Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Comments by madmom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Shaun:

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

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

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

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

  • Sera:

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

  • Dear Megan:

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

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

  • Cheri:

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

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

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

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

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

  • Slaying the Dragon of Psychiatry:

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

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

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

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

  • And by the way, what I want is a full fledged revolution of the mental health system and a thriving underground railroad for psychiatric escapees, non-violently achieved, with psychiatric survivors forming the vanguard of the revolution, forming a broad coalition of stakeholder organizations that includes allies and family members

  • Thanks for responding to my comment. Your friend’s response sounded optimistic. I am wondering how widespread this desire is to create an independent manifesto is among peers. Will it be as radical as I hope?

    Success can create its own momentum. When organic farmers created their own markets, it created new avenues for farmers to increase their income which in turn inspired a new generation of farmers to go organic and even some old timers started to convert their farms to the more lucrative products. Then the conventional food industry started to take notice. They wanted in on the action when organically grown became the fastest growing market in the food industry and tried to change the labeling standards. It took a powerful pushback by the organic movement to resist the food lobby.

    It sounds as if your movement will not only need an independent funding source to take care of its own, just as farmers went directly to the consumers in each communmity, but you will need a long term plan to handle success. I have often heard activists like Penny Darbey talk about co-optation as if it led to a permanent state of corruption and a veering away from a set of original ideals from which there is no redemption. According to your friend, this is not true and that the peer movement is moving in a positive direction. If I understand your friend correctly, the peer recovery movement which had it roots in the psychiatric survivor consciousness raising groups like the one started by Judy Chamerlin is not dead, only in a state of reform. I will sit with that for a while and hope you and your friend are right!

  • Sascha: You say “the mental health system is failing Peer Workers on so many fronts” but what about the people you represent, the people under forced treatment orders who are slowly dying from their treatment, who are sleeping sixteen hours a day, and have no friends? I hear you are frustrated by the way your employers treat you. I didn’t hear you mention the people you serve under ACT. Your objectives sound really positive, but what about organizing those 25,000 to prohibit treatment by force and demand alternatives and choices?

  • Thank you. This is a beautiful reminder to listen to our children and grandchildren and talk to them about sadness. My son, when he was little would go into crying rages and tantrums that I would sometimes dread going into public. He didn’t get diagnosed or drugged though and although he continued to have mental and emotional issues well into early adulthood, (including a failed suicide attempt five years ago) he did a phenomenal job finding appropriate ways to handle his sadness (diet, exercise, meaningful employment, hobbies, volunteer work, spirituality, friendship, etc.) and is now doing very well overall. His son (my eight year old grandson) has a much different way of expressing sadness. Friday, I was exhausted and didn’t play with him and he had to go to bed at 8:30. He cried himself to sleep saying that I had broken my promise but it was a gentle weeping sadness. On other occasions, hears voices and although I haven’t figured out what triggers them, they can be angry and hostile, and he doesn’t like to talk about them. We are very keen to avoid him ever getting psychiatrized. It can be a very difficult task protecting children from psychiatrization. The issue of whether to seek ‘professional’ help for a child can divide families and cause the system to initiate extraordinarily draconian measures which one would only expect in a totalitarian society. Not only to we need to educate parents about creative alternative ways of handling sadness, we need to legislatively protect humans from psychiatrization and forced treatment.

  • When I worked for a Catholic Charity, one of our programs was getting unhoused families into decent affordable, housing. Social workers in this program would advice program participants to look at every available option for increasing their household income. Frequently, the heads of household are either disabled or lack the necessary job skills to obtain employment that puts them above the poverty level which endangers their ability to stay housed. When a child is labeled with a psychiatric disability, the parents and/or guardians can apply for SSI, which substantially raises the household income by $500/$600 per month. Social workers in these charitable programs are serving as cheer leaders for parents so they can get their children diagnosed and treated. The extra income from one or more children receiving SSI benefits can mean the difference between housing or the street. It is far easier to obtain SSI for a child, if the child is taking prescription drugs. It serves as ‘proof’. Part (but not all) of the explosion of the prescribing of heavy duty drugs for children is due to socio-economic incentives. Before middle class professionals judge parents as ‘abusers’ for allowing their children to be drugged, consider some of the horrors faced by low-income or single parent households and the related incentives based on how our government safety nets for children are set up.

  • Two compare/contrast stories do not present enough material from which to make the conclusion of gender bias, but even if you are right that the author is biased, what of it? Some counselors may be more suited for young men, and some more suited for young women and judging by the epidemic of medicating exuberant male children with clean meth to get them to thrive in highly conformative settings, we don’t have nearly enough role models for young males in the helping professions.

    My son, husband, father, and grandfather all all war veterans and I can tell you that the emotional layering of people with military conditioning is very different than that of non military people and specialization is a good thing! Bias seen from another perspective is not preferring one style or culture or gender over another, merely spending more time with one so as to render ones services more effective!

    If the author indentifies with the young man, not the young woman, and therefore weights the first with greater detail, why is that a bad thing? I see that as a positive thing as counselor being able to meet can client where he is at. We have a generation raised on paintball and violent video games. What is the solution? Medication and sedation?

    Our society is sending mixed messages to young men. These young men need role models.

    Their families need access to psychologists who identify with behavior that is considered warrior-like. Like it or not 1% of every American households has at least one post 9-11 veteran. Vietnam era households, the rate is higher.

    Returning veterans and their families need counselors who understand military culture to help individuals transition to civilian roles without the use of harmful medications to dull painful memories or they need the ability to help their adolescent clients deal with the mixed signals in the media as it concerns agressive behavior. Those who identify with the warriorrotector archetypes need to find non-violent outlets for their energy. This counselor may well have offered hope to a frightened family members who may well have sujected their son to drugging to handle his obsessive or ‘manic’ behavior.

    The epidemic of school shootings may cause many frightened family members to seek chemical restraints for their male children who are neuro divergent. There are very few talk counselors who can establish rapport with young men who influenced by the media’s sometimes frightening potrayal of ‘manly’ behavior. Some young men are very vulnerable to the powerful mixed messages in the media around issues of gender and masculinity.They deserve special attention

  • This was an excellent article by Bob Nikkel. I’m surprised the Lund Report gave Mr. Nikkel a chance to say such critical things about psychiatry. He actually mentions the fallacy of the chemical imbalance theory. This is sure to rock a few boats at OHA! My comment is awaiting moderation approval. I hope that people respond not by mindlessly defending the the current paradigm of mental health care in Oregon with the usual rhetoric but with real facts and real evidence. Mr. Nikkel certainly gave people something to think about. We shall see what follows.

  • I guess what I’m asking for is for social workers and counselors and psychologists to adopt to the reality represented by tens of thousands of psychiatric survivors who are out of the closet and who identify with having been harmed and silenced by mental health care professionals and ‘experts.’ Why not immediately improve the mental health system experience from the perspective of clients by adding the following question – or one like it – to your current intake interviews: “Do you identify with having been harmed by psychiatric treatment either forced or voluntary?”

