Friday, January 21, 2022

Children and Adolescents on Prescribed Psychotropic Drugs and their Parents

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    There are millions of parents out there who are being convinced to put their children on psychotropic drugs. The professionals advising them choose to ignore the risks of long term drug use. Millions of kids are being set up for careers as mental patients and lives of total disability, which would not be possible if they never started on drugs to begin with. This outcome is neither the choice of the kids nor the intention of the parents. What can we do to start reversing this iatrogenic slaughtering of epidemic proportions?

    What can parents, who were unwittingly complicit in leading their children to dependency on highly toxic drugs, do to help their children as they take responsibility for their own lives?   How can they compensate for making responsibility magnitudes more difficult?


    Drugs are toxic, yes, but please, don’t fall into the trap that many seem to fall into. They neglect to consider the massive degree to which the thoughts placed in someone’s head, not by the drugs, but by other human beings, are toxic too.

    If a kid thinks he has no future, has been told he has no future, if a kid thinks he has no free will, has been told he has no free will, if a kid is filled with self-doubt, and has been filled with self-doubt, these things, among many many other psychological things, are regularly even more significant and useful than speculating on what the drugs are doing or have done.

    The “dependency” a child may feel on the story they’ve been told, the label they’ve been given, the dependency they may feel on the doomsday song that has been sung to them by adults, may just as significant as any temporary habituated attachment the body may have to a substance that was in it.

    What has happened in society is much more than an epidemic of drugging, it is an epidemic of people being told lies, powerful lies that lead to a psychological dependency, where one feels one has to keep believing in the lie, just to feel safe.

    In line with the spreading of drugs, psychiatry also spread many toxic self-fulfilling prophecies that have great psychological power of those who become holders of these beliefs.




    Below I reproduce my introductory post in the “Space for Introductions” thread. It describes my personal situation in the context of the proposed topic for this thread.  The importance of an individual’s story is not only its uniqueness but what it has in common with that of others, e.g. Laura’s story.  Anonymous, Malene, Emily and Laura have already posted some relevant responses in that other thread. Anonymous has just follow up with the post above with another important point. I will continue the discussion here. I need to catch up with all the previous posts.

    On August 30, 2012 PC wrote:

    My son is 16 years old. When he was 7 years old we put him on Ritalin, at 9 on Zoloft and at 14 on Risperdal and then Abilify. He was put on the antipsychotics in hospital after a “break”, the rationale being the distressing voices. The following year he was very fragile, crippled by anxiety and agoraphobia. He became obese. The voices never left, however, always lurking, and after he experienced a strong emotional setback they came roaring back. His psychologist recommended a second hospitalization and his mother and I promptly complied. He was there for only a week but he came out on double the antipsychotic dose. Not even that killed the voices.

    Finally it occurred to us that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to put all our faith in the psychiatrist, that maybe some questioning was in order. I started searching the NY Times for articles on psychosis. There I discovered Gail Hornstein and from her, Marius Romme. I read many other authors including, of course, Robert Whitaker. Thanks to those authors I dared ask the most basic questions. What followed in my mind was a deconstruction of psychiatry that left a pile of rubble. I tried my best to salvage something but did not succeed. I am now squarely the anti-psychiatry camp, at least as a branch of medicine, and if not that, what is psychiatry?

    After six months of soul searching, I took action. First I switched to a psychiatrist who would tolerate – not bless – my decision to taper the antipsychotic.  Thank God I found her. My dream is that in a couple of years my son will be drug free. Here’s the rub though, my son doesn’t want to go off the drugs. He still believes in the chemical imbalance theory and that the drugs actually restore balance. I have moved on but he hasn’t. What ends the discussion is to ask: if your son was a heroin addict, would you not force him into rehab? Everyone I’ve posed this question to, including my son, answers yes. Not that they really see the connection. Nor is the public generally aware that long term antipsychotic use is far more toxic than heroin addiction and probably more disabling.

    Yet I still have the dilemma: is forcing someone off drugs the right thing? In a couple of years I will no longer have the legal power to do so but I will have plenty of leverage to exert.  If your son joined a nefarious cult – at least so you believe – what would you do? There are millions of parents out there whose child is on antipsychotics. Some will realize the enormity of their blunder, like I did. By then their child may already be an adult, far down the path to disability, in the grip of the Stockholm syndrome. What to do? How to do it?



    Every single response in this forum to my decision to taper my son’s drugs has been negative. I need to explain.

    When trying to sort the confusion, one of my “aha” moments was finding this quote from an article of Gardos and Cole in the American Journal of Psychiatry, January 1976:

    “every chronic schizophrenic outpatient maintained on antipsychotic medication should have the benefit of an adequate trial without drugs”

    Back then some research psychiatrists would admit in scholarly journals that they had no clue about the causes of schizophrenia and that many, if not the majority, of schizophrenics might be better off never using antipsychotics at all. What has happened in the last 35 years is that the medical academics have learned virtually nothing about the causes but virtually none of them admit it anymore. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that if all else fails trial and error is the way to go, in fact rocket scientists do it all time.  Readers on this site will agree that my son, like the millions of other kids on prescribed drugs, is a guinea pig in a huge social experiment. The least I can do is strive for the experiment to be fair. My son implicitly admitted that an “adequate trial” is the only way to be absolutely certain that on drugs is superior to off drugs, but he did not agree with my decision to proceed.

