My ten-cents on the DSM-5 debate debacle, part 2

I was going to drop the DSM-5 discussion last week, but another article came to light, and I just couldn’t do it. Sorry. This time its an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, Not Diseases But Categories of Suffering.

It’s not the current A.P.A.’s fault. The fault lies with its predecessors. The D.S.M. is the offspring of odd bedfellows: the medical industry, with its focus on germs and other biochemical causes of disease, and psychoanalysis, the now-largely-discredited discipline that attributes our psychological suffering to our individual and collective history.

Actually the delusion of the APA is that the DSM will resolve this conflict, it’s revisionist editors from the very beginning have been the very people behind ‘the discrediting’, mentioned in the above paragraph, of psychoanalysis.

The American Psychiatric Association has been trying to do just that ever since, mostly by leaving behind ideas about the meaning of our suffering in favor of observation and treatment of its symptoms. In 1980, it hit on the strategy of adopting a medical rhetoric, organizing those symptoms into neat disease categories and checklists of precisely described criteria and publishing them in the hefty — and, according to its chief author, “very scientific-looking” — D.S.M.-III.

The pathologizing of human suffering, and not suffering symptomatic of any known physical disease, but rather that suffering which can be said to have arisen from emoting and thinking. Types of suffering are seen as disease manifested through a variety of symptoms.

Previously I stated that this process was a matter of normalizing medicalization, and this is so, what we’ve got here is medicine’s incursion into areas that, strictly speaking, are specifically not medical, and specifically not science.

In this Op-Ed piece we read the following, “And as any psychiatrist involved in the making of the D.S.M. will freely tell you, the disorders listed in the book are not “real diseases,” at least not like measles or hepatitis. Instead, they are useful constructs that capture the ways that people commonly suffer.” I wonder why does so much of the mental health industry rhetoric and literature insist then on stating that “mental illnesses” are real, that they are real diseases, and not only that they are real diseases, but that they are diseases of the brain. We’re stuck with an either/or that would be a both/and, but…Hey, whatever stretch you can come up to resolve that one has got to break on close examination.

My feeling has always been that this clamor is going to fizzle to a uncomfortable grumble once the volume is released in 2013. If such is the case it will be unfortunate indeed. For years now we’ve been uncomfortably enduring the fruits of the DSM-IV. Those fruits are these growing epidemics of autism, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and depression. My feeling is that as the DSM usually works by division and addition rather than subtraction (starting with 28 mental disorders, now you’ve got something like 374) the 20 % USA labeled “mentally ill” rate is likely to go up rather than down.

The DSM has been referred to as the psychiatrists’ bible. The bible is the number 1 best selling book of all time. The DSM is doing none too poorly itself.

On the other hand, given that the current edition of the D.S.M. has earned the association — which holds and tightly guards its naming rights to our pain — more than $100 million, we might want to temper our sympathy. It may not be dancing at the ball, but once every mental health worker, psychology student and forensic lawyer in the country buys the new book, it will be laughing all the way to the bank.

‘Laughing all the way to the bank’ together with drug company executives riding piggyback on this volume of sheer non-sense. The mortality gap for people in treatment labeled with psychosis is widening, not narrowing. This mortality gap is the direct result of our societies over reliance on the quick and chemical fix. The quick and chemical fix is one of the results of using this balderdash to treat people who suffer. At one time we as a nation were a lot better off where our emotional stability was concerned, and at that time there was no DSM. We could be a lot better off again if we were to chuck the present volume into the trash heap now, and call off any future revisions. The internal national enemy of a rising “mental illness” rate is not going away anytime soon as long as this book is used to alienate, marginalize, and disempower an increasingly large segment of the American populace.

My ten-cents on the DSM-5 debate debacle, part 1

I happened to leave the following comment under the Miriam-Webster definition for normalize recently.

While psychiatrist Allen Frances is critical the DSM revising process for medicalizing normal, I’m more critical of the same process for normalizing medicalization.

I stand by those words.

Allen Frances is to be praised for the position he has taken toward the DSM-5, no three ways about it.

