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Psychiatry and the American Declaration of Independence

It is my intention in this blog entry to demonstrate that psychiatry as it is practiced today exists in opposition to, and in violation of, those rights American citizens have been guaranteed as they were set forth in The Declaration of Independence framed by our nation’s founders in the year 1776.

The Declaration of Independence begins by speaking about self-evident truths, the foremost of which this document states we are granted by birth, that being the truth of equality. Just as men and women in slavery were held to be but a fraction of a whole human being, and thus an exception to this truth of equality, so people in the mental health/illness system are being treated as an exception to this truth today. People on the receiving end of the mental health/illness system are said by proponents of biological medical psychiatry to be inferior by genetic make up to other people, and thus less than fully capable human beings by birth.

The document goes on to say that people are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that chief among these inalienable rights are the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We have just listed 3 rights that are not applied to people in the mental health/illness system in the same way in which they are applied to the rest of the population. Let me go over these three rights, and show how they are being routinely ignored, dismissed, and violated when it comes to our treatment of people who are struggling with the mental health/illness system.

Life is precious. The first of these 3 rights concerns its preservation. Studies have shown that people in the mental health/illness system are dying off on average 25 years younger than the rest of the population. The act of violating this right is typically known as murder. When this right is violated among people in the mental health/illness system, it is called “treatment”. We know the source of this violation of rights. The right to life of people in the mental health/illness system is being denied by the psychiatrists who put them on powerful neuroleptic drugs. These drugs are known to cause a number of metabolic changes in the bodies of those people who use them, and a number of serious health conditions are associated with these metabolic changes. We have a word for the diseases behind these early deaths, and that word is iatrogenic, or physician caused.

Every time a person is civil committed, in patient or out patient, to psychiatric treatment, that person’s rights to liberty are being denied and violated. In the criminal justice system a person is guaranteed the due process of a fair trial by the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution. Mental Health Law, being seen as a civil matter, represents a loophole to this same Bill of Rights. People facing mental health hearings don’t get a jury trial. A person, who has not violated any of the laws of the land, in such instances, can have his or her liberty taken away from him or her on medical pretenses. No other branch of medicine can do this to a person once that person has passed the age of consent. Out with the right to liberty go other more subtle rights like the rights to dignity and respect.

Even the pursuit of happiness is not to be permitted people who have been admitted into psychiatric ‘care’. The aura of “mental sickness” is such that it over shadows all other aspects of a person’s life. People in the mental health/illness system are disadvantaged to the extent that they not expected to have the same opportunities that other people have been given. Should there be talk of hope, usually it is a false hope. If the ‘sickness’ can be challenged, that is only the beginning of the challenges faced. The jobs that people who have been through the mental health/illness system are permitted tend to be at the lowest end of the totem pole, and should they receive a higher education, businesses are still less prone to employ them than other people.

America still has a long ways to go before it accepts those who have been through the mental health/illness system as full citizens and complete human beings entitled to the same rights as other citizens of this country. Black people, women, and members of other oppressed and minority groups within this country have had to fight on the civil rights front to reach some degree of parity with their more privileged neighbors. This fight is, in many instances, still on. People who have endured privations and hardships at the hands of psychiatry and the mental health/illness system have an even further way to go. Some of them realize this, and it is a struggle they are grateful to take on. When people oppressed by psychiatry and the mental health/illness system attain some degree of equal treatment with other members of the populace, The Declaration of Independence will then be that much less of a meaningless scrap of paper than it is today.

What’s Gotten Into Them?

Glenn Close has a kooky sister, and so she’s going to pitch for better treatment of “the mentally ill”. She’s walking with the Namby Pamby folk trying to spread the word, be kind to your mixed up friends. Kooks are people, too, even if they are a little different, and they shouldn’t be expected to perform at the same level as the rest of us. Give them some leeway, and then give them some more leeway. Yeah.

