without losing my breath? Of course not. Every person at some time in their life will face severe physical limitations caused by aging–this is inevitable. Some people experience physical disabilities due to self harming activities like like over-eating or smoking. Some people experience physical disabilities due to a tragic accident or iatrogenic harm. People with physical disabilities are in one camp. People with Intellectual or developmental disabilities belong to a whole different camp. People disabled by self harming activity are in another camp. People who are perceived to have psychiatric disabilities are in yet another camp. These camps or tribes rarely dialogue, just like trumpers rarely communicate with neo-liberals. Thanks for being willing to start a difficult dialogue. Hooe you dont get shot down too much for your effort.

  • I suggest that an implantable device be developed for psychiatrists. Every time they feel an urge to harm a patient, experience God-like grandiosity, they will get zapped. If that is not possible, psychiatric survivors will have access to a special self protection app. If, during a medication management ‘meeting’ and their concerns are dismissed or they are not listened to, the survivor can activate his/her app and an AI device will listen to the dialogue and detect any fraudulent or harmful medical model statements, offering instructions for how to protect oneself from iatrogenic harm.

  • Whoa that is a huge leap. I work with mad activists and in pretty sure they dont owe their ability to be activists because of the “triumph of disability activists” What does that mean anyway? Could you please give some examples of these triumphs? Last time I checked–thousands of people with psychiatric labels still get forcibly shocked, drugged, put in solitary confinement, and institutionalized. When one calls the local PAIMI or Disability Rights organization or CIL from a back ward–and one pleas for legal counsel or an advocate to resist or overturn a court ordered ‘treatment ‘ that one finds harmful or degrading they will rarely take up one’s case.

  • Alex, the transition in awakening as you describe it seems to fit how my daughter experiences hope. She always knew that her ‘psychosis’ was a double edged sword. The terror and unfamiliarity of the things she experienced while in an altered state such as the fragility of our so-called ‘reality’ was definitely balanced by the positive, spiritual aspects of her ‘awakening’ such as the feeling of oneness and the interconnectedness of all things. Unfortunately, seeing the ‘big picture’ helps individuals very little, deal with the day-to-day worldly concerns of survival, so the harshness of crashing back to earth after one is facing the consequences of a ‘manic’ or ‘delusional’ spree such as criminal charges, ruined credit, broken relationships, job loss, etc. is followed by a long period of trying to honor the good things one learned in ‘awakening’ while reckoning the high cost of the speed or clumsiness at which one tried to implement personal changes or realign one’s life purpose to be in alignment with the ‘awakening’.

    What helped me support my daughter more honestly was to throw out all of the personal dogma had been conditioned to believe, particularly scientific dogma and religious dogma. The only scientific dogma that seems to fit her experience was the newer findings in quantum physics which proves that it is terribly difficult, if not impossible to objectively record/measure matter which is in a constant state of movement, which underscores our fragile hold on ‘reality’ and the nature of consciousness. The only religious dogma which seems to offer any hope are those religions which have a ‘golden rule’ to treat others with dignity, respect, and love. Sometimes Buddhism offered a truth here and there

    My daughter’s recovery was complicated by years of psychiatric torture while institutionalized. She was not encouraged to find meaning in her experiences only taught that she could never trust her visions, voices, or feelings. All of these things were considered to be a symptom of her lifelong disease so confiding anything that she was experiencing internally to a ”professional” was fraught with danger and risk, leading to more torture, longer incarceration, and more erosion of her rights. While locked up, She was given no role or responsibility in society, which is also bullocks because recovery is relational. How can one reintegrate and make sense of one’s experiences if one is locked up for years and years, deprived of social opportunities, deprived of ability to make decisions, or take social risks? Our entire mental health system if f*cked up. MindFreedom is right. We need a full scale non-violent revolution in the mental health system. I suggest that we start by firing all of the ‘professionals’ and start over. I also suggest that we take the microphone away from organizations like NAMI and all of the parents in distress who adore the ‘professionals’. Instead, we should get informed by people with lived experience of madness and mandate that all mental health policies, services, and/or programs be designed and delivered specifically by people with lived experience.

