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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.

8 Tips And A Bonus

If I were a betting man I wouldn’t bet on so called “mental illness”. It sounds like a losing proposition from start to finish. Okay, you may be asking, what brought this on? Well, there’s this article in the Boston Globe, of all places, entitled,  8 tips for living with mental illness in college.

Uh, living with a “mental illness”? Why would I want to do a crazy thing like that? Aren’t there enough bitches in the world as is?

Number uno is ‘do your research’, but I think that’s funny. You don’t know how phony baloney so much of this research is, nor how pathetic the statistics look. Anyway, usually this means look there, but don’t look there. Our watchdogs we persecute. Biological medical model is the bias, and that means our researchers are mainly interested in drug development. We’re not dealing with people so much, we’re dealing with biological defectives, mutants. There’s a difference. People, having taken hundreds of thousands of years to evolve into what they are, don’t need chemical readjustments so much.

‘Understand policy’ is number two. This is the biggest reason you can imagine not to wrangle a pet “mental illness”. Why? Look at the examples. ‘Privacy and confidentiality’. Alright. A pet “mental illness” gives roommates the right to spy on you, monitor your behavior, and report you to the authorities if your pet acts up. Next…’leave of absences’. Should you need a break, it’s gonna help to plead a pet “mental illness”? I don’t think so. ‘Processes for responding to psychiatric crises’.  Automatically I’m seeing revolving red and blue lights on top of a patrol car. He’s got his handcuffs out if you “need” ’em.

Next comes ‘a support network’. This is a plus minus sort of thing. Sure, people support each other. People also call the cops. Be positive and imagine them calling the cops on somebody elses pet “mental illness”.

Four, you ‘set goals for yourself’, perhaps ‘hire a life coach’. Ouch! Like college isn’t about setting goals. Two sets of goals aren’t going to decrease the challenge, and hiring a life coach, on top of today’s tuition! How long do we have to pay this off? There comes a point two or three tips ago, when I consider silence and secrecy a better avenue than true confessions, especially when those confessions are going to be bullied and cajoled out of one.

Five is about ‘creating structure’, but that’s only common sense, especially if you want to get through college.

Six is a humdinger. Rat on yourself. You got a pet “mental illness”, don’t you? Let your pet “mental illness” out of the bag. You also might consider carrying a gun just in case  you need to kill yourself after your pet “mental illness” spilled its guts, and ruined your life. The biggest baddest and most dangerous cop of all can be the cop within.

Seven is dope. Some people take seven different kinds of ’em. This is legal dope so folks assume it is okay.  If it kills you 25 years early, well, that’s acceptable trade-off for keeping your pet “mental illness” under wraps. Pet “mental illnesses” are temperamental, and it takes dope to manage them. Pet “mental illnesses” feed on heavy duty  horse tranquilizers. Sometimes it’s impossible to tell them apart, that is, drug effects from ‘disease symptoms’. Without the pills you take your poor “mental illness” might actually starve to death, and we couldn’t have that, now could we?

Finally ‘take care of your health’ because “mental patients” are dying off early at an incredibly high rate. The authorities are blaming the pet, but we know, we know, the pills have a lot to do with it. You just try taking care of yourself when you’re zonked out of your frigging mind sometime, and see how well you do? Doctors are dense though, and they don’t tend to grasp these things.

I came up with a ninth tip that I think has all the others beat. Unleash your pet “mental illness”, and send it back to the wild. Free it, and if you can’t free it, give it away. There are plenty of people out there wanting a pet “mental illness”. If there weren’t, they wouldn’t proliferate so. You don’t need a “mental illness”, believe me. It will only drag you down. The difference between having and not having is perched on the tip of your tongue right now. Be careful, and “stable” your pet, by sending it away. “Mental illnesses” are like wars. Ugh. Who needs ’em!

Future Psychiatry

Make way for the DSM-6 1/2 & 3/4. Some Oxford University mad shrink, a certain Kathleen Taylor, she calls herself a neurologist, thinks that religious fundamentalism and cult group membership could become a disease in the future.

Don’t look now, but religious fundamentalists and those whose ideological beliefs border on the extreme and may be potentially harmful to society could soon be called crazy—in a medical sense.

Remind me to stay way clear of the border of extreme.

Taylor also warned against taking “fundamentalism” to mean radical Islamism.

The story/review, Is religious fundamentalism a mental illness?, is to be found at GMA News Online, ‘the go-to site for Philipinos’.

