Showing 100 of 738 comments.
Yes! Thank you malevolentmad. I agree with everything you said.
I just visited the site of a new organization called MadFreedom founded by Wilda L. White, a fantastic leader in the psychiatric survivors movement. I highly encourage folks to read why she uses the term ‘mad’ in her own organizing work.
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
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!!
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.
Dear Weeping. You sure can weave a depressing tale
Anyway, kudo’s to you for being human and having a sense of morality, an attribute that is lacking in your profession.
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.
Please remove the link to ooutdated information about MFI’s shield alert for charles and replace it with https://mindfreedom.org/front-page/alert-protect-charles-helmer-from-forced-electro-shock-in-minnesota-usa-his-next-scheduled-shock-is-friday-march-26-shield-members-please-act-today/
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
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:
His personal address is:
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.
Thank goodness for this excellent piece which balances an interview MIA conducted of recently. In that interview ‘pill shaming’ was brought up but not a word about the horrors of forced drugging people.
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.
Redistribution of wealth and opportunities will not profit individuals if there is no equal increase in consciousness. In other words, material increase does not compensate for poverty of spirit
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.
This essay is a fierce drive from down court, lay-up, and dunk shot
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.
Well written. Good job.
This pandemic has been a great relief for my 10 year old grandson. The lowering of academic expectations and no fear of school violence has greatly relieved his school related anxiety.
the only group I want to be a part of involving medical doctors and social workers would be a group dedicated to restorative justice. THey need to listen to survivors and allow us to have our day to be listened to.
This is all very well and good but medical doctors do not want to participate in groups. and social workers, when they do participate in groups, they want to be in charge of us and run the whole show. Not counting one doctor who does not keep up her prescribing license, i do not currently know any doctors who I personally trust enough to tell them the truth about how I feel. I generally avoid going to see doctors because I am afraid of their power to harm. I only know one social worker who is not bossy or judgmental. One social worker chided me for insisting that my daughter’s behavior was being driven by the toxic drugs and the lack of ability to go outside and she cut me off from contact with my daughter. I would love to be in groups involving professionals, but how can I? My heart has been broken and I feel afraid to be in the same room as them
This is a facinating review. Thanks, I will try and locate the source. I think that the field of psychiatry has moved in absolutely the opposite direction of facilitated communication for people like my daughter whose distress is go great, that her personality fragmented into different voices. One may argue that people’s developmental trajectory is halted/impeded during childhood through faulty parenting, which studies show, have an enormous influence on the mental wellness of individuals. Whatever environmental factors that contributed to a person’s anxiety, depression, or ‘psychosis’ leading them to seek psychiatric interventions, often voluntarily, at first, are nearly NEVER addressed by psychiatry.
In my daughter’s case, psychiatric treatment had the effect of suppress all of her communication, sometimes reducing her to catatonic ‘mutism’ by disabling her brain, impairing the cognitive functions wshe needs to form basic thoughts and receive/process linguistic information. There is simply no roadmap for restoring communication after one’s voice has been suppressed on such a deep level . Using the failed drug model to heal psychiatric oppression is like asking the fox to bring back a chicken to the henhouse after the fox has been carrying it by the throat for miles and miles. It is no wonder that people want to abolish psychiatry.
My heart is with the abolishionists but my brain and my practical side is with the reformists. Those of us with loved ones stuck on harmful psych drugs have to deal with mental health professionals on a monthly basis. At this point, all my family can look forward to is to mitigate the harm psychiatry does to my daughter and keep her from getting killed by the deadly toxic drugs. Cold turkey withdrawal leads many to a no-win situation.
Dear Mr. McNeill:
My heart goes out to you for the loss of your incredible son. Please accept my sincere condolences. I wanted to express my wonder and gratitude for your courage to go through your son’s medical records and piece together what happened. Doing this kind of post-mortem detective work must be painful, grueling work for loved ones. I personally know only two parents who did that. One gave a lecture on TedTalks, the other, an attorney who blogs on this site, started a non profit organization to help young adults avoid involuntary treatment or CTO’s as they call it where you are from.
The shame, anger, sorry, and all of the other emotions that make it nearly impossible for parents and other loved ones to look at the failed drug model and name the institutional betrayal and corruption, and downright evil that it represents canmake it very tempting to simply stick one’s head in the sand and suffer in silence for the remainder of your years on this planet.
I am grateful for your decision to be out of the closet as it concerns your grief and anger. I hope it gives you some semblance of peace knowing that your story may help another young adult avoid what your son experienced.
