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A psychiatrist criticises the psychiatric publishing industry

Archive for the ‘Biopsychiatry’ Category

Mind Control, Biological Psychology & Psychiatry Limitation

This video is an introduction to biological mind control through psychoactive drugs, electroshock therapy, brain operations and electrical implants into the brain. This type of mind control was experimented with by the CIA in their mind control project Mk Ultra. This video points out the main limitation of biological mind control and psychiatric therapy.

 

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Notes on a critique of biological psychiatry by Dr. Niall McLaren

Introduction: Throughout the world today, the dominant approach to mental disorder is what is known as the biological model. This says simply that all forms of mental disorder are, at base, physical disorders of the brain. It does not identify mental disorder – that is determined by the individual society – but it claims to be able to explain all cases of mental disorder as a matter of disturbed brain function. As such, it is an example of what is called physical reductionism, the philosophical system that says that all complex matters can be explained in terms of the subsystems that make them up. In biology, reductionism says that the complex behavior of a large organism can only be understood in terms of understanding the cells that make up the organism. In turn, the functions of a cell can be reduced to matters of biochemistry. Therefore, the correct approach to mental behavior is to analyze it in terms of the cells of the brain, known as neurons. Since, it is claimed, disturbed behavior is always and only due to disturbances of neuronal function, treatment of mental disorder will consist of interventions at the chemical level, meaning using drugs and occasionally physical treatment such as ECT, magnetic stimulation or even brain surgery. Modern psychiatry does not consider there may be other explanations of mental disorder.

 There are, however, many people in the world who are not happy with this idea. It is possible to object to the biological model in psychiatry on a number of grounds:

1. The first and most obvious objection is to deny that mental disorder exists. This is most commonly identified with the Hungarian-born American psychiatrist, Thomas Szasz. Over some sixty years, he has taken a rigid and uncompromising line that there is no such thing as mental disorder, that it is an artificial construct which is of no value to the individuals, even if it helps society (by getting rid of nuisances) and enriches the various mental health professions. However, denial is very much a product of the twentieth century.

2. The oldest objection would be the ancient view that mental disorder has religious significance. People who act strangely are not sick in any accepted sense of the word but are undergoing some sort of supernatural experience which should either be allowed to take its course or should be treated within a strictly religious framework. Disturbed people may be seen as victims of possession by evil spirits, so that treatment would therefore consist of exorcism by qualified practitioners. They may be seen as victims of evil magic of some sort, which can only be countered by correctional incantations and so on. Finally, the experience itself may be seen as a beneficial experience or spiritual journey for the individual, who is encouraged and assisted in the passage for the knowledge the experience may yield. If the altered state continues, the person may even be granted a special status in the society as a person (shaman) who can communicate with or intervene on behalf of supernatural powers in ways that are not open to ordinary members of the community.

In modern Western society, there are only one or two minor groups taking an extreme religious view. Others include the less-defined but still large group of people who see dissatisfaction or unhappiness as a matter of imbalance between the individual and some sort of cosmic ideal, or what are often called New-Age practitioners, even if there is nothing new about it. On the other hand, orthodox Abrahamic religions do not normally encourage religious objections to biological psychiatric treatment, but tend to support it. This is possibly because they see the soul as the direct product of the divinity, meaning that if anything goes wrong in mental life, it cannot be a fault within the soul itself as that would mean the divinity had created a faulty soul. They have no problem with the idea that, if anything disturbs mental life, it must be in the body, because bodies are very faulty. By this means, they can allow people who claim to be the son of god to be treated humanely because otherwise, they would have to be punished.

3. It is possible to object to biological psychiatry on what are called esthetic or moral grounds, the notion that it isn’t fair or decent to lock people in secure buildings and force them to take unpleasant drugs against their will. Essentially, this is a human-centered approach which does not appeal to a divine authority or any force stronger than the question: “How would you feel if this were done to you or your wife/son/mother?” It says that humans are not just cattle but have feelings which have to be taken into account and not crushed underfoot for bureaucratic convenience. The moment words like decent, reasonable, considerate or humane are used, then they are appealing to our esthetic sense of what ought to be done to humans just because they are creatures with feelings. It is, of course, very difficult for these people to argue against the idea that cattle can be treated like cattle just because they aren’t humans, and most of them would not try. Fairness and decency, they would say, are universals which cannot be applied arbitrarily. 

4. People can object to biological psychiatry on the rational basis that any claim about mental disorder being a chemical imbalance of the brain is not a scientific statement because it ignores the notion that humans are creatures with a private but crucial mental life. The psychological model says that mental disorder is a feeling state induced by intrapsychic disturbances in the mind, not chemical disturbances in the brain, and chemistry is therefore only of marginal significance in psychiatric disorders. These days, the analogy that is used is that most problems with computers are not in the hardware but are in the software. Therefore, they would say, the correct form of treatment is not to suppress mental symptoms with drugs because they are important pointers to the actual intrapsychic problems to be rectified, and treatment can only be done via psychological means, essentially talking and learning. Talking and learning are not effective if the distressed person is heavily sedated.

5. More recently, people have been taking objection to the usual methods of biological psychiatry, meaning involuntary institutional psychiatry, on the basis that it breaches the individual’s human rights. This doesn’t say anything about how the mental disorder arises but says that, in a given legal framework, certain activities are illegal and cannot be carried out without the patient’s informed consent. This doesn’t actually prohibit biological psychiatry but places major restrictions on it and forces it to adhere to a particular standard of treatment. The same standard will also apply to psychological or religious treatment, so that disordered people cannot be forced to participate in, say, rebirthing rituals or exorcisms if they don’t like them.

6. Finally, and most recent of all, there are rational-logical objections to biological psychiatry. This is my particular field and it attacks the central notions of biological psychiatry, i.e. that mental disorder can be reduced to a special case of brain disorder. This is not popular among orthodox psychiatrists because one of their strongest arguments has always been: “Ah yes, but we have the science. We have the actual facts about mental disorder and not just silly sentimentalists.” By a lengthy process of analysis of all the claims on which biological psychiatry can logically be based, I have concluded that, in fact, they don’t have the science. I have shown that the central claims of biological psychiatry are false, that it doesn’t make any sense at all when it is examined closely and that it is pure ideology, in the bad sense of the word. My case is based in the philosophy of science, meaning that I use only the same standards of science as are used in all other fields of investigation, and biological psychiatry fails the lot. It is rational in the sense that it takes the predetermined rules of what constitutes a science and applies them uniformly with no favoritism. It is logical in the sense that it dismantles the superstructure of biological psychiatry (all the claims about this drug being better than that, or this group of patients doing better than that, and so on) and looks only at the fundamental claims of the actual model of mental disorder. Of course, it finds that there isn’t one.

Biological psychiatry, which wanted so much to be part of orthodox clinical medicine, is the only medical specialty that doesn’t have a formal, articulated model of pathology (in this case, mental disorder) to guide its daily practice, its teaching and its research. The vast output of the huge academic-pharmaceutical-bureaucratic industry dedicated to finding and treating “chemical imbalances of the brain” is a gigantic exercise in pseudo-science. It is no longer irrational to challenge the scientific basis of modern psychiatry.

Conclusion: Objections to biological psychiatry are valid. This is partly because anybody is allowed to object to any part of western science, because criticism is an essential part of the scientific tradition. If there is no institutionalized criticism, then there can be no scientific progress. It is valid partly because no one group can monopolize the thought processes of a civilization (diversity breeds progress) and also because modern western science makes no claims about mental life qua sentience. Western materialist science cannot handle mentality, so it tries to get it out of the equation.

Any person who sees a psychiatrist is entitled to ask this question: “What is the name of the model of mental disorder you use to guide your daily practice, your teaching and your research? Please give me three seminal references where it is set out as a series of axiomatic propositions which can be tested against the canons of science and which have direct predictive value.” All you will ever get is a frustrated stare, followed by a quick exit.

© Dr. Niall McLaren for biopsychiatry.ca – All rights reserved.

Dr. Niall McLaren is a psychiatrist who lives and works in Australia. He is the author the following books:

 

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Need Some Help? How to Choose a Counselor

Are you needing some professional help or guidance? Are you feeling stressed out? Perhaps you have been diagnosed with a mental illness and what does that mean?

Before you assume you know or that the diagnosing psychiatrist knows or  has your best interests in mind in an ethical way you will benefit from reading this essay by Dr. John Breeding who is a psychologist in practice in Texas.

Biopsychiatry, fronting for the pharmaceutical industry is marketing pseudo-science to you under the guise of it being treatment. Under the guise of being “treatment” that will help you. Before you get caught up in the medication nightmare of biopsychiatry do your homework and research what’s really going on behind the marketing message of “studies” that are “proving” things claimed without actually having proven anything. Advocate for yourself and for your rights as a mental health consumer. Too many people believe the first thing they hear that they think they need and that they think will help them get better, feel better, find their way to wellness. The reality is that, more often than not, that first message you hear may well be the big marketing machine of big pharma that has biopsychiatry as its main advocate and messenger. Marketing, advocates, and messengers that are well paid by pharmaceutical companies. Many mental health professionals, mainly, psychiatrists - biopsychiatrists are not only well-paid in various ways by pharmaceutical compaines raising questions about their lack of ethics but they are also paid spokespeople for one or in many cases multiple drug manufactures.

© A.J. Mahari, August 16, 2010 – All rights reserved.

 

I am often asked for advice on how to choose a counselor. This essay is one response.

 A Note on Language

I prefer the word counselor over therapist because therapist comes from therapy, which is presumably a treatment for some form of illness. As the concept of mental illness is so fraught with problems, I think counselor is a better choice. As a second note, let me briefly mention that this is a specific instance of a general problem with the use of language in psychology and psychiatry. Thomas Szasz is the master when it comes to decoding this language, and I highly recommend that everyone spend some time reading his work (www.szasz.com ); as he puts it, “Although linguistic clarification is valuable for individuals who want to think clearly, it is not useful for people whose social institutions rest on the unexamined, literal use of language” (1993, p. 1). As a quick example, consider that civil commitment really means incarceration of a citizen who has not been charged with a crime. In any event, the hard work of rehabilitating one’s language is an absolute prerequisite in gaining clarity about the so-called mental health field.

This essay includes two main sections. Part 1 addresses some of the basics that come to mind in choosing a counselor. Part 2 goes into issues of structure that are vital to understand in thinking about our mental health system.

Part I  The Basics

 

Two Initial Recommendations

My first thought about choosing a counselor is related to the above point about language. It is necessary to educate yourself. Given all the propaganda and false data, there is absolutely no substitute for intense research and investigation, most definitely outside the mainstream channels of “expert” authority on “mental health,” to approach the truth.

My second recommendation is very simple. Word of mouth, from trusted sources, is the best referral. If not immediately available, effort at finding trustworthy allies, is well-spent.

