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Drugged Foster Children, Editorial and Website

The Orlando Sentinel just published an editorial, Doping up our children, on the drugging of Florida’s foster children, and the task force report just released to deal with this dilemma.

These troubling concerns aren’t new to DCF. But in the wake of the withering report, DCF Secretary George Sheldon concedes lapses and vows to heed and fund task-force proposals.

Such accountability is encouraging. But we expected reform before. In 2003, the Statewide Advocacy Council report made similar findings, and concluded, “…unnecessary dispensing of psychotropic medication remains a threat to [foster children]. Until there is more information regarding the safety and efficiency of these drugs, Florida’s foster care children should be monitored closely.”

That report’s proposals were largely ignored. Now, six years later, only swift reforms and a strong mandate to comply with existing rules that govern psychotropic drugs will shelve suspicions that this is déjà vu all over again.

Amen to swift reforms and a strong mandate!

Shortly afterward (Gabriel Myers suicide), Mr. Sheldon convened the Gabriel Myers Work Group to investigate the tragedy. The group’s 26-page report outlined 148 systemic breakdowns in Gabriel’s death.

What is going on here, and why is this important?

In Florida, 15.2 percent of foster kids take at least one psychotropic drug, compared with a 5 percent rate among the general population.

Emphasis added.

The editorial ends with George Shelton, Secretary of the DCF, claiming that Florida got off easy before, and that whatever reforms are instituted this time need to be real. The editor agrees saying, if not, another tragedy is likely to occur.

Reforms, yes. More importantly, lower that 15.2% rate of foster kids on drugs.

A In Memory of Gabriel Myers website has been set up where this editorial and other articles on the subject of the drugging of foster children in Florida can easily be accessed. You can visit this website by clicking the hyperlink below:

In Memory of Gabriel Myers

Shedding The Cuckoon

Psychiatrist Shelley Piasecki in a blog post entitled, We need to destigmatize mental illness, presents the case of a person who has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety who asks whether they should share this information with their family, friends, and coworkers.

The dilemma of whom to tell is no small matter because of the stigma attached to mental illness.

Stigma is defined as “a mark of disgrace, a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.” Unfortunately, stigma as it relates to mental illness remains strong today. It is a common misperception that having a mental illness is evidence of a personal weakness.

Ignorance propagates this misinformation. This is unfortunate, especially in the days when we have biochemical models of mental illness such as depression and schizophrenia. We know genetics plays a role and that mental illness can run in families.

Personal strength might be the way to overcome personal weakness was that the only thing that were the matter in this case. Strength used to be considered a virtue, and I’m not sure personal strength is the kind of thing we need to lose sight of. We are speaking of depression and anxiety, and I can see some of our ancestors laughing at these weak kneed modern day successors who expect so very few, or no bumps on life’s road.

Ignorance aside, misinformation has a way of propagating itself. Dr. Piasecki assumes biochemical models of mental illness proven when this simply is not so. The chemical imbalance theory rests on a profound lack of evidence, and to pretend that it doesn’t is to deceive people.

The role that genetics plays, and the extent to which it plays a role, is still pretty much up in the air. If we were to say that environmental, social and other external factors didn’t enter into play, we would be denying the facts in the matter. Unfortunately, in a que sera, sera fated by God sort of fashion, this is exactly what some mental health professionals try to do.

One in four Americans suffer from mental illness. Yet, despite all of this information, we have a long way to go in terms of considering mental illness in a more medical framework like other biologically based illness such as heart disease and diabetes.

One in four Americans may have visited a mental health professional at one time or another during their lives. This is not to say that they suffer from mental illness. If they did, why are they not receiving the kind of care recommended for those suffering from heart disease and diabetes? If the Doctor were making an argument for doping up a quarter of the population of the USA, it’s not a good one. 1/10 of the population was taking antidepressants in 2005, according to a recent study, but this had risen from 6% in 1996, and it was probably directly related to the influence of direct to consumer advertizing.

The better argument against the stigmatization of the mentally ill is the one that mental health recovery makes. This is the kind of argument you don’t get from Dr. Piasecki. Stigmatization is perhaps not the best word to use either. Dr. Piasecki’s sentiments aside, we are not dealing with the judgment of God here. People who have been institutionalized face prejudice and discrimination, just as do people of different races, genders, and sexual preferences. Prejudice and discrimination we can do something about. Stigma, on the other hand, won’t come off with soap and water.