  • I am so sorry to hear about your mother being chemically restrained in a nursing facility. Our society needs to get hard data on the amount of elderly who are being abused this way with the full support of their so-called conservators who are nothing more than estate parasites.

    Your mother needs real advocacy and supported decision making now. Do you know which facility your mother is warehoused at? Could people organize a protest in front of the facility and alert the press or would the staff, colluding with the conservator, then move your mother to an undisclosed location, which is arguably worse? I know of situations in which individuals, whose estates were being raided/sold off, were ‘disappeared’ in the system specifically to make it harder for advocates to monitor their well being.

    Which Center for Independent Living is the closest to your mother’s community of origin? Does that CIL have legal counsel or an advocate who could visit your mother and confirm if she is safe and confirm her wishes? Could you enroll your mother in MindFreedom’s Shield program and ask that MFI launch a Shield campaign on behalf of your mother? I’m confident that MFI would be fully in solidarity with your mother’s right to petition for a new guardian or living arrangement

  • It is fitting that the author of this blog, someone who put everything on the line–career, financial security, and reputation–to expose pharmaceutical corruption ends up writing a tribute about a mother who put everything on the line to protect herself and her children from psychiatric harm. It takes one to know one. I don’t always have the courage to stand up to bullies but when I am presented with real heroes who have done so and are still standing tall, it makes it a little harder for me to make excuses, hide in the shadows, and remain silent. Kudos to heroes like you and Roxanne!

  • I am trying to be sympathetic but i just learned that my friends daughter just died. Although technically she died from a head injury–i suspect that undiagnosed/untreated drug induced delirium, akasthisia, or tardive psychosis was at the root of the unbearable agitation she was experiencing that led to her accident. My daughter’s friend was horribly overmedicated for years and ended up being discovered floating face down in a river. My daughter–who never got a shot at a Soteria experience during her first ‘psychosis’ declined cognitively, physically, and emotionally in direct proportion to every year of her exposure to toxic forced psychiatry.

    What I am getting at is this: you can open a private practice for the fortunate priveleged few who can afford your services who were never needle-raped, restrained, handcuffed, or institutionalized–those who have no problem establishing trust and who find comfort in the little fountain and the zen music in your lobby but as long as you are a board certified psychiatrist or prescriber and you do not organize politically to take away the power of psychiatrists to abuse vulnerable people with impunity–if you are not actively serving as as a pro bono expert witness for at least one innocent person facing involuntary commitment per week–a service for which there is a huge demand–and you are not educating NAMI parents–the majority of whom have no problem if their adult children spend all day in bed drooling–as long as they dont have to engage in difficult dialogues with their children about past traumas that would tarnish their self image of perfect parent– then you are a part of the problem and your little private practice is swatting at a fly while there is an stampede of innocent victims running towards a cliff

  • David, Thank you and your helper for getting this conversation back on track, since your point wasn’t about the issue of language and ‘mad pride’ v.s. ‘normality’, whatever that is. The important issues you raised, getting data from the President and the new SAMSA head is critical. I will try and follow Yulia’s lead by writing to both. That sounds much more productive than arguing about language. I appreciate the reminder that you have been around the horn a little and are well qualified by experience as a leader to bring priority issues to the attention of others and make suggestions as to what is important. In the case of the SAMSA grant, I would like to know as the mother of a psych survivor and a tax payer, what are the outcomes of our nation’s lastest investment in a carceral mental health system, more people living independently and peaceably in their communities, socially connected, hopeful and purposeful, or more people holed up in substandard housing situations or institutions, afraid, hopeless, looking over their shoulder, dreading the possibility of more state sanctioned torture

  • Kindred spirit.

    as a mother who has often wished my daughter would pass for ‘normal’ (she often walks down the street talking to invisible friends) I am beginning to think that there is greater value in reclaiming labels than you are crediting. As I deal with past trauma–i go through various evolutionary milestones–I am still frightened of psychiatrists unchecked power, but I am lightening up a bit.

