Monday, November 12, 2018

Comments by maradel

Showing 30 of 30 comments.

  • What are you, the word gestapo?? Well, just for your edification, the term mental health requires no more special designation than does the term physical health. Or are we required to use only the state approved words and express the state approved ideas here now?
    This is a great example of exactly what I have said elsewhere on this site, that psychiatry is not the problem. The problem is power and control and who gets to wield them. If you destroy the field of psychiatry, something just as toxic will rush in to fill the vacuum. Our society is dominated by insecure, small minded people who feel so threatened by people with ideas different from theirs that they have to eradicate them in some way. Dominate the airwaves with only one message; that’s the ticket!
    How very interesting that you are becoming that which you so vehemently profess to despise and want to destroy: people who need to control others’ thoughts and ideas and the ways they express them.
    All roads seem to lead to the same hell, don’t they??
    This site used to welcome people with different ideas. Well, I don’t want to be part of your herd any more than I want to be part of anyone else’s.

  • You know, this had some real possibilities to become a fruitful discussion about communication style in altered states and the process of listening. I thought what the OP had written was very interesting. I was so hoping this wouldn’t devolve into the usual rant about psychiatry is evil, psychiatrists are evil, we need to destroy the field of psychiatry. So much for that hope.
    It’s a mystery to me why some people who so obviously hate everything about the whole mental health field keep hanging around a website dedicated to a wide range of discussions about mental health and what that means in our society. So many of these discussions end up being hijacked by the same people proclaiming the evils of psychiatry.
    I am no apologist for psychiatry. I could be a card carrying victim of psychiatry if I chose to be, but I don’t choose to be a victim of anything. One of the take home messages of the article above is that active listening is important. There were several people who contributed thoughtful comments to the discussion. If y’all had bothered to “listen”, we could have had an interesting discussion about communication and the authenticity of listening. How ironic!

  • Actually, this is one of the more coherent discussions on this website!
    I speak psychotic, well, at least I certainly know what I mean.
    I can also speak “normal” and “science”
    Just keep em guessing!
    Psychosis is the result of seeing deeply in a brutal and insane world. There is truth in all delusions, which are, after all, the result of one’s life experiences. It’s just that “normal” people don’t want to see. My world is not incomprehensible. The other world, the “normal” world, is the incomprehensible world. So “normal” people have to turn themselves into zombies so they don’t have to see, don’t have to acknowledge the reality of others’ experiences, or their own, for that matter. That’s how the insanity persists. Just a bit of cognitive dissonance there. A + B = C but only when someone else says it does…
    So which time does it equal C and which time doesn’t it??? There’s no mathematical formula, it’s just insanity.

  • Abolishing the institutionalization of slavery did not change the institutionalization of racism, which is a large part of what drives slavery. And we really haven’t “abolished” slavery. It still exists, even in this country. It is just more hidden and it has a different label.

    This is exactly what I mean. The inherent defect that allows humans to abuse and exploit other humans (and other species) is what needs to be addressed. That doesn’t mean that we wait until we can figure that out before we take action to protect those who are vulnerable. But the desire to destroy an institution and the practitioners or members within that institution just because we’ve decided that the entire thing is evil is no different from the desire to destroy a religion because we decide it’s dangerous (Islam, for example), or the desire to destroy people who have a certain skin color/speak a different language/have a different culture because some members of those groups do bad things (immigrants, for example).

    Becoming a member of a group that claims victimization by another group is the way that we humans justify punishing or destroying others. Those attitudes play out in every day life for every one of us. How can we claim to be different from those who want to destroy/control/change us, ie., “mentally ill individuals”, when we are saying we want to do exactly the same thing to them?????
    Sorry, I see that as blatant hypocracy.

  • Wow, every time I visit this website I get discouraged by the narrowness of the discussion about abolishing psychiatry. The black or white, all or nothing approach. Kill psychiatry, punish psychiatrists… Are people here so fortunate that they’ve never had to experience abusive treatment by physicians in other fields of medicine? Do people who post here believe that psychiatric medications are the only ones that are toxic and kill people? that only psychiatric diagnoses and treatments can be considered bogus and nonscientific? that psychiatrists and the mental health industry are the only ones hyper-motivated by profit in the overall health “care” industry?

    As someone who has suffered permanent physical (and emotional and cognitive) harm as a result of being poisoned by my metal hip prosthesis, I find it very difficult to have such a narrow view. Abuse and corruption have infiltrated all fields of medicine, not just psychiatry.

