Classic blog: ‘Talking About Psychosis, Part 1: Why Do It?’ by Marc Ragins MD

mraginsThe stuff on Mad in America just keeps getting better and better. Here’s a thought-provoking blog from another of my favourite bloggers.

‘I was taught in medical school and psychiatric residency not to talk to people about their voices and their delusions:  “It will only feed into them and make them worse.”  Nor was I supposed to argue with people with paranoia because they’ll just get agitated and won’t change their mind anyway.

We were taught that the psychoanalysts had wasted a lot of time trying to connect people with psychosis by trying to find meaning in their psychosis.  I was taught that there is no meaning.  All we needed to know about their psychosis was enough to prescribe medications and assess if the meds worked.

The venerable Chestnut Lodge where Frieda Fromm-Reichmann had treated the woman in “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” with psychoanalysis was successfully sued for not providing research-proven meds instead of talking with patients with psychosis.

Beyond that, I was told not to try to relate to the patients in the State hospital because they couldn’t handle relationships and when I left they’d feel abandoned and decompensate.  Most of my medical school class mates were more than happy to follow that advice and left the ward as fast as possible. They already knew that “people with psychosis are creepy and frightening and frustrating anyhow” without having met any of them.

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Classic Blog: ‘Neutralising Suffering: How the Medicalisation of Distress Obliterates Meaning and Creates Profit’ by Joanna Moncrieff

jmoncrieffThere is so much great content on Mad in America. Here’s a piece from British psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff, one I wholeheartedly endorse. In fact, this blog is essential reading. The original article has all the references.

‘People have used psychoactive substances to dull and deaden pain, misery and suffering since time immemorial, but only recently, in the last few decades, have people been persuaded that what they are doing in this situation is rightly thought of as taking a remedy for an underlying disease.

The spread of the use of prescription drugs has gone hand in hand with the increasing medicalization of everyday life, and a corresponding loss of the previous relationship that people had with psychoactive substances.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel Mary Barton was originally to be named after Mary’s father John Barton, a working class factory hand addicted to opium. The novel depicts the unimaginable poverty and exploitation of industrial Manchester that made opium-induced oblivion an appealing escape.

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Elyn Saks: A tale of mental illness — from the inside

“Is it okay if I totally trash your office?” It’s a question Elyn Saks once asked her doctor, and it wasn’t a joke.

A legal scholar, in 2007 Saks came forward with her own story of schizophrenia, controlled by drugs and therapy but ever-present. In this powerful talk, she asks us to see people with mental illness clearly, honestly and compassionately.

‘On Waking Up From the “American Dream”’ by Laura Delano

images-9Another powerful blog from one of my favourite writers. Please SHARE widely, Laura’s words are so important.

“These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood. But the reality is very different, as I have witnessed in many of my own students and heard from the hundreds of young people whom I have spoken with on campuses or who have written to me over the last few years.

Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.” William Deresiewicz,  Don’t Send Your Kids to the Ivy League, The New Republic, July 21st, 2014

Author’s Note: I encourage you to read Mr. Deresiewicz’ piece before continuing on with mine below.

Throughout my life, I’ve had access to privilege, especially in regards to my education, which included a lifetime of private schooling followed by matriculation at Harvard University.

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‘It Gets Better!’ by Bertel Rüdinger

brudinger‘A little more than 10 years ago, when I was 29 and 2 weeks away from turning 30, I was a patient in the psychiatric system here in Copenhagen. I am a pharmacist and I specialized in neurochemistry and psychotropics throughout my studies.

While I was working in the labs at The Royal Danish School of Pharmacy I was intent on getting a job as a medicinal chemist at Lundbeck – the Danish pharmaceutical company behind Celexa and Lexapro and in their own words the only company specializing solely in developing drugs for the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

At the university we were taught that psychiatric disorders were diseases just like diabetes and hypotension. We were told all the ‘truths’ that the psychiatrists now admit were myths about the so-called chemical imbalances in the brain and the clear genetic component of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.

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‘Talking About Psychosis, Part 1: Why Do It?’ by Marc Ragins MD

mraginsThe stuff on Mad in America just keeps getting better and better. Here’s a thought-provoking blog from another of my favourite bloggers.

‘I was taught in medical school and psychiatric residency not to talk to people about their voices and their delusions:  “It will only feed into them and make them worse.”  Nor was I supposed to argue with people with paranoia because they’ll just get agitated and won’t change their mind anyway.