  • I’m glad that the challenges that counselors deal with such as their clients poverty and homelessness, came up as well as the issue of ethnicity, these are important issues. But I’m disappointed that this issue wasn’t raised: psychiatric abuse. What about the difficulty of working with people whose trust in the mental health system was destroyed due to forced psychiatric interventions? My daughter endured nearly eight frickin years of back to back involuntary treatment orders and being told where she could live and what treatment she had to accept at threat of going back to the hospital. She is basically institutionalized and programmed to fear mental health professionals She is also well versed into how to ‘hide symptoms’ or act ‘normal’ and otherwise hide the frightening chaos that often consumes her internal world. She knows better than anyone that you don’t disclose information to your counselor that could put you at risk of increased drugging.

    How are counselors going to establish honesty and trust in the current environment? Community mental health agencies should not ask their underpaid counselors and social workers to go into the trenches and deal with the ramifications caused by the other people they may never meet. Clients need a safe place to process the grief and trauma of having their liberties taken away, maybe even scream a bit. They need justice and the recognition of harm and for someone in the system to stand up and APOLOGIZE

  • Way to go Amy! I’m glad to hear you are in charge of your meds and you aren’t subject to forced psychiatric treatment as my daughter was for so many years! Talk about disempowering and traumatic! I agree with your posts on other threads that sometimes it is better to get help with drug tapers from psychiatrists in lieu of going it alone (cold turkey can be a recipe for disaster) I think some people on Europe are working on a project to demand that drug companies produce tapering strips. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kirsten:
    What a gift to wake up this morning, with my cup of coffee in hand and begin my day by reading your incredible story. Wow! I got so much hope and comfort by reading this, words can’t convey my gratitude. We are supporting our beautiful daughter through something similar. Like you, she experienced catatonia, jail cells, forced injections, isolation, restraints, more hospitalizations that I can remember. This is really a hope injection!

    This site offers so much encouragement. When my finances improve I will definitely contribute to MadinAmerica!

  • Bravo! This article is like a beacon or a proud flag flown on the battlefield of ideas, even as the opposition lines up on the horizon, outnumbering us as usual, with their usual mercenaries: bought and paid for media ‘journalists’ and other propaganda specialists, discombobulated family members, sold out scientists, brain dead faculty members, and saavy pill pushers. This time, we are wise to the tactics of the opposition, like the way it co-opted the rhetoric of the recovery movement, begrudgingly throwing a bone to the existence of trauma and childhood abuse, while failing to acknowledge the huge elephant in the room, the stigma of having a permanent label, the trauma of being diagnosed and cared for by uncaring, cynical, time-pressed, uncommitted, overpaid, and burn-out professionals, the trauma of having the ‘treatment’ ruins one’s lives, and having no one believe in that fact, the trauma of having one’s person hood, privacy, dignity, and civil rights taken away, all of which constitutes harm and abuse.

  • Gabi: I’m slow to forgive and quick to anger, not the best person to advice you in this matter but my two cents worth:

    Maybe forgiveness is a muscle that needs to be used on a regular basis or it becomes ‘atrophied.’ Why don’t you practice forgiveness on a small scale like forgiving the person in front of you in the express line who has fifty grocery items in his cart instead of fifteen? Or the person who cuts you off in traffic?

    It stands to reason that when you forgive people frequently for smaller things, one could work one’s way up to forgiving people and institutions for larger things. I have always found it difficult to forgive people who are oblivious to the pain they caused others. Perhaps, if one waits long enough karma catches up to one’s abuser in one’s lifetime in which case one has to decide whether or not to feel pleasure or pity for one’s abuser. Maybe I’m naive. Best of luck. Thanks for sharing

  • Congratulations Bonnie on an incredible victory. Sylvain brought up a similar fear that I deal with on a near daily basis in my own little activism here in Oregon, “They have more power” and “They have more money!” “We are so powerless” and “We are so penniless”. In every other movement for social justice (or the environment) in which I have been active, I have never been so consumed by such fear of failure, as I have with this movement for human rights in the mental health system. Your victory ignites me and gives me inspiration I need to carry on in my own little universe to continue to knock on doors and speak truth to power, and write letters, and go to town hall meetings and challenge the prevailing authorities that have spread lies for far too long.

    The insidious means by which a big cartel of pharma companies, colluding with the APA and pseudo consumer organizations like NAMI could shape our entire culture’s view of human distress and twist it to their advantage, is nothing short of breathtaking.

    In your work, to educate people in institutions in which not only the institutions themselves have become corrupted, but whose academic programs cater to millions of otherwise bright students who routinely suspend their intellectual capacities in the promise of a ‘magic bullet’ solutions to human distress, is a gargantuan task. I tip my hat to you for your steel will power, vision, and clarity of purpose as you forded through very dangerous waters and came out the other side.

  • Congratulations! This is a wonderful, well-written piece and I truly enjoyed reading it. I appreciate your down-to-earth humor, somewhat self-deprecating style. While poignantly describing the degradation and futility of forced/coerced treatment you managed to avoid the minefield of traps that so many of us fall into when recounting stories involving psychiatric fraud and abuse

    Last year or the year before, I can’t remember when, I started to develop some insight into my own daughter’s ‘psychosis’ insofar as she finally made me understand that it wasn’t all awful. In fact, she finds it entertaining at times. At times, the imaginative scenes playing in her mind are often pleasant and even erotic. I can see where such an imagination can really yield benefits while dealing with the daily tedium of being locked up in an institution without access to literature, the arts, sex, romance, humanity, and well, diversity of opinion.

    When contemplating psychiatric fraud and abuse, I need a repertoire emotional responses that is more diverse than anger, anger, anger for my life to have some balance and fun. Humor is the best pill sometimes.

    While I will probably continue to advocate for ending all all force and coercion in the mental health system, or for that matter, any ‘treatment’ which is degrading, humiliating, futile, harmful, even fatal, I would like to see humanity develop greater bandwidth, tolerance, imagination, insight, and less toxic reactivity when fellow human beings display behavior that is outside the narrow confines of ‘normality’

    As David Oaks says, “Normal behavior is killing the planet” . ‘Creative maladjustment is needed to eradicate normal behavior when ‘normal’ behavior is destructive. If we teach our children that ‘conformity and ‘normality’ are the highest ideals to which they must strive we are not giving our children the skills they need to confront and address injustice. It is also not very fun.

    at this point I could use less eye witness reports of psychiatric abuse, less evidence of psychiatric corruption, and stories like this which show humanity at its maddest and brightest.