    One thing that gives me comfort is people who claim to be ‘mad’ are no longer running from the labels makers and the enforcers of normality, something I often do.

    They are stopping dead in their tracks, turning, looking at their former abusers squarely in the eye and holding up a mirror, saying “your labels including ‘mad’ don’t scare me anymore.”

    That kind of comfort level with my human identity is something I aspire to. To be mad is to be human!

    Go mad pride! Go humanity! Thank you David Oaks!!

  • Dear Emily,

    Thank you for sharing. I often am too afraid of speaking my truth to mainstream mental health advocates such as the Director of NAMI in my home state of Oregon or I don’t make it a priority to speak to such individuals because I generally don’t like talking to walls. Consequently, I end up speaking to them in my head; sometimes I talk to them by myself outloud (as if they were present physically) It is a therapeutic way for me to discharge my anger. I am angry over things that I can’t control, such as the past, or the false assumptions made by mental health advocates who promote force and coersion.

    I wish that my daughter hadn’t been exposed to forced psychiatry and institutions. I wish she had been offered non-harmful, non-drug, non-force alternatives at a much earlier time before her personality sort of fractured. Not sure if the entire family would have been supportive but I would have been. I would much rather take responsibily for my unskilled parenting than have her subjected to mind numbing drugs day after day with the obvious negative impact on her personal development.

    I’m glad that the tone of your essay is not angry because I have spent a lot of time trying to heal from all my anger over the forced psychiatry of my daughter. She is three years on clozapine and I want her to safely titrate off the clozapine because she can barely think on it.

    Anyway, your letter is both kind of tone, yet really pragmatic. I appreciate your trying to extend an olive branch to people whose views are diametrically opposed to mine.

  • The presribing algorithm developed by big Pharma in use by psychiatrists today is simple enough for a five year old to deploy…if drug A doesn’t work, use drug B. If drug B doesn’t work, etc. It’s essentially eanie-meanie-minie, mo. Why waste four years at medical college to deploy such a dumbed down practice? The orthomolecular approaches may be just as stupid, I don’t know. I think it would be worthwhile for E. Baden to remain in practice if only to provide a safe harbor for a few lucky patients who will have an opportunity to take more personal responsibility for their condition. At least there will be one psychiatrist willing to develop partnerships with her patients based on mutual respect and an honest admission about psychiatry’s limited understanding of the human brain, the true risks and limits of pharmaceuticals. There will always be patients who cannot tolerate mystery who will find comfort in the disease label; some may find relief in pharmaceuticals and that is OK. But as long as there are patients who are deteriorating under the medical model treatment and seek alternatives, the E. Bader’s of the world can be the answer to a prayer. For some patients who have been lied to and disempowered in the mental health system, psychiatrists like E. Baders represent an oasis in an intellectual and ethical desert.

  • You are right to remain anonymous. By repudiating the kind of harmful clinical practices that have debiliated my adult daughter, your colleagues will not only attempt to banish/silence you by dragging you in front of your licensing board, they will require that you undergo a psychiatric evaluation and try to hang a psychiatric diagnosis around your neck like a scarlet letter. Psychiatry has unfettered power to ruin people’s lives. Never underestimate the banlity of evil and the enourmous power of psychiatry. It is a field that is rampant with corruption and abuse. You may want to read ‘Ghost Woman’ by Harriet Cooke M.D. When she questioned the overprescribing in her field (family medicine) and altered her practice, she had to fight a psychiatric diagnosis and an attempt to take away her license to practice.

