At The APA Protest In New York City

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Lester Cook, with bullhorn, and Celia Brown, director of MindFreedom International, in front of the Jacob K. Jarvits Convention Center in New York City.

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Jim Gottstein, director of the Center for Psychiatric Rights, Gary Null,  author and radio show host,  and Harry Bentivegna Lichtenstein at the demonstration.

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Vera H. Sherav, founder and president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, speaks at the protest.

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Laura Delano, psychiatric survivor and Mad In America blogger, speaks at the protest.

The APA, Big Pharma, and the Feds Get Cozy

The theme of the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association this year is Changing the Practice and Perception of Psychiatry.  In other words, whitewash, and therefore, actor Alan Alda, former Senator Patrick Kennedy, Vice President Joseph Biden, and actor Joey “Pants” Pantoliano are present at the event. This is PR, baby, and in a big way, too. The drug companies are also well represented. There is, in fact, a Disclosure Index in the downloadable program that shows the financial relationships between the speakers and Big Pharma. Most of the speakers have such ties.

As for Change in Practice, the APA began in Philadelphia in 1844 as the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane, there were 13 members back then. Fast forward, there are 36,000 some members now. I was reading just the other day how someone didn’t think there were enough pediatric psychiatrists in the USA. The slant of this article then was that we need more child psychiatrists labeling and drugging more children, a situation sure to result in more maimed, wounded, and in some cases, dead children.

The fact that Vice President Joe Biden has been invited to give a lecture tomorrow should come as a surprise to no one. One of President Barrack Obama’s most insistent reelection campaign promises involved criminalizing mental patients. Why else would their names be put on a criminal background checklist while their second amendment constitutional rights were routinely violated? Vice President Biden was chosen to chair a task force making scapegoats of people in the mental health system for the violence of a very few individuals.

Out of this task force, and other committee meetings, it has been proposed that school workers be trained as mental health cops. These mental health cops would target children for labeling and drugging, and they would bust them for “mental illness”. The idea is that if we catch them early enough, they won’t slip through the cracks in the system, and grow up to become multiple murderers. I have more of a worry, on the other hand, that they may be murdered instead, and by psychiatry.

I think we must be in the second century of the brain now, researchers are so intent on finding a biological basis for so called “mental illness”. They’ve got it all figured out. “Mental illness” is physical illness, black is white, war is peace, hate is love, and death is life. If there’s a third century of the brain, I’d wager they won’t find any biological basis for so called “mental illness” then either. What we will get out of the matter is more dead babies, more dead adults, and more dead senior citizens.

One cannot fail to see irony in the fact that the same government that would contain its mental patients through violence, attributes violence to mental patients. Labeling a person “mentally ill” sanctions  libel, abduction, assault, torture, imprisonment, neglect, brainwashing, poisoning and even murder of that person, all in the name of mental health. Psychiatry is voodoo science. In that profession, you’ve got phony doctors, using phony medicine (real poison), on phony patients, to treat phony diseases, with devastating results.

 

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.

Mental Health Treatment Is Not Violence Prevention

According to an article in Politico, Sandy Hook spurs states’ mental health push, some states have acted following President Barrack Obama’s call for renewed national focus on mental health.

At least 37 states have increased spending on mental health in the year since Adam Lanza shot dead 20 children, six school employees and his mother in Newtown, Conn. It’s not just about money, either. States are experimenting with new — and sometimes controversial — ways to raise awareness about psychological distress, to make treatment more accessible for children and adults and to keep firearms away from those struggling with mental illness.


Let’s see.

a. Raise awareness about psychological distress…Is that like advertising “mental illness” and its “treatment”?

b. Make treatment more accessible for children and adults…Are we selling mental health services here, and Expanding Those Services (i.e. increasing the numbers of people labeled “mentally ill” and, thereby, as it is put, “served”) of which it is comprised?

c. Keep firearms away from those struggling with mental illness…We have three entities that we have to contend with here.

                    i. people

                    ii. firearms

                    iii. “mental illness”

Although without a known physical presence, theory has it that the third entity, “mental illness”, exists, and that it leads, in turn, when in combination with people and firearms to massive acts of violence against humanity. Problem is, what do we mean by this term, “mental illness”, and when fully one forth of the residents of the United States are thought to have it, does it really have any valid meaning whatsoever?

Schools are screening students, teachers and school employees are being educated on recognizing the signs of “mental illness”, and seminars are being held. I just have a conceptual problem with turning schools into mental health police departments busting more people, and here when we say people we’re talking CHILDREN, for alleged “mental illness”, on the presumption that doing so has anything to do with the rate of violence in this nation.

The most contentious measures are laws passed in more than a dozen states that require some reporting of mental health status as part of background checks for firearms purchases.