    Just for the record, I’ve experienced the whole range of abusive, damaging psychiatric “treatment”, so I could be right at home with all the rage-filled vengeful anti-psychiatry people.

    Personally, though, I have to say that I’ve had extremely competent, caring and compassionate doctors in all fields of medicine, including psychiatry and psychology. I’ve also had extremely abusive, incompetent, practically criminal doctors in all fields of medicine, including psychiatry and psychology.

    Well, for that matter, I’ve met competent, caring, compassionate human beings, as well as incompetent, abusive, hate-filled human beings, in all walks of life.

    So where does that lead me to in this whole discussion?? If I were to take the argument to its extreme, maybe I would conclude that all of Homo sapiens should be obliterated to remove the “bad” ones. Well, I admit, sometimes I do think a good sized asteroid on a collision course with earth is way past due. However, that doesn’t provide a solution to anything going on in real time.

    I am not convinced that “abolishing” anything is the answer. Human beings create institutions that are reflections of themselves, and human beings are inherently flawed. I guarantee that abolishing anything will leave a vacuum that will end up being filled with the same exact thing with a different label on it. Until the discussion changes from “let’s destroy this” to “let’s figure out why we keep creating these abusive systems”, nothing will improve.

    Over the long term Homo sapiens needs to make an evolutionary leap so that we don’t keep creating abusive institutions. However, I think (or hope) that we do now have the ability to make a conscious choice in how we act and what we create. Although it may feel good to blow something up, obliterate it, I think we are much more likely to have lasting positive effects by making small incremental changes over a longer term. Often, those small incremental changes set the stage for a quantum leap in evolution, but you can’t force that quantum leap if you haven’t built the base. So whoever it was above who suggested a 10,000 year time frame for change was probably quite accurate. Sorry, it won’t happen in our lifetime. But that doesn’t mean that our suffering and activism are without value in contributing to overall progress.

  • Wow, thank you for your work on this. Forced hospitalization and forced treatment can take many forms, including “if you don’t agree to a course of ECT we will have you committed…” it’s like POWs being forced to sign “confessions” or face more torture, except in this case (for me) it was forced torture or face months, years incarcerated against my will.
    How on earth can you protect vulnerable terrified people from that?

    It is going to take forces external to this country now to make the US the “beacon” of freedom that it claimed to be for so long.

  • Thank you so much, Jody, for helping to shine some light on this abomination.

    I just recently learned about this and the abuse of guardianship to make a profit by institutionalizing older people. I have to say that I am terrified of this. It would be incredibly easy for this to happen to me by someone scouring my medical records and getting a court order to be assigned as my “guardian”. In spite of the fact that I have 2 doctorates, worked productively as a research scientist for 40+ years, and am productively involved in several volunteer positions in my community currently, my medical records show nothing of that or who I am as a human being. My multiple medical diagnoses could easily be twisted to “prove” that I can’t take care of myself.

    I live with my 3 dogs and own my own home. Doesn’t matter. As Jody describes, these guardians steal everything from people who end up incarcerated in institutions and drugged into oblivion. No one, family, friends, doctors, can get you out.

    Homo sapiens is truly the most degenerate species on the planet. Every day I look at the shotgun in my closet and ask myself if I can make it through another day. My dogs are all I live for now.

  • Critical thinking is ALWAYS more effective than haldol.
    Actually, everyone in the country should be required to take a multi-year course on critical thinking.

    Having been involved in research for over 40 years, I would have to say that the combination of investigator bias and the toxic influence of the research funding game, and more recently, the push by Universities to own and profit from every idea investigators have, make the “scientific method” highly dubious as a way to generate objective data these days.

    It will take many people like Dr. Joseph to continue to challenge these paradigms that no longer work.

  • The range of comments here shows how complex this situation is. I didn’t know Matt but I still feel grief for the pain he suffered and the loss of a person with so much promise.

    I have also been terribly damaged by the mental health system. But I have also been terrible damaged by doctors in other specialties and the scams perpetrated by those specialties. It is not just psychiatry!

    Do you want specifics? I have 2 hips. I’ve had SIX total hip replacement/revision surgeries with another one coming up because I’m being poisoned by toxic levels of cobalt now. My very first prosthesis was “recalled”. I’ve had 4 hip dislocations because of subsequent defective prostheses. I’m not the only one. Orthopedic surgeons and the medical device industry make huge amounts of money by deceiving people. It is no different from psychiatry’s scams.

