Mental Health Awareness Month Mayhem

The “mental illness” industry propaganda machine is running full throttle this month, especially in my neck of the swamp. All sorts of events have been planned, here in Gainesville Florida,   for May, Mental Health Awareness Month, a 60 something designation originated by  Mental Health America, at one point almost the lone voice for the mental health movement, a movement to get government to foot the bill for “mental illness”.

A local movie theater is showing Call Me Crazy, one of Hollywood’s most recent excursions into the area of “mental illness” propagandizing. There is also going to be a panel discussion, and a Mental Health Fair (sic), Apparently, given “campaigns against stigma”, there is no way in hell that “mental illness” can be allowed to keep a low profile. This is about selling nonsense, folks, and as it is being done all over the country, it is about selling nonsense big time.

Did I say big? “Mental illness” is big business. This is how it works. You’ve got a tin cup pitch being offered in unison for more funds to pay for it. It is psychiatric labeling, drugs, “mental health” workers and facilities. Education is particularly important. Education is corporate propaganda, in other words, advertising. The more educating you do, the more “mental illness” you get. The more “mental illness” you get, the better your chances of swindling the public into giving you more money.

Prevention is a joke at this point. Prevention is usually a matter of labeling and drugging children. Not getting ‘em early on is seen as “causative” because it is thought that delayed diagnosis increases severity. Problem. The kid who is not got is not “ill”. The severity of the label starts with the label itself. Not that long ago, in fact, childhood wasn’t a bona fide “mental illness”. Actual people, baby sitters and parents, tended the fledgling flock of humanity,. Now, more and more often, the child rearing task is being relegated to stimulants, sedatives, and happy pills, and I can’t say that they’ve been doing a terrific job of it.

We’ve got a “mental illness” epidemic raging throughout much of the world today, and no wonder. If gun violence erupts, “mental illness” did it. If people are poor and without permanent shelter, they must be “mentally ill”. “Mental illness” is our answer to social issues. It’s not a matter of flawed groups, it is a matter of flawed individuals. All we need to do is segregate, label, drug, and treat the offending parties responsible for any disagreement in groups, and voila, everything is hunky dory again.

Not so fast. The perfect son or daughter, who received the perfect grade, got the perfect job, and now runs the perfect major corporation are becoming more of a liability than our “diseased” failures ever were. Life on the planet earth is now threatened by our idea of wellness and success. Maybe we need to take a harder look at the potential in our throwaway populations of people. Perhaps there is something we missed, Perhaps they are not so totally tainted and ruined by “brain disease” after all.

You will never find a “mental illness” under a microscope lens. This is because “mental illness” is not a legitimate medical condition. There is nothing to find when what passes for symptoms are merely a checklist of aberrant behaviors. Although some psychiatrists would resolve the Cartesian mind body duality by declaring mind brain, I challenge anybody to find an identifiable thought or feeling in a synaptic cleft or a neural circuit. It will always elude them. Mental and physical are simply not synonymous.

The dilemma confronting us today is that  standard psychiatric practice invariably involves  physically damaging the patient.  The propaganda is not propaganda favoring “mental health”. What is that?  The propaganda is actually propaganda favoring physical injury. The way out of the psych-ward should not be through another department in the hospital, or the mortuary, but this is increasingly becoming the case. The only ‘other way’ involves seriously butting heads with the mental health establishment as “stigma” has been redefined to mean any disagreement with the propaganda.

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Frank Blankenship: Personal Story

The MindFreedom Personal Story Project

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Frank T. Blankenship

“I’ve talked to a great many people devastated about friends and associates debilitated by schizophrenia. This always elicits a smile and amusement on my part. They don’t seem to realize that they are talking with someone who was once diagnosed ‘chronic schizophrenic’.”

Born: 07 December 1952

Contact Info: Gainesville, Florida, http://www.lunatickfringe.wordpress.com

Currently doing: Community organizing, specifically a Florida affiliate of MindFreedom International, blogging, writing, and when he can, traveling.

