Friday, January 21, 2022

Spreading the message of ‘Anatomy’?

Home Forums Rethinking Psychiatry Spreading the message of ‘Anatomy’?

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    Laura Delano

    How do we effectively spread the message of Anatomy of an Epidemic, as well as the greater message that the current biomedical paradigm of understanding intense emotional experiences is false,to mainstream communities?


    An arena where reckless social labeling and subsequent psych-med drugging is killing people is in the field of addiction treatment. I suggest one way to “spread the message” is to tap into the emotions and motivation surrounding a family deciding whether or not to send a loved one to “rehab” for alcohol, drugs, etc. Take a moment to hear them out and then make a suggestion that they read Anatomy of an Epidemic before making any choices of rehab centers and then to ask questions of the admissions people at a rehab center (or the CEO preferably) accordingly about the treatment industry standard phrasing of “dual-diagnosis, co-occurring disorder”. After they’ve read Anatomy, they will be well armed to shop rehab centers; unfortunately none of the nations leading centers that I know of will avoid psych meds altogether but…i am presently working on that problem. This is a good way to spread the word I am finding!

    Laura Delano

    Arch, great point.  I know you and I have talked about the dilemma of the “dual-diagnosis” phenomenon, and boy does it frustrate me when someone who identifies as being an alcoholic or an addict says, “I’m so depressed”, “I’m so anxious”, “I’m so manic”, or “I’m newly sober and my moods are everywhere”, followed with “… and my doctor says I have X [bipolar, depression, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, etc]”.  I just want to lovingly grab the person by the shoulders and say, “That’s what using an excessive amount of alcohol/drugs will do to a person!”, but it’s very hard in the context of the “addictions recovery” world, which Big Pharma has tapped as a new, overflowing supply of people to put on psychiatric drugs.

    One of my dreams is to take Anatomy and reduce it down to a pamphlet, so that we can distribute it in local “mental health” outpatient centers, ERs, hospitals, etc.  I worry that people find picking up a big book– even one that is very clearly written like Anatomy– a daunting task, and if there was a way to someone reduce the meaty data into something small and accessible, more people might be willing to sit down with it.

    So glad to see you here, Arch!!



    Laura, here’s a means i’ve used (with some success) to “get out the word” of Anatomy to interested but busy people:  there’s a U-tube video of a speech by Whitaker, sponsored by C-Span, where he covers the main points of the book.  It’s 88 minutes long, including a question/answer session after his address.

    Here’s the link:   

    I also bought my own copy ($30) and have shown it at my home and lent it out to interested people; unfortunately it’s currently misplaced!

    Not that this takes the place of the pamphlet you suggest, which i think is a great idea.

    Again, as i said in one of the other “threads” (is that the right term?) on this forum, kudos on your initiative in furthering this much needed dialogue!


    This is my first post and I’ll raise some points here re the difficulty of confronting professionals, not just psychiatrists, with alternative perspectives. As a social worker I received the usual graduate level education in counselling doing two practicum, one in an outpatient psychiatry unit for elderly people, the other in a non-senior, hospital/psych floor adult mental health outpatient clinic where I was taught/supervised in psychotherapy, mostly psycho-dynamic but some CBT as well. Both clinics were linked to psychiatry with psychiatrists as the heads of each unit/clinic. My coursework and my later professional work (both as a psychotherapist and later as a case manager for my province’s home care sector) all occurred within the shadow/medico-legal framework of institutional psychiatry.

    I came to my social work education and professional work already informed about and highly critical of the various myths/bogus treatments of psychiatry. I also met along the way a handful of psychiatrists and social workers who shared some of my criticisms but all of us were aware of a considerable obstacle, the impossibility of challenging orthodoxy with impunity. A social worker, nurse, occupational therapist or psychiatrist within a major urban Canadian mental health centre can talk about inclusion of patients in their care and talk about recovery as long as you swear your allegiance to standard treatment with meds and mouth the shibboleths of the necessity of treatment compliance and assertive treatment.

    At present the best approach I believe to getting the MiA word out in my corner of the universe is to share information on a one-to-one basis and taking advantage of opportunities as they arise. For example, when I’m talking to colleagues I cease opportunities to correct their assumptions/indoctrination/misinformation by pointing out that there is a scientific and now widely published evidence base showing treatment-as-usual with drugs/enforcement of medication compliance actually worsens outcomes over the long term and that we should listen to people and help them find alternatives they find meaningful and helpful. I point out to people that the WHO studies, Vermont and Harrow studies as well as ground-breaking work in Finland clearly show the risks of treatment-as-usual and the great benefit that comes to people in crisis when they are actually treated with compassion and as if they have insights into their experience, can use their “symptoms” as important indicators of needs that require wise attention, not tranquilizing, ECT and dehumanizing diagnostic practices.

