Misdiagnosis: Bipolar Disorder Or Drug Toxicity?

Our bipolar disorder boom is far from over. This is illustrated by an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal , Bipolar disorder often misdiagnosed, that would misconstrue matters even farther.

[Betty] Smith is one of the 2.5 million Americans affected by bipolar disorder every year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The mental illness, marked by extreme changes in mood and behavior, is typically diagnosed before the age of 20, with more than two-thirds of patients having at least one close relative with the illness or with unipolar major depression. The disorder is found in all races, ethnic groups and social classes.

Gender bias in diagnosing? I have no doubt that this could be alleviated by putting more doctors on the couch.

While both men and women are just as likely to develop the disorder, statistics and studies show there are gender biases in diagnosing it. According to a 2000 report from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, women are far more likely to be misdiagnosed with depression and men are far more likely to be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia.

These men and women so “misdiagnosed” are later misdiagnosed with the bipolar disorder label.

Realizing the distinction is important because, [internist Stacey] Weiland says, medication for bipolar and depression vary greatly. In addition, treating a person who has bipolar with a common anti-depressant medication like an SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, can actually bring about a major manic episode.

The presumption here is that if the drug triggered this manic episode, the person must have been a person with bipolar disorder in the first place. This is presumption on the part of the doctors making it. A certain number of the people first labeled depressive, and given anti-depressants, have manic reactions to those drugs. This percentage represents an increase in the overall number of people labeled bipolar. This increase came about through the use of anti-depressants and it didn’t come about through any contagiousness of the “disease”. How, after all, can a disorder be contagious that is thought to be hereditary in origin?

Before 1995, children were rarely diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Between 1994 and 2003, there was a 40-fold increase in the number of children being diagnosed with bipolar disorder — from 20,000 to 800,000.

Emphasis added.

Many professionals are saying that what was diagnosed as bipolar disorder in children was actually chronic irritability, and they are considering giving this chronic irritability an altogether new label, Temper Dysregulation Disorder with Dysporia, in the next issue of the DSM. All indications are that this TDD will make the revision slated for publication in 2013. What this addition disregards is the fact that this juvenile bipolar boom began when children labeled ADHD were relabeled with an early onset bipolar disorder label. What started as 2 “mental illness” labels has, given tremendous help by the APA, mutated into 3 “mental illness” labels.

It looks like childhood bipolar disorder is here to stay, joined to the relatively new “mental illness” cash cow ADHD, and soon to be supplemented with the additional “mental illness” label Temper Dysregulation Disorder with Dysporia. Considering these factors, I think it would be safe to say that once rare childhood “mental disorder” has a very great future indeed. Perhaps you would see this circumstance as an improvement; I myself think this is going to prove detrimental to our children’s overall health.

The real problem here is actually not “mental illness” at all, it’s drug toxicity. When you’ve got a large number of people chemically unbalanced by prescription pharmaceuticals, the way to health is by getting people off drugs. Many of our nation’s mental health professionals have unfortunately not made this connection, and so people get caught in the revolving treatment door, and our country’s growing mental health crisis continues to escalate.

Panel Recommends Testing Of Shock Devices

The FDA Panel voted Friday to recommend testing of electroshock devices before their safety status might be changed. The New York Times covered the story in an article bearing the headline F.D.A. Panel Is Split on Electroshock Risks.

Comments sent to the FDA on the subject overwhelmingly favored testing.

Nearly 80 percent of 3,045 comments sent to the F.D.A. asked for stricter oversight or even a ban on electroshock treatment. It remains controversial with some advocacy groups and former patients who say it is unsafe, ineffective and causes brain damage.

The vote was as follows:

The neurological devices advisory panel to the F.D.A delivered a mixed verdict. Ten panel members favored and eight opposed classifying electroshock devices as a high risk for the treatment of severe depression, its main use. The panel favored high-risk designations for schizophrenia and three other disorders by votes of 13 to 4, 12 to 5, 14 to 3 and 16 to 1, as the advisers said there was little proof of any benefit for them.

There was one exception to this decision favoring testing and that was in the area of catatonia.

But the panel voted 9 to 8 in favor of making it easier to use electroshock for catatonia, citing a lack of other treatment.