His position towards the great bug-a-boo of psychiatry, anti-psychiatry, is quite another matter. I imagine all shrinks should have an office trashcan with the label “anti-psychiatry” taped to it. Anti-psychiatry has been totally discredited in the eyes of mainstream psychiatry. This is something of a joke as there is no co-ordinated anti-psychiatry movement to speak of anywhere that I know of. There is this person and that, and there are a few people here and there. Anti-psychiatry has become the whopping lie of mainstream psychiatry. Anti-psychiatry is one of the ploys mainstream psychiatry would use to reinforce its claim to scientific legitimacy, to maintain its theoretical hegemony, to silence its critics, and to stifle dissent among the rank and file. Anti-psychiatry has become psychiatry’s strawman and scapegoat. The other scapegoat being its clientelle. The message given is something along the lines of, ‘Be a good little compliant poster-board mental health consumer or the anti-psychiatrist will get you if you don’t watch out’.

This brings me to Jon Ronson, the author of The Psychopath Test and The Men Who Stare at Goats. He was featured in a CBC News analysis recently, Are we over-diagnosing autism? The psychiatric debate.

Dr. Frances told Ronson that he and his associates had created three false “epidemics” — childhood bi-polar disorder, autism and ADHD.

I’d say there are at least 4 false epidemics at work here, to be more precise, and throw in depression. Let me mention a few of the obvious reasons for doing so. 11 % of the people in the USA, the world’s leader in “mental illness” labeling today, are on anti-depressant drugs. The World Health Organization predicts that depression will be the leading cause of disability in the world by the year 2020. Depression is often seen as the underlying basis for other “mental disorder” labels, from the minor “mental disorder” leagues to the majors.

I have little desire to read Jon Ronson’s book, and the following comment should suffice to help explain my reasoning.

“I looked at all three and out of the three, the only one I felt comfortable about [excluding] was childhood bi-polar disorder. That seemed quite open and shut,” Ronson said. “Aspergers is a much more complicated thing.”

He likes those “mental illness” labels, doesn’t he?

I can picture members of the American Psychiatric Association clapping Mr. Ronson on his back, and inviting him onto their revision committee. From the look of recent revision efforts it would seem that most of the APA are in relative agreement with him about a number of matters. This man is not exactly a critic of psychiatry, quite the reverse. For an author, he’s been bought and sold. If the drug companies don’t have enough puppets working for them these days, I’m sure they would have no objections to welcoming another.

Although I can picture it, I really don’t see it happening any time soon. What if Mr. Ronson should dig just a little bit deeper? What if he should uncover some of the skeletons in psychiatry’s closet? What if he should reach the unbearable truth? What then? Nope, biological psychiatry has known enough turn coats and whistle blowers in its day. Freedom of speech is not, and never will be, the industry’s forte’. Freedom of speech will, in some instances, get you a psychiatric label. It could even get you thrown into the looney bin.

On finding another illness with little or no basis

One headline struck my consciousness as curious in recent weeks for exposing certain blatant weaknesses in current biological psychiatric theory. WebMD covered the story with an article titled, CDC: Morgellons Disease May Be Psychiatric Disorder. The truth of the matter is a little more profound than this headline suggests.

Extensive study of people suffering from Morgellons disease — including analysis of their mysterious “skin fibers” — finds no underlying cause of the illness.

If no physical cause to a disease can be found then it is deemed to be psychological in nature or, in other words, a “mental illness”. Now going from saying that it is “all in the head” to claiming it is a “disease of the brain”, and that it has a “genetic basis”, is quite some leap, but this is precisely the kind of leap, in presumption more than theory, that modern medical-model psychiatry is so adept at making. “Brain disease” being a physical cause, if “mental illness” were found to stem from a “brain disease”, psychiatrists would need to find another profession. Literally, a “mentally ill” person is a person who is suffering, or not functioning if you prefer, for a reason that has no known physical basis.

So just what the heck is Morgellons Disease?

Morgellons symptoms are as creepy as the name implies. Patients report slow-to-heal sores that often feel like bugs are crawling under their skin. They often scratch themselves raw. And they also report that mysterious colored fibers, granules, worms, eggs, fuzzballs, or other stuff comes out of their skin.