    This is a societal issue and it is getting worse. Focusing on one slice of the problem detracts from the real issue we need to address.

  • Dr. Kelmenson,
    This is another reply to your question/comment that is related to my earlier one. When I step outside myself, I just don’t see much value in the “blame game”. Are drug pushers responsible for the epidemic of illegal drug use, or are they just filling a demand? Same with physicians (or veterinarians) or pharmaceutical companies and patients/clients. Is it a chicken and/or egg situation or is there co-development of the situation in a kind of positive feedback loop?

    For example, I published some of my thesis work in the journal Science. The work had to do with some new ideas about how food intake/appetite were controlled in the brain. Because Science is a prestigious journal, it got a lot of attention. I actually got phone calls from physicians who wanted my opinion about the applicability of my very basic research to treating obesity in humans. One call from a neurosurgeon, in particular, was very disturbing. He told me that he had patients so desperate to lose weight that they would do ANYTHING, including having cannulas implanted in their brains so that substances could be administered directly into the areas involved in controlling their appetite. So was he taking advantage of his desperate patients or was he just responding to their demands for a new way for them to lose weight (that didn’t involve the hard work of changing their relationship to food)? Now, this kind of situation goes on all the time. There are demands for new and better treatments. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies see potential markets, and because everything is profit-driven, they go for it.

    Of course, things spiral out of control when pharmaceutical companies and doctors collude to “create” diseases that don’t exist, just to create markets for new sources of profits. That’s exactly what your article addresses. It happens in other fields of medicine, as well. But why are patients so willing to allow themselves to be labeled? Note that early in my career as a mental patient, I was willing to be labeled, too. I wanted answers; I wanted to know what was “wrong” with me. Over time, and with my skeptical nature, I started rejecting the easy answers. But for someone who just wants to get rid of the pain, Haldol is where it’s at. You don’t feel anything! Well, until the akathisia kicks in. But there are more drugs to treat the side effects. You see where I’m going??

    Blaming one side or the other feels good because it eliminates personal responsibility. These are very complicated issues and there is responsibility on both sides. And sometimes, it seems there is real evil.

  • Frank,
    I’m afraid I was being kind of simplistic in referring to wiring of the brain. That’s a very mechanical view of our “being”. We can talk about networks and fields, or concepts even more esoteric. Basically, all I’m saying is that our interaction with our environment changes us. We are not just biological beings, of course, but I too easily slide into that reductionist view of neurochemistry and neuroanatomy.

    There is no real “normal.” It is a very fluid, socially determined construct. But we also cannot pretend that we don’t live in a society of some kind. So we are judged, rightly or wrongly, as falling somewhere along the spectrum of abnormal/normal. I am clearly outside the realm of what our society calls “normal,” but within my geeky profession (a subset of our society), I can get away with being farther from the overall “norm.” I’m “eccentric.” In fact, eccentricity is valued in science (or was).

    Are you saying that we can deny the existence of mental suffering or psychic pain? I certainly can’t deny my own; however, suffering and pain can be largely context-driven. Recognizing the context goes a long way towards putting things into perspective for me; and yet, there is still pain.