The Counselor’s Own Work

The huge and vital question in choosing support has to do with the personal experience of the counselor. One teacher of mine uses the term “body pilot,” but however you say it, the point is that the best counselors are those who have done and are doing their own personal work. “Talking heads” who have not faced and taken responsibility for their own distresses and challenges, and moved into the realm of body and emotion, are often seriously limited in their ability to remain intelligent and at ease in the face of client distress. Counselors need to be authentic, which means being open and aware of their own inner dynamics. This sometimes means navigating challenges in the relationship between counselor and client, and greater awareness helps enormously. It also means that counselors who have done a lot of their own work tend to have more space or “slack,” and are able to be in that wonderful state of relaxed confidence even in the face of intense grief or terror—this helps enormously! In the biopsychiatric climate of today’s system, when the going gets hard, it is all too easy to turn to drugs and coercion out of fear and doubt. So it is fine to ask a counselor about their own personal work, as well as their work experience. It is also important to take note of their attitude and how it feels to you. Does the counselor appear at ease? Is she confident in your process? Does he seem to someone you can trust?

Perspective on a Good Life

It helps a lot to put counseling in perspective. There is plenty of theory and jargon that can make counseling sound like some kind of elaborate technical “therapy” that requires a specialized degree to understand and “practice.” I think this tends to create a problematic expert dynamic that can undermine a client’s power and responsibility, and distort a counselor’s simple humanity. I like the Re-evaluation Counseling (www.rc.org) teaching that professional counseling is really just more of a one-way expression of what we naturally do in life; talking and listening to each other helps enormously in releasing and processing distress.

Life is big and challenging. Our society is very highly distressed; there are massive social and economic justice issues that make it hard for all of us and virtually impossible for many to have a good life. Most of this is not a counseling issue. Most of our life stresses and difficulties are not because of our flawed psyches. There is no point of nirvana or enlightenment or, heaven forbid, mental health, where all the upsets are gone and melancholy, grief, fear, anger, and challenges of love and work no longer exist. My point is that a counselor who interprets everything as your personal issue, especially one who pathologizes, is immature and unaware, and may be dangerous. I am not saying that personal work makes no sense. I am a professional counselor; I think sometimes it can be helpful. But it can be not only an imaginary panacea, but also a distraction and avoidance of facing the reality of life head on. A key aspect of psychiatric oppression is that a mental illness perspective both blames the victim and distracts all of us from taking on social and economic justice issues for the common good.

On a personal level, counseling can also enable avoidance of the challenging, but rewarding task of figuring out and moving forward with creating a good life for ourselves—authentic self-care and self-discovery, deep and rewarding relationships, meaningful study and purposeful work that contributes to the common good.  It is probably wiser to look more to people like Scott and Helen Nearing (www.goodlife.org) for inspiration and guidance on how to live a good life, than to someone who sits in an office all day talking to people!

 

The Heroic Client

Barry Duncan and Scott Miller wrote the book, The Heroic Client, and have devoted a lot of their professional energy to the removal of the counselor from center hero stage, and the proper placement of client as the hero of his or her own life, including counseling. They summarize the counseling outcome research, showing four factors of change that contribute to a positive outcome. The first and most significant are client factors, which are “extratherapeutic,” meaning they operate independently of the counseling relationship. 40% of improvement during counseling is due to client factors such as persistence, openness, a supportive grandfather, or getting a new job. As the authors put it, “neither guru therapists nor their carefully acquired silver bullets are the defining factors of change” (2000, p. 57).

The next most significant change factor, accounting for 30% of the difference in outcomes, is the relationship, as rated by the client. The alliance between counselor and client is more predictive that diagnosis or counseling method or “therapist” or anything else—not the theory or method, but the relationship. One thing this means is that the counselor accepts client goals without reformulating them to a pet theory, and that the counseling is guided accordingly.

The third factor, expectancy and placebo accounts for about 15% of the outcomes. This is about confidence and hope, and a client’s perception of the credibility of the counselor and her approach.

Last, again contributing to 15% of change, are the model and technique factors. These are the unique beliefs and practices of specific counseling theories. So the theory and techniques play a role, but a relatively minor one. It is much more important to be flexible and adjust according to the client’s goals, and to what works, than to cling to a set method. Good counseling is not about models or the perfect counselor. People go through stuff in life, their life, and can sometimes use a counselor’s support.

Counselor Policy

When it comes to the nitty gritty, a good idea is to go ahead and get basic policy parameters. Where do they work? How long is a session? What do they charge? Is there any flexibility in time and money? That kind of thing. Then there is the actual counseling.

Views on Counseling

Once put into perspective, the actuality of counseling is quite simple. It is something that we do naturally. We are born to cry when hurt or sad, and to tantrum when upset or frustrated. And we are oriented to listen and respond supportively to our crying babies. We talk and listen with our friends and family as we vent our daily challenges and upsets. We even have built-in ways of discharging and working through trauma. This is counseling, and one grassroots group (www.rc.org) has created a community of re-evaluation counselors to support and encourage this process among peers. In any event, I think professional counseling may be helpfully seen as a one-way version of this natural co-counseling process of exchange by talking and listening. The RC theory is very simple. The starting assumption is that wee humans are inherently intelligent, zestful and loving. When we are physically or emotionally hurt, however, we experience distress that interferes with our thinking and relating, and we tend to think less well and get a bit mean-spirited, unkind or withdrawn. The good news is that we have a built-in way of restoring ourselves, and that is by expressing our thoughts and emotions—crying, storming in anger and shaking with fear are some of the ways we naturally release or discharge distress. A good counselor is someone who allows, supports and encourages this process. So expression is huge, and “falling apart” is alright.

As Janet Foner, Mental Health Liberation Reference Person for the RC community put it:

There is no such thing as “going crazy.”

You can’t “lose your mind.”

What is “mental illness” really? It’s a very long “session” seeking discharge or having lots of discharge, without a counselor.  

Consider putting to rest the notion of needing an expert, and be choosy if you decide to use a professional. There are good ones out there, and I list a few resources in the reference section.

RC is one basic, simple theory that I find valuable, but there are many theories of counseling. Other favorites of mine include Arny Mindell’s process work (www.aamindell.net), and certain experiential psychodynamic and transpersonal approaches. What they have in common for me is trust in a natural process of growth, recovery and re-emergence for people. As noted earlier, the evidence suggests that a particular theory is not the key to positive results.

A good counselor is someone who sees you as an individual and who trusts and supports and respects your goals, your intentions, your process. A good counselor does not presume to know what is best for you. They convey an attitude of relaxed confidence, but are authentic when something else comes up. They are not afraid or shy about supporting you to confront distress, but they are not desperate or urgent about it. They ask permission, they may make suggestions, mostly they try to support and encourage your natural process of self-discovery and recovery. They stand guard and provide safety while you can let down your guard and dive into your process.

Good counselors try to be fully present and authentic. It is not the counselor’s session to work on his or her stuff, but it is a relational experience and so I think it is important for a counselor to be real and not too rigidly bound in an “expert professional” role. Trust your experience on this; talk about it with your counselor as seems right for you, but don’t hesitate to discontinue if you feel unsupported or that your counselor is projecting their own agenda or distress into the sessions. This is most likely going to be an issue when things get hard, and sorting it out can be difficult. You may be in your fear and distress, the counselor may be in their fear, it is sometimes hard to sort out. At the very least, the counselor ought to be willing to talk to you about it, and to look at himself. He should also be supportive of your talking with other people about it, maybe even consulting another counselor. It is your process that is important here, not the counselor’s ego.

I highly recommend Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s incredible poem, The Invitation (www.oriahmountaindreamer.com), as a reference point in choosing a relationship; here is one stanza:

It doesn’t interest me

who you know

or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand

in the centre of the fire

with me

and not shrink back.

Doing It

Self-education is important, and word of mouth is usually the best referral guide. Beyond that, it is a good idea to ask a few preliminary questions. This can be done over the phone; also many counselors offer upon request a free 20 or 30 minutes to meet and do a brief interview.

There is no right or wrong way to do this. Here are a few thoughts about questions.

What are your basic policies and fees? Any flexibility on those?

What are your guiding principles?

How do you see counseling and personal growth and transformation?

What is your training?

What are your guiding theories?

What kind of personal work have you done? What kind of work are you doing now?

What do you think about biological psychiatry? About psychiatric drugs? About withdrawal from psychiatric drugs?

What are your privacy policies?

Anything else that you want to know, that is significant for you!

Here is what I recommend on beginning counseling. Once a decision is made to have an initial session, go for it. Many times, a client actually only wants or needs one session, and that’s it. If there is a need or desire for more work, if it feels right, and the counselor seems like someone you can trust and work with, then I recommend you commit to 3 or 4 sessions. By that time, you will have an experience you can evaluate and see if this is really helping to meet your goals. Then you can go from there. You’re the boss.

Part II On Structure

In this section, I want to lay out a few structural issues about our mental health system that are vital to understand. The structure of our “mental health system” is severely misguided, distorted and dangerous. As a result, many people have lost hope in finding a good counselor; one man asserted to me just yesterday that 99.5% of “therapists” were bad, and asked whether I agreed. This is an extreme statement, but of course extreme does not mean false. In this case I think it as at least a small exaggeration—there are good counselors out there. Nevertheless it is true that a large percentage of mental health professionals do more harm than good, and psychiatry as a whole is exceedingly dangerous. So we must address structure to approach clarity.

          Family/Systems Work

It is worth noting right up front that psychology and psychiatry are focused on individuals, and there is a very strong argument to be made that this emphasis has serious drawbacks. It is beyond the scope of this paper, but there is a robust theoretical and practical domain of family and systems work that cogently argues, and often demonstrates, that the best way to help people is to work with their families and other community systems in which they are engaged. The range of these ideas runs from direct family counseling to social economic policies and practices such as those that provide jobs and housing. Real improvements in job and housing opportunities for citizens would have way greater impact on the lives of people who get caught up in our mental health system than any kind of “treatment” program.

          Coercion

Most crucial to see is that psychiatry is rooted in coercion. It has long been decided that it is necessary, right and proper to coerce citizens who are deemed mentally ill. Well over a million (Lee Coleman estimated 1.5 to 2 million (Citizens Commission on Human Rights International, 2005).

United States citizens are incarcerated and forcibly treated—almost always with toxic brain-damaging drugs, sometimes with brain-damaging electroshock. All forms of oppression are justified by claims to virtue—the argument for coercion in psychiatry is that these citizens are sick and incompetent, and that such “treatment” is for their own good. This cloak of benevolence hides the truth of deprivation of liberty and freedom of mind and body of citizens who certainly have not been afforded the due process rights given in the penal system.

Furthermore, as long as overt coercion, in the form of “involuntary commitment and treatment” is an integral part of the system, there can not be truly voluntary participation in that system. Countless so-called voluntary “patients” are really there because of overt threats of coercion or covert pressure. Very many have discovered, to their dismay and disillusionment, that once in the system, “voluntary” is simply a word that means, “As long as you agree that you are ‘mentally ill’ and that our ‘recommended’ treatment is best for you, you are voluntary.” “Noncooperation” very often leads to a judgment of “incompetence” and court-ordered coercion.

There are many faces of this charade, but most common is a result of the societal and professional ethic that judges suicidal ideation as prima facie evidence of insanity and need for coercion. This results in massive violation of liberty interests. Regrettably, it also seriously aborts the possibility of real change as fundamental conditions of transformation—safety, free choice, acceptance and expression of distressing thoughts and emotions—are inhibited.

