Family docs prescribing more psych drugs

Reuters news service just reported, US family doctors prescribe most mental health drugs, on the number of family doctors who prescribe psych drugs. The statistical low down from his article is as follows.

Researchers Thomson Reuters and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, looking at 472 million prescriptions written for psychotropic drugs from August 2006 and July 2007, found:

59% family doctor mental health prescriptions

Out of this 59%:

62% for antidepressants
52% for stimulants (often used to treat ADHD.)
25% for stimulants written by a pediatrician
37% for psychosis
22% for mania

When psychiatrists demonstrate a profound indifference, if not ignorance, to the harm caused by the drugs that they prescribe, I’m not knocked out by the idea of family doctors writing out prescriptions.

On the other hand, I have heard of instances where family doctors have been found to be more open to the idea of helping people detoxify from psych drugs than have psychiatrists who are often reluctant to do so.

A little education goes a long way. Educate doctors on the damage done by these drugs, and maybe some of them will become more receptive to alternative approaches to treatment for people in crisis. Some of them might even be persuaded to refuse to prescribe these harmful drugs altogether.

Catching ‘Em Early

The Duluth News Journal just published a fact sheet on mental illness
and children, Facts about mental illness in children.

When you can’t identify a cause for it, when you can hardly say what exactly it is, how can you purport to be delivering folks the facts on the subject!?

What this fact sheet isn’t telling anyone is that childhood mental illness
was rare to non-existent until relatively recently.

Half way down we come to the real subject of this fact sheet.

The most common forms of mental illness in children and adolescents are anxiety, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Anxiety is particularly prevalent among children. I think it has something to do with not being an adult.

When 1 in 10 people in the USA are taking antidepressants, you’d figure depression would come in there somewhere. The drug companies wouldn’t be where they are today if they didn’t look after their marketplace. One of the outlets of that marketplace is in the schoolhouse.

Then there’s ADHD, childhood’s very own disease. Yeah, right! If you can’t manage to outgrow this one, now we have an adult version of it. The idea of just letting children be children has grown archaic. Bam, bam, bam, and that square pegs just gotta go into that round hole. We’re going to make successful adults out of you maggots if it kills you.

I often wonder about those parents who seem to hate their children.

Sometimes one diagnosis can lead to another and more serious diagnosis. This fact sheet doesn’t deal with those newer and more disturbing childhood disorders such as childhood schizophrenia and childhood bipolar disorder.

A Harvard doctor, one Joseph Lieberman, sometime during the 1990s got this brilliant idea that some of these kids labeled ADHD were actually early onset Bipolar Disorder sufferers. After this serendipitous discovery on his part the overall Bipolar rate in this country jumped 40 fold.

Dr. Lieberman is one of those doctors being investigated by the US Senate for conflicts of interest in concealing the extent to which his funding came from the pharmaceutical industry.

Label a kid, put him or her on psych drugs, and there is a good chance that he or she will pursue serious mental illness as a career path.

Let me close this blog post by pointing out that there are better things to do with your children than giving them psychiatric labels.

Killers, Coo Coo Or Calculating?

Robert David Jaffee, author, journalist, ‘mental health activist’, has written a 2 part series for the Huffington Post that in some ways makes a point that is really too often ignored by the mainstream press. His articles are titled appropriately enough Psychopaths, Not Psychotics, part I and part II. The point he is trying to make in this series is that those people characterized as ‘mentally ill’ don’t tend to be a violent group of people at all. Many of the high profile cases we have seen in the press recently involving people thought to be mentally ill were well thought out, and this fact raises many doubts about the severity and the validity of any such characterization.

He goes so far as to make a humanizing confession at one place in the first article.

I was once diagnosed a schizophrenic, and I have never been a threat to anyone but myself. When I was admitted to the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, now known as the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, in 1999, three burly orderlies came into the room to make sure that I took my medication. Though the orderlies were not there to hurt me, I can imagine that another person in my situation might have felt the need to defend himself. Had such an act of violence taken place, however, it would not have been premeditated.