When a person who bore a diagnosis of a serious mentally illness recovers his or her mental health, and goes onto accomplish some terrific things, then you have something you can crow about. The illusion here is that this recovery cannot take place. It’s a bad illusion, too, as it is based on the power of pessimism. This sort of cynicism need not prevail when real chances for success have been made available to people touched by the mental health illness system. Provide opportunities for success, and you are likely to see more people shed the role of mental patient, or mental health consumer entirely.

Madness and the Mad Mass Media

Most people who have been diagnosed mentally ill, the vast majority, don’t kill anybody. This is a fact that the news media just can’t seem to pick up on.

I scan a book review that purports to be about mental illness, and it’s about a prominent soap opera star who has a brother who is described as a paranoid schizophrenic who kills his mother. This isn’t typical.

The other week a story on the Mad Pride movement on ABC Primetime Outsiders news instead degenerates into a debate over psych drug use on account of the few incidents of violence that do occur.

What nobody pointed out here is that you’re dealing with 4 or 5 positive examples beside 1 incident of violence when in reality this violence is much much rarer than that. Then there is this bioethics professor who from his ivory tower would make those positive examples exceptions to some unwritten rule regarding the degenerative power of mental illness.

Regarding violence again, when a person becomes violent they are more likely to take this violence out on themselves. Suicide is much more common than murder.

Unsuccessful suicide can put a person on the psych ward. Does this mean that the person who contemplates and attempts suicide is crazy? No. He or she could have a rational argument for attempting it, and he or she could still have a future.

Why doesn’t the mass media pick up on this story? It’s happening here, there, and the other place.

The popular media hasn’t digested the fact that people can recover from serious mental illnesses either. It’s true, and it happens. Why not cover it?

To say “sensationalism sells” is not even a good excuse anymore. Should violence beget violence? Voila, more violence!

Tragedy isn’t everything. Tragedy that in these cases is serving as comedic entertainment for all the people who can say, “Whew, I’m glad I’m not them.”

There are other stories, and some of these stories are even good. You don’t need to dilute or corrupt them with counter examples. Why don’t you give us a few more of those positive stories?

The Recovery Rate Gap

The problem with so many advocates for the mentally ill is that they don’t seem to believe recovery is possible for most people labeled mentally ill. This kind of negative prognosis only feeds the unreality of a situation where you’ve got programs entitled things like “Hope For Recovery”. Did you mean “false hope”?

I’m not one to advocate for anybody. I advocate with people who advocate for themselves. There are lawyers who claim to advocate for the mentally ill who instead advocate for the families of the mentally ill. You know how it goes. We determined our obnoxious family member was mentally ill, and we had him or her locked up for his or her own good. Yeah, right.

This approach essentially abandons the voiceless to voicelessness unless you consider ventriloquism ‘speaking’. The ‘dummy’ may or may not come around to your way of thinking. If he or she is only a ‘dummy’, everything is taken care of from the beginning. If, on the other hand, you are dealing with a human being it can get a little more complicated.

How can you see a personality in that body when you can’t see past the diagnosis of mental disorder? All sorts of people, when they are dealing with the issue of mental illness, can’t seem to remember they are dealing at the same time with people. People bearing labels are often unseen. People bearing labels, like war casualties, are mistaken for a statistic in the newspaper.

Recovery rates in the US are abysmal. The rate of recovery in the developed world remains about 30%. Recovery rates in developing countries, according to studies done by the World Health Organization, are twice as high as they are in the US. There the recovery rate is closer to 60%, and they don’t use psychiatric drugs the way we do in the developed world.

Your chances then of fully recovering from a serious mental illness in an underdeveloped country are better than 50/50. Your chance of recovering in the developed world is well below 50/50. If you are beginning to get the idea that something is wrong here, then you are beginning to get the right idea.

The recovery rate could improve, but the recovery rate is not going to improve if mental health professionals continue to use the same old failing formulas. This is a point that has not sunk in yet. Try something new and different, or you are going to get the results you always have gotten, and those results are atrocious.

It is much easier for mental health professionals not to get it than it is for them to get it. When nothing changes, everything continues the way it always has continued. That you are letting down your patients and everybody else can be ignored as long as others in your profession are ignoring it, too. Alright, enough is enough, or rather, too much is too much. Let’s see a decline in those statistics I was talking about.

College Students and Mental Illness Baggage

In a 2008 American College Health Association survey, 30% of the College kids surveyed reported that they got so depressed in the last 12 months that they were unable to function.