  • Steve and Yeah I Survived are both right. We should not be breaking out the champagne bottles because of this one critical study. Primary care physicians are still the number one on-ramp for receiving an ADHD diagnosis. For that reason alone, The Journal of Psychiatry can afford to publish this study because, after all, psychiatry can point fingers and say, “We did not create this over-prescribing problem, pediatricians and primary care providers did!” In fact, one could argue, the publication of this study in a journal dedicated to PSYCHIATRY is likely to have far less impact on prescribing for ADHD than if it had been published in a journal for pediatricians. Still, some readers of this article may be start to develop a healthy skepticism. Maybe some parents, upon reading this article may be more inclined to ask their doctors some tough questions, such as do they tend to believe or be influenced by the rubbish in the medical literature that passes for ‘science’? After all, readers can’t help but wonder what kind of marketing went into this epidemic of getting children hooked on clean meth?

  • Knowledge is Power..
    One of the stakeholder groups you mentioned, insurance companies present low yielding fruit in terms of strategic reform legislation. My daughter’s multiple ineffective and inhumane involuntary incarcerations at a private hospital cost our private insurance company several hundred thousand dollars. It took us years to pay off the co-pays. Where is the outrage insofar as many people are being forced to pay for the torture of a loved one or that insurers and taxpayers are asked to foot the bill for torture, fraud, and iatrogenic harm. I have since learned that consumers can ask for an internal or external review of all insurance decisions. Insurance companies in many states have been forced to implement parity laws which gives mental health disorders equal status. We need to extend the benefits of insurance to cover other more effective humane alternatives outside the medical model

  • I am wondering about the word work too. Shouldn’t helping people be a pleasurable pursuit? I equate work with chopping wood and cleaning the hair out of the shower drain. Sad to think of giving another human being emotional support the same status as the thousand details I procrastinate and avoid everyday because it is work

  • I am wondering about the word work too. Shouldn’t helping people be a pleasurable pursuit? I equate work with chopping wood and cleaning the hair out of the shower drain. Sad to think of giving another human being emotional support the same status as the thousand details I procrastinate and avoid everyday because it is work

  • I’m surprised this got published. Do I detect a little integrity at an academic institution? Let’s watch the push back. Florida International University will not get future federal funding. Margaret H. Sibley will get sacked. If she has tenure, she will not be asked to serve as a keynote speaker at future APA conferences or present her paper at gala events sponsored by big Pharma companies.

  • Diana:

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. To me, this reinforces everything I have come to learn about and lament per the failures of the western approach to ‘psychosis’.

    You wrote: “Mental health providers should be respectful, compassionate and understanding, but they are too busy “fighting psychosis” and hence, they do not see their “patients” as who they really are — as whole people. They keep people sick with their unhealthy approach and their suppressing drugs.”

    As a parent, i realize that this applies to family members, friends, and caregivers too. A hard take away but very true.

  • And I also apologize for the angry tone in my comment. I sense from your other comment, you are trying to do the right thing but you are complicit as a professional by working in a broken system that abuses people, pure and simple. When professionals who make money off the broken system lament about how nice it would be if the system were different, I can’t help but ask myself, what is your strategy for resistance? How do you challenge your colleagues when they disparage and dehumanize their clients? How do you own your privilege when working with people who have lost everything? How do you honor your client’s right to choice and autonomy when they have been court ordered to receive McTherapy?

  • Knowledge is Power:

    As the parent of a survivor, a beautiful, intelligent daughter who was court ordered to receive conventional psychiatric treatment for about eight years, I find your comment slightly chilling. You identify as a clinician who is “highly trained never to disclose unless it is in the best interest of the client” is chilling for several reasons.

    “Untrained” psychiatric survivors delivering peer support probably have a lot more discretion and self restraint as it concern ‘self disclosure’ than you think. They probably know a thing or two about what is in a peer’s ‘self interest’ too.

    Survivors know that what they say to a professional will get documented in their medical records permanently and follow them from facility to facility like a ball and chain. What you say or don’t say can get you kicked out of psychiatric facilities without a discharge plan or any support services like housing. What you say or don’t say can be used against you in a hearing to take away all your civil liberties. Survivors know a few things about self disclosure, probably a lot more than you give them credit for. This kind of experience in self disclosure you can’t learn in college.

    What also chills me is the implication that you, the professional always know when self disclosure is in the best interests of your client. Do you always ask your clients before you disclose something if it would be in their best interest? In fact, how do you determine what is in their interests generally ? Do you spend hours reading 1,000 pages of their medical records to find out shocking examples of iagrogenic harm? When doing a client’s ‘history’ in while checking off little checkboxes, do you remember to ask if your client has ever been the victims of psychiatric abuse and harm or institutional betrayal?

    I am concerned about your implication that self restraint and discretion as it concerns self disclosure can be trained in a formal, academic setting. What did this training consist of? Did you give up a weekend to do a CEU on this topic? Did your professor assign a book on the topic of self disclosure and you parroted back the answers on a pop quiz?

    Self restraint and discretion as it relates to self disclosure and when such disclosure is in the interests of someone you care about are character attributes that can evolve naturally as a result of suffering and believe me, if you were court ordered to sit through hours of checklist interviews from pompous trained therapists and other ‘clinicians’ whose compassion ceased the minute the short hand reached ten minutes till the hour, you would understand the importance of self restraint and discretion.

    Peers are less likely than professionals to be thinking of the client in the lobby, the clock on the wall, or the billing paperwork. They are more likely to be authentically with someone, sometimes for hours, tolerating silence, weeping, even catatonic behavior from an acquaintance, friend, or family member.

    Peers are more likely to resist the temptation to blurt out platitudes in response to gut level pain, and less compelled to maintain a professional front (which is more for your protection than the protection of your client)

    Peers are less likely than trained professionals to use invisible teleprompters, spitting out dogma from some theoretical framework they learned in college.

  • I concur with Ron Bassman! If people drop out of the movement now because things are looking bleak who will mentor the next generation of psychiatric survivors? My beautiful daughter is only 28 and she has been institutionalized and forcibly medicated for nearly 10 years, nearly half of her life! Who will teach young adults how to organize and stay the course when things look hopeless? I hope that people with lived experience who retire because of the the restrictions placed on them by their employers, will use the freedom of their retirement to get more involved in the movement for human rights (after a good vacation, of course)

  • Penny:

    Thank you for laying out these issues perfectly! I find it incredibly useful to distinguish between peer-developed peer support and peer staff model. I think you are spot on about the origin and history of peer-developed peer support in the seventies and it makes a lot of sense that this history should not be overlooked.

    Some individuals identify with their mental health diagnosis and identify as being helped by their conventional psychiatric treatment. Do you think that peer developed peer support is dominated by individuals who identify with having been harmed by psychiatric treatment and who are therefore critical of psychiatry in general?

    I occasionally hear complaints in social media sites from individuals who feel that they are being ‘pill shamed’. I have no way of telling if this is an authentic silencing of voices in the peer support movement or if this is a tempest in a teacup being generated by big Pharma trolls, or perhaps a mixture of both.

    Also, I have a question about the degree of harm that a person experiences in the mental health system and whether this is a factor in sizing up whether an individual qualifies as a peer, in the absence of any standardized definition of a peer.