  • Dr. Kelmenson,
    Sorry, I’ve been too busy to get back to this until today…
    Wow, I’m going to have to go much deeper into this than the others who replied. Their responses are certainly valid up to a point, but to me, the CORE problem has to do with the disconnection of humans from what we share in common with all life. For many reasons, humans have decided that we are “above” everything else; ie., superior. Religions, of course, have played a big part in setting that up, but religions are stories humans have invented to justify the use and abuse of other beings and the earth itself. Once humans set themselves apart from and above even one other form of life, we/they can easily find justification for using/abusing others of our own species.
    I’m not really talking about “new age” stuff, although I think that movement is a reflection of the feeling that we have somehow lost touch with a deep unconscious connection to others around us. Also, I think the spirituality that some yearn for and seek out in religion is an expression of that disconnection that leaves people feeling solitary. I should also say that my definition of “life” is not necessarily a biological one. What others call inanimate objects have life, to me.
    I’m not a philosopher, so expressing these ideas is difficult, and even a little embarrassing for me. I’m trained in the western paradigms of science and medicine, so the “Doctor” in me is very skeptical. But before all that training and education, there existed (and still exists) an intense awareness of my connection to everything. When the intensity of the awareness becomes too great, or when my awareness of connection is overwhelmingly discordant with the zombie-ness abound me, I get labeled as psychotic. I was “schizophrenic” ever since I was a young child, although not diagnosed as such until my 20s. I’m not trying to say that I am somehow superior to other human beings because I experience this connection. It’s painful; it’s terrible. I often wish I could be so disconnected. In order to survive, I had to create the Doctor person who had no problem being disconnected. The Doctor person is very two-dimentional. However, the Doctor is not totally separate from “me”. The Doctor is more like a survival mechanism.
    It has taken me many decades to understand why I feel like such a freak, and of course, I might be wrong! Maybe it’s all about dopamine (says the Doctor). My first major psychotic episode in my 20s was triggered by my desperate attempts to exist as a zombie (I was working for Monsanto as part of the original BST development team—OMG!). It tore a big hole in my universe and there was no going back. I didn’t know that then, and I kept trying, but the revolving door of hospitalizations didn’t end until I stopped having to BE the Doctor. The Doctor is still around and serves an important purpose, but isn’t the whole.
    Anyway, the huge focus on I-ness, ME-ness, especially in the West, (MY wealth, MY possessions, MY position, MY health, etc, etc) immediately excludes the recognition that there really isn’t an I or a My. It sets each individual apart and above any other individual, and that is what leads to the casual disregard and violence towards others. I am just as guilty, because it is a fundamental flaw of Homo sapiens. I hear the bullshit that comes out of my mouth sometimes and I think ‘who just said that??’
    I think what is going on in the US and elsewhere today is that the desperate struggle between the desire to maintain the disconnection and a growing awareness that disconnection is a terminal disease has reached a crescendo. The blatant hatred and fear of anything that is “other,” in the US especially, is terrifying to me, so much so that I feel that I have to leave in order to keep from flying over that psychosis cliff or killing myself. There is that knowledge that there really is nowhere to go, but my terror doesn’t always allow me to acknowledge it.

  • Well, I won’t disagree that psychiatry has a dubious claim to legitimacy, and I won’t disagree that psychiatrists have done and continue to do great harm, especially since I have been a recipient of that harm many times. But that wasn’t really my point. I am suggesting that without addressing the underlying systemic problem(s), if the field of psychiatry is eliminated, something equally reprehensible will fill that void.

    Although I’m not a neuroscientist wedded to the hardware aspect of the brain, I think I do have to disagree to some extent that there is a lack of physical/biochemical change that occurs when people have emotional, or psychic, pain. Whether the changes are causes or effects of the pain is difficult to tease out.

    Emotional trauma, especially in childhood, can rewire parts of the brain. That doesn’t mean that someone who experienced emotional trauma has a brain disease that needs to be treated with drugs! Psychotherapy, meditation, exercise and many other things can also alter brain structure and function. These non-drug modalities are what should be used to help heal the effects of emotional trauma and psychic pain. IMHO….

  • OMG, Disability Specialists! Yea, I was “totally and permanently” disabled, told I’d never be able to have a career and probably never have a job. Pfffft! My attitude was ‘you’re outta your mind if you think I got 2 doctorates to just go sit on my ass the rest of my life’. I wrote a grant proposal that got funded by NIH during one of my hospitalizations. I never stopped working, even when I was blazingly psychotic. Haldol was the one thing that made it almost impossible for me to work. There was no brain activity going on.

    I’m not saying it was easy, though. It was crushingly exhausting. The hardest part was not the work. The hardest part was swimming against the tide of everyone telling me I couldn’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t.

  • Huh? Sorry you’ve obviously had such poor experience with veterinarians, but as a veterinarian myself, I certainly object to being characterized as not caring about my patients. My patients’ health is always my primary concern. Locking up “dangerous” and “unwanted” animals is certainly not what the majority of veterinarians do. In fact most of the vets I know usually end up taking home or finding homes for as many of the unwanted ones as we can. I’ve never met a “dangerous” animal, but I sure as hell have met many dangerous people. A sure sign of a dangerous person is one who abuses animals.
    Please don’t dump veterinary medicine in the same basket as psychiatry!