I know other parents whose children (after death) continue to inspire them to seek justice and I hope you won’t stop speaking out. I believe Abraham is shining through you and your voice. I have a young adult ‘stuck’ in the mental health system after years of being forcibly drugged and institutionalized. If you ever need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to write to me. My name is Sarah and my email is [email protected]
Oldhead–have you read Ron Bassman’s history, his book, papers, etc? I dont think so. Ron is not one of the a “progressive” professionals you describe as unfit to lead “our” movement. He is a survivor of institutionalization, insulin shock ‘treatments’, ECT, forced Thorazine injections, and a diagnosis of schizophrenia. He went on to get his doctoral degree and start a private therapy practice to help other survivors. He was a part of the “Highland 40” and other historical milestones by psychiatric survivors. He has undoubtedly done a great deal more than the handful of people who make it a full time career to write comments in an echo chamber. As a mother of a psychiatric survivor, I am tremendously grateful to MindFreedom for the practical help they offer to survivors and family members
Being ‘ghosted’ is useful term. It aptly describes how society treats many of us who seeking justice or a modicum of understanding for past harm to ourselves or a loved one.
I had a friend once complain that when we got together, I appeared t be obsessed over my daughter. I’ve heard the same thing reality for grieving family members who are told to ‘get on with their lives.’ At the time she made this complaint, my daughter was constantly under siege by the mental health system and once, she came within inches of losing her life to overmedication while being institutionalized against her will. Had my daughter been kidnapped in a foreign country by terrorists and held hostage for years and years, if under those circumstance I and my husband had to track our daughter down and come up with a hefty ransom and work through the embassy to get her back, I’m sure my friend would have drawn a different conclusion about my so-called ‘obsession’ People are not prepared to accept some people’s pain.
I honor you O.O. for the honesty with which you describe your social situation challenges and I hope that you will participate in many future town hall meetings
Being employed either as a wage earner or an entrepreneur need not be divorced from a person’s ability to find purpose and meaning. The two are not mutually exclusive or at odds with one another. The missing element that young adults are lacking is ‘vocational discernment.’
Vocational discernment as practiced by the Catholic Church is spiritually focused and not ‘market’ focused (i.e. obsessed with the highest wages that society will reward you for your skills and aptitudes) Some kind of spin-off of this approach, as opposed to vocational rehabilitation, a loathsome segway into repetitive and meaningless work—would be helpful as well as safety nets for young or elders getting re-integrated after a protracted crisis or period of institutionalization– a form of universal income or at the very least, health care coverage while they explore creative options or public service options
James, this is very disturbing, moreover because you were referred to this harmful ‘treatment’ by a primary treatment physician. Huge disconnect from someone who is supposed to follow an ‘evidence based’ model of care. It is critical that your doctors considers the evidence you present with your body before he refers more unwitting victims to this barbaric ‘treatment!’
Recently, I received an advertisement from a TMS provider in Eugene, Oregon, asking our organization to help him ‘advertise’ this ‘groundbreaking’ new treatment to psych survivors. My response was shock. Didn’t he read our organization’s website? My response was to write a single page letter, sending it to the TMS provider. I had hoped to get a dialogue going, maybe a face to face meeting. No such luck. Tellingly, I never received a response even though his office was only blocks from my office.
How would you suggest educating primary care physicians about the danger of this ‘treatment’? Could we wage a letter writing campaign targeting your treatment provider? Please feel free to write to me at [email protected].
How many providers of TMS are there in the Pacific Northwest. With your background in computer science, perhaps we could wage a smart campaign on social media.
I am concerned that as more and more of the data about the harm of psychiatric drugs is exposed, new, even worse ‘novel’ treatment will strive for ‘market share’. I can imagine the cognitive dissonance that will follow as TMS providers invest tons of money in this new technology hoping to win many new patients.
Since both my son and husband experience tinnitus, both military related, and my husband experiences hearing loss, and Menniere’s disease to boot, I understand the horrific ramifications of hearing loss and vertigo that you are experiencing due to this awful ‘treatment’.
My son’s only relief from his tinnitus is playing the harp and the violin. He finds tones and chords that match or are in ‘harmony’ with the exact vibrational pitches (Hertz) of his particular tinnitus and cancels out the annoying sound at least once daily. He also runs a fan at night when his tinnitus bothers him the most. This white noise is helpful. My husband experiences tinnitus periodically, often related to changes in the barometric pressure and unfortunately, must resort to sleeping pills when it is very bad. Vertigo and hearing loss are constantly dogging my husband; it is hard enough for my husband to bear but he is seventy-two years old, is retired, and finds great solace in nature and solitude. I can’t imagine how it must be to be in your ‘prime’ and go through this hell, as a provider. My heart goes out to you.