I’m encouraged by all this potential broadening of commitment criteria in a way.  Just imagine, in the future maybe we could lock up members of the Church of Biological Psychiatry. As is, they do an inordinate amount of injury while everybody just looks the other way.

Kathleen Taylor has written a book, “The Brain Supremacy”, on the dangers of brain technology, but, oh, I don’t know…

“What we perceive from our perspective as our legitimate self-defensive reaction to the psychosis of the enemy, is from the perspective of the same enemy our equally malignant psychotic self-obsession,” it [Digital Journal] added.

Here it comes, here it comes…World War III!

This just goes to show now that, beyond intoxicating substances, behaviors have been found to be addictive, the bag is open, and anything can crawl in. Should psychiatry be your career choice, I hope we can find a cure before it’s too late, and the bombs start falling all around us.

An Enabling Debility

I was watching mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. on You Tube the other day, and he made a point that I don’t think a lot of people are catching. The mental health consumer represents a failure on the part of psychiatry to restore mental patients to health. Where we used to have a mental health movement, now we have what has been referred to as a mental health consumer movement.

Nash also noted that the basic difference between a person said to be mentally ill and a person said to be mentally well was that the latter earned a living and the former didn’t earn a living. This is what the whole idea of functionality is all about, the ability to make a good wage slave on the jobs market.

Of course, now we’ve got this idea of “high functioning mental illness” where the old rules don’t apply. Seeing that “high functioning” coupled with “mental illness” is basically a contradiction in terms, how do we explain this phenomenon? A few mental patients, aka mental health consumers, have managed through “compliance” to advance in professional, often academic, careers.

I would say you have about three things going on here at once. A bright and resourceful individual. A person who has a great deal of support–legal, emotional, and social–perhaps more than people who are not so “handicapped” by impugned disease. On top of which you also have someone who would tend to be less heavily drug dose disabled than many people in treatment due to the achievement (as opposed to troubling behavior) that the person had displayed.

It must be remembered here that the idea is not to produce a better quality consumer, the idea is produce a healthy individual, a non-patient. The “high functioning mentally ill” person also suggests a failure of the system to restore that person in particular to his or her right mind. One is also left with the question, are we making “illness” in cases like these a form of “success”?

There are other people who have been fully restored to “sanity”, but there is little glory in recovering one’s mental health as long “notoriety” comes of not recovering. Anonymity may be noble, but it doesn’t pay the bills. Acclaim, in one instance, must prove as much of a disincentive to recovery as federal benefits prove in another. How much of this is a matter of our cracked actor or actress making the most of his or her crack?

Acclaim seldom comes of recovery. More often than not what you have is a mental health worker who was a former patient, and as such represents the worst of two worlds. Your prisoner has become a warder, and your penitentiary system has grown exponentially. I suppose it represents job security on his or her part, but still this means the streets have gotten a little bit meaner, and the neighborhoods have gotten a little less secure.

The Numbers Of US Children On Neuroleptic Drugs Rises

Rueters in a news release, Antipsychotic use growing in U.S. kids and teens, reports the use of neuroleptics on children and teenagers up from less than 10 % of the youths who visited a psychiatrist in the 1990s to fully 1/3 of the youths who visit a psychiatrist in the 2000s.

Antipsychotic drugs are prescribed during almost one in three of all visits kids and teens make to psychiatrists in the United States, according to a new study, up from about one in eleven during the 1990s.

This rise is attributed chiefly to the entirely fraudulent, or off label, practice of prescribing drugs for purposes for which they haven’t been approved by the FDA. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and its attendant disruptive behavior, are one of the labels that these drugs are mentioned as being falsely prescribed for.

[Columbia University Professor Mark] Olfson and his colleagues, who published their work Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that for kids and teens, roughly 90 percent of the antipsychotic prescriptions written during office visits between 2005 and 2009 were “off label,” which means the drugs are being prescribed for something other than for what they’re approved.

90 % is 10 % less than 100 %, and so that’s gotta be a whole lotta kids who are being prescribed pills for fraudulent reasons.

Kids taking atypical neuroleptics, off label or not, are at risk for a metabolic syndrome that involves massive weight gain and attendant physical ill health conditions.

Last year, a large study of children, from the University of Massachusetts, found that kids who took antipsychotic drugs were four times more likely to develop diabetes than their peers who were not taking the medications. (See Reuters Health story of November 22, 2011: http://reut.rs/MtH5dB.)

Overall this study found that neuroleptic drug use increased across the board but especially among children and adolescents.