Yep, I guess you go straight from teen angst to these awkward years, still in training, not yet, if then, successful. Then there is the opposite sex, sports, and the list goes on and on. Success begets success, and grooming starts early. I would think 30% or more college students are finding this course not quite as smooth as a few others do. Yes, but if you flunk, maybe you’re in the wrong field, and not really so sick as you might imagine, that is, presuming you have the kind of imagination that can put you in the spotlight, or on the runway.

49% reported overwhelming anxiety.

Right, and there are people who don’t experience anxiety? Particularly when it comes to adolescence and young adulthood, expect anxiety. These are stressful years, folks, and nerves come with them. No need to overdo the prescription drug bit though. It’s perfectly natural. Stability and steadiness come with time and experience. Prescription psychiatric drugs are like rubber nipples for adults. There comes a time when baby bear should leave the den.

10% had been diagnosed and treated for depression.

When 1 in 10 people in the nation are reported to be taking SSRI antidepressant drugs, what’s so unusual about that? I would suspect that many of these 10% could actually suspend their use of such chemical agents, no sweat, if they’re still taking them.

6% confessed to have considered suicide…seriously.

Suicide has been gaining in popularity for some time now, hasn’t it? The focus on suicide feeds the focus on suicide, and it mushrooms as a practice as a result. Hmmm. Maybe we should be reporting on other avenues of recourse instead. Here’s my 2 cents worth on the subject: You don’t paint yourself into a corner if you paint the corner first.

Wanna freak a little?

A study in the December 2008 Archives of General Psychology found alcohol disorders (Uh, I think, but I can’t be sure, that means substance abuse.) in 1 out of 5 (20%) of college students.

Kids these days! I have a trick of my own, really, and it’s called moderation. I know life is this moment, and you must take advantage of it as you won’t live forever, but there must be better ways to occupy your time than by vomiting into the toilet. If you don’t want to be teetotaler when, and if, you do get up there in years, you might consider a little moderation.

The next most common class of afflictions were personality disorders at 17.7% (almost 1 in 5).

Uh, are we breeding weird kids these days? Narcissistic schizoid paranoid, etc. to just plain weird, mischief is brewing in junior’s little head. I’m not worried myself. Maybe it’s a phase. Maybe it’s a fad. Maybe it’s a fashion. Maybe it’s nothing much. Mass murderers and that sort of thing are the exception, not the rule, even with little Pugsly there.

If you are a student in college and the mind police start harassing you, you might consider starting a chapter of the Mad Student Society on your campus. If a Mad Student Society group doesn’t suit you, you could form an affiliate of MindFreedom International, or a branch of the Icarus Project. You don’t have to put up with this kind of thing when you can fight it, and given such a group, you have the means to do just that.

Source: College students pack a heavy bag of mental illness

Florida Gay Couple Adoption Ban Challenged

Florida has a ban on adoption by gay couples going back to 1977 when former Miss America contestant Anita Bryant was actively campaigning against gay rights in America. Those of you who have been around for a little while might remember when this was going on. Well, now there is a case progressing through the courts to contest this ban on gay adoption.

North Miami resident Frank Martin Gill took in two foster children 5 years ago. He says he would be devastated should the state took away his children. Mr. Gill is an openly gay man. He recently attended the appellate argument in court over the future of his adoptive sons. Last November Judge Cindy Lederman ruled in favor of Mr. Gill calling the ban “irrational”. This is the ruling that the state is appealing.

As reported in an article entitled In Fla. Adoption Case, State Argues Gays Prone to Mental Illness, Breakups on the Law.com website:

Deputy Solicitor General Timothy Osterhaus, who argued for DCF, said, “We do not.” [think the children would be better off without Mr. Gill.]

But Osterhaus maintains gays as a group can be excluded based on higher rates of domestic violence, psychiatric disorders and breakups.

He argued the law is valid under a rational basis legal test, which Lederman rejected.

All of the conditions it has been claimed gays are more prone to the DCF screens prospective adoptive parents for anyway.

Apparently Frank Martin Gills parenting skills aren’t being questioned. He may indeed be an excellent parent. The state is arguing that this kind of state sanctioned bias has a rational basis.

The state has the nation’s most restrictive ban on gay adoption. The Florida law has withstood several constitutional attacks at both the state and federal level. A number of other states allow single gay people to adopt children but not partners in a same-sex relationship.