Have you searched for an attorney yet? I am hopeful that you will find justice and pave the way for the inevitable other casualties of this ‘miracle’ break-through ‘treatment’
Well written. Things long covered up are being exposed by this tiny virus. The cruelty is being unveiled. Hopefully, the outcome will be long needed action such as universal income replacing disability (SSDI/SSI) which are absurd because they rely on fraudulent, non-existent mental ‘diseases’ and require compliance with harmful life-long ‘treatments’. A much more humane way of supporting through difficult times would be universal income which was unthinkable until Yang brought it into the national conversation and the sensibility was crystalized because of the current crisis. I agree with you that this would lower the suicide rate. Keep writing and don’t let anyone call you naive. On the contrary, you have a lot of sense.
Very exciting. Count me in! You correctly state: “inequalities that come with ownership or authority over a physical space”
Recently, like many, I have been attending more than the usual number of Zoom meetings because its the only way for most people to meet right now. Since Coronavirus, most of the meetings have been characterized by by a sense of relief not just because people are more ready to let the veneer of professionalism drop a tad bit, after all we are supposedly in this crisis together, so people are uncommonly ready to talk about their struggles and make themselves uncharacteristically vulnerable. Seeing everyone in there home environments can have the effect of being an ‘equalizer’ when people feel more empowered in their home environments.
For survivors of forced drugging and institutionalization, the prospect of going voluntarily to a clinic for a simple med check, can be a daunting experience, even after decades of living peaceably in the community outside of an institution. Even attending a hearing voices support group can be challenging, depending on one’s past experiences.
Acquiring the etiquette of an online town hall meeting will have a learning curve but for many, it could be a way to gain trust in community again and reintegrate.
I just hope that the facilitators will make a place for people in altered states or whose boundaries need work. People who are cognitively impaired or whose personality was altered by state sanctioned torture are often said to be in a state of ‘decompensation’ or extreme disorganization’ or to have a ‘personality disorder.’ This leads to discrimination and they cannot practice reintegration, even in the very meetings that purport to exist for their benefit!
Their failure to communicate ‘normally’ is often used against them. They may be banned, furthering their frustration and isolation.
I hope that there will be a dedication to including all voices using the principles you cite.
I didn’t mean to convey hopelessness by laying out what it is like for our family as a result of my daughter’s long period of forced drugging. On the contrary, there is a lot of hope. When one wishes to paint a full picture of a particular set of challenges, one risks painting a picture of hopelessness which is not how I feel. We take every day as a gift. As one who finds out that one only has a short period left to live, we find joy in the small things and relish the tiny acts of kindness that has come to characterize our healing as a family. Even on the darkest days, there is at least one spark, one bright spot, one tiny prayer answered, one baby step, one little flicker of joy and those baby steps are not limited to the person who is the ‘center of concern’. Theya apply to everyone in our family. Like many, we are learning that what we call ‘mental illness’ doesn’t originate in a vacuum as geneticists and brain researchers would have us believe. It originates in the qualities of human connections, personal relationships and the power imbalances that exist in communities which can originate in the smallest social unit, the family. And when those flickers of insights and those baby steps occur, you can’t imagine how strong the ripples are in our family. From the outset, we decided to stick together as a family; a difficult decision. When tragedy befalls a family, often it destroys the very fabric that upholds family life. When the narratives held by family members collide, as so often happens to families under great stress, We chose to stay together, all of us wounded together. At first, we didn’t see a lot of daily benefits from that other than the economic sharing of resources. Now we are starting to see other emotional and psychological benefits. It’s not rocket science but it takes a lot of faith.
I would like to know what psychiatrists really think when they are not maintaining a professional facade. The dissident psychiatrists are the exception and not an indicator of where the profession is going. I would like to know how shrinks discuss their difficult patients in private. With contempt? compassion? consternation? Severely iatrogenically harmed patients probably consumer many of their private conversations. They rarely hold their colleagues to task for iatrogenic harm. How do they refuse to see what is front of them?
How can their training wipe out their eyes and ears? How can they chalk up every complaint by a patient, no matter how inelegantly conveyed or inarticulate to by a symptom of illness or anosognosia?
I would also like to know how they speak to colleagues in private chat rooms. Some chat rooms organized and administered by emergency care docs are very casual and I was able to follow some eye opening conversations in which they spoke of their preferred treatment (Haldol) on unruly patients with an astonishing lack of compassion. Some comments were abusive. I have overheard conversations about my loved one between docs in ER hallways that I was not intended to hear leading me to believe abusive, unprofessional conduct is commonplace. Doctors are abused in their training and residency requirements. That is why the rate of suicide among docs is so high. They continue the cycle of abuse on their patients.
