Saying Yes To Health By Saying No To Labels And Drugs

I don’t have a “mental illness”. I see it as a revolutionary act to proclaim myself free of “mental illness”. It is a revolutionary act because psychiatrists had diagnosed me with a number of different “disorders of the mind” in the past. These same psychiatrists readily give negative prognoses’ for certain diagnoses’, among them some of the diagnoses’ they’d given me. I call it a revolutionary act because I have found that it is an act many people find themselves too cowardly to make. I don’t need a doctor to circumscribe terms for living my life, and I don’t need to pretend I need a doctor to do such.

In a mental hospital setting, where one has been involuntarily committed, by a hearing and not by a trial, one is expected to admit to having an “illness”. If one doesn’t admit to being “ill”, a prequisite for discharge, while one at one time would have been said to be using a defense mechanism, and being ‘in denial’ about the severity of his or her “disease”, now one is more likely to hear that one has ‘anosogosia’, a brain defect, that causes one to ‘lack insight’ into the nature of his or her “disease”. Non-admission of “illness” is seen as a further “symptom of illness”, or a further indication of the more serious nature of the impugned “illness”. This is the game, you go along, or you rot in a psychiatric facility.

It must first be remembered that one has been convicted of acting insane not by a jury, but by a judge, a few psychiatrists, and probably a public defender who was only pretending to defend his client. The suspect, in other words, is presumed to be “sick”, and no proof need be offered, for as long and until a mental health professional declares him or her otherwise. The thing is mental health professionals don’t hand out certificates of mental health or sanity. If they are going to verify anything, on paper, it’s usually to the instability that they would find in their captives. Of course, the appearance of “improvement” can open doors.

I am not a high functioning schizophrenic. I am not a high functioning person with bipolar disorder. I am not a high functioning depressive person. High functioning, in combination with “mental illness”, is an oxymoron. People are gauged by the DSM, the shrink’s label bible, according to levels of functionality, and people so labeled are not expected to be able to function at the level of people who bear no labels. I am, therefore, high functioning precisely because I am not schizophrenic, nor bipolar, nor depressed. The high functioning exception to the rule of low functioning is a ruse.

Much research has stirred up much confusion about so called “mental illnesses” and the direct effects of the drugs used to “manage” so called “symptoms“. When it comes to schizophrenia and neuroleptic drugs, a worsening condition is more often the result of the drugs than it is of the disease itself. Neuroleptic drugs reduce brain mass, induce apathy, and ultimately produce cognitive decline in the individuals who take them. Each of these conditions has been attributed to the progress of the disease. You would have to factor psychiatric drugs into the equation before you begin to figure out whether this is so or not, and this is not done in much research today precisely because it is driven by drug company marketing efforts.

I don’t take psychiatric drugs. I don’t need a psychiatrist to prescribe psychiatric drugs to me. I have recovered from any “mental disability” that I may have been said to have suffered from, and I did so without recourse to excessive psychiatric counseling. Usually this counseling involves little more than a script for a chemical agent to be ingested periodically. I don’t take psychiatric drugs because of the ill effects they have on my person, and because I have some knowledge as to how these drugs actually affect the brain and the body. I, in fact, attribute my continuing physical and mental well being to my aversion to taking psychiatric drugs. I think when you connect the “illness” with the drug you can begin to see the virtue in coming off.

We live in a prescription drug culture that has left many casualties in its wake, and you can read the names of some of the more notable cadavers in the dailies. I am proud, for the moment, to count myself among the survivors of psychiatric labeling, psychiatric drugging, and standard psychiatric malpractice. This survival would not have been the case had I passively concurred with some psychiatrist’s low opinion of myself and my chances. We need to change the predominate paradigm in mental health treatment today from one that relies so heavily on chemical sedation to one that deals with the problems of real people before we can advance. One sure sign that a person is mentally healthy is that they don’t rely upon drugs. I encourage others to do as I have done, in the name of saving lives, and to say no to psychiatry and psychiatric drugs.