The time for a change in law is long overdue. The constitutional rights of gays and lesbians need to be restored and respected in the state of Florida. Prejudice is prejudice, and gay people can make as good, if not better, parents than anybody else. Self fulfilling negative prophesies regarding social groups vanish in the real world when individual members of those groups are given the chances for success such individuals deserve.

Are gays and lesbians more prone to mental illness than other groups of people? Does this kind of propensity indicate a genetic link between sexual orientation and mental illness? As you can see, questions remain to which I have an easy answer. Namely, no. Get rid of discrimination and the other matters, being an offshoot of that phenomenon, will take care of themselves.

Mad Pride On ABCs Primetime Outsiders

or Jousting The Jabberwocky

ABC had a news show, Primetime Outsiders, on the Mad Pride movement last night. Unfortunately, in their zeal to present opposing viewpoints, they played the violence card. Perhaps they imagined they were presenting a more balanced show in doing so. I certainly don’t think this is the case. The show in so doing was pandering to the worst sensationalistic tastes of its audience. Where violence and mental illness are concerned this is often the case. This was supposedly a show about the Mad Pride movement. ABC did not have to place a little landmine in the center of it, and make it a show about violence, too, but that’s what they did.

I had a similar experience not too long ago when I was trying to conduct a symposium on our need for alternatives to conventional mental health treatment. In the discussion that followed the presentation a mental health professional managed to divert attention away from some of the main points I was making by using an example from among her clients. She mentioned some man who had paranoid delusions and carried a gun. Those things happen. I had made the point that recovery rates for people who suffered from serious mental illnesses are twice as high in the developing world as they are in the developed world and, therefore, the recovery rates in developed countries could be improved a great deal. This example was distracting attention away from those points I was making. It was as if we would have to do something about violence before we could raise the recovery rates in this country. I don’t think so. That’s merely finding another lame excuse not to do anything. When you don’t do anything you’re excusing unworkable policies and practices.

My suspicions are that anytime the Mad Pride movement gets into the mainstream media this playing of the violence card is going to come up. The news media, worried about its viewer ratings, wants blood and gore. Sex and violence sell, and if you don’t have one, they want the other. I’m already buckling down in preparation for another foray by studying those stats pertaining to mental illness and violence. It’s an unfair situation, but as people have put it before, whoever said life was fair. I urge other psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers in the Mad Pride movement to do the same. This is simply realism. Moves must be anticipated. They are not going to use the violence card on exponents of compliant behavior, but they are going to blame violence on advocates who embrace noncompliance, or in other words, other paths besides that of chemical maintenance. The set of people labeled with serious mental illnesses is that other category that they still cannot seem to integrate into the set that includes all homo sapiens. Deal with it.

Off Label Prescribing and FDA Approval

According to an article in the New York Times, many doctors don’t even know when they are off label prescribing.

Yes, alright. Let’s back up a little bit. What is off label prescribing? Off label drug use takes place when a drug is used to treat an illness the Federal Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved it for use in treating.

The average physician in the survey identified the F.D.A. approval status correctly for only about half the drugs on a list provided by the researchers, according to a study in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety.

Confusion was greatest with psychiatric drugs, the survey of some 600 doctors found. Nearly one in five who prescribed Seroquel (quetiapine) in the previous year thought it was approved for patients with dementia and agitation, even though it was never approved for this use and even carried a “black box” warning that it was dangerous for elderly patients with dementia. And one in three doctors who used lorazepam (often marketed as Ativan) to treat chronic anxiety thought it had been approved for this use; in fact, the F.D.A. warning advises against using it for this purpose.

The study’s senior author, Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, said a concern was that off-label uses often did not have the same level of scientific scrutiny as F.D.A.-approved uses.

I’ve been complaining about the F.D.A. approving drugs for use that it shouldn’t be approving, and here’s a study that says most doctors don’t even know what those drugs are for treating that have been approved by the F.D.A.

Using Seroquel, an antipsychotic, on elderly patients suffering from dementia is not something I would recommend. Antipsychotic drugs have been known to shorten the span of life elderly patients given them have. Despite the fact that some facilities typically prescribe such drugs to elderly patients, and thus shorten what time they have left, I’d say it is definitely not a good idea to do so.

With regard to Ativan, you might as well give your patient a couple of bottles of beers, or a couple of glasses of wine. These drugs have an effect on people similar to that you get from alchoholic beverages. As alchohol is not likely to have lessening effect on any dementia an elderly person might be suffering from, perhaps this is not the best course of action to take.