    A day after telling him we would start tapering the antidepressant, he came to me and asked “can we do the antipsychotic instead? I’m more afraid of feeling depressed than I am of the voices.” So that’s what we did. I warned him of withdrawal symptoms and that his emotions and the voices could become more intense. I set a very gradual tapering schedule and told him to say the word at any time he felt he needed to pause. I told him his mother and I would do anything to support him with his moods.  After reducing about 15% of the initial dose, he started feeling some mild symptoms presumably due to withdrawal. Nausea and more rapid cycling of emotions are the main ones. But the voices, the average mood level and his anxiety were not worse. Every few days I asked if he wanted to pause and he passed. It seems he really wants to get over with it sooner rather than later. Until today; this morning he asked to hold. The last couple of days he’s been very anxious and the voices are consistently louder. He and I know that it’s probably not withdrawal but the fact that school starts tomorrow. School has always been a source of anxiety for him. In fact he was less anxious during summer while tapering than last year in school before tapering. We agreed that we would deal with one stressor at a time and we would hold until further notice.  I had offered to home school him, probably because subconsciously I knew that school could derail, or at least delay, the taper plan. I insisted on him taking a semester sabbatical but he was adamant that he wanted to return to school. His conviction is much stronger than his reluctance to taper was.  I accepted his decision because the ultimate goal is to develop his agency and stopping the drugs is only a means, though in his case a critically necessary one.

    Before I switched psychiatrists, when I proposed to the previous one that we experiment minimizing the drugs he pulled the suicide card on me.  Ethically he could not approve. I said nothing but I knew that moment spelled the end of our nine year relationship. I viscerally know that the risk of tragedy is incommensurably higher if we continue down the path set by this man than if I follow my gut, even if I haven’t fully resolved my own ethical issues. Laura, if you had succeeded in killing yourself – and you came so close – nothing else would have mattered. Shouldn’t paying the ultimate price be the foremost concern?

    My hope is that by going into the details of my specific case I can elicit reactions from readers and that an ensuing discussion can be helpful to more than just me. I have a lot more to say about the feedback already provided but that’s all for this post.


    In the August 30 post in the “Space for Introductions” thread Anonymous says:

    “If my son had a bad habit, I wouldn’t force him into ‘rehab’”

    I pose the question “if your son were a heroin addict, would you force him into rehab?” because it made me think and it makes other people think (some refuse to think, but most try).

    Forcing people off illegal drugs and forcing them on legally prescribed ones are both socially acceptable.  But why are drugs like opiates controlled? Why was alcohol banned? The short answer is because morphine, heroin and alcohol were destroying lives at an epidemic scale and society wanted to do something about it. And how do these substances destroy lives? Alcohol causes cirrhosis, makes people violent and abusive. Heroin is highly addictive and frequently kills by overdose.  They all profoundly affect people’s identity and agency, they make them prisoners and that is what provokes the deepest fear in those who suffer it and those who care. So legally controlling heroin and discouraging alcoholism makes sense to most.

    Now look at my son. He is obese and becoming diabetic (not quite there yet, just insulin resistant). His sleep pattern is distorted, his cognitive abilities stalled, his agency impaired and his identity is being defined by physical and psychological dependence on drugs. Can someone explain to me the difference between my son being an alcoholic heroin addict and following the prescriptions of his psychiatrist? Why not do it the other way around? Let’s ban antipsychotics, compel all users to rehab and have doctors prescribe alcohol and heroin. It’s quite arbitrary, really. Neither one way nor the other will make my son’s anxiety, depression and harrowing voices disappear. Some who have never been in situation like that, don’t know what to think. Others, in response, will recite standard lines of psychiatric dogma. Even those entrenched in medical ideology feel the discomfort of the weakness in their counterarguments.

    Anonymous, my original question has two purposes. The first one is to inflict a little damage on the mental – I dare not say logical – constructs of psychiatry and existing social norms.  You get it, I’m sure (in your opinion, does it work?).  The second is to pose an honest question. Given that the answer I got was a unanimous no – at least for the non-hypothetical case of the antipsychotic – I have to find some other way of putting it. Let me start somewhere safer. So I learn that my son is addicted to heroin. What should I tell him? That while I’m around I’ll provide free room and board because the only alternative is homelessness. That I will fund the habit in full because the only financing alternative is to deal drugs. Surely doing that, and only that, is not the right answer for me, no more than abandoning him.  I know that ultimately if he does not resolve in the depth of his soul the pain and desperation that drives him to destructive behaviors, any imposed abstinence is bound to fail.  I do believe, however, that resolving the underlying issues may be much more accessible, albeit more painful, while not under the influence. Based on that belief I see a rationale for withdrawing the drug and seeing if it helps.

    An oversimplified analogy would be this: my son has acute appendicitis but pleads “don’t touch me; I’m afraid the operation will kill me.” Does the doctor have a choice between almost certain death by septic shock in six hours – my son’s choice – or can he ignore him and risk the anesthesia killing him? I know, a medical analogy in this context is unfortunate; but I can’t avoid it. Another thought that really bothers me is that the argument for forced withdrawal can be easily flipped into an argument for forced drugging and we all know where that leads…

    These questions torture me.


    Dear PC,

    Your son’s life is infinitely irreplaceable and precious.  Now that you know his “illness” is not an innate brain disease–and is actually from the psychiatric treatment–you definitely have a moral obligation to get your son away from the drugs and the system.  The best way to do this is by trying to win his trust and his willingness.

    I think you have tapped into resources beyond measure in Anonymous and Laura Delano.  If I were you, I would contact them.  It doesn’t really matter what the other million plus parents with kids on antipsychotics are thinking/doing as much what you can do to get your son off of them.  I don’t think force him into rehab mode is the long-term answer.  He doesn’t need more trauma issues.  He needs to go slow without hype and unnecessary fanfare.  He needs some kind of interests/relationships to supplant his identity as a schizophrenic.