Fantastic piece. Can we circulate this to journalism schools, NAMI, disability rights organizations, and dare I say, mainstream corporate media publications? It would make a great op ed piece in a zillion dailies
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?
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!
Fiachra: I hope you will blog about your experience withdrawing from psychiatric drugs in greater detail someday!
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 all well and good for the unborn generations but there must be a day of reckoning in which all who have harmed by the authoritarian practice of bio psychiatry must be heard and those who harmed them must be held accountable for their crimes.
Wow! I love the vision of peer advocates who are knowledgeable about legal aspects of involuntary commitment, supporting peers through the degrading hearings, shaming court attorneys to do their job, helping to identify resources for individuals seeking non-drug/non-force alternatives in their community. What a positive vision!
Wow–since there aren’t many peer support groups in my community–this sounds wonderful! Thanks for organizing this!!
Great comment Wayne!
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.
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?
To my knowledge, the only person who has launched a campaign in light of the Anderson Cooper gaffe has been Lauren Tenney. Anyone else planning to take action?
This article is disappointing and doesn’t deliver on its tantalizing caption “collaborative strategies” involving who? 20,000 peers employed by the mental health system who are going to collectively fire their bosses? This is not how revolutions usually happen. Re-envisioning is one thing. Action is another.
Peers working in the mental health system has the effect of reducing activism.
Dear Andrew’s mom. I would be happy to reach out to you through your website. Thank you for the link.
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
Switching to an ‘antipsychotic without an anticholinergic component” is not as easy as it sounds. Clozapine, for example, is extremely hard to get off.
Long term injectables are not metabolized uniformally. My daughter experienced roller coaster reactions while on LTI’s. Anything that diminishes control over ones drug intake is not good
Frank, you are spot on. My daughter was very non compliant and it didn’t go well for her in the long run. Additionally, my husband and I supported her non compliance and this was used to leverage our relationship with our daughter, restrict our visiting privileges, and conveniently leave us out of the loop as it regarded hearing dates/locations, important medical decisions, etc. Sadly, I have learned that it is important, when outsiders are supporting people who are on the ‘inside’ tread carefully. Yes, it would be wonderful if staff would take an oath of non violence. But that is never going to happen in the current paradigm.
Since when does food and housing were listed as ‘social risk factor?’ Give me a break. These are primary needs. You can bet your bottom dollar that people who display unusual behavior such as PTSD from past psychiatric abuse or harm, they will get discriminated against. If their medical records follow them, they cannot get on ‘regular’ low income housing lists like those operated by HUD. They must wait for ‘special’ housing for the ‘mentally ill’. Workers at food banks and overnight shelters are not trained to handle behavior that is typically labeled as ‘psychotic’ such as hearing voices or loudly talking to oneself. Lack of training and empathy in dealing with people who experience the world differently results in fear, escalation and aggression. This article is asking for hospital staff to be educated on how to make referrals that will reduce people’s ‘social risk factors’ but the medical model is the bully in the room that makes it so easy for workers in the poverty services community to disengage with their psychiatrically labeled clients, bouncing them back to the mental health system/jail system by calling 911 to quickly deal with unusual behavior that can so easily be prevented from escalating.
Thank you for sharing this excellent piece.
How many studies will it take to confirm what survivors of forced treatment have been saying for DECADES?
This is one of the best descriptions of heartbreak I have read.
Thank you for your unwavering support for survivors who have been harmed by pseudo scientific psychiatric labeling. Thank you also for your support of returning Veterans.
I highly agree with you on the need to report on mental health issues objectively without the use of DSM labels. The medical model had led to a lot of harm and oppression. I am not opposed to the use of the medical model but the default use of medical model terminology in a field as complex as mental health gives the medical model more status than it has earned with scientific merit.
I prefer the use of disclaimers because often MIA is reprinting articles from other sources. Putting quotation marks around every psychiatric label may present a huge, extra burden on editors and it may even raise copyright issues to alter quotations from other authors who are not affiliated with MIA.
