Education On, And Alternatives To, Psychiatric Drug Abuse

If anything I think the potential harm occurring with psychiatric drug use has been underplayed rather than overplayed. This is to say that I have every reason to believe psychiatric drugs are much more dangerous and damaging than they are credited with being. Desperate people though are often more apt to listen to their desperation than they are to listen to the more cautious voice of reason and health.

Education is key when it comes to changing this situation. First people must be educated about the ills that come of taking neuroleptic and other psychiatric drugs. They need to know the conditions caused by the extended use of psychiatric drugs, and they need to be aware of how it raises the mortality rate dramatically. They must come to see that true recovery is attained through tapering off psychiatric drugs rather than dependently over relying upon them, and that over relying upon such chemicals is worse than risky, in actual fact it is rank folly.

Living in an area where these connections are not being made makes public education that much more important. When the “trade off” for a modicum of emotional stability is a matter of 25 and more lost years of life, that’s not a fair trade in the slightest. Nobody needs to sacrifice a third of their lifetime to “medication maintenance”, and more when you consider the loss in terms of quality of life. What people do need to know is that their chances for making a complete recovery are much better if they are never exposed to psychiatric drugs in the first place. When they do make this connection, the need for alternatives to psychiatric drug treatment becomes apparent.

People who have been enduring the adverse effects of psychiatric drugs for years, under the misguided opinion that they can’t function without them, should become better informed. There should also be support groups to help people who wish to get off psychiatric drugs to do so. People need to know just what the dangers are of remaining on psychiatric drugs as well. The longer a person takes a psychiatric drug, the more likely it becomes that that person will suffer permanent physical damage. Outside chemicals are just not the best way to maintain emotional stability. Nature, the evolved nature one was born with, works much better.

Psychiatric drug dependence and “mental illness” are practically interchangeable terms now. What psychiatric drugs can’t provide is “mental health”. People who don’t use such chemicals are said to be “mentally healthy”, and one can’t be said to be “mentally healthy” so long as one uses a psychiatric drug. People who take psychiatric drugs, in so doing, often put their physical health at risk. There are other and better ways to deal with the stress and pressure that comes of modern living, and the idea is to help people deal with the stress and pressure in ways other than that of masking such with the effects of a thought distorting, brain disabling, psychiatric drug.

If chronicity in “mental illness” is actually the result of psychiatric drug dependence, as some of us maintain, then the way to restore people to capacity is through tapering them off chemicals. Psychiatry, blind to the excess embodied in its own practice, has disastrously failed to recover a large portion of people under its influence to functionality. We can do much about this shortcoming by educating people about psychiatric drugs, and by providing them with safe alternatives to treatments employing harmful psychiatric drugs. It is crucial that we do so before psychiatry, in combinations with rapacious drug companies, wreaks even more havoc on the world than it has done thus far.

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Some Awarenesses We’d Do Better To Live Without

A local mental health, oops, wrong word. A local “mental illness” system advocacy group, the Mental Health Coalition of North Central Florida, is going to have their own little NAMIfied shindig. They are holding this event for what they call “Mental Illness Awareness Day”. My immediate response on hearing the announcement is found in the following question. Wouldn’t it be better to hold a “Mental Illness Unawareness Day”? When it comes to awareness, “mental illness” awareness is just not the kind of awareness I find particularly helpful. I kind of have this feeling, you know, screwed up enlightenment isn’t really enlightenment.

This group. the MHCNCF, has even given the event a name. It’s called Gainesville Day of Understanding For Mental Illness Recovery. Again, I’ve got an issue with the name. Why the heck would anybody want to recover a “mental illness”? And if this or that person had a “mental illness”, and managed to lose it, would that really be such a bad thing? I suppose some people are really sentimental about their problems, but those problems are probably not such good things to hang onto. They’re not answers anyway. What sort of understanding should anybody have then of this “mental illness” a person has recovered? Now tell me that isn’t a bad choice of words.

