Protesting Psychiatric Oppression 2014

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On May 3 through 7, 2014, the American Psychiatric Association will be holding its annual meeting in New York City. The theme of this years meeting is Changing the Practice and Perception of Psychiatry. This event is not likely to touch upon the issue of human rights violations by that profession as it’s primarily a public relations scheme and a defensive evasion of responsibility. Among the distinguished guests assisting the top dogs in the field of psychiatry in pulling off this professional whitewash extravaganza are Vice President Joe Biden, actor Alan Alda, and actor Joey “Pants” Pantoliano.

At present the rights and freedoms of citizens are being threatened on several fronts by this same profession that would be talking change. It is common knowledge among many people who deal with the mental health system on a daily basis that things within that system are getting worse, not better. There is repressive legislation being pushed by special interests groups, especially in the instance of H. R. 3717, a bill, deceptively called “the helping families in mental health crisis act”. H. R. 3717 would essentially deprive patients of a great deal of the hard won legal rights and protections that they had achieved over the years if it were passed into law. There is also the issue of forced treatment, made most acutely apparent with the recent abduction of Justina Pelletier by the state of Massachusetts.

On May 4th there will be a protest of the APA across the street from the Jacob Javitz Convention Center where the APA annual meeting is being held. This protest, themed Stop Psychiatric Assault, and orchestrated by psychiatric survivors, their friends, and allies is co-sponsored by the human rights organizations MindFreedom International and the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights. To my way thinking, this protest is much more important than the whitewashing ceremony the APA will be conducting. It is so important, in fact, that I am making the trip all the way from Florida to NYC to participate in this action.

Organized psychiatric crime may have a few Hollywood celebrities and politicians fooled, but the rest of us are more astute than that bunch of bozos about the situation. Oppressive maltreatment and abuse masquerading as “help” are commonplace in the mental health system. Psychiatry kills more often than it “helps”. As this is the case, any and all action that can be taken against the abuses conducted in the name of this profession are called for. Only by protesting oppression, and by educating the public, can we bring attention to the severity of the problem we face, and by bringing attention to it, change it.

I hope you will, if possible, join us on May 4th, 2014 in our protest across from the annual meeting of the APA. We need all the people we can get in this, our struggle, against forced treatment and for human rights. Freedom used to mean something in this country, and it still means something to those of us who have experienced its eclipse. People are being deprived of freedom, insidiously crushed, and slowly poisoned to death by psychiatry at this very moment. You can do your part to end this death and destruction by joining us on May 4th across from the Jacob Javitz Convention Center in New York City when we strike a blow for life and freedom.

Related story:

Join MindFreedom, Protest Psychiatric Brutality!

Question: What do psychiatry and voodoo have in common?

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Answer: Zombies!

Ronald Pies In Psychiatryland

One of the biggest clown doctors going at the present moment has got to be Ronald Pies. It would be remiss of me to claim that in his latest post, Nuances, Narratives, and the ‘Chemical Imbalance’ Debate in Psychiatry, he has outdone himself. If there was anyone destined for a pie in the face that anyone has got to be Ronald Pies. I would be honored, in fact, to bestow upon Dr. Pies the moniker Ronald “Pie In The Face” Pies for all posterity. Ronald Pies is a marvel of nonsensical shrink think. In his latest escapade into the theory and practice of shrinkery, Pies, by some disingenuous twist of convoluted illogic, would blame “the chemical imbalance theory” on that bug-a-boo and will-o-the-wisp of modern psychiatry, antipsychiatry. Go figure.

Now, if you were to give credence to a recent online polemic posing as investigative journalism, you would probably choose the first or second statement. In the narrative of the antipsychiatry movement, a monolithic entity called “Psychiatry” has deliberately misled the public as to the causes of mental illness, by failing to debunk the chemical imbalance hypothesis. Indeed, this narrative insists that, by promoting this little white lie, psychiatry betrayed the public trust and made it seem as if psychiatrists had magic bullets for psychiatric disorders. (Lurking in the back-story, of course, is Big Pharma, said to be in cahoots with Psychiatry so as to sell more drugs).

Those first two statements Pies alludes to here would be those that indicate either “mental illnesses” were caused by “chemical imbalances” in the brain, or merely that more “serious mental illnesses” were caused by “chemical imbalances” in the brain. What we don’t get out of this story is precisely who was responsible for promoting and spreading this “chemical imbalance theory” that these people in some antipsychiatry movement would be exposing. Where is psychiatry here? Defending itself from those who would be exposing a discredited theory. Certainly it is not defending itself from the ones who would be promulgating that theory. Curious indeed.