Somebody should make a list of dubious diseases someday, from fibromyalgia to restless leg syndrome, that give people with weak constitutions and temperaments an easy excuse for demanding special and specialized attention. I would wager it would become quite an extensive list in time if one looked long and hard enough into the matter.

Disease has not been ruled out in the case of Morgellons, but, and a long but it is…

They suggest that the patients’ symptoms and histories are similar to those of patients with a psychiatric condition called delusional infestation — the delusional belief that one is infested with parasites.

Now if these diseases, as there is no disease at all present, actually represent beliefs, it is actually this perceived need for a special or specialized attention that is the thing with which we must contend. I suggest that our society is not nearly as hearty as it once was due to the harboring of so many of these fallacious beliefs, and the humoring of so many people who have been so persuaded. When 1 in 5 people in the USA at the present date, according to recent reports, are said to be have contracted a “mental illness”, perhaps our efforts would be better directed at diverting a few more of this number from making such a radical conversion in faith.

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery Chastises Dr. Oz

The Sacramento Bee is to be commended for running the story, National Mental Health Coalition Calls “Dr. Oz” Electroshock Show One-Sided, on The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery’s (NCMHR) view of a segment The Dr. Oz Show is running on electro-shock.

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) calls upon the producers of “The Dr. Oz Show” to provide balanced and truthful coverage of the risks of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), in which grand mal seizures are electrically induced, usually to treat severe depression.

Dr. Oz apparently wants to give the impression that electro-shock is a safe procedure. If efforts on Capitol Hill to get the electro-shock devices declared safe by the FDA without further research failed, maybe Dr. Oz should listen to those people who have had first hand experience with this issue.

“Shock survivors” and many other mental health advocates assert that ECT’s disabling effects – including permanent memory loss and cognitive deficits – outweigh possible benefits, and call for potential ECT recipients to be told the risks so they can make an informed choice.

Informed consent is never truly informed consent until it is fully informed consent.

“The research is clear: ECT causes closed head injury, temporary euphoria, then return of depression but with enduring memory loss,” says Dr. Daniel B. Fisher, psychiatrist and NCMHR board member. Among the show’s false claims are that less electricity is used in unilateral ECT. “In reality,” Dr. Fisher said, “unilateral ECT requires more electricity.” Calling the show’s claim of 80 percent effectiveness “vastly exaggerated,” Dr. Fisher pointed out that, while many may experience a lifting of depression, this is only temporary, but the disabling side effects are permanent. In addition, many ECT recipients say their depression was exacerbated by the stress associated with their ECT-related cognitive disabilities.

Electro-shock survivors need to be listened to regardless of whether their experiences have been positive or negative. This kind of suppression of the evidence in the name of doing harm to the gullible is something that must be frowned on in all instances for basic humanitarian reasons.

The segment of The Dr. Oz show in question was called The Shock That Could Save Your Life. It would only be fitting and fair, not to mention truthful, if Dr. Oz were to air another segment of his show called The Shock That Could Take Your Life.

Shock survivors and other critics of psychiatric violence are encouraged to give Dr. Oz a piece of their mind in the comment section below the page containing the video.

Envisioning the wane of the intermediary

The media is not always the best place to go to learn about the mental health system. People who come out in the press as “mentally ill” are often cherry picked by mental health staff in order to make their profession look good. This, in effect, is the mental health system equivalent of what in slavery used to happen when the house slave was ordered to tell white folk about the joys of servitude, and did so. The very explanations you get in the press are indicative of the extent to which people are oppressed by the psychiatric system and mental health law.

I have long used the saying, “Nothing about us without us!”, when talking to people about our issues. Although I’ve been mostly ignored, and certainly that ignorance is no with us, I will continue to use this saying. If my words go in one ear, and out the other ear, that doesn’t cancel any of the experiences I have endured at the hands of the mental health establishment. I will continue to use those words up until and beyond the point when they are taken at face value. The suppression of free speech, and the silencing of dissent, are not with us either. When those words matter, my individual voice will matter, too, and with it the voice of everybody who has known the mental health system from the inside as prisoner or patient.