Another possibility would be to throw a Mental Health or Mental Wellness Awareness Day shindig, and to talk about understanding the recovery of complete mental well being, but I imagine the thought is beyond the capacity of this little group of mostly scoundrels to comprehend. Where is this little shindig going to be? In a community senior recreation center? Already I’m seeing a few young heads, look both ways, and then walk off in the opposite direction. I don’t know. Yes, yes, old age and feeble minds might go together, but let’s not cut to the hearse chase if we can help from doing so. I don’t want to sound too critical, but a senior recreation center sounds less neutral to me than another location that might be less apt to scare off the few ingenues among them.

This leads me to the agenda for this event. #1. Proclamation of Mental Illness Awareness Week. Yikes! Didn’t I just deal with this subject, and they want a week of it. Again, I would suggest a “Mental Illness” Unawareness Week. It makes more sense to me; I’d think it should make more sense to them, too. #2. Path of Understanding. Path of Understanding “mental illness” recovery I presume. Geez, just think…There are other paths, and some of them are even challenging. #3. Celebrity Walk of Fame. Uh, because celebrities make “mental illness” cool I imagine. #4. Resource Station. Yep, I believe that’s a sign taped over the word “police”. #5. Candle lighting service. I know, this is going to be about people believed to be destroyed by “mental illness”, and not about people believed destroyed by the mental health system. The horses are calm so long as they have their blinders on. #6. Moment of silence. Any longer and the gig would be up. Everybody would know this little event is a farce.

I get it. Really. Take your drugs, and enjoy the farce without ever attaining consciousness that it is a farce. Do so, as well as you can, anyway, despite the “side effects” from the drugs you are on. Consciousness, after all, is what people given diagnostic labels are presumed to be lacking in. If you are dosed sufficiently, then you shouldn’t be able to attain consciousness anyway. Perhaps your understanding will be limited to understanding “mental illness” recovery. The fact that some people really do recover from the upsets of a crisis period, and go on to live full and eventful lives, is not the kind of message these folks want to give. This event isn’t really about living an independent self-reliant and emotionally satisfying life anyway. It’s about holding out that little tin cup, and crying, “Nickels for your pity.” They’re hoping, beyond hope, that maybe the government is listening.

If I was in government, I could do better than support people in their “mental illnesses”. For one thing, I could get further more economically if I were supporting people in their “mental well-nesses”. Treatment can be darned expensive, and a burden on the entire nation. An expanding “mental illness” system, what these people are after, means an even bigger expense and an even bigger burden. Accountability, responsibility, for people who work in mental health services should entail helping people get out of the system entirely rather than encouraging them  to accept the dependency role of what amounts to a ward of the state. The system here has a whole lot of rethinking to do before it gets back on track. All I can do is  chuckle my amusement as I’m certain that that rethinking, in the long run, is inevitable. Let me tell you, it certainly represents an improvement over the current stupidity.

Florida panel protects abusive assisted living facilities

Can you imagine a panel put together to do something about death and abuse in assisted living facilities that winds up doing the diametric opposite of what it was designed to do, and instead puts its energies into protecting assisting living facility operators? This is exactly what happened in Florida. The Tallahassee report on the matter in the Tampa Bay Times bears the much too polite heading, Gov. Rick Scott’s panel goes soft on ALF industry, critics say.

Gov. Rick Scott used tough language in the summer of 2011 when he created a panel to help fix the deadly abuse and neglect in Florida assisted living facilities.

Right, and now for the result.

In a change of tide, Scott’s panel issued its final report this week, calling for diminished transparency and fewer regulations. The panel calls for the state to better enforce existing rules rather than create new ones. And to give homes more money to raise their standards but not punish them through fines and other sanctions when they perform badly.

“Diminished transparency” means a continuing cover up, and “fewer regulations” means more neglect, abuse, and death. Rather than punishing the operators of bad assisted living faculties, in effect, this decision means rewarding them for their failures.

The article goes on to say, “not everyone is cheering”. Duh.

The panel was picked after a series of Miami Herald articles exposed the death and abuse taking place in assisted living facilities across the state. The back story is as follows.