This sidesteps the little matter of actual safety. It is certainly no safer for a person to be shocked for catatonia than it is for a person to be shocked for depression.

Dr. Peter Breggin, a New York psychiatrist, in a Huffington Post blog post, FDA Recommends Testing of ECT Machines, indicates what sort of problems may occur if this sort of loophole is permitted.

If the diagnosis of catatonia is given this loophole, we will see more and more people diagnosed with this disorder. It will be a potential medical disaster because most catatonic-like states are now caused by drug toxicity, including neuroleptic malignant syndrome from the antipsychotic drugs and serotonin syndrome from the serotonergic antidepressants. I have been a medical expert in malpractice cases in which clinicians have mistaken these toxic syndromes for psychiatric disorders, resulting in chronic disability or death from lack of proper treatment. I predict that thousands of patients who need treatment for psychiatric drug toxicity will instead end up on the shock table.

The FDA is said to generally go along with the recommendations of its panels. The panelists found in favor of testing before electroshock machines can be reclassified category II devices so they are likely to remain category III devices for some time to come. Whether the FDA will allow any kind of hypocritical category II loophole for catatonic states remains a matter for speculation.

Hearings on the safety of shock treatment taking place

The matter shouldn’t require a lot of thought. You don’t declare a medical device safe without testing it for safety. Any device that isn’t tested for safety couldn’t reliably be said to be safe. Having pointed out the obvious fact that a device that hasn’t been tested for safety can’t be said to be safe, why is the Food and Drug Administration holding hearings about spreading such a lie in the case of electro-shock devices? These hearing are going on today, January 27, and tomorrow, January 28.

If it weren’t for the ties FDA officials have with the makers and users of these devices I doubt these hearings would be taking place. Were the FDA independent of the psychiatric profession, the possibility of granting a safe status to an untested device just wouldn’t come up. This is a matter of upgrading a device’s status from dangerous to safe, not because it has been found to be safe, but because people want it to be declared safe based on wishful thinking. Manufacturers and their customers want these devices approved untested because they know they wouldn’t pass any such test.

Electro-shock is used to induce seizures. The theory runs that the mental state an epileptic experiences following a seizure is somehow therapeutic in the case of a person suffering from depression and some other “mental illness” labels. Epilepsy and electro-shock therapy both damage brains. Researchers are diligently seeking a cure for epilepsy for this very reason.

This information shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. When you send electricity through the central control center of the human body you can’t do so without upsetting something. This upset translates into harm, and this damage shows itself in the form of irrecoverable memory loss. Every time a person undergoes electro-shock there is some permanent memory loss. This permanent memory loss is a surefire indication that some brain damage has occurred. Brain damage is not a good cure for depression and other “mental illness” labels.

Until not too long ago there was a radical surgery technique that was supposed to correct “serious mental illness” by damaging the brain. This brain surgery was called a lobotomy. The outcomes of this brain surgery procedure were not pretty. The “treatment” provided by electro-shock therapy is very similar to that provided by a lobotomy. Had it not been for the development of psychiatric drugs, another questionable method of treatment, doctors might still be performing lobotomies. I suppose if such procedures were still in vogue the doctors who performed lobotomies would try to get the FDA to call surgically damaging the brain “safe.”

Brain damage, in most instances, is not to be desired. Brain damage, in fact, is a possibility to be dreaded and feared. Brain damage can seriously impair the functionality of the person who has had his or her brain so damaged. We see instances of this impairment in the cases of electro-shock survivors who have had to change careers because they were no longer capable of performing on the job at the same level as they once had performed. Devices that cause brain damage are not safe devices. If the FDA is going to approve any such brain damaging device, without testing it for safety first, maybe the FDA had just better change its name to MUD (Mutilating Utilities Department). The FDA’s word, if it should call these devices safe without testing them for safety, will have become totally unreliable. No device is made safe merely by calling it safe. Should the FDA do so, this will mean a long and hard fight for the people who know better.

Baby killing doctor suit settled for 2 and ½ million dollars

The headline and the implication is a little more subdued in the Boston Globe, Tufts settles suit against doctor in girl’s death for $2.5m.

The money will be distributed to the remaining living siblings of Rebecca Riley who was 4 years old when she was found dead on December 13, 2006. Early in 2010, Carolyn Riley, Rebecca’s mother was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 15 years. Michael Riley, Rebecca’s father, was sentenced for first degree murder to life without the possibility of parole.

