Breaking Up The Shrink Crime Syndicate

My virtue was that I never made a good little “mental patient”. Compliance with a treatment plan, such as adhering to an irritating brain-numbing drug taking regimen, in other words, was never my forte’. When “mental patient’ isn’t your goal in life, it’s hard to become a conscientious “consumer of mental health services”.  “Consumer of mental health services” in today’s parlance translates “chronic mental patient”. The person who refuses to “consume mental health services” isn’t a “mental patient”.

Not being a conscientious “consumer of mental health services”, from the beginning I was looking for an escape clause. Prognosis, you will notice, here would be a matter of living down to expectations. “Mental illness”, after all, is all a matter of applying the odd man, odd woman, out school of philosophy in practice. This means that there are no good prognoses in the mental health field, only calculated curses of a sort. “Mental illness”, then, by definition, is a matter of being launched on a failure track.

I don’t like losing any more than the next person, and so I found this loser track to be somewhat distressing, to say the least, and what’s more, I didn’t think it was the right track for me. What could I do? First you’ve got the diagnostic tag, “mental illness”.  Then you’ve got the role, “mental patient” or “consumer of mental health services”. The tag and the role have been supplemented by the recovery approach to treatment. The recovery approach to mental health treatment sees recovery as a journey without a destination.  In other words, the patient is expected to recover in the sense that he or she is not expected to recover.

Okay. If you don’t want to be a “chronic mental patient”, you’ve got to stop “consuming mental health services”. This was a little easier for me than it has been for some other people. This is because the better part of “mental health services” is something called “medication management”. That’s right. “Mental health treatment” in today’s world is all about treatment with psychiatric drugs. Those drugs are the primary ingredient in the services that “consumers of mental health services” consume. Stop taking psychiatric drugs, and you’ve ultimately slipped the butterfly net. There is nothing left to mental health services but endless talk.

I have to backtrack a little bit here. Outpatient services are a blast in the most ridiculous way. In fact, everything about outpatient services is ridiculous. Take vocational rehabilitation. You’ve got people pretending to be working for no pay. People expected to never hold down a real job do this thing where they go through the motions day after day. They do everything, in fact, but go to the employment agency and fill out a form. This is the difference between a patient and a non-patient. Non-patients are a little less serious about the matter, and they have  managed to become the masters of filling out employment applications.

Given pervasive discrimination, don’t let me bash networking. The clown takes his or her costume off, and he or she still desires something of the human touch. The network is full of imposters, double agents, and swindlers, but to say so would be to hazard a diagnostic label and, frankly, I’ve had enough of that racket. Which brings me to the point. Psychiatry and prescription dope peddling are organized criminal activities as far as I’m concerned. I’ve heard of one instance where the Rico Statute was used against a pharmaceutical company. I hope to see more such realistic moves and appraisals being made in the future.

Light Reflected Off The Expanding Bubble of Mindless Brain Research

A seminar in New York, at Fordham University School of Law of all places, is “symptomatic”, to use the  wrong word, of what’s wrong in brain research today. Somehow  it is believed that by studying the brains of people thought to be abnormal we are going to figure out how the brain works. If we do so, this line of reasoning presumes, we can end massive acts of violence taking place in the world today. You think?

The story in the New York Times is entitled The Day When Neurons Go on Trial.

Neurons are the new superstars in today’s brain research world. We’ve got neurologists, neuro-scientists, neuro-researchers, neuro-psychiatrists, neuro-philosophers, etc, etc. Who knows? Maybe neuro-attorneys are the next wave. The latest trend is neuro, but neuro with a twist, as nothing in the brain, and especially nothing in brain research, seems to proceed in a straight line.

Over and over, they put questions to a guest speaker, Joshua R. Sanes, director of the Center for Brain Science at Harvard, about the implications for society if and when brain science can identify with confidence a propensity for violence, or for lying.

Dr. Sanes answer was he wished he knew.

It is now believed that diseased circuits caused diseased brains, which we experience as psychiatric disorders, Dr. Sanes said. A student, Brittany Taylor, asked what such broken structures would mean if they cause somebody to commit a crime. “Are we going to look at that as a mitigating circumstance, or are we going to have to change our culpability standards completely?” she asked. What if other parts of the brain were involved, or if environmental factors were influencing the neurons? Could someone say with confidence that the neurons made him do it?

Stupid is as stupid does. If diseased brains are brains with diseased circuits, isn’t it a bit disingenuous to say that diseased circuits cause diseased brains? The cause, it would appear, is still X, and X is basically unknown.

Dr. Sanes reply seemed to be expect a lot of useless information. Following this plea of overwhelming informational overload, Dr. Sanes goes onto make a few predictions, the kind of predictions that could earn him a spot on my projected future column, Psychiatrists Say The Darndest Things.

“Fifteen years from now, somebody is going to say it’s the 489th neuron from the back of your ear that made you do it,” along with a mutant gene, Dr. Sanes said. “That’s going to be hard to dismiss.”

I suspect Dr. Sanes could not imagine himself, as a neuro-science-freak, being the person to have such a couple of willfully rebellious neurons. My own prediction is much more modest. I predict that this Decade of the Brain is likely to be as much of a vacuous bubble, a dud, as the last Decade of the Brain. We still have to make that little leap to consider what many neuro-science-types refuse to consider, namely, that maybe obnoxious and aberrant behavior isn’t entirely determined by biology.