    For example, I am a parent who has receives voluntary mental health counseling. I collaborated with at least two counselors to select a diagnosis of ‘adjustment disorder’ mostly for billing purposes.

    Acquiring a mental health diagnosis allows me to to obtain talk therapy that I would normally not be able to afford and I find it to be empowering. It provides me with insight and inspiration to fight for human rights in the mental health system.

    Does my experience in the mental health system qualify me as a peer or does one have to be a victims of psychiatric torture and abuse? I think there are more distinctions that need to be made in this whole discussion of ‘Who Gets to Define What it Means to Be a Peer.”

    In my mind, I am a peer but not a psychiatric survivor. How important is this distinction when applying for work in the mental health field?

    Is a psychiatric survivor at higher risk of employment related discrimination if he/she is out of the closet about his/her psychiatric abuse? Conversely, is a staff peer who is happy about the psychiatric services he/she received in the past less likely to experience employment-related discrimination?

    Is employment related discrimination likely to result in a migration of peers back to their ‘roots?’ (from the peer staff model to peer led peer support model as characterized by grass-roots groups meeting in church basements as they did in the seventies?

    The fastest growing trends in the movement for human rights in mental health seems to be Hearing Voices Support Groups and Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal Support Groups. These seem to me to be genuinely inspired by the principles of peer support your identified as peer-led peer supports.

    I am heartened that the Hearing Voices movement is developing some services for family members so there will be alternative ways for family members to get plugged in, besides NAMI which has become depressingly sold out

  • I received several years of outstanding counseling from a Licensed Professional Counselor who was extremely knowledgeable about psychiatric abuse and how it had affected my family. I miss my counselor! He is stupendous! Embarrassingly, I can no longer afford the expense of seeing him.

    I don’t know about others who hope to benefit personally from this framework. To me it sounds wonderful. However, this type of approach would require a lot of work. In my previous two years of counseling I barely touched the surface. It would take time for me to become conscious of the many ways that I responded to threats in the past. It could go all the way back to my childhood and have relevance to my marriage, home-life, parenting style, career, social life, etc. My MO may also be tangled up in my impulsive/compulsive behavior and other bad habits I have acquired along life’s way. Talking about such things elicits shame and embarrassment, and it takes time to build trust. Most private insurance require that a LPC’s and other practitioners diagnose a client using the DSM and come up with a treatment plan in order to be compensated. There is a sense of ‘hurry hurry, hurry’ when dealing with the medical industrial complex in the US.

    In the UK, this model may have a chance to see the light of day. It might win some research grants and have a chance to be implemented in a more ‘outcomes’ based socialist medical system. In the U.S. even if this model were very worthy and had a large evidence base, its proponents would face a steep uphill battle to gain the attention of the guilds and the media and a huge lobbying effort to force insurance companies and government programs to provide access. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

    Also, in this model, there is a sense of providers biting the hand that feeds them.

  • The failure to identify access to healthcare as a contributing factor to bad outcomes without simultaneously identifying the utter lack of choices and alternatives available in the healthcare system, even to privileged people with cadillac insurance makes this training program utterly disingenuous and useless. Rich white people get the same sh*tty treatment in the mental health system as disadvantaged people unless they luck into receiving genuine fully informed, non- coerced treatment up front.

  • Great article and good response to the first comment. I don’t really see why folks who identify with having been harmed by psychiatry are so ready to shoot down the concept of nutrition having a major impact, at times, on ones mental and emotional state, our moods, etc. There are chemicals in food we eat everyday. Environmental toxins play a role too. For XMAS I got an air filter and when I used it, for the first time in months, I had a blessed reprieve from a hacking cough that plagued my sleep for months. Could the air filter have been a placebo? Yes. But maybe it wasn’t. Maybe my cough was a inflammatory response to small particles in the air including airborne dust and woodsmoke. Any new option or alternative we receive with a smaller side effect is a boon. I can’t envision a system in which people are coerced to stop eating junk food and eat leafy greens or take micronutrients, a system in which soda pop is prohibited. Nor would I promote such a system. Empowerment is at the root of all healthy living. People need to learn to make choices that are good for them but having data is huge. Yes, there will be quacks when we move to a system that honors people’s right to choice. We will have to be on guard for all kinds of scams. All the more reason to have research that helps us eliminate fraud and quackery.

    My experience with the air filter (placebo or not?) made me realize that in the process of debunking the myths of psychiatry and attacking its corrupt junk science we run the risk of failing to identify even small, environmental triggers and nutritional deficits in ourselves and our loved ones, which if resolved, could make our lives a whole lot better!! Who cares if something is a placebo or not? If it works, it works! I dream of a system where the mental health system is like a buffet. If I arrive at the buffet straight from the desert, starving and thirsty, I may gorge at first but little by little, as my body adjusts to the offerings, I will slow down and become discerning and start partaking of every healthy offering before me!

  • I’m sorry for loss. Thank you for going public.

    On your foundation’s website I found the following:

    “Mental Heatlh First Aid teaches you you how to idenity, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders in your community. Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that teaches you how to help someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. The training helps you identify, understand and respond to signs of additictions and mental illness. To find a Mental Health First Aid Course close to you, check out this website https// (I left in the mispellings)

    I wish you would promote emotional CPR instead.

    The problem with mentalhealthfirstaid is it is just another early screening program, the darling child of NAMI, a corrupted organization which promotes the false narrative of psychiatry. Early screening programs, rather than destigmatizing and teaching people about alternatives that ‘first do no harm’ are simply funnels to a faulty treatment paradigm.

    The epistemic authority of mental health system is considered to be the person who is a board certified psychiatrist. Psychiatry holds that all ‘mental illnesses’ are chronic brain diseases with biological origins, namely, an imbalance of neurotransmitters. This is a false narrative of human suffering that is promoted by the industry that benefits from sales of drugs, which sedate and do nothing to ‘correct’ imbalances of neurotransmitters. In fact, neuroleptics like the clozapine which your son was taking causes a shrinking of the brain.

    My daughter was hospitalized in a state hospital several times for schizoaffective. We are desperately trying to help her taper off clozapine because we could see immediately how negatively it has impacted her heath: weight gain, heart burn, lowered cognition, disorganization sedation, fogginess, goiter, labored breathing, incontinence, prone to infections, etc. But there are virtually no psychiatric drug withdrawal support systems in place due to the corruption of the field of mental health. Even the so-called consumer advocacy organizations like NAMI receive corrupt funding from big Pharma. Where is a parent supposed to turn to?

    As a parent I feel that all the cards are stacked against young people with a psychiatric diagnosis trying desperately to live a drug free existence. Our entire culture has bought the false narrative of psychiatry hook, line, and sinker that sedating people with mental and emotional problems is the first line of defense against ‘mental illness.

    Just as young criminals become hardened when they are sent to large prisons and come out career criminals, involuntary treatment and forcing drugging hardens and makes individuals experiencing trauma distress, and grief much, much worse!