Private and Public

A private system requires exchange—usually professional attention for money—and is often prohibitive for people. For many others, it is not prohibitive, but seen as not so valuable. This is, of course, a valid choice as either a financial or substantive decision. Often, however, there is a trust and dependency on the private health insurance company’s decisions about who they will pay to provide services to their customer. This dependency often overrides genuine discernment as consideration of the beliefs and qualities of individual services is secondary or even irrelevant, and the only question is who the insurance will pay.

When insurance, or any third party, is involved, some degree of privacy is by definition compromised. While it is at least in theory possible to find a private counselor who truly honors the word private, it is difficult to find one who deliberately eschews, for example, the professional ethic that “obliges” the counselor to become coercive in the face of a conversation about suicide.

In the private system, one can also find, albeit with difficulty, counselors who reject the mental health system model of biological psychiatry. In the public system, that is mostly impossible because one has to at least accept the model and resultant practices to even be employed. So one very important thing to know in choosing a counselor is where they stand on biopsychiatric theory and practice.

BioPsychiatry

Modeled after the practice of medicine, biopsychiatry has all the trappings of language that we associate with scientific medicine. Biopsychiatry has the language, but not the science (Breeding, 2000). The basic assumptions of biopsychiatry are as follows:

   1. Adjustment to society is good.

   2. Failure to adjust is the result of “mental illness.”

   3. “Mental illness” (Depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.) is a medical disease.

   4. “Mental illness” is the result of biological and/or genetic defects.

   5. “Mental illness” is chronic, progressive, and basically incurable.

   6. “Mental illness” can (and must) be controlled primarily by drugs; secondarily, and for really severe “mental illness,” by electroshock.

   7. People with “mental illness” are irrational, and unable to make responsible decisions for themselves; therefore, coercion is necessary and justified.

The primary pillars of biopsychiatry are the chemical imbalance theory and the bad gene theory (Colbert, 1996). Neither is scientifically validated. To understand psychiatry today, it is necessary to be very clear that it is not about medicine; it is really about social control.

The application of this theory in the form of psychiatric drugs has become ubiquitous, with millions upon millions of adults and children of all ages taking billions upon billions of dollars worth of various psychotropic drugs. The resulting carnage in physical, emotional and mental damage and dysfunction is sufficient to justify my attorney friend’s coining of the term pharmacaust. The bottom line can be summarized from Robert Whitaker’s excellent new book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, which is a thorough and up-to-date review of the scientific literature on various classes of psychiatric drugs:

1)    Scientific research fails to validate biopsychiatric theory;

2)    Psychiatric drugs generally do not work any better than placebo;

3)    Psychiatric drugs are very damaging, creating all kinds of real biological damage and disease;

4)    Use of psychiatric drugs makes positive growth and transformation less likely;

5)    Use of psychiatric drugs is largely responsible for the fact that approximately 1 in 50 adult Americans are now on permanent disability due to “mental illness;” hence the book title, Anatomy of an Epidemic.

A client needs to know whether a counselor is going to support an adventure of personal growth and self-discovery or interpret their life challenges and distresses—their patterns of thought and behavior and relationships—as symptoms caused by brain disease. The latter leads to drugs, especially when the going gets at all tough and uncertain, where fear is present. 

On Withdrawal from Psychiatric Drugs

Biopsychiatry is ubiquitous, and tens of millions of United States citizens of all ages are taking various psychotropic drugs, and various combinations of such drugs. As just mentioned, the drugs cause untold damage and they tend not to work. So it is understandable that a very many people want to get off them. Given that these drugs are highly addictive, and that withdrawal reactions are often intense and difficult. I and others have written at length on the subject of withdrawal, but here I just want to emphasize that, if this is an issue for you, be sure and find a counselor who will truly support you in your decision. One vital understanding a counselor absolutely needs to have is that there can be many difficult physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal; it is amazing and troubling how even doctors often fail to recognize withdrawal, and instead misinterpret withdrawal symptoms as evidence of an alleged “mental illness.”  The main general recommendation is to withdraw gently and gradually. On an emotional level, emotions of fear, shame and hopelessness tend to be the greatest challenges (Breeding, 1998). It can be very helpful to have a counselor who provides a little hope in knowing that it is possible to withdraw and live well off the drugs. Regarding fear, I cannot say enough about this bugaboo. In this case, a counselor who knows about fear, who can be relaxed and supportive as you work on your fear, and who is confident that you can get through it can be a huge help. My book, The Necessity of Madness, has a chapter on withdrawal. Peter Breggin is an important voice challenging biopsychiatry; the book he co-authored with David Cohen, Your Drug May Be Your Problem, is a good one for this subject.

Note to Family

Although it may seem obvious as I point it out, we often fall prey to the illusion of individualism, and do not think enough about the effects of all this on friends and loved ones, especially the family of a person getting “mental health services.” It is one thing to become a client making a private agreement with a counselor for support or discussing and working on whatever. It is an entirely other matter to be an “identified patient” who has a “mental illness” and needs “treatment.” The latter tends to activate coercion, which as mentioned earlier, destroys the possibility of real help, but is also very destructive to personal relationships, creating dependency, resentment, distrust, etc. The turning of a family member into a damaged and disabled “chronic mental patient” has profound effects on a family, and they are not good. Groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), seen ostensibly as support for family of people with “mental illness,” are largely funded with corporate pharmaceutical money and tend to be true believers in biopsychaitry. The main message is that the patient needs to accept their illness and take their medicine (Colbert, 2009).

This attitude is supposed to provide hope and absolution—hope that there is help by medicine, and absolution that you are not responsible since mental illness is a brain disease. This is really a false hope as is clear by the epidemic of deterioration and disability caused by the practice of psychiatry; remember that people who stay or get off the drugs tend to have much better outcomes. The absolution is also false. Not only is it based on a faulty premise—the chemical imbalance theory—however you want to explain life and relationship challenges and distress, they do not happen in isolation. There is always relationship! The way out is not to wash our hands of responsibility anymore than it is to collapse in self-blame and guilt. A useful saying for personal work is that “the way out is through,” and this applies to relationships as well. A deep address of family is beyond the scope of this essay, but I will mention two references. Some of the very best outcomes for dealing with even most serious “mental illness,” so-called schizophrenia, are apparently found in certain areas of Finland where a systematic community and family-based approach has had outstanding results, both for individual recovery and in dramatically lowering incidence in the area (reported in Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic). Second, A Way Out of Madness, by Daniel Mackler and Matthew Morrissey, is written with advice and stories for people dealing with their families, but would also be very good for anyone who has family members who want or are judged as needing help. 

While the focus of this paper is on adults seeking a counselor for themselves, the basic ideas I present also apply to families seeking counseling for themselves and their children—the same pitfalls, the same need to ask questions and find a good counselor. As the drugs are especially dangerous for children, that part is if anything even more important. My website, www.wildestcolts.com,  and my books, The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses (2007) and True Nature and Great Misunderstandings (2003) provide guidance for parents.

© August 2010 – Dr. John Breeding – published here with Dr. Breeding’s permission.

 

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The Only Known Chemical Imbalances In the Brain Are Caused by Psychiatric Drugs


Peter R. Breggin M.D. conducts a private practice of psychiatry in Ithaca , New York , where he treats adults, couples, and families with children. He also does consultations in the field of clinical psychopharmacology and often acts as a medical expert in criminal, malpractice and product liability suits. Before moving to Ithaca in November 2002 he was in practice for nearly thirty-five years in Washington , DC and Bethesda , Maryland . He has written dozens of scientific articles and many professional books, including Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime (2008), and is on the editorial board of several journals.

In 2010 Dr. Breggin and his wife Ginger formed a new organization that continues their emphasis on bringing professional and laypersons together to share their concerns about the hazards of contemporary biological psychiatry while promoting more caring and empathic approaches to personal conflict and suffering. The new organization will sponsor an annual meeting each April in Syracuse, New York empathictherapy.org


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Psychiatry Drug Makers Sued, Kids & Psychotropic Meds Lawsuit


There is an epidemic of psychiatric drugging of America’s children that is being caused by harmful and fraudulant practices of pharmaceutical companies. The ways that drugs are tested aren’t as safe as consumers are led to believe. There is massive fraud in the marketing of psychiatric medications for children.

Listen to Dr. John Breeding talk about this. If anyone reading this and about to listen to Dr. Breeding’s video is a lawyer who cares about what is happening to children at the hands of biopsychiatry, Dr. Breeding and his colleagues would be interested in hearing from you. There are laws that just need to be enforced, lawsuits that need to be filed and seen through to lay down precedent that may well be the beginning of the end of the massive marketing of psychiatric drugs to children. There is also a huge question hanging out there on this issue. The issue of psychiatric drugs being given to children where there are few, if any studies, of the long-terms effects of these drugs in people generally, and in children specifically.

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Psychiatry & Big Pharma Influencing Universities


Dr. John Breeding, Ph.D. talk about major money flows from pharmaceutical companies and ethics conflicts of many professors at United States Universities. Professors in universities, who are paid consultants for drug companies are allowing these paid affiliations with Big Pharma to influence what they are teaching students.

Students are entering university at the age of 18 or so having already been put on psychiatric medication. What are the effects of this? How can this hinder education? For those who are students taking courses to become psychiatrists there is documented proof about the kinds of ways they are being taught to march to the drum of the big pharma agenda of biopsychiatry. There are test and exam questions that students are asked for grades that require students to compromise what they may believe and/or to compromise their ethical standards in order to provide the “right” answer – the answer that they need to give in order to pass these tests and exams. It gives a whole new twisted kind of meaning to what is “right” and what is “wrong”. Education, at the university level, may well, for those seeking to be doctors and psychiatrists, already be controlled by big pharma. Where does it end? Does it end? Will it end? Can an end be put to these practices?

 

Anatomy of an Epidemic – Psychiatric Drugs are Dangerous


Dr. John Breeding talks about the importance of that talks about what is happening with psychiatric drugs today. The marketing of biological psychology, that the problems of living are due to mental illness, that has all to do with chemical imbalances in the brain. The problem is that biopsychiatry and big pharma’s marketing to the public is put forth as science. That’s the story. They say that they understand mental illnesses and that they are brain disorders. This is what is being talked about and presented to students now. It is what is being marketed in mainstream media. Biopsychiatry’s putting forward psychiatric drugs as harmless and/or helpful is utter propaganda. These drugs are dangerous and debilitating.

 

 

In his book, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America by Robert Whitaker examines, “Why are so many more people disabled by mental illness than ever before?  Why are those so diagnosed dying 10-25 years earlier than others?  In Anatomy of an Epidemic investigative reporter Robert Whitaker cuts through flawed science, greed and outright lies to reveal that the drugs hailed as the cure for mental disorders instead worsen them over the long term.  But Whitaker’s investigation also offers hope for the future: solid science backs nature’s way of healing our mental ills through time and human relationships.  Whitaker tenderly interviews children and adults who bear witness to the ravages of mental illness, and testify to their newly found “aliveness” when freed from the prison of mind-numbing drugs.”—Daniel Dorman, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine and author of Dante’s Cure: A Journey Out of Madness

 

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Xanax (anxiolytic addiction and withdrawal)

Anxiolytics have been promoted as non-addicting benzodiazepines. Are people being mislead about the benefits versus burdens of benzodiazepines? Psychiatric drugs taken long-term alter your brain chemistry. This can create serious withdrawl symptoms. Psychiatric drugs are highly addicting. Withdrawal from these drugs can leave you with symptoms 10 times what the symptoms you began taking the drugs in the first place. Psychiatry has a vested interested in people taking drugs because they do not therapy anymore. Psychiatry is all about prescribing medications and so if they help you to get off the medication they are rendering themselves unnecessary for you and therefore could lose patients and money and the reason that they are consulted at all. Biopsychiatry has left therapy up to the psychologists now.