    Do you spend recreational time with him?  Do you share an interest in sports, movies, video games, or something?  Can you motivate/bribe him with trips to sporting events, film festivals, or video game conferences as he goes through withdrawal?  Can you start an exercise routine with him to address the obesity?  You could start with walking a few miles every day or join a community education program for a low impact sport like volleyball.

    I’m really rooting for you and for your son.  Your son could become an activist like Laura who goes on to help many others get away from psychiatry and lifetime disability.

    Be firm and resolute in your mission to free your son from psychiatry.  There is no need for fear or to be tortured any longer now that you have identified the source of the problem.  If you have a faith community, use them to pray for you and give you emotional support.

    Wishing you strength,


    Laura Delano

    Hi PC,

    I really admire your commitment, your devotion, and your passion around helping your son.  And while I completely agree with you that the psychiatric drugs are bringing him closer to lifelong disability, hopelessness, and a death at least 25 years before the average person, I truly believe that he has to come to his own decision, in his own time, to come off.  Again, let me reiterate that this is not because I think in the slightest bit that the drugs are doing anything but harm; it is simply because I believe, based on my own experiences, that it is just so much more complicated than simply getting off the drugs.

    Let me explain why I think your analogy with a heroin addict doesn’t work here, or why using the history of banning alcohol, regulating opiates, etc., isn’t an accurate analogy.  A lot of this is going to be repetitive from my last post (I might just end up reposting it here so that people don’t have to go back and forth between the forums), so bear with me.

    Yes— the physical aspect of heroin addiction and psychiatric drug addiction are totally parallel.  However, the identity that comes along with being a heroin addict is usually, well, “addict” (or, if someone doesn’t believe they have an addiction— which in my opinion only they themselves can determine, a belief I have because I identify as an alcoholic after coming to it on my own terms).  The identity that comes along with consuming psychiatric drugs— being “mentally ill”— is much, much, much more complicated, and loaded with social/medical/political weight.  Not that being an “addict” isn’t, but in my opinion, the two simply cannot be compared.  I may be generalizing, but it’s my interpretation that society views the “addict” as a person just like everyone else who decided to start using substances in irresponsible ways, regardless of the impact it had on others.  There’s no deeper underlying disease paradigm at play here— aka, the “chemical imbalance” idea, for example.  A person simply does drugs/drinks too much, and becomes addicted.  Of course, there are chemical things going on in his/her brain (just as there is with any chemical substance that gets put in the body— caffeine, sugar, etc. etc.), but there isn’t an underlying deficit that lies beyond the person’s control (in other words, they don’t have a life-long “disease” like “bipolar” or “schizophrenia”).  But I don’t want to go too much further into addiction, as it’s kind of tangential (plus, I have a ton of my own personal beliefs about addiction as a spiritual thing, but that’s a topic for another time…)

    So, basically, a heroin addict can go to detox, withdraw, and have a shot at becoming a “recovered/recovering” addict.  However, when it comes to psychiatric drugs, it is my firm, firm, firm belief that physically withdrawing from them is just the beginning.  And because it is such a unique experience, I’m not even going to pretend to generalize— I’ll just share my own experience.

    [And here is where I’ll cut and past almost all of from my post in the other forum…  Sorry, it’s a lot, but it very much captures the point I’m trying to make!  Here it is:]

    Although I know that psychiatric drugs and psychiatric labels took me as far from a genuine, meaningful sense of self as I could go, I do not think that forcing someone to go off of them is the solution.  I say this because the process I went through to embrace being “mentally ill”, as well as the process I went through to leave that identity behind, were both unbelievably confusing, painful, complicated, and, most importantly, individual to me.  When I embraced being “mentally ill” at 18 after fighting the diagnosis for 4 years, it took tremendous, concentrated, and determined effort to internalize the belief that I was different than my peers— abnormal, imbalanced, broken.  It was agonizing to think about myself in this way at first, as I was riddled with shame, guilt, isolation, confusion, and sadness.

    However, as time went on, the diagnosis began to fill me with comfort and ease, because it provided a definitive, concrete explanation to all the emotional pain I was feeling that I couldn’t seem to figure out on my own.  As I began to distance myself further and further from my environment (family, friends, nature, sports, arts, etc.), I no longer had to beat myself up for what I was doing— I was “mentally ill”, after all, and these things were beyond my control because they were the manifestations of my disease.  Thus, taking poor care of myself, behaving in wreckless and impulsive ways, isolating from everyone around me, and thinking more and more about death became my status quo, as I was told by all my doctors and all the pamphlets I was given about “my bipolar disorder” that this is what we “bipolar” people do— this is our ‘normal’.

    Thus, when I first discovered ‘Anatomy’ and this whole world I’m fully immersed in now, it scared the hell out of me to think about the fact that there was no underlying “disease” that was ‘causing’ me to do these things— that, in fact, my brain was just like everyone else’s around me, thus meaning that I had to take responsibility for my actions.  Initially, I was in denial.  I was enraged.  I was confused.  But, most importantly, I was scared.  Paralyzed with fear.  If I wasn’t “mentally ill” like doctors had been telling me since I was 14, what was I?  And when I realized that the question I should be asking myself wasn’t, “What was I?” but rather, “Who was I?” that scared me even more.  Because there was no condition, no disorder, no disease to explain me.  There was just, me.  Me, and my thoughts, my feelings, and my behaviors.  I could no longer say, “I’m Laura and I’m bipolar.”  Now, there was just, “I’m Laura, and I simply am.”  And I just had absolutely no idea what that meant.

