Category Archives: Tell Your Story

Psychiatry

This post was submitted by a reader.Hi All,

Phil, I agree with you on the dismal and almost criminal state of psychiatry, today.

I have mixed feelings about Benzos, however, because of the almost unbearable chronic anxiety attacks I was having.

Take a pill and anxiety gone. It helped keep me alive at the time. But now, 3 years later I take a small dose of Benzos daily and I am an addict.

I swear, I haven’t seen my doctor in over a year – always an RN or NP.

They have precribed numerous anti-psychotic drugs for me and upped the dosage on the drugs I take. I never went along with it and continue a low dose of Benzo and SSRI every day.

I have tapered my use of these drugs to a minimum for now and obviously wish to live drug free.

I am conflicted, I really think that Benzos saved me from further nervous breakdown, but now I am a slave to them.

A reader

 

Borderline Personality Disorder

This post was submitted by a reader.My neice living in a townhouse complex – has reached the following stage:-
1-complete isolation from anybody even her sisters.
2-will not acknowledge her illness and will not accept any medication whatsoever.
3-will not allow anybody into her home.
4-all the symptons of Schizoid Personality Disorder
5-threatening to all and considers everyone responsible for her divorce that she went through several years ago.

What can be done forcibly by a specialist legally to get her to obtain treatment.

It has reached a stage where her finances will be exhausted and that it is believed that she might be considering drastic bodily harm.  She is 52 years old – any help in what should be done would be greatly appreciated.

 

A reader

How I became a non-person and what happened afterwards.

This post was submitted by a reader.

In the late ’90s I experienced some kind of distress of consciousness. My wife took me to the emergency room of a local hospital and I was told I had “bipolar disorder,” an incurable “mental illness” which meant I would have to be on psychiatric drugs the rest of my life.

We now know that the idea of chemical imbalances in the brain is a myth (http://www.cepuk.org). This simple story took away my humanity. How? It was a tragedy of errors. Nobody knows how consciousness arises from or is connected to the brain. It is one of the most complicated and fascinating questions of our modern age. (Start with “Conversations on Consciousness” by Susan Blackmore (2005) and go from there.)

Mainstream psychiatry in the United States only makes its diagnoses available through a two hundred dollar book (available in paperback for “only” $110 or an app for $70). This makes no sense. Why are the diagnostic criteria not freely available on the Internet? The ICD-10 Section V diagnostic criteria are, however, freely available and are here. Everybody should read these definitions, to gain an understanding of the subjectivity behind them.

It is because institutional psychiatry defined the brain as consciousness that my humanity was taken from me. Here’s the logic: you have chemical imbalances (wrong). Thus your brain is broken (wrong). “Mind” (or more properly consciousness) equals brain (completely unproven). Thus, your mind is diseased. Therefore your thoughts are diseased (the logic becomes depressingly clear). Therefore you, the “I” that you think you are has disappeared because no thought that “you” have is clean, is anything but a diseased thought. You are just a collection of diseased thoughts. The self disintegrates.

Do you see? What am I but my thoughts and emotions? If my thoughts are diseased, if I cannot have a single clean thought, I cannot self-reflect. I become less than human, sub-human, Caliban.

What was the experience like, externally? It was like being in the backseat of a car on a long road trip with your parents (mental health patients are treated like children because they have no minds of their own) and never being allowed out of the car. And gradually you come to accept the back seat is your home, this small space and you grow accustomed to it and it is your world. Or it is like being on a subway car. All you can do is sit or stand and hold on, and look around at the inside of the car as you travel through an endless tunnel.

By virtue of something known as “meds creep” the drugs kept creeping up. At the end of 2007, I was on 4,950mg of psychotropic drugs daily. Sometime during those 10 years, my spouse and I met with a female geneticist. She told us there was a 50% chance of passing on the “mental illness” to any child we might have. A fifty percent chance is the worst chance there is, because the decision is all on you. That was not the only reason we made the choice we did (if it had been, I don’t know what my life would be like now) but, on the whole, I rather wish she hadn’t said that, because, as I now know, that’s nonsense.