 

What is Biopsychiatry actually treating?


There is no such thing as normal. How can abnormal be judged in any meaningful way when normal isn’t well-defined. What is biopsychiatry actually treating? The method of treatment is medication. But, what is the medication actually treating? Dispensing psychiatric medication to patients – mental health consumers – is treating the very diagnostic pathology whose criteria are defined and categorized in the DSM by a very select group from the very same profession. Who is regulating this? Any governing body other than the psychiatric profession supposedly regulating itself? Biopsychiatry is in bed with Big Pharma. Who can this possibly benefit? How can it be more about the well-being of patients than about the making of money?

Blowing a hole in the purported “science” of biopsychiatry is simple. The first premise you need to re-frame is that of mental illness and mental health. If they are constructs that don’t actually translate the way that psychiatry claims they do, then how do all of these categories of pathological mental illnesses even hold water?

There is no such thing as normal. Mental Illness is not the opposite of mental health or visa versa. All human experience is on a spectrum. There is balance toward the center of that spectrum and lack of balance at either end of it. The rest is arbitrary really. In the up-coming next version of the bible of psychiatry, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) psychiatry is adding some 20 new disorders. Everything will soon be thought to be a disorder, that guess what, Big Pharma will pass along their funded studies to biopsychiatry to market its pathology to the public in the name of selling more and more medications.

This is not treatment. It is abuse. Abuse of power. It is self-serving. It is “treatment” in the guise of the making of money off the backs of people who do need real human solutions to their real human problems and challenges.

 

 

 

If you’ve been treated by a psychiatrist where therapy is absent but prescriptions are routinely given I’d be interested in hearing from you as to whether you think you are getting any help or not. Are you feeling better? Are you making progress? Are you getting well? Can you feel anything with the meds you are on?

 

You can email me by clicking  on the link in the footer below this post at the bottom of the site.

 

 

© A.J. Mahari, August 9, 2010 – All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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Ideas of Normalcy vs Mental Illness, Psychiatric Oppression, Big Pharma – Interview with Dr. John Breeding Ph.D.

Are you normal? Do the concepts of Mental Health and Mental Illness serve any purpose other than to divide people arbitrarily and cause people shame that alienates them from themselves? Does psychiatry today, and more specifically biopsychiatry even believe that anyone is or can be normal? What is normal? Many argue that biopsychiatry – the direction the psychiatric profession is taking in defining mental illlness as “brain disorder” or “brain disease” and then seeking to treat it with all kinds of medications, many that do way more harm than good, is predicated on labeling almost everyone with something which calls into question just what disordered means. Dr. John Breeding Ph.D. was my guest on The Psyche Whisperer Radio Show, Wednesday August 4th, live at 3pm EST. You can now listen to the archived interview here. Dr. Breeding talked about, among other things, psychiatric oppression and what mental health consumers really do need to know and think more about when it comes to what mental illness is and how it can be most effectively treated and coped with if it even is what it is thought by so many people to be.

Listen to internet radio with Psyche Whisperer AJ on Blog Talk Radio

 

John Breeding PhD is a counselling psychologist from Austin, Texas USA. John is director of ‘Texans For Safe Education’, a citizen’s group dedicated to challenging the ever-increasing role of psychiatry, especially psychiatric drugs, in schools. He is also active on other challenges of psychiatric oppression, and is a steering committee member of the Coalition for the Abolition of Electroshock in Texas (CAEST), whose website is endofshock.com . His personal website, wildestcolts.com, is a great resource on parenting, psychology and psychiatry. Dr. Breeding obtained his doctorate in School Psychology from the University of Texas.

Dr. Breeding believes in empowering natural human development, especially in children and he disagrees with biopsychiatry and its over-diagnosing and over-medicating, people generally, but even moreso children, specifically.

LISTEN HERE either to the show live or the achive of the show after it has been recorded.

He is the author of three Chipmunka books which can be purchased on their site or also from amazon.com

He has written several other books on a variety of subjects. John is the father of two teenagers, Eric and Vanessa. Dr. Breeding does Public Speaking and Educational Workshops. He is available to speak or lead trainings and workshops on a variety of issues related to psychology and psychiatry. My fees are negotiable. Topics include but are not limited to: ¦Parenting and working with challenging young people -The Labeling and Psychiatric Drugging of Children – Human Growth and Transformation Psychological Distress and Natural Recovery, Psychiatric Oppression, including issues of coercion, psychiatric drugs and electroshock. You can find more information about psychiatric oppression on Dr. Breeding’s website at: Psychiatric Oppression

LISTEN HERE either to the show live or the achive of the show after it has been recorded.

LISTEN HERE either to the show live or the achive of the show after it has been recorded.

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Medication Nation

Source: Ecologist
Date: January 2006 

Medication Nation

Too fat, too thin, too sad, too happy…Whatever the problem Biotech is developing a vaccine or a pill to cure us. Mark White examines the consequences of a world where all our worries can be medicated away

It may be known as ‘retail therapy’, but the next edition of the American Psychiatric Association will recognise being a shopaholic as a clinical disorder. At Stanford University, trials held on the SSRI anti-depressant Citalopram concluded that the drug was a ‘safe and effective treatment for Compulsive Shopping Disorder’.

The rise of compulsive spending mirrors the obesity time bomb slowly detonating in the richest countries of the world, according to psychologists. A recent study found that women in their twenties had gained an average of five kilograms in the last seven years.

In the last six months clinics to treat internet addiction have opened in the US and China. Meanwhile, a Scottish teenager was treated recently by an alcohol trust for addiction to electronic messaging. He spent £4,500 on texting in a year, and quit his job after he was found to have sent 8,000 emails in one month. That’s 400 a day, or about one a minute, every minute of the working day.

It’s kind of comforting when you get [a message],’ he told the BBC. ‘I like it, it’s like a game of ping-pong, as you send one and get one back.’

So many new addictions, but the old ones remain. The hardcore smokers can’t ditch their coffin nails. Alcoholics young and old litter streets and hospitals, and there’s scarcely a pub toilet left in the land without a residue of cocaine smeared across the nearest flat surface. It’s enough to make you stay in bed and stare at the ceiling, mind racing about climate change, that lifestyle you can’t quite afford, and the next big terrorist attack.

Mind racing… a Buddhist would tell you how to cure that by meditating on the impermanence of existence – and that the racing mind is the result of man’s failure to achieve Enlightenment. But Big Pharma has a better idea: in the first week of May a $60 million advertising campaign began in the States for Lunesta, an insomnia drug to cure… a racing mind. All you need is a prescription and a glass of water.

Swiss biotech company Cytos has 25 research programs underway, including its ImmunodrugTM nicotine vaccine CYT002-NicQb, along with vaccines for chronic diseases including obesity, hypertension, allergy, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. The company was granted a US patent in early 2005 for vaccines against different drugs of abuse, and hopes to release its nicotine vaccine in 2010. The vaccine antibodies prevent dopamine, the chemical that leads to a feeling of pleasure, from flooding the brain. They have a half-life of 50 to 100 days, meaning the response could be a boosted by a further injection. The rewards are huge: Decision Resources estimated the ‘stop smoking’ market in America alone will be $1.5bn by 2007, and as China and India become richer, with more people smoking, eventually more people will want to stop smoking too.

Cystos’ obesity vaccine works on a similar principle with an antibody against ghrelin, a small protein that regulates appetite. If you inject extra ghrelin into people it makes them hungrier. Fat people who lose weight develop extra ghrelin, leading to yo-yo dieting. The theory is that by stopping the uptake of ghrelin it will be easier to stick to a diet. Cytos is to be running trials with 112 obese volunteers on a six month treatment of the vaccine or a placebo, and at the same time counselling them about healthy eating and encouraging exercise. While obesity is a leading cause of preventable death in rich countries, it is also, in every sense, a growing problem, with rich nations becoming fatter and fatter, and less and less happy about it. A successful vaccine would be worth billions.

The military are in on the act, naturally, sponsoring research into drugs that will keep their soldiers awake without the jittery, glittery rush of adrenaline that follows amphetamine use. And then there are mood-enhancing drugs to combat the rise of depression, a disorder that the World Health Organisation estimates will be the biggest health problem in the industrialised world by 2020.

‘Tomorrow’s biotechnology offers us the chance to enrich our emotional, intellectual and, yes, spiritual capacities,’ says David Pearce, a leading transhumanist philosopher (transhumanists favour using science and technology to overcome human limitations). I think there’s an overriding moral urgency to eradicating suffering. This ethical goal eclipses everything else.’

Zack Lynch, a leading expert on the biotech industry and publisher of several blogs and neurotechnological market reports, dismisses concerns about side effects: ‘Future neurotechnologies will have the capacity to extend all aspects of what makes us human, from self-centredness to radical empathy.’ Eradicate suffering? Making people less self-centred?

Radical empathy? Sounds great. So why does the idea of pills that will eradicate angst give so many people, well, angst?

If people were satisfied they wouldn’t need to try to improve themselves. But our societies are based on the concept of endless growth, so they rely on us never being satisfied. Alexis de Tocqueville made this observation in his 1848 classic Democracy in America. ‘In America I saw the freest and most enlightened men, placed in circumstances the happiest to be found in the world; yet it seemed to me as if a cloud habitually hung on their brow, and 1 thought them serious and almost sad even in their pleasures.’ Maybe it’s the price you pay for living in a society based round not happiness per se, but its pursuit.

The notion of ‘progress’ has brought a million fresh hells trailing in its wake. As Lynch notes in an entry on his Corante blog from December 19, 2003: ‘Our extensive global connectedness has created new problems for modern humans. While many people question the uneven distribution of power that exists in today’s world, others are disillusioned by the happiness that wealth was supposed to bring. In every culture, feelings of uncertainty, depression, anger and resentment have surfaced on a vast scale.’

For Lynch the solution is an extension of modernity, or our systems of control over the physical environment, inwards to our mental environment: ‘We now need new tools to address the mental stress that arises from living in a highly connected urbanised world… new tools [that] represent our best hope in a world seemingly out of control.’ Those tools are new drugs that, for him, are a means towards sharing our emotions to create a more empathetic society.

There is an alternative view, explored by philosopher Carl Elliott in his essay Pursued by happiness and beaten senseless: Prozac and the American Dream, that looks at alienation in societies – the ‘mismatch between the way you are living a life and the structure of meaning that tells you how to live a life… it makes some sense (though one could contest this) to say that sometimes a person should be alienated – that given certain circumstances, alienation is the proper response. Some external circumstances call for alienation.’ He gives the example of Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain. He may be happier on Prozac and his psychic well-being would be improved. But his predicament is not just a matter of the wellbeing of his mental health, but how he is living his life. If someone’s life is making them sick, then you can make them well by cither changing how they live their life or by making them fit in with what made them sick in the first place. It is, of course, a lot easier to give someone a pill and hope they’ll adapt to their circumstances, just like housewives in the 1950s popped a Valium, cleaned the house, cooked dinner, and waited for their husband to come home from a hard day at the office.