    My daughter experienced extreme civil rights violations in the mental health system: restrain, isolation, seclusion, institutionalization, and forced medication. The drugs she was forcibly injected with caused adverse reactions and caused her to become uncharacteristically violent giving her a criminal record. Her forced drugging also caused her to experience new psychiatric symptoms! Instead of removing her from an offending drug, arrogant doctors completely and willfully ignorant, would treat her with contempt, raising her dosage to ever higher levels, nearly killing her!

    There is not a single case of trauma, anxiety, and distress that cannot be made worse by psychiatry, forced drugging and institutionalization.

    Your use of the word voodoo treatment is spot on. These drugs are shotgun approaches that should be used judiciously for very short periods of time but instead psychiatrists are so corrupt they are not willing to admit that patients get chronically dependent and often become much worse after being put on these drugs. Consequently our children are suffer ing great harm when they try desperately to come off these drugs without any support.

    Usually patients like my daughter are stigmatized as ‘non compliant’ and they attempt to secretly coming off their deadly cocktails without any social supports. Consequently, many pf our most iatrogenically harmed children end up relapsing going back to the hospital where they are even more drugged up.

    Drug solutions to emotional and mental problems are nuclear solutions.

  • Dr. Wood,

    I’ve been observing the movement to prevent physician suicide for several years now. One of the biggest drivers of psychiatric abuse (besides the overmedicalization of human suffering in your field generally) is related to a problem faced by doctors in all specialties, not just psychiatry. It is the sadistic practices in place at medical schools and hospitals. These practices are a twisted form of hazing. Residents are forced to work long hours and are treated like sh*t by senior staff. They then turn around and direct the abuse they received onto their patients, thinking it is normal.

    We must reject ‘normality’ in all of its perverse forms. ‘Normal’ behavior is killing the planet. We are demineralizing food, polluting the earth, air, and water, and turning the helping professions into institutions of harm and corruption.. Corporate owned media is dumbing down our society, and institutionalizing people in warehouses is viewed as ‘progress’.

    I’m sorry to say this, but while I am slightly sympathetic if you took out a loan of $200,000 to make it through medical school, making you virtually into an indentured servant for three decades, but there is a huge problem with the status and level of reimbursement afforded to members of your profession. We pay child care providers and care givers for the elderly about 3% of your hourly wages. They lift and transfer patients, massage them, bathe and help with their hygiene, nourish them, take them to appointments, etc. and yet our society values their labor at $10/hr v.s. your $300/hr.

    My brother left the practice of medicine after twenty years doling out pills to his patients and became a landscaper. Now he heals the earth. He has never been happier.

  • This is a biased study and missed the point. How can you use Medicaid records and completely beat around the bush as it concerns child and family poverty? Only a privileged researcher working in an academic bubble would not know that what is referred to as a ‘quick fix’ is a financial life preserver for a family one paycheck away from homelessness. A diagnosis and ‘proof’ in the form of a child needing powerful adult medications is how a desperate mother convinces a doddering old while civil servant that her child should receive SSI income. That extra $500 per month can be a Godsend thanks to Bill Clinton converting welfare into the punative program it is today called TANF

  • Dr. Burstow:

    I am mad as h*ll reading about this problem. I’m all fired up. You are right. We need to organize. I’m going to read your entire blog from start to finish when I get off work, as well as every comment posted on this blog and ask myself, what can I do?

    I am not involved with academia but I am glad you brought this problem to my attention.

    I have an adult daughter who is one of the ‘others’. She has an incredible mind for philosophy and she is tremendously creative when it comes to the arts but she is different. Is there a place for her in a college community? If the university is not accepting of her differences then there is very little hope. After all, the university is supposed to be a tolerant environment and attendees are supposed to be dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. People can learn a lot from talking to my daughter if they truly have a curious nature but she can mutter to herself at times and say and do strange things. Oh my God! I’m sorry if this disturbs you or makes you feel ‘unsafe!’

    Gads, there is a homeless person walking on the university grounds. Someone get out the Lysol and spray the university! Report it to campus security!!

  • i hope your book will sell lots of copies and get on the best seller list so more people of the ‘worried well’ will be advised to steer clear of psychiatry. As my friend Marcia says about living in our times, “If you are not disturbed, there is something wrong with you!” My belief that people experiencing overwhelming distress, anxiety or depression should steer clear of psychiatry is not to make light of people’s pain but only that we need to redouble our efforts to educate people that psychiatry can quickly compound one’s problems and what is needed is a full fledged common movement to create caring, tolerant and compassionate communities and sanctuaries for people whose emotional needs are not met by family members and friends.

  • Dear Tina:
    Thank you for your unpaid, high level work on this important issue!

    What is WGAD stand for? Do you know how we can put pressure on Congress/Senate to ratify CRPD?

    I visited this organization’s website and in 2013, in their archives, they announced that a call in day for CRPD on November 12.

    Do you know of any national campaigns in this area?

    Finally, I read your comment with interest:

    “Their information was limited by the extent to which we were able to provide legislation from particular states (we did not have the capability to inform reliably on each of the 50+ separate legislations) and by their inability to visit any civil-confinement mental health facility”

    What do you think can be done at the grassroots level to obtain the data showing how many people are involuntarily committeed, drugged, shocked, etc. in the U.S.

    Some states may have better options than others for this kind of data, Here in Oregon, we have the Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB) for people who plead guilty, or are convicted of a crime (no matter how minor) but who plead ‘guilty except by insanity’ PSRB is a highly restrictive board that manages forensically committed individuals, many are restricted for life. I think PSRB would have very good data for at least the state of Oregon but does one have to file a FOIA to obtain the data from PSRB? Can an agency use HIPAA to prevent journalists and researchers and activists from obtaining this data?

  • Hang in there Yet Another Account! I am so sorry to hear about your family not respecting your perspectives and beliefs. Have you thought about leaving educational literature around your dad’s house and de-indoctrinating him with homeopathic micro doses of data? I’ve heard that sometimes you have to walk away from family. I am very fortunate, insofar as my husband is proud of my association with MindFreedom and ditto with my own father. There is a strong anti-authoritarian strain that runs through my extended family.

    But the members of my family who make their living in the medical industrial complex are slower to grasp the data showing harm of long term drugging. both cling to the belief in the appropriateness of involuntary treatment for people who have the odious label, “SMI”. I gave a copy of Robert Whitaker’s ‘Anatomy of an Epidemic’ to my sister-in-law, a pharmacist and my brother, an MD. They both failed to read the book but we left the issue alone for many years and continued to remain cordial to the greatest extent possible. But as I continued to share with them my personal experiences supporting an adult child through the day to day challenges of psychiatric drug withdrawal, their icy resistance to considering data about the risks and potential harm of long term drugging began to thaw. My sister-in-law even offered to titrate my daughter’s medication in her lab. If NAMI were only in the business of offering parents an array of perspectives, most importantly, the voices and stories of experts by experience–individuals who identify has being harmed by involuntary treatment–there wouldn’t be so many close minded parents and TAC wouldn’t enjoy the authority it currently does. Alas, history took a wrong turn somewhere when NAMI colluded with the APA to promote a specific narrative. Thank goodness for the courageous and selfless work of activists like Tina Minkowitz, Frank Blankenship, and other activists/leaders in this field. Activism is moving the needle slowly.

