‘Say ‘No’ to the Fiction of Brain Diseases: Towards a New Psychiatry’ by Robert Berezin, MD

UnknownSome of you will know that I was a neuroscientist for 25 years. I left the field because I did not feel that the idea of so-called ‘brain diseases’ and drug treatments were doing much to help people recover from addiction and mental health problems.

The more I read, the more I feel that parts of psychiatry – not all – has a lot to answer for. Here’s an excellent blog from the Mad in America website, by Robert Berezin from Harvard Universty.

‘During my lifetime I have witnessed the fall of Freudian psychiatry and the ascension of molecular psychiatry. Unfortunately, we have gone from the frying pan into the fire. I certainly do not subscribe to old-fashioned psychoanalytic ideas which had been beset by considerable problems throughout the years. Its practice suffered from dogmatic theories and miscast beliefs, which worked to the detriment of responsiveness to our patients.

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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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‘Healing Trauma: What We Are Doing Wrong… and What We Need To Do To Get It Right’ by Bessel van der Kolk

338059More from Bessel van der Kolk’s wonderful book. If you want to know more about trauma and its healing, this is an essential buy.

‘We are fundamentally social creatures – our brains are wired to foster working and playing together.

Trauma devastates the social-engagement system and interferes with cooperation, nurturing, and the ability to function as a productive member of the clan.

In this book, we have seen how many mental health problems, from drug addiction to self-injurious behavior, start off as attempts to cope with emotions that become unbearable because of a lack of adequate human contact and support.

Yet institutions that deal with traumatized children and adults are all too often bypass the emotional-engagement system that is the foundation of who we are and instead focus narrowly on correcting “faulty thinking” and on suppressing unpleasant emotions and troublesome behaviors.

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Psychiatry Must Stop Ignoring Trauma, with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

Acclaimed psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk explores his field’s long, complex, and stubborn history with trauma. Dr. van der Kolk explains how psychiatry as a whole avoided progress, often misdiagnosing trauma as hysteria or, in the case of shell-shocked soldiers, malingering.

The experiences of abused women and children were more or less ignored for a century. They’re still being ignored in ways, he says.

‘One Gutsy Woman’ by Daisy Anderson

dandersonAn inspiring, beautifully written story from Mad in America about being drugged by the biological psychiatry industry and a courageous battle through drug withdrawal to recovery

‘Part One: Becoming Psychiatric: Easy as 1-2-3
Living with a mental illness is hard work. I know because I lived as a psychiatric patient for over thirty-seven years. Working to become well turned out to be even harder. I know because it took everything I had to recover. Even though eighteen psychiatrists treated me, my health only got worse. I recovered completely after hiring a private psychologist. Now, I take no psychiatric drugs and see no psychiatrists.

My almost-completed book, which I call The Daisy Project, tells the story of how I first became a patient in my home province of British Columbia, Canada, why I was sick for so long, and the hurdles I went through to fully recover. This blog provides a brief overview of my journey.

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‘MIA Continuing Education: Help Us Get The Word Out’ by Robert Whitaker

Unknown-1Mad in America (MIA) is one of my very favourite websites and I check it out for new content every day. Robert Whitaker, who developed the website, is one of favourite writers – his books Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America and Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill.

What Bob and his colleagues have done at MIA is amazing! They have really challenged the psychiatry and mental health fields to have a serious rethink about they way things are done. They have challenged the very worrying trend of assuming that all emotional distress is biological and needs ‘drugging’. They have challenged the power of drug companies and biological psychiatry. They are trying to put humanity back into human conditions.

I spent 25 years as a neuroscientist before changing career, because I felt that the field did not have the solutions for helping people recover from addiction and mental health conditions. I was also disillusioned by the misinformation that was circulated in the field and to the general public – and the outright fraud that I came across. Fifteen years of working in the ‘real’ world, I feel that I made the right decision.