Better than well

Not that the meticulous unravelling of human biology stops there. The real kicker is the class of experimental drugs developed by Cortex Pharmaceuticals, known as ampakines, that boost the levels of glutamate in the brain – a neurotransmitter implicated in the consolidation of memory. The drug’s obvious therapeutic use is to treat people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but why stop there? A report in New Scientist earlier this year described the effects of the Cortex Pharmaceuticals ampakine CX717 on 16 healthy male volunteers at the University of Surrrey who were kept awake all night and then put through tests. Even the smallest doses of the drug improved their performance, and the more they took the more alert they became and the better their cognitive performance. The ampakine users remained alert and with none of the jitters associated with caffeine or amphetamines.

Psychologist Peter Kramer was one of the first professionals to discuss the implications of drugs that could ‘change’ personalities in his 1993 book Listening to Prozac. He became interested after prescribing Prozac to patients and seer radical shifts in how they interacted with the world. Some said they had become the person they always wanted to be. Others felt that Prozac had robbed them a deeply valued sense of self. If the drug could cause such a shift in identity to people who needed therapy, said Kramer, what could it do as an enhancement to people who were basically fine? Could it make them ‘better than well’?

This notion of being better than well causes unease in western societies, particularly ones with Protestant roots where the notion of getting something nothing is thought to be a sin. It’s being called ‘cosmetic neurology’, a phrase coined by Dr Anjan Chatterjee, fromt University of Pennsylvania, in a paper the September 2004 issue of Neurology. He argues from the slippery slope, saying that: yes, we are getting a boost without doing the work, but we already live in homes with central heating; yes, such drugs could change people’s personalities, but steroids and mind-altering drugs do that already; yes, the rich will have better access to such drugs than the poor, but we already accept huge inequalities in society; and yes, I government, religions and journalists will urge restraint, but they are likely to be | overwhelmed by a ‘relatively unrestrained [market’ and the military.

Patients, he says, will demand the right of access to a drug designed to raise their baseline level of happiness. ‘If social pressures encourage wide use of medications to improve quality of life, then pharmaceutical companies stand to make substantial profits and they are likely to encourage such pressures,’ he says,’… it does not take much imagination to see how advertisements for better brains would affect an insecure public. Gingko Biloba, despite its minimal effects on cognition, is a billion dollar industry.’

There’s certainly money to be made, as the following comments on neuroinvestment.com about Cortex’s ICX717 show: ‘Given that schizophrenia is the most clinically advanced program, we believe that this particular indication would be the most valuable in a licensing deal… Cortex plus Organon’s schizophrenia rights (throwing in depression as a sweetener) would look great in a Big Pharma’s Christmas stocking.’

David Pearce poses a thorny question by email: ‘Should people be compelled stay the way they are? After all, the reason we’re so discontented a lot of the time is because of the legacy of our evolutionary past – making their vehicles discontented helped our genes to leave more copies of themselves in the ancestral environment. Potentially, the new drug therapies and genetic interventions will be ‘empowering’ in the best sense of the term. A lot of people today just feel imprisoned in brains, bodies and personalities they didn’t choose and aren’t happy with at all…’

This brings two competing notions of happiness to a head: Eastern, which comes from accepting each moment as being neither good nor bad, but just as something that is, and the Western one, the pinnacle of consumerism and materialism, that of having your desires satisfied. I asked Pearce if he thought it was good for people to have their needs met at all times, and he replied that if those needs don’t adversely affect the wellbeing of others, then yes.

The comment reminded me of a quote in Elliott’s essay from Walker Percy’s Signposts in a Strange Land. Writing of a Geriatrics Rehabilitation Unit where old folks grow inexplicably sad despite having all their needs met, he says: ‘Though they may live in the pleasantest Senior Settlements where their every need is filled, every recreation provided, every sort of hobby encouraged, nevertheless many grow despondent in their happiness, sit slack and empty-eyed at shuffleboard and ceramic oven. Fishing poles fall from tanned and healthy hands. Golf clubs rust. Reader’s Digests go unread. Many old folk pine away and even die from unknown causes like a voodoo curse.’

All technologies have mission creep and unintended consequences. Chatterjee dismisses concern about drug safety with the blithe phrase ‘in general, newer medications will continue to be safer’, despite little evidence to that end – and recent evidence with fen-phen, Vioxx and’ the hiding of negative SSRI drug data by Big Pharma pointing in the other direction. The debate is framed in such a way as to make cosmetic neurology sound like an extension of evolution, when it’s about as natural as a GM tomato containing a fish gene. This kind of technological arrogance is what’s dooming the ecosphere, not saving it. ‘I’m not prepared to say they can’t be a good thing,’ wrote Elliott, by email. ‘They may well be. But I guess my feeling is that while the benefits are obvious, the possible drawbacks are not, and need to be thought about more carefully. There are also a lot of people out there with a financial interest in hyping the benefits and downplaying the risks.’

Take enhanced memory. Sounds great. We’ve all seen elderly relatives get lost in a fog of misfiring neurons, and it can be incredibly sad. But whether you believe in an intelligent designer or your starting point as the Big Bang, something has led the human brain to its present state of nature.

‘We understand little about the design constraints that were being satisfied in the process of creating a modern human brain,’ says Martha Farah, from the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. ‘Therefore we do not know which “limitations” are there for a good reason… normal forgetting rates seem to be optimal for information retrieval You could, in effect, remember too much: the hair colour of the person who sat in front of you in the cinema, the smell as you passed the bakery on your way to work, what you had for dinner every night of the last year – memory after memory too readily accessible.

A class of drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease gained the nickname ‘the Las Vegas pill’ after it was found to turn a small but significant number of its patients into compulsive gamblers – ironically by stimulating the dopamine-producing area of the brain that the addiction drugs are aimed at quietening down. The Doogie mice are another case in point. These smart rodents were genetically engineered to have enhanced memory and learning skills. They were better at recognising and locating objects and remembering painful experiences – but when pain was induced it lasted longer. They found it hurt to be made smart.

There’s a wider point at stake here: if nature is something worthy of respect, then why not human nature? Our belief that we are set apart from the world has led us to treat our environment as a plaything for the fulfillment of our desires, though we forget that the demands of our egos are never-ending and monstrous. Can we ever be too happy? Too rich? Too thin? Too satisfied?

Zack Lynch believes that humans are social animals wired for social acceptance. ‘I see no indication that the majority of individuals will not choose to enhance aspects of themselves to make them more giving, caring and empathetic towards each other and the rest of the biosphere,’ he writes, by email, choosing not to highlight the increasingly aggressive, competitive economic and social world that we are building for ourselves and future generations. Millions of people already alter their reality by taking mood-altering drugs like ecstasy, or sink a bottle of wine, or hammer a bong, and there’s little evidence of an upsurge in love.

Rats exposed to cocaine will keep on self-administering the drug, to keep the pleasurable chemicals swirling around their brains, no matter what happens. That wiring for social acceptance is being rewired for social status, and you can see the results just by looking around you. Futurist Ray Kurzweil has named 2045 as the point at which humans reach Singularity, the moment when the barrier between our minds and computers disappears and the non-biological portion of our intelligence predominates.

And then? Author Michel Houellebecq, when not scandalising the French establishment, keeps returning to issues of identity and humanity. He did it in The Elementary Particles, and in his next book The Possibility of an Island he describes a cult that thinks of genetic engineering as a path to immortality. The main character’s girlfriend explains: ‘What we’re trying to create is an artificial humanity, a frivolous one, that will never again be capable of seriousness or humour, that will spend its life in an ever more desperate quest for fun and sex – a generation of absolute kids.’

Pearce believes that drugs that make us happier will rip up most of philosophy: just think, no more Nietzsche or Camus. ‘Most of the philosophical tradition is based on grief and suffering. The same is true of traditional “great” literature too,’ he wrote. I asked him if he thought art needed suffering to be created, and he wrote back with a link to a book called Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament. It contains Lord Byron’s famous quote: ‘We of the craft are all crazy.’

Houellebecq’s main character knows where the world is headed: ‘Nothing was left now of those literary and artistic works that humanity had been so proud of; the themes that gave rise to them had lost all relevance, their emotional power had evaporated.’ So, what an improvement the post-human will be. We will feed our desires and remove all the insecurities and blunt edges and pain and art, and as the sky boils and the ice caps melt and the fish all die and the land is fouled and the bombs keep exploding we will, at least, have a smile on our faces and a happy feeling in our hearts.

Mark White is a freelance journalist

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Drug Withdrawal and Emotional Recovery

 

drjohnbreeding4.jpg

(The Rights Tenet: Winter 1998, published by NARPA (National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy).

Part of the big lie of biopsychiatry, and of our pill culture in general, is that you can avoid the basics of self-care by taking a drug. It is so tempting to embrace the illusion that you can escape responsibility for altering your lifestyle, that you can avoid the ruthless discipline that is necessary to live a decent life in a society which is so alienated and distressed. You have to sacrifice the fantasy that someone, or some doctor, or some drug is going to mate anything all better for you. The truth is that life is, in many ways, an arduous journey. And coming off psychiatric drugs can be a particularly intense part of that journey.

My own experience leads me to conclude that, as vital as is accurate information and common sense, emotional factors are what really holds people back from this crucial step toward self-empowerment. I will emphasize three particular qualities of attitude which are necessary to challenge and overcome forms of emotional distress that interfere with successful withdrawal from drugs and reclaiming of your power.

These three qualities are Hope, Courage, and Complete Self-Appreciation; they are specific antidotes to hopelessness, fear and shame. As I discuss this process of what might be most aptly called emotional recovery, I will be referring to and recommending that you receive the good attention of another safe, caring human being as you do this work. I will use the terms counseling and counselor, but please know that I mean this in a generic sense. A counselor is someone who sacrifices his or her own concerns for a little while to pay attention and listen to you. It can be a professional; it can also be a friend. I personally recommend the grassroots peer counseling organization called Re-Evaluation Counseling as one great source of theory and counseling support. Please know, however, that RC sometimes will not accept people who are on psychiatric drugs. Psychiatric survivor groups are another great resource. The important point here is that you don’t have to go through this alone; you need and deserve good counseling support.

 

Hope: We begin by facing our feelings of hopelessness. Disillusionment is absolutely necessary for recovery and well-being. Disillusionment of our fantasies about a magic rescuer or a magic pill hits us hard. It feels so often like hopelessness. Chronic hopelessness is pervasive in our society; it is a root cause of our whole scale abdication to the bankrupt theory of biopsychiatry, and the despair which leads millions upon millions of us to turn to drugs for ourselves and for our children as a solution to life. (See my book, The Wildest Colts Make The Best Horses, as a challenge to the mass psychiatric drugging of our children). Those of us who hurt enough to turn to psychiatry for help, and who were then hurt further by being labeled as biologically and/or genetically defective, and “treated’ with toxic drugs, understandably feel hopeless much of the time.

Within the framework of biopsychiatry, hopelessness is a rational response; after all, your condition is essentially incurable and you do need drugs to manage any decent kind of life at all. The good news, once again, is that it is a lie that you are defective, and it is a lie that you need drugs to treat your defect. Your condition is not hopeless.