The effects of the drugs, at their peak:

Examples of physical effects: Tremor in my hands, idiopathic peripheral neuropathy, no balance (unable to drive car or bicycle), edema, acid reflux (including waking up in the night unable to swallow), less tolerance for heat and cold, long-term weight gain (the pills turned off the “I’m full” switch): 65 pounds despite walking up to two hours a day, sciatica and and other problems associated with weight, thyroid damage etc.

Examples of effects on consciousness: Screaming nightmares once every couple of weeks, illusions (e.g. a kettle seen out of the corner of the eye seemed to be a black cat), drugs knocked me unconscious for 12 hours, followed by two plus hours difficulty concentrating, every day, and, in retrospect, changes in thought patterns.

I have none of these effects now, except for the heat/cold intolerance and a permanently damaged thyroid.

In 2013, I read “Anatomy of an Epidemic” by Robert Whitaker. I learnt that the “chemical imbalance” story was just that, a story. My brain was not diseased. These drugs don’t correct “chemical imbalances,” they create them. My thoughts were not diseased. In that moment I came back to myself. I was no longer Caliban but a human being again. So simple, so profound.

Many people have had much worse encounters with the system than I did. Some of their stories can be read at http://www.chrusp.org, the Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, or at the MindFreedom website: http://www.mindfreedom.org.

Here are some of the legacies of my encounter:

The first is of the memory of having walked with the idea of death for a long time. In first writing about this I came up with the analogy of the wood. I reached it by walking across an empty field and slipping inside. I didn’t do it deliberately. It just happened. Once inside there was no getting out unless someone helped me. I was bound to walk under the shadow of the trees to the central clearing where, I realized, afterwards, death was awaiting me by my own hand. It was while I was writing this down that I had a sudden understanding of the phrase “the valley of the shadow of death.” The sides of the valley are so steep that they cast a shadow on you as you take the only path available to you; the path that leads down the valley to the ocean. I entered the wood (in 2007) because I could see no way out of my predicament. The years stretched ahead of me forever, with my physical and mental condition only worsening despite being fully “meds-compliant.” I switched psychiatrists in early 2008 and this saved me. The new psychiatrist decided I was over-medicated and started, at least, to reduce the drugs. The lasting effect of this walk in the woods is that I am no longer as courageous as I used to be (courage with a small “c,” the courage of the everyday). I explain it by saying that everyone is born with a certain number of courage units and I used them all resisting the walk to the central clearing in the wood. Fortunately, I have some again now but not as many as I would like. How you get them to regenerate I don’t know.

Second, I had to deal with the reactions to the encounter, what I call Hindsight Reactions to Extreme Stress (HRES). As the encounter started to wind-down I experienced certain reactions which still occasionally flare up. These are Anguish, remembering the experience, Anger, a directionless anger, that the experience happened at all and Fear, that the experience would happen again. I say directionless anger because there was and is nobody really to blame. Those responsible for my experience were implementing the system as it was then constituted. Later on there came a sense of Loss, because there is no recovery. Time has past. Certain things have been irretrievably lost, certain collateral damage has been done that cannot be fixed. All that can come is healing. I think of the four reactions as a bar graph, with the bars at different heights depending on how I feel. The biggest one still remaining is Fear.

Then there is the physical damage done to me by the drugs (my thyroid was irreparably damaged) and by my self-harm during those years, and a loss of experiencial memory. The memory loss is quite troubling at the moment.

Finally, I wonder about the effect the drugs had on my mind. I hadn’t really thought about the possibility of that until I came across the paper: “The psychoactive effects of psychiatric medication: The elephant in the room.” I began to wonder how much of my thoughts and feelings during the time of the encounter were a result of taking the psychiatric drugs. Not the pain the drugs inflicted on me, even, but the actual content of my thoughts and the strength, depth and type of my feelings.

A simple explanation of how I think forced psychiatric drug taking can be torture:

The only way one can say: “I feel mentally tired” is if mind and consciousness are two separate things.

Because something is observing and something is observed (two things). Which means that I can feel if the drugs are hurting my mind and if I am forced to take them that would be, you know, torture. (See 2013 UN report: Torture in Healthcare Settings: Response to report including letters from psychiatric associations and link to original report can be found here.)