Andrew Meyer, who works with [lawyer Benjamin] Novotny, said the settlement did not contain any admission of wrongdoing on the part of [Dr. Kayoko] Kifuji, but he said the doctor’s lawyers’ decision to settle for $2.5 million, which Meyer said is the maximum paid out by Kifuji’s malpractice policy, suggests culpability. He said the hospital self-insures many of its doctors, including Kifuji.

Officials chose to accept the settlement in order to spare the Rebecca’s siblings the anquish of another trial.

After the girl’s death her psychiatrist entered into a voluntary agreement the Board of Registration of Medicine to stop practicing. 2 years later, with no grand jury indictment and the licensing board conducting an inquery, the doctor has been seeing patients for the past year.

Still, many in the medical and legal community questioned why Kifuji was not held criminally accountable. When Rebecca died, Kifuji was the psychiatrist for all three Riley children, diagnosing each with ADHD and bipolar illness and prescribing similar mood-altering drugs.

According to testimony during the trials, Kifuji had been fooled by the parents into believing the children had serious psychiatric illnesses, in part so the parents could collect federal disability checks for the youngsters’ alleged behavioral and mental disorders. Many jurors questioned why Kifuji, who had indications about the parents’ dangerous conduct, did not do more to protect the Riley children.

When you’ve got 2 parents with 3 children, each of whom have been given serious “mental illness” diagnostic tags, and put on dangerous pharmaceutical products, well, the parents don’t supply diagnostic labels and prescribe the pills, the doctor does that. Again, 3 kids 2 parents 1 doctor. It’s doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that the doctor should have been held to be much more culpable than she was. If those alarms that should have gone off actually went off, Rebecca Riley might still be alive today. The parents would not have been allowed to milk the federal disability payment system for cash if this doctor had seen what was right before her eyes. In my opinion, she has to be at least as guilty of this crime as were they.

Kifuji, who agreed to testify only after being granted immunity from prosecution, said in court that she was following diagnostic criteria and treatment protocols followed by many well-established child psychiatrists. She said she had no idea that the parents were giving extra medication to their children.

When doctors are held accountable, and actually receive jail time for over-diagnosing “mental disorders” and over-prescribing psychiatric drugs, we will be getting somewhere as far as mental health treatment and social justice are concerned. The same is to be said about drug company executives who fraudulently sell drugs for purposes for which they have not been approved. Million dollar law suits are easily covered by billion dollar companies. Fatal mistakes are easily swept under the rug when negligent doctors are covered by malpractice insurance.

Recently the Boston Globe did an investigative reporting series on the disability payments for parents of children with mostly “mental illness” labels. The Rebecca Riley case proves just why such investigative journalism is important. It also illustrates why it is so wrong to essientially lay all the blame on the parents for something they couldn’t do without the implicit complicity of a doctor.

Human Rights Violations Past And Present

I’m sure that many people don’t have a good understanding of the human rights issues involved in the mental health treatment world. I feel that one of those people is James Dailey who writes in a UVA Daily Cavalier article, Evolving standards.

Today’s mental health crisis is similar to that of yesteryear. The idea of human rights has evolved to the extent that physically chaining, beating or unlawfully incarcerating the mentally ill is considered inhumane. Even though these physical punishments have largely been phased out, those suffering from mental illness in this country still suffer considerably. Today, a social stigma punishes the mentally ill in the same way caretakers physically abused them in the past.

Incidents such as those involving the physical chaining Mr. Dailey mentions still take place in many foreign, and usually under developed, countries. This is not a similar human rights crisis; this is the same human rights crisis. Beating or unlawful incarcerating is considered inhumane regardless of whether the persons being assaulted or falsely imprisoned have received any psychiatric label or not.

But even if treatment options become more affordable, many people may be reluctant to obtain treatment for mental illness because of the surrounding social stigma. Many parents deny their children the opportunity to see a therapist or psychiatrist because they fear their children will be deemed abnormal. According to a Family & Youth Roundtable study, 79 percent of families avoid mental health treatment for their children because of the associated social stigma. Adults and teens deny themselves treatment for the same reason: for fear of being judged by a society that considers mental illness a kind of psychological weakness rather than a “real” ailment.

