Rosalynn Carter’s Rose Colored Mental Health Care Glasses

ABC has a very brief interview with ex-president Jimmy Carter’s wife, Rosalynn Carter, Books: Rosalynn Carter discusses her new book, ‘Within Our Reach’. I understand that Rosalynn has arrived a certain point in her life, and I don’t want to endanger her health, but all the same, I think she misses a big part of what the issue is here. The problem is that given the large influx of people receiving mental health care treatment, ending any mental health crisis is getting further and further away from our grasp than it ever has been before.

Q: The scope of the problem you describe is eye-opening: Each year, almost 60 million adults in the United States suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. How much has changed in the years you’ve been involved in the field?

A: What’s exciting is the science and what we know about the brain and new medications and treatment. When I started in the field, people were institutionalized, and there was a belief that their productive days were gone. That’s totally false. Just in the last few years, we’ve learned a lot about how people can recover from mental illness and lead productive lives.

Nonsense. There is a growing epidemic in psychiatric disability, yes, but what we are learning is merely how little we knew in the first place. Are we recovering people from “mental illness” so that they can lead productive lives? Define recovery. Redefine it to make it mean anything you want it to, and maybe so. Use Webster or Oxford or Random House dictionaries, and maybe not.

Q: You point out in your book that many mental illnesses have early onset and are developmental, and that 50 percent of all major mental illnesses start in children before the age of 14, and 75 percent by the age of 24.

A: For years and years, the mental-health profession did not think that mental illness could start in children. Now the whole mental-health community is moving toward treatment for recovery and away from just controlling mental illness. Early diagnosis is so important because the earlier a mental illness can be detected, diagnosed and treatment can begin, the better off that person can be for the rest of his or her life.

Hello!? Labeling children “seriously mental ill” was virtually nonexistence until just a few years ago. This labeling can start with something as small as conduct disorder, obedient defiant disorder, or bugaboo of bugaboos attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD just didn’t exist 60 years ago, and now it’s cropping up everywhere. Sometimes these relatively minor labels then lead to much more serious “mental illness” labels being applied. Many of these children so labeled end up being under employed and receiving disability payments for the rest of their lives.

Q: How do you feel about psychiatric drugs for children and youth?

A: We haven’t been giving these drugs for enough years to really see what happens. But I have seen so many children who have been stabilized and function so much better and lead good lives once they are on the drugs. What must be done, what we do know, is that the children have to be watched very carefully. We also know that one in five children develops mental illness that can damage their functioning, but only about 20 percent of them get professional help.

The drugs have been around for 50 plus years. We have seen what they do to adults. They do the same things to children only worse. Stimulants, such as those prescribed for ADHD, and antidepressants can trigger manic reactions, and increase the number of people, children, too, labeled schizophrenia or bipolar disorder sufferers. Neuroleptic drugs given to people labeled schizophrenic and bipolar cause a movement disorder, a neurological condition, Tardive Dyskinesia. This neurological condition points to structural brain changes and damage as the result of this drug treatment. The newer neuroleptic drugs, developed to have fewer side effects than the older ones, not only produce TD, but also cause a metabolic syndrome known to appreciably shorten the lifespan of people taking these drugs.

Part of the problem arises when you try to catch people before they develop a “serious mental illness”. Proposals have arisen for a Psychosis Risk Syndrome to be listed in the upcoming DSM V. Diagnosed pre-schizophrenia, I would imagine, is much more likely to lead to schizophrenia than is undiagnosed pre-schizophrenia. We’ve all heard about negative self-fulfilling prophesies, and we’ve got more than our share of those in the field of pediatric psychiatry.

If 50% of the labeled “mentally ill” are so labeled in childhood, and 75% of the labeled “mentally ill” are so labeled before the age of 24, how many of these people fully recover their wits and go onto lead rich and productive lives? This is the unanswered question here, and I would imagine that that % is not a large one at all. First, you have to unlabel or undiagnose people, and I don’t think there is a whole lot of that going on at the present point in time.