I was in a locked ward five times during the course of 18 years. I understand the feeling of loss of liberty and the powerlessness that comes with those experiences. The first time was because I had suffered a nervous breakdown. The other times were because I suffered from the (effectively) DTs after coming off the drugs too fast.

Finally, the thing that is missing from the recovery journey is support.

There have been numerous stories of the horrific things provided in the name of “treatment,” from John Read’s recent account of an Australian man given 50 courses of “ECT”, to Jim Gottstein’s “Everyday Horrors …” at PsychRights to the stories at the CHRUSP website. But that didn’t happen to me. For which I am very thankful. So how do I think of myself now? As a “graduate of psychiatry,” a term which acknowledges the learning that comes with experience but also says that the experience is behind me; I am moving on. As a new graduate (taking one more class in summer school, I’m not quite off the drugs yet), I wonder what the future holds.

I would like to draw your attention to the DebateGraph project of ISPS-US. In a number of different “maps,” people are engaged in discussing publicly challenging issues surrounding psychosis, providing resources for understanding of same and thinking about how best to move forward. Several of the maps are open to the public and the address for more information is debategraph.org/ispsuspv.

Note: Stories of coming off psychiatric drugs can be found here and at the Beyond Meds website. See also Recovering From Psychiatry.

 

D. Williams

Your article on “No mental illnesses”

This post was submitted by a reader.

Thank you very much for your article in regards to the validity of Bi-polar Disorder. my mother claimed to have that and other mental disorders to qualify for SSDI. Of course she had physicians who were all to eager to verify her “self diagnosis”. They saw a cash cow and I suppose so did she on a lesser scale. She was physically, mentally and verbally abusive to my brothers and me. Every time she would abuse us it was always because she had a “mental illness”. We were just supposed to forgive her and move on. I hate her, I hated her then and I hate her now. She stole my childhood and my brothers childhood away from us. I knew there wasn’t anything wrong with her other than the fact she was an angry person who wanted constant sympathy from others and saw my brothers and me as weapons of mass destruction for our father. I wondered why she had children in the first place if she didn’t like children. However, I digress. The main reason I agree with your article is that she not only wanted mental illness for herself she had my brothers and me diagnosed with mental disorders. Her diagnosis for me was ADHD. Honestly, I never felt that there was anything wrong with me. So she took me from one doctor to another until she found one that would diagnose me with ADHD and prescribe me Ritalin. I hated it. I felt no emotions at all when I took it. No anger but also no joy, No sadness but also no happiness. I felt like a zombie on the inside. It also caused me to have serious sleep disturbances and horrific nightmares. It was supposed to be given to me twice a day during the school year only. However she had me on it three times a day all year long for 7 years and the only thing I got out of it was a physical addiction. I have four children of my own now and withdrawing from that addiction was more physically painful than giving birth to four 10 pound babies combined. I refuse to go to doctors unless very ill or injured and don’t take any prescriptions other than Synthroid for low thyroid hormones. I think another issue with all these “mental Illness” classifications is being used to abuse children through the use of physicians. It is deplorable!

Thank you for your time.

 

A Reader

PTSD and depression???

This post was submitted by a reader.

 