When Mr. Dailey can give me any conclusive evidence that what is commonly referred to as “mental illness” is not due to some “kind of psychological weakness”, then I will pay closer attention to what he says. I don’t have the idea that anybody is doing any research to determine whether “mental illness” labels have anything to do with “psychological weakness” or not. I believe that a lot of research is being done by drug companies who want to sell drugs. When these drug companies have doctors who say “mental illness” is just like a physical disease, and not a matter of “psychological weakness”, the sale of pharmaceutical products goes up.

The fact that many individuals cannot afford treatment, when compounded by the intense stigma associated with the treatment, creates terrible consequences. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 90 percent of those who commit suicide suffer from a diagnosable mental illness. As suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-old individuals, this is unacceptable. Forcing people into a state of isolation and hopelessness to the point of suicide when treatment options exist is utterly deplorable. This situation is no different than denying a cancer patient life-saving treatment. An although the overwhelming majority of those suffering from mental illness are not inclined to violence, a few are, such as Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech in 2007 and Jared Loughner in Arizona several weeks ago. Perhaps these shootings could have been prevented had there not been such an intense stigma linked to treatment.

Emphasis added.

Although I have seen people in mental institutions incarcerated against their will and wishes, and forcibly drugged, I have never seen anybody forced into a state of isolation and hopelessness. I have encountered many people who had a subjective sense of feeling that they had been “forced into a state of isolation and hopelessness”, but objectively the situation was far different. You get out of this hoopla a lot of people talking about some right to receive mental health treatment without respecting one iota a person’s right to refuse such treatment. The question that is not being asked here is whether such treatment as is received does any good when it comes to relieving this “state of isolation and hopelessness”. Much mental health treatment today is known for its failure to return the demented person to a state consistent with what is considered “healthy”.

The problem here is that if by “stigma” he means prejudice and discrimination, I certainly don’t think entering treatment programs seems to be removing that prejudice and discrimination. If anything, the treatment seems to exasperate the abuse. I take issue with the name calling when Mr. Dailey calls the V-Tech shooter and the Arizona shooter “mentally ill”. I certainly don’t think either of these two suspects would be able to get off on an insanity defense. You are giving people labeled “mentally ill” a very bad name by linking them to these two very calculating mass murderers. That is a highly prejudicial thing to do. People should not be diagnosed by mass media any more than they should be tried and convicted by mass media. A part of the problem with our mental health system is that, unlike in the criminal justice system, where a person is innocent until proven guilty, a person is “sick” by pronouncement of a single “expert” in some cases, and usually never gets to a place where he or she is “diagnosed sane”. This trial by expert would apply to the “sane” diagnosis as well. This is to say that there are serious due process issues that have never been effectively dealt with in the civil commitment process.

As a former resident of Charlottesville, and a person very familiar with the University of Virginia, I’m not at all surprised that Mr. Dailey should think in such a fashion. There is not much sympathy for, nor human rights consciousness, as regards people labeled by the mental health/illness system at UVA. Richard Bonnie, a UVA Law Professor, founded the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy near the University Corner. This institute is mostly about linking people labeled “mentally ill” with criminal behavior. This same Richard Bonnie served as the appointed chairman of the VA Supreme Court’s Commission on Mental Health Reform. This commission was instrumental is making the laws in Virginia more restrictive than they had been in the recent past. A few counties in northern Virginia that allowed a few more civil liberties, and legal resources, for people in the mental health/illness system had to be brought back into line with the rest of the state. This, sadly to say, and as you should be able to see, represents a reverse rather than an advance for people enduring the mental health/illness system in that state.

Regarding Mr. Dailey’s comfortable belief in progress, and his glance back to conditions at the State Lunatic Asylum in Milledgeville Georgia in the 1840s. He should look more closely at more recent events. I think whatever abuses took place at Milledgeville in 1847 have to pale in comparison to those killings of people deemed “unfit to live” in NAZI Germany that were inspired by eugenic sterilizations taking place in institutions throughout the USA. I’d like him to note that the reason for these killings and sterilizations was laid on genes back then, too, and not on any “psychological weakness”.