I share the concerns of CatNight, Kindred Spirit, Frank Blankenship, and PacificDawn. All of them brought up really good points. But Catnight suggested a built in solution which resonates with me. Take steps to innocolate this modest initiative (17 million for ACES v.s. 5 billion in big Pharm funding is a drop in the bucket but we will take it!) lest it get swallowed up in layers of federal and state bureaucracy or co-opted by big Pharma front groups. “Policies and legislation no matter how well intentioned will far apart fast if not backed up by a system wide learning and nationwide outing of the corruption that had almost destroyed our country.” CatNight suggested a Nuremberg Trial. I doubt society is ready for that type of restorative justice but even nationwide listening sessions would be awesome if they were organized by survivors, not treatment providers, in other words, experts by experience, not experts by training. For a good model, see the wonderful ‘truth and reconcilation’ circles organized by Rethinking Psychiatry. HERE http://www.rethinkingpsychiatry.org/2017/02/05/truth-reconciliation-march-1/
So true! We helped my daughter plant a garden behind her cottage and she has been planting-watering and weeding consistently this year-and we can tell the benefits to her clarity of mind are discernible. Some of it is simple pride. Six years in the backwards-she was not only deprived of all wilderness and organic beds–there was no purpose given to the inmate-patients. Just from the savings on expensive brand name antipsychotics if we drugged people less-hospitals could use the savings to build greenhouses and beds
The blatantly racist quote cited by the author of the paper is very disturbing. It is from a senior psychiatrist and is grounds for dismissal or disciplinary action. This is a violent blatantly racist statement; it is documented from a credible source. I’m sure the author would have no reason to slander someone or use hyperbole to make a point. Therefore, wouldn’t the senior psychiatrist who is quoted as saying a ‘bomb’ should be dropped on an entire community of people of color be subject to some disciplinary action or licensing review for unprofessional conduct at the very least? I know a civil rights attorney who may have some suggestions for actions if someone could verify the facts in this paper? Logically, even without the advice of an attorney, it seems like if this psychiatrist is working for a hospital that is accredited by Medicare, then this would violate some basic civil rights standards and a grievance or human rights complaint should be lodged against this facility that could employ such a monster. I’m assuming the comments were made ‘on the clock’ and surely there are standards of professional conduct that a licensing board that this person could hold its members to.
Dear Elizabeth- im thankful your son is doing well now that he is out of the clutches of Mcpsychiatry and Mctherapy. Do you know where your sons original anxiety develooed? Sensitive, smart children face so much adversity from climate change, school drills for mass shootings, bullying, etc. Adverse drug reactions are common but they go unreported. I am the mother of a daughter who has become habituated to a powerful antipsychotic drug and traumatized by years of forced drugging in institutions. Because of the powerful lobby of big Pharma and the domination of the disease model of mental illness–no alternatives exist for people when they experience extreme states-even those that are directly linked to an adverse drug reaction. I hope your sons former psychiatrist reads this letter. I also believe that you can report his failure to report an adverse drug reaction. I urge you to stay involved and continue to tell your story. Until NAMI rejects all funding from drug companies and accurately prioritizes trauma as the number one way to combat ‘mental illnesses’ we need all dissatisfied parents to push back and demand better for our family members.
The author of this article impressed me by getting this published on Pete Earleys blog. That is surprising. In this article she question AOT and the odious Family to Family curriculum by NAMI (FtoF states clearly on the cover that it is funded by a drug company) I dont agree with her support of the clubhouse model–i think clubhouses have been co-opted by medical model practitioners with the result that they ate not friendly to people who want to organize, protest, revolutionalize, innovate, or make waves.
Thank you. This is worth memorizing so users and allies can use precise, clinically relevant language to describe the many manifestations of iatrogenic harm in front of a psychiatrist who is willing to listen.
Don, thanks for this sobering piece
. I admire your steadfast dedication to ending torture posing as ‘treatment’ Your work in this movement for decades has been a shining example for many people like me who are just beginning to learn about the issues and take action.
It seems that there is a growing darkness.
Thank God for this legal decision- perhaps other European nations will follow and then perhaps Canada and the US-if only my daughter had the law behind her when she tried to resist (futilely) and was forcibly medicated many times-she might be better today. Her rebound psychosis was not recognized and she was polydrugged to cover up the iatrogenic harm-now her brain is habituated to neurpleptics and her dad and I dont know if she can ever safely titrate off them to deal with her original emotional wounds and live an independent life-we try to remain hopeful and resist despair but these kind of protections are important to give the next generation of young people a shot at true healing.
I posted the following comment on the original Medscape article; doubt it will get published
The former editor of the New England School of Medicine resigned because she claimed that over 50% of the medical literature is junk science funded by industry.. According to ProPublica, MedScape receives HUGE funding from industries that profit from pharmceuticals and medical technology companies so I’m skeptical of everything on this site.What I would like to know is if the author would have brought attention to this major mistake without outside pressure? In other words, was her mistake outed by another scientist? At least Medscape published the retraction which probably won’t happen with the other downstream fake news articles that cited this terrible study. At least this author took responsibility for the error unlike the author of 329 the ghost written article written by SmithKline downplaying the adverse effects of paroxetine on adolescents, a study with glaring conflicts of interest which was never retracted by the journal (JAACAP) to my knowledge. The thing that slays me is even though I hate Trump, he is right. A lot of news is fake news. Everywhere gullible readers are exposed to media stories cut and pasted from PR firms press releases about miraculous new advances in neurobiology and psychiatry and most of it is JUNK. Researchers like this one give credence to claims of people like Trump. and his claims of fake news
Salimur: to stop the massive level of harm to our children, the actions we have to take are enormous.