The numbers of kids on these drugs increased from 0.24 of 100 between 1993 and 1998 to 1.83 of 100 between 2005 and 2009. The numbers of teens went from 0.78 in 100 in the 1990s to 3.76 in 100 in the 2000s.

There is more than a great danger, indeed you can be quite certain in many cases, that some of this excessive and fraudulent drugging is going to lead to neurological damage, and a lifetime on federal benefits in the mental health system, for some of the children and adolescents put on these pills.

Brain Change In “Schizophrenia” Not Genetic

A report at PsychCentral on a Dutch study indicates brain changes in people labeled “schizophrenia” are not the result of “bad” or defective genes. The heading this article carries is Brain Abnormalities in Schizophrenia Due to Disease, Not Genetics.

The brain differences found in people with schizophrenia are mainly the result of the disease itself or its treatment *, as opposed to being caused by genetic factors, according to a Dutch study.

* Emphasis added.

Theory had it that “schizophrenia” came in families, and therefore, unaffected family members should have brain “abnormalities”, too. The familial link was thought to be as much as 81 %. (How do they arrive at these figures? I dare say…wishful thinking.) The results of this research do not support that theory.

For the current study, Heleen Boos and a team from University Medical Center Utrecht performed structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) whole-brain scans on 155 patients with schizophrenia, 186 of their non-psychotic siblings, and 122 healthy controls (including 25 sibling pairs).

As I pointed out in a post a few days back these studies are notorious for not factoring in psychiatric drugs. As psychiatric drugs have not been factored in, it is just as reasonable to assume that the differences found in the patients brains were caused by treatment as it is to assume that they were caused by disease. The true cause, and the extent to which it is caused by one or the other, can only be ascertained through testing that does factor in psychiatric drugs.

Compared with healthy controls, participants with schizophrenia had strong reductions in total brain, gray matter, and white matter volumes, and significant increases in lateral and third ventricle volumes after taking into account age, gender, intracranial volume, and left or right handedness.

There was no difference found between the siblings and the healthy controls.

Cortical thinning, the very thing I blogged about in a recent post, and decreased gray matter, were found in the patients, and not in the siblings of patients or the healthy controls. I would say researchers need to start factoring in psychiatric drugs. If this damage is iatrogenic, factoring in psychiatric drugs would involve also having a group of patients that were treated without drugs, and comparing their brain scans with the brain scans of patients treated on drugs to determine that possibility.

Let me guess. Researchers are not prone to do so because of their fervent belief in “mental illness”, and because of their close financial ties to drug manufacturers?

Free ADHD testing goes the way of free lunches at UF

If you thought “stigma” was the only obstacle to seeking mental health treatment, think again, there is also the little matter of costs. The University of Florida, which previously had given free ADHD tests, will soon start charging. Diagnosis is going to cost students money starting this fall.

The story is in the latest edition of the Independent Florida Alligator, under the heading, UF will charge students in Fall for currently free ADHD testing.

The new four-step process will take seven hours and will cost $175 per student.

That’s right! It may now cost you $175 to acquire an ADHD. Consider, too, that this is only the price for purchasing the disorder. Feeding, maintenance, and vet costs follow close behind. An ADHD, with the advent of ADHDs for adults, can last well beyond the lifetime of a single individual.

These tests, despite being more elaborate than previous tests, are designed to determine the aptitude and dedication an individual might display in caring for an ADHD.

First students must be screened because you wouldn’t want a student with an ADHD that couldn’t properly care for that ADHD.

Students will go through two 90-minute screening sessions, one of which costs $25.

As you can see ADHD is a very peculiar animal.

The third step is a three-hour, $150 evaluation including an IQ test, a personality test, an achievement test and a specific test for ADHD.

Reportedly this deal at UF is a very good one as an alive and kicking ADHD can run you as much as 2Gs from a private collector.

ADHDs have gained increasing popularity over the years, especially among school age boys. It is estimated that almost 10 % of the male children in this country are the proud owners of ADHDs.

Those students without the necessary funding to purchase an ADHD may be able to get around this shortcoming by applying for financial aid.

The Church of Biological Psychiatry and its Discontents

The collusion of business interests, academic stuffed shirts, and a media elite has ensured that the public gets the views of compliant converts to the Church of Biological Psychiatry much more frequently than it hears from non-compliant, and completely recovered, survivors of psychiatric human rights violations and oppression.