Joey Pantoliano has found a new role talking about Joey Pantoliano and Joey Pantoliano’s struggles with depression, another “mental illness”. Joey Pantoliano adds glitz and glamour by bringing Joey Pantoliano’s Hollywood buddies in to play up the subject beside him. The message Joey Pantoliano would relay, if he could relay it, is that it’s cool and sexy to be “mentally ill”, just look at Joey Pantoliano.

Let’s hope Joey Pantoliano hasn’t got what Glenn Close’s sister has got.

Meanwhile, outside of Hollywood, psychiatric disability translates into a big burden the taxpayers are having to shoulder. Psychiatric disability is one of the most expensive health conditions we’ve got, and through public insurance programs, this is a bill that the taxpayer is footing. This burden is also growing bigger by the hour. There have been fears that the country will run out of social security before too long, and this segment of the population is one of the chief reasons why this is so.

The “mental illness” rate has been going up for years. It has risen most markedly since certain pharmaceutical products came on the market in the 1950s, and this growth has been spiraling out of control ever since. Undoubtedly this incline in the number of people labeled “mentally ill” in this country has something to do with the drugs these pharmaceutical companies have developed to contain this population. Some of these drugs used to treat “mental illness” have been known to cause even more health problems for the people taking them then they resolve. Selling drugs also involves the selling of disease.

Not only are there more “mentally ill”, but there are more “mental illnesses” for people to have caught. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, psychiatrist bible and field guide to “mental illnesses”, has expanded over time. The DSM I had categorized 106 “mental disorders”, the DSM II had 182 such disorders, the DSM III had 265 listed, the DSM III revised edition had 292, and the DSM IV has 297 “mental disorders”. The expectation is that the DSM V, set for publication in 2013 will have developed even more “mental disorders” to plague humanity with. It helps to keep in mind that this plethora of diseases is also, of course, the psychiatrist’s bread and butter.

Schools are screening children as young as 5 years old for “mental illness”. Mental health screening is notoriously unreliable. These tests have incredibly high false positive rates in the 90% range as a rule. If you screen for mental health, you’re going to raise the number of people labeled “mentally ill” in this country. The question that is not being asked here is how different is the person so labeled from any other human being. Is it possible some of these mental health professionals have made a mistake somewhere along the line? Labeling children “mentally ill” is not going to help them succeed in life.

Contributing to an epidemic in disease is not the best path for us as a nation, or even as individuals, to take. I don’t care if this organization or that says 1 in 4 people in this country are off their rockers or not. In many cases they are making a stark raving lunatic out of a simple case of the nerves. Anybody with half a brain, and that’s giving a lot of people a lot of credit, should be able to figure that one out. The idea should be to produce fewer rather than more “disturbed” people. This is an idea that just hasn’t registered with a lot of people yet. Well, let me drive it home until it finally does register.

People can and do recover from serious “mental illnesses”. The President’s New Freedom Commission Report said that. If people can and do recover, the “mental illness” rate can decline. If the “mental illness” rate rises at a rate substantially faster than the population increases, something other than heredity is involved in the rise; something environmental is contributing to this increase. If it can go up so dramatically, it can also go down. What we need to be looking at are ways to shrink the population of people labeled “mentally ill”. What we don’t need to be doing is expanding that population. There comes a time when a lack of foresight could have us looking at a problem that has gotten way out of hand.

Rosy Future Forecast For Mad Pride Movement

UPI has published an article on a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey. The results of this survey may be truly disturbing, but given the proliferation of misinformation on the subject these days, these results should not be all that surprising. The title of the article says it all, Survey: People uncaring to mentally ill.

Twenty-two percent of U.S. adults say people show caring and sympathy to those with mental illness, a government survey indicates.

If 22% adults say people show caring and sympathy to those with “mental illness”, then 78% say people must not show caring and sympathy to people identified as having a “mentally illness”.

One word, coupled with another, makes all the difference in the world. Couple it with another word instead, like health, and the problem has been eradicated.

Ironically enough, I don’t consider this the distressing part of this survey, that’s coming up.

The national survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the estimated 9.8 million U.S. adults living with serious mental illness, found the prevalence of serious mental illness is highest in the 18-25 age group.