Small Psychiatric Prison Unit Coming To Oregon

Language is important. Language is about communication. Language is also about lying. When disinformation is as common as it is, you get a lot of lies. Lies are about saying one thing so that you can do another thing altogether. When we don’t give a little thought to the words that are being used, we let people get away with murder.

Case in point, a news story on central Oregon’s KTVZ.com runs Region’s Secure Mental Facility Set to Open.

A mental health facility, Deschutes Recovery Center in Bend, will house 16 state mental health patients and is set to open next Tuesday.

So far so good until you get to the next paragraph.

“It’s secure, meaning people can’t come and go as they wish out the front door. But when you are inside the facility, we really want it to be home-like,” Kevin McChesney, regional director of operations for Telecare, said Tuesday night.

The “facility” is not being called a hospital? That’s the problem with most state hospitals. We call them hospitals but they are actually prisons. Calling the place a “facility” doesn’t make it a “hospital” or a “prison”, but keeping people from coming and going as they wish makes the place a prison. This “secure” is of the same order as that security seen at a maximum or a minimum security prison.

Just imagine, in the distant future maybe they will only be required to wear electronic house arrest monitoring ankle bracelets. What have we got here? We’ve got a homey little prison. Enjoy.

“We are a secure facility, so the doors are locked. But we are not the state hospital, we are a community placement,” [Jay] Harris said.

Whatever that means!? I think he is trying to say this “facility” will be a prison occupying space in a community.

“We really wanted it to be home-like because we want people to like it here,” McChesney said. “We want to demystify what the insides of these programs look like.”

Oh, yeah. We’re all about “demystification” alright. We just can’t go so far as to call a prison a prison.

Officials say patients will live there for two to three years, depending on their recovery.

Translation: The inmates at this psychiatric prison will be serving sentences of from two to three years length.

There is also talk in this article about “recovery”. This “recovery” remains undefined. Perhaps it has something to do with the inmates release from the homey prison in which they will be spending out their sentences.

I fear that we may have the beginning of a trend here. Perhaps rather than confining inmates to large state psychiatric prisons at a remove from the community, in the future they will be confined to smaller community located psychiatric prisons. From what I’ve seen, this seems to be the direction we are moving in.

Erica Jong Gets It Wrong

Erica Jong, the author, has posted to her Huffington blog an entry with the heading Guns and Madness.

So sad that the corporate media does not know what paranoid schizophrenic thinking is. I know because my college boyfriend and 1st husband had a paranoid schizophrenic breakdown.

As if Erica Jong, leading members of the APA, or anybody else knew exactly what “paranoid schizophrenic thinking is”. They simply don’t. Not only that, but she has joined this large body of people endeavoring to get Jared Lee Loughner off in multiple murder charges on a Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity plea. If unhappy, disgruntled, and suspicious equals “paranoid schizophrenic”, then there are a very large number of “paranoid schizophrenics” in the world that have not been caught and “treated” yet. We can only pray that their complaints about the hardships they face don’t drive them to go out, buy guns, and start shooting.

He thought his brain was controlled by a giant computer run by the government. He thought he could fly off the roofs of buildings. He thought he could walk on water. Fortunately, he did not have a gun — or I wouldn’t be alive today.

Jared apparently subscribed to views expounded by some of the conspiracy theorists current in today’s world. That’s a far cry from having a brain controlled by government computers, or possessing super or miraculous powers. Had he had thought he had super or divine powers, maybe he wouldn’t have needed his Glock 19.

My first love was treated with anti-psychotic drugs and later, much later, was able to have a fairly normal life — if he stayed on his medications. His story is not a tragedy like Jared Loughner’s.

Neuroleptic, better known by the misnomer anti-psychotic, drugs seldom prevent tragedies. More often neuroleptic drugs are the source of tragedy.

I suggest Erica Jong do a You Tube search for Tardive Dyskinesia, and while she’s at it, she should look for any You Tube video on psychiatric drugs featuring psychiatric survivor, Leonard Roy Frank, or psychologist, Dr. John Breeding. She also might pick up copies of investigative journalist Robert Whitaker’s Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic. Her knowledge on the subject is very limited.

Erica Jong is very hard on people who have been labeled by psychiatry when she calls Jared Lee Loughner a “paranoid schizophrenic”. She doesn’t seem to grasp the fact that the vast majority of people who have had any experience with the mental health/illness system are neither a danger to themselves nor a danger to others.