I meant med non compliant
I am increasingly of the belief that doctors should not be able to prescribe these pills any longer and parents should not give them to their children unless they have first taken a course on the risks which is developed and/or informed 100% by psychiatric survivors. I think this would go a long way in solving the problem of reckless prescribing and failure to conduct research that could inform clinical practices as it concerns de-prescribing.
I would go even further and require that prescribers and parents be legally REQUIRED take a ‘sample’ of what they are dishing out. I took one of my son’s pills once and it took me three days to recover cognitively and physically. Taking even a small bit of another’s prescription medication may be illegal but I did it to find out what it would do to my brain and it reinforced in me the belief that psychiatry lies and kills and it had the effect of radicalizing me. I now feel that our society urgently needs to correct the power imbalance between doctors and patients before more lives are lost.
Thankfully, my son withdrew cold turkey from Seroqel without any major withdrawal difficulties (he had only been on it for one month during a crisis) and with the help of yoga, friendship, cross fit, ballet, kickboxing, free counseling from the Returning Veterans Project, and hobbies such as harp playing he is med free and gainfully employed.
Now our family is focusing on supporting our others adult child’s withdrawal from Clozoril.
How can one find an expert in tardive dyskinisia? I don’t think she has tardive psychosis, thankfully. She still experiences long periods of daily clarity that we build on. But several years of clozoril usage have made a noticeable cognitive impairment around her focus and memory which prohibit her from successfully making goals, and following through. It is hard for her to hold onto a thought longer than a minute. David Oaks described Thorazine as a ‘wrecking ball to the cathedral of his mind’ and this comes close to describing what I observe in her.
I think many younger survivors are starting to articulate a widespread common drug induced impairment that has often been blamed on the progressive nature of ‘schizophrenia’, inability to simply THINK. Executive functioning is a spectrum of different functions such as focus, memory, and organizing. These functions are impaired by long term neuroleptic use, I’m convinced. Just as there is a lack of research around withdrawal, there is a lack of research around cognitive impairments that are drug induced. Can you refer us to any studies where this link is established?
I also believe that my daughter is experiencing a less common form of dyskinisia that affects her respiratory tract so that many times, within about twenty minutes of taking her daily dose (at night) she feels that she is suffocating. It is very scary and unpleasant and causes her to panic. It is scary side effects like this that caused her to be med compliant on many occasions which gave the state it rational to lock her up for years and drug her by force.
I believe that past trauma of psychiatric interventions coupled with cognitive impairment impacts her ability to talk cogently and honestly about side effects with her prescriber and I am afraid to get involved with her psychiatrist for several reasons:
1) intruding on her privacy and independence.
2) My own past failed attempts to influence a prescriber to de-prescribe which sometimes backfired
3) The fear that the prescriber will simply give her another med to counter the side effects, the prescription cascade, so to speak
4) Being forbidden to be a part of her life due to ‘parental lack of insight’
Any suggestions as to an expert that we could take her to to sort out the side effects from the trauma? Especially someone who is an expert on dyskinisia?
This article is consistent with the work of Dr. Pamela Wible. When I complained to Dr. Wible about psychiatric abuse, she claimed that psychiatric abuse is a part of the cycle of abuse starting with the way medical students are treated. While I sympathize with doctors who have their hands tied and cannot adequately treat their patients in the current system, this article takes the issue to a new level by claiming that doctors who must work in a profit driven business model are ‘morally injured’. I am skeptical of portraying doctors as victims. Studies show that most doctors enter the field to enjoy the good life. Check. When my dad was the Dean of Students at Portland State University in the seventies, he risked everything to supported his student’s first amendment right to protest the Vietnam War for which he was later blacklisted/dismissed. Our family experienced poverty after that but I have only admiration for my dad’s moral stand. My uncle, a physician, volunteered on the weekend to treat patients for free at a clinic founded by the Black Panthers for which his phone was tapped, even though my uncle was a pacifist Quaker and didn’t have a violent bone in his body. I think that doctors suffer less from moral ‘injury’ and more from lack of moral backbone.