The goody two shoes of psychiatry are multiple, and the deception is deep. Your step and fetch it wierd Aunt or Uncle Tom of the treatment world is not the only animal around. She or he is just the media‘s, and the media that is courting psychiatric industry interests and corporate drug company money, darling. Drool on yourself for the camera, dear.

The Church of Biological Psychiatry includes a loose confederation of interested parties seeking to ward off funding cuts, independent examination, criticism and free thought. These parties include mainstream psychiatry organizations, torture advocacy organizations, institutions of high education, law enforcement officials, and pharmaceutical manufacturers, plus a bunch of dumb hacks that don‘t know shit.

The God of the Church of Biological Psychiatry goes by the name of chronic and irreparable “mental illness”. The Church of Biological Psychiatry asserts that a certain percentage of the population have been chosen to express the genes fashioned expressly by this God of Madness. Here, “mental illness” is a noun and never a verb. Furthermore, “mental illness” is possessive. If it’s not what you are, it’s what you have, and it’s not what you do.

The belief in “mental illness” genes has not put us one iota closer to developing a “mental illness” litmus test. After all this time, this “mental illness” bug or defect, just like the Gods of the Greeks, the Romans, and the God of the Christians, has eluded capture. Converts and evangelicals alike, despite being certain that “mental illnesses” are caused by defective, inferiority, or submission genes, readily admit that they don’t know the source of “mental disturbances”.

The great God “mental disorder” demands further research and development into the potent capacity chemicals have to maintain, contain, and otherwise control the more unruly select among his flock. Without these pills and potions they would be lost forever. Sorry fuckers who can’t cope with the world outside of an institution. These chemical compounds were created expressly in order to correct the mistakes of nature. The church has an expression for its solution to these mistakes, “In pharmaceuticals, and the profits they pull in, we trust.”

For decades a small but growing band of heretics have defied the dictates and decrees of the Church of Biological Psychiatry despite, if not total silence, irritation on the part of the illuminati. You must know your place, the clergy preach, and that place is either in receiving treatment, or in providing treatment, or in agreeing with everything we say. Stay tuned, although evangelicals and corruption have guaranteed that the Church of Biological Psychiatry is growing at a much faster rate than heresy, there is no room for improvement in the perfect doctrine.

Honey, The Kids Have Anger Sickness

According to Harvard researchers 8 % of teenagers are “sick” with anger.

The blog entry at canada.com bears the heading, The age of rage: psychiatrists battle over teen anger diagnosis.

Harvard Medical School researchers, in a study based on in-person interviews with more than 10,000 adolescents ages 13 to 17, found that about eight per cent met the criteria for intermittent explosive disorder, or IED.

No. You are not super gullible if you believe this to be true. It’s true.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — psychiatry’s official catalogue of mental illness, now undergoing its first major revision in nearly two decades — IED’s central feature is impulsive aggression grossly out of proportion to the situation. People lose control, break or smash things and attack or threaten to hurt someone.

In other words, they go through their terrible twos or their teenage years.

This post didn’t speculate on the number of teenagers who might have oppositional defiant disorder, or conduct disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or even I’m hotter than you disorder. You know teens. It’s all about attitude.

But there isn’t agreement on just how many “episodes” or outbursts of aggression are necessary for a diagnosis of IED. As well, some have proposed broadening the criteria to include outbursts that don’t involve threatened or actual violence, but do involve verbal aggression — insults or arguments “out of proportion to provocation.”

We will deal with the bruiser verb at another time if we ever deal with it.

I think the moral of this tale can safely be said to be, “Nice kids don’t get IED.” Also, they are good with barbeque sauce.

Allen Frances And The DSM-5

Allen Frances, Duke University psychiatry professor emeritus, isn’t so much a critic of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as he is a critic of the DSM revision process. Apparently he has a love/hate relationship with the manual itself. He doesn’t object to the DSM, psychiatry’s label bible, so much as he objects to what he sees as a rushed and flawed job that could result in a shoddy product. He objects to a process that he thinks will produce a lower quality product than a more thorough going process would produce.

He himself was one of the architects of the DSM-IV. The DSM-IV was notorious for raising the “mental illness” rate throughout the world. The DSM-5 is expected to smooth out a few more of the wrinkles in the DSM-IV. Although current criticism of the DSM revision process may make the DSM-5 less of an open Pandora’s Box, or contagion zone, than no criticism whatsoever would, the publication of the DSM-5 is expected to raise the rate of mental illness around the world substantially again. Make no mistake about it; what is going on here, with the hoopla surrounding the revision and publication of this manual, is the selling of “mental illness”!