  • Daiphanous Weeping, your description of enmeshment as an alternative way of framing intrusive thoughts and your metaphor of conjoined twins is absolutely brilliant! I think you are spot on and your comment/description really resonates with what I have observed in my daughter plus its a good push back as to why the Bizarreness Framework presented her is so oversimplified but your description also underscores the fact that romanticizing ‘psychosis’ or going around saying that ‘mental illness’ doesn’t exist, except in the minds of the observers or in the minds of the socially dominant who simply want to control others, is also an oversimplification that can be used to offer a free pass for tight fisted taxpayers to ignore other people’s suffering because it is a ‘choice’ or because it is a figment of our imagination

  • oldhead, saying “no theory is needed” is a little over the top. Alternatives frameworks for are needed simply to convince so-called professionals that the current paragigm of care for bizarrely behaving individuals is harmful. Caregivers for individuals who tend to act bizarrely are just trying to survive from day to day, trying to maintain a cloak of invisibilty around a loved one because of the risk of psychiatric detainment and chemical straighjacketing is so high. I think its been a long time since you babysat someone who wanted to run naked into traffic, used poop as a hair conditioner, etc. trying to make sure that somone you love doesn’t land in a locked back ward, rocking back and forth on neuroleptics is a full-time job and the more allies who are willing to push back against the current framework, the better. People with privilege, safety, and privacy can afford to criticize and nit pick every attempt effort to push back against the medical model, putting it through the an orthodoxy smell test. Jeesh!

  • While Exit has a good point–what E it forgets is how an alternative theoretical framework can help trapped psychiatric patients and their allies push back against the propaganda they have been spoon-fed! I agree that swapping out one leaky liferaft for another is pointless in the long-run–but seeking individuation and personhood and the opportunity to develop an individual life narrative that counters the strong social currents–as defined by the treacherous, overwhelming pressure faced by hapless I individuals who must subject themselves to harmful psychiatric ‘treatment’ or risk all hope of acceptance and community–can be overwhelming! Another replacement framework sounds good to me! People are not looking for intellectual dogma–just life preservers!

  • Hi, Bill here is the update you requested. When I submitted updates to this alert through the MIA editors, I never got a response so I assume that it can’t be updated here, except in the comments section. Here is where update live on our website.


    Shield Alert Update for Charles Helmer 4/3/2021
    Thank you for your continued help to stop the forced shocking of Charles Helmer, aged 22. As you know, Charles was subjected to forced daily drugging and shock every two weeks under an involuntary commitment order you can view HERE

    Charles has told several people who are currently in charge of his treatment, “I hate how the drugs make me feel! I hate how the shock makes me feel!” I can’t work! I don’t have any motivation!”

    He stated, “They don’t care!”

    Recently, Charles shared that he doesn’t believe he has ‘schizophrenia’ a stigmatizing diagnosis that is being used to justify his harsh treatment. A psychiatrist who has only known him for a couple of days, responded by asking Charles”So you think you are perfectly normal?”

    Charles’ next scheduled shock is Friday, April 9th which means we have no time to lose.

    Charles’ court appointed attorney did not return Jim Gottstein’s call and given the timeframe, it is increasingly clear that Charles needs a new attorney, one who will help Charles fight state sanctioned torture. Charle’s ad hoc committee uploaded several publicly available legal documents HERE which includes the court order for shock torture.

    While members of the committee stategize how to secure competent legal counsel in Minnesota to reverse this travesty, your help is urgently needed to apply public pressure to people who can make a difference! Please take action as soon as possible to stop the next scheduled shock on Friday April 9, 2021!

    Contact James Hereford, Fairview President and CEO
    Call James Hereford–Message should be brief and respectful. If you attempt to correspond directly with James Hereford, please use respectful, non-violent, in accordance with MFI values.
    Ask why Charles Helmer is receiving such severe treatment. What is the basis or justification for shocking Charles?
    Email James Hereford (please cc [email protected]) A sample email can be found HERE
    Professional Email [email protected]

    Personal email: [email protected]

    Write a formal letter (Sample HERE) and send it overnight delivery to
    James Hereford

    Fairview President and CEO

    2450 Riverside Avenue

    Minneapolis, MN 55454 United States

    Contact Dr. Vine, the shock doc
    M Health Fairview Mental Health and Addiction Services
    Attn: Dr. Craig Vine M.D.
    (not ‘Vines’ as previously stated)
    525 23Rd Ave. S.
    Minneapolis, MN 55454-1455
    If you attempt to correspond directly with Dr. Vine, please use respectful, non-violent, in accordance with MFI values.