  • This article is an important resource for activists. In layperson’s language it explains how confirmation bias plays itself out in research social and behavioral sciences.

    Activists who advocate for choice, alternatives, and human rights in the mental health system are rooting for higher scientific standards and a long overdue overhaul of what constitutes an ‘evidence based practice’. Higher scientific standards can only help our movement to revolutionize the mental health system

    The author has laid out a central problem with behavioral science research that even a layperson can grasp, it’s vulnerability to corrupting influences, and proposed a valid solution: establishment of psychology research “preregistration,” where investigators would be required to submit an introduction, and their proposed methods, definitions, and analyses, before they collect their data.

    May I suggest that well intended researchers and readers of MIA who do manage to obtain independent sources of funding for alternative approaches to psychosis (out of what little exists) apply the higher standards laid out in this article voluntarily by pre-registering and declaring their methodology before they collect the data? Even if the status quo researchers are not required to do so, doesn’t mean we can’t apply the higher standards ourselves.

  • Great News! It is available on AmazonSmile (so 2% of the purchase can benefit MindFreedom if folks take five minutes or less to sign up for Amazon Smile and designate MindFreedom International as their designated charity) I will get my copy sometime in November or early December after the release date. If any contributors to Mad in America who are reading this blog cannot afford the cost of a copy ($22 plus shipping) and they are willing to follow up with one or more of the actions suggested by Ms. Burstow, please email me (Sarah) at [email protected]. I am a person of very modest means, but I can afford to purchase one additional copy. (-:

  • I know some people will be offended by my using Ayn Rand in the same breathe as Martin Luther King. Writers from both the right and the left use the novel to influence people. Ayn Rand influenced a lot of people whether you agree with her philosophy or not. Also, lest someone scoff at my using ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ as an example of a novel that influenced people’s thinking, consider this true story: a psychiatrist once stood by my daughter’s hospital bedside, while she lay catatonic for over a week. He wanted to shock my daughter and I was considering filing an emergency court injunction to block his ‘treatment.’ He didn’t want to defend his ‘treatment’ in front of a judge, any more than I wanted to go down to the law library and take a legal crash course. We were mentally drawing swords and circling around one another with my daughter’s spirit somehow dominating the drama, even though she was in a coma like state. I was scared out of my wits because he had power and authority and I was just some frumpy middle age mother with very little resources to hire an attorney Guess what? He was scared too! He blurted out, “You know who I blame? That damn author of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest!” He made everyone believe that shock is bad!” As it turned out, he didn’t have the heart to proceed and I didn’t have to seek legal assistance because the public exposure in the press is something that the average psychiatrist loathes.

  • Contratulations Ms. Burstow:
    Anyone who has read “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair, “The Iron Heel” by Jack London or “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand or “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey knows that fiction has great impact on social movements. Fiction can make philosophy palatable or create larger than life archetypal figures. Social movements need heroes and villains. Social movements require that the public have their complacency smashed by a clear moral division between good and evil. Dr. Martin Luther King knew the power of civil disobedience and televised images of non violent individuals being hosed, attacked by dogs, even firebombed to create a moral drama, a story that was so compelling, people could no longer be complacent. Wasn’t it Marx who said that ‘Artists are the vanguard of the revolution? I can’t wait to read your book and take some of the actions you prescribe. Good day to you warrior woman.

  • Dear Dr. Kelmenson, MD. Thank you for sharing your views so directly. I agree with all of your views and I admire your courage and openness. I myself wouldn’t be this blunt to acquaintances of mine who opted to put their children on medication but I am glad you are stirring the pot. Someone in your profession has to turn the heat up. One concern though:

    I hope that individuals on the licensing board in your state are not aware of this article. Otherwise, they may feel motivated to fabricate some kind of phony grievance and call you in for a psychiatric evaluation and recommend some kind of disciplinary action, and should you dispute their recommendations, it could put your license to practice at risk.

    My uncle was a volunteer doctor for a community clinic launched by the Black Panthers in the early 1970’s in Portland, Oregon. Fortunately, his license was never at risk as he was well liked at Good Sam and Kaiser where he practiced, but the government did tap his phone even though he was never involved in politics, let alone radical politics. He simply wanted to help low income people gain access to healthcare. Take care.

  • Sonja: Great comment. Loads of insight. I agree with everything you say. The movement’s most vocal activists spend a majority of their time defending funding for peer delivered services and ignore policy. One place you appear to contradict yourself is by downplaying the importance of education while seeking ways of getting professionals to be allies. How would this happen if not by education. Finally, education and policy overlap. Such as a policy to prohibit advertising of pharmaceuticals on television. Marketing often masquerades as ‘education’. Consider the huge volume of pharma funded medical information websites, and the influence of pharma reps on grand rounds at medical colleges. To counter the damage to the public perception of ‘mental illness’ by decades of Pharma marketing campaigns requires a double pronged effort of ‘re-education’ and policies around education

  • Meaningful employment is not the same as capitalism. Everyone needs a purpose in life to thrive, regardless of what kind of economic system one lives in. The ability to receive a gift in kind or payment for services well rendered or a well crafted, useful product is one of the benefits of living in an interdependent society. Entrepreneurship is a great avenue for the disabled to work around the built in discrimination and/or barriers to the workplace.

  • I totally agree with Corinna on this. Will Hall didn’t mention the crushing poverty experienced by individuals who are permanently designated as ‘disabled’. Class disparity and the extreme consolidation of wealth to a smaller and smaller segment of society is deeply harming our democracy, but more relevant to this article, our movement for a revolution in the mental health system is not financially sustainable, and bringing one vote to one person does not address the crushing poverty that prevents the number one stakeholders of our movement, psychiatric survivors, from being regular donors and sustainers of the work that must be done to achieve change.

    For movements to exist, we need creative and administrative resources to connect people and get the word out to a larger audience, and launch legislative campaigns. We need hired creatives, ad space, public service announcements, computer systems, phone systems, rental spaces, training for activists, etc. We can’t achieve the conventional milestones of a social change movement on air and prayer.

    The professional therapist class is not making regular donations to the few independently funded organizations such as MindFreedom International and other independently funded organizations with a track record of launching international campaigns of any magnitude. And the psychiatric survivors, despite all the passion, cannot pick up the slack financially. Psychiatric survivors need meaningful employment, either wage employment or creative entrepreneurship to raise their boats, enabling them to make donations to sustain the organizations they trust to lead the movement. Corinna understands the economic development is the key.

