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A psychiatrist criticises the psychiatric publishing industry

Posts Tagged ‘big pharma’

Robert Whitaker – Rethinking Psychiatric Care

Author of “Anatomy of an Epidemic” talks about re-thinking psychiatric care – psychiatric drugs are creating a dangerous epidemic and they cause mental health patients to die, in many cases, 25 years sooner than those who do not have mental illness and more specifically who do not take these drugs.

Biopsychiatry is Pathologizing Human Experience

Biopsychiatry, the so-called medical model of psychiatry, which is pseudo-science, junk science, massively marketed but not scientifically proven at all is pathologizing human experience. People are being unethically treated. People are being abused. There is increasing abuse of power on the part of many psychiatrists who continue to follow the blind leading them with this supposed “medical model” of “treatment” and continue to schedule 10-15 minute appoinments for the purpose of prescribing dangerous medication. Where’s the help in that? Where’s the best interest of patients in that? Fitting 4 people into every hour is lucrative for a biopsychiatrist. Does biopsychiatry care that it is exploiting the very people it is mandated to help and to serve? It can be argued that biopsychiatry serves no one except the biopsychiatrist and the pharmaceutical industry.

The over-lap between many biopsychiatrists and drug money from Big Pharma is increasing at an alarming rate. How can patients be served by psychiatrists in the back pocket of Big Pharma? It’s a money grab, it’s not ethical medical/psychiatric treatment at all.

Psychiatric drugs have many adverse side-effects. On top of that, many are not even properly studied before being mass-marketed to mental health consumers. Many of the known side-effects of these drugs aren’t adequately communicated to patients, if communicated at all.

Psychiatric oppression is growing in leaps and bounds as more and more people seeking help, support, and treatment are being “treated” as a market to market drugs to and are be “treated” like they do not have the right to “informed consent.”

Biopsychiatry is about social control now. It is not treatment. There is no such thing as normal. In fact, biopsychiatry justifies itself by the money it makes not anything to do with actually helping people or even demonstrating compassion for people. Biopsychiatry is an unethical money-grab.

There is no such thing as normal. Ask yourself, how then, can biopsychiatry truly even begin to perfect the “art” of categorizing what is so abnormal?

Biopsychiatry is pathologizing the human experience. A small number of psychiatrists are the actual authors of the Diagnositc Statistical Manual (DSM) that is known as the bible of psychiatry. It is the book from which all labels, categories, and diagnoseable disorders come. It is something that has a process whereby a select group of professionals write and organize all of the disorders and classifications of “mental disorder” or “mental illness”. And then, get this, they (who “they” are in numbers is again, not a large group) then vote on what gets included and what doesn’t. That’s right, they vote. Does that sound scientific to you?

If you go to a psychiatrist for yourself, a loved one or a child of yours is seeing a biopsychiatrist, be armed with questions and information. Today’s brand of psychiatrist is not some demi-God to just be believed. He or she may well not have your best interests at the forefront of their “treatment”. They may well be in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry and you will/your loved one or your child may be prescribed psychiatric medication, most of which has never been proven to actually do what they claim it does. It is this very medication that is actually the only proven and known cause of any chemical imbalance in the brain. That is to say, mental illness, or having trouble coping, or being in distress, does not, I repeat, DOES NOT mean you have a chemical imbalance in your brain. Read more about the professionals who disagree with the “party line” of psychiatry (biopsychiatry today).

Biopsychiatrists don’t see you. They don’t hear you. They have been indoctrinated into believing that mental illness is a brain disease and that the pills they give you are “treatment”. Biopsychiatrists are pathologizing human experience to hold onto and/or increase their own importance, power, and ability to make money. That’s not about you. That’s not going to help you.

Biopsychiatrists are not listenting to you or to your experience. They are more concerned with getting you on medication that can and will make you a “mental health consumer” for life. That’s lucrative for the entire system. How does that benefit you?

Are you surprised to read this? Do you feel shocked that many of these biopsychiatrists aren’t ethical? Have you just believed them without questioning them? Do you believe that medication is the answer to your distress? It really isn’t, you know.

Biopsychiatrists, by the very nature of their belief in a) almost anything and everything felt by people as being a mental illness – a brain disorder – b) their not taking the time to actually hear you, talk with you, understand and actually evalute the context of what you tell them, are pathologizing and dehumanizing human experience.

That is to say, so much of human experience that can be distressing or that people come to experience without the skills to cope effectively does not mean there is a diagnostic label that fits all or that everyone in distress is even mentally ill at all.

Empower yourself. Research this more. Keep an open mind and know that the quality of your life, should you need help from the Mental Health System, depends upon it. You need to be an advocate for yourself, your loved one, or your child.