Wow. Another psychiatric survivor. Just like myself and so many others.

What you don’t get here is how these psychiatric drugs can have toxic damaging effects, and how this fact makes these orderlies attentions a matter of reinforcing that violence on the part of the system that people are so seldom adequately protected from.

Jaffee points to a number of recent high profile multiple murder cases in which the perpetuater bore a psychiatric label, and indicates that in each case we’re dealing with someone who is a psychopath rather than a psychotic.

Lost in all of this is the fact that those who are truly mentally ill commit somewhere in the range of 3 to 4% of violent crime.

He even supplies evidence.

A Department of Justice report determined that those “with a history of mental illness,” but who do not suffer from drug or alcohol disorders, committed only 4.3% of homicides in the U.S. in 1988. A survey published by the National Institute of Mental Health noted that individuals with “severe and persistent mental illness,” but no substance abuse problems, account for no more than 3% of violent crime!

Alright. What’s all the fuss about!?

Part 2. He has a friend who asks if 3% of the violent crime in this country is commited by the mentally ill, how many people have a mental illness.

Here are the statistics. According to the NIMH’s Web site, approximately 6 % of people in this country suffer from “serious” mental illness. And according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Web site, roughly 50% of people with “severe” mental disorders have substance abuse problems.

As you will note, this 50% substance abuse problem is equivalent to the 3% of the mentally ill commiting violent crime. There has been shown to be a relationship between substance abuse and violent crime.

Political reasons, the motivations behind many of the violent crimes attributed to the people he refers to in his article, don’t point to the presence of any mental illness. Reasoning is another one of those skills we tend to think the mentally ill are not particularly adept at performing. Disoriented, confused, and scatter brained thinking doesn’t lend itself to successfully pulling off well thought out and complicated tasks such as multiple murders.

Finally, his second article ends by pointing to the number of particularly intellectually and artistically endowed people who have been labeled seriously mentally ill. Most of these were historically notable people who have been labeled after the fact. Yes, and no. How lucky we are that there were no psychiatrists durring the middleages to lock up Joan of Arc for hearing the voice of God. On the other hand, how unlucky we were to have an inquisition burning people at the stake as heretics and witches. Some of these people being burned at the stake would have been prime targets for today’s psychiatristic couch were they still around. Hmmm. What about the Mccarthy era, and the Hollywood blacklists? Maybe there’s a relationship between power and psychiatric labeling here that we need to scrutinize a little closer. I think so anyway.

Mad Pride On Campus

Please excuse my lack of posts for the last few days, but I had a prior commitment. I was busy Wednesday through Friday of last week with the Civic Media Center’s Radical Rush on the University of Florida campus. I was manning an informational table containing literature about psychiatric drugs, human rights violations in psychiatric treatment, and the organization MindFreedom International. It is my feeling that the matter of iatrogenic diseases in the mental health field is one of the most under reported stories of our time, and I want to do my part to help close this information gap. There are better ways to treat people in distress than by giving them health destroying drugs. One of the most pressing concerns I have, at present, is that of bringing some of these better ways to the sunshine state. This tabling at the Plaza of the Americas on the University of Florida campus represents a first step in bringing some of these better ways to Florida. Hopefully this will also represent the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship with the Civic Media Center, and the progressive groups in Gainesville that play a part in bringing about such change. If eventually we are able to gather a small group of enlightened psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers in our area, this group could serve as a beacon for other activists in the mental health field looking for community throughout the entire southeastern United States. Alright, maybe I’m dreaming, but then, where do realities begin if not as dreams?

Elyn Saks Wins MacArthur Foundation Grant

‘Once schizophrenic always schizophrenic.’ Well, I don’t think so, but that’s me.

Elyn Saks, as reported in a Los Angeles Times article, was among the 24 recipients of the ‘genius’ grants coming from the MacArthur foundation this year.