Doctors don’t know what they’re doing. Okay, granted. By contrast the Federal Food and Drug Administration knows what it’s doing. It’s increasing drug company profits, and promoting the quackery and power of the psychiatric profession. That it may be harming a whole bunch of people along the way is seen as a relative small price to pay for this boost in prestige that goes to the privileged. That this price may be rising can be ignored as long as it’s a health price other’s pay while doctors and drug companies profit economically.

What else do we get out of this development? Well, for one thing, we get those horrible direct to consumer advertisements. The F.D.A.’s approval for uses that would otherwise be off label brings these in. You may not have snake oil salesmen and women on your television set, but you might as well have them as you have advertisements for antidepressants that work no better than sugar pills. On top of this, we have advertisements for powerful and dangerous antipsychotic drugs such as Seroquel and Abilify on our computer screens and television sets. They have been approved by the F.D.A. for other uses than those for which they were intended, and thus you can see what the problem is.

Are these drugs actually so much better for treating conditions other than those for which they were intended to be used, and there is some question as to whether they were even effective then, than drugs developed for that purpose? They are absolutely not any better for treating such conditions than another drug might be. Drug companies are raking in trillions of dollars, and the F.D.A. cares more about filling those company coffers, having financial ties to such companies, than it does about the health of the people these companies are, in many cases, ruining.

Maybe now you can begin to get some sort of idea as to why I would be an activist taking on this agency and those drug companies it serves, and why I would invite you to join me in doing the same. It’s an uphill journey, the one toward health and humanity, but it’s one that I would say is well worth the taking.

Flawed Treatment Guidelines Released

The therapeutic state, allied with the pharmaceutical industry, with its public relations, its promotional, and its advertising teams, is busily pushing their product. This time the target audience is expectant but depressed young women.

As a recently released news article would have it:

Pregnant women can be assured that safe treatments are available to treat depression during their maternity malaise, such as “talk therapy” and certain antidepressants, according to updated professional guidelines released last week.

These treatments are safe you say. Really?

The American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued the new guidelines on depression during pregnancy, which are founded on a thorough examination of previous research.

Good enough. Read on.

The use of antidepressants during pregnancy has both pros and cons, said the report. The drugs can provide successful treatment of the pregnant woman’s depression, which has been linked to issues with newborns if left untreated. But, there has also been evidence that antidepressants have been connected to birth defects and reduced birth weights.

Did somebody mention ‘birth defects’!? If these drugs were safe why would they cause ‘birth defects’? I don’t think somebody is giving us the full story, folks. This is more than a slight oversight when you are dealing with unborn children.

Depressed during pregnancy then and, if not aborting the fetus, getting the shock of your life when a child with a physical defect or extreme developmental difficulties comes out. Guess who’s really depressed now!

Expectant mommies, read the fine print, read between the lines, seek third, fourth, fifth opinions, and don’t let this happen to you.

I want to conclude by saying, even if the APA and the ACOG won’t say it, that drug use during pregnancy is bad pre-natal care, and SSRI anti-depressants are drugs that shouldn’t be given to pregnant women.

After the child comes out, you can do what you like, ladies. Just don’t injure your unborn child.

Translations Again

Psychiatric Jargon

ix. Seasonal Affective Disorder
x. Trauma
xi. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Plain English

ix. Holiday Blahs
x. Bad experience
xi. Bad experience flashbacks

PJ Pyschiatric Disorders translated into PE Personality Quirks

Some people feel bad over the holidays, and some people even go so far as to off themselves due to such bad feelings. This is not a recommended course of action for a person to take. Holidays end, things get back to normal, and life goes on. Life goes on, of course, provided one didn’t off oneself.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was once known as Shell Shock Syndrome. War tends to include trauma. It doesn’t always hold traumatic events for all people, but for some people it does. We are increasingly coming to understand that peace time can also produce trauma. Many folks in the mental illness racket, with more or less success, have managed to upgrade their conditions from that of totally discombobulated person to that of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sufferer. This might not have been possible if PTSD didn’t have such a tenacious hold on people. PTSD victims have a great deal of difficulty getting over the after effects of their bad experiences. Although a string of good experiences can’t guarantee the end of bad experiences, I think it would be the first place to start when seeking a resolution to these persistent unrelenting flashbacks to bad experiences. If they don’t get over it, don’t hit them, give them a little bit of time, eternity if need be, and wait for them to see things, not as they were, but as they are.

See also: Translation, Please, and Additional Translations