© A.J. Mahari, August 31, 2010 – All rights reserved.

 

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Biopsychiatric Oppression: Where are all the Dissenting Voices?

Author, Life Coach and Mental Health Coach, A.J. Mahari, asks you to think about this question when it comes to biopsychiatry, “Where are all the dissenting voices?” Why would I ask this, you might wonder? What does it mean? Is it important? Ask yourself, are you believing in the pill-driven marketing of the pharmaceutical industry? Marketing that is done through and by the many psychiatrists who are supposed to be involved in objective science? Who do you think is funding all the studies that come back with results saying this, that, and the other thing, any type of mental illness, mental disorder, or even different way of thinking or being these days is, a “brain disease”? Who wins with this junk science conclusion? A conclusion that is all about making money and not one that is really ethically about serving the medical profession, a profession whose first ethic and oath is, “do not harm”.

What is really sad, when you start to research more about the all the news, fuss, noise – and dare I say, hype of biopsychiatry, is that way too many mental health consumers are believing what they hear most often. The message delievered most often when it comes to what you need if you have a mental illness, are stressed out, or, hey, if you are different and perhaps having a bit of trouble coping, is that you need to see a psychiatrist (many more of whom are ascribing to the medical model of biopsychiatry) and you need to take this, that, and/or this, that, and the other pill. Pills, drugs, medication, whatever you want to call it is not treatment for the psyche. It cannot address very real human psychological distress. A distress that can come from one’s mind without being directly linked to some biological aspect of the brain. The brain and the mind are not entirely one and the same.

Is biopsychiatry mind control? Is this oppression of patient’s well-being, rights, and freedoms? Big Pharma is marketing medication as a science-based treatment for mental illness or psychological distress through the unethical stance of what is now referred to as the “profession” of biopsychiatry.

The fact that psychiatric journals (even most book publishers) do not want to publish dissenting professional opinions about what is going on with the claims of biopsychiatry which are put across to the public as actual science is a huge indicator of a wide-spread abuse of power and authority.

See the video on this site by Dr. Niall (Jock) McLaren: What’s Wrong with the psychiatric publishing industry?

Have you noticed the incredible increase in television commercials that are for psychiatric drugs? With all those dollars of advertising from Big Pharma being pumped into television programs and networks, –  ah – could that account for a lack of coverage of dissenting professionals opinions by psychiatrists and psychologists who do not agree with biopsychiatry and who are notably absent on talk shows, in newspaper articles, columns, and even in the profession of psychiatry’s own journals.

What is this all about? It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to know that suppressing dissent or obstructing the opinions of others is more often than not a sign that someone is hiding something. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to know that true science, real science is based upon proving claims and upon refuting challenge that must act as a built-in protection against monopoly, abuse of power, false claims, and the oppression of a group of human beings. What do you think biopsychiatry and Big Pharma are hiding from you? How can you find you out? Where can you find those speaking up and out against this? They can be found. You’ll find many such voices on this website. The thing is, you first have to realize that the absence of dissenting voices in all forms of media does not validate the messages that you’ve heard – namely that mental illness or mental disorder = “brain disease” or “brain disorder”. The troubling and perhaps even tragic danger here is that too many people aren’t finding or perhaps even looking for alternative opinions and treatments (more effective and safer treatment) because biopsychiatry and its liason with Big Pharma are dominating the market place.

Is the provision of mental health care supposed to be a market-place? Isn’t it supposed to be about helping people get well and helping people cope? Biopsychiatry is not providing treatment, it is providing dangerous drugs for all kinds of things that it defines and categorizes arbitrarily all by itself. Who is policing that?

Perhaps the term, “mental health consumer” is a bit misleading? People with mental health issues need help, support, compassion, education, understanding, and they do not need to be thought of as consumers to be marketed to for top dollars. Where’s the treatment in that? Where’s the help in that? Where’s the accountability in that?

Where there are messages or claims, or in the case of biopsychiatry, claims made about something being science that is really only, at best, about a theory, an unproven theory, there needs to be healthy debate. For that healthy balancing debate to take place Big Pharma and biopsychiatry would have to take their feet off the necks of the publishing industry, the advertising industry and off of the necks of mainstream media and professional journals.

Dissent and constructive criticism, the asking of questions, the proposing of alternative and additional information is what is required for reasonable debate. The kind of debate that can produce useable and helpful information for those in need of psychiatric help – and here’s hoping one day the profession of psychiatry will stop being led around by the nose by Big Pharma money and get back the noble and ethical pursuit of actually giving people much-needed and compassionate care and actual treatment.

© A.J. Mahari, August 22, 2010 – All rights reserved.

 

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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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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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Psychiatry – Making a Killing

Source: Truthfultv on YouTube.com


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