It can get better: This simple sentence forms the basis of your recovery, any recovery in fact. Hope is the building block, and a necessary contradiction for times when we are overwhelmed with feelings of chronic hopelessness. It really can get better. We really do have natural, built-in ways of psychological healing. With good attention and adequate resource, anyone can reemerge from even the greatest distress and most extreme states of mind. On a practical level, it is a fact that, due to lack of understanding, there are times when we cannot gather enough resource to adequately help individuals in crisis in our society. Our current inability to help people in extreme states of mind is not because they have a psychiatric disease; it is simply because of the unavailability of sufficient resource.

It is helpful to know that, although in times of distress, it almost always feels like you can’t get enough, the truth is most of the time you can. The feeling is called a frozen need; it is a memory from childhood when we really did not get what we needed to thrive and develop as well as possible; our survival then truly was at stake. So even though it may and probably does feel like it’s never enough, you usually can get what you need. On a practical level, a key is to find support people who are relaxed and confident about your ability to recover, who trust in the goodness and wholeness of your inherent nature, and who see through the lies and illusions of biopsychiatry. It can get better, and you can get off the drugs.

Courage: Fear and shame are emotional qualities which pull us into victim-like attitude. These two emotions arc, I think, the most loyal forces of the opposition, acting as obstacles to liberation from the role of psychiatric patients in general, and freedom from psychiatric drug addiction in specific. Let’s take a look at fear. For many of us, certainly for those who have experienced the effects of coercive treatment or incarceration by psychiatry, terror is a more appropriate word. In any event, fear acts as a most potent force in decision-making for most of us.

I would venture to say that fear is the one greatest obstacle to successful withdrawal from psychiatric drugs. There is the fear of losing control, of going mad, that they might be right about me, that I’ll lose my job, that I won’t be able to function, that I’II end up back in the hospital, etc. This list goes on and on; the fear is enormous. My strong recommendation is that, if at all possible, you counsel extensively on your fear as a first step in making and acting on the decision to withdraw from psychiatric drugs. The next few paragraphs will help clarify why I so strongly advise you to do this.

Accurate information is, as always, a good place to start. First of all, it is important to validate the reality that many of these fears are not “paranoid delusions;” many of you do know that interface with our Mental Health System can be dangerous. You have been incarcerated, forcibly drugged, electroshocked, etc. A good place to start in counseling on fear about coming off drugs is to tell your story to a relaxed, confident and sympathetic listener. Tell your story many times, and really emphasize the details of your experiences with psychiatry and with drugs. Make a point of noticing the attention you are receiving from your counselor or friend; it is so important to know you are safe and that you are not alone in your courageous decision to work on this.

Secondly, just as with other types of emotional expression, release of fear is usually interpreted by psychiatry not as a healing process but as a disease symptom, evidence of the need for intervention and treatment of drugs. Once again, you’ve been given some bad information. Most people think of fear as a mental phenomenon having to do with irrational or unrealistic expectations about the future.

When psychiatry is not entirely biological in emphasis, the cognitive domain is often emphasized. Undoubtedly, there is some truth to it, and cognitive behavior modification (i.e., working on your self-talk) can be helpful. When it fails, however, I encourage you not to jump to the biopsychiatric conclusion that it’s because you really do have a genetic defect. What I’ve learned about fear is that it is less about our thoughts than our emotions, and less about anticipation of the future than memory of the past. Fear is a tension held in the body, a memory of past situations when we felt that our survival was in danger, and we were not allowed to release the fear in the way that is natural to us. When we are in danger, we get tense and we feel fear. This tension and this emotion stay with us until we are safe enough to let down our guard; then we release the fear. Fear is released in a specific way.

Light fear is often released by laughing and shaking. Heavy fear is discharged by shaking, trembling, cold sweat, and sometimes screaming. Many so-called psychiatric symptoms (anxiety, insomnia, night terrors, panic attacks, etc.) may be more helpfully viewed as spontaneous efforts of an overloaded body/mind to do what it is naturally designed to do; restore calm and equanimity by discharging fear from traumatic experiences. Some fear can be discharged alone, but experience shows that we usually need a supportive ally to help us work through fear. After all, our instinctual survival nature is geared to protect us from being overwhelmed.

Another useful direction is to talk about the upside of what your life will be like without drugs. Talk about how your body will feel, how clear your thinking will be, how you won’t have a dry mouth anymore, or of how great sex will be, or whatever. Allow yourself to imagine and share with your counselor all the wonderful benefits of being drug-free. At some point, you will want to go beyond this point and imagine and dream out loud about the very highest goals and visions you have for yourself.

As you talk about and remember your experiences of fear in the presence of a safe counselor, you will at some point find your body responding with its own natural ways of discharging the physical and emotional tensions of fear. You now know that you are safe to come out of numbing terror and release fear from your system. Focusing on the benign reality of your present situation is a most helpful direction: “now I’m safe,” “they can’t touch me now,” etc. One of the greatest contradictions to fear is closeness with another safe, warm human being.

Complete Self-Appreciation: Alongside fear, it seems that our greatest emotional obstacle to spiritual marturity and authentic power is this feeling we call shame. Shame is a word for the emotional experience that goes with thoughts that “I’m no good, inadequate, incompetent, not enough, stupid, unworthy, inferior, defective,” etc. In distinction from guilt, it is not that. I did something bad, but that “I am bad.” Shame feels awful and we are often most eager and willing to go to great lengths to avoid feeling shame; we prop ourselves up however we can, often by projecting contempt we’d rather not feel for ourselves onto some other person we can judge, scorn, criticize, or deem inferior. (The so-called “mentally ill” fill this scapegoat role to a great extent in our society). Another characteristic of shame is that it feels unbearable to be exposed. We want to hide and will go to great lengths to keep hidden those parts of ourselves which we reject and despise.

In working with shame, the first step is to give it a name. It is very important to give this feeling a name because it gives you a buffer against taking this lie in so deeply. Then you can say, “Oh, I’m having a shame attack;” that it’s not who you are, but a toxic feeling that you’re carrying. It still feels lousy, but now you’re in a position to work with it.

The next step is to challenge the pull to avoid exposure. Shame thrives in secrecy and cannot sustain itself when exposed to safe people who listen with respect and compassion and are delighted that you are getting free. The voice of shame, similar to the voice of biopsychiatry, will tell you that you are inherently defective in some way; the truth is that your feelings of shame are strictly an add-on. Shame is a feeling that you carry from having been treated shamefully; the feelings have nothing to do with the goodness of your inherent nature; they have everything to do with having been treated badly by someone who was projecting their own denied feelings onto you. When an adult says, “You are a bad child, you deserve to be punished,” what is actually happening is the end stage of the following process: 1)A child is called bad and punished by an adult; 2) the child internalizes both sides in this abuse of power; the message that “I am bad” and the energetic communication that “You are bad;”3) the child “splits off” and denies the experience and the feelings in the interests of self-preservation. The memory is banished into the unconscious mind; 4) the child grows into an adult; 5) the repressed energies of shame and abuse are restimulated around a child; 6) the unconscious feelings of shame are projected onto the child. Again in the interests of self-preservation, the adult will, given the choice, unconsciously identify with the powerful perpetrator of abuse rather than the powerless victim; 7) the child is then punished, “for her own good.” (See Alice Miller’s Banished Knowledge for an excellent description of this process.)

So, in order to recover and get free, you make a decision to expose your shame, to reveal the parts of yourself that you judge as despicable and unworthy. And as you do this with people who are supportive, understanding, and without judgment, the shame will melt away.

As you do this work of exposing shame and healing from its effects, the concept of shame reduction will be useful. Shame is not a part of your essence; it is a toxic add-on, and as with all toxins, the human organism always strives to discharge them from the system. This is equally true of psychological toxins as it is for physical poisons. Shame is not a part of who we really are; it is something we carry as a result of having been treated badly. Shame reduction refers to the process of unloading this carried shame.

Practically speaking, it means:

1) Naming the feeling as shame; 2) identifying the source of the feeling, including the specific individual(s); 3) holding that individual(s) accountable; and 4) returning the carried shame to the individual(s).

Shame reduction work often involves intense feelings of hurt and anger, which are inevitably bound up with shame. John Bradshaw’s Healing the Shame that Binds You is one of the better resources for those who are interested in more detailed guidance about the work of shame reduction. I do want to mention that “holding the perpetrator accountable” does not necessarily mean that you have to confront the individual in the flesh. Often that individual is very different, perhaps 30 or more years older, from the individual who hurt you as a child. It is that “ghost” figure inside you.

So most of that work can be done inwardly or through role play. If you do decide that a physical confrontation is necessary, lots of counseling on it first is a good idea. For another perspective, you can check out Brad Blanton’s provocative book, Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life By telling the Truth. The bottom line is to do whatever it takes to reclaim your energy and your power, so that you can release these people from your psyche and not continue draining your energy into thoughts and feelings of victimization and revenge.

The last and most important direction for healing and recovery from shame is called complete self-appreciation. This is all about self-love, and it truly is the way out. Shame absolutely cannot abide residence in the presence of self-love. Singing, “A Song of Myself,’ to borrow the title of Walt Whitman’s epic poem, is the first, best, and last way to overcome shame. (See Dan Jones’ poem, “Shameless,” in my book, The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses, for a modern rendition). Everything from the simplest and most hating baby steps of loving kindness toward yourself to the most exalted and shameless boasting is great for this work. Spend lots of counseling time appreciating yourself.

Forgive yourself again and again for any and all judgments you place on yourself, and keep moving in the direction of loving kindness and compassionate self-care. You were born wonderful, always have been wonderful, and still are completely wonderful.

Guidelines: There really is no formula for doing your life’s work, nor for this particular piece of working through issues related to your decision whether to use psychiatric drugs. Nevertheless, I have suggested certain guidelines which have been shown to be useful. However, the actual process of recovery is totally unique, organic, and most definitely nor a linear experience. Here are some guidelines to support you in your decision to withdraw from psychiatric drugs:

1) Take exquisite care of yourself. Be practical; 2) See yourself through eyes of compassion; 3) Get the best information you can; 4) Establish the best support for yourself that you can; 5) Find a safe person to talk to; 6) Counsel on chronic hopelessness; 7) Tell your story in detail. 8. Counsel on fear of getting off drugs– be dramatic about what could happen; 9. Talk about what will be good about life without drugs; 10) Reach for closeness with your counselor; 11) Focus on how safe you are now; 12) Allow yourself to discharge the fear by laughing, shaking, trembling, and sweating; 13) Always remember that it is your decision whether or not to use drugs!

No one else is in your body, no one else has had your experience, no one else knows better that you what is the best decision for you. My purpose is not to say that you should get off drugs. It is to say that most people are on psychiatric drugs under false pretenses, and it is to say that there are inevitable consequences to drug use. First and foremost, my intention is to lend support to the possibility of your making a fully in-formed consent regarding any decision to use psychiatric drugs. This means that you know and understand that it is not a medicine for a biologically based mental illness. It is a decision about using mood-altering drugs, usually to slow down or speed up what is happening in your mind/body. You have every right, knowing the issues involved and the full range of drug effects, to decide that it is in your best interest to take a drug, or to continue taking a drug or drugs to which you are now addicted. Regardless of your decision, the good news about working on these issues is that emotional release often frees up your intelligence to make clearer decisions that are not based in fear or shame.

