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Opposing harmful practices in psychiatry

Lobotomy was a brain surgery technique that involved severing connections to and from the prefrontal lobe of the brain, that area of the brain responsible for higher reasoning capacity, and much that, in fact, separates the human being from lesser evolved species. There is no way you can sever connections in this manner without destroying brain cells. People who were labeled mentally ill were treated by having their perfectly healthy brains mutilated. When, not too long ago, lobotomy was a completely accepted procedure of treatment, how can anybody look at psychiatry today without a jaded eye?

Lobotomy is only one of a number of what might be referred to as extreme and archaic 20th century procedures of mental health treatment that have fallen by the wayside, and into disuse, due to their damaging nature. Metrasol therapy, a treatment involving giving a person a substance that induced seizures, and insulin shock therapy, a treatment that involved putting a patient into a coma for short period of time, are no longer being used in psychiatric current practice. It doesn’t take much to imagine why such procedures are no longer practiced.

One harmful procedure that is still in existence is that of electro-shock convulsive therapy or ECT. This procedure involves sending currents of electricity through the brain as way of inducing epileptic-like convulsions. The industry literature on the procedure is very misleading in that it would make it out to be completely safe and harmless, something that it is definitely not. Much money and effort is being put into seeking a cure for seizures in the case of epilepsy that the psychiatric profession is trying to induce in some of its patients with mental illness. No one is suggesting that epileptic seizures are not harmful. Epileptic fits destroy brain tissue.

Electro-shock always produces some memory loss. This memory loss comes as a result of the accompanying loss of gray matter. People with careers that involved using their intellects a great deal, who have had ECT, have had to make career changes as a result of shock treatments. Sending electricity through the brain produces traumatic brain injury. Calling electrically induced head trauma a safe treatment for mental illness is way up there with amputating legs because of scrapped knees. The after effects of such head trauma are going to be with the patient for some time to come, and the patient should be fully informed before undergoing such a damaging procedure.

Psychiatric drugs were very instrumental in the ouster of the psycho-surgeon’s scalpel from the psychiatrist’s little black bag. Why, after all, sever those connections between the prefrontal lobes and the rest of the brain when you can accomplish the same thing with a pill. Long before psychiatric drugs were called chemical restraints, another coupling of words found their way into the mental health professionals’ lexicon, chemical lobotomy. The constraining effects psychiatric drugs produce on patients, if used in heavy enough dosages, are very similar to the after effects of psycho-surgery.

I have dealt with many of the problems associated with psychiatric drugs use in other places, and I will deal with them again. I will, for the sake of time and expediency, limit my comments on the subject to what I’ve already written. As one can see, there are many potential dangers to be associated with conventional mental health treatment that have escaped the attention of the mainstream media. People have more reason to avoid the conventional mental health authorities than the social stigma associated with psychiatric labels alone. These authorities can damage more than a person’s reputation with the kind of treatments they provide. They can destroy a person’s health. There are other ways to proceed, outside of the present mainstream of psychiatric practice, that are truly caring, noninvasive, engaging and empowering. It is the choice and development of these non-harmful methods for dealing with people in distress that I fully encourage and enthusiastically endorse.

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