Among his more bizarre notions is the notion that this “chemical imbalance” theory has more to do with some catecholamine hypothesis from many years back than it does with the development, marketing and advertising of those trendy psychiatric drugs still surging strong on the market of today.

To the extent the “chemical imbalance” notion took hold in our popular culture, it was due mainly to distorted or oversimplified versions of the catecholamine hypothesis. These were often depicted in drug company ads; pop psychology magazines; and, in recent years, on misinformed Websites and blogs. In short, the “chemical imbalance theory” was never a real theory, nor was it widely propounded by responsible practitioners in the field of psychiatry.

Does Dr. Pies mean that psychiatrists don’t use, or shouldn’t use, those drugs that would be advertised as purporting to correct some kind of postulated and theoretical “chemical imbalance”?  I think not. This leads to another question. To what extent has psychiatry, or the majority of its practitioners, colluded with pharmaceutical companies in producing an atmosphere that now has commercial interests in the media peddling pills, not just to medical professionals, but to the entire buying public perceived and re-envisioned as consumers who will purchase anything at the provocation of the most mesmerizing sound bite?

Psychiatry’s critics also conveniently omit reference to what was arguably the most prevalent paradigm in academic psychiatry, during the 1980s and beyond: the biopsychosocial model (BPSM) of Dr. George Engel. The BPSM has been subjected to much criticism, and some would argue that few psychiatrists nowadays use the BPSM in a systematic, evidence-based manner. And in recent years, several prominent psychiatrists have warned that “…pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy, the major treatment modalities in psychiatry, have become fragmented from one another, creating an artificial separation of the psychosocial and biological domains in psychiatry.”

In the latex gloved mitts of Dr. Pies, our babble here has degenerated into very nuanced babble indeed. If you will notice, despite the nip at bio babble unrefined, bio still has top billing in the theoretical credits. I don’t think this is entirely because of the order of words in the alphabet, or accidental. The mad doctor has shown himself sufficiently proficient in blurring the lines between disciplines to earn himself a rank of major distinction in the therapeutic circus. If criticism equals antipsychiatry, well, there you go. The message is coming in loud and clear. Don’t criticize psychiatry or you must be promoting the discredited “chemical imbalance theory”, too. Clown psychiatry rules!

The Myth of The Jail and Prison Treatment Facility

One Deinstitutionalization Is Not Two Deinstitutionalizations

Much bad ink has been spilled over calling the nation’s jails and prisons mental health facilities because of the number of people within their walls who have also been given psychiatric labels. The latest report along these lines claims there are something like 10xs more mental patients who reside in criminal justice facilities than in state hospitals. These numbers come from a study conducted by the Treatment Advocacy Center, the USA’s number one lobbyist for more forced psychiatric drugging, and the National Sheriffs Association. The culprit in this debacle is said to be deinstitutionalization.

Let me start off by saying people don’t go to jails and prisons because they are sick and because they wish to receive medical attention. People are sent to jails and prisons by the courts to receive punishments because they broke the law of the land. Second, state hospitals have traditionally been psychiatric jails and prisons. Merely trading this kind of prison for the other kind of prison doesn’t make a hospital in actual fact. I would say that, given the prison overcrowding problem that comes of three strikes laws, America has grown increasingly intolerant of difference, and law crazy itself. If your way of dealing with bizarre behavior is to outlaw it, your jails and prisons are going to fill with people behaving bizarrely. Bizarre behavior may be a crime, but it is only a disease by a wild stretch of the overactive imagination.

Statistics tell us their own story. For statistics, before we look at those coming from the recent study, let me refer to the Preface of the 2006 book crazy authored by journalist Pete Earley. Earley is another apostle of this blame deinstitutionalization religion. According to Earley, in 1955, there were 560,000 people in state mental hospitals. He speculates not about the numbers of people who might have been referred to as “mentally ill” in prison or jail at that time. Between 1955 and the year 2000, the population jumped from 166 million people to 276 million people. Given this population increase, and no change, the numbers of people in state mental hospitals would have been something like 930,000. Earley gives the present number of people, from maybe a 2002 or thereabouts survey, with “mental illnesses” in jails and prisons at 300,000. He gives the present number in state mental hospitals at 55,000.

Hmmm. Something peculiar is going on here. 500,000 people are unaccounted for. These are the people who, with the population increase figured in, would be in the state mental hospital system if we were still doing business the way we had in 1955. 500,000 people is more than half the number of people we are dealing with in the stats for a later year. You add 55,000 to 300,000 and you are still lacking 205,000 people from the 1955 figure. This is not the kind of figure that supports the contention that deinstitutionalization was a mistake, or that it was a disastrous failure. Instead it would seem to indicate that more and more people described as “mentally ill”, if not fully recovering, are being better integrated into the communities from which they came. This is a coup for least restrictive care, and least restrictive care is something that nobody receives as a prisoner on the locked ward of a state mental hospital.