Mental health experience: Inpatient, Outpatient, Forced Treatment, Psychiatric Drugs, Commitment, Solitary Confinement, Torture

Psychiatric labels: Chronic Episodic Psychotic Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizotypal Personality Disorder,  Schizophrenic Paranoid Type, Schizophrenic Chronic Undifferentiated Type, Schizotypal Disorder With Major Depressive Features, Chronic Schizophrenia Possibly Paranoid with Sleep Deprivation

Psychiatric drugs taken in the past: Thorazine, Stelazine, Navane, Mellaril, Haldol, Moban, Olanzapine, Loxitane, Lithium, Propranolol, Cogentin, Artane, Tofranil

Off psychiatric drugs since: 1997

Recovery methods: Social Activism, Friends and Family, Maintaining a Distance From the Mental Health System, Philosophical Detachment

Greatest obstacle: Biological Medical Model Psychiatry

Brief history:

I wasn’t a good student in primary and secondary school. Homework was something I just didn’t do. My parents were desperate to see my grades improve. At one point they were so desperate that it was suggested I be psychiatrically evaluated. I was actually sent to some building, a very cold and clinical environment, where I was interviewed by all these psychiatrists. It was horrible. They were asking me all these very personal questions. I was their specimen. In tears I told my parents I wasn’t going back to that place, and I didn’t go back. Pulling out of that program is the reason I didn’t have a psychiatric label in grade school.

In college my lack of good study habits caught up with me. I finished high school without graduating, due to a lack of credits, but went on to take my GED (high school equivalency test) that summer. I was majoring in pre-teacher education because I didn’t have the credits to take liberal arts, talk about a lousy reason for becoming a teacher. Anyway, during my second year it became a problem. I was falling behind in class, that is one reason, bad study habits, but there was more to it than that, I was at a point in that transition from adolescence to adulthood when things should have been happening in my life and they just weren’t happening.

I stopped going to class. I kept up the pretense with people who knew me that I was still attending class. I broke  down before a professor and it was decided I should see a mental health professional. Over that weekend I discovered the secret of the universe. Apocalypse was coming with the mating of absolute good to absolute evil and this apocalypse would be followed by a second genesis. It all made sense at the time. An episode of marijuana smoking with friends probably didn’t help much. The next thing I know I’m being driven from Charlottesville where I resided over the mountain to DeJarnette Sanatorium, the private wing of Western State Hospital, in Staunton Virginia.

Admission to DeJarnette was like landing on another planet. First you’ve got the imposing Victorian look of a traditional asylum, and then you’ve got the actual crazy folk within it. I was disoriented and the experience was anything but grounding. The nursing staff at this time saw their job as mostly one of observation until the patient began to show some signs of improvement. This meant little interaction, with rational people anyway, except for that which was punitive, therefore, I spent a great deal of time in seclusion in the quiet room.

Pacing the halls at night in a thorazine daze I fantasized being rescued by extraterrestrials. There were these eerie lights to be seen through the window at the end of the hall, and a railroad track over which we heard the occasion train whistle on its way elsewhere. When eventually I was taken out for my first walk around the grounds, feeling I was a part of some strange kind of experiment, and that I was expected to escape, I took off running down the road. A car lit out after me, and I was returned to the hospital. I learned eventually to play the game, and to give the staff what it wanted, thereby, after a time, gaining my discharge.

After my first institutionalization I had a crummy job, custodial, with UVA hospital housekeeping. Six months of that while taking regular doses of thorazine and I said, “No more.” I felt pretty, well, I think depressed is the conventional way to describe my feelings at the time. I quit the job and threw out the thorazine. I vowed never to take neuroleptic drugs of my own volition again, and I have been generally true to that oath. I felt much better. I don’t know if quitting the menial labor had anything to do with it, but I have absolutely no regrets about not taking psychiatric drugs. I fancied myself something of a poet at the time, and the drugs affected my creativity, as users will tell you, in a very negative way. I feel that this vow has more or less prevented me from suffering the fate of so many of my contemporaries, some of whom are no longer with us.

This was only the beginning of my experiences in the mental health world. After inpatient treatment, there comes outpatient treatment. I  became something of a “revolving door patient”, that is, I was back in the hospital on an inpatient basis pretty regularly. Funny thing, most of the times when I was institutionalized there was nothing “mentally” wrong with me.

There was, when I first got discharged from the state hospital, what was then called the Day Hospital for outpatient treatment. It was kind of like what I would describe as nursery school for adults. I will never forgive myself for opening up to the director of this Day Hospital. He said he was good at listening, and he encouraged people to talk to him in his office. He also had a way of dismissing everything a person would say to him as symptomatic of underlying illness. I, on the other hand, liked to think my thoughts, hopes, visions, feelings, wishes, plans, ontological being, etc. were not reducible to the outward manifestation of a pathological condition. He eventually learned about Fountain House in New York, and soon after the Day Hospital was converted into a clubhouse. He had a sailboat, and he would take sailing vacations to, what most clubhouse members could only dream about, the Bahamas. Eventually he got a job in south Florida doing what he had in Virginia, and then, much to the good fortune of his clientele, fired for who knows what.