    In terms of my relationship to psychiatric drugs (“medications”, or “meds”, as I used to call them), the process was a little more straightforward.  After reading ‘Anatomy’, I was suddenly able to remember things about my pre-“medicated” self that I hadn’t remembered in a long time.  Things like the fact that I used to experience pleasure on a pretty regular basis, from taking a walk in the woods, to reading a book, to playing a sport outside.  Or, that I used to have a really amazing memory, and a rigorous work ethic that enabled me to learn facts relatively easily, or clearly and articulately make a point.  Or, that the size and shape of my body, and even the shape of my face, used to be markedly different.  That I used to have thick hair, and clear skin.  That I used to have tremendous energy.  That I used to have a real smile.

    All of a sudden, I had a sense of perspective that I hadn’t had before reading the book.  And I realized that none of who I was, was me.  That all of those “symptoms” of my bipolar (apathy, lethargy, over-eating, inability to concentrate, loss of interest, etc.) might actually have been the direct result of my “medications”.  And I was pissed.  I was enraged at the thought that all of this tremendous physical, emotional, and mental pain and discomfort wasn’t the direct result of an innate brokenness that I’d thought I’d had, but rather, was being caused by my ‘treatment’.

    So, deciding to come off the psychiatric drugs was much easier than accepting the fact that I was not and had never been “mentally ill”.  But, of course, they were deeply interconnected.  I don’t think I would have successfully come off and pushed through the agony of withdrawal if I didn’t come to believe that there was no underlying “illness” that they were treating.

    I never pretend to be able to understand what’s going on inside another person, unless he/she tells me directly him/herself, so I won’t even attempt to tell you what I think your son might be experiencing.  What I will say is that it is a tremendously complicated, painful, and scary process to leave behind the identity of being “mentally ill”.  It had infiltrated every fiber of my being; it had overtaken the language I used to think about myself and my relationship to the world around me; it informed every decision I made, or didn’t make; it was the foundation upon which I built every relationship I had.  To become un-“mentally ill” was a agonizingly difficult process of facing the fear of the unknown and of the future, and of building up the courage to walk through it, to the other side, and to the Truth, which at the time I thought was a concrete thing (“If I’m not mentally ill, then I am X, Y, and Z”), but which I’ve discovered is actually more of a sense of connectedness to my humanity that lies deeper than words (and boy is that a beautiful thing!)

    It sounds like your son’s relationship to psychiatry and to “mental illness” began when he was 7, so, 9 years ago.  As you know from my story, my relationship began at age 14, and ended at 27.  Thus, I experienced years 7-14 in a way that your son hasn’t (by this, I mean that I was not aware of myself in the framework of psychiatry).  So, his sense of self as a child, as well as an adolescent, is connected to being “mentally ill”.  However, in my opinion (and this comes from my heart, not my mind), I believe that your son is very, very far from being a “lost cause”, or a “hopeless case”, or “permanently damaged” or any of those horrible thoughts or notions that may or may not have popped into your mind.  Based on my own experiences, I am profoundly awed by the human capacity to (a) heal from trauma (the trauma of psychiatry and psychiatric drugs in my case), and (b) continuously evolve and grow, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  It is unquestionable that your son has been damaged by psychiatry, although he may not be ready to see that yet; to me, it is also unquestionable that he has the capacity to heal from these wounds and discover a meaningful, genuine sense of self, even though he’s been in this world for more than half his life.

    And this is where I get to the painful answer to your question, “Is forcing someone off drugs the right thing?”

    Speaking for myself, I had to come to my own realizations in my own time.  I had to uncover the facts, be ready and able to read them and digest them, and allow myself to truly wrap my mind around what it all meant.  Had someone, even the best-intentioned person, tried to make me see these things in their time, it might have pushed me only more deeply into my identity as a psychiatric patient.

    Because my journey has been one of rediscovering my agency, my autonomy, and my sense of self, I had to do this on my own.  I am beyond lucky that I had support around me, from family and from a sober (from alcohol) community, but I was the one and only person who made each and every decision, took each and every action, and came to the determination that I simply had to walk through the fear of the unknown and the future (aka a life beyond psychiatry).  This, I see, was a VITAL part of my journey out of psychiatry— deciding on my terms when and how I was going to reconstruct a sense of self.  I learned how to be an agent of myself and my life by doing this; I don’t think I ever would have left psychiatry if I hadn’t been given this chance.

    On your end, this means tolerating the painful uncertainty that you can’t know when, or if, your son will become ready to make these decisions for himself.  I believe that the more you try to make him see the Truth (even though you are coming from a place of love, concern, and care for him), the further away you will push him from it.

    That being said, I think there is nothing more powerful that storytelling, and the beautiful ability we have as humans to come to conclusions about ourselves not by being told what they are, but by identifying with another person’s struggles, triumphs, and discoveries and coming to them on our own.  Have you thought about asking your son if he’d be interested in talking to another person who can identify with “having mental illness”, being in the hospital, and being on psychiatric drugs, who now has a different life?  Some of the biggest realizations I’ve made about myself have come from hearing something in another person’s story that flipped a switch on inside of me.

    If he isn’t willing to talk to anyone, continue to have information ready and available for him, if he ever decides that he’s ready.  Let him know here and there that you have “alternatives” for him, if he ever thinks he might want them.  And beyond that, just stay with him on his journey, no matter how dark it might get, as it’s clear that you are.  If you or your son are ever interested in talking further in a private exchange, I am 100% ready and willing to share any of my experiences with you/him, as the only expertise I have is on myself.  My email is [email protected].  If you email me there, I can give you my phone number.