Hi, I have a story to tell, I don’t care if you like it I only need to tell it… First let me tell you a little bit about me, I am 13, my real name is not Kykie, I am a girl of course, and I am mentally messed up, or so I’ve been told. I guess the first bad thing that happened, happened when I was only four, a guy my family loved and trusted, a guy I loved and trusted started sexually assaulting me (I think that’s what they ended up charging him for), this continued up until I was about 11. Nobody noticed… Probably because nobody wanted it to be true. I wasn’t the only one that got touched by him so did my two cousins but he did the most with me, he even kissed me and told me he loved me… Honestly I thought I loved him too, I liked everything he did even when I knew it was wrong I still liked it, I actually wanted more. One night when he kissed me, I was he one that kissed him again and again. Even though my cousins told me multiple times he was bad news I didn’t listen. When the police came around because someone finally noticed I didn’t tell them everything he did… I didn’t want too, I still wanted more from him I thought he was still a good guy. I still remember what he did, setting me on his lap and touching me, even though I knew it was wrong I never refused I never even wanted him to stop… Two weeks after his arrest there was a death in the family we all knew it was coming, stage 4 brain cancer. Then nothing everything was quiet everyone treated me like a porcelain doll, fragile. Honestly, my past didn’t and doesn’t affect me but everyone else thinks it does, probably because to everyone that knows about this I act like an actual victim, like he scared me, and hurt me, like I thought everything was bad but really he never once frightened me. Then after everything settled my brother started acting out. He stared out with just smoking a little but of pot and drinking every once in a while but then everything turned around. My brother started getting aggressive getting into bad fights with my dad and attacking my mom, even hurting my siblings and me I was his first target. He stole my whole life savings from me, almost 900 dollars, that’s when I didn’t trust him anymore he did that and then I knew he doesn’t care about his family anymore, he was 15 and only cared about himself and his friends. Somewhere in that time I started cutting, and messing around with guy after guy. I didn’t actually sleep with anyone until I was about to turn 13 this year, but before I started sleeping around a bit I was doing other sexual stuff. I know it’s gross because I am so young but I felt like that was all I could do it was like it was wired into my brain, plus I have always felt older than I actually am. And to guys I was an easy target I cut, I was depressed, still am just not as bad. When I cut though I actually feel better and some people understand that and some don’t. My current boyfriend has been my longest relationship, we’ve been together for 2 months and I haven’t really done anything with him, especially since we are in different states, which is hard but we can make it. I think the reason I messed around with guys so much was I wanted to feel wanted even if it was bad, and I felt like that is what I need to do. So I told guys I was 15 or 16 and then it took off from there. My depression sky rocketed, I have attempted suicide 25 times and got caught once on an OD. I was sent to inpatient and stayed for 2 weeks, almost got sent to residential, but instead I stayed the maximum amount at inpatient and then they released me. I was put into therapy and I had to see a psychiatrist, who gave me depression meds, strong ones too. I decided to quit going and quit taking my medications cold turkey which had horrible side affects but I got over it. I’ve felt better recently I have been put into high-school AP classes after testing out for it,my brother is in drug and alcohol rehab (court ordered after not doing his probation), my boyfriend has helped A LOT (He also used to cut so kinda had an idea on how I felt), yet sometimes at least once or twice a day I still think just one cut won’t hurt, or if I was dead who would really care but in the end everyone dies might as well attempt to live miserable moments and make up for all of the stupid stuff I have done. So I guess that’s pretty much the parts of my life everyone actually finds somewhat interesting and I guess that’s what everyone sees me as… I mean they can only judge me for what they know which isn’t a lot so…

 

A reader

They Call This “Help”: One Man’s Tears and the Horrors of Canadian Institutional Psychiatry

This post was submitted by a reader.I am an inmate of St. Joseph’s Psychiatric Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario. Although I am still trapped in the intricate web of the forensic “mental health” system, I consider myself a psychiatric survivor. After all, I’ve made it this far, but I realize that more time is needed before I’m finally able to extricate myself from the forces of psychiatric oppression. Before entering the system, I knew virtually nothing about the philosophy and practice of psychiatry. After about a year and a half of being subjected to an endless, humiliating barrage of psychological and physical abuse, I have come to loathe and despise this pernicious and evil form of pseudoscience.

At first, I fell into the deepest fog of despair I had ever experienced in my life, paralyzed by the emotional and physical pain I was forced to endure at the hands of my psychiatric keepers. Since I realised how evil psychiatry is, I now spend almost all of my waking moments completely devoted to making sense of the bizarre and irrational world in which I find myself. How, I wonder, are psychiatrists the world over allowed to abuse their “patients” with impunity? Any time I have to spare, I devote to spiritual matters.

Let me make myself clear: I want to see psychiatrists punished for the criminal frauds and quacks that they are, perhaps before an international tribunal similar to the Nuremberg trials. I vow to spend the rest of my life fighting this monstrous crime against humanity and hope to see the day when it is finally abolished. I believe that everyone who has suffered at the hands of psychiatry deserves compensation. I will do everything I can to speak out against it and to help those still trapped in this evil system. Unfortunately, until very recently, I didn’t even know that such an abomination existed in what I had thought was a civilized society.