I had moved to California at one point. I had this idea that either I was going to fashion myself into a success, with a super model clone clinging to an arm, or I was going to commit suicide. Well, as things were going rather slowly at the time I began making plans for my exit from the world. I hitchhiked north, ended up in an institution in Oregon, got out, made my way to Takoma in Washington state, turned around, and came back to the town in California where I was staying. Suicide, as it turned out, wasn’t such a simple undertaking. I thought about doing it, and eventually I took a swipe at it, or something approaching that. I had, as you might imagine, mixed feelings about ending it all. Ultimately I turned the matter into something of a public spectacle. I didn’t want to just make a silent exit, and then offer proof that nobody gave a shit, as they wouldn’t care anyway. I awkwardly cut my arms with a razor blade thinking about working my way up to the wrists. I then walked bleeding out and down main street where was I was shortly picked up by the police. This little episode, which lead to stitches, of course, made me revise my ideas about suicide. I decided I really didn’t want to off myself, and maybe life wasn’t so insufferable as it might have seemed after all.

My last hospitalization was one of the worst experiences in the psychiatric system I had ever had. I had at that time been out of the institution for ten years straight. A police detective came to my door and told me that if I didn’t volunteer myself into the hospital criminal charges would be lodged against me. I went to the emergency room. Big mistake on my part. Any lawyer will tell you that the police, in order to get what they want, will lie. A campus police officer in the ER had had some kind of encounter with me, and so I was put under a temporary detention order, a 72 hour hold. I was beside myself. I knew where this process was headed, and that is exactly where it went, to a civil commitment hearing. I spent nearly a month on the university hospital psych unit, until the insurance ran out, and then it was over the mountain to Western  State Hospital.

Western State at this time had fewer patients than on any of my previous visits due to deinstitutionalization. It was also more restrictive. In the university hospital I’d been spitting out pills in the toilet. This was no longer possible at Western as they checked to make sure nobody was cheeking his or her pills. The patients were seldom released from the closed wards to walk the grounds and visit the main recreational building. Eventually I became one of the few allowed out accompanied by staff. The weekends were murder, murder by boredom that is. This was due to the reduced staff. I considered myself lucky to have had a mother who would visit me almost every weekend.  I was in the hospital longer than any time previously, too. Soon after I left the department of justice was called in to investigate conditions at the hospital. I think this was due to some patients deaths there. Given budget cuts, last I heard, the hospital is in danger of reverting back to the way it was when I was a patient.

Social Security sent me a letter stating that I would need to be in treatment if I were to continue to receive benefits. This sent me back to the clubhouse. I agreed to a treatment plan that involved going about a half a day twice a week. Anything more was just too depressive. This meant orientation as a new member, and then service in the cafe unit. They had these work units, you see, in which people pretended to work and they called this pretense rehabilitation. Although not up to the standards of a regular Fountain House model clubhouse, I guess you could say it was their way of trying.

Eventually I wound up in the clerical unit. This meant that I was the person who entered the names of the people in attendance from a sign-in sheet to a computer record. The average daily attendance was somewhere between seventy to eighty members while on a good day ninety something people might show up. I made note one year that we had ten members die. I felt these deaths were due to the prescription drugs the members were ingesting. Witness that the death rate that year was better than 10 % of the attendance on a good day. Obviously the mortality rates of people who went to this clubhouse were way too high. At one point during the year in question, when three members died in succession over a couple of months, hospice was called in to help members deal with their grief. When I left the clubhouse, I who never wanted to go there in the first place, there were staff members trying to dissuade me from leaving. Thankfully, they had no further hold over me.

Since then I’ve moved to another state, but I continue to receive the clubhouse newsletter. A recent edition reported that the clubhouse had had a memorial service for three members who had died within a short space of time. Hospice counselors were there to help members deal with their grief.I guess this means that, following my departure, things haven’t changed all that much.

Year told:

2013

“Mental illness”, the belief

Among the major tenets of the Church of Biological Psychiatry is the belief, for there is no evidence supporting the claim, that what is commonly referred to as “mental illness” is an actual disease. Disbelief, to the converts to this faith, amounts to heresy, and they refer to this heresy as “stigma”. The idea is that if you belong to this church, you must believe in “mental illness”, and not to do so is to mistreat people thought to be diseased.