    Recently our team received a training session where the presenter, a mental health nurse, promoted the Recovery model, which was refreshing, but was quick to give allegiance during the training that Recovery must include treatment compliance. I spoke up and gently reminded her that there are people for whom meds don’t work, have too many side effects, have caused tardive conditions and/or worsen their ability to live a full life. She looked stunned but it seemed as if a crack in the veneer took place.

    Outside of my small professional work I think the most effective way for change to occur must include a strong advocacy group or groups who are both knowledgeable of the peer-reviewed literature, have a personal connection, the so-called “lived experience”, to the issues and be skilled in the tactics/techniques of public relations. We live in a highly indoctrinated culture and people are unfortunately conditioned to respond to catchy/media-oriented short bits of information they can easily digest. Changing people’s understanding of mental health issues is extremely difficult not just because they’ve been indoctrinated but because they associate their own sense of safety/security/predictability with the medical model, something others have commented about on this site. We need to have something to give to people to replace what we threaten when we challenge what they see as sacred and necessary truths. Fortunately, there are alternatives and this site has some good info about them.

    I was very impressed when a popular news show here in Ontario, The Agenda, again did an annual series for “Mental Health Week” and people from the consumer/survivor movement were featured alongside psychiatrists as well as various people who’ve experienced various emotional/mental health problems speaking up about their experience and openly challenging the typical biomedical mantras. Also featured were a few mental health lawyers capable of providing alternative critiques of psychiatry. This would not have happened five years ago. Something is happening and that something is the growing evidence base, such as MiA, and the increasing strength of patients/consumers/survivors in presenting their experiences and the alternatives that are actually working for them.


    “An arena where reckless social labeling and subsequent psych-med drugging is killing people is in the field of addiction treatment.”

    The medicalization of bad habits is yet another psychiatric folly. It simply is not a medical condition to like doing something too much that society would rather you not do too much.


    Laura Delano

    Anonymous, I completely agree that medicalizing ‘bad habits’ is a fallacy.  That being said, I think it is important to acknowledge that psychoactive substances, both of the legal and illegal status, have biological impacts on the body.  I know for me, when I decided that my relationship to alcohol was causing problems in my life (and I believe that I was the ONLY person qualified to determine that), it helped to understand that alcohol was a nervous system depressant, inevitably impacting the way I felt both physically and emotionally.  However, the fact that I had biological/emotional ramifications because of the way I was drinking didn’t make my alcohol issue a medical condition; I’ve made sense of it in my own life as a spiritual dilemma, with a spiritual solution entirely unrelated to the health care system.  You talk about the person who “likes to do something too much”— speaking for myself, I stopped liking drinking long before I ever stopped doing it, but felt such a deep emptiness inside of me, due in vastly large part to the beliefs I’d internalized about being “mentally ill” from all the time I’d spent in psychiatry, that I felt like I didn’t have a choice.  I see now that I do have a choice, and I choose to not drink today, but at the time, I was so disconnected from any sort of deeper purpose on this planet (because I saw myself as “mentally ill” and thus an unworthy member of the human race), that causing harm to myself by my drinking seemed a reasonable thing to do.

    Anyways, I’ve kind of digressed here, but I look forward to your response, Anonymous.  I don’t think I’ve had the chance to tell you yet how much I look forward to reading your comments; I’ve learned a lot from you.


    Stanley Holmes

    Among the many ways, I do think engaging in a open dialogue with associations like NAMI and DBSA and MHA. It can be a powerful way to spread the message rather than trying to reinvent communities from scratch. Of course that would first require patience to try to connect and establish trust with those existing communities so that the dialogue will be fruitful.

    You have to choose the right compromise between how radical your message is, and how many people will be willing to listen to it, and how quickly you can spread it. Trying to have it all fast will probably not work, or not for many people.

    One important thing is to offer alternatives and solutions rather than mere criticism. It would be helpful to have a list of resources (books, videos, websites) that offer alternative ways of thinking about the mind than the restrictive medical model (I personally like the acceptance and commitment model, positive psychology, compassion-based psychology, stories of recoveries, religious sources of spirituality). We could vote on which blog, books, websites people have found most helpful.



    I like to say bad habits and that peole like to do drugs and drink, because it neatly captures the only grain of truth to be found in the whole substance use/misuse moral quandary, that peole do feel better after they get their hit of whatever they have habitually used. Be it food, cigarettes, liquor, or illicit or licit drugs. I am not suggesting for a moment that the person driven to drink by life, is in extreme bliss throught the time, months, years that they engage in this habitual behavior/escapism. Escapism can be become a bad habit, whatever the tools of escapism. Years of escapism, in any form, = an immature person who has never had time to grow, they were too busy escaping.
    Take this absolute BS study in the news today about potheads and IQ. We live in a world where the pot will immediately be blamed for lowering someone’s IQ. Something inherent in the pot. And the brain, no doubt according to these true believers.