    His professional email address is:

    [email protected]

    His personal address is:

    [email protected]

    His social media sites are:




    Behind-the-scenes efforts will continue in the following areas:
    Line up national leaders and scientific allies to write letters and submit testimony
    Continue to identify and work with peer activists in Minnesota to be boots on the ground
    Identify state and county officials/policy makers and lawmakers and apply public pressure.
    Obtain media exposure. See MFI’s Press Release HERE and press contacts below
    The following is the Shield Alert Update for Charles Helmer dated March 29, 2021 (by Jim Gottstein, PsychRights)
    If you haven’t heard, Charles was indeed shocked last Friday despite our efforts to stop it. If you are seeing this alert for the first time, you can scroll down for the full story at midway below Jim’s updates)

    It is now believed that his scheduled forcible electroshocks are every two weeks, however, not every week as we thought. That gives us a little more time before his next unwanted electroshock, but there is still no time to waste.

    We are trying to see what we might be able to do to challenge the court order, but it will take some time to even get plugged into what went on in the court. In connection with that if you live in Minneapolis or St. Paul and might be willing to obtain some court documents, please e-mail Jim Gottstein at jim.gottstein(at)psychrights.org

    We are putting together some additional actions for you to take, but they are not quite ready to launch so let’s keep doing what we have been for now. There are a list of actions towards the bottom of the MindFreedom Shield Alert for Charles.

    A number of people have used the online contact form for the Governor and gotten back a particularly unsatisfactory form response. I am thinking it would therefore be good for as many people as possible to call the Governor’s office to ask him to intervene to stop, or at least investigate the Forcible Electroshocking of Charles Helmer. It is okay to be firm, but it is very important to be polite and respectful. I know that can be hard because of the great abuse the state of Minnesota is inflicting on Charles, but we will be dismissed as a bunch of lunatics if we are not.

    Governor of Minnesota

    Staffed office hours are: Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

    Telephone Numbers: 651-201-3400

    Toll Free: 800-657-3717

    Minnesota Relay: 800-627-3529

    I will appreciate it if you can let us know that you called the governor or whatever action you take in support of Charles. There is a Facebook Event Page where, if you are on Facebook, you can post about your call or other action directly (I think), or you could e-mail me back with your report and I will post it. I know a lot of people are not on Facebook for good reasons, but I think it is good to have a place like that where people can see how much is being done to try and stop Charles Helmer from being Electroshocked against his will.

    I think good talking points can be extracted from the following e-mail by Joseph and Susan Rogers to the Minnesota Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. If you are on Facebook you can also look at what other people have written on Charles’ Facebook Event Page to use when you call the Governor’s office.

    Letter from Ron Bassman, PhD, Executive Director of MindFreedom

    Email to the Ombudsman in Minnesota from Susan Rogers and Joseph Rogers HERE

    My only comment is I always use “Electroshock” or “Shock” instead of “Electroconvulsive Therapy,” or “ECT,” because “ECT” is not therapy and does not convey the brutality of Electroshock. This is not a criticism of Joseph and Susan. Sometimes one wants to use the language of the oppressor to be more effective.

    In any event, Charles will greatly appreciate whatever you can do to help him get the Electroshock stopped.

  • Yes! Post flyers! Share the link to this alert with your friends! Email it and post it on social media. If you visit charles’ alert on our website at http://www.mindfreedom.org there is new updated information including some corrections.

    1) The name of Charles’ shock doc is Dr. Vine not Dr. Vine’s as stated above.