Who am I and what am I doing in this institution? This is my story.

I’m a middle class native of Brampton, Ontario. I first attended university in the mid-1990s. I started studying humanities but didn’t graduate until 2014. Originally, I wanted to study law at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, but for various reasons, enrolled in a master’s in education.  But before I was able to begin my degree, I was arrested on a bail violation. What led up to this?

In 2013, I had been feuding with some neighbors. In August, they called the police and, although I claimed self-defense, I was arrested for a number of minor criminal offenses. The next day I was bailed out by my father, but we were forced to move and live elsewhere. About a year later, in August of 2014, I was arrested again but my father refused to bail me so I remained in the provincial jail while my lawyer and the crown negotiated a plea bargain. When I heard it involved about a year behind bars, I was horrified. I’d served about 20 days in prison some ten years before but this seemed totally unreasonable. I felt I could not survive this sentence so I asked about pleading not guilty. However, the lawyer felt I could lose and be sentenced to up to two years for “wasting the court’s time over a foregone conclusion.”

In desperation, I tried to find alternatives. Someone mentioned going to a mental hospital instead of remaining in jail. I was told by a number of former psychiatric inmates that inmates had their own rooms, could order takeout and play videogames. They said it was easier than doing time in jail.

“How hard would it be to get in?” I asked one of them.

“Not hard at all,” he said. “If you tell them that you’re suffering from auditory and visual hallucinations they’ll find you not criminally responsible (NCR).”

“Won’t they know I’m lying?” I asked. “Won’t they know I’m an imposter?”

“No,” he said, “not at all. You can tell them you’re suffering from delusions and they’ll believe it almost without question. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any history of psychiatric illness or hospitalization, just make up some nonsense about hearing voices and they’ll swallow the whole thing hook, line and sinker. If you want a guaranteed, automatic NCR, tell them that you’re seeing things. They’ll really believe you then. And remember, they can’t prove whether you’re lying or not.”

At the time, it seemed great but I now know this was the worst possible advice. I now realize I over-reacted to my fears. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I should have realised that if it was so easy, why wasn’t everybody doing it? But I was desperate to avoid jail so I didn’t look into it properly. I didn’t ask for “hospitalization,” I asked my lawyer to mitigate any sentence by requesting some form of mental health diversion. Apparently believing that my lawyer’s plea for mental health diversion was just malingering, the judge decided to have me transferred to the Waypoint Centre for Mental Healthcare in Penetanguishene for psychiatric assessment. I asked my lawyer how long this would take. He said it would probably take about as long as a jail sentence, maybe a bit longer. He did not tell me that once committed to a “hospital,” I could be held indefinitely. Nor did he tell me about such routine practices as forced administration of drugs and electroshock, or the mechanical restraints and solitary confinement that could be imposed as punishment for the most trivial infractions. If I had known this, I would never have gone this way.

At first, I found that the living conditions at the “hospital” appeared to be much better than jail. After all, you did have your own cell, as well as being able to order takeout and play videogames throughout the day. I did not know that these seemingly better conditions came at such a terrible price.

Sticking to my story, I lied to the examining psychiatrist about hearing voices and other perceptual disturbances. Even though I knew next to nothing about schizophrenia or any mental disorder, I told him about seeing purple elephants and men in pink bunny suits. Despite my fears, he appeared to believe everything I told him, no matter how ridiculous or improbable. Once again, no one told me that commitment was an indefinite sentence with involuntary treatment. I was never told of the dangers of their so-called “treatments.” Only much later did I learn that psychiatry was not really a branch of medicine, just a form of social and psychological coercion disguised as medical “treatment.”

In mid-January of 2015, I was found NCR by the presiding judge on the basis of the psychiatrist’s report. I was promptly returned to the “hospital.” At first, I did everything I was told. I embraced the sick role during the first few weeks of my “hospitalization,” but then ceased malingering and began acting normally. I thought that I would be out in a few months. Staff told me that because I was a “model patient,” I would have no problem getting out of the system. I was assured by staff that my “hospitalization” would be no longer, or maybe a bit longer than the jail term originally recommended by the prosecutors.