    My take on it is that the teenage pothead spends years in escapism, and never has the lucid, clean time to become good at testing well. If you don’t test well, you’re labeled as having a low IQ.
    People believe the result of an IQ, has somehow established some kind of biological fact about them. This is hubris, and you will see much chest beating pride in the world in relation to IQ tests. In the end, the pathetic people who gloat about their alleged superior IQ test results, never stop to think how well they would have tested, had they been born in Joseph Fritzl’s basement.

    Extreme environmental depravation is the extreme that’s going to screw up your  ability to test well on IQ test day.

    Maybe a few years sucking on a bong in high school or college, or hundreds of nights of hours and hours of World of Warcraft, can amount to escapism that HINDERS MATURITY.

    You want to hinder a young person’s natural course of maturation into a competent, confident, self assured adult? Drag them before a psychiatrist. It is a sure fire way to derail a human life.

    To the millions of kids now being brought before psychiatry by misguided, dopey Pediatricians who seriously believe every kid who matures at a slower rate is due to their innate biological defectiveness, and that every high achieving kid is somehow worth his genetic weight in gold, we know horrible, gruesome, eugenic type pseudomedical ideology is alive and well in this psychiatry dominated society.

    No such thing as a crappy teacher or school system anymore, no, blame the victim, the kid is branded “learning disabled”. Has no trouble learning the complexities of things he finds exciting, like his favorite computer games, but performs poorly in the cattle-auction that is modern schooling, preparation for wage slavery, and bammm…. in come the pathetic quacks, who don’t examine anybody’s brain, to label him brain diseased, and molest his growing brain with toxic drugs, and fill his growing mind with toxic self doubt.

    Can the teachers who refer all these kids to the school psychologist, be labled “teaching disabled”? Or moral compass disabled?

    How many hundred thousand, how many million, substance abusers between the age of 18 at 35, swallowed their first drug in school sometime in the last 20 years, at the hands of a “caring” adult who opened a bottle of Ritalin?

    Strangers with candy, used to be the most dangerous adults a kid could come across in the playground.


    Now we have whole  profession/s, governments, big businesses, parents, who molest a child’s consciousness with drugs in the name of social control. AND molest their dignity and self-esteem by labeling them all miniature mental patients, instilling toxic self-doubt where parents used to instill hard won self esteem.

    Call it UNparenting. The undoing, of all that was ever considered sacrosanct about childhood, in the name of SOMEONE’S beliefs about unproven brain diseases.


    And… I went 0ff track, from originally talking about bad habits.


    There is a word for that. I am pleased  you came to an acohol intake more in line with your own opinion on what your alcohol intake should be. No judgments from me. I like how you say you were the 0nly you listened to about this.

    Nobody is an expert on your life, your thoughts, your beliefs, your mind, but you. Not least a factory production line of quacks coming out of college who don’t even examine your brain and prove it is diseased.





















    I was thinking of creating a website dedicated to our stories. A website were we could discuss the various ways psychiatry has caused harm, as well as what ultimately worked for us and why. This website, if done right, could also start to bring people together to oppose psychiatry.

    Here are some obstacles that I see –

    People are often too ashamed to admit that they have been hospitalized so when they get better they do not want to talk about the horrible treatment they received.

    People do not want to think about what happened, they just want to get on with their lives.

    We seem to be frightfully disorganized, and sometimes still trying to work within the current paradigm because it is so strong.

    My solutions would be:
    I think we first of all need to “find” each other. We need to find ways to stand together. We need to plan “offensives” – by that, I mean, we have to find specific targets for actions we can take and then get together to do it. We desperately need to get the media involved. We need to help people start to question today’s “wisdom” that seems to say that medications is “the way”.

    Anyways, I have the skills to create a website, so if anyone wants to get together and work with me – let me know.



    Laura Delano

    @Malene, I love your initiative and am very much on board.  As I briefly touched on in the blog, I see this forum space as building a foundation for ‘Beyond Anatomy’, which is entirely separate from Mad in America, only housed here; my vision is that B.A. will become its own website down the road, once we’ve organized community here, and will still connected to MiA as a sibling, but its own entity.

    You raise some really important issues around obstacles, as well as ways to effectively take action (planning offensives, as you say), and I think B.A. is a great space in which to have these conversations.  I look forward to seeing the threads you start around taking action and overcoming obstacles in our path– I very much agree that the more centralized we can all be, to find each other, the more effective we will be.