Saks, 53, suffered from schizophrenia all her life, but kept it hidden while excelling in her academic studies, receiving a philosophy degree from Oxford University and a law degree from Yale University before joining the faculty at USC. She is also an adjunct professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego, where she does research about society’s rejection of the mentally ill and how high-functioning schizophrenics cope.

Saks came out of the mental health closet with her 2007 memoir, “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness.” The book described the night terrors she had suffered throughout her life, her earlier beliefs that she had mentally caused the deaths of thousands of people, and the often-inhumane treatment she had received at mental health facilities.

A few comments…

1. People tend to outgrow ‘night terrors’. Some sooner than others.
2. Our anti-heroine protagonist learns her super powers are not quite as she’d imagined them to be. Rich fantasy lives might not be as unusual as previously thought.
3. Conventional mental health facilities are snake pits of abuse, and this is why we need safe and humane alternatives.

Saks said in an interview Monday that she would use at least some of the prize money to extend her memoir by interviewing other people with schizophrenia who are doing well.

When he wasn’t struggling with the steep incline of purgatory, or joyfully soaring through the heavenly heights, the medieval poet Dante Aligheri explored the depths of hell, and managed to return to the earth’s surface relatively intact. I’m thinking that, very much like Dante in his literary pursuits, it is also possible for a person who has lost his or her mind to recover his or her senses, and to get on with the business of living.

Isn’t there a point where ‘high-functioning schizophrenic’ becomes the oxymoron it sounds like?

(BTW, just in case you were wondering, an oxymoron is not a stubborn idiot.)

Encouraging Alternate Career Paths

It’s a bad joke in politics and in sports, but it’s more than a bad joke to those who are convinced they are afflicted by it. I’m talking about mental illness here. Serious mental illness is a big problem that affects a whole bunch of people in the world. It’s a big problem that starts with taking mental illness seriously. That’s how mental illnesses get serious.

Although it may be a sound investment in a growth industry, I don’t consider investing in mental illness a very good investment to make. By good in this case I don’t mean profitable, I mean virtuous. Running facilities of mental health illness treatment I consider a vice. I don’t think the operation of these what amount to mental illness factories are the right way to go.

People who take mental illness seriously kill themselves more often than do people who don’t take mental illness seriously. This is obviously an argument for taking your mental illness a little less seriously.

I know people who say that mental illness is a serious matter that shouldn’t be joked about. Some of these people are relatives of people who claim to have a mental illness. Some of these people even think they have a mental illness. I’m not averse to the idea of interjecting a little levity into the matter. I’m of the opinion that it wouldn’t hurt them to just let their mental illness slide for awhile, and then maybe they could take a look at it from another perspective. Then maybe they could look at it from the outside.

If they are able to let their mental illness slide in this trial run, then the potential is great that they should be able to let their mental illness slide on a more permanent basis.

There is some question as to whether mental illness is an illness at all. This question arises due to the fact that you won’t find any mental illnesses on microscope slides. These are stubborn diseases. If they weren’t mental, if they were physical, they’d appear on those darned microscope slides. They don’t appear on microscope slides, frankly, because they’re mental.

You’ve got families, communities, textbooks, academies, hospitals, police forces, and a whole army of professionals to convince a person that he or she has a mental illness. What you don’t have are the families, the communities, the textbooks, the academies, the hospitals, the law enforcement officers, and the troops to dissuade this individual from thinking that he or she has a mental illness. This is a very real shortcoming.

Extended families, friends, jobs, and shelters can prove very helpful in performing this sort of dissuasion service when given the chance to do so. There are other careers in the world to be pursued, if it’s a career at all, besides that of permanent psychological invalid.

Big Pharma Paid Doctors In South Florida

Now that Eli Lily is reporting the payments to doctors peddling Eli Lily products, the Sun Sentinel, out of Broward County, just published an article, Doctors’ speeches on brand-name drugs can net thousands, on doctors from south Florida lecturing for drug companies. Bravo Sun Sentinel! Perhaps other newspapers will now follow suit in helping to expose the machinations of these companies and their medically trained sales teams.

