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One Way Not The Only Way

The monomania of some psychiatrists knows no bounds. My standard morning internet search brought me to one of these websites where the mental health professionals are talking down to their potential clients. This sort of website requires much reading between the lines if anybody is to get anything approaching a realistic take on the subject. The aim of the article encountered is compliance. Compliance involves the bending of a patient’s actions to the tyrannical will of the bullying therapist. The article is Drug Compliance a Major Issue for Psych Patients, and the assumption seems to be that people who have been labeled mentally ill must take harmful psychiatric drugs.

Antidepressants and antipsychotics can help mental health patients return their lives to some semblance of normalcy. However, the positive effects of these drugs can be negated if patients decide to stop taking their meds. Patients may feel so much better on medication that they eventually decide they no longer need treatment. They may forget, as patients on other types of medication do, to take their meds. They may also have difficulty dealing with the unpleasant or uncomfortable side effects of their psychiatric medications. Antipsychotics can produce side effects such as dizziness, restlessness, rapid heartbeat, and tremors. Antidepressants can cause drowsiness, insomnia, dry mouth, and constipation.

The first sentence of the above paragraph depends on the patient. What may be true for some patients may not be true for others. The second sentence reveals the true depth of bias behind the article. This bias presumes that there is one way to deal with the patient labeled mentally ill, and that way is through psychiatric drugs. I’m afraid that when the author of this piece says ‘treatment’, in all likelihood that author means ‘medication’, or psychiatric drugs. What are seen as the positive effects of the drugs is played off what are seen as the negative side effects of the drugs. The negative effects of psychiatric drugs are downplayed. People have experienced seizures, sexual dysfunction, organ failure, and all sorts of other problems on these drugs that get no mention what so ever. Long term use of psychiatric drugs causes neurological disorders, but there is no mention made of this little short coming to the doping method of mental health treatment.

Compliance is a vital part of managing mental health issues, considering the widespread use of psychiatric medications in the U.S. Antipsychotics were the top-selling class of drugs last year, and antidepressant use in the U.S. nearly doubled between 1996 and 2005. Companies such as Targacept, H. Lundbeck, Addex Pharmaceuticals, Corcept Therapeutics Incorporated, and Newron Pharmaceuticals are developing new psychiatric medications to compete with the old standards. Healthcare practitioners should educate patients on the importance of taking their psychiatric medications, how to manage or minimize side effects, and the consequences of noncompliance. Caregivers can also monitor patients, conducting pill counts and watching for signs that the patient has gone off his or her meds.

The danger here is thought to be that a patient will go off his or her psychiatric drugs. The presumption is that there are no other ways to treat people in crisis. Both presumptions are false. Psychiatric drugs are not safe. Psychiatric drugs create health problems for people that this article has hardly touched upon. Personal choice is important, and it is the expression of this personal choice that the author of this article has completely neglected to consider. People, who want a treatment option that doesn’t involve the taking of psychiatric drugs, should have that option. Putting a person on a psychiatric drug, for the duration of that person’s life, is not the only way for a person to deal with problems, however overwhelming.

One of the biggest secrets around is that there are studies showing that non-drug mental health treatments have better outcomes than those mental health treatments that rely so heavily on psychiatric drugs. Drug dependence is not recovery of mental health. Withdraw the drugs, and whatever problem a person was dealing with to begin with rears its ugly head again. I encourage anybody who is curious about the subject to explore these non-drug approaches to treatment. Mental illness need not be a lifelong condition. People can and do fully recover from what are characterized as serious mental illnesses. Complete recovery from a mental health condition cannot be found in a pill bottle.

4 Responses

  1. As a person who has been both a patient in an acute psych ward and at the same time the only rational person in the place, staff included, I have been in a unique position.

    A typical scenario might be that I witness a person dragged in yelling that catholics are evil and they’re taking over the world. The position of the staff is that “you can’t argue with disease”. The treatment is to drug the person so as to shut them up. Back off the dose a little and if the person so much as utters the word “catholic” raise the dose. And that will be the treatment for life.

    My method when I meet the patient is to tell him or her that catholics (jews, muslims, hindus, buddhists, dishonest politicians, dishonest businesmen, parents … whatever) are indeed stupid but not evil in the sense that they have supernatural powers. They may have an unfortunate influence but that’s just ordinary cause and effect. They may be genuinely frightening but only in the way that the Wizard of Oz was frightening. (The difference being that the Wizard of Oz made a reasonable case for being a good man.)