  • I guess I’m in the minority here, but I just don’t see how eliminating the field of Psychiatry will have any kind of beneficial effect. What has been happening in psychiatry is a symptom of a much deeper societal defect, and the symptom is not limited to psychiatry. Every branch of medicine is affected; in reality, every part of our society is affected. Tearing an institution down without addressing the core problem will only lead to something equally degenerate taking its place.
    In fact, at the risk of being booted out of MIA, I think all the sturm unt drang over eliminating psychiatry is just a way to avoid having to deal with the much more serious systemic malady. Few seem willing to admit that. Treating the symptom without addressing the underlying disease: Isn’t that what we all complain about in modern medicine??

  • You are absolutely correct about no accountability and a huge power imbalance. And by the way, don’t ever try to level that playing field! I’ve tried to have reasonable discussions with psychiatrists about what recent literature shows about the effects of “antipsychotics” on the brain (eg., neuronal cell death, permanent brain damage). One psychiatrist started yelling at me that I was being combative. He was so agitated and out of control that if I hadn’t been so alarmed by his behavior, it would have been amusing. But the labels are one way psychiatrists try to control people and wield their power. In a slightly different situation, even though he was the one out of control, he could have called the police and had me sent to a psychiatric facility, where I could have been held and medicated against my will. No matter how many advanced degrees I have, no one would have believed that he was the real nut case. I am very aware of how dangerous it is to be a person with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Note the distinction: it is the diagnosis, not the actual illness/condition, that is dangerous.

    I wish I were as sure as you seem to be that what happened in Nazi Germany to people with serious mental illnesses won’t happen here. Seeing what has been going on in Washington since last November has me very frightened about my safety. People with serious mental illnesses are not the “cash cows”. We are the ones who are seen as costing money. In a society that values money above all else, we are viewed as expendable. The current administration is hell bent on eliminating people who need medical care in the most heartless and cruel manner imaginable. Make health care unaffordable and unavailable, so if you get seriously ill or injured, please just go die. I am genuinely so frightened that I will probably leave the US.

  • Dr Kelmenson,
    Thank you for speaking honestly. We need more within the fields of psychiatry and psychology to tell the truth.
    When I tried to kill myself after my psychiatrist molested me, he sent me to another shrink for ECT. I nearly died during the 13th treatment, a fact I never would have known if the nurse who attended during the procedure hadn’t been so shaken by the brutality (shrink kept ramping up the current), that she actually told me after they got me out of status epilepticus. I wonder if the 2 shrinks might have been trying to cover up the molestation by wiping out the memory, or maybe eliminating me?? I sure would have liked to give them some truth serum!
    Honestly, there was not a single psychiatric medication I was prescribed that did not make me worse. I have a list that’s 2 pages long.
    All that crap happened to me in the 80s after I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. After reading a couple of Dr Breggin’s books, I got off all drugs and now refuse to take them. I have a PhD in Neuroscience and a veterinary degree from U Penn, along with 40+ yrs of research and teaching. I read the literature and know more about these drugs than any shrink I ever went to.
    Although I think psychiatric diagnoses are about as useless as psychiatric medications, psychosis is no fun trip. I am terrified of going over that edge of psychosis and ending up in the clutches of psychiatry again. Really terrified.

  • Actually, as a veterinarian, I can tell you that behavioral correlates of most, if not all, of the symptoms of “mental illnesses” in humans can be found in nonhuman animals, especially those who have been subjected to severe repeated abuse by humans. Shame on veterinarians who prescribe psychotropic drugs to dogs and cats with “behavioral problems”!

    Symptoms do not designate illness. Behavioral “symptoms”, from a mental health perspective, are a normal response to abnormal situations. Are there neurochemical changes associated with behavioral “symptoms”? Of course! That is how the brain functions. There are genetic and epigenetic factors that both contribute to and are influenced by behavioral patterns, as well. Behavior is the complex response of the brain to the environment, both internal and external. Using a set of behaviors to define an “illness” is ludicrous.

  • Oh, yes. The worst abuse of my privacy was early on in my “career” as a mental patient. This was before any HIPAA protections. The campus of one of the first (and worst) hospitals I was in also had laboratory facilities, one of which included the lab of a colleague who worked in the same field I did and whom I knew fairly well professionally. When the staff at the hospital did a case review of me, everyone in that lab attended! But I was not allowed to attend!! I was publicly outed in the absolute worst way possible at the very beginning of my professional career. I didn’t find out about that until several years later when I met someone who was a postdoc in that lab at the time I was hospitalized. He told me all about it. My horror and shame nearly caused me to kill myself. I’ve had to work extremely hard to distance myself from the suicidal feelings that come up around these public disclosures. The pain, the shame, the knowledge of how my life as a scientist was destroyed–it gets overwhelming. All the posters here obviously understand that. The public disclosures about my illness have done far, far more damage to me than my “illness” could ever have done.