We were taught that the psychoanalysts had wasted a lot of time trying to connect people with psychosis by trying to find meaning in their psychosis.  I was taught that there is no meaning.  All we needed to know about their psychosis was enough to prescribe medications and assess if the meds worked.

The venerable Chestnut Lodge where Frieda Fromm-Reichmann had treated the woman in “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” with psychoanalysis was successfully sued for not providing research-proven meds instead of talking with patients with psychosis.

Read More ➔

Psychiatric Epidemic (Part 1): The Roots – Robert Whitaker

The Psychiatric Epidemic – does long-term use of medication decrease the chance of recovery?

PsykoVision in Denmark has recently translated and published Robert Whitaker’s book, “Anatomy of an Epidemic”. In honor of this, PsykoVison has invited Whitaker to speak at a small conference in Copenhagen.

This is Part 1: The Roots of the Epidemic, where Robert Whitaker guides us through the history of psychiatric medication and presents the scientific evidence that proves that the common wisdom about theses drugs is mostly based on falsehoods.

‘Neutralising Suffering: How the Medicalisation of Distress Obliterates Meaning and Creates Profit’ by Joanna Moncrieff

jmoncrieffThere is so much great content on Mad in America. Here’s a new piece from British psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff, one I wholeheartedly endorse. In fact, this blog is essential reading. The original article has all the references.

‘People have used psychoactive substances to dull and deaden pain, misery and suffering since time immemorial, but only recently, in the last few decades, have people been persuaded that what they are doing in this situation is rightly thought of as taking a remedy for an underlying disease.

The spread of the use of prescription drugs has gone hand in hand with the increasing medicalization of everyday life, and a corresponding loss of the previous relationship that people had with psychoactive substances.

Read More ➔

What Works in Treatment?: Tim’s Story

rsz_img_2891Here are Tim’s experiences of treatment. Well, actually two different forms of treatment, one which did not help and the other that helped Tim overcome his addiction to alcohol and opiates. Tim is a doctor and his Story is packed full of insights. Here, I’ll start with his moment of clarity.

‘The epiphany which did eventually provoke some help-seeking was relatively simple. I came down to the kitchen one morning feeling wretched and defeated. I opened the cupboard and reached up. With one hand I brought down the cornflakes and with the other the whisky bottle.

I flexed my elbows to bring the two closer to me and weighing them up in my hands I thought, “There’s something not right about this… there’s something very wrong with this picture.” The bit of me that wanted to drink finally began to yield to the bit that didn’t. Shortly after, I went so see my GP.

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‘What’s Next for the Truth?’ by Suzanne Beachy

Any diagnosis of mental illness results in a complicated and uncertain fate for those it strikes. When you lose a son as a result of such a diagnosis, it ignites a search for answers. Suzanne Beachy has gained a perspective on life as a result of her loss but is still asking, “What is the truth?”

Suzanne gave this talk at the TEDxColumbus event in 2010.

“Creating Connections through Dialogue” conference

‘We live in an increasingly interdependent and interconnected world. The Creating Connections conference was an opportunity to explore various aspects of connectedness and the implications for recovery.

Health and mental health providers, people with the lived experience of mental health challenges and recovery, family members and others were invited to participate in workshops and joined in facilitated dialogue sessions to connect and learn from one another to become more effective in our lives and in our work.’

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‘Personal medicine, power statements and other disruptive innovations in healthcare technology’ by Pat Deegan

patdeegan_photoI’ve just found this exciting article by Pat Deegan which she wrote for the Scottish Recovery Network (SRN). In my humble opinion, Pat’s CommonGround approach will have an enormous impact in the mental health field.

The SRN writes: “Given her hugely influential writing and personal reflections, research interests and involvement in various policy and practice initiatives, Pat Deegan is arguably the single most influential person within the international recovery movement. Her work today is strongly focused on shared decision making approaches and here she describes how the CommonGround approach, which she has developed, has real potential to encourage systems change towards recovery.”

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Rights of the consumer

2007_0116walpole0118‘I am writing a short piece on the Survivor (or Consumer) Movement in Psychiatry at the moment.

This Movement arose initially from people who had received psychiatric treatment speaking out about what they considered to be the less helpful or abusive aspects of their treatment. They have tried to change the system so that poor practices and outright abuses cannot continue and impact negatively on other people.

Whilst writing this piece, I came across an article by Sally Clay, A Personal History of the Consumer Movement, which is well worth a read. How many things described here are relevant to people’s experiences in the addiction treatment field?

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