Speaking out: My final thoughts to share with you on this issue are based on a discovery I have made in my own life, and in my observations of the inspiring individuals I have come to know in the mental health liberation movement. I have had the privilege to watch and work with many people who identify themselves as psychiatric survivors, individuals who feel grievously harmed by psychiatry, who call themselves survivors, and who have become active in challenging the oppression they see in the Mental Health System. Withdrawal from drugs is one very specific and important example of personal recovery. It is also very much a political decision and action, overtly challenging and rejecting an ideology and a system of power. Tremendous courage is required.

Freedom from psychiatric drugs stands alone as an outstanding accomplishment for anyone who has become addicted to these drugs for whatever reason. Life appears to be set up, however, such that we can never rest on our laurels for long. There is always a next step, another level of recovery or personal growth. My own experience is that a huge past of reclaiming my power is about my willingness to speak the truth, to take a stand and speak out against oppression. I do not recommend that anyone go straight from drug withdrawal into political activism; learning and building a foundation of persona healing and compassionate self-care needs to be top priority. Speaking to safe people and discharging should come before going public. Liberation from the effects of psychiatric abuse can be so scary; it is vitally important to have good support and strong allies. Organizations like Support Coalition International and The National Empowerment Center are important to connect with.

Nevertheless, what I have observed is that speaking out publicly and lending a hand and a voice against oppression is a necessary step to a full-bodied recovery. The activist survivors that I know are living examples of this truth. Each of us does this in our own unique way. Just know that speaking out at some point will greatly facilitate your own personal growth. Besides, we really need your help.

 

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Biopsychiatry – Mental Illness as “Brain Disease” – the major problem with modern psychiatry

Have you heard that mental illness, according to some in the profession of psychiatry (mainly in the United States) is “brain disease”? What do you think? Is it a coincidence that many studies aiding in these theories of what is known as biopsychiatry are being made on the basis of the outcomes of studies that are largely funded by pharmaceutical companies in the United States? Do you think that all psychiatrists or even all psychologists agree with this un-proven conclusion? Many do not agree. One very well known opponent of his own profession’s all-too-common practice in recent years is Australian psychiatrist, Dr. Niall (Jock) McLaren. I interviewed Dr. McLaren on Friday July 23, 2010, at 7pm EST on The Psyche Whisperer Radio Show on blogtalkradio.com

Niall (Jock) McLaren, MD, is an Australian psychiatrist, author and theoretician. His work opposes the mainstream view in psychiatry to the extent that he argues modern psychiatry has no scientific basis whatsoever. However, he insists that he is not “anti-psychiatry,” but a committed scientist following his duty of criticizing the prevailing models in his field in order to improve it. He is the author of the two books, Humanizing Madness: Psychiatry and the Cognitive Neurosciences. 2007; and Humanizing Psychiatry: The Biocognitive Model. 2009. He is working on another book due out later this year.

“McLaren has never held an academic post and has had practically no involvement in teaching, either medical students or post-graduate trainees in psychiatry. At the beginning of his training in psychiatry, he was interested in the biology of mental disorders but soon realized that many of the claims being made by biological psychiatrists were simply not supported by the state of neurosciences. At the same time, he developed an interest in psychotherapy and delved into psychoanalysis but soon reached the same conclusion, that analysts were making claims which went beyond the available evidence. In particular, he noted the way they quoted from Freud, analysed the quote and determined it was correct. This led him directly to the philosophy of science and the philosophy of mind, as well as studies in history and epistemology. When he was accepted as a PhD candidate, he had no training or qualifications in philosophy but was required to complete several philosophy units before proceeding. His books are the culmination of a long and, he says, lonely journey. The response of mainstream psychiatry in Australia to his work ranges from indifference to hostility. The author does not claim to be “anti-psychiatry.” As a psychiatrist with 35 years diverse experience in difficult and remote areas (including extensive work with veterans and aboriginals), he insists his interest lies in building the foundations for a better psychiatry: “A critical analysis of the logical status of modern psychiatry shows that psychiatry has no rational basis to its practice, its teaching and its research. At best, it is a protoscience.” In his view modern psychiatry is currently operating within the Kuhnian realm of “normal science.” He regards psychoanalysis and behaviorism as historical aberrations, eighty-year deviations which could have been averted if psychiatrists had looked critically at what was being offered.”

“Similarly, he argues that biological psychiatry is “mere scientism,” the inappropriate application of scientific methods and procedures to questions with no empirical content. The claim that mental disorder can be reduced to a matter of brain disorder is, he insists, a metaphysical claim which cannot be resolved by brain scans or blood tests: “The claim that all mental disorder is due to a chemical imbalance of the brain is an ideological claim, where ideology preconceives reality.” He emphasizes that the major problem with modern psychiatry is that it lacks a unified model of the mind and has become entrapped in a biological reductionist paradigm. The reasons for this biological shift are intuitive as reductionism has been very effective in other fields of science and medicine. However, despite reductionism’s efficacy in explaining the smallest parts of the brain this does not explain the mind, which is where he contends the majority of psychopathology stems from. An example would be that every aspect of a computer can be understood scientifically down to the very last atom, however this does not reveal the program that drives this hardware.” (Source – Wikipedia)

Personality Disorder – (From Wikipedia – by Paige Lovitt )

[In his book Humanizing Psychiatry] “He begins with defining personality as “the distinguishing, habitual forms of interaction between the individual and her environment in the stable, adult modes of behavior…personality just is a set of rules” and argues that previous methods of defining personality are but mere typologies (i.e., personality as described by behaviorism). Typologies do not describe or determine the roots of personality but merely put personality into groupings which can then predict future actions based on previous actions. From a psychiatry perspective this falls short because the therapist’s goal is to modify behavior by reconciling the personality and guiding it.

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However, the output of personality is not static and can vary depending upon the situation and the largely unconscious rules which guide it. An example in the book reveals “consider Mr. James Smith, a man of normal intellect and no compelling idiosyncrasies, who is sitting quietly on a park bench somewhere. He brings to his bench a personal background, a huge, rich history of events dating almost from the day he was born. His head is full of rules derived from his myriad life experiences, some of which he could tell you but most of which he couldn’t. These rules amount to his personality (note I didn’t say rules are identical with personality,; a generative mechanism is not the same as its output, of which more later). When something happens near him, his reaction is determined by a high-speed and unreportable interaction between what he sees and his unique set of rules. some of his rules are more or less fixed and won’t vary much from one year to the next, but some are more fluid, even a little unpredictable. If, today, a man comes past and asks him for money, Mr. Smith may be inclined to smile indulgently and hand over a few coins. However, another day, he may have had an argument with his wife or his boss and not be feeling so chipper; this time, the same wheedling request may elicit only a snarl to get a haircut and a job. His personality hasn’t changed, and the inconsistency doesn’t mean he has a personality disorder, he’s just being normal. Normality is a huge, multidimensional range and behavior is only disordered at the extremes.” Additionally, since personality is guided by rules coded in memory “therefore, anything that interferes with memory can affect the rules we call personality, and anything that affects current computational capacity will affect the application of those rules.”

Personality disorder is then defined, “if the rules governing a person’s life are internally inconsistent, or there are so many of them that he can’t reach a decision, or they generate disabling emotions or cause repeated conflict with his neighbors, then we say he has a personality disorder.” However, the major problem with personality disorders is that the “distorted rules give rise to the disordered behavior and generates an output state which serves to reinforce the rules. That is, either directly or indirectly, the individual’s behavior or emotions are such as to convince him that his beliefs or rules are correct (therefore creating a positive feedback loop of psychopathology, ie a vicious cycle). Of course, he doesn’t refer to them as rules; he simply knows what is right.” The author lists several examples but one of widespread significance is “I’m stupid, ugly and worthless. I hate myself.” which leads to “if my girlfriend looks at another man, she’s probably thinking of leaving me.””

The author argues that the path of mental wellness should involve replacing destructive rules with more adaptive standards. He contends that in general religion, the Freudian model, relaxation therapy, and many other therapies fall short because they seek to “suppress the output without changing the pathological factors generating the output.”

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Biopsychiatry Illuminated

THE CANDLELIGHT PROJECT
by Bob Collier

24 November 2003
Issue 69Pseudo-Science Among Us
by Dean BlehertPart 1

INTRODUCTION:

Increasingly one sees articles about the overprescription of psychiatric drugs like Ritalin and Prozac among school children. Even the New York Times got into the act recently, despite its bias towards the large pharmaceutical companies who pay so much for ad space and would prefer to pretend the controversy doesn’t exist. When even the Times decides that this news is fit to print, the issue is getting too hot to ignore.

In the following article, I want to shift focus from debates about how much of a drug is too much to the basic scientific validity of the psychiatric labels — alleged disorders – that lead to the drugging of millions of children in the United States. I want to remove from the discussion some assumptions that make it difficult for us to see what’s before us. The main assumption is that because a great deal of science (especially chemistry) is involved in psychiatric medication, the psychiatric programs are, themselves, scientific. By analogy, if a mass murder killed millions of people by use of highly “scientific” weaponry designed in advanced laboratories (a la Lex Luthor), one would conclude that the killing of millions of people was part of a “scientific program”. That sounds absurd, but prominent Nazi psychiatrists running experiments in the death camps tried, with considerable success, to persuade themselves and their colleagues that the killing was the extension of a “valid” scientific program (euthanasia of the insane and handicapped).

And in particular, I’d like to make it clear exactly what is meant when someone argues that various alleged psychiatric conditions (for example, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, ADHD) do not exist. Obviously children can be found who manifest the symptoms attributed to ADHD. How then can it be argued that ADHD does not exist? No one denies that some people are tired, but we would probably not be willing to call “tiredness” a psychiatric disorder. Why not? And what would happen if we did? And is the psychiatric classification (ADHD, for example) liable to lead to trouble? I’ve tried to answer these questions below.

Finally, it is my intention to provide an overview, not a scholarly study full of references to studies, but a view of the logic — the science or lack thereof — behind the current scene in psychiatry. Most articles on the subject concentrate on horror stories, pro and con: Mother fears her child won’t get the Ritalin that has helped him so much (how much? No scientific assessment available), or mother claims her son has been ruined by Ritalin. Such stories impinge, but tend to paralyze thought and observation. First of all, we know that many people with ADHD and other conditions get huge gains when given placebos (pills that are known to do nothing). Often, in the tests submitted to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to prove the effectiveness of new drugs, people given placebos (e.g., sugar tablets) show nearly as much improvement as those given the new drugs. Often the drug companies must nurse the statistics considerably to be able to claim a significant difference.

And many of the drugs now in use were tested with inactive placebos. That is, the “control group” is not supposed to know it is receiving a placebo. It is supposed to think it is receiving a potent drug. When sugar tablets are used as placebos, the people taking them, noticing that there are no obvious physical side effects, know they are receiving placebos. Studies have shown that when people are given active placebos — pills that are known to have no effect on the disorder being treated, but that have noticeable side effects (e.g., itching or dry mouth) — they give a much higher rate of “improvement” than do sugar tablets, because the control group is convinced it is receiving a potent drug. The point is, the fact that some people claim gains from, say, Ritalin, is meaningless in the absence of statistics on the gains themselves and on what proportion of users receive them and over what period of time. And even then, gains must be closely defined: What a teacher calls a gain (child sitting still in class) may have little to do with the welfare of the child, but may please the parents, since the child is given a glowing grade.