    Lastly, I want to thank you for what you’ve said about my blog— it really means a lot to me that it has been helpful to you.  Although I had a feeling that writing my story, selfishly, would help me heal from psychiatry and make sense of my experiences (which it has), the primary reason I decided to write it was that I realized that my story is not unique or special at all.  There are countless people out there who have gone down the same path as I have— each of us in a unique way, of course— and I felt compelled to write about my experiences for this reason, in case it might reach someone who hasn’t yet found their way out yet, or even realized that there is a way out.  That you say it’s allowed you to get a better sense of what it’s like to be diagnosed and everything that follows, inspires me to keep writing.  So, thank you, PC.

    Keep holding onto hope and faith in your son; I definitely am.  And don’t hesitate to contact me at any time.



    OK, that’s the end of my old post.  PC, I’m so glad that you’ve started this forum and completely agree that this discussion can help a lot of people, beyond you and your family.  Looking forward to more dialogue.

    In love,



    “My son is 16 years old. When he was 7 years old we put him on Ritalin, at 9 on Zoloft and at 14 on Risperdal and then Abilify. He was put on the antipsychotics in hospital after a “break”, the rationale being the distressing voices.”

    How nice they put him on a drug that increases the dopaminergic activity at the age of 7. Then when he gets a “psychotic break”, he gets neuroleptic drugs the main “antipsychotic” action of which is to antagonise the dopamine. For how long did he take the Ritalin?


    Dear PC,

    I apologize for the above post.  I don’t know who I think I am!  I deeply, deeply wish I could undue my own drugged years, and moreover, just undue the neuroleptics.

    I know my life went straight downhill with the drugs and likewise, started rocketing up very soon after finishing tapering the drugs. I would not wish neuroleptics on a dog let alone a human being.  It makes me mad to think prestigious, elite  professionals can deign that any one could be better off living their entire life heavily sedated.  And it makes me mad to think how much money they can make from manufacturing disabled people.  Heroin dealers don’t get the social prestige, the reliable income, nor the satisfaction of “saving” lives that psychiatrists get.  I’ve read that 2,000 Americans die in a year from heroin and 150,000 from using prescription drugs as directed (not overdoses).  I’ve read that any polydrugging (as defined as four or more prescription drugs) is a guinea pig experiment (and I spent my entire twenties that way).  Heroin is not America’s problem.  It is a convenient red herring.  I love that the mental health industry can be in charge of both psychiatric drugging and substance abuse without any irony.  That right there is why I no longer think I believe that rehab is the way to go for addictions.   And it is no wonder I never could see my psych drugs as an addiction: it goes against the mental health industry policy.

    I am rooting for you and I do wish you strength,



    “So, basically, a heroin addict can go to detox, withdraw, and have a shot at becoming a “recovered/recovering” addict.  ”

    I always felt it was such a shame, that a person who has put a bad habit, or a habit they decided was bad, behind them, still gets labeled and defined in the “recovering addict” way.
    I said initially, don’t force the boy off the drugs,  and this will take time.  “You broke it you bought it” is a phrase, and there is no quick way to put it all back together again.

    “The first one is to inflict a little damage on the mental – I dare not say logical – constructs of psychiatry and existing social norms.  You get it, I’m sure (in your opinion, does it work?).”

    The first thought of mine when I heard this was I hope the adults around him, aren’t contributing to the false idea that the conversations he engages in, in his head, that get labeled “voices”, are coming from an external source. Just because you pull the drugs and a 15 year old self-reports that he is talking to himself more, the adults shouldn’t just say ‘I see’ and move on as if that is that. You need to coach him and be with him and let him see that even if he doesn’t think that both sides of the conversation in his head are him, that they are. If he doesn’t believe this, he is mistaken.

    What I’m hearing from PC about “the voices”, is some very mainstream psychiatry interpretations. I’d encourage you to think harder on that issue at least.

    I don’t agree with some of the drug warrior stuff either.

    “Forcing people off illegal drugs and forcing them on legally prescribed ones are both socially acceptable.  But why are drugs like opiates controlled? Why was alcohol banned? The short answer is because morphine, heroin and alcohol were destroying lives at an epidemic scale and society wanted to do something about it.”

    Substances can’t be controlled all too well. People decide to destroy their own lives, there isn’t some angry personified demon in a barrel of liquor, anthropomorphized saying “Let me out, I want to destroy some lives”.





    Re your September 3 post, your point is well taken and no, I don’t believe I’ve fallen into the trap you allude to.  I believe that of the weapons of mass destruction psychiatry deploys in its quest for domination their concept of mental illness is the most effective. As Laura says, compared to shedding the identity of mental patient, dealing with drug withdrawal symptoms is a breeze. So I’ll modify my claim that mental patient careers are not possible without drugs: Mental patient careers in some cases are not possible without drugs, and in all cases drugs promote a degree of career success and longevity not possible without them.  I also believe that drugs, not his beliefs, caused my son’s obesity and metabolic syndrome, that lithium, not a non-drug related occurrence of Hashimoto, caused Laura’s hypothyroidism (listen to just released radio interview), that seven years of Ritalin use was a major factor to the onset of my son’s auditory hallucinations, that by just eliminating drugs the life expectancy of mental patients could quite possibly increase by 25 years. But you’re right, Anonymous, my introduction might have benefited from more emphasis on psychological dependence, not chemical.