People on the receiving end of mental health treatment are often lumped together with what are referred to as “America’s most vulnerable citizens” by the media. They are also sometimes referred to as “voiceless”. In many cases other people, lawyers, politicians, even relatives, and suchlike designated mouthpieces, assume to be doing the talking for these people who are assumed to be unable to speak for themselves. Few people in the mental health system have had their tongues removed, or are mute. If you were to ask anyone of them a question, it’s highly likely that he or she would come up with an answer for you. Now if you can answer any question put to you, you probably don’t need another person to assume he or she would know better than you what you would say.

The next question is, why the intermediaries? Why this buffer zone? What are people afraid of? Is the public afraid that this or that patient is not going to regurgitate the official treatment line? I think sometimes such is the case. Is it the truth people are afraid of? Again, I think sometimes such is the case. People who are disoriented can speak for themselves. People who have been, but are no longer, disoriented can speak. People who were never disoriented in the first place can speak. The fact is though they can’t always speak through the walls people use to exclude them. They can’t speak through the defenses people have set up to defend themselves from their deepest fears. One of those deepest fears, apparently, is that these people when disoriented have any resemblance to themselves.

The distinction between mental health and “mental illness”, or at least serious “mental illness”, mental health seeming to be neutral, in the DSM is determined by one’s ability to function in society. Yes, function as in work, although it can also refer to play. The thing is that there are many people working inside of the mental health system itself who have had treatment for this “dysfunction” or that. They are working, and some of them are drawing in hefty salaries, and thus the seriousness of their “mental illnesses” could be said to be in remission at the very least. I’d like to see even more former patients working fulltime both inside and outside of the mental health system. In this way, we would know progress is being achieved.

Former Mental Patients Suing Hospitals Over Electroshock

I was surprised to come across this tidbit of information today. It’s from an article in Stuff, a New Zealand rag, Shock treatment ‘needed’.

The retired Timaru woman has every reason to have an opinion on the 250 former psychiatric patients who are suing psychiatric hospitals throughout New Zealand over their treatment and the use of ECT. Miss Lister also received the treatment, but her views of it are very different to those taking the legal action.

New Zealand has 250 former patients to take on electro-shock!? If it didn’t have much of a survivor movement in the past, it certainly has one now.

The news media picks up on one woman who didn’t mind ECT so much, but preferred LSD. She goes back to the time when they experimented with that substance legally on psychiatric patients. There are, let’s see, at least 250 people out there with harsher views on the subject of ECT.

I did a little Google search of my own to see what this is all about, and one thing is for certain, if anything is going on here, the press don’t seem to have picked up on it yet. I did find an earlier more balanced article in Stuff again, Electroconvulsive therapy endures.

Women receive ECT nearly twice as much as men do, and elderly women receive the most. Reasons for this could include loneliness and isolation, specialists say.

You don’t mean those elderly women, already at a risk for Alzheimers and dementia, do you?

Why do I call them survivors?

Memory returns within six weeks after treatment for 95 per cent of patients, but “it might take a bit longer” for the other 5 per cent, she [psychiatrist Pamela Melding] says. The greatest risk was to people with cardiovascular problems, but this was monitored and considered before treatment. Muscle pains, ringing in the ears, headaches and nausea are other adverse effects.

A certain number of these patients die during the procedure. Shock, coupled with cardiovascular problems, for instance, can produce a cadaver.

My feeling is that this lack of coverage has something to do with the way mental patients and former mental patients are treated in general.

“We will look back on ECT as we now look back on lobotomies.”

Such were the concluding sentiments of University of Auckland psychologist and researcher John Read.

Having seen the ups and downs of the movement against shock in this country, the USA, I would say celebrating is still a bit premature. I would also wager that the eclipse won‘t happen without direct action, but the good news is at least New Zealanders have the people to make a start at changing things for the better where people facing mental health treatment are concerned in their homeland.

Putting Up With The Antics Of Rebecca And A Couple Of Other Crazies

Oh no, I found another one! Here’s an article from Kansas, from The Topeka Capital-Journal to be exact. The heading of this article reads, Topekan talks about living with schizophrenia.

A Topeka woman is sharing what it is like to live with schizophrenia in a 30-minute documentary that will air Sunday on Topeka’s public television station.