I think it would be a good idea for Ms. Jong, and other people of a prejudiced mindset like her’s, to make the acquaintance of a few more people who have been labeled by the mental health/illness system. She might even consider looking for examples of people who have fully recovered from a “serious mental illness” label. (They are out there. Believe me.) I feel certain that if she did so she wouldn’t have such negative feelings about them as she apparently still harbors towards her ex-lover.

On The Questionable Wisdom Of Pathologizing Criminality

I’m numb with all of the media diagnosing of the Arizona killer going on. Just imagine, he’s not being convicted by the press, he’s being diagnosed. Do you want to know what’s wrong with the mental health/illness system? Given one incident such as this one, all sorts of people are saying the man was “sick”. Our state hospitals are filled with people who would be better off somewhere else all because of the kind of over zealous over reaction you get to the perpetuation of these violent incidents. For every Jared Loughner in the world, there are thousands of people imprisoned in state hospitals across the land. Those people are imprisoned there primarily because of the media frenzy and public outcry over a matter such as the one we are discussing. This one man has managed to dominate the mental health news coverage in all 50 states of the union and beyond. If he had not targeted a politician and her followers this wouldn’t be the case. The story would have been much smaller, and would probably not have made the front pages in most places. I have a feeling that Jared in a way achieved his objective. Killing was his way into instant celebrity status. He can now read about himself for hours every day of the week.

The obvious point has been made that this kind of media reaction is going to increase the “stigma” attached to people labeled “mentally ill”. It is certainly prejudicial. Rather than holding the gun man accountable for his actions, people are going to say that he was “medically sick” and in need of “help”. This is another reason either to pump more money into the relatively ineffective and broken mental health system, or to make mental health law tougher, and suspending constitutional protections even further, more restrictive. Both solutions aren’t likely to completely materialize. Given the economic crisis from which the nation hasn’t totally recovered, the country doesn’t have the money to throw away on low priority mental health “care”. On top of which, the laws governing mental health in Arizona are some of the strictest in the country. Tighten them any further, and you’re going to have to lock up even more innocent and non-violent victims of these absurd laws based primarily on social intolerance.

When are we going to stop becoming a nation of refugees from the notion of personal responsibility? This notion of responsibility is a fitting complement and adjunct to the notion of liberty. Should people as individuals not be held personally accountable for their actions, then we have to blame them as members of a group. When you blame a group you are skirting the issue of responsibility. The crime was committed by an individual, and it was not committed by a group. Jared Lee Loughner was guilty of the crime of premeditated murder. It’s kind of difficult to put forward a plea of innocent by reason of insanity when all the evidence points to you planning the crime, and then executing your plans. People labeled “insane” are usually too disorganized and too disoriented to pull that kind of thing off successfully. Jared’s crime is not a good excuse to further violate the rights and freedoms of an entire segment of society. He committed his crimes alone, and he alone should be the person to pay the price for having committed those crimes. Excusing him, acquitting him, on account of his eccentric fashion, faulty upbringing, and troubled past is as absurd as it sounds. Using him as an excuse to lock up innocent people for having hard times is not going to make this world any safer than it was before. We will always have to be looking over our shoulders for the growing number of people managing to “slip through the cracks” in the new medical political dictatorship we have managed to create. Catching criminals before they commit their crimes is a much harder thing to do than you may happen to suppose. This is going to be a very daunting task, even if we call such pre-criminal behavior “mental illness”.

Partners In Crime And Oppression

Question: When do you know you’re saying the wrong thing?

Answer: You know you must be saying the wrong thing when you’re a mental patient, and E. Fuller Torrey agrees with you.

You can get the whole thoroughly disgusting slanted story at KPHO.com, Mental Health Patient Relates To Loughner.

Does this numbskull have any idea who E. Fuller Torrey is? Just in case you were wondering, I will give you a clue. Three words, folks, the Treatment Advocacy Center. E. Fuller Torrey was a founding member of, and he directs, the Treatment Advocacy Center. The Treatment Advocacy Center advocates for what it calls Assisted Outpatient Treatment. Assisted Outpatient Treatment is a fancy and misleading way of saying Involuntary Outpatient Commitment. Involuntary Outpatient Commitment, in the vast majority of cases, means forced drugging. When E. Fuller Torrey isn’t advocating for AOT, he’s advocating for other forms of forced and restrictive “care”. He also collects and studies, through his connection with the Stanley Medical Research Center, the brains of people who have had experience in mental health treatment in the hopes of finding the source of what is referred to in shrink-speak as schizophrenia.