Undemonizing The Little Monsters

My view is that we simply shouldn’t saddle children with psychiatric labels. Why? The reasons are multiple. Labeled children grow up to be labeled adults, label A often comes with label B and label C or label D, and minor labels develop into major labels. With these labels come powerful and physical health destroying pharmaceuticals. Just look at the outcomes if you want to know why we shouldn’t label. Labeling a child isn’t putting that child on a success track. Labeling a child is actually harming that child.

When I was a kid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder didn’t exist, and conduct was a mark on a report card. Things have changed in this regard since then, but those changes have all been for the worse. Today misbehavior, healthy behavior from another perspective, is being medicalized, and mildly misbehaving children are growing into permanently “disturbed” and “disabled” adults.

I’m using the 6th part of the 7 part series Matters In Mind, Psychiatric labels and kids: benefits, side-effects and confused published recently in the journal In Conversation to draw The Behavior Key that follows.

The Behavior Key

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD – ‘hyperactive or inattentive’
Obedient defiant disorder – ODD – ‘particularly naughty’
Conduct disorder – CD – ‘seriously nasty’
Major depressive disorder – MDD – ‘down in the dumps’
General anxiety disorder – GAD/ Obsessive compulsive disorder – OCD/ Social anxiety disorder (or social phobias) – SAD/ Panic disorder – PD/ etc. – ‘nervous’

Forget the label, and you’ve merely got an adjective with which to describe a child, accent on child.

On the coattails of transforming ADHD into childhood bipolar disorder, and manufacturing an epidemic, we know what’s coming, and it is more of the same.

The DSM-5, due out next year, is likely to unleash a new epidemic – DMDD (disruptive mood dysregulation disorder), which has been strongly criticised by the former DSM-IV task force head Professor Allen Frances.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder – DMDD (could more aptly be described as) – temper tantrums.

In psychiatric training, we learn that what really counts is a biopsychosocial (biological, psychological and social) formulation. This is a few paragraphs which accompanies the diagnosis, summarising the main relationships, genetic inheritance, stressful events, temperament and psychological coping style of the person. The biopsychosocial formulation seeks to uncover and put in perspective all the causes of their symptoms and point to what help is needed, even if not readily available.

This is bio-babble. I’ve seen articles that estimate biology to be 70 % – 80 % the source of any one “mental disorder”. Biological medical model psychiatry is the predominate school of psychiatry today, and thus, “disorders” have to be primarily biological in origin. This leaves 30 % – 20 % of any “disorder” attributable to psychology and social environment. If biology wasn’t the primary basis for “mental disorders”, the theory is wrong. Well, chances are the theory is wrong. This 70 % – 80 % figure is based entirely on speculation. It represents a type of negative wishful thinking with very little, if any, real science behind it.

This draws us to the final question, who’s minding baby? Let’s not leave child-rearing practices up to the pill bottle. Psychiatric drugs, if anything, make wholly inadequate parents. Labeled children, as the statistic’s show us, are doomed children. Now what kind of parent would consciously sentence his or her child to hell on earth? Not a good parent, surely. Let’s get back to the practice of producing good children through producing good parents, and vice versa. Care about your child, and don’t send that child to the boogie-psychiatrist for labeling, drugging, and the eternal curse of diagnostic sorcery.

Allen Frances Media Doctor

If you were ever leery of journalists, now you’ve got even more reason to be leery of them. Retired psychiatry professor Allen Frances, critic of the DSM-5 revision process, just conducted a class for journalists. The article, in Scientific American of all places, bears the sensational heading, just the kind of thing Dr. Frances wants, “Is Anybody Sane Here”, Said the Psychiatrist to the Journalists.

Frances is a retired psychiatrist and you might know of him from his blogging or frequent media interviews. He chaired the committee that developed the DSM-4: the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. And he’s a key leader in the charge of dismay about the next edition, DSM-5, that’s due to appear later this year. It will likely vastly expand the many ways you can get a mental illness label. You can read more about that at Scientific American and an important article on conflicts of interest in PLoS Medicine.