However, because of psychiatric recommendations made during my first Ontario Review Board (ORB) in mid-April of 2015, I realized that I wasn’t getting out anytime soon. I was immediately transferred to St. Joseph’s in Hamilton. Realizing the incredibly stupid mistake I’d made, I contacted the patient advocate to file an appeal. I requested a second opinion and was then examined by another staff psychiatrist. In his final report, he said that I had lied about my experience of psychotic delusion, further indicating that there was absolutely no evidence that I had ever suffered from any psychosis. He did say that I suffered from a number of different “personality disorders.”

I then applied for legal aid but this was rejected so the judge appointed a lawyer to act on my behalf. In February of 2016, I saw an independent psychiatrist. He was very critical of the original examining psychiatrist’s findings in the NCR report. He rejected the original diagnosis of “unspecified delusional disorder,” concluding that I was not NCR. He was surprised that this psychiatrist did not detect an obvious case of feigning illness, one with all the classic features of malingering. The crown decided this report should be reviewed by the NCR report’s original author. In turn, he has indicated that he does not dispute the independent report. So it seems I will finally be allowed to leave the prison hospital and go home.

As for my stay in this “hospital,” I can only describe it as the most brutal, vicious and degrading “treatment” that I have ever experienced in my life. My (limited) experience of jail is that it is easy compared with the daily psychological and physical tortures visited upon the “criminally insane.” For example, in a “hospital,” inmates have practically no privacy. Every 15-30 minutes, cell doors are flung wide open which means the occupants are constantly on edge. Rooms are stripped and searched weekly, sometimes more often. There are also routine body cavity searches. Inmates are asked the same questions over and over again, to assess whether they are a danger to themselves or others (this is the so-called “mental status examination”). The same questions can be asked over and over again in a single day but whatever its justification, it is nothing more than a particularly intrusive, degrading and infantilizing form of harassment.

Trivial infractions, such as failure to return a plastic spoon to staff members, can lead to a barrage of abuse, more intensive surveillance, and even additional room and body cavity searches. Other offences such as “raising your voice” or pushing away a chair in a supposedly “threatening manner” can lead to loss of “privileges,” such as they are. Looming behind this is the ever-present threat of violent physical restraint by guards, forced drugging, mechanical restraint and solitary confinement.

One incident stands out for me. I was forced to live beside a mentally retarded inmate who refused to bathe or clean up after herself for 5 or 6 months. The stench was horrible. The ward constantly smelt of urine and feces. It reached the point where some inmates were unable to eat in the dining room because of the stink. One inmate vomited while getting his meal. Complaints were made to staff, but inmates were told to mind their own business. It was apparently her “right” not to take a bath and to stink the place up. What about the health and safety of the other inmates? Again, the staff didn’t care. Further complaints were either ignored or were met with threats of being detained in the institution for even longer. Fortunately this nightmare finally came to an end when the mentally retarded inmate was transferred to another institution.

In addition to all the daily horrors of civil commitment, I’ve been subjected to considerable personal abuse from the director of forensic psychiatry. Despite my limited contact with him, he believes he knows what is in my best interests. In May of 2016, he came to my cell to talk to me. I have always found him to be callous, arrogant and condescending. I don’t like speaking with him as he dismisses anything and everything I have to say unless I agree with his opinions. I explained that because I find him bigoted and intolerant, there wasn’t much point in our having any conversation because he would immediately dismiss all of my concerns as a possible “symptom” of some underlying “chemical imbalance.” I then closed the door.

Twenty-four hours later, he returned, accompanied by some 20 staff members. Through this overwhelming display of force, he tried to physically intimidate me into speaking with him. I again refused. He said that if I continued to refuse to speak with him, he would be left with no other choice except to have me physically restrained, forcibly drugged and placed in solitary confinement, possibly for days or even weeks. A few days later, and with about 20 staff, he again approached me but I refused for a third time. He then announced that if I refused to take the neuroleptic Risperidone he prescribed, he would apply to the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario (CCB) to have me drugged against my will. The CCB is a mere formality which rubberstamps anything the psychiatrist recommends.