The furor from the Herald series prompted Scott’s panel to offer a variety of solutions in 2011, from stricter educational requirements for ALF caretakers to more government oversight for facilities that cause patient harm. Those emerged shortly after the series was published and served as a foundation for sweeping legislation that lawmakers softened and then defeated in 2012, under pressure from powerful industry lobbyists.

In Florida, at least, it looks like those powerful industry lobbyists have won the day for the time being. This is bad news for people who seek to reform Florida’s broken assisted care system, and it is bad news for residents of assisted living facilities who may be subjected to abuse and neglect with no recourse to redress. The effect of this “final” decision is that people in assisted living faculties are going to be in no better shape than they were before an investigation revealed the extent to which they were abused, neglected, and dying. Certainly there have to be better courses of action to take than that of making a bad situation worse. Unfortunately, this is not the direction the state of Florida has chosen to take. If there is any silver lining to this situation, it is to be found in the fact that if the situation gets bad enough, the federal government will be forced to intervene.

We Need More Liberties For American Citizens, Not Fewer

I generally don’t think anybody should be forcibly treated in a psychiatric hospital, but I make an exception in the case of David Vognar. I think Mr Vognar, and another Huffington Post blogger mentioned previously, DJ Jaffe, might be able to benefit a great deal from forced mental health intervention. Mr. Vognar claims to have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Mr. Vognar has apparently not spent much time imprisoned in a state hospital, or he wouldn’t have written a Huffington Post blog post like the one he did recently calling for an expansion in the use of involuntary treatment on people labeled “mentally ill”. The post bears the leading, and extremely prejudicial, heading, We Need to Expand Involuntary Treatment for Severe Mental Illness. I happen to vehemently disagree with Mr. Vognar on this issue. I don’t think we need to expand the federal penitentiary system, one of the largest in the world, in this country either.

If Mr. Vognar and Mr Jaffe were confined to a state mental hospital for the length of their lives, I think it would be fair to say that a great number of the rest of the people on this planet could sleep more secure. If Mr. Vognar and Mr. Jaffe were subjected to a perpetual regimen of mind snuffing pharma-tortures, and seizure inducing mini-electrocutions, as well as the complete suppression of their personal opinions, I have no doubt that the world as a whole would be a much better place in which to live. Intolerance and hate crimes are a plague, and the best way to deal with this plague is by putting the worst offenders out of commission. Mr. Vognar and Mr. Jaffe are too ‘seriously disturbed’ to ever be ‘cured’. They are, like I say, ‘seriously disturbed’, and to suggest that they could change their behavior in any way, shape, or form is merely to “stigmatize” them. They, being “sick”, don’t have the control necessary to manage such a transformation. We should therefore, out of the kindness in our hearts, imprison them in a state hospital for the duration of their days. Understand that this is a preventive measure, by detaining them in this fashion we have prevented the detention of a great many more people in coercive *cough* ‘care’.

5/5/12 Philadelphia

Connecticut college student and monitor of the event, Caitlin Belforti, speaking at the Friends Center in Philadelphia.

New York activist Daniel Hazen speaking.

Aki Imai is from Ohio. He launched the Our Life After Labels submission-based blog.

Joe Rogers, a Philly local, is the director of the National Mental Health Self-help Clearinghouse.

Signs of the times.

John Judge read a statement of support from Paula J. Caplan who was unable to attend.

Long time San Francisco activist and retired attorney Ted Chabasinski.

The backdrop for the mornings events.

Godly Mathew once spent one hundred consecutive days protesting against psychiatric abuse outside Philadelphia’s Friends Hospital.

Down with psychiatric labels. Up with human beings.

Ted’s banner.

Inside the Friends Center events get underway.

Outside of the Friends Center where the rally took place.

Inside again.

The march to the Convention Center minutes away.

Director of the Anchorage Alaska based Center for Psychiatric Rights lawyer Jim Gottstein.

The demonstration outside of the Convention Center.

Pedestrians crossing the street.

Protesters outside of the Convention Center.

Demonstrators and pedestrians.

The Icarus Project well represented.