    2) The ombudsman’s name and contact information has been updated.

    3) we included the phone number, personal email and Twitter handles of Dr. Vine on our website if people want to leave messages for hum. We ask that all messages be respectful and non-threatening, in accordance with MFI’ values of mutual respect and spirit of non-violence.

  • One of the problems is that non-psychiatric physicians arent willing to criticize psychiatrists–their colleagues—or report psychiatric harm and abuse (including the tremendous number of iatrogenic illnesses and adverse drug reactions that present in life-threatening situations at ER’s) until they are safely retired. Remember the man labeled with bi-polar who was kicked out of the ER who crawled out of the ER in excruciating pain? It made CNN. The public has no idea how common it is for ER docs to treat psychiatrized patients with scorn when they present with iatrogenic illnesses. The difficult ‘mental patients’ in the ER always get kicked out without full work-ups or outsourced to the jails or psych wards where the trigger happy shrinks and psychiatric nurse practitioners are waiting with needles–only too happy to inflict chemical lobotomies on the unfortunate victims. These ‘frequent flyers’ get blamed for non treatment compliance or lack of insight when they desperately take steps to eliminate their drug-induced akasthisia through non-adherence to harmful psychiatric drug cocktails. In the absence of zero safe alternatives such as peer respites, psychiatric drug withdrawal clinics, med free wards, etc. and with the collusion of ER physicians who should know better, these psychiatric victims get pushed under the bus time and time again.

  • I was wondering when someone would start exposing the ludicrous nature of charging people for their state sanctioned torture. When our private insurance rejected our daughters year of forced detainment at the state hospital as “medically unecessary” and refused to pick up the bill, my 20 year old, no longer a minor, was charged $150,000 for her care, upon discharge. I remember a state bureaucrat from the billing office of the hospital calling me to tell me that if my daughter didnt pay the bill, that a lien against all her future earnings and property would be placed on her for life by the state. After a social worker enrolled her in Obamacare, future hospitalizations would be at the tax payers expense. All told, private insurance and the taxpayer has easily paid over one million dollars for my daughters ‘treatment’ with nothing to show except that she is addicted to neuroleptics that keep her perpetually infantile and unable to fulfill her potential plus she has acquired a deep fear and mistrust of anyone who works for the carceral mental health system or in anyway makes profit from her suffering, including peer workers. Yesterday, I located a bill for in-patient services my daughter received at an acute, private psychiatric ‘hospital’s. The cost for being deeply traumatized there for less than one month? $190,000. Its scandalous

  • Well at least the author, a psychiatrist, admits that there are certain groups of people not suited for psychiatric hospitalization: “These can include refugees and other immigrants—many of whom may speak little English—developmentally disabled people, elderly people, homeless people, first-episode psychosis patients, and those with post-partum disorders.” Unfortunately, he failed to include freedom-loving individuals, people experiencing extreme fear, anti-authoritarian individuals, or people with PTSD from past incarceration/hospitalization. By widening the populations considered not ‘suitable’ for hospitalization, we would probably end up with close to zero amount of people who are suitable for ‘treatment’ in a restricted facility. In our enthusiasm to create cheaper models, lets not forget that there is a strong human rights incentive to veer people away from restricted facilities. Let’s not forget that there are millions of people who have been harmed by a psychiatric incarceration in a hospital and all the activities that routinely happen in those places besides the ‘disruption’ of a person’s social life such as seclusion, restraints, forced injections, threat of forced injections, loss of liberties including access to private phones at will, loss of liberties such as dietary choices. I could go on and on. This article, while making some good admissions for a psychiatric, glosses right over the harm of forced psychiatry. Let’s not forget that most people inside psychiatric hospitals are there by FORCE. And of those who voluntarily admit themselves, many lose the right to check themselves out.