    “One of my dreams is to take Anatomy and reduce it down to a pamphlet, so that we can distribute it in local “mental health” outpatient centers, ERs, hospitals, etc.”

    I’m from Finland and here the pharma can’t advertise directly to the consumers by law. Unlike USA with more private health care and insurances, Finland has a large hospital system paid by tax money. So, instead they advertise in the magazines for physicians and psychiatrists. Another thing is that they create pamphlets, guides and web sites for the patients and their relatives. They can’t directly mention their own drug in there but they continue with the same propaganda. For instance, when I was for a while (falsely) diagnosed as a schizophrenic, I was given by my psychologist a small guide about schizophrenia – by the makers of Risperidone, if I recall right. I was given Abilify and and the equivalent of Seroquel, but she said that the guide is still as relevant and I can show it to my parents as well.

    Concerning the web sites they create, I’ve seen advertisements for them in the waiting area for the public hospitals around here, on the pinboards, etc. I just know that if I printed an advertisement that pointed to sites like this, Icarus or MindFreedom, the same day some responsible patient would tell his psychiatrist or a guard about it and it’d get trashed out. 🙂





    Hermes, good post, of course they would trash whatever you put up there. The propaganda of the Church of P$ychiatry is all that is allowed.
    This is why we have to protect Net Neutrality with our lives. If they ever come for the internet, life will be over. The internet is the last free space in the entire world.


    Here’s what I’m doing as far as spreading the word I’m giving the book to 6 people who are either counselors, leaders of one stripe or another or people who are considering coming off meds. I am asking them to write to me or talk to me about their reactions to the book so that they can “help me figure out what to make of this information”  . That’s how I’m softening the aggressiveness of just handing someone a book they may not be inclined to agree with.  Im starting a private yahoo group so if they want they could make comments to all the people in my little book club.

    The biggest difficulty I see ahead for people in psychological crisis is in finding a ready alternative in your town. I live in NYC and I still can’t find things like peer support yet. Boston seems to have much more – but perhaps I just haven’t found New York’s “freedom center”  yet. Perhaps also counselors and psychologists could somewhere register themselves as committed to certain level of non-drug therapy.   And perhaps even listing themselves as having gone beyond the “Illness” “patient” paradigm.

    Laura Delano


    I really appreciate your comment, and am very encouraged to hear about the shifts happening in your neck of the woods.  Any way you could post a link to the “Mental Health Week” series?

    I think that you’re right that one of the most powerful ways to reach someone is through a one-on-one conversation, especially one that’s behind closed doors when a person’s professional reputation may be at stake (as I’m sure many of your colleagues worry about, and I’m curious to ask– do you worry about this, as well?)  However, I do believe that there need to be people like you in the mental health profession who are willing to speak publicly and fearlessly about these issues, even if that means being pushed out of their professional communities.  Like you said, the more armed those people are with evidence-based research on psychiatric drugs and on the fallacy of the “chemical imbalance” explanation (which it seems like so many mental health professionals still cling on to), the more likely their colleagues are to listen.

    I’m not surprised by your anecdote about the mental health nurse talking about “recovery” (I struggle with this word even in its most well-intentioned application, but especially when I hear it used in situations like the one you described).  I remember going to an event at a DMH (Dept Mental Health) building here in Boston a while back, called something horrendous like “The Many Faces of Recovery from Serious Mental Illness”, and their ‘case study’ of recovery was a man in his early fifties, who looked like he was eighty, who’d lived in the same group home since the early 1980s and had finally come to accept that he needed to take the “medications” his doctor of over twenty years had prescribed for him.  He was physically very sick, undoubtedly as a direct result of the iatrogenic effects of the drugs, and it was hard to understand him speak because his speech was so slurred, but here he was, in recovery!!  This was way in the beginning of my own relationship to this movement, so I had come in with really idealistic hopes of what this event was going to be about, and I ended up having to leave early (note that this man’s doctor is a colleague of Joseph Biederman at MGH).

    Even the best-intentioned words have become coopted and thus even more dangerous to our movement.  I can no longer use the word ‘recovery’ without feeling a knot in my stomach, which is a difficult task, as I work currently as a peer in the system and my very identity is connected to my “recovery story”.  The only ‘recovery’ in my opinion is the one I’ve made, and continue to make, from the trauma of being in the mental health system.  My ‘recovery’ has nothing to do with being from a “condition” inside of me.

    I very much hope you continue to participate in the forum here– I think your voice as a “provider” is a really important one, and that you have much potential to help inspire your colleagues to join you.

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