I called him a fascist and said I would never accept his brain-damaging, brain-disabling neurotoxin. He then ordered his guards to restrain me as I had “raised my voice.” He threatened that if I showed any signs of resistance he would have me forcibly drugged on the spot with Haloperidol. I was then placed in solitary confinement for 5 or 6 hours. The next day, I was found “mentally incompetent” by the director and handed a summons to appear before the CCB on June 1st. This was subsequently adjourned by a legal aid-appointed mental health lawyer to June 23rd and again to August 8th.

It was only during my civil commitment at St. Joseph’s that I began to realize what complete and utter bullshit psychiatry is. The nurses seemed to be incredibly ignorant of how the drugs and electroshock were supposed to work. When I asked them how forcing someone to do something against his will could possibly be considered therapeutic, they said only that it is “just hospital policy.” I asked them to define “mental illness” but none of them could do so. Perhaps they were acting dumb but it was very convincing. Eventually, I realised their ignorance was just part of the serious methodological and empirical deficiencies in psychiatric theory which form the basis of “hospital” practice.

Many times the nurses would become angered by my persistent questioning, to the point of taking away my few “privileges.” Eventually, they stopped answering and told me to ask the psychiatrists. They said that “mental illness” was caused by “chemical imbalances” in the brain, but when asked for conclusive scientific evidence, they were unable to provide any. Because I refused to accept their seemingly “authoritative” pronouncements, they decided I was paranoid. By that stage, I had realised that psychiatry is just pseudoscientific quackery and that psychiatrists are delusional “true believers.”

Even though I am subjected to degrading and dehumanizing ill-treatment on an almost daily basis, I do everything in my power to avoid doing anything that might lead to any direct confrontation with my psychiatric torturers. Given the highly arbitrary and subjective concepts of “dangerousness” and “aggressivity” that are routinely deployed by staff, this is not easy. The slightest disagreement is easily blown out of proportion and can be interpreted as aggressive behavior, requiring immediate physical restraint and injections, followed by mechanical restraints and solitary confinement. Because of this arbitrary abuse of power, I feel that I am in constant danger. I have no choice but to do everything I can to get out of this system. My lawyer is appealing the original NCR finding in the summary court but I am also trying to get people to pressure the hospital administrators to have me released.

I want to get out of this medieval torture chamber in one piece. I do not want to come out with brain damage, neurological disease such as tardive dyskinesia, cognitive impairment, cardiovascular problems, shortened life expectancy or severe psychological trauma, with nothing but a monthly disability check and government subsidized housing as “compensation” for my sufferings in this brutal system.

The longer I stay in this madhouse, the more I realize that my health, safety and even my life are in jeopardy. I can understand why some inmates turn on the hospital staff who are supposed to help them but who hurt and humiliate them. I see now that a long sentence in prison is better than this abuse. Who cares about the iron bars and orange jumpsuits of the federal penitentiary? At least your mind and spirit will be free of all externally imposed chemical, mechanical and electrical restraints. Better a drug- and shock-free imprisonment where one can finally be left to one’s own devices than therapeutic “treatment” in some “hospital.”

Psychiatrists always think they’re right, even when they can’t prove it. Their credo is a crude biological reductionism. This is what makes them so dangerous. Human rights aren’t objective, empirical phenomena that can be observed under a microscope, so they’re automatically dismissed as figments of the imagination. Thus, questions of morality and ethics mean absolutely nothing to them. There is no independent thought; the typical psychiatrist is a narrow-minded ideologue with authoritarian tendencies. Anything that questions his biological utopia is ignored or crushed.

In retrospect, I realize how incredibly stupid I was, even though I honestly did not know what I was getting into. I should have known better. I should have been skeptical but the past cannot be undone. If I had known about the indefinite nature of the sentence, the humiliating daily surveillance, the routine infantilization, the daily physical and psychological abuse, the forced drugging, the forced electroshock, the physical and mechanical restraints and solitary confinement, I would have run to the nearest jail and banged on the gate to get in.

Since my commitment, my life has been a terrible nightmare. Imagine beginning each new day, sweating, your heart pounding, sick inside from a life that is beyond horrifying, an endless series of sufferings from which there is no relief. I cannot describe this torture. I accept that I deserve to be punished for what I did. I accept full responsibility for my actions but I do not deserve this. No one does.