    Re your September 6, 12:40am post, I am perplexed by your hearing from me “mainstream psychiatry interpretations” of voice hearing. I reread my posts and can’t figure it out. Unless you consider the approach of Marius Romme mainstream.  When I discovered and read his books, I was infused by such optimism that I immediately sought out the closest Hearing Voices Group, succeeded to bribe my son and drove hours to attend a session with him. To my great disappointment he rejected the whole experience. We never returned. I think, Anonymous, that you are reading in my posts what’s not there. However, in thinking that you had understood the purpose of my “if your son were a heroin addict” question, I was mistaken. As Robert Whitaker goes to great lengths to expose the logical fallacies in the chemical imbalance theories, there are plenty of flagrant logical inconsistencies to go around in psychiatry. The success of its blunt sophistry never ceases to amaze me. My son is still holding on to the chemical imbalance theories in spite of my efforts to debunk them, though I did make him wonder about the arbitrariness of which drugs are good and which are bad by arguments in line with my previous posts. When I state what historians broadly agree about the origins of prohibition, I’m not stating I believe in an “angry personified demon in a barrel of liquor”. You seem to entirely miss the point that I am trying to expose the inconsistencies in the beliefs of others, not putting forth those beliefs as my own.  On the other hand, Emily on September 5 gets it.


    Thank you for your kind wishes, I appreciate it. Re your September 5 post, I couldn’t have put it any better, thanks. Re your August 31 post, neither my son nor I am religious, though I was brought up Catholic and, for better or for worse, my upbringing is an important part of my identity. So I don’t think we’ll be seeking a pastor anytime soon. In fact my son is instinctively suspicious of anybody who tries to tell him what or how he is or should be, including me when I try. He rejects all therapy. In fact he is much more in tune with his sister’s advice on how not to be a dork, than anything adult could possibly suggest. Paradoxically, I see it as his greatest strength. For me, there has been a unique benefit in trusting psychiatrists for ten years: now I trust myself a lot more. What my son needs and seeks is plain friendship. He’s on the right track.


    Thanks for your support and your thoughts about cults. I will follow up on Steven Hassan, thanks for the reference.  I want to understand more about cults, alcoholism and other psychological dependencies; I hope it will provide “insights” into psychiatrists’ pathological thinking and how they succeed in pathologizing others (sarcasm intended).


    I discontinued my son’s Concerta in February of this year, meaning he was on stimulants for 9 years. He complained bitterly that he couldn’t concentrate anymore. I told him that I refused to give him a stimulant and an antipsychotic at the same time, that health comes before grades, that he would have to adapt to the shorter attention span and that I’d do all in my power to find the accommodations to help him cope. It’s interesting that you would bring this up, because at the very beginning of my questioning, before I had started reading literature critical of current psychiatry, I was trying to figure out the pharmacology of the different drugs. I didn’t really understand the chemistry, but, in lay man terms, taking an upper and a downer simultaneously didn’t make any sense to me. When I saw that cocaine abuse frequently provokes psychosis and I brought up the connection with my psychiatrist, he promptly dismissed my concerns and told me not to believe what I read on the internet.  I didn’t bother arguing with him and ignored his advice to stay on stimulants, but I did have an argument with my son’s psychologist at the time, who is no psycho-pharmacologist. He vigorously defended the virtues of Ritalin, how it helps so many children and that it was probably not related in any way to my son’s psychosis. I firmly believe the opposite is true. How a psychologist can so enthusiastically tow the line for psychiatry is disconcerting. Six months after that discussion I found this article from 2001 on how Ritalin is as chemically powerful, if not more, than cocaine and it refers to clinical evidence that Ritalin, if snorted or injected, can produce a comparable high:

    My son has survived without Concerta.


    I ran out of time to respond to your latest posts. I’ll get to it next time, but thanks.




    Re: Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and Children

    I contacted LSU last week, and unfortunately the ‘Get Kids Off Medicine’ program is no longer running.

    If anyone finds any information on support for parents with kids, would you please ask to have it posted in the ‘Resources’ section of MiA?

    Re: ‘Resources’ Section

    Matthew, Kermit,

    Would it be possible to indicate that Peter Breggin and Heather Ashton are doctors?

    I noticed the writing by Stuart Shipko mentions ‘Dr. Stuart Shipko’.

    If Professor C. Heather Ashton and Peter Bregggin’s work quickly opened with ‘Dr. Peter Breggin’ and ‘Dr.C.  Heather Ashton’ it would give *parents* more confidence.  Because most parents will not want to try withdrawal for a child without guidance from a doctor, and reading this material will give them some info to share with their kid’s doc, that their kid’s doc will take seriously.



    I apologize for the redundant posting, but we have three forums going on the topic of psychiatric drugs/drug withdrawal.



    Hi Laura,

    I appreciate your kind words. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, it’s not that I haven’t had time to answer your last post but rather I needed time to digest it. For me the words of somebody who’s been there somehow carry so much more weight than those of the professionals with all their science. I’ve had to think about what you say.

    First, a quick comment on the drug addict comparison which is not of big concern. I didn’t succeed to get across my point with you or Anonymous, though Emily gets the irony. I don’t intend to establish an analogy, as you interpret, but rather a comparison. You and I know that the predicament of the mental patient identity is or can be much more complex than that of a drug addict, a realization that actually enhances the absurdity of society applauding the “good” mental patient while condemning the addict. It is difficult, however, for the general public to grasp how psychiatry perpetuates the suffering of its chronic victims.  It is easier to recognize the loss of agency, the wasted lives and physical decline of too many patients and addicts. The reasoning just challenges social norms and psychiatrists’ ideology. I brought it up because it helped me score a point with my son and though for him it serves as justification for my attitude towards his drugs, for me it does not.