Similarly, stories of horrors (suicides, children taken from parents who won’t let the children be drugged, etc.) are moving, but hard to evaluate without knowing how many others are helped by the drug. And in most cases the pharmaceutical companies have pat, almost indisputable answers to any claimed bad side effects, one or more of the following:

1. You can’t prove it was caused by our drug.

2. Of course he killed himself; he was depressed to begin with. That’s why he was taking our drug. He simply came to us too late.

3. He shouldn’t have stopped taking the drug.

4. Yes, there are bad side effects, but they occur in only a tiny percentage of cases.

The last answer is particularly clever, because, though doctors are supposed to report bad side effects they observe, surveys of doctors in recent years have shown that few of them know they are supposed to do this or know how to do it. What the drug companies really mean is “…in only a tiny percentage of cases, so far as we know, based on the few reports we get and based on our eliminating from the statistics any bad effects that we feel can’t be PROVEN to be connected with our drug.” Where people have sued pharmaceutical companies because someone has, for example, taken Prozac, then gone berserk and killed people, the companies nearly always try to settle out of court on the condition that the settlement be kept confidential, then claim that it has not been proven that their product was at fault.

Similarly, where children have shot up their schools, psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical company agents are always on the scene to ensure that the medical records of the shooters are sealed under medical privacy laws, so that it is difficult to ascertain whether the shooters were under psychiatric treatment or on psychiatric drugs. In most cases, we’ve eventually learned that they were, but the information came from relatives or friends. In the case of Eric Harris (the Colorado shooting), we learned about his psychiatric medication (Luvox) from the Army, where he’d tried to enlist.

It is hard, perhaps impossible, to get all the data needed to weigh the anecdotes. It is easier to find statistics on the abuses than on the gains, which is suggestive, since one would think that pharmaceutical companies, earning billions and claiming their drugs are safe and effective, would be able to produce proofs of their long-range effectiveness – long-range since children are expected to take these drugs for years — but no such proofs exist.

The battle of anecdotes is no doubt worth fighting, but here my intention is to get behind the anecdotes to the scientific basics: What is it that psychiatry calls a disorder? How does it determine this? What science is behind this? How are the medications developed? When we debate the effectiveness of Ritalin in treating ADHD, is this analogous to debating whether a particular anti-biotic can subdue a known microbe? Or is it more like debating whether to cure an invasion of evil spirits by throwing pepper over one’s right shoulder or one’s left shoulder. (And my apologies to the witch doctors for this analogy, since studies exist that show they have as high a cure rate as Western psychiatrists and psychologists.)

I simply want to put the debate in the correct perspective: Are we debating about science, and should we defer to people who call themselves scientific authorities and who know much more than most of us know about brain chemistry and symptoms of disorders? If not, let’s find out what it is we’re debating.

A final note: Little in what follows is new or original. Much of it can be found in longer, more detailed works by Thomas Szasz and others. I am trying to simplify and highlight a few key points and make them as clear as I can for as many people as possible.

DSM IV:

DSM IV: that is, edition 4 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual — sounds scientific. What is it? It’s a list of conditions, including various supposed types of anxiety, depression, phobia (fear of flying, coffee, colors, women, etc. — over 500 fears), bad handwriting, difficulty with mathematics, too much religious belief, too active, too inactive, angry, upset after pregnancy, upset before or after menstruation, difficulty reading, etc. — thousands of fears, angers, beliefs, emotions, attitudes. It is the Bible of organized psychiatry and the envy of organized psychology.

Each condition is described by a list of symptoms (each such list being a “syndrome”) that one is supposed to use to diagnose the condition. Each condition is said to be a disorder, a lapse of mental health. Statistics accompany these lists that purport to say what percentage of the population of the United States suffers from each disorder. (Someone put the statistics together and concluded that in the United States, many times the number of people there are in the United States suffer from one or more mental disorders.) The statistics are alarming, but shouldn’t be, since they have no scientific basis. They are simply pulled out of a hat. The current figure — if it hasn’t increased as I write — tossed about by the media as being an estimate from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is that 50,000,000 Americans need psychiatric help. Years ago (in the 50′s), the announced statistics were “one in 25″. A decade later they were “one in 10″ and later “one in 3″. The sources of these statistics have never provided evidence for them, nor have the sound-byte-hungry media ever demanded evidence. After all, they are statistics, and they come from the authorities on mental health.

The definitions of the various conditions often overlap. No objective tests for the presence or absence of these conditions is given. Definitions are loose enough and conditions numerous enough that it is possible to find a description that will fit ANYONE. Thus, by use of DSM IV, any person can be found to suffer from a mental health disorder requiring treatment. Any person can be said to be either too active or too inactive, too anxious or too serene, too religious or too cynical — whatever you happen to be is (or may easily be made to seem) a disorder (or dysfunction, a sexier term). There are even disorders that apply to a person who disagrees with the validity of such diagnoses. In other words, if you think the DSM is bunk, you are, per the DSM, mentally ill.

Who compiled this manual? A committee of psychiatrists on behalf of the APA. How did they compile it? By proposing new disorders (the manual expanding greatly with each edition) and voting them into the manual. One member of the committee later vented her disagreement with the process publicly, stating that she was astonished at the lack of scientific discussion and scientific evidence. She said it seemed as though they were voting on whether to order Chinese or Italian for lunch, not creating a standard list of mental illnesses.

The development of this manual from edition to edition has mostly consisted of the creation of new conditions, but where politically expedient, conditions have been removed. For example, early editions included homosexuality, but when this became politically incorrect (and with no scientific justification either for the inclusion or the exclusion), homosexuality was removed from the DSM. Remember those words, “politically expedient”. They answer a lot of questions. If women’s organizations (e.g., NOW) raised enough stink about conditions like Post Menstrual Syndrome being listed as a mental disorder, it would vanish from the next edition — with no new studies to justify the change.

Scientific Basis:

What, then, is the scientific basis for defining these conditions as disorders, diseases, syndromes? To begin with, what constitutes “scientific basis?” Most people confuse “science” with anything scientific sounding. Thus, when medical wisdom called for the bleeding of sick patients to rid them of excess “humors” (a theory in vogue with the very best authorities for centuries), this seemed quite scientific to the general populace, because it was propounded in big words (like “propounded”) by recognized medical authorities, and because it was associated with all sorts of scientific trimmings. For example, to bleed someone, a surgeon had to know where to apply leeches, how the circulatory system worked, etc. Similarly, lobotomies (which cut out or sliced up frontal lobes and made vegetables out of people to cure them of depression) were extremely scientific: It takes surgical knowledge to slice up a brain without instantly killing a body or badly disfiguring it. It takes enough knowledge of the brain to know which slices will leave the motor controls intact (so that one gets a vegetable that can still walk), and so forth. Doesn’t the word “lobotomy” sound more scientific than “torture” or “slicing up brains”? And it’s done by people in white lab coats on operating tables.

In this sense of the word “scientific”, everything to do with psychiatry and DSM IV is thoroughly scientific. The scientific trimmings are gorgeous: Every psychiatrist is an MD, and most can talk persuasively about double-blind studies and chemical imbalances. (Note: “Double-blind study” is one where neither the people dispensing the drugs nor the people receiving the drugs know which are receiving the “real” drug and which are receiving the “fake” drug or placebo. That way the psychiatrist isn’t biased by his knowledge so that he “sees” improvement only in the subjects receiving the “real” drug.)

But the sense of “scientific” we usually mean when we speak of a scientific basis for something is a great deal more than jargon and trimmings. For example, in traditional (that is, non-psychiatric) medicine, a disorder or disease is typically defined as follows: First a set of symptoms is observed repeatedly. Then research is conducted to locate the cause of the symptoms — for example, a germ, a nutritional deficiency, a toxin. Then a remedy is found. Such a set of symptoms is not labeled a “disease” until the various similar sets of symptoms have been linked to a common cause.

Why not? First, because it is dangerous to equate similar symptoms to a single illness, for example, to assume that because two people suffer from headaches, they must both have the same illness. What if one person’s headache derives from a vitamin deficiency, while another’s derives from a brain tumor? The second person may die of his tumor while being treated with vitamins to remedy a non-existent deficiency. The first person may die under the knife (for surgery to remove his non-existent tumor) because his immune system is weakened by the unremedied vitamin deficiency. They have similar symptoms, but until these symptoms are found to be from the same cause, it is dangerous, possibly fatal, to assume that they are the same disease.

The cause is that which, when remedied, eliminates the illness. Medicine defines a condition tentatively, then searches for the cause, then the remedy. Medicine proves out a proposed diagnosis by verifying that every time the symptoms that are supposed to define the condition are present, the identical causes are also present. Thus, if a man has a headache and cramps, since several different causes may lead to these symptoms, the doctor must look for other symptoms to better diagnose the condition. There are, then, objective tests (observable, repeatable, with predictable results) for a medical condition, once it is understood. A person either has the condition or does not. Any treatment of a condition not thus understood is experimental at best. (By that standard, all psychiatric treatments and medications are experimental at best.)

Second, inventing names for “syndromes” in the absence of such understanding creates the illusion that something is known about the cause of the supposed condition when nothing is known, only a list of symptoms. This creates a medical elite exalted by medical jargon, their status having no basis in useful expertise. It substitutes a superstition (Scientism?) for science.

The Scientific approach, then, would be (and I know I’m repeating this ad nauseam, but it’s a key point, if we’re to have scientists, not high priests) to identify a possible illness (set of symptoms), find (by verifiable experiments) a cause, then develop a cure that handles the known cause. A non-scientific approach might be to chant spells over patients, and if one of the patients gets better, use the spell that apparently worked on every patient. Since many conditions are entirely or partly psycho-somatic, this will often work, just as a placebo will often work as well as the “real” medicine. One highly effective treatment is to have Mummy kiss it and make it well. And there are many other non-scientific approaches.

Some are perhaps more scientific than we think. That is, studies not yet done may one day show us the scientific basis of having Mummy kiss it and make it well. (Or the studies may have existed for years but not found publication in professional journals. After all, how would 12-year-educated experts make money if any mother had as much expertise as they?)

Copyright © Dean Blehert

Source: adhd-report.com

Visit ‘Words & Pictures’, the website of Pam and Dean Blehert, artist and poet, at:
http://www.blehert.com/

 

 

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Pharma Not in Business of Health, Healing, Cures, Wellness

Whether drugs are prescribed for some physical illnesses or mental illness pharmaceutical companies are not in the business of health, healing, cures, or your wellness. They are about making money. They need you to need the drugs to continue to make money. So many drugs are not more effective than placebos that they are compared to in studies. Information that you need to know is not widely available. Pharma funds television stations, major journals, advertising for television, advertising for journals, and effectively controls mainstream media. Pharma considers people as “cash cows”.

What is the difference between a disease or a disorder. There are options that are much more effective than drugs.

 

Psychiatry – Making a Killing

Source: Truthfultv on YouTube.com


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