Friday, June 5, 2020

Comments by Oglick

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  • The set of recent blogs and commentary on this site is simply astounding – not that that’s so new! The rapid emergence within a short forty years or so of a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical/psychiatry behemoth is truly mind-boggling. The financial and professional benefits accruing to the participating players have been phenomenal. But, just as in cases like the Viet Nam War or our current embroilment in the Mid-East conflicts, or the tobacco effects scandal, or climate change… the official story of what’s going on, the merits and demerits of our commitments and practices, despite ongoing and accumulating evidence to the contrary, establishment voices continually assert and attempt to justify the official story line with neither logic nor evidence that is persuasively compelling.
    The voices in support of the psychiatric status quo claim professional and scientific merit and credibility. Sometimes they appear to rely even more on their humane and empathic response to the patients they serve in support of their claims. The latter is problematic in two respects: 1) It is contrary to the grounds for being objective and impartial in their thinking and conclusions regarding critical questions about psychiatry and 2) it is laughably ironic if their claims are meant to characterize the general practice of modern day psychiatry. That practice is predominantly 1) “diagnosis” (at best a medical metaphor, but possibly necessary to get paid) as per the DSM definitions and 2) drug prescription. You can see two to four patients an hour doing that which pays much better than any time consuming therapeutic counseling. Anyone who has observed the actual practice of most psychiatrists can appreciate the truth of these claims.
    I am a retired PhD Social Psychologist researcher and former small business owner. I have had a variety of involvement with issues of mental illness/health. I dispensed some of the first Thorazine pills in the early 1950s to patients as a psychiatric aide at the Menninger Foundation Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, then the Mecca of Freudian psychoanalysis. I have also conducted research related to mental health. I have not had the misfortune of being a psychiatric patient. However, I have two friends with adult children in their late 40s who had serious ‘psychiatric issues’ at college age. Both are now on ‘permanent’ disability, both on psychiatric meds, one relatively stable, the other periodically quite unstable with meds frequently being ‘adjusted’. The father of the first is a medical research scientist of some renown. We often discuss science related issues. When Whitaker’s “Anatomy of an Epidemic” was published, I loaned him my copy and suggested that we might discuss it. Well, the next time we met he was angry: “Whitaker isn’t a scientist! He’s a journalist! Why should I believe anything he says?” End of discussion. When I raised some of the concerns of the book with the Mother of the other son, hoping for some discussion, she was not at all open to it. The ‘medical profession’ has spoken definitively on the matter and she wasn’t about to ‘rock the boat’. In both cases, it seemed that the original trauma these parents experienced in the breakdown their sons went through at college age was still a very sensitive issue. Anything that might risk a recurrence could not even be contemplated.
    I have another friend of nearly twenty years, now in her late 50s, who is also on disability – I’m her Social Security ‘payee’. At age 14 she had most of her spine fused due to severe scoliosis. She graduated from college and was gainfully employed as a software analyst. Those spinal fusions are no longer performed because they lead eventually to ‘flat back syndrome’, accompanied by severe and chronic pain. For years now she has been in and out of numerous hospitals, group homes, motels, jails… Despite my efforts with mental health providers, there has never been an ‘emergency intervention plan’ in place to respond effectively and humanely to her periodic breakdowns. Over and over, it’s been a ‘911 call’, police intervention, and a landing in jail or an emergency room. I’ll comment on just one striking pattern (there are many others): Her ‘breakdowns’ are universally met with “Oh, she went off her meds!” by mental health personnel. Though I have often been in a position to know that the sequence of events was the opposite: She collapsed and then ‘went off her meds’. I could never get anyone to take my assertion seriously. (So much for the ‘caring, humane’ response of mental health professionals.) This is an example of how the prevailing psychiatric mentality leads to easy and false conclusions.
    My congratulations to Robert Whitaker and others who are persistently pursuing truth regarding the nature of mental health and illness and are challenging the currently prevailing mental health services system! Keep up the good work!