She’s (Dr. Donna Holland) one of 24 doctors in Broward and Palm Beach counties who were paid a total of $200,000 in speaking fees from Lilly in the first three months of 2009. Payments made to 3,400 doctors nationwide were disclosed as part of a settlement with the federal government over the company’s illegal marketing practices.

The list casts a spotlight on a widespread, legal but controversial practice of drug and medical companies paying doctors to give speeches about products to other doctors. Critics, including health experts, members of Congress and some doctors, say the speakers may change the drugs they prescribe based on who’s paying them, and the doctors in the audience are exposed to a sales pitch disguised as teaching.

Then there is the issue of ‘off-label’ uses of pharmaceutical products.

Lilly last month disclosed its $22 million in payments in the first quarter of this year to the 3,400 doctors who are called the Lilly faculty. The company paid a $1.4 billion penalty as part of its January settlement with the government. That amount was dwarfed by Pfizer’s $2.3 billion settlement on Sept. 2 for similar violations, which also requires disclosing physician speaking fees. Both cases centered on company actions that illegally promoted drugs for “off-label” uses, those not approved by federal officials.

Some of these doctors are reported to be making tens of thousands of dollars from giving lectures, purportedly educational, for the drug companies. Sometimes the doctor is doing so for more than one drug company. There are obvious conflicts of interest here between a doctor’s concern for his or her patients’ health and a doctor’s financial ties to a drug company. The question is, does the physician care more about the monies he or she receives from a drug company than his or her patients’ health, and would this subsidiary income cause him or her to suppress the truth regarding what was in the best interest of his or her patient to please his or her drug company bosses. Well, the answer is obviously yes, as long as the physician is getting paid to peddle the pharmaceutical company product.

One of the biggest under covered stories of our times concerns the very real and physical damage that is being done to people by some of these psychiatric drugs. When the collusion of the doctors with the pharmaceutical companies in the selling of these products is revealed, maybe we are coming closer to dealing with this tragic set of circumstances. While some of these drugs often do poorly next to a placebo in clinical trials, others are much less benign, and have been shown to cause actual changes in brain structure. This is just one more reason why exposing these doctors ties to the pharmaceutical industry is so much of the moment. When this relationship is revealed, other options, such as safe, holistic, and humane alternatives to conventional psychiatric treatment, have that much more of a chance at success.

A Second Expert Opinion

This CNN mental health expert, a Dr. Charles Raison, apparently has all the answers. A woman is asking about the likelihood of her children getting bipolar disorder when her boyfriend’s grandmother and father were so labeled. His answer to the question, What are the chances my future kids will be bipolar?, appropriately or not, is entitled Expert Answer.

Consider the situation with twins. If you are an identical twin and your twin has bipolar disorder you have a 50 percent chance of having or getting it yourself. If you are a non-identical twin the risk falls to around 10 percent in most studies. If both your parents have bipolar disorder you have a 50 percent chance of getting it say some studies….

“Some studies”!? Some studies say this, some studies say that. How thorough have your calculations been there?

….If only one parent has it, your odds fall to around 10 percent. What I find really amazing is that if you have a parent or a sibling with bipolar disorder you are about twice as likely to have regular old depression as you are to come down with bipolar disorder.

The news though isn’t all bad

But there is a piece of good news. A number of studies suggest that family members without the full disease tend to be more creative and/or intelligent than average, run-of-the-mill folks, which may be part of the reason why the genes for bipolar disorder are still with us. Some of the greatest poets of the past 200 years have had bipolar disorder, as have many artists, scientists and political leaders.

Whoopee! Sheer genius is akin to bipolar disorder, narcissism, too. How necessary the artiste has become, let’s have more of them. Fruitcakes, too.