One of the major factors in whether a patient will fully recover from a serious mental condition or not has to do with whether that patient has been prescribed psychiatric drugs. Patients maintained on psychiatric drugs are much less likely to fully recover than those who are not maintained on such drugs. Masking a problem with the effects of a drug is not the same thing, after all, as dealing with the problem and resolving it. There are other factors involved, surely, systematic factors, but none of them is so glaringly obvious as the chemical disability created by our public mental health system’s over reliance on chemical substances to suppress and subdue personal life crises.

7 Responses

  1. Not having heard much about Rosalynn Carter before, I first thought she maybe just was plain ignorant. But having read the Wikipedia entry about her, I see that she can’t be. So, what is it then, hypocrisy? I wonder if there’s a “mentally ill” “loved one” (how much do you really love someone whom you don’t hesitate to label “mentally ill”??) in the Carter family. Wikipedia doesn’t tell. And often enough a hidden, personal agenda in terms of the desire to shut up a “mentally ill” “loved one” turns out to be at work in those who promote biopsychiatry like Rosalynn Carter does, denying the facts, betraying both herself and everybody else big time.

    I wouldn’t just say people “maintained” on psych drugs are less likely to recover fully. There’s no such thing as full recovery while on psych drugs. It’s not that people recover fully, and then go off the drugs. They go off the drugs, and then they recover fully.

    • I did a brief search for “mental illness” in Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s family, but I came up empty. There are lunatics in other former Presidents closets, Rose Kennedy, for example, but that’s another thing.

      I do think Rosalynn has done some awfully good things, and can be receptive about the matter. I also think she doesn’t get the complete picture. She helped push for insurance parity for one thing, and I think insurance parity merely serves to legitimize the “mental illness” label. It’s not the same thing as getting people employed at decent jobs with decent wages. It will serve as just another disincentive for people to work, and also as a disincentive to get people working.

      We are getting from her an argument I’ve heard over and over again, and it was drafted by members of the APA in cahoots with the pharmaceutical industry. It runs like this, there are more people with “mental illness” out there than we’ve got in treatment, and these people aren’t coming in for treatment because of ‘stigma’. The people we have caught are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more deranged people than we have in treatment. As you can see, as far as arguments go, this one is good for business. It makes people in treatment feel better about themselves, too, as it gives them the illusion that they are less ‘alone’ and peculiar. People with “serious mental illness” have a sickness like any other sickness, and they need to be treated for it. There is no cure, or recovery; there is only a lifetime regimen of chemical maintenance. Just look at our statistical data showing so. The problem is that this is mostly all statistical data for people maintained on psychiatric drugs. There are other statistics, and there is a point beyond a number on a file, or a number stenciled on a concrete slab.

      If a person is maintained on neuroleptics long enough, that person’s chances of making a complete recovery are going to be slim. Long term neuroleptic use has been shown to cause dramatic cognitive decline, and there certainly must be a point of no return to the previous levels of performance.

      • I always assumed that she was like a lot of political wives of her day– she had an addiction to prescription drugs and she hid it very well. Mental health may have helped get her dried out and she felt forever in debt to the favor. Just my guess.

        I live in a small, rural community and we seem to be a dumping ground (I’m sorry if that sounds crude, but there’s no other term for it) for people released from the state hospitals. I worked at a pharmacy for a while and had to deal with them. I felt so sorry for them, but then again I somehow think that they bore some of the responsibility for taking the nasty crap the psychiatrists handed out. How psychiatry could claim that it was a help to these people is beyond my understanding.

  2. […] Excerpt from: Rosalyn Carter's Rose Colored Mental Health Care Glasses « Lunatic … […]

  3. “…but then again I somehow think that they bore some of the responsibility for taking the nasty crap the psychiatrists handed out.”