Okay, Dr. Frances was instrumental in developing the DSM-IV that ‘vastly expanded the many ways you can get a “mental illness” label’. Now he is posing as the chief critic of the effort by the DSM-5 revision team to ‘vastly expand the many ways you can get a “mental illness” label’. Hmmm. Curious indeed.

How big is the problem? Using DSM-4 criteria for mental disorders, almost half the people in the US are getting a diagnosis of a mental disorder in their lifetime – and other countries aren’t far behind. Frances fears that “the pool of normal is becoming a small puddle.”

This is the real issue, between people who are “normal” and people who are labeled “disordered”, where do you draw the line? Dr. Frances, after putting the line over there, wants to pull the line back over here. Okay, that might help, but you’ve still got a number of people pigeon-holed because of that line. For some of us the question is whether there should be a line drawn in the first place.

Frances called for “Saving Normal” (the title of his forthcoming book). Some of his prescriptions are radical. For example, not just fines for drug companies that misbehave, but reduction of patents. And an “FDA” to determine diagnoses rather than allowing specialist groups who are over-invested in their “pet” diagnoses to hold such sway: “If you’re an expert you love your diagnosis – it becomes your pet. It’s human nature.”

Dr. Frances thinks we need a better DSM. A DSM that is more scientifically valid. Some of us think the DSM IS the problem, there is no way for it to become scientifically sound, and that it should be canned altogether because it was a bad idea from the get go. Obviously, if it was a bad idea, growing to almost 400 “disorder” labels in length is an even worse idea. Now really, you’ve got all these doctors sitting around, inventing “diseases”, and filling this manual with ill health demons of their own fanciful imaginings. Get a person to believe his or her problems amount to a “disease” requiring specialists, pill bottles, and permanent disability payments, and boy oh boy, you’re in business big time.

Oops. Wouldn’t stifling some of this labeling of so called “normal” people poke a big hole in the national mental health industry pocket? “Mental disorder” labeling is still your big ace in the hole, Dr. Frances. We can get by on “truly disordered”. Sure, we can do that. They are, after all, “really” “disordered”. We, of the psychiatric profession, should know. We’ve been calling them crackers for centuries. We’ve got more than enough cracked cases to go around. The thing is, if you scrutinize some of those cases more closely, they aren’t so cracked after all. The only trial they get is the trial of expert opinion, and that expert opinion is known to be way way off. Take the DSM-I through etcetera, for starters, and examine how absolutely bonkers that document actually is in places.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Dr. Frances doesn’t have some good proposals, and that they shouldn’t be implemented. I’m just saying that it’s unlikely that any proposal Dr. Frances comes up with is likely to go far enough. Prevention is the goal, and right now, we’re still pretty much dealing with the causative factors in a contagion. Funny thing, we’re also dealing with “disease” that is only figuratively “disease”. Considering, you wouldn’t think prevention would be such a difficult feat to accomplish. Of course, that isn’t considering the corporate empire that thrives on “disease”, be it figurative or bacterial.

ADHD Growing Up! Drug Companies Thrilled.

Attention Deficit Disorder Needs Life-Long Treatment, Study Says shrieks Bloomsbury News.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder doesn’t disappear as children grow older, according to a study that found harmful life-long effects that suggest treatment needs to continue into adulthood.

Anyone want to guess who’s paying for this treatment?

Oh, and what treatment? Why, of course, speed. Junior is running on junior’s little helper. Perhaps, it would be better to refer to it as junior’s caretaker’s little helper. Who needs a meth lab when you’ve got a shrink?

The study, reported in today’s Archives of General Psychiatry, followed 271 patients for 33 years, the longest any research has tracked the disorder, the authors wrote. Men diagnosed with ADHD as children had less education as adults, higher rates of divorce and substance abuse, and they spent more time in jail, the research found

Alright. Maybe the best thing to do, if you’re going to be given an ADHD diagnosis, is to be female.