You would think that, what with baby boomers getting up there, maybe the prevalence of break downs would diminish, but apparently not so. I suspect that these results reflect some of the success powerful drug corporations have had in selling their products, and the diseases that go along with them.

The news gets worse.

The HealthStyles Survey, by SAMHSA and Porter Novelli, indicates 72 percent of young adults ages 18-24 say a person with mental illness would improve if given treatment and support. However, only 33 percent say a person can eventually recover from mental illness.

Improvement is not recovery, despite the hoopla, and the baloney. 66% of young adults, according to the above, must think making a full recovery for a person labeled ‘mentally ill’ is not within the realm of possibility.

Hmmm, I wonder how many of these young people intend to become taxpayers?

The article goes on to say that 35% of people surveyed thought people labeled “mentally ill” might be able to succeed in the workplace while 65% say treatment can help people labeled “mentally ill”.

I’d say this survey represents just one more reason for not identifying oneself as “mentally ill” and, given the prevalence of labeled peoples in the 18-25 age range, this survey shows that our mad movement must have a bright future laying ahead of itself indeed.

All I can say is, “Mad Power, my mad brothers and sisters. We are going to win.”

The Sins Of The Children

A study shows a possible connection between pesticide usage and ADHD in children. This is the result of a scientific study.

In the study, researchers who measured the level of pesticide byproducts in the urine of 1,139 children found that those with above-average levels “had roughly twice the odds of getting a diagnosis of ADHD,” according to the study, which appears in the journal, Pediatrics.

Mary Winter, author of the article/interview in question, tongue in cheek, goes Hallelujah. She sees such a situation as a ray of hope for bereaved families, if she is to be believed.

One thing you wouldn’t do with this sort of information, if you were serious about doing something about the matter at all, is to pass it along to Judith Warner, and to ask for her input on the matter. Whatever input Mrs. Warner would have on the subject being a foregone conclusion.

My second thought: What would Judith Warner think? Warner, an influential writer and voice in the field of modern parenting, is perhaps best known for her “Domestic Disturbances” column for the New York Times. She is also the author of “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety,” and, more recently, “We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication.”

This is the opening salvo to an interview with Mrs. Warner. What was Mary Winter thinking!? (Oh, I don’t know. Maybe we can beat them at their own game.) Even bringing up the matter of pesticides, in this instance, must have just have served merely as a ruse to be dismissive of the whole idea.

Neither Mary Winter nor Judith Warner seem to want to err on the side of science.

“I think the pesticides story could be good news, if it led to the discontinuation of these pesticides, but for parents of children with ADHD, it’s likely just to lead to guilt (if only they’d bought organic!) and who knows if the guilt will turn out to be justified, long-term, as clearly these results will have to be validated by other studies. ADHD is very highly heritable, so this is clearly just one element in a complicated picture. And, of course, it’s only the best-off parents who will be able to afford the organic produce so, as always in our country, everyone else will just have to muddle through . . .”

50 years ago there was no ADHD (i.e. It’s not highly heritable). Today we take our “problem” children, and we apply labels to them. From 0 to millions, there is no way this is a ‘highly heritable’ condition. Do the arithmetic.

Judith Warner ends her interview by claiming that stimulants and anti-depressants work for the majority of children that use them. That work would be in “controlling symptoms”, and that work would only involve “short term” outcomes. If, as the saying goes, “children should be seen and not heard”, perhaps psychiatric drugs do the trick. If, on the other hand, children should be loved and not judged, well, with psychiatric drugs you’re on the way to losing the ball game.

What she doesn’t point to is the second epidemic that stems from the use of stimulants and anti-depressants for ADHD and depression in children. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were rare to non-existent in children just a few years ago. Stimulants and anti-depressant drugs have been known to induce mania and psychosis in a certain percentage of the people who use them. The long term outcomes of people put on these drugs is not good. Now these more serious conditions are beginning to appear in children and adolescents.