A couple of decades ago, a revisionist and protestant sect of dissident evangelists split from the Church of Biological Psychiatry.  This protestant church initially arose around the cathartic and redemptive power of mental health recovery. People infected with the “mental illness” bug were thought, by this church, to be capable of recovering their mental competence and, in many cases, completely so.

More recently, the Church of Mental Health Recovery has evolved into the Church of That Recovery That Is Not Recovery.  So many members of this church with the bug, were not losing that bug, and so it became incumbent upon parishioners to start in a new direction. I guess they’d grown attached to it. The feeling is that if the Church of That Recovery That Is Not Recovery continues to evolve in the direction in which it is going, it will eventually be entirely reabsorbed back into body of the mother church, the Church of Biological Psychiatry.

The “mental illness” lifestyle, ironically enough, is equivalent to the mental health lifestyle, that is, it is a lifetime of perpetual treatment for the affliction a person is presumed to have. Accompanying the initial curse of diagnosis (I do hereby pronounce thee “mentally ill”, and beyond hope of remedy or consequence), comes the attendant chronicity.  This chronicity, or lifelong path, is a matter of realizing the negative prognosis, or curse-fulfilling prophesy, issued by psychiatrists, the churches priestly caste of sorcerers.

The news is not all bad. Given advances made by the Church of That Recovery That Is Not Recovery, converts are learning to better enjoy their afflictions. Within the limitations of their debilities, the stricken are learning to carve the modicum of a decent existence out for themselves, however beset by hardship and suffering. The key to this silver lining, so to speak, is to be found in total compliance with mental health treatment plans.

If it weren’t for the great therapist who dwells in the sky, the creator of the drug research and development department, the “mentally ill” person, left to his or her own devices, would be lost. He or she would be just one more homeless refugee scrounging dumpsters for a bite to eat, mumbling to him or herself, and irritating business owners. He or she could even be squatting in the city jail for a spell. No more, he or she now can be diverted from that fate to a fate equally inane courtesy of Joe Tax Payer.

Believing in “mental illness”is not the same as believing in mental health. Believing in mental health is not the same as disbelieving in “mental illness”.  We could arrange this sentence in all its possible permutations regarding belief and disbelief, and it still boils down to pretty much the same thing. Maintaining a healthy skepticism, while keeping one’s feet squarely on solid ground,  creates a stabilizing effect. In a world where Big Foot, Nessy, ghosts and flying saucers still manage to captivate the popular imagination, it’s best to keep a wary eye out for wooden nickels and, one might add, false gods.

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.

Mental health profiling and the struggle for civil rights

The public mental health system serves as a second arm of police-force for the federal government. People who break the law are contained by the criminal justice and penal system. People who break rules not necessarily even written into law are contained by the mental health state hospital system. Our legislators have written this loophole into law, mental health law, that allows for exceptions to be made to the rule of law. Let’s call these unwritten rules, these exceptions, pseudo-law.

Pseudo-laws are laws pertaining to violent pre-crime, in other words, the threat of future violence. The legal definition of insanity invariably targets suspected potential dangers “to oneself or others.” No crime need be committed if one is deemed “mentally ill”, that is, of a violent pre-criminal disposition. People are not locked up because they have any illness, people are locked up because they are perceived of as threats to the public. There is an all too often ignored contradiction here as well in that members of the public are being detained, by a government agency that may be perceived as a threat to them, as a threat to the public.

You cannot separate a section of the population unfavorably from the population at large without resorting to alienation. The proper term for this alienation is dehumanization. This minority population, in other words, must be perceived as somehow different, and therefore, less worthy and deserving than the majority population. Difference is a matter of the degree of unfamiliarity, for this separation is a separation from the basic units of which the larger society is made. Those people are not our families. Those people are the shadows in the closets of our families.

The mental health system is a social control system. The system ensures conformity with certain social rules and regulations by holding over people’s heads the threat of institutionalization if they misbehave. Violence is only the convenient excuse for locking people up. People are not locked up because they actually are violent. People are locked up for having behaved in ways that are deemed unacceptable. The mental health system constitutes a system of rewards and punishments used in order to get these errant individuals back into the conformingly acceptable fold.