I worry that such mathmatical conclusions probably stem from sloppy research techniques rather than from reality. Researchers, particularly those in the more dubious sciences, have a way of getting the results they want. One wonders what aspects of ‘the condition’ they may have neglected to account for in arriving at these findings.

There are families that rely on psychiatrists to solve their problem members. Psychiatrists typically have one solution for every human problem, and that solution is the pharmaceutical product. Psychiatrists could hardly do this if they weren’t heavily invested in the pharmaceutical industry in one fashion or another. A number of prominent doctors are being investigated by the senate in this country because of this conflict of interest right now.

There are schizophrenic families, and I suspect there are bipolar families, too. These families get schizophrenic and bipolar labeled family members by relying on psychiatry. Psychiatrists treat mental disorders, and the implication is that if you go to see a psychiatrist you must ‘have something wrong with you.’ If you don’t, well, the psychiatrist is likely to find something ‘wrong’ with you anyway. That’s his or her livelihood after all.

Um, and given your family and your psychiatrist, who’s to find something ‘right’ with you?

He’s taking one good step, and that’s finding a new family (her). Now there’s the second step to consider, and that’s avoiding the psychiatrist’s office like the plague.

Kristos Back In Stir

I guess it was inevitable. The lastest news report on escaped mental patient Kristos Safrianou pertains to his capture.

Missing man Kristos Sofrianou has been found by a police officer in Bristol. He is being returned to Essex this evening. (Friday)

Given all the news reports on his escape I don’t find this development at all surprising. There were stories about him withdrawing all this money from banks, but his chances didn’t seem very good from the get go.

If he could have only made it to the European continent things might have been different. Those were the thoughts I was having on the subject anyway.

Let us hope the British thought bobbies don’t go too hard on him, and that he is able to play the game, and eventually get on with his life.

See: Psychiatric Prisoner Escapes

Recovery, The Third Path

If you have often seen the question posed, ‘when did you first discover you had a mental illness’, you have probably seldom seen the opposite question posited, ‘when did you first discover you were mentally healthy’.

This situation makes the ‘recovery’ of ‘mental well-being’ difficult because the presumption is simply that such ‘recovery’ doesn’t occur. People are born ‘mentally healthy’, but they are made ‘mentally ill’, indefininely.

Take another leap in judgment, and people are not made ‘mentally ill’, they are ‘born’ ‘mentally ill’, too. This is what a number of ‘mental health’ professionals have done, but this leap is not based upon evidence. This leap is instead based on the failure of institutions to recover the patients in their charge to their senses.

Long term institutionalization has been long thought to result in a certain amount of ‘learned helplessness’. The ‘state hospital’, where this is the case, could well be thought of as an ‘academy’ for ‘learning helplessness’.

The ‘I think I can’t’ mantra is pretty predominant in the world of mental health treatment throughout. Doesn’t this mantra suggest that the ‘illness’ itself has something to do with this acquired incapacity?

The transformation of ‘schools of helplessness’ into ‘schools of helpfulness’ cannot be achieved by mere rhetoric alone. The typical institution would have to undergo the type of complete overhaul in direction for this change to occur that we just haven’t seen as of yet, despite the best intentions of your mushrooming ‘treatment mall’.

We are actually dealing with two types of incapacity here. There is the very real disability brought about by the drugs typically used to treat psychiatric conditions, and then there is the entirely psychological disability drilled by these schools of failure into the successful mental patient, or mental health consumer, if you prefer.

A successful mental patient is an unsuccessful human being. With the advent of the ‘mental health consumer’, the lines between success and failure have become more blurred; consumers can now develop careers as consumer leaders, but not without sacrificing a great deal of integrity.

The third path available is that of capacity, or what one might refer to as recovery, but it cannot be achieved alone and in isolation. Relationships change everything. When lopsided and disempowering relationships are replaced with more equalitarian and giving relationships, this goal of personal salvation is found to be much more within an individual’s grasp.