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‘How Come the Word “Antipsychiatry” is so Challenging?’ by Carina Håkansson, Ph.D.

chakanssonThis is an important and insightful look at psychiatry today. Essential reading. The original is on the Mad in America website.

‘So here we go again; another meeting with another young person who describes how he is in an acute crisis – you may call it – and is diagnosed and prescribed neuroleptics. He is told by the doctor that he suffers from a life-long illness and he will from now on be dependent on his “medication.”

However, after a short while he starts to suffer from physical and emotional pain connected to the prescribed drugs. It scares him and he tells his doctor that he wants to stop taking it, and so he is told that he must not stop taking his medication and that he has to realize it is best for him. His family is told the same thing, and they are also told that if they cannot support him in this case they will need to find some help to do so.

Fortunately his family does not obey. Further they decide to find out about alternatives and so they get in touch with my workplace and we met some months ago. What happens is that the young person of course is very suspicious and he lets us – my colleague and I – understand that he does not trust us. What else to expect, re: his experience in the psychiatric ward, and how to make our meetings go in a different way?

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‘A Horrifying Journey Through the Medical System’ by Elizabeth Kenny

Actor and playwright Elizabeth Kenny performs an excerpt from her play dramatizing her horrifying journey through the American medical system. This is a story of iatrogenic injury caused by SSRIs and other medications.

If you want to learn more about such problems, then please check out the brilliant Beyond Meds blog by Monica Cassani.

‘Finding Human Life on Earth’ by Carina Håkansson

chakanssonHere is an excellent blog from the Mad in America website. Carina Håkansson is a psychotherapist and manager at Family Care Foundation in Gothenburg, Sweden, which was founded in 1987.

It’s a funny old world because I spent three years in Gothenburg from 1981 in the early stages of my neuroscience career, conducting postdoctoral research with Arvid Carlsson, the father of dopamine research. Dopamine is the brain neurotransmitter classically associated with schizophrenia.

As some of you know, I left my neuroscience career behind me in 2000 because I did not believe that drug treatments were helping people recover from addiction and mental health problems. Anyway, here is Carina:

‘Through the ISPS listserve, I read a blog this morning written by Thomas Insel, director of the NIMH. The way he described people I daily meet in work and in my own life created a rising pulse, so I decided to find  out some more about his thoughts and practice. I am not saying that what I read on his blog is unknown to me, but still it made me wonder how on earth is it possible to invest so much money – and resources – in research which is so distant from practice, and so far away from humanistic and holistic ideas and theories.

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’Self-Determination in Mental Health Recovery: Taking Back Our Lives (Part 1)’ by Mary Ellen Copeland

Unknown-7This morning I was thinking about factors that facilitate healing amongst Indigenous people in preparation for some content I’m writing for Sharing Culture. I first thought ‘self-determination’. We know that self-determination is key for recovery, yet the white-dominated society here (and in other colonised nations) forces its way of doing things on indigenous people, even when it does not work.

Anyway, I googled self-determination, and came up with this excellent article by Mary Ellen Copeland. I thought I would upload Mary Ellen’s article in several parts.

‘The most important aspect of mental health recovery for me personally is self-determination. My connection with people in the system and in recovery has convinced me that the same is true for others.

In this paper I will discuss both my personal perspectives and the perspectives of others on this important topic based on many years of experience as a person, a user of mental health services, a researcher and a teacher.

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‘Shh… Just Whisper it, But There Might Just Be a Revolution Underway’ by Peter Kinderman

pkindermanHere is an excellent article by Prof Peter Kinderman from Mad in America. Yes, recovery-based care is needed!

‘The idea that our more distressing emotions can best be understood as symptoms of physical illnesses is a pervasive, seductive but harmful myth. It means that our present approach to helping vulnerable people in acute emotional distress is severely hampered by old-fashioned, inhumane and fundamentally unscientific ideas about the nature and origins of mental health problems.

We need wholesale and radical change in how we understand mental health problems and in how we design and commission mental health services.