His latest jabs at this process on his Huffington Post blog have been aimed at the price tag. A recent blog post of his bore the title, DSM-5 Costs $25 Million, Putting APA in a Financial Hole. The DSM-5 has cost 5x the amount already that the DSM-IV cost. The APA is in the hole right now because of this price tag.

The American Psychiatric Association just reported a surprisingly large yearly deficit of $350,000. This was caused by reduced publishing profits, poor attendance at its annual meeting, rapidly declining membership, and wasteful spending on DSM-5. APA reserves are now below “the recommended amount for a non-profit (reserves equal to a year’s operating expenses).”

$350,000 in the hole to be exact because of a multi-million dollar revision process owing in part to the objections of critics such as Allen Frances.

APA has already spent an astounding $25 million on DSM-5. I can’t imagine where all that money went. As I recall it, DSM-IV cost about $5 million, and more than half of this came from outside research grants. Even if the DSM-5 product were made of gold instead of lead, $25 million would be wildly out of proportion. The rampant disorganization of DSM-5 must have caused colossal waste. One obvious example is the $3 million spent on the useless DSM-5 field trial, with its irrelevant questions, poorly conceived design, and embarrassing results.

The DSM-5 was due to be published in 2012. Because of the objections of many psychologists and the likes of Allen Frances publication was suspended for a year. The revisers of the DSM-5 are also going out of their way to get input from interested parties. Actually, and to be more precise, the revisers are busy at damage controll by giving the appearance of giving an ear to critics for public relations purposes. The upper echelon of the APA don’t want democracy. Dialogue is not what coming up with “mental disorder” labels is all about. There is, for example, no No Mental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified category in the manual.

If stage one were field testing, stage two is quality control. Stage one a disaster, in his view; he sees quality control as the issue in a more recent post, Follow The Money, on these monetary difficulties lost to the DSM-5 revision process.

APA was faced with 2 choices: 1) go ahead with Stage 2 to clean up the mess; or 2) declare Stage 2 unnecessary and publish a poorly edited, unreliable, and untested DSM-5. APA chose the second option and is rushing toward a forced, premature birth of DSM-5.

Actually, as pointed out above, publication had been suspended earlier, and so this would entail suspending publication yet again. This suspension proposed by Allen Frances also begs the issue of the rising tab and the debt. If the DSM-5 revision has cost $25,000,000 already, continuing to haggle over the minutae and specifics of “mental disorder” labels is not going to bring this tab down.

Since there is no pressing need to publish the DSM-5 quickly, let’s follow the money. The APA budget depends heavily on the huge publishing profits generated by its DSM monopoly. APA needs the money badly. It is losing paying members; other sources of funding are also on a downward trend; and its budget projections require a big May 2013 injection of DSM-5 cash.

Is there a pressing need to publish the DSM-5 at all? Oh, yeah! The money! The patients? Well, they’re going to rot anyway, and so we might as well take advantage of them and their plight. What can they do?

As someone with a history of activism in the psychiatric survivor movement, I have objections to the DSM-I through 5. Our problem stems precisely from the fact that these psychiatrists, with their medical degrees, and their drug company ties, are putting professional interests ahead of their patients’ health. These medical doctors are putting their own standing above the health of their patients to the detriment of their patients’ health. Allen Frances, the retired psychiatry professor, is as guilty as any of them.

Allen Frances is playing a double game. If he has to settle for a shoddy product, to him it’s better than no product at all. This product could be “medicalizing normal”, as he puts it, right and left. This represents a glitch the next edition can potentially clear up. He can immediately start projecting his wishes onto a revision of the DSM-6. He may not be alive then, but his followers can continue to opt for a little more rigor in the revision efforts. I just don’t see how any amount of rigor is going to resolve the basic lack of real science you’ve got in the DSM. There is no real science involved in the selection of “disease” labels by committee.

We don’t really have a potentially bad edition of a good book going on here. We just have another bad edition of a bad book that was a bad idea to start with. The DSM should be scrapped altogether for other approaches that don’t owe so much to biological bias and drug industry profiteering. Lives are on the line, and as long as the current toxic paradigm, supported by the DSM, is in operation, more of those lives are going to be lost. The APA can find other ways to fund its nefarious activities. The DSM is basically fraud, but unfortunately it’s a fraud that it appears is going to continue for some time to come. Again, and emphatically, it should be scrapped entirely!