    The situation I face with my son is a lot more complex than the simple question “Is forcing someone off the drugs the right thing?” I tried to put a little perspective with the appendicitis analogy but you didn’t choose to address that question. Another extreme case would be if he started showing symptoms of neuroleptic malignant syndrome; I am quite sure you would not oppose the decision of the doctors to rapidly discontinue the suspected drug in spite of his intense fear or his inability to understand the situation. Here is a less black and white situation but it is real. Over the last two years my son has become severely obese and he has developed insulin resistance. The doctors say that the antipsychotic is to blame and that he is at much increased risk of diabetes (in reality the doctors never warned me about diabetes and never suggested an insulin test, I made them test his insulin and given the results they admitted to his insulin resistance). Would you just say let’s wait and see until he decides to come off the drugs on his own, if in the meantime he becomes diabetic, well that’s the price he has to pay, let’s hope for the best? Or should I take the advice of another psychiatrist who gave me a list of other antipsychotics to try in the hope he’ll lose some weight? (That physician is head of adolescent psychiatry at a premier medical school in the US, he told me my son would be on antipsychotics the rest of his life, he neither knew nor cared to ask about the insulin levels).

    I’ll grant you that you didn’t have additional information when I asked you the original question. But, referring to your experience, I can’t understand how you can so lightly dismiss the fact that you would be dead right now had Fate not saved you in the nick of time. I believe my son is on the same road you were on and I refuse to wait and see if he is as extremely lucky as you were. I don’t understand how quitting Lithium after you became hypothyroid was better than quitting before.

    In Will Hall’s Harm Reduction Guide, a model of balance and reasonableness, there is a section entitled “Choice and ‘Do No Harm’”. Here is an excerpt:

    “… prescribers are bound by the principle of ‘do no harm.’ This means that when there are signs of overmedication, adverse effects that aren’t justified by usefulness, or if a client wants to take medications that are dangerous or only contribute to addiction, the prescriber cannot just go along. They should inform patients about why they disagree, on grounds of medical ethics, and work to find viable alternatives. Otherwise respect for choice can become an excuse for neglecting client’s real need.”

    Now I believe that most psychiatrists with many of their clients are violating the Hippocratic Oath, even if they don’t realize it. I believe Bob Whitaker will agree with me. I’m not a medical doctor and haven’t sworn to anything, but as a parent I am bound by the same obligation to protect my son from harm.  I’ve seen enough and informed myself enough to know that medical doctors’ judgment is not infallible. Do I need to study eight years and become a medical doctor myself so I can ethically stop prescribing drugs to my child? I do not. From an ethical point of view, I need to learn what is necessary to make a decision for the problem at hand that is just as good as or better than the decisions of doctors around me.

    Another irony concerning the best course of action from a medical perspective is that 35 years ago my point of view could have been mainstream, or at least less controversial. Here is a quote from Sandra Steingard’s latest MIA blog, “Finland: The Pre-Seminar”:

    “In the 1970’s, it was not as radical or unusual to consider alternatives to drugs in the treatment of psychosis. In fact, in the 1980’s in the US, most psychopharmacologic research was focused on minimizing dosing. “

    What I am actually doing with my son is an “adequate trial without drugs” as I explain in a previous post on this thread. I need to be convinced that, whatever amount of drugs he is actually taking, it is the minimal amount feasible, which is impossible to determine without the trial. Unfortunately, he did not agree with my decision to try. You may agree with most of what I say above and still disagree with me on the best course of action at present.  It is not easy for me to be in your shoes or the shoes of my son but likewise it is not easy for you to be in mine.

    Recently my son is experiencing some moderately strong emotional symptoms which he and I agree are likely due to withdrawal. We are down 30% from the initial dose. Yesterday he came up to me out of the blue and said “I want to get off the antipsychotic, it doesn’t help me”.  I don’t know what he’ll say tomorrow.



    Dear PC,

    I know I’m not Laura, but since this is a public forum I thought I might take a stab at of few of the issues you raise in this last post.

    I’ll start with the easiest ones and build from there.  I’m pretty nervous about addressing some of this stuff but I think it is important to address it from the perspective of someone who has lived it and been there instead of from the doctors’ perspective.

    The first is obesity.  I was on drugs as a “bipolar” patient for 12 years.  I was routinely given antipsychotics but never stuck with one through the years.  All that changed when I met my last doctor, with whom I had a very good “therapeutic” relationship for six years.  This means she was an excellent saleswoman who won my trust in which to be more exploited than I ever thought humanly possible.  She convinced me to stay on Abilify for about five years.  She was a paid rep. for the drug.  It was the only experience I had of routinely going off from the horrible effects and then being persuaded against all reason to go on again.  This happened over five times.  Off. On. Off. On.  Etc.  She would always compliment me on my weight (I am 5’7” and was about 130 lbs.).  It never occurred to me that the reason for this is because she expected me to become overweight and obese like her professional papers instructed her.  So, I haven’t written it in this thread but a trip to India convinced me I was not bipolar, had never been bipolar, and needed to get off of my then drug regimen of Abilify, Adderall, Prozac, Klonopin (by then 4 mg!), and a PRN for Xanax which I never used, in addition to several other prescription drugs, and a slew of OTC stuff, plus handfuls of vitamins and truly weird supplements.  I do not feel like getting off of the drugs was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  Living on those drugs was the hardest thing I have ever done.  Being bipolar was exhausting and fruitless.  Nevertheless, getting off the drugs presented me with living with my emotions for the first time in my adult life and I channeled my emotional energy into eating.  In the last year of being sober I’ve gained weight to the point of now being around 145 lbs.  I’m okay with temporarily being a little heavy because I’ve started running (I’m running my first half marathon this October!) and because overeating is better than drugging.  This all leads me to this: in July I received an advert in the mail for a informational meeting at a nearby hospital with a specific doctor about considering bariatric surgery.  This was not for Emily Blah-Blah or Current Resident, it was just for me.  It is direct marketing I now know is gained from the singular fact that I took antipsychotics. Sit with that thought for a moment and see if it chills you.

