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.

The Mental Health Movement Is Not A Mental Health Movement

Mental health movement propaganda has reached a nauseatingly feverish pitch of late. Mental health and “mental illness” months, May and October respectably, have become times to blitzkrieg the American public with pathetic personal stories that embellish appeals for money and legislative action. The legislative action is generally aimed at treating people who don’t want to be treated, not wanting to be treated being perceived as an indication of a more severe “illness”.

The problem with this frenzied state of affairs is that it means increasing the numbers of people in treatment and, additionally, it means multiplying the numbers of negative outcomes. Certainly throwing money at any problem is not going to make it go away, quite the reverse, and such is the situation with the mental health treatment world. When you consider that safe and effective treatments are the exception rather than the rule, you’ve also got to consider the fact that we are throwing good money after bad.

Mental health is not, at the present time, to be found in mental health treatment. Nor is physical health. Compliance is a matter of buying the lie that will eventually kill you. Don’t be fooled by the propaganda. 1 in 4 people are not “sick”. The idea is not only patently absurd, it’s offensive. The number one notion that the mental health movement is promoting and selling is the notion that “mental illness” exists, that it is real, and that it is physical. Apparently, a good dictionary to settle the matter is too costly of an investment to be made. Who needs a dictionary anyway when you’ve got the unmitigated gall to redefine everything to suit your propaganda purposes.

The gap between minor and major “mental illness” is as small, or as great, as you want to make it. People, given the most severe diagnostic labels, have been known to recover, and escape from the treatment gulag. How do they manage this seemingly incredible feat? In the same fashion that people with more minor “mental illness” labels escape the mental health system. The mental health treatment system is a dependency system, and those that make their way into more healthy lifestyles, do so by becoming independent of that system.

Prognosis, as fate, doesn’t offer many options. It’s like playing against loaded dice. Your chances of winning are zilch. There are, therefore, better career choices than that of statistical dead weight. The question is how long is it going to take before the good intentioned mental health movement stops selling and promoting “mental illness”? This “mental illness” is actually the apotheosis of the negative prognosis. It has an existence, surely, but only in so far as we believe in it, and only in so far as we invest in it. Think elves and unicorns. As long as there is an ear for it, there will be a market for the good bedtime story.

Faulty logic can be engaged in, coming up with erroneous conclusions, without correction infinitely. Folly of itself doesn’t necessarily lead to wisdom. Circular reasoning has it’s circuitous course evading any potential resolution. “Mental illness” as an enterprise has it’s obvious shortcomings and limitations. One of these limitations is definitional. The mental health movement is captivated with an illusion. “Mental illness” is the illusion that the mental health movement is captivated with. It cannot move beyond this illusion without moving beyond itself, and its aims and illusions.

Realism is devoid of illusion by definition. The false us and them dichotomy has fallen by the wayside. We are no longer in a realm of the healthy and fully human versus the sickly and inferior subhuman. Such unproven leaps of judgment are not permitted. Triumph by the elimination of chance is not an option. We’ve dispensed with the loaded dice. The door is not locked, and the patient is free to come and go at will. Your true adult has always had more options than your fake adult child. Success, for the suffering, once again becomes a possibility. Given the right circumstances, it becomes a certainty.

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.

 

Abolition Is Not Reform, Abolition is Emancipation

There are those who like to call the mental health system “broken”. There are usually two reasons for doing so. One is that a person would like to see more money pumped into the mental health system. The other is that they are encountering people they don’t want to encounter, and they feel that if the system worked, the sight of these people would not be disturbing them so.

I don’t call the mental health system “broken”. The mental health system is actually a “mental illness” system and, if anything, it “works” altogether too well. We’ve got a saying, “Children should be seen and not heard.” This saying leads up to a further, but unexpressed, saying, “Adult children should neither be seen nor heard.” What do we do with our adult children? There’s the loony bin. You figure it out.

If “mental illness”, as the late Thomas Szasz claimed, is a metaphor. “Mental health” is a metaphor as well. Bodies get physical diseases. Minds just get fuzzy, half-baked ideas, and illogical thoughts. The pursuit of folly though is not a disease any more than the pursuit of wisdom is a cure. We are free to chose either pursuit, or neither, as we wish. Of course, despite the fact that no disease has been found to explain aberrant behaviors, that doesn’t prevent people from speculating about “disease” as a cause.

If you’re going to call the mental health system “broken”, the first question one has to ask is what is the purpose of the mental health system. For example, is the mental health system there to “heal sick” people, to “fix broken brains”? If so, it has always done an absolutely lousy job not “healing” and not “fixing” them. I submit that the real purpose of the mental health system is to keep people with psychiatric labels out of other people’s hair. This, the system, considering the shots it has taken due to scandals arising from institutionalization, does sufficiently enough.

What is a mental hospital? Is it a place for “healing sick” people, or is it a place for punishing people who behave “badly”? While the nurses station found on most psych wards suggests the former, the locked doors found in nearly all of them says it is the latter. All you have to do is to consult the dictionary to get the idea that something is awry here. A mental hospital is a peculiar hospital, to say the least, but it is a particular prison. The distinction between the two depends upon whether you think it does a better job “healing the sick”, or punishing the misbehaving.

I echo Dr. Szasz in calling for the abolition of forced mental health treatment. The system, as meat grinder, as a destroyer of men and women, isn’t broken in the slightest. It does it’s job of breaking spirits, of swallowing up bodies, and of spitting out bones exquisitely well. I think, if they really and truly cared about their clients, more mental health professionals would be taking the same position. This destroying of people, by going straight at their potentials, and watching them fizzle, is a thing that should not be tolerated. Difference should be expected and encouraged, not suppressed.