    IMO, it depends. Before you can make a choice, you need to know that you have one. I don’t know how the situation is in the U.S., but in Denmark, where I live, there isn’t much information about alternative ways to see crisis, the dangers of psych drugs, the lack of science in psychiatry, etc., available in Danish. And surprisingly many people do have a problem with reading English. They’ve never heard of Robert Whitaker, Loren Mosher, Joanna Moncrieff, MindFreedom, or anything else along those lines. So, all they can do is rely on the “information” handed out to them by the system. You can’t hold these people responsible for believing in this “information”. They don’t have a choice.

    It’s probably a little different for people whose first language is English. Still, I imagine a lot of these people are successfully kept from seeking out non-mainstream information, too. Not least also by the drugs’ effects on their cognitive abilities. When you can’t concentrate on sentences longer than three or four words, or texts longer than a couple of paragraphs or so, you don’t go and read scientific articles, not to mention a whole book, about the inefficiency of psych drugs for instance. Which puts you in a position where you have little choice than to believe in whatever your shrink, your relatives, and the mainstream media tell you.

    Personally, my empathy doesn’t end but with people who obviously are capable of seeking out information, but who have, actively, chosen to believe in the mainstream bs.

    • “…I felt so sorry for them, but then again I somehow think that they bore some of the responsibility for taking the nasty crap the psychiatrists handed out. How psychiatry could claim that it was a help to these people is beyond my understanding.”

      Responsibility and accountability are not held at a high premium in the mental health field these days. The patient’s “disease” explains everything. Psychiatrists don’t fail their patients, patients fail their doctors–it’s the extent of the patient’s “disease”. Schools are all about academics, and singling out students as behavioral problems if they don’t fit in, and perform satisfactorily. Heaven forbid that they should play any role in child rearing. Parents can’t be held responsible. It’s bad nature, the genetics of the roulette wheel, and the parent’s are the ‘angelic ones’ who want to come up smelling like roses. Good child rearing practices? What’s that? Self-control? Read the literature, the “disease” made little Johnny or Janey do whatever he or she did? We can’t ask them to practice that self-control they can’t develop, it’s not supported by the prevailing theory, uh, our theory. Sad to say, this means a major burden for the taxpayer and childishly silly adults from here on out. More and more of them in fact. We can’t treat these adult children like adult adults, now can we?

      With the development of the atypical neuroleptic drugs, things have to be getting even worse. Let’s ignore the suppressed fact that these drugs damage brains and destroy peoples’ health. If the old drugs made you miserable, and some 70% of the people on them quit taking them according to the CATIE study, we will come up with a drug that is bearable, and that you won’t object to taking. We will seduce you into becoming a lifetime consumer of our product. All the mainstream literature says the same thing, and most of it was brought to you by the same people who brought you this pharmaceutical product or that. Can’t cope without a pill, we’ve got just what you need.

      Looking at resilience as “normal behavior” is another way of blaming the victim in this case. Where do we not see recruiting people into religous or political cults as a form of brainwashing? Haulicost survivors are one thing, those that haven’t succumbed to old age or trauma yet anyway, and pharmacost survivors, where they have arisen, are another thing, but they are a very similar and related thing.

      Marian, maybe folk in Denmark would be more receptive to the Open Dialogue type treatment taking place in Finland currently that utilizes working with families, and doesn’t rely on psychiatric drugs so heavily? It’s a thought anyway.

      • Yes, there is the problem of what another “soft” science, economics, refers to as information asymmetry, an instance where one party has better information than the other. I was always taught in school that I had a duty to check a wide variety of divergent resources so that I could form my own opinion. If I allowed others to do it for me, I had assumed the risk for accepting possible shoddy information.

        It’s been my experience with psychiatry that if you question anything that they’re peddling, then you’re being paranoid or psychotic. Only the psychiatrist can determine what’s good and right for the patient. This sort of paternalism has never worked with me. It’s one of the reasons why I trawl these psychiatric survivor sites– because I see a lot of other people who have suffered under the same sorts of authoritarian thugs.

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