    Next up: Will Hall’s guide.  I think you picked a great quote and though I’ve only read the guide twice I know exactly which page and portion that came from because I nearly broke down when I read it.  I was all five of those symptoms of an overmedicated patient minus the obesity.  Everybody just assumed it was Emily being Emily or my illness.  My doctor should have known better but the money meant more to her than my health.  I was too drugged to know I deserved better and I really trusted my life to that last psychiatrist.  It might help to picture her: she is young and has a thriving private practice in an elite suburb in a big metropolitan area.  She has a very modern website where she talks about her personal philosophy of life being a spiritual journey, of integrative and holistic approaches and living one’s best life/living up to one’s potential.  She is married to a surgeon and plans to eventually write a book a la Deepak Chopra style. I was not drugged by any run-of-the-mill psychiatrist.  Like Laura, I sought out the best of the best to be drugged by.

    Another thing about Will Hall’s guide that you might have missed is that he lists many collaborators on the credit page and one of them is Laura.

    Okay, so now the issue I really don’t want to talk about: suicide.  Of all of the wonderful information I have read on this sight and all of the things I have learned, none of it resonates with me like Laura’s account of her suicide attempt.  I think about while going to sleep at night.  I think about it while rising in the morning.  I think about it at Mass, in the car, while running, or even while showering.  She is so brave for having written about it.  I think others who have had “attempts” may excuse themselves from writing about them because they think people don’t want to hear about it.  They know they could never write with the power of Laura’s writing, or that maybe they feel their story doesn’t have the eloquence of Laura’s.  Whatever the reasons, there are hundreds of thousands of Americans walking around with overdoses on psych drugs and we don’t talk about it.  I am one of them.

    I had two attempts.  One with a bottle of Zoloft and one with some free sample packs of Seroquel.  In both instances I never took my regular prescriptions to overdose on because if I woke up I would need them– and it would be wasteful to then need a refill!  I didn’t go to the hospital the first time.  I was taken the second time in a passed out state.  When I came to, I was recommended for intake on the psych ward but I declined and went home.  I had the wonderful psychiatrist that I mentioned above for both attempts and we never talked about it.  She never asked me why I did it or why I felt my life was not worth living.  She was oh-so-understanding and empathetic about how my illness had flared up and how I just needed to readjust my meds and get more therapy.

    So why did I do it?  Because of low self-esteem.  I hated myself.  I hated being a failure while I saw all of my peers accomplishing so much while my life languished.  I hated myself for being a genetic defect of bipolar, and I hated my bipolar life of drugs and doctors and never seeing an improvement.  I did not want to live that way.  I could not see myself making it fifty more years feeling the way I did day-in and day-out, so why even bother?  It never occurred to me I did not have to live that way.  It never occurred to me I could leave the drugs and the doctors.  I was certainly never given this option by the medical establishment or told this message by my community.  I had never read a book by someone about walking away from a bipolar life; I had read the books by Jamisen and others who had made a life out of it.  I am still utterly puzzled how they do that.  It is a wretched existence I would not wish on anyone (much over and above a simple heroin addiction!)

    I think you have to look at Laura’s attempt and mine in the context of what we were told to believe about ourselves by those in positions of authority and experience and esteem.  I think you have to look at how distorted a person’s world becomes on those drugs and what a person is told they have to look forward to as a lifetime member of a severe mental illness.  If either Laura or I were to have died we would have been a victim of bipolar, not in the sense of having an innate illness, but in the context of suffering under a cultural perception and the accompanying treatment of that illness.

    Laura is heroic and beautiful beyond measure.  She has to wake up every morning and live with that experience of an attempt on her own life that would not have happened without the support of psychiatry and its drugs.  She had to live with the medical discrimination, social marginalization, and chemical prison of being “bipolar” from adolescence.  She is now freed of its falsehoods and is using her horrific injustices to bring the message to others that they need not be oppressed by these labels and these approved “medications”.  She has the courage to speak up to psychiatrists on this site who still advocate that some patients like their labels and do well on their drugs.  She knows better than they do.  She has lived it.  I don’t have her education and I don’t have her writing skills.  I’m very grateful to her for speaking up publicly about the “bipolar” life.  We are no different biologically or socially than others other than we entered into the trap door of psychiatry and did not emerge until we were forever altered biologically and socially from that expertise and its treatments.

    I would say that the real threat on your son’s life is the degree to which he believes the lies of psychiatry.  There is absolutely no scientific proof that your son is schizophrenic or what being schizophrenic even means.  I now know: this is not about science; it is about money, power, prestige, and social control (if not social engineering).

    PC, you are an incredibly talented writer yourself and no doubt, well educated on this subject.  I think it is a tremendous shame of epic proportions that I had to meet you and Laura on the terms that I have via talks about suicide, but having said that, it is an honor to read your words and those of Laura’s.  I am enriched from knowing you both.  I believe that Laura, me, and your son will go on to have meaningful and accomplished lives because there is nothing innately wrong or different in us.

    Thank you for your past kind comments to me.  I look forward to hearing more about your son’s taper.


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