I wonder why people so seldom talk about living without schizophrenia? Ditto, bipolar disorder? Why don’t we have stories starting, ‘I once had a pet schizophrenia, but I got rid of mine. I Just didn’t care for it that much.’

Oh, I know…because they’ve got a drug to help people manage the symptoms now.

“Living with Schizophrenia: A Call for Hope and Recovery,” featuring Topekan Rebecca Phillips and two other people diagnosed with the chronic brain disorder, will air at 3 p.m. on KTWU, Channel 11.

“The chronic brain disorder”, say people who want to sell you a drug “treatment”.

“It’s been a long journey,” Phillips, 37, said of her recovery.

What kind of “recovery” can there be to a “chronic brain disorder“? Isn’t this sort of like talking about seeking the “cure” for “incurable insanity”?

“Someone with schizophrenia can be active in the community. They can make a difference in other people’s lives,” she said. “There’s hope for people with schizophrenia. The end doesn’t have to be bad. They can be just like anyone.”

Anyone? Even people without a pet schizophrenia? Now here comes the scary part…

Phillips said she was asked to do the film in 2010 by officials at Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., which funded and produced the film. She previously had taken part in a shorter film about schizophrenia the company made for its sales representatives.

Jenssen Pharmaceuticals, if you don’t know, is owned by Johnson & Johnson. They are the not so wonderful people who brought you the neuroleptic drug Risperal.

Uh, considering the following, this isn’t the accident you might think it is, is it?

The years that followed were a mix of hospitalizations and medications to try to control the schizophrenia. That changed when she went to The University of Kansas Hospital and was prescribed risperdal consta, a drug she takes by injection every two weeks.

Living with Schizophrenia, the documentary, brought to you by Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Risperal.

This is the same Johnson & Johnson that just got sued for fraud to the tune of 158,000,000 smackeroos by the state of Texas for ‘off label’ prescription practices, notably of their neuroleptic drug Risperal.

I’m thinking about making my own film, Living without Schizophrenia. A film of which it could be said that no drug company, neither Eli Lilly, nor Johnson & Johnson, nor Pfizer, nor Bristol-Myer Squibb, nor Asta Zeneca, had any hand in the production.

Introducing Psychiatric Drug Toxicity Syndrome

The Washington Post recently published an article, Government survey finds that 5 percent of Americans suffer from a ‘serious mental illness’, on a Government survey of emotional disturbance.

About 20 percent of American adults suffer some sort of mental illness each year, and about 5 percent experience a serious disorder that disrupts work, family or social life, according to a government report released Thursday.

Both Allen Frances and Daniel Carlat were consulted by The Washington Post for this article, and both of these doctors had similar takes on this survey. Both were skeptical about the non-serious mental disturbance rate, but both showed themselves to be fervent zealots when it came to the serious “mental disorder” faith.

“There is a stigma about ‘mental illness’ that as soon as you hear the term people assume that it’s something quite severe. The nuances of this type of data tend to be lost on people,” he said. He added, however, that he doesn’t doubt that 5 percent of the population has a serious mental disorder.

Concluded Daniel J. Carlat in this article in The Washington Post.

“Whoa, Nelly! We have a true believer here”, said I.

I suggest instead that the great majority of that 5 % are actually sufferers of Psychiatric Drug Toxicity Syndrome, or PDTS for short. We get a lot of statistics dealing with present statistics. What we don’t get a lot of are statistics from the past. If the so called serious “mental illness” rate has risen sharply in modern times, such a rise supports the existence of PDTS.

We do know that serious “mental illness” rates have risen in recent years, and that this rise in serious “mental illness” rates has something to do with the corresponding quick rise of the big pharmaceutical companies. It is my contention that if this rise has been substantial, such a rise supports the existence of PDTS.

We also know that the recovery rates for people with serious “mental disorder” labels are not very good.  There is some evidence to suggest that those recovery rates  may have been better in the past. There is also some evidence of better outcomes where experimentation with less conventional forms of non-drug treatment have been tried. I suggest that this lack of good outcomes on the part of drug treatment is also a result of PDTS.

The cure for PDTS is achieved through psychiatric drug withdrawal (detoxification) under the care and guidance of an acknowledged, experienced, and trained professional.