–o–

It’s all too easy to assume mental health problems must be mystery biological illnesses, random and essentially unconnected to a person’s life. But when we start asking questions about this traditional ‘disease-model’ way of thinking, those assumptions start to crumble.

While it obviously serves the purposes of pharmaceutical companies, ready with their chemical pseudo-solutions, the evidence doesn’t support this view.

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‘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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‘Recovering From Psychiatry’ by Laura Delano

0-71Here is an excellent website from a very special lady. Please spend time exploring the website, including Laura’s amazing Story. Here’s what Laura has to say:

‘We search, and search, and search for answers to our emotional pain, until we realize they’ve been in us all along – not in psychiatric diagnoses, psychiatric textbooks, pill bottles, or the minds of the doctors we’ve surrendered ourselves to.  At least, this has been my experience.

What does it mean to “recover” from Psychiatry?  For me, it’s meant healing from the physical, emotional, cognitive, and existential trauma of psychiatric labels and psychotropic drugs, which has taken time, patience, acceptance, and unyielding determination. 

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‘An Open Letter to Persons Self-Identifying as Mentally Ill’ by Andrew L Yoder

ayoderA brilliant and empathic blog off Mad In America. Thank you, Andrew.

‘Hello, My name is Andrew, and like you I have experienced severe cognitive and emotional distress in my life.  This distress was sufficient that I once received a psychiatric diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, though I imagine other diagnosis could have easily been applied as well.

I know what panic attacks feel like.  I know how it feels to experience a “dissociative episode” from the inside out.  I know what it feels like to believe that you are going crazy.  I know what it feels like to convulse in sobs so intensely that you tear muscles.  I know what it feels like to want to die.

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‘Part 4 of Psychiatric Epidemic: Children & ADHD’ by Robert Whitaker

Here is Part 4 of Robert Whitaker’s May 14 talk in Denmark. Here is Part 1 and Part 2, but I don’t think Part 3 is up yet.

‘Here, Robert Whitaker looks at the research that specifically deals with Children — especially ADHD but also so-called Bipolar Disorder. The evidence is clear: the ethics behind the use of these toxic medications on children is highly questionable.’

‘Prescribing Influences in Mental Health’ by Heather Ashton

Talk given at the Adverse Psychiatric Side Effects Conference, April, 2008.

‘C Heather ASHTON DM FRCP, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychopharmacology, Newcastle University, worked in the drug and poisons information unit at Newcastle Royal Infirmary for 15 years. An expert on the effects of prescription drugs on the mind.

Professor Ashton’s manual for benzodiazepine withdrawal is available worldwide at no financial benefit for the author but of great emotional and personal benefit to many thousands of people who have accessed this detailed manual. The manual is available on benzo.org.uk and many other web sites.

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‘Recovering from Psychiatry – Tips and Some Hope For Those in Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal’ by Laura Delano

This video offers tips, suggestions, and hope for those in psychiatric drug withdrawal from ex-“Bipolar” patient and psychiatric liberation writer and activist, Laura Delano. An excellent video.

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.

‘Complexity’ by Jonathan Keyes

PdxJonThis powerful blog is one of the best I have read in some time. Jonathan recognises the challenges we face in trying to improve the mental health system. Essential reading!

‘The movement to radically reform the modern mental health system is rooted in a desire to offer people going through emotional distress a wider variety of options for care.  As a society we have largely shifted to a model of care that is limited to a select few options that primarily advocates the use of strong psychotropic drugs and simplistic diagnostic labels for complex and widely varying narratives. 

Recently I read that from 1998 to 2011 there has been a 400 percent rise in the prescription of antidepressants.  Likewise in Canada, at least 60 percent of female prison inmates are prescribed psychiatric drugs.   

Most people receive psychiatric medication from their general practitioner.  The stigma of going on an antidepressant has been lessened to such a degree that one out of nine people in the US now takes this class of drug.

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