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A psychiatrist criticises the psychiatric publishing industry

Posts Tagged ‘Life Coaching’

Psychiatry & Big Pharma Influencing Universities


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

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

 

Anatomy of an Epidemic – Psychiatric Drugs are Dangerous


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

 

 

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

 

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What is Biopsychiatry actually treating?


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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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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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Biopsychiatry Illuminated

THE CANDLELIGHT PROJECT
by Bob Collier

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

INTRODUCTION:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSM IV:

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

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

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

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

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

Scientific Basis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Dean Blehert

Source: adhd-report.com

Visit ‘Words & Pictures’, the website of Pam and Dean Blehert, artist and poet, at:
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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.

 

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Psychiatry – Making a Killing

Source: Truthfultv on YouTube.com


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