The shrinks label bible, in revision, and its discontents.

What’s that? Psychopharmacomania?

David Oaks, director of MindFreedom International, at the microphone beside Philadelphia native Susan Rogers.

Amid other not so spontaneous eruptions of Mad Pride!

Occupy the APA Counter-Celebration and Protest In Philadelphia on May 5

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is holding its annual convention in Philadelphia this year. The 5th revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychiatry’s label bible, edited by members of the APA, is scheduled for release in 2013. The number of labels contained in the present label bible, the DSM-IV, is up to 374. Expect more, this number climbs with each new revision.

“Mental illness” labeling is at epidemic proportions. Pick up any newspaper in the country, and you are likely to find a story about the increasing numbers of people being labeled “mentally ill”. The APA with its DSM is the major force behind this upswing in the selling of “mental disorder” labels and the treatments that goes along with those labels. These epidemics are largely human made, and the people doing the making are members of this same APA.

Studies have shown people in the mental health system to be dying at an age on average 25 years younger than the rest of the population. This mortality gap is climbing. People in the mental health system are dying because of the drugs that they are being given purported to treat the labels they have recieved. These drugs cause a metabolic syndrome associated with a number of life-limiting and shortening physical ill health conditions. Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are among those life threatening conditions. This death and disease rate represents an international tragedy that is largely being suppressed and ignored in the mainstream media.

“Off label” drugging, or prescribing drugs for purposes for which they have not been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is rampant in the mental health field. Unruly children and demented nursing home patients are being managed and restrained by these powerful and potentially harmful drugs. These drugs have been known to cause the premature of death of senior citizens suffering from dementia. There is little question that many of the young people given these drugs ‘off label’, who otherwise would have had a brilliant future ahead of them, wind up lifelong mental patients, or mental health consumers, harmed by these drugs.

The APA has many strong financial connections with the pharmaceutical industry. 69 % of the committee members revising the DSM-5 have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. This is to be contrasted with the committee revising the DSM-IV when 57 % of the committee members had such financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Despite regulations put into place over conflict of interest issues, the committee’s relationship to the pharmaceutical industry is growing stronger rather than weakening.

For these and other reasons a number of ex-patients, psychiatric survivors, mental health consumers, dissident professionals, friends and allies will be gathering in Philadelphia for an Occupy the APA counter-celebration and protest. These people, of whom I include myself, will be there to support healthy, safe, and drug-free alternatives to conventionally harmful psychiatric treatment. They will be there to support other ways of dealing with troubled people besides harming them with drugs and giving them psychiatric labels.

We encourage other people in Philadelphia and at home to join us in our protest. There are other protests planned in sympathy and solidarity in Toronto Canada, Denver Colorado, Anchorage Alaska, Boston Massachusetts, and in other areas around the same time. You can find out more about this event by visiting the Occupy the APA page on the MindFreedom International website. Please, consider any direct action that you can take, be it ever so slight, to let the public know that the labeling, drugging, and harming of American citizens is not something that we can, nor should, take lightly.

Related post:

Spring Cleaning With The Trash Can Labeled “Antipsychiatry”

End forced mental health treatment and reduce “stigma”

How’s this sentence, from a blog, for a leading statement: “Many people think that talking with a mental health professional is a sign of weakness in the individual seeking counseling, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.” Actually the question as to whether counseling could be a sign of weakness for some hasn’t been answered here. I would say that it always depends upon the circumstances. Seeking counseling could be a sign of strength, but it could also be a sign of weakness. When a person decides he or she can’t handle something on his or her own, and this person seeks a counselor to assist with the matter, that’s one thing. When a person uses counseling as an excuse, or a crutch, or makes an addiction of it, that’s another. I’m not beyond saying that both instances occur.