You can count me among those people opposed to the Treatment Advocacy Center, and the violations in human rights, and the curtailments of civil liberties, that it proposes and promotes.

Statement Issued On Arizona Tragedy

All sorts of the people are using the Arizona shooting to argue for more restrictive mental health laws. Reform was a keyword that was bandied about in Virginia by the Virginia Supreme Court Commission on Mental Health Reform as they debated more restrictive legislation in that state. Many of the people serving on this commission were endeavoring to reverse some of the great advances in deinstitutionalization launched way back in the Kennedy administration. Will Galston uses that very word in a New Republic article titled A Need To Reform Mental Health. He begins this article by stating that it is going to make civil libertarians unhappy. The reactionary and bigotted individuals associated with the Treatment Advocacy Center, among whom I include both E. Fuller Torrey and DJ Jaffe, are doing all they can to make these crimes in Arizona an excuse to argue for harsher mental health legislation. This is exactly the fear I was expressing in my post Monday. I think this kind of reaction we have to anticipate. Every time any of these groups can use the media to make a case for curtailing civil liberties, they will do so. Those of us who are in the psychiatric survivor movement must make sure that our own arguments in favor of individual liberties, and against such oppression, get before the general public.

The Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry has issued a statement on the shooting that parallells my own thoughts on the subject. It is an impressive statement that I think everybody should read, and so I’ve posted it in it’s entirety below:

CHRUSP statement on Arizona shootings

Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry

44 Palmer Pond Rd.
Chestertown, NY 12817 USA
www.chrusp.org
info@chrusp.org

Statement on the Tragic Shootings in Arizona

January 11, 2011

The Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (CHRUSP) joins in the call to disavow political rhetoric that draws on violent images or promotes the use of weapons as a means to settle disputes. We offer our solidarity and heartfelt concern to Gabrielle Giffords, the other wounded individuals, and the families of those who died. We feel strongly that this tragedy needs to serve as a wakeup call to America, to set aside all forms of hatred, xenophobia and bigotry as well as all incitement to violence, to re-unite as an inclusive society committed to nonviolence in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of this country’s possibilities.

CHRUSP asks all people of conscience to reject an easy pigeonholing of the perpetrator based on an alleged mental illness. Disability profiling does not work to make anyone safer, and it further divides our body politic – making those on the receiving end more vulnerable to scapegoating, discrimination and violence in all its forms, including the kinds of violence masked as help in the mental health system.

CHRUSP does not support discriminatory gun regulations – we do support gun control laws that affect everyone equally. We do not support segregation of prisoners labeled with mental illness in “treatment” programs that amount to medical control – we believe that human dignity includes responsibility for what we do. We support a moratorium on the death penalty for all people – not selective application of any kind.

CHRUSP believes that there is a need to look at the social roots of crime and violence, and to reach out compassionately to those who might benefit from support to turn their lives around before they reach a point of desperation. We do not believe that the mental health system as currently constituted offers such support. Instead it takes an aggressive approach to thoughts, feelings and behavior theorized as being caused by imbalances in the brain – to be eradicated using weapon-like modalities that destroy healthy brain tissue, such as electroshock (ECT), psychosurgery and neuroleptic drugs. Due to laws that allow compulsory treatment and compulsory hospitalization, people who value the gifts of all their thoughts and feelings do not have the freedom to protect themselves and are rendered powerless. This is not conducive to individual or collective well-being, and it is not compassionate.

CHRUSP invites all people of conscience to join together in exploring what it means to live non-violently, and to create opportunities for diverse communities to be heard in these conversations.

The Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (CHRUSP) provides strategic leadership in human rights advocacy, implementation and monitoring relevant to people experiencing madness, mental health problems or trauma. In particular, CHRUSP works for full legal capacity for all, an end to forced drugging, forced electroshock and psychiatric incarceration, and for support that respects individual integrity and free will.