I am angered by Dr. Horowitz’disclosure of his ephiphany as it relates to the challenges of withdrawing from psych drugs. He mentions that most of his information on the subject was from medical school training and was not helpful.Are pre med students not taught to think critically? Dont young medical students ever question why their training is not informed by service recipients- especially in the practice of psychiatry? Dont they have any common sense thinking skills that allows them to smell the corruption? Good Lord- what a bunch of zombies med students are becoming! No wonder the doctor suicide rate is exploding: disconnection-putting career and financial security above the interests of their own and their patients spiritual mental physical and emotional health-the lack of moral compass to speak out against the colonization of health care by industrial interests.
Well stated Frank!
By the way, I should mention what a wonderful person my daughter is! She doesn’t give up and just the fact that she gets up every day and tries to live life on her own terms, despite the years of psychiatric abuse she has endured is a tribute to her wonderful spirit and grit. She is my teacher everyday and I just hope that someday, her tenacity and optimism will be rewarded with an opportunity to enjoy regular, genuine conversations with a psychiatrist, one who is open minded, compassionate, not someone with an eye on the clock and a pipeline of patients outside the door, someone who will treat her like a human being with strengths and abilities and take professional risks to stand in solidarity with her desire to live a med free existence
How do I feel about advocating for my loved one’s right to taper off her medications with her psychiatrist? Terrified. If a loved one has been involuntarily committed, forcibly drugged, and institutionalized for nearly a decade, the psychiatrist has all the power in that situation. He/She has the power to fire your loved one. That means your loved one will have her drug supply disrupted. Since her brain is highly habituated to the poisonous cocktail she has been taking for years, disruption of your loved one’s drug supply puts him/her at high risk of a rebound psychosis which is commonly called ‘relapse’ by clinicians.
Your loved one will end up in a hospital where every progress he/she has made deprogramming the internalized messages of hopelessness fed to people in locked wards, will be set back yet again. Any progress he/she has made tapering down in cooperation with his/her shrink, will be reversed. At the hospital, they will once again be drugged to the gills.
You must perform and instruct your loved one to perform and get through the med check interview by being as cogent as possible, cheerful, on point, etc.
You and your loved one must find, at your own expense the one in a thousand psychiatrist who is open to the possibility that your loved one’s best shot at long term recovery may be attainable only by getting off meds. This search can take years. This person must be in private practice and willing to treat someone who they may consider a ‘severe’ case. Most shrinks in private practice want to treat only the worried well who have good insurance.
As a parent, I have witnessed first-hand the way that my loved has slowly deteriorated while being ‘med compliant’ but neither she nor I can open the conversation in these 20 minute med checks by ‘educating’ the psychiatrist about the psychiatric abuse and horrors that my daughter has experienced in a host of locked back wards. In twenty minutes, I can’t begin to describe to the shrink in front of us why I or my daughter have zero trust in his judgement. There is never enough time in a med check to recount the horrors that are routinely meted out with inpunity by members of his profession.
And side effects, you can’t dwell on those either. You cannot open the conversation by describing in detail the times you have held the vomit bowl for your loved one because of the clozoril, the number of times you changed the sheets because of the incontinence caused by the lithium, the neuropathic pain and the labored breathing and feeling of being choked by respiratory akasthisia. You cannot describe the cognitive damage, the memory issues, the inability to read, write, comprehend speech, the lack of focus, desire, or motivation and the chronic fatigue. They will just say you are crazy. The whole family is crazy. They are ‘anti-med.’
You cannot dwell on the side effects because to that psychiatrist, they only care about one thing, that you are not ‘floridly psychotic’ and you are not suicidal. You also don’t have dystonia or tardive dyskinisia yet! Wow, you are med compliant and you are living at home or in the community! You must be stable, therefore you are doing great! Stability is the holy grail of psychiatrists who treat the ‘SMI’ even though underlying that ‘stability’ is the reality that people labeled with ‘SMI’ who are polydrugged are only ghosts of their former selves.
Most parents of children who have been labeled ‘SMI’ know that their child is slowly being destroyed by the drugs but they are in denial, a state of mind reinforced by organizations like NAMI which programs people to believe that their children’s ‘mental illness’ is a chronic brain disease caused by faulty genes and a neurochemical imbalance and that the only way to manage ‘disease’ is by taking debilitating, poisonous drugs for life.
There is absolutely no talking to these shrinks as long as they are unwilling to support their clients in undoing the damage their colleagues have done. While there is a noticeable shift taking place, and the false chemical imbalance narrative is starting to fall apart, we with loved ones in the trenches who are still heavily drugged and holding onto life by their fingernails have to approach each and every day as if they are climbing Mount Everest. My daughter wakes up each day to climb Mount Everest, then goes to bed, only to wake up and have to start climbing Mt. Everest all over again.