A “stigma” attached to the “mental illness” label is perceived as the reason why many people don’t seek professional counseling. The assumption behind this claim is that there are many people out there in need of counseling who are not receiving it. Such an assumption serves the mental health business above all other interests. How convenient it must be to have an endless supply of potential clients? This kind of slant leaves a number of essential questions unasked, such as, do all the people receiving counseling need this counseling, could not some of the people entering counseling not be in need of it in the first place, and is this counseling at all detrimental. There is also much question as to whether the assumption behind the need is even correct. We haven’t answered any of these questions by making sure our weird Aunt Carol or our goofy Uncle Sol are taken care of.

Some people, most people in fact, don’t seek mental health treatment. I would say that this is probably due to the fact that most people don’t see themselves as “mentally ill”. I think that it is perfectly okay for most people not to think of themselves as emotionally disturbed. I think that if some of the people who thought of themselves as disturbed decided that they weren’t so disturbed after all that this would be a good thing, too. You’ve got a problem person when you’ve got a person convinced that he or she is emotionally or mentally unstable. If there’s any “stigma” attached to emotional turmoil, maybe it had better just as well remain a “stigma”. When donning the “mental illness” label becomes a fashionable trend, then we will be on the verge of what is referred to in medical parlance as an epidemic. An epidemic, and I hear we’re having one now, of “mental illness” would not be a good thing to have.

While some people actively seek mental health treatment, there are other people who make no effort whatsoever to be treated for any mental health issues, but who find themselves in treatment all the same. A “stigma” isn’t preventing them from seeking treatment, they don’t want any such treatment in the first place. In some cases, the treat they receive seems much more like a trick, and an occasion of much horror. I’m speaking about people who find themselves committed to state hospitals against their will and wishes by a court of law. This can only happen through a loophole in the Constitution of the USA, with its Bill of Rights, known as mental health law. People are treated involuntarily, and against their will, regardless of any “stigma” attached to you name it. No other branch of medicine treats people in a, essentially totalitarian, and like manner. People in this system are locked up, not because they’ve broken any of the laws of the land, but merely because it is feared they will break a law in the future. Mental health law is pre-crime law. The fact is we shouldn’t have laws against crimes that have not been committed. We couldn’t have people locked up from crimes that have not been committed (i.e. involuntary mental patients) if it weren’t for mental health law.

What I’m saying here is that if you want to do anything about any “stigma” attached to mental health issues, you’re talking through both sides of your mouth if you aren’t also for the repeal of mental health law. It is through this mental health law that people in the mental health system are disempowered, marginalized, and reduced to second class citizenship status. Involuntary mental health treatment wouldn’t occur if people thought better of troubled people in troubling situations. This involuntary treatment involves disarming people and violating their second amendment rights. It also involves violating their rights to due process of law. Being a civil matter, people are presumed “sick” until pronounced otherwise. There is no question of reasonable doubt. There is no jury trial. Life, liberty, and property are all at risk in this process. There is no sense in talking about a “stigma” attached to mental health issues if you don’t address the issue of the loss of power and confidence that comes of the keeping of mental health treatment records either. You’ve created a paper trail for purposes of damning unwanted people. If you don’t want to damn (“stigmatize”) them, repeal the law, burn the paper, and see to the welfare of the people involved. Some of them might be your siblings, some of them might be your children, and some them might even peer back at you from the mirror.

When we have an all volunteer mental health system, then and only then will emotional travails and troubles become less of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” matter. People who have survived and endured forced mental health treatment know better than to look on most mental health professionals without apprehension. We’re now calling abduction, assault, imprisonment, torture, and poisoning mental health “treatment”, and let me tell you, abduction, assault, imprisonment, torture, and poisoning are good for nobodies mental health. The two faced and hypocritical nature of contemporary mental health treatment will only change when force is removed from the equation, and this force can only be removed by repealing what amounts to an unjust law. If you want an end to any “stigma” attached to mental health issues get rid of the law that makes mental health issues a confineable offense. When we have done so, and only when we have done so, will we have made the matter of experiencing personal problems less of an object for shame, scorn, derision, and ridicule. You can say one thing, but when you do another, sooner or later your actions are going to give you away, and then the game will be entirely up for grabs. Much of this talk of “stigma”, because it doesn’t tackle the problem of coercion, is actually part and parcel of the very thing it would be attacking.