    Many psychiatric survivors are struggling to get by on the crumbs of small disability incomes while stigma, lack of accommodation in the workplace, and other barriers keep psych survivors down. Some psych survivors have criminal histories or other histories that make it difficult to find employment in the first place. Giving psych survivors the technical skills and access to marketplaces that they need to establish their own businesses and the capital they need to help their businesses thrive is sorely needed. Vocational rehabilitation programs are under funded and many such programs train psych survivors to do meaningless, low paying work. Raising the incomes of psych survivors is one of the number one barriers to our movement’s success. No leaders and activists except Corinna seem to be raising this point regularly. Kudos to Corinna.

  • I want to thank survivor activists like Mary Maddock and her partner Jim Maddock, co-founders of Mindfreedom Ireland for speaking out loudly against ETC for decades, survivor activist Ted Chabasinski for leading a successful campaign against ETC in 1982 in Berkeley, California, Celia Brown and David Oaks of Mindfreedom International for leading an international campaign against ETC for decades, and newer survivor activists like Deborah Schwartskoff, founder ETC Justice for her grassroots organizing efforts, including organizing a picket protest in front of Kaiser Permanente in Portland, Oregon several years ago in partnership with Rethinking Psychiatry. It is hard to identify and thank every ETC activist, I’m sure there are many more but those are the names that stand out for me. For paradigms to shift, grassroots activism and direct action always have an important “first responder” role. Litigation will provide an important forum to debate the science of ETC but the key component of any successful campaign is always survivors refusing to remain silent, sharing their stories, and taking action

  • Sylvain:

    No, they do not. From experience. In the U.S. itt is very easy to get a court order forcing someone to take neuroleptics. If a hospitalized person in the U.S. refuses to be drugged, a ‘medication over-ride’ can easily be activated by the treating physician if he/she obtains the signatures of two, addition colleagues. To get a discharge, a patient will often have to sign a ‘conditional release’ form. This form often contains the conditions of their discharge (known as a conditional discharge). If they fail to comply with the conditions of their release, they can be rehospitalized. If a person is involved in the corrections system, even for say, a non-violent misdemeanor, taking medication can be written into the requirements of a person’s parole (breaking conditions of parole can make a person subject to incarceration). Medication compliance can be written into a person’s conditions of parole by a law enforcement officer or parole officer who has absolutely no knowledge of the risks and harmful effects of medications. Judges, who also no next to nothing of the risks of psychiatric drugs, can order that a person participate in an ‘Assisted Outpatient Treatment’ (AOT) program even if individuals are living peaceably in their own homes. AOT is a euphemism for forced drugging. In other words, a low wage mental health worker comes to a person’s house on a daily basis to witness a person taking his/her meds. My friend has a son who is labeled with schizphrenia and who was living with her. He was on probation for a non violent misdemeanor and a psychiatric nurse come to her house accompanied by an armed law enforcement officer to administer a depot injection of neuroleptics. It is a flagrant abuse of individuals rights.

  • My 80 year old mother had a large sarcoma in her lower back. The pain was excruciating and the chemotherapy made it impossible to keep food down. She was constantly nauseous. My brother got her to smoke marijuana and her appetite not only increased, she was finally able to hold food down. She enjoyed a complete recovery from cancer and lived another decade (she died of heart disease ten years later). After her recovery from cancer, she no longer smoked marijuana, and joked about her foray into crime (at the time it was illegal). The only sad part about that story is that my brother risked incarceration by purchasing pot illegally from a street source.

  • My son’s girlfriend was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer. She is suffering from chronic daily pain but she has a hard time tolerating the side effects of prescription painkillers (narcotics) so she tried CBD yesterday. She was embarrassed to ask her treatment provider for a medical marijuana card and not only did her gynecologist approve, he called around town to find a dispensary that offers pure CBD. She called me yesterday to report the CBD works! (She is taking half the dose of the narcotics with much better results and no side effects. She is pain free, in good spirits, waiting for the scan results to see if the cancer has gone into her lymph nodes. Knowing that she has a new tool in her tool kit to deal with chronic pain, has given her a new sense of hope and optimism. She reported that she is not groggy and ‘on edge’ as with the narcotics, alone. If this is placebo, it comes with a powerful body of anecdotal evidence behind it and we are now a part of this movement away from legally prescribed pharmaceutical drugs, many of which have wrecked lives more than the average MD is willing to admit. The marijuana prohibition for decades delayed people’s ability to experiment with this tool but we need more choices not fewer. It may need more regulation but be wary of ringing the alarm bell prematurely until people have had a chance to experiment judiciously with this new tool.

  • This meta analysis confirms what psychiatric survivors, their loved ones and allies have been saying for years, but our voices have been silenced as we have been systematically shut out of the decision making process, shamed, shushed, and ridiculed.

    These ridiculous prescribing algorithms, created by industry and used shamelessly by practitioners of medical ‘science — people who should know better because of their supposed respect for empirical evidence—-‘ have resulted in over medication and great harm to our children.

    It’s time to turn the tables on the epistemic authorities within this corrupted harmful mental health system and demand better alternatives for our loved ones, friends, clients, and neighbors. These people who have been harming our children with impunity, especially those precribers in ER’s, acute care facilities, state hospitals, and secure psychiatric facilities need to be exposed for their abusive practices. Augmenting one worthless dopamine binding anti-psychiatric when it is clearly causing akathesia and other horrific psychiatric symptoms ( aka adverse drug reactions) with another dopamine binding agent of equally dubious value will not help someone experiencing an adverse drug reaction or a paradoxical worsening of symptoms.

    How many decades will it take for these shameful unscientific prescribing practices to be suspended and amends made to those who were deeply harmed through years of over drugging?? A complete turn over in the field of psychiatry via aging out and retirement of everyone in the field of psychiatry? The emancipation of all medical colleges and medical journals from big Pharma funding?

  • Patrick: Here is my two cents worth: Peer certification is not the answer. Certification of peer run organizations is the answer. My guess is that the organization that you represent would not pass a basis litmus test of an authentic peer run organization. The inclusion (51% or higher within leadership and management) of the voices of psychiatric survivors-especially those who identify with having been harmed by the mental health system either through involuntary commitment (loss of personal liberties) or by the lack of access to alternatives and choices —must be a basic criteria for distinguishing a peer run organization from other pseudo consumer advocacy organizations such as NAMI. What is needed is to offer more technical assistance, training, and seed money to peer run organizations and a way of standardizing not individual peer specialists, but standardizing organizations so that an authentic peer run organization can be distinguished from pseudo consumer advocacy organizations which take money from big Pharma. Let the authentic peer run organizations within each state set certification standards for the peer specialists within that state. No need to have national certification standards, too sweeping and too vulnerable to the obvious corruptive influences of government/big Pharma funding.