Among these ‘contentious measures’ aimed at violating the second amendments rights of citizens who have experienced the mental health system, names have been added to a national criminal database of people deprived of those rights, additionally violating privacy rights and, in New York state, mental health workers are encouraged to report people in therapy in the mental health system, thought potentially dangerous, to the police. Meanwhile, if one scans the news, police officers are shooting unarmed civilians, often thought “mentally ill”, every day of the week, for behaviors perceived as threatening. Were these police officers demented? Not an issue. The person dispatched has to be the one deranged.

“If someone, anyone who interacted with Adam Lanza could have said, ‘There’s something very wrong here’ and gotten him the help he needed …” [Andrewe] Sperling [NAMI’s director of legislative affairs] said.


The presumption here is that Adam Lanza would have thought he needed some kind of help getting on with his affairs rather than that these particular members of society feel they need some kind of help keeping people like Adam Lanza from doing serious harm to large numbers of the American public. I would say that somebody is speaking out of both sides of his mouth, that is, practicing deception. Why deception? People intuitively know better than to expect beefing up the mental health system, on however small a scale, to have a real effective on violence.

Mental health treatment outcomes in this country are, in many cases, dismally bad. Putting more money into ineffective programs are not going to improve those bad outcomes. Although stress is put on the importance of early detection, when it comes to treatment results, once a “mental illness” label has been applied those results are going to worse than they would have been where the person, child or adult, was never labeled in the first place.

A few comments on the recent commitment to dialogue on mental health as a violence prevention measure.

1. I think America does have a problem.

2. I think there are many questions as to whether the national solution won’t actually make matters worse

We need a more tolerant loving country. We need to raise children to grow up to be good people. Blaming the problem on people with “mental illness” is a red herring. People in the mental health system are simply not more inherently violent than people outside of that system and, if anything, studies show them to be less violent. They do face a lot of discrimination and prejudice though. Witness this matter of them, as a block, being blamed for massive acts of violence in this country. This is ignoring the fact that they are us. We’ve got an arrogant gun toting populace, and to get back to the habitable nation we once knew, we are going to have to expend more of the love we lavish on guns, and other material possessions, on people, and people beyond the confines of one’s own immediate nuclear family, however threatened we may feel we may be by this beyond.

Maryland Hopes To Get The Potentially Potentially Violent Into Treatment

The U.S. government has been very successful in its effort to lay the blame for mass violence on pathology rather than individuals. The disturbed individual is no longer an individual. He or she now has a psychiatric label, whether bestowed by a doctor or a newspaper reporter, and thus belongs to a grouping of disturbed people. People with psychiatric labels aren’t their own moral agents goes the ruse.  They are adult children instead requiring full or part time professional supervision.

If violence is a matter of pathology rather than choice, fine and dandy, and this pathology is a matter of biology, alright. The thing to do is to catch violent offenders before they violently offend. When his “disease” made him (we’re talking mostly young males here) do it, after all, we’re looking at “diseases” and not individuals. Individuality is not an option. People either conform to custom and law (regardless of whether that custom and law means wearing a suit and tie or a tee-shirt, jeans and ponytail) or they are “diseased”.

The idea of pre-psychosis, although deferred from categorization as a bona fide “mental disorder” in the DSM-5, is back. The Baltimore Sun reports, New Maryland mental health initiative focuses on identifying and treating psychosis. This headline doesn’t tell you everything. Maryland is beefing up it’s mental health police state system in an effort to catch more pre-psychotic pre-killers.

Founded using a $1.2 million state appropriation approved this year, the Center for Excellence on Early Intervention for Serious Mental Illness has a goal of identifying psychosis in a fresh way: by taking notice in the earliest stages and providing support before symptoms spiral out of control.

I guess they think that by busting pre-psychotics they will be preventing psychotic mass murder in the long term. The problem I see with this plan is that you don’t have a psychotic “until symptoms spiral out of control”, and my understanding is that the majority of pre-psychotics don’t go psychotic, and so, by targeting them for treatment, one could be acting in a causative rather than a preventative fashion.

[University of Maryland child and adolescent psychiatrist, Gloria] Reeves and her colleagues say they’re working to ensure patients can live normal lives by short-circuiting the possibility of a deeper psychosis that could intensify if left untreated.

When a patient is already a patient, hey, what have you got? Shallow psychosis or pre-psychosis? In which case prevention is a matter of preventing deep, “deeper” ,or what is known in the trades as ‘full blown’, psychosis? My point is that maybe sometimes it is better to completely prevent the problem by eliminating the doctor patient relationship in its entirety first. Labeling a person “disordered” is the way you make a mental patient. Once a mental patient has been made, and is being subsidized by the state, unmaking a mental patient, unburdening the state of the financial expense, becomes a major problem in itself.

A growing body of research over the past two decades, however, has shown patients are much more responsive to treatment if they’re diagnosed early, and there are early warning signs that suggest when a person is at risk for developing psychosis.