  • I was told by several coworkers that my deceased boss had been telling people my diagnosis for years, not just at my last place of employment. You need to understand how academia works to know how gossip spreads faster than the speed of light within one’s field. I’ve left out a lot of details…

  • I don’t see Dr. Fisher’s comment in that light. We are a pill-oriented society. I’ve met so many people who demand a “pill solution” to every problem imaginable. That is a societal issue with so many causes and implications, one can’t even begin to pull it apart. Some people seem incapable of the level of insight it takes to question the medical model. Judging them as inferior or as “victims” of the medical model, or however one might see it through the lens of one’s own experiences is really not helpful.

    When a person in terrible psychic pain and no insight shows up in a psychiatrist’s office wanting a pill, should he/she turn that person away? That seems overly rigid to me, and believe me, I am no fan of the medical model or of psychotropic medications.

  • Hmmm…there is real pain, at least as I experience my life. It’s not pain associated with any psychiatric label, but pain associated with living as a human being in the world. I don’t feel the need to deny it, any more than I deny the constant physical pain I deal with from a spine injury that was a result of a car accident. I also don’t feel the need to “treat” it with psychotropics.

    Apologies don’t mean much to me, either. There are so many terrible things that human beings do to one another. If I were to rank my experiences in a list of human-imposed horrors, somehow I don’t think they would rank even in the upper 10%. And, I should add, I’ve been through the whole range of psychiatric/mental health system horrors many others have described, in addition to the discrimination associated with my label. There would be too many people who ostensibly would have to apologize to me. It would get very wearisome.

    As you’ve mentioned in other posts, just living as best one can is what I strive for these days. My incredible stubbornness and persistence in believing that I was an intelligent and worthwhile human being kept me not only alive but also pursuing my career. I don’t know where that comes from. Not everyone has that “gift”, so I don’t judge others for giving up or choosing a different path. So many times I’ve railed against the “gift”…

  • You may not find “positive” stories, as you’re defining them, in this venue, because this is a place for people to tell the painful stories that need to be heard. In my view, the fact that this site exists is incredibly positive. Through all those painful decades of my life, nothing like this existed. There was no place to tell the stories. No person would listen, even my “therapists”. The attitude was ‘well, you’re mentally ill, what do you expect if you’re going to insist on having a real career?’

    Here we can tell our stories and find a great deal of understanding. And there are mental health professionals who contribute here whose attitudes are very different from those whom I have encountered. That is success.

    I can’t deny my own pain and sorrow and rage at what’s happened to me, but I can say again that there is value to my life and to my experiences outside of the value that society bestows. The journey is important. That may sound trite, even I have trouble accepting that sometimes (many times), but it is undeniably true.

  • Well, maybe I’m overly cynical at this point about the government helping to change this situation, especially given the current level of corruption. I don’t really think the EEOC is at fault, anyway. The problem revolves around who is allowed to access the legal system. You have to be able to (1) find and (2) hire (ie, pay for) an attorney to represent you in a court of law. No matter how egregiously a law has been violated, if you can’t pay for legal representation, you have no chance for redress. Also, many laws are structured so that the value of your “loss” is defined entirely by your economic value–how much money you have, and how much money you make. If you don’t make a lot of money, the value of your award is too low to make it worthwhile for any attorney to want to get involved. Like many other things in this country, only the wealthy can afford legal representation.

  • Of course, I achieved many things, mostly the personal satisfaction of knowing that I contributed some interesting ideas and helped other young scientists have a different perspective than they might otherwise have had in my absence. And yes, I lost jobs specifically because of the label being disclosed. I was also prevented from being promoted and many other career-related things specifically as a result of disclosure of the label.
    “Silver linings” is a dangerous thing to look for. It implies that the only value to my experiences would have been career success as I attempted define it over the years. There is “value”, although I’m still struggling to understand it. It has to do with a more complete sense of my self, as more than just as the “scientist”.
    The world can be an incredibly cruel place, no doubt about that…

  • Thank you for this incredibly well written and horrific story. It is my story also, except with one big distinction. I knew who I truly was both before and after my diagnosis, at least in terms of being an intelligent and valuable person. That knowledge kept me from self-destructing, although it didn’t bring me health, wealth or happiness. First, though, I have to say that I HATE that word “consumer” as applied to my search for understanding of my cognitive dissonance. That is truly what “mental illness” is: attempting to live in a world that tells you what is when you know it isn’t. I have never considered myself as a “consumer”, a “patient” or any of the other euphemisms applied, only as a searcher for understanding.