There is a lesson to be learned in all this, yes. Think before you act, and be sure to read the fine print. These drugs have all sorts of devestating effects you don’t want your children to suffer from. Seek a second, third, and fourth opinion if you must. Don’t let the first shrink with a piece of paper on his office wall convince you that your child is ‘sick’. The idea of “childhood mental illness” may be becoming increasingly popular among parents these days, but make sure it is popular among other parents, and not among yourselves. Surely, you can think of better things to do with your children than labeling them “mentally ill”, and doping them up on psychiatric drugs.

Bravery and the “mental illness” confession

I have heard it suggested that an admission of having a “mental illness” was a courageous thing for a person to make. I don’t think this to be the case.

In the mental hospital a person is tortured in order to get a confession of “mental illness”. The person who claims not to have a “mental illness” is said by the hospital staff to be in worse condition than the person who claims to have a “mental illness”. If the person doesn’t admit to having a “mental illness”, he or she will not be released from the hospital, and the torture will continue.

Only by admitting to having a “mental illness”, regardless of whether or not the person believes he or she actually has a “mental illness”, will the person be released from the mental hospital. I don’t consider any such admission of “mental illness” particularly brave. Not making an admission under those circumstances would be foolhardy.

The question then becomes why do people, once they are released from the mental hospital, and under no threat of torture, continue to admit to having a “mental illness”. I don’t see anything particularly brave about doing so at all.

I have not heard of anybody being called courageous for admitting they have no “mental illness”. The thing about making such an admission of mental health is that it can be made in defiance of torture, hospitals, the whole mental health/illness system, and all of its apologists.

People who claim to be brave for admitting to having a “mental illness” just don’t consider such matters I guess.

Stuck in a box

Here comes another off the wall study, one this time that would connect schizophrenia to creativity. Knowing how results are so often skewed in studies of this sort, due to a dismissal of factors involved, such as the effects of psychiatric drugs on the brains of the patients being studied, I’m not blown away by this one at all. The article was Mental illness, creativity link discovered. I loved the following quote though.

“Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box,” Live Science quoted study researcher Fredrik Ullen, of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, as saying.

“Not thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact brain,” was my immediate response to the suggestion.

Now it’s produced a vision for me of all these studious psychiatry researchers with less than intact brains. All their studies are being directed towards having their thoughts fit little boxes. I’m further envisioning a beatnik of old, and he’s drawing with his finger a square in the air.

Breasts, hills, buttocks, buttresses, arches, domes, pulse, and eddy; well, you get the picture, don’t you? If so, maybe it’s a little early to get yourself measured for a coffin.

Overcoming the mental illness of stigma

I remember seeing an article titled Overcoming the stigma of mental illness recently, and I couldn’t help thinking, rather than the ‘mental illness’? There is no ‘stigma’ attached to ‘mental health’, is there? The message we seem to be getting here is that people who are ‘mentally ill’ can’t recover their mental health, and so they need some kind of special treatment from society at large.

This makes me wonder deeply, and what I deeply wonder about is whether we should be rewarding mental health professionals for being such out and out failures. Okay, financially and status-wise they aren’t failures, and maybe it was this professional failure, this failure of their patients, that folks are paying them for. After all, if they got enough people out of the mental health/illness system, some of these professionals would be out of work.

‘Stigma’ as a rationale for illness is a kind of sticky subject. I don’t have to overcome my ‘sickness’ because it’s ‘biochemical’. It’s ‘biochemical’ because my psychiatrist tells me it is so. My psychiatrist says so because all the other psychiatrists say so. The psychiatrist who doesn’t say so is a quack. He’s not a quack because he said anything incorrect, mind you, he’s must be a quack because he disagreed with all the other psychiatrists who are in complete agreement.

Psychiatry is obviously not a profession for experimenters and non-conformists. This fact in itself throws into question any pretense it makes of being a scientific discipline. How scientific can you be if you have forsaken free thought? As for its bid to be a branch of the medical sciences, well, the source of ‘mental illness’ is still, strictly speaking, unknown. As much as psychiatry knows, psychiatry keeps showing us how much it doesn’t know.