According to the TAC and NSA research, there are 35,000 people in state hospitals, a 2012 stat, and 356,000 in jails and prison. Wow. We’ve got 20,000 fewer people, referencing the Earley stats, in state mental hospitals than we had 10 or so years earlier! If we’ve got more in jails and prison, too, part of that increase can be explained by population increase. What Earley gave us was something of an estimation based on statistics anyway, but we’re still minus a great number of people who would be “hospitalized” in the year 1955. All in all, I’d call deinstitutionalization a major success story. We’ve still got a lot of people in jails and prisons, given stiffer sentences and overcrowding, who don’t need to be there. One deinstitutionalization success story doesn’t justify an increased amount of institutionalization for another sort of institution.

Blaming violence on “mental illness” is the latest media and political trend. I’d like to remind people that the court of public opinion is not a court of law. We have a supply of the kind of acts, in the present climate, that the media circus demands. Should we look at the number of violent acts committed by people with no experience in the mental health treatment system, I’m sure that those crimes are not decreasing dramatically in number either. Violence is not a symptom of any “mental disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). When it comes down to it, death is much more likely to be a result of gun fire than it is to be a result of any psychiatric diagnostic label in a mental health professional’s repertoire. I suggest that we will have more success with the problem if we deal with the causes, and I don’t see “illness”, physical nor mental, as one of the primary causes. I would, on the other hand, do something about the climate of suspicion, hatred, and indifference that breeds crime, hardship, and troubles. Here, I think we can actually make a difference if we tried, and that is exactly what we should do.

 

Acquiring A New Set Of WIngs

Social control is becoming very scary business these days. The supreme court of the USA just decided putting a limit on political campaign contributions is unconstitutional. This is the same USA that has a majority of millionaire elected officials serving in congress. Millionaires are, on the other hand, a very small minority of the overall population. Billionaires, too, but now billionaires have renewed opportunities to buy political influence from millionaires. As they say, follow the money. Following the money is apparently the only way you’re going to find out what’s really going on here. If 1 % of the population owns 80 % of the nations wealth, a great deal of the population is going to be under represented in the political process.

These elected millionaires often got to be millionaires through their associations, specifically their associations with politics and politicians. Not only is influence peddling big business, but big business is influence peddling. All sorts of lobbyists are making cracker jack deals with politicians. Should the lobbyists be lobbying to advance the interests of poor people, well, there’s no money in that, is there? Social justice takes a backseat to profiteering. Representatives, who get paid by the state, also tend to be lawyers with their own law practices. These law practices are more likely to serve people with money than they are to serve people without money. The law business must run on something, too, after all. Much of the business of law is about protecting the money of people who have money.

Living In a country where more and more people own less and less can be very frustrating. Sometimes this frustration shows up in the crime rate. Sometimes this frustration explodes into an excessive overt expression of gratuitous violence. It is convenient, in a such a case, especially for the profiteers, to come up with a scapegoat to blame this gratuitous violence on. By doing so, the manufacturers of social discontent themselves are left off the hook as far as accountability is concerned. One way they have managed to do this in recent history is by scapegoating the customary scapegoat. The customary scapegoat is, was, and remains, anybody with the misfortune of being swept up into the mental health system dragnet as a mental patient, or “consumer”.

“Mental illness” itself is a pretty sketchy concept. There are no reliable tests for it. Troubles, a universal phenomenon, of any sort, are enough to elicit a labeling response from the thin skinned mental health profession. Frustration, as you may well suppose, can be listed among troubles. Essentially, a person with a “mental illness” is a person who has been made into a scapegoat. “Stigma” itself started as a brand or a tattoo used to mark slaves as property or to identify criminals as wrong doers. Although that mark is gone, the paper trail that goes along with commitment hearings and inpatient treatment, brands any individual who has been through the mental health system a perpetual outsider as surely as a glowing iron set among hot coals. All that person has to do to run into a snag is to fill out any form that screens for mental health by asking about psychiatric treatment history.

Psychiatry’s answer is to claim that scapegoats are scapegoats because they have scapegoat genes. This circumspect approach, of course, misses entirely the social connections that contribute to any determination of success or failure. Take a classroom situation, for instance. A student turns in a paper that elicits some sort of objection from a teacher. The teacher gives the student a poor grade. Another student gets a good grade. All sort of social considerations, many of them unstated, go into who shall get the passing grade and who shall get the failing grade. Sometimes the determining factor can be something as slight as the color of a person’s skin. Of course, skin color is in the genes. Academic performance, on the other hand, should be in the knowledge, and in the acquired knowledge at that.