    I am now nearly 63 and retired on disability after trying for over 40 years to have a career as a neuroscientist and veterinarian. I was one of those very promising young scientists in the 70s, before my “diagnosis”. My disability now has nothing to do with my own intelligence, talent, and skill as a scientist with a great deal of experience and insight into my chosen field. It only has to do with my inability to be employed because of the repeated and calculated disclosures of my personal medical information by those who had something to gain by those disclosures.

    At my last place of employment, I found out about the disclosure only after the person died. I contacted 12 attorneys in my attempt to involve the legal system in what was clearly an illegal action. I finally found 1 attorney who agreed to help me. There was a great deal of evidence supporting my claim of serious damage, and yet I only got a meager settlement because I couldn’t afford to pay the attorney up front in a prolonged battle against a University with unlimited legal funds. That was only the most recent experience of career-destroying disclosure. I have many stories…

    In addition, I can relate many stories of discriminatory and cruel treatment by medical “professionals” who learn of my “diagnosis”. The advent of electronic medical records makes it nearly impossible to find medical care uncontaminated by my diagnostic label. The effect is disastrous. I suspect I will eventually die because of a lack of needed medical care due to stigma and discrimination within the healthcare system. I don’t really care at this point–the world is clearly crazier than I ever was, and my cognitive dissonance has only grown greater and greater over time. There is a very good chance that I will take my own life, and that’s ok, too. I have no illusions and don’t fear death.

    I don’t know what the answer is. All these calls for the destruction of the field of psychiatry and the whole mental health “care” system don’t make sense to me. If the current system is dismantled, something equally dysfunctional and abusive will spring up. It isn’t the system that’s at fault; it is the inability of homo sapiens to evolve psychically. The latest turn of events in this country, the USA, is a clear indication of that. We are so close, and yet so far, from making that leap. We are so in love with our technological superiority, we fail to see how impoverished we are psychically.

    I hope you continue to find some peace in your life. It sounds like you now know much more about who you are, and it isn’t the label. Keep dismissing the labels, especially the ones you put on yourself. They’re meaningless and only keep you from understanding your true self.

  • Very interesting article. I really haven’t followed the literature on PMDD. The creation of the diagnosis came way after I had fixed my problem by getting “spayed” (I’m a veterinarian with a PhD in neuroscience and it amuses me to use that term). Until I was spayed I had a lifetime of abnormal hormone levels, very serious bulimia, and other psychiatric symptoms. I finally got to the point where I was bleeding continuously and my Gyn agreed to remove both my uterus and ovaries. I really did not have any idea that being spayed would have any effect on the bulimia, but interestingly, that intense pressure to make myself vomit any food that I ate evaporated immediately. It was very specific, because my other psych symptoms didn’t change. I was fascinated as a scientist, and of course very relieved to have that out of my life.
    However, any time I mention that to a mental health professional, I get a very complicated description of how it has nothing to do with my hormones, per se, but relates to something about my inability to accept my femininity and the hormones associated with being female. blah, blah, blah. It’s all BS. I am of course on hormone replacement therapy, but only estradiol. Over the past years, any time I try to add progesterone to the mix, those same symptoms return. Fascinating and frightening. As you point out, there is so little research about this.
    The popular perception is that progesterone is the wonder hormone and estrogen is the evil hormone. I finally found a few papers describing adverse responses to progesterone in women with extreme PMS, now defined as PMDD. It’s been a while since I looked in the literature, though, so maybe there’s more.
    By the way, I’ve experienced no complications due to the surgery itself. As with all surgical procedures, choose your surgeon carefully. My spay surgery is the only surgery I’ve had that has dramatically improved my life.
    Thanks for discussing this issue, and I agree with you that surgical treatment should be made available to more women who are suffering. But mostly, women’s issues deserve a whole lot more focus and research funding. After a 40+ year career in research, though, and seeing the decline in NIH sponsored funding and the take-over of research by pharmaceutical companies, I despair of any increased focus on women’s issues that don’t have an immediate dollar sign attached to them.