I am glad this article inspired comments from people on both sides of the spectrum. Father John’s article resonated with me. If psychiatry were to disappear tomorrow as a result of track record of harming millions by falsely framing all people’s problems as biological in origin and coming up with deadly and addictive ‘treatments’ then what would fill the place of psychiatry? Cognitive behavioral practitioners belief that everyone who receives talk therapy can talk and ‘think’ their way through their problems. Integrative medical practitioners think that we could all benefit from a colon cleanse and remove the environmental toxins from our organs. Practitioners of mindfulness, think that we become more at peace with our problems through meditation and yoga. Art therapists think we can dance, paint, sing, or act our way to sanity if we can express our emotions and receive validation. Spiritual solutions work best for me but I realize that they don’t work for everyone. But training in spiritual discernment and pastoral counseling is one possible pathway to healing and resolution for trauma, grief, and other things that usually get pathologized. It is one of many things that could fill the void if psychiatry is rightfully abolished or is given a buzz cut. As long as religious leaders are respectful and not ideological, ,abusive, or cult like, their views are very welcome here as far as I am concerned. I am just very grateful that some religious leaders/practitioners are willing to have a different perspective as it concerns their fellow ‘mad’ human beings. Most religious practitioners walk past mad people like the person on the road who was robbed and was finally assisted by the Good Samaritan. Most religious absolutely wash their hands of mad people, so great is their fear of liability. When mad people show up to the free breakfast at a typical inner city church, what should be a sanctuary for lost souls turns out to be very unsafe for mad folk. For example, if a person started shouting to him/herself, most parishioners wouldn’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 and have the police come and pick up someone for disruptive behavior. Learning to calm others, and learning to distinguish between violent and disturbing behavior, and learning how to de-escalate distressed people is a skill that can be learned but church leaders don’t seem to interested in modeling and training parishioner in the power of being present in this way. So much easier to use threats, wield authority, ultimatums, etc. So much easier to be influenced by all the media hype about those violent ‘psychotic’ people who need to be locked up.
Thanks for validating my despair of generally not finding solace for despair within the institution I belong to! I like your term: ministry of presence. Being present is not something only priests should be trained in. Lay people can and should be trained to be spiritually present and help individuals with spiritual discernment. I am suggesting is that they be trained by people with training in theology or sacred texts and not be associated with cults and ideologically rigid institutions known for their human rights abuses
Priests, rabbis, guru’s, shaman’s etc. are all human and have bad days. I remember when I was in my twenties, I made an hour long appointment with the priest of a large, urban church. I conveyed my litany of troubles to him as he sat directly across from me. At the end of a particularly long and weepy confession, I looked up and to my chagrin, I observed that his head was bent over, touching his chest, and he was snoring, in a deep sleep.
Thank you for sharing this! I hope you write regularly on this blog. I’m very relieved that someone with theology is not afraid to point to the rich heritage of healing within the Christian teachings. The leaders in my Protestant -Episcopalian Church have outsourced the care of those of us with broken hearts, disturbances of the mind, existential despair, trauma, etc. to secular psychiatry only to have nearly all of our suffering medicalized and secularized. Who is teaching the next generation of spiritual guides how to discern the spiritual aspects of what I am experiencing? Who can I and my family members turn to? I know my church has a rich heritage of ministering to people in psychological distress, using the healing power of prayer, ritual, and touch (laying on of hands). But I know of this generally from reading about it. It is not widely practiced in my church. If religious leaders don’t reclaim this rich heritage, and use it to meet the huge demand, the only practitioners of spiritual healing will be those with very limited education, superstitious, pious, dogmatic, ideological, cult-like, and harmful.
I agree with kindredspirit: Pushing back against the trainers and the mental health ‘authorities’ and ‘experts’ is hard enough but to do so publicly in a way that could put you at risk of being defamed, blacklisted, or fired by your colleagues is very commendable. By going public, the rest of us don’t feel so all alone in our individual battles. Each of us must come out of the closet a little bit more and exhibit just a little bit more courage to do what we know is right. Speaking truth to power is like a muscle that gets atrophied for individuals and family members who get ensnared in the mental health system but the more people exercise that muscle the more people can protect themselves and their loved ones from harm. The more they can protect themselves, the more people they can shield with their example, Eventually, a small army of well conditioned people will be able to shield themselves and others.
Interesting piece. Thanks for sharing. Well done.
Rossa, I think she stated at the very end, that this was the ‘teaser’ and a second blog down the road will contain more details. I can only speak for myself, but I can’t wait for the second piece of this!