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A psychiatrist criticises the psychiatric publishing industry

Posts Tagged ‘borderline personality’

What’s Wrong with the psychiatric publishing industry?

Dr. Niall (Jock) McLaren is an Australian psychiatrist who criticises the psychiatric publishing industry. He knows what it is  like. He has many valid and important opinions that he’s like to contribute to psychiatric journals and they refuse to publish his papers because he doesn’t agree with the current ways in which psychiatry – even more specifically biopsychiatry – is forwarding the claim that mental disorder (or mental illness) is a brain disorder. A claim that the biopsychiatric “profession” is making without any actual scientific proof whatsoever. What’s wrong with the psychiatric and general publishing industries when they won’t publish differing points of view?

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


“Psychiatric publishing is a huge, vastly influential industry controlled by a select group of insiders. However, it fails to meet any of the criteria for scientific publishing. In the first place, there is no agreed model of mental disorder which the research must address. Secondly, the main criterion by which editors choose papers is whether they like them. Finally, the industry is antagonistic to criticism, whereas criticism is the essence of science: if there is no criticism, there is no progress, and if there is no progress, there is no science.
The relationship between the drug industry and the psychiatric publishing industry is another topic.

As it is presently constituted, the psychiatric publishing industry exists only to bolster the current, biological approach to mental disorder. It offers no guarantee whatsoever that the material being published is either valid or reliable.”

© Dr. Niall (Jock) McLaren

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Psychiatric Drugs Replacing Talk Therapy

As drugs move in, talk therapy moves out

By Erica Westly   

In the 1960s, the heyday of psychoanalysis, psychiatrists often saw their patients five days a week. But the number of psychiatrists today who focus on talk therapy is dwindling, according to a recent study that analyzed trends in psychiatry offices across the U.S. The study’s authors determined that between 1996 and 2005 the percentage of psychiatry office visits involving psychotherapy decreased from about 44.4 percent—already a significant decline from the 1980s—to 28.9 percent.

One of the main causes for this 35 percent reduction in psychotherapy, the study’s authors say, is the increasing availability of psychiatric medications with few adverse effects. As patient demand for these medications has increased over the years, they argue, many psychiatrists have had their hands full managing patients’ prescriptions, leaving the talk therapy—if it happens at all—to nonmedical therapists, such as psychologists and social workers. The authors suggest that insurance companies may encourage this arrangement by reimbursing less for psychotherapy sessions and more for medication management sessions, which tend to be shorter.

All these changes, the authors point out, have left psychiatrists wondering what their place is in the mental health field. “I think what these data show is a profession in transition,” says Mark Olfson, a psychiatrist and public health researcher at Columbia University and co-author of the study. “The role of the psychiatrist is changing, and the impact of that on patient outcomes is really an open question.”

Historically, psychiatrists have managed all aspects of patients’ care, and many psychiatrists who trained heavily in psychoanalytical techniques contend that such an all-­inclusive care model works best for patients. Others favor a split-care model, preferring to handle the medical side of patient care and delegating psychotherapy to nonmedical professionals. “We find there are really two kinds of psychiatrists now,” says Ramin Mojtabai, the study’s other author and a researcher at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.

It is not yet clear whether one care model benefits patients more than the other does, although some studies indicate, at least for disorders such as depression, that a combination of both psychotherapy and medication works better than either treatment alone. So psychiatrists who want to be involved in their patients’ psychotherapy need to make some changes to keep treatment financially feasible for patients, Olfson says. Many psychiatrists have started forming group practices with psychologists, which allows them to play a role in their patients’ therapy with fewer reimbursement issues from insurance companies.

Both patients and clinicians stand to gain from an office environment that integrates the biomedical perspective of psychiatrists with the more behavioral perspective of psychologists, says Mojtabai, who holds degrees in both disciplines. “Psychologists and psychiatrists look at problems somewhat differently and can work well together to help the patient,” he notes.

Note: This article was originally printed with the title, “Psychiatry in Flux”.

Source: Scientific American

 

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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?

 

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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Psyche Whisperer Radio Show with host A.J. Mahari

A.J. Mahari, an author, Life Coach and Mental Health Coach, and an avid student of many wide-ranging topics of interest in life, has been referred to as a psyche whisperer by clients and friends alike. She hosts The Psyche Whisperer Radio Show on blogtalkradio.com.

 

You can visit the show page on blogtalkradio.com at Psyche Whisperer

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Not all episodes of the show are about the topic of this site. Some are and will be included here but please check the above links for more and for what is up-coming on the show as well.

 

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Psychiatry – Making a Killing

Source: Truthfultv on YouTube.com


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