About 31 percent of those with ADHD didn’t finish high school, compared with 4.4 percent in the comparison group. They made about $40,000 a year less on average in their jobs, and they were about three times more likely to have been divorced, be involved in substance abuse or to have spent time in jail, according to the study.

Economic hardship is a disease in today’s world, but unfortunately wealth is not the prescription drug used to treat this new plebian class.

Let’s go to another source for a little enlightenment on the subject. Let’s go to Psychiatric Times for a 2011 article on what a amounts to an epidemic, Problems of Overdiagnosis and Overprescribing in ADHD.

Before 1970, the diagnosis of ADHD was relatively rare for schoolchildren and almost nonexistent for adolescents and adults. Between 1980 and 2007, there was an almost 8-fold increase of ADHD prevalence in the United States compared with rates of 40 years ago. Considering the prevalence of school-administered stimulants as synonymous with the prevalence of ADHD, Safer and colleagues estimated the prevalence of ADHD in American schoolchildren as 1% in the 1970s, 3% to 5% in the 1980s, and 4% to 5% in the mid to late 1990s. In 2007, using data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, Visser and colleagues reported that 7.8% of youths aged 4 to 17 years had a diagnosis of ADHD and 4.3% reported current use of a medication for the disorder.

I can imagine a time when we will be saying, “Remember when ADHD was a children’s disorder rather than a illness of the impoverished.”

In the future there will be two classes of people, the wealthy and the sick.

Iatrogenic Damage As Treatment

Despite attempts to dismiss and discredit his contribution, psychiatrist RD Laing’s position in the pantheon of twentieth century thinkers is relatively secure. I was reading recently where somebody claimed R.D. Laing’s reputation needed rehabilitating. I don’t think this is so. The spirit of R.D. Laing is always there lingering in the background. He can’t go away, establishment or anti-establishment. He is present, cultural icon or counter-cultural guru. The same cannot be said of some of his associates, for example, David Cooper. I’ve seen his Wikipedia page grow less informative over the course of time. David Cooper’s reputation, if anyone had the interest or inclination, could probably use some serious rehabilitating.

Every time I mention so called anti-psychiatry I have misgivings. I feel I am going to be misunderstood. I am not so called pro-psychiatry in the slightest. The problem is biological medical model psychiatry. This school of psychiatry dominates the entire profession. Biological psychiatry is responsible for an epidemic of iatrogenic damage done to people in the mental health system. Biological psychiatry is behind an increased mortality rate among that population. Biological psychiatry is intimately tied to, and in bed with, the pharmaceutical industry. We need a dramatic paradigm shift away from this chemical quick fix approach to social and personal problems to an approach that realizes drugs aren’t solutions, problems aren’t illnesses, and drugs are a part of the problem. We have created a prescription drug culture today that is killing people.

If 95 % of psychiatrists are bad, and I believe that crediting the profession with 5 % good doctors is probably an over estimation, then there is not a whole lot of good to be said about that profession. We would not be in any worst state if the profession of psychiatry were eliminated altogether. People would actually be more likely to improve, given psychiatry’s cozy relationship to the drug industry, without the profession altogether rather than with it. The fact of the matter is that people labeled ‘schizophrenic’ recover, and do a lot better, more frequently where they have never been introduced to the pharmaceutical products used to treat the condition than where they are given drugs. The drugs are impediments to recovery, and worse, they are damaging in themselves. There have, in fact, been instances where the point of no return has been crossed.

This domination of biological psychiatry has meant tragedy on a worldwide scale. This tragedy is the result of confusing intended “help” with actual harm. Real assistance has human features, and it doesn’t come in liquid and capsule forms. Conceive throw away people, and throw away people end up thrown away. One way to throw them away is to contain them in places where they will only receive custodial care. Another way is to make the custodian a chemical substance. So long as so few people are doing anything about it, this tragedy can only continue to grow. Many people think they are actually doing something good when they are harming other people. This harming of people is not a good thing, and it is a point that must be made again and again. Loving people are not hurting people. Right now it is essential to change directions, we need more concern and less harm shown to those whom we so often scapegoat.