The nature of ‘mental illness’ keeps changing. Once the people judged ‘insane’ were thought to be curable. Then we found that most of the ‘insane’ were incurably so. Then we found that the ‘mentally ill’ could recover their mental health. Then we found that most of these ‘mentally ill’ people were only capable of a partial recovery at best. Then we determined that chances for recovery depended on the opinion of the expert with whom we conferred. Alright, it only remains for ‘mental illness’ to become a fleeting condition again for the stigma associated with it to dissolve as well.

If the psychiatrist says you have a chronic condition, I suggest you consult another psychiatrist, and if that psychiatrist suggests you have a chronic condition, then I suggest you consult with still another psychiatrist. I suggest, in fact, that you keep switching psychiatrists until you find a psychiatrist that doesn’t think your mental condition is chronic. When you have found such a doctor, voila! The goal of overcoming your ‘mental illness’ is within sight, and with it, any stigma attached to that ‘mental illness’.

Chemical restraint or “medicine”

An interesting editorial has appeared in the Las Vegas Sun Times about an investigation of hospital staff neglecting to report incidents of using psychiatric drugs to subdue patients that were considered ‘out of control’. The hospital being investigated is Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas. The editorial is titled Protect Patient Rights.

My concern is that the fact that those patient rights are also human rights might be skipped over in a cursory scanning of this editorial by a reader. The editor of the Sun Times apparently had no problem indentifying them as patients, but whether he had any inkling that those patients were also human beings is another thing again.

Alright, Patient 3267, you didn’t receive your Miranda Rights because you have less rights than a prisoner does in the criminal justice system. It’s easy to forget here that you are also a human being, a citizen, and a member of the public.

As Marshall Allen reported in Saturday’s Las Vegas Sun, investigators looked at 10 randomly selected cases and found that the hospital failed to disclose the use of medicine as a “chemical restraint” in all of them. Investigators said that in two of those cases the hospital staff failed to give any reason for using the drugs.

10 randomly selected cases? That is disturbing!

However, the state official who oversees the Las Vegas hospital said it did nothing wrong and plans to appeal the finding to a hearing officer. Howard Cook, head of the state’s Mental Health and Developmental Services Division, said the hospital does not use chemical restraints. Instead, he said, the drugs in those cases were used as part of the treatment for psychological issues that caused behavior problems.

I get it. Define chemical restraints. Treatment of “psychological issues” leading to “behavior problems”. He hasn’t used the word that relates most directly to the pathologizing of behavior, and that word is psychiatry. If we’re only talking psychology here then that pathology is still not beyond question.

Although this appears to be a matter of semantics, it is an important distinction. There is a significant difference between using a drug in a crisis to calm someone and using medication therapeutically to treat a mental illness. The investigation paints a picture of the use of medications as a chemical restraint. It says that drugs were given to patients, without their authorization, in response to specific behaviors or situations, including aggression, threats or agitation. Three of the patients were not only given medication, but they were also physically restrained.

Diagnosis is determined by a doctor. Argue with the doctor’s diagnosis, resist the chemical restraints, and you will be both physically restrained and chemically restrained. That some people will only be chemically restrained by physical assault is an issue that is not being dealt with here. Under most circumstances assault is treated as a criminal offense. Unfortunately this is not the case when the people doing the assaulting are the staff in a psychiatric facility. The issue here regards the little matter of the reporting of these incidents in which patients (human beings, citizens, and members of the public) were physically assaulted and forcibly drugged.

The documenting and reporting of these incidents isn’t to create more paperwork, it’s for safety. Documenting why patients are given medication gives patients and their doctors a record of what happened. Because they are being given the medications without patient consent, there has to be a solid reason for it, otherwise the hospital is violating patient rights.

This investigation follows the death of a patient last month from some indeterminate cause, a patient who was supposed to have been under observation by staff, and a fine lodged against the hospital for an attack last year made on a woman patient by a male patient who was known to be violent.

Let’s hope that the fact that these patients are human beings, citizens, and members of the public finally begins to dawn on people in general. In this instance, and in many others like it, that mistreatment which goes about mascerading as acceptable medical practice needs to come to an abrupt end.