    As both a nurse and a patient I have spoken to hundreds of psych patients. Every single one has had religious, superstitious or new age thinking as a main feature of their predicament. Sometimes it takes just a few minutes, sometimes a few hours of talking, but I have ALWAYS found it to be the case. If the clinicians make note of this at all it will be to dismiss it as a brain condition that then manifests as magical, deluded or paranoid thinking.

    I say that such a patient can be totally cured forever if they can learn to understand that their is no magic in the world. Yet the clinicians will never ever make any such attempt at that kind of reassurance. For one thing most of supposedly healthy humanity “believe” in some garbage or other, including psych clinicians.

    Shrinks, atheist or not, are reluctant to shitcan religion, since most people are in some way religious. Also of course it is very often that religious groups and individuals are powerful supporters of coercive psychiatry.

    Humanity, just by the fact of history, would obviously not be what it is without religion. And it might be that the human mind could not exist without it also being capable of entertaining religious thinking.

    I say that religious thinking is the cause of all “mental illness”. I’ve had shrinks agree with this and then say that since there will always be religious thinking there will always be mental illness for them to treat. I then pounce and say, “Ten minutes ago you were telling me these people had a chemical imbalance.” They then of course start talking about genetic predisposition …

    As an individual I can’t expect to cure anyone by teaching them physics one on one. But groups conducted over a period of months could teach people the basics of rationality. But the group leader has to be a real hardass and not pander to any religious or superstitious bullshit at all. The patient would realize that their presenting obsession ( jews are evil or whatever) was bullshit and that their particular obsession was really only one of many that have been based on on a bunch of false premises that they learnt as children.

    Total mental health, which is very rare, requires the unlearning of bullshit.

    • I have heard the personal crises that put people in psychiatric prisons described as religious crises, and I know there is a whale of a lot of religious sentiment among people on psych wards, but I hardly think that is the cruxt of the problem. People break under pressure, too, when enough pressure is applied. Then there is the power disparity. You’re going to find more poor people in psychiatric treatment than you will rich people. Treatment will bankrupt you for one thing, and then miserable conditions are more likely to get a person locked up than are pleasant conditions.

      Your wizard of Oz analogy is right on target though. Behind all religious, political, what have you, appeals and actions resides a great deal of humanity. Many people are so awestruck by the illusion that they can’t see the illusion for what it is–a creation of human beings. Human beings are notorious for making mistakes, and then not recognizing those mistakes for the mistakes that they are. Passing the buck, and avoiding responsibility, are very human traits.

      Magical thinking, on the other hand, is one thing in the ghetto and another thing in Buckingham Palace. A Fool’s King would be more likely to be taken seriously by people than would a King’s Fool, even if Fools went out with the beheading of King Charles I. Fools are still pretty abundant if you ask me. Magical thinking is magical thinking only if it is thinking that cannot be fulfilled, only if it is thinking that cannot be realized. What did Wm. Shakespeare say? “The play’s the thing”? Some people have forgotten how to play.

      When one becomes overburdened with the problems of the world, it’s obviously time to take a vacation, otherwise one might end up convalescing in the looney bin. You’re not going to be able to save the world, but maybe you can save one person in it. Guess who? I think that is where everybody is at.

      “Total mental health” is as much of an illusion as any other. What a field day the psychiatrist would have analysing himself. Just hide his identity from him. These people are some of the craziest people in the world, and they just don’t seem to get it. Okay, here are his files, doc. What’s wrong with him, and what do you prescribe? You don’t say…We better start acting soon before he deteriorates any further. His situation is pretty dire and desparate.

  2. I was already taken aback by the very first sentence of that article: who at all says that all mental patients ‘ lives should have “a semblance of normalcy”, by non-mentally ill standards I would presume. Tha tphrasing is rather ableist. Beyond that, the whole article decenters the experienc eof the mentally ill person and centers the professional’s opinion.

    • Yes, this is sort of a “you can’t expect to live like us”, “here’s your chemical crutch” approach to the matter. An approach that is insulting to say the least.

      The article closes thus…

      Patient education, new treatments and better drug matching hold promise for reducing noncompliance in psychiatric patients. What are some other ways to keep patients from backsliding?

      “Comply”, or “backslide”. You couldn’t come up with a simpler lack of understanding if you tried.

      One of those other ways these people are digging for out of people, despite the violation of constitutionallly guaranteed rights it involves, is probably going to be the use of force.

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