Alienated dehumanized second class citizens do not have the same rights as full citizens because we have made laws bypassing constitutional protections with regard to people who fit that category. An obvious example of this demotion of rights can be seen in the case of the military service veteran who must petition the court for the right to own a gun due to a history of mental health treatment. Although our laws may have been envisioned as serving all citizens equally the reality is anything but equal treatment. This circumstance inevitably makes the struggle for equality under the law crucial in the redemption of people damned by professional opinion.

The government now states that it wants universal background checks on all people purchasing firearms. The problems this action is creating are twofold. The names of all people outlawed from gun ownership are to be listed in a federal database that contains the informational ruse used for depriving them of their second amendment citizenship rights. This breach of confidentiality is going to end up harming people in court cases. This also creates a situation where people with histories of one sort or another are literally being targeted for profiling by law enforcement.

Given all the talk about erasing “stigma”, here is another example of reinforcing negative stereotypes and, thereby, creating “stigma”. This is also a matter of prejudice, discrimination, and what both of those movements of mind and body entail, a denial of civil rights. Any denial of civil rights means a struggle to regain civil rights for the people who have had their rights denied. People who have been through the mental health system, and come out on the other side, know this intimately.  Their struggle for equality under the law, far from being over, is far from ending.

Missing ‘The Psyche’ In Psychiatry

I came across in this Information About Psychiatry blog a post, Origins of the words Psychology and Psychiatry, on the word origin of the specialty beginning with a sentence on psychology.

The word psychology first appeared in the English language in the 17th century and derives from psyche (soul) and ology (study of).

Closing with a paragraph on psychiatry.

Later, in 1808 the word “psychiatry” was coined by Johann Christian Reil. This word means “doctoring the soul”, coming from psyche (soul) and iatros (doctor). This new word allowed psychiatrists to take matters of the soul away from religion and into their own, incapable hands.

It was quite fascinating to think that the second half of the word psychiatry seemed to have the same root as the first half of one of my favorite words, iatrogenic, or doctor caused. Used in a sentence: Psychiatry is the source of much iatrogenic illness found in the world today.

The base of iatrogenic, according to Mosby’s Medical Dictionary.

Etymology: Gk, iatros, physician, genein, to produce.

Soul, in this instance, often translates interpretively into mind, and the word mind in its origins is related to memory.

I know of people who see conventional twenty-first century psychiatric practice as ‘soul killing’ or fostering ‘soul death’. This has to be ironic as the psychiatrist was initially viewed as a person who would be a healer of souls.

Much of this direction away from the original slant of psychiatrist has come with the ascendancy of biological psychiatry. Biological psychiatry sees human problems primarily in terms of brain dysfunction, and it does not tend to look to psyche or consciousness for the source of, or the solution to, those problems.

Re-translating psychobabble into bio-babble certainly hasn’t increased the success rate for the field. In fact, the biological approach to problems in living seems resigned to a belief that subtle birth defects are the source of psychiatric disorders.

One has to point out, time and time again, that there is very little concrete proof for a biological basis to psychiatric problems. There has been, on the other hand, much heavy-handed theorizing and thoroughly biased verbiage expended to bolster such a faith.

Specialty Specialist Word Usage Timeline

psychology 1653

mad doctor 1703

psychologist 1727

psychiatry 1846

alienist 1864

psychiatrist 1890

shrink 1966

Mad About The Middle Ages

I have suggested at one time or another that acting classes, a course in logic, or survivalist training might be good for a person’s mental health. A flyer about a demonstration I played a part in recently suggested protest was therapeutic. Here’s another idea…Maybe archeology could help return a person to his or her wits.

A medieval village in Herfordshire England is slowly resurfacing. The story appears in the BBC News Hereford & Westchester, under the headline, Remains of ‘medieval village’ found in Herefordshire.

Excavation work began a week ago on land in the Brockhampton Estate, near Bromyard and experts say it gives a glimpse of rural 13th Century life.

Seems there was once a village called Studmarsh in a place known as Grove.

Here’s where it gets interesting:

The project is being undertaken by volunteers, including people recovering from mental health problems.

Anybody up for doing a little digging after days of yore.

Some Heritage Lottery funded the Past in Mind dig after hearing how rural history had inspired volunteers from a mental health charity.

The project is run by the mental health charity, Herefordshire Mind.

Really? You mean hopefully ex-loony bird ne’er do wells are good for something besides holding a mop? Jumping Jehosaphat, Batman! What a revelation!