Have you ever heard the expression, “Don’t become a statistic”?

I found the following recovery statistics in an article, Recovery from Severe Mental Illness, encouraging, and an answer to the most cynical attitudes some professionals in the mental health field assume. The article itself was noting the rise of the Recovery Model of mental health treatment. I don’t know about the reliability of this information, and I don’t care so much about that reliability. I still think even such results as you see listed here could be improved significantly.

Over time, most people with schizophrenia will make at least a partial medical recovery. Within ten years of the onset of illness

• Approximately 25 % will be in complete remission;
• 25 % will experience substantially fewer symptoms;
• 25 % will have slightly reduced symptoms;
• 15 % will still experience the same level of symptoms; and
• 10 % will be dead, often as a result of suicide or accident

Look at this, would you!? You’ve got here a 75% improvement rate.

Complete remission though gives me a problem. I would prefer to see the word recovery used here. I don’t see “severe mental illness” as a condition that must be ever present in the background even when “symptoms” are lacking. Cancer remits. Mental health is recovered.

Then we get a bullshit list of factors.

A number of factors can be used to predict medical recovery but these are only indicators. Factors, which suggest that a good recovery is likely, include:

• Good adjustment prior to the start of the illness;
• A family with no history of schizophrenia;
• Developing the illness at an older age;
• Sudden onset of the illness; and,
• Onset of the illness following a major life event.

There are other statistics, for example, this one comes from an article on a girl with what is characterized as anxiety disorder, Living with mental illness.

Kirsten [Weaver] is just one of an estimated 40 million people living with an anxiety disorder. That’s about 18% of adults. She was diagnosed early. Half of all lifetime cases begin by 14 years old, three-quarters by the age of 24.

Anxiety disorder is a relatively minor disorder. In the olden days you might have referred to a person with generalized anxiety disorder as neurotic. Anxiety disorder is an inherited disorder that afflicts 95% of the population under the age of 21. My advice to you Kirsten is this, “Get over it!”

This is why I don’t worship at the church of ‘mental illness’. It’s so much easier to get people into the mental health/illness system than it is to get them out of that system.

Five More Years Of Kendra’s Law Probable

Five more years of the infamous Kendra’s Law in New York State it appears likely are on the horizon. Kendra’s Law is an involuntary outpatient commitment law some New York legislators are intent on extending. This law would have certain people under court order to follow mental health treatment plans. Almost without exception these treatment plans involve the taking of potentially brain damaging psychiatric drugs. The story behind the legislative battle over this law can be found at legislativegazette.com, Extension of Kendra’s Law Likely.

As the controversial Kendra’s Law sunsets this June, opponents and proponents of the law alike seem on the brink of a compromise –– extending the law for an additional five years rather than making it permanent now or allowing it to expire altogether.

The situation could be worse. Some people want to make the law permanent.

“I thought it should be extended indefinitely and no more sunset, but at this point I think it’s going to be extended,” [Aileen] Gunther predicted.

That a clinical label should divide citizens from their constitutionally guaranteed rights, in the interests of protecting public safety, is the concern here. ‘Mental illness’ labels, after all, don’t automatically eject people so labeled from the human species. You have to remember that people who have been labeled ‘mentally ill’, whom we would be protecting the general public from, are also members of that same public.

Economics, and the current budgetary crisis, are in part behind the reluctance to make Kendra’s law a permanent part of New York politics.

“Considering the state’s current budget crisis, this is not the time to expand services — and it is also not the time to introduce costly and unproven improvements to a law that is working,” Mental Health Commissioner Michael F. Hogan said.

Medical treatment should never be a punishment imposed by a court of law. Convicting people of the possibility of commiting a crime at some time in the future, suspending the presumption of innocense, constitutes an infringement of these same people’s right to due process.

Hopefully legislators in New York will begin to see the threat to American democracy that such legislation represents for what it actually is, and cease to vote to extend this unconstitutional law at some point in the future.