Although do-it-yourself detoxification treatment programs are not out of the question, it has been suggested that individuals who chose this form of treatment educate themselves thoroughly on the subject first before they commence with treatment. This is especially true where the subject has been taking prescription psychiatric drugs over the course of many years.  There is a great deal of fear that quitting cold turkey after years of drug treatment adherence could exascerbate the PDTS.

Abortion Sterilization Decision Overturned In Massachusetts

Lest anybody think eugenics a completely dead issue, a Massachusetts appeals court just overturned a Judges abortion and sterilization order for a woman 5 months pregnant and labeled schizophrenic. The story was reported in The Boston Globe under the headlines Court strikes decision for mentally ill woman’s abortion.

Unbidden, the judge further directed that the 32-year-old woman be sterilized “to avoid this painful situation from recurring in the future.’’

The appeals court judge struck down this decision in what The Globe described as “unusually harsh terms.”

The personal decision whether to bear or beget a child is a right so fundamental that it must be extended to all persons, including those who are incompetent,’’ the opinion stated, citing a 1982 ruling by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.

The woman, judged ‘incompetent’, had had a child previously, and she had undergone an abortion as well.  She said she was very Catholic, and she would not consent to such a procedure.

Regarding the frequency of such court orders…

“My guess is it happens a lot more than we know,’’ he [Daniel Pollack, professor, Yeshiva University] said.

The records from this case have been sealed.

Thankfully the Appellate Court recognised, in this instance, when a Judge’s ruling had been way out of bounds.

What science is not?

I happened to stumble upon this press release  in MarketWatchNew Essay Offers Hope to Public’s Growing Disenchantment with Science. One really has to beware of any press release with a sensational build up of the sort we are given in this item.

The World Transformation Movement today published a ground-breaking essay titled What is science? by Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith that offers hope to the public’s growing disenchantment with science, by revealing that science will be the saviour of the human race.

Now where have I come across ‘savior’ before? Hmmm, I wonder?  We have heard much about the separation of politics and religion. I was never aware that science and religion made such great bed mates. Do they!?

The What is science? essay cites a 2011 Australian Academy of Science report that found a ‘staggering’ 43 percent drop over the last 20 years in the number of Australian Year 11 and 12 students studying science from 94 percent to 51 percent (reference:1).

One thing that is not science as well is the subject of the afore mentioned essay. I read it, and I encourage others to do the same, although not for scientific reasons, for critical and philosophical reasons. I suggest that the essay stands as a good introduction for a student interested in pursuing a career in the priesthood, or in psychiatry. To illustrate….

On this greatest of all breakthroughs in science, Professor Harry Prosen, a former president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, is quoted in the essay saying: “I have no doubt this biological explanation of the human condition is the holy grail of insight we have sought for the psychological rehabilitation of the human race.”

Speak of the devil! The human race is “sick” and needs to be psychologically rehabilitated. After their downfall following exile from the garden of Eden, of course!

Just in case you were wondering, this essay speaks often of a human condition while not mentioning a hedgehog condition, or a cockroach condition, let’s say, once.  A fact I find fascinating. Science is perceived as being “in denial” concerning this human condition. Funny thing, no mention was made of a green house effect in this essay at all, nor was any mention made of any denial of such an effect.

I left the following comment regarding this essay under the Merriam-Webster definition of Metaphysical.

I was reading an essay that claimed to be about science. I had to look up the definition of science to tackle that one. There seemed to be a great deal of metaphysical speculation in this essay. As science is  about the study of the natural, physical, and material world, my conclusion was that the essay was not scientific. Metaphysical matters, being imperceptible to the senses, are not accessible to scientific investigation by definition.

That definition is as follows…

1 : of or relating to metaphysics.

2 a : of or relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses

b : supernatural.

3:  highly abstract or abstruse; also : theoretical.

4 often capitalized : of or relating to poetry especially of the early 17th century that is highly intellectual and philosophical and marked by unconventional imagery.

Alright, if anybody should choose to write an essay about the nature of science I suggest they begin by searching Merriam-Webster or any other source  for the definition, always a good thing to have, first.