R.D. Laing and David Cooper were trail blazers. They were experimenters in a field that permitted very few experiments. These experiments pointed the way to a better approach to the problem than compounding it. Without their experiments, the later more successful experiment of Loren Mosher, the Soteria Project, might never have gotten off the ground. Some of us are hopeful that more encouraging signs are in the wind. I am aghast at all the people, given psychiatric labels, with physical injuries that came of the treatment they received for those labels. No injury of the body is the solution to an injury in the mind. No amount of fantasizing otherwise is going to make thought organic. Poison, on the other hand, will give the wounded thought an injured body, just as a cessation of poison may, but not always, return the body to health. I understand that some people are receiving money for tending the wounds of mind and body. I think a career of healing people vastly preferable to a career of keeping people in ill health. What we need today is more of the former and less of the latter.

The Extraterrestrial Checklist

I’ve had a few people recommend for me to read Jon Ronson’s book The Psychopath Test, but I have no desire to do so. Everything I’ve read about this book tells me that it doesn’t speak to me. Frankly, I have had enough of labeling people so-called psychopaths, what with the demonizing that takes place every time a suspect of an alleged crime comes up for trial. Maybe it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who wrote, “They’re not like us.”

LeftLion, whatever that is, apparently feels differently. The following Q&A is from Jon Ronson – LeftLion’s favourite journalist, in conversation with James Walker.

The Psychopath Test highlighted the flaws of constructing a checklist to determine this mental condition but as a society we have to do something to protect us from them. What did you learn?

Suddenly we’re in this little us and them dichotomy involving society and, I imagine, anti-society.

It’s impossible to come up with a simple answer but I think psychopaths exist. There’s no doubt about that; whether they’re born or made I don’t know. But they definitely exist. It’s a real condition and they’re dangerous because they’ve got no empathy, so there’s no talking sense to them. Yet, when this psychopath checklist is out in the world, if it’s misused, and I certainly have been a misuser of it (laughs), it can be a really dangerous thing. You can reduce a person to a checklist and obviously that’s no good. So there’s no definitive conclusion to draw, which is a good thing. But when it comes to mental health both extremes cause terrible, terrible trouble and when I say both extremes I mean the anti-psychiatry movement who think that mental illnesses don’t even bloody exist and the psychiatry mainstream. In a way they’re both as flawed as each other and you have to try and find a sensible grey area in the middle.

Psychiatry and anti-psychiatry are extremes…Yeah, right, and that leaves everybody else to come up with their own conclusions.

In the first place, there is no anti-psychiatry movement proper. Anti-psychiatry was a term coined by David Graham Cooper, a psychiatrist, that was never really even picked up by his colleagues and associates. Instead it’s this word biological medical model psychiatry, the predominate school of psychiatry today, would use to stifle it’s critics. Criticism, and the more criticism the more so, is equated with this mostly fictional anti-psychiatry movement. Anti-psychiatry, meaning anything other than biological psychiatry, has been proclaimed discredited by biological psychiatry. Furthermore, disagreeing with the Church of Biological Psychiatry is accounted heresy by the Church of Biological Psychiatry. Heretics from the Church of Biological Psychiatry are subject to impromptu and spontaneous, if inconsequential, diagnosis.

As for existence, the boogieman exists, he just might not be the boogieman that’s keeping your nightlight burning, Mr. Ronson. Sleep tight. Watch out for little pink elephants while you’re at it.

Honesty Is Less Healthy Than It Used To Be

What I miss in any discussion about mental health matters these days is honesty. The whole discussion, for a number of reasons, has become more dishonest than ever before. Deception and manipulation are more common in the mental health field than a stalk of hay in a haystack.

This wasn’t always the case. There was a time when a person could express an opinion. Nowadays, that opinion is expected to be backed up by data from quackery gizmos, biased study results, and stupid surveys.