Patients again. If we have more psychosis, but more treatment compliant psychotics, are we 1. upping the number of over all patients labeled psychotic, or 2. lessening the number of disturbed mass gunman in the nation? My feeling is that we are certainly doing # 1 while it is entirely questionable as to whether we’re getting anywhere with # 2.  Next question, do we really want a larger population of psychotics in the nation?

Before you think that the impetus for this measure is entirely medical, let it be known that the funding for this initiative was voted in by the Maryland General Assembly at the prompting of  Governor Martin O’Malley. Mental health treatment then is the state of Maryland‘s answer to massive acts of violence. Of course, this is providing that they’ve got the right suspects, uh, I mean patients, and that pre-psychosis leads to psychosis which, in turn, leads to massive acts of violence. I don’t even think that is a great theory on paper, but Maryland is not the only state that sees the answer to extreme violence in the nation as a matter of increasing the amount of oppression directed against people with psychiatric labels.

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.

ACTION ALERT to Free Alison Hymes!

http://www.mindfreedom.org/mfi-faq/action-alert-to-free-alison-hymes

Free Alison Hymes From Western State Hospital… We were asked to post the following updated alert for Alison by her friend, Frank. Please address any questions you may have directly to Frank at: nfla@mindfreedom.org.

Alison Hymes

Resident and longtime MindFreedom member Alison Hymes, on Wednesday, 7/3/13, had a re-commitment hearing. This hearing marked the 6 month, 1/2 year point, in her imprisonment at Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia.

The result of this hearing is that she was given another 45 days in the hospital after which she will be given another hearing. The result could have been worse as potentially she could have had to wait another 6 months for a hearing.

The bad news, according to Alison, is that the staff at the hospital are not talking about releasing her. She wishes to return to her condominium, her community, and the life she was living before imprisonment at Western State Hospital.

Talking to her over the phone it is not always easy to understand what she is saying. Her words are slurred and garbled. She claims that this is so because the hospital staff won’t return  her dentures to her. Dentures they took from her.

In a previous alert we claimed she was taking lamictal rather than a neuroleptic. Following a previous hearing with her treatment team this is no longer true. Apparently her doctor thought it necessary to put her back on the drug prolixin. She is receiving shots of prolixin, a long acting injectable, every two weeks. She is also still receiving a daily dose of anti-convulsion drug lamictal.

She had gained much weight since being put on seroquel, the atypical neuroleptic she was receiving during her last hospitalization, and she is very sensitive, as you can well imagine anybody would be, about this issue. She doesn’t like the effects of the prolixin, she understands it is a harmful substance, with a potential for doing her a great deal of damage, and she wishes to be taken off it.

Alison was the recipient of a kidney following lithium poisoning after a previous incident of psychiatric malpractice. Her friends and allies worry that keeping her at Western State Hospital
for any length of time will only further endanger her health. She says the medical staff at Western say she needs an operation, on an ulcer, but that the hospital is slow to get around to operating.

Asked what she would tell other members of MindFreedom she said, “I need to get out as soon as possible. I need to get out.”

Direct Actions

Please, contact the following state officials, and urge them to free Alison Hymes from her confinement and maltreatment at Western State Hospital.

James M. Martinez
Director, Office of Mental Health
VirginiaDepartment
of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
(804) 371-0091
Jim.Martinez@dbhds.virginia.gov

Senator Tim Kaine
(202) 224-4024
http://www.kaine.senate.gov/contact

Senator Mark R. Warner
(202) 224-2023
http://www.warner.senate.gov/public//index.cfm?p=ContactPage

Delegate David Toscano
(434) 220-1660
DelDToscano@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Rob Bell
(434) 975-0902
DelRBell@house.virginia.gov

Sample message. (In your own words.)

I am writing (or calling) to complain about the forced drugging and false imprisonment of Charlottesville resident Alison Hymes at Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia. She is a danger to no one. She has been detained at the hospital for over 6 months now, and her continued detention serves no purpose. She is also being given periodic injections of prolixin, a powerful  neuroleptic drug, that is affecting her health in negative ways. Please, stop the abuse, release her from her confinement to WesternStateHospital, and allow her to return home to her community, her life, and her friends.

Update on Alison

Alison Hymes reports that she recently had the 45 day hearing she had been
scheduled following her 6 months hearing. She was at this hearing given another
two months. “Two months”, she says, “is too way too long”. She is appealing the
decision.

Suggested direct action

If you haven’t written the commissioner and representatives from Virginia,
please, do so. Also Alison would ask that you write or call the present Governor
of Virginia, Bob McDowell, to express your dismay at her confinement, and
to demand her release from Western State Hospital.

Governor Robert F. McDonnell
(804)786-2211
http://www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm