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A psychiatrist criticises the psychiatric publishing industry

Posts Tagged ‘Life and Mental Health Coach A.J. Mahari’

Is Psychiatry an Industry of Death?

Is psychiatry an industry of death? Do we have an epidemic of mental illness or an epidemic of psychiatry? Psychiatry has invasive and destructive practices. Who are they really serving? Many would say, they are only serving themselves. Going all the way back through the history of psychiatry it becomes clear that psychiatry is not a science and in the present climate of the medical model of biopsychiatry which is being mass-marketed by Big Pharma from which many psychiatrists are getting very rich in the name of disservice to the very people they have an ethical responsibility to actually help and support. What is going on in psychiatry? How could it be an industry – an industry of death?

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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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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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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Don’t Drug Them First – Children, ADHD & Drugs – Dr. Rapp

Why is the first choice when children have attention problems, behaviour problems, and/or other symptoms or issues for biopsychiatry to be only too-happy to jump in quickly and not only diagnose children with an increasing and alarming amount of diagnositic labels such as ADD, ADHD, and so on, but also why are they so quick to give them drugs, drugs that are much more dangerous than most people realize? Dr. Doris Rapp, M.D. believes that many of what biopsychiatry views as mental health disorders are difficulties that result from environmental sensitivity or allergies.


Doris J. Rapp, M.D. founder of the Health Research Foundation is committed to educating both the public and health professionals about the distressing physical and behavioral changes that frequently disrupt the lives and well-being of children and adults. “The more we know, the more we can protect ourselves and our loved ones by taking some often easy and inexpensive precautions. We simply have to make better choices.”

Center for Health and Hope Website : http://www.acenterforhealthandhope.com/

Dr. Rapp has dedicated her life to providing research, information and solutions for those affected by the typical and less frequently recognized forms of allergies. New suggestions will help entire families and those who seek to treat them more quickly and effectively. Today, through the Health Research Foundation, she hopes to conduct breakthrough studies into the underlying causes of hyperactivity, allergies, autism, and memory loss . “We also want to make doctor visits and vitamins available to low income and underserved populations who suffer from so many symptoms, but cannot afford what will help them. We also hope to disseminate fast easy helpful ways so many can cope more effectively.

Dr. Rapp is adamant that the best choice of therapy for inappropriate behavior and activity in children is not another “off-label” drug that has not been proven safe for children. There are better practical, simple, fast and inexpensive choices to many of the challenging physical, emotional, behavioral and memory problems that are much to prevalent at the present time. A change in diet, an air purifier and getting rid of chemicals in the home can turn around in a few days or a week or two the lives of many.

It is through the Health Research Foundation that Dr. Doris Rapp hopes to continue inspiring everyone’s awareness about the relation of the environment and our health and well being.

She has a three-fold mission:

  • To inform the public and educate medical doctors about health issues, i.e. environmental health issues.
  • Conduct research to find better, faster, easier, less expensive and safer ways to help children and their families.
  • To help underprivileged children obtain the specific healthcare they need.
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    Please visit: dorisrappmd.com for more information.

     

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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

    Or you can visit the show’s blog at psychewhisperer.com

    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.

     

    © A.J. Mahari & The Psyche Whisperer Radio Show

    Psychiatry – Making a Killing

    Source: Truthfultv on YouTube.com


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