  • Thank you for sharing your perspective Stephen. Everything you described is accurate based on my observations when my daughter was locked up in the state hospital. Although the peer worker assigned to her treatment team was very sympathetic and comforting, even admitting privately that patients must ‘play the game’s to get discharged, there was very little the peer worker could do to obtain choices and non drug alternatives for a client.

  • Dr. Stuyt:

    You wrote: “Since we only have anecdotal evidence at this point that marijuana can aid any medical condition” but I think you are wrong. According to there is a body of evidence to support the idea that CBD may be a future therapeutic option in what we call psychosis. I have one adult daughter who is struggling with the incredibly difficult task of discerning how many of her psychiatric ‘symptoms’ are caused by original trauma (events stemming all the way into her childhood but also things that occurred as a result of psychiatric abuse (involuntary treatment, forced injection, coercion, restraints, isolation, loss of personal liberties, institutional betrayal by medical doctors etc.) and the psychiatric symptoms caused by the short and long term side effects of powerful “anti-psychotic” ( I use the quotation marks to denote that I do not believe they cure ‘psychosis) medications she was court ordered to take while being civilly committed for nearly eight years. You see, as one’s brain becomes habituated to these powerful drugs, one often becomes a shadow of one’s former self. The symptoms become harder to distinguish-how much is trauma and how much is attributable to the long term side effects of the drugs themselves? The legalization of medical marijuana has given us some interesting options.

    My daughter wants to use pot to help her withdraw from meds that she finds even more debilitating than the symptoms of what we call psychosis in order to live safely in the community on her own terms and given some of the adverse drug reactions like akathisia I’ve witnessed while overmedicated, as well as the excruciating pain of acute withdrawal (micro and major withdrawals) which most prescribers arrogantly dismiss as the ‘original illness’ coming back, I would cautiously support an approach using marijuana if my daughter were given such an option. I would like her to have a chance to make her own decisions on what to put in her body and in a corporate environment, patients have become like cattle in a chute, not too many choices. Everyone is different. THC has some potential risks yet doctors like you who point out the most obvious risks of marijuana use are very slow to point out the risk of prescribing opioids, benzos, anti-psychotics, SSRI’s, etc. Pot can’t be much worse than the horrific and debilitating drugs my daughter was forcibly injected with such as Haldol, Thorazine, etc. etc.

    While I agree with your call for more regulation such as a cap on the amount of THC in retail marijuana, I think you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    Ironically, early screening for depression in youth in our public school system has most certainly resulted in an up tick in the number of children being medicated with powerful medications that have never been tested on children. Many SSRI’s carry black box warnings for increased suicide among youth. Strange, how doctors have been very quick to recognize the dark side of THC which I acknowledge exists, but very slow to criticize those in the addiction industry and depression industries who are quick to get their patients habituated to powerful drugs with debilitating side effects.

  • Lael, I appreciate your heartfelt perspective and I honor you for your work with clinicians to support those who are stuck in the system. No doubt you have to work with some very unpleasant people who abuse their power at times, or take their privilege for granted. Your comment makes me wonder if we are dying on the wrong hill. Rather than focus on national certification for the purpose of reimbursement and job creation, perhaps we should be focusing on how to get more choices and power to the client such as putting each client in charge of his/her own treatment fund and employ a brokerage system? In other words, work with the repugnant Republicans who are always looking to cut back Medicaid in order to deploy innovative treatment/reimbursement models not dependent on the medical model, DSM, etc

  • Patrick, my daughter was involuntarily committed for nearly eight years and forcibly medicated with every drug imaginable. For eight years she was a human guinea pig enduring the most horrific adverse drug reactions and withdrawal symptoms that one can imagine.The loss of her personal agency when she needed it the most was deeply traumatizing and harmful. When our family needed hope and leadership at the national level, we looked to organizations like yours to take a clear moral stand on the issue of assisted outpatient treatment, telling the world the truth about force and coersion and how harmful it is to individuals recovering from trauma, your organization, abandoned our family. Your organization, with NAMI, supported the Murphy Bill which morphed into the Cures Act.How can you purport to represent human rights?

  • When I said ‘aspire to be normal’ I was referring to all my income level, the kind of car I drive, excessive consumption, mass entertainment, comfort objects I surround myself with, and chasing things that bring ‘status’. All of those things seem of little value compared to connecting with someone you love, a slow meal with friends, a gladiolus, a smile, and a small act of kindness.

  • Harper, you say:

    “The survivor movement must broaden its focus and inclusivity to include those who do not have “severe mental disorders” as this is a vast segment of the population that is being ignored in this movement. Millions of people have mild anxiety/depression/etc and may take a prescription or see a psychotherapist, but never have experience in inpatient treatment, ECT, antipsychotic medications, etc.”

    If you are talking about broadening the tent to include the ‘worried well’ well yes, it’s true that we need more people to understand that they have a dog in this fight so we are not just this small group of people singing to the choir. It would certainly be nice to exercise some real political clout for a change, not just stand around the abominable wreckage of legislation known as the Cures Bill like deer caught in the headlights. If one person’s rights are violated via the practice of coercive/forced/harmful psychiatry, everyone is at risk. We should all care.

    My sister-in-law who takes anxiety medication or my niece who takes anti depressants will ever feel anything but fear and repulsion at the thought of being in ‘solidarity’ with my daughter who has that infernally stupid label of serious and persistent mentally ill

    My daughter hallucinates and is out of touch with reality sporadically and we work very hard to create a welcoming home environment for her so she has a sense of belonging and safety to be herself. Her behavior isn’t violent or over the top but when she shares her world view and her basic experiences with others, outside the safety of our home, particularly with strangers, I can see people start backing away towards the doors. Strangers in public places don’t know what to make of her.

    Organizing for change requires that stakeholders unite. Uniting requires that stakeholders communicate and feel comfortable with one another. People with general anxiety or depression are trying desperately to fit in, Identifying with the outcasts terrifies them. We can say that ‘mental illness’ is a spectrum and all of us are located somewhere on that spectrum since we all have emotional and mental challenges. As it concerns disability, aging assures that everyone of us will eventually be disabled. But the reality is that the terror of being ‘sick’ or disabled or ‘mad’ or homeless has most of us immobilized in a fog of fear that prevents us from reaching out to the outcasts.

    As a family, we gave up long time ago aspiring to be ‘normal’ because we aren’t. Our healing as a family began when we gave up trying to maintain a facade of ‘normality’ Not sure what we are, I guess you could say we are ourselves. But I observe people where I used to be, desperately trying to stay under the radar by conforming to the neighbor’s expectations.

    Oddly, it’s liberating on the other side. Giving up the need to be normal changes one self perception dramatically for the better. Tolerance is learned through a very difficult sifting process and burning away with laser precision, much of the crap we’ve a person has been conditioned to believe he/she needs to be happy.

    Not sure if we could get my neice and my sister in law involved in the movement. They would spend their time at their first meeting smelling people and wondering why don’t people use laundry sheets and Glade like me, but I suppose its worth a try.