  • My daughter was involuntarily committed, forcibly drugged, and institutionalized for seven years. For the last three years, she has been living at home with no court orders hanging over her head. She receives virtual monthly ‘med checks’ with a psychiatrist and virtual monthly ‘therapy’ sessions with a licensed counselor all voluntarily, courtesy of the the local mental health agency that manages her care.

    She lives in a house on our property, located about 100 feet from our house. Privacy is not an issue, as I and other household members where I live can’t hear what is being discussed by my daughter since it is taking place in a different house. I do know that my daughter feels safer with the virtual visits.

    If one has been psychiatrically abused or locked up, the very act of going inside a mental health building can be risky. If you have PTSD from past psychiatric harm, you can easily be triggered if there is a loud altercation going on, you witness some kind of instance of staff being disrespectful to clients, or vice versa. If you become dissociated, you can be kidnapped for ‘bad behavior’ and transported to the local ER for a mental health evaluation, which depending on your medical records, put you in a high risk of being subjected to an emergency ‘hold’ or worse, a kangaroo hearing resulting in 180 days of involuntary commitment.

    When my daughter participates in a virtual session, she can hang up, mute the speaker, or type information as an alternative form of communication. She feels safer because there is distance between her and her provider.

    The sad thing about this article is that it seems to give very little validation to the benefits of virtual communication involving psychiatric survivors, only the drawbacks. I wonder if the author of this article is coming somewhat from a privileged viewpoint, i.e. he has never been on the sharp end of the needle? In virtual appointments, there can be no physical violation of a person’s being, the needle rape can’t take place. I would hope that an option for virtual-only appointments will exist long after the pandemic is over for people who benefit from them.

  • I support someone at home with severe cognitive impairment and I am terrified of disclosing to medical professionals what we family members observe on a daily basis out of a fear that our loved one will not be correctly diagnosed with an iatrogenic illness and be drugged even more, or worse, be involuntarily committed or institutionalized. We remain isolated without any services to help our loved one recover from the trauma of years of psychiatric abuse. I fear that my loved one is losing her awareness of her impaired cognitive functions and we are stuck between a rock and a hard place with no help in sight. At this point hope for her recovery looks bleak and my focus is how she will receive support with the activities of daily living if I die or become disabled. I dont think that she will ever receive an honest medical assessment, education from a licensed physician to make her aware of her condition, and support titrating off harmful medications. I believe she will be blamed for the ineffectiveness of her ‘treatment’ (they will call it treatment resistance’ every time she experiences a drug induced crisis that not be concealed from an indifferent society) . Although I dont think she will be a beneficiary of any shift in public consciousness or change in clinical practices–because it is likely to be too little too late—I will continue to work for change with what little strength I have.

  • I’m sick of nibbling away at psychiatric and drug company corruption in a piece meal fashion, starting with criticisms of the anti-depressant studies involving adolescents which was used to expand the market for anti-depressants. This data does not simply have implications for minors. It should be considered equally relevant to young adults 18 years and older whose brains are still developing. Many young adults who have a so-called ‘psychotic episode’ between the ages of 18-21 have an established history of taking anti-depressants, with mixed results. Many times adolescents were started on anti-depressants due to issues such as family dysfunctions, issue of identity including sexual identification, or bullying at school. Many were put on anti-depressants and switched quickly or augmented with polypharmacy for years, due to drug ineffectiveness or worse, worsening, drug induced symptoms. Many adolescents who were started on anti depressants experienced adverse drug events or paradoxical effects with the result that they received a cascade of different, worsening diagnoses, or distressing symptoms that landed them inside institutions, a deeply traumatizing event that often occurs in conjunction with undiagnosed iatrogenic harm. We need an immediate moratorium on psychiatric drugging for children until we get a handle on know how these drugs help some and deeply harm others. We just don’t know enough about the human brain to put children at risk any longer. We must ban involuntary treatment for adults until psychiatry can prove scientifically that they can predict the effect that each drug will have on every single involuntarily treated adult. Treatment of children is involuntary treatment. Treatment without fully informed consent should also be banned.

  • 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’

  • 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