Take the top 10 myths about mental illness, for instance. They are the results of a stupid survey intended to bolster the status of the shrink. and to bully errant shrinks into towing the mainstream bio-medical model line. Disagreement, given these survey results, is a steep drop off the career mountainside.

The deck is heavily stacked against honesty. Personal problems have been bureaucratically transmitted into organic dysfunctions. You can solve a problem, but for an organic dysfunction, what then? You need the services of a doctor mechanic for that. The doctor mechanic, it turns out, can’t really fix the dysfunction either, but he or she can make it more manageable. According to him or her anyway.

All sorts of weirdness genes have been pinpointed to help explain the weird person. We’re, of course, working under the assumption that weirdness isn’t only a social deviation, it’s also a genetic deviation. The genes of regular folk differ from the genes of weirdos precisely because regular folk aren’t “sickos”. Weirdness is a ticket to the state hospital. Surely weird genes must be what makes weird people weird.

All fine and dandy, but within every straight and regular person there is a secret weirdo struggling to get out. Perhaps his or her genes are just more recessive. Perhaps he or she is under a lot of social pressure to keep his or her inner weirdo contained. Perhaps he or she just doesn’t know what he or she is missing. I’m not saying they should find out what that something is. I’m not saying they shouldn’t find out either. I’m also not leaving that decision up to a psychiatrist.

The self-control clutch has been deemed beyond the grasp of the “disease”-controlled person. This is what the propaganda states. Man remains the master of his fate unless that man has been saddled with, from before birth presumably, a psychiatric tag. Psychiatric diagnosis stands at the threshold to sub-humanity. Funny thing, but that sub-humanity can take on the substance of a wind-blown leaf, too. Someone someday must write an article on the wonderful versatility of a pair of scissors.

A pair of scissors bears a certain relationship to that bottle of Thorazine in my drawer that didn’t diminish in pill numbers as time went on. This sedation in a bottle was itself sedated. It took a long time, basically because I was afraid someone might inquire, before I dumped the contents of that bottle out. As long as I kept it around I had an alibi. I was taking my pills. I must have been taking my pills. I had a pill bottle with pills in it. What became apparent as time went on was that this was a pill bottle I didn’t need.

I’ve seen a lot of people absolutely convinced that they’ve caught the “mental illness” bug. Cat flu or bad genes, it’s all the same. Negative thinking must be almost as utilitarian as positive thinking. What’s more, this is negativity masquerading as positivity. Given these limitations, blah blah blah, everything’s coming up roses. I’ve just discovered the secret to success, and it’s called an early retirement. Whatever!? In my case, problem solved, “disease” remedied. I guess for some folk the problem is the solution, just as the remedy is the “disease”. Not so for me. There came a time when I had to move on.

Nope, I Guess That Wasn’t A Signal From The Great Beyond After All

When it comes to the science in psychiatry, one of the spoofing Ig Nobel awards given this year should give the outside observer pause. The story on CNBC is titled, Blowhard silencer, dead-fish brain science win spoof Nobel prizes.

Specifically related to the field of neuroscience, psychiatry, mental health care, or brain research…

One of the more infamous studies winning an Ig Nobel was for research detecting meaningful brain activity in a dead salmon.

What was he or she thinking!?

It started as a lark, explains Craig Bennett of the University of California, Santa Barbara, who studies adolescent brain development using functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI, a technique for measuring brain activity.

Alright. Technology is big in psychiatry these days. If they can use technology effectively enough maybe they can convince folks that they actually are a legitimate science. Maybe.

The dead fish, being given brain scans, were shown pictures of objects–a pumpkin, a game fowl, another salmon.

“By random chance and by simple noise, we saw small data points in the brain of the fish that were considered to be active,” said Bennett. “It was a false positive. It’s not really there.”

The piece goes on to say…

The often-quoted study exposed the perils of fMRI science, which can be prone to false signals, and underscored the need to do statistical corrections to safeguard against such silly findings.

Perhaps Mr. Bennett understates the case.

“It’s a great teachable moment for how we should process the MRI data,” he said.

As they say in the trades, “We shall see.”