This accent on perceiving a “broken” system is a call for reform, and this reform usually means one of two things. Either people think it is too hard to get people treatment, or people think the treatment they receive too harsh. I am against reform as reform is always piece-meal, and there’s no end to it. Reform always, and of necessity, leads to further reform. I support the abolition of forced mental health treatment. Prejudice and discrimination, so-called “stigma”, comes of force. End forced mental health treatment, and you will also be ending so many things that are wrong with the mental health system today. There is no reason, no good reason anyway, in my opinion, for persevering in the present farce of pretending otherwise.

Diagnose Not Lest Ye Be Diagnosed

There are few people more in need of mental health treatment today than mental health professionals, unless perhaps we think about treating the relatives of people with “mental illness” labels. Yes, the very people who lock people up should be locked up on account of their proclivity to lock people up. We should give it a “disease” label and treatment. Fair is only fair as foul is awfully foul. It’s just plain un-American.

My reason for going there? I’m seeing all these well intentioned people interested in doing something about “mental health issues”, and that something amounts to, in effect, throwing a flammable liquid on the fire in an effort to put it out. We have an epidemic of “mental illness” labeling in this country, and the method we’ve come up with for dealing with it is by doing everything within our powers to increase the amount of labeling going on.

Our schools, deathly afraid of producing psycho-killers, are training teachers to screen their classes for any indication of “mental illness”.  Isolating and treating the labeled student is supposed to be a violence prevention measure. If the kid is just a little weird and not violent in the slightest. It doesn’t matter. The weird student must bear a psychiatric label, and be scrutinized for his or her potential to do harm, however speculative.

It was rumored when I was a kid that we’d driven a teacher to distraction, or insane, for lack of a better term. No more. Now schools have got the conduct problem licked as conduct is no longer a grade on a report card. Bad conduct, misbehaving, is now, according to our pediatric psychiatrists, a bona fide “mental health disorder”. Given this circumstance, class clown is no longer bound for the circus, but rather for the loony bin. That’s right, clowning is a certifiable “disease”.

I had this friend with the “borderline” label who was going on to me about how important it is to take “mental disorders” seriously. I fell automatically into disagreement with this person. I think taking “mental disorder” seriously is the most direct way to developing a more “serious mental disorder” that I can imagine. Maintaining a sense of humor is the best medicine for this sort of thing. Whatever sort of “disorder” you might have developed, as long as you take it lightly, it can’t be serious.

Of course, if you don’t take your “mental disorder” seriously you are in danger of being nabbed for conduct disorder. Everybody has a “mental disorder”, even if the “mental disorder” a person has hasn’t been invented yet. Some of us just haven’t been caught. Were your “mental disorder” actually an order, that wouldn’t be so bad, unless, of course, it involved orders from the planet Xylon. Disorders from Xylon, that’s okay.

My point? Well, judging from the news, everyday of the week, we are locking up the wrong people. The people least responsible for greenhouse warming, mass extinction, corporate imperialism, poverty and international conflict are often the people who we have selected to endure our psychiatric institutions as patient-prisoners.  I’d like to point out that this is more an instance of ruining the world rather than it is  of saving it. Have we made a mistake? Yes, I think so, and many mistakes at that.

The Coming Plague

I have a friend who spends much of his time traveling in Asia. He is a psychiatric survivor, and he says he prefers Asia to the USA precisely because people are not going on and on about “mental health”, “mental health treatment”, and “mental disorders” all the time there.

In the USA, on the other hand, it is thought right and proper to air “mental health” laundry. It is thought by some, not yours truly, that bringing “mental illness” out of the shadows so-to-speak is a way of attacking the “stigma” associated with psychiatric labels.  The problem with this way of thinking is that it doesn’t acknowledge that the “stigma” comes with the label, in fact, you could say they are identical.

I’m sick of hearing about “mental health” myself. I’m sick of hearing about “mental health treatment”, and I’m sick of hearing about “mental disorders”. In some quarters of the nation this medico-literary emphasis is truly obsessive, and what comes of obsessing? Well, often it is excess.

There is a demand for “mental illness” because without  “mental illness” “mental health” wouldn’t have a market. Perhaps, for the sake of clarity, I need to rephrase the last sentence. A rich supply of “mental illness” fuels the market for “mental health treatment” which in turn creates a further demand for “mental illness”, a demand all too easily met.

The “mental illness” rates have been soaring for years. The World Health Organization tells us “mental illness” is set to distance physical illness as the number one cause of disability in the world. This means the number one reason for “disability payments” by the government, supplied by labor of  tax payers, in the future is going to be “mental illness”.

Right away we’ve got a problem. For all the efforts psychiatry has made to claim psychiatric problems somatic, this supposition remains devoid of solid proof.  Psychiatry has been notoriously unsuccessful, not as a business, but as a branch of medical science. The proof is in the pudding, and in this instance, the pudding is more and more rather than less and less “mental illness”.

In those instances where it is claimed a person has a “mental illness”, recovery, or a cure, if you will, is seen as out of the question. Of course, this is a relative statement. So called minor “mental disorders” lending themselves to effective treatment much more readily than major “mental disorders”. It work’s the other way, too. It is not unheard of for minor “disorders” to develop into major “disorders”, and then, well, we’ve once again hit the snag of poor prognoses.

I would say that this obsession is not a very healthy one. Were we to talk less about “mental health”, I feel certain that we as a nation would be less beset with what are sometimes referred to as “mental health issues”.  Were we to diagnose less of it, well, there you go. Already a cure is at hand. Problems demand solutions. When “mental health issues” are communication and situational problems, no amount of “medical treatment” nonsense is going to solve them.