 

Otto Douglas

 

 

On Ex Mental health betterment

This post was submitted by a reader.Despite a long debated idea about the abolishment of psychiatry and the futuristic dream for the once known mentally ill and ex mental health population of America and elsewhere, has left me dazed and confused about a lot of things.

As Ex mental health patient culture to me wasn’t very helpful, I was expecting more of a professional environment, ready to help you start your career, open up flexible opportunities to make money by business networking, etc, and become a happy, successful individual and not a slave to the sadistic culture known as psychiatry.

However, it only lead to older people resorting to preferred victimhood, nagging old hags who’s phony, fake, and disingenuous ways just were unhelpful, and the simple mindset of all hat and no cattle when it comes to a “better life for the mentally ill” just seems to never come into fruition.

I’ve come to realize the ex mental health culture is all hat no cattle. Scapegoating and playing the effeminate role of “The victim being held by the metaphorical chain of the psychiatric massa” seems to be favorable by subconscious decisions made by ex mental health patients. The group think that ex mental health patients like to believe the culture of the sane will always treat us like crap, so we should always see an apocalyptic outlook of our destiny as ex mental health patients, forever the victims of a “Sane dominated society”.

You can try to question or be a skeptic to the claims that ex mental health patient culture, and alternative medicinal culture, tend to make, and you will be bombarded with ad hominem attacks or be told “How dare you question that theory, are you sure your not a spy for big pharma?”

It’s going to be hard for the ex mental health patient community to stop playing the victim and scapegoat psychiatry, hoping militaristic violence will solve our problems within the psychiatric and sane culture, when it will only enforce the wounds we still will be nursing, being left in the state of confusion about our own sufferings, and even worse, will be searching for another victim we can exploit for our cause of the smug “I told you he/she understood what actual suffering is” or a scapegoat we can taunt and harass until they submit into our actually abusive tactics on how they forever will live a life full of misery until departure from hell.

We as ex mental health patients need to start opening up to start our own businesses, plan our own fundings from private organizations we agree with on most things, develop good relationships with vendors, merchants, etc. So we can become financially independent individuals.  Instead rely on the constant victimization, endless hopefulness of the “psychiatrist to change”, when he/she never will, because they are narcissists, and you cannot change their way of thinking, and revengeful venting on relying on coercive militaristic force to abolish psychiatry altogether.

The only thing that holds us back is the mindset of the “people pleaser syndrome” most ex mental health patients have subconsciously.  Nobody wants to be incarcerated when you did not commit the crime in the first place, be subjected to cruel or unusual punishment, or be permanent damaged by drugs or therapies. But when you live your life in deep embedded fear, worrying an event like Selma will happen if the ex mental health patients protest against psychiatry again, or any form of brutal public humiliation, I’m sorry, your actually failing yourself and others you blindly state “you care about” when in reality, you really don’t, just stating that to make yourself look like a wonderful person.

Instead of playing the victim and hoping a narcissist will change, let’s focus on building a culture of self employed business success stories instead of hopeless deadbeats being subjugated by sadistic psychiatric fetishes the demon doctors will keep attempting if we as a culture don’t develop a set of iron balls in the meantime.

I am an ex mental health patient, and I’m appalled by the half ass attempts ex mental health patient’s put into when it comes into outside opportunities when it comes to our financial and social independence. It seems acting like we care will abolish our painful memories of abuse, and comfortably play the victim until we get locked up as usual.

How much do y’all give a F*** about progressing the ex mental health culture and developing into a more privatized financial and social culture? Please give me an explanation on this.

Thank you.

 

A Reader

My Fixed Delusion

This post was submitted by a reader.I’ve spent my adult life working in mental health services.  I worked for 15 years in residential treatment with adolescents, and another 15 years in large outpatient programs with adults.  I’ve been in clinical roles and leadership roles, primarily as a group therapist.

I am a strident cognitive behaviorist. I’ve been a passionate and sincere student of human behavior for as long as I can remember. I respect the scientific method, and try to maintain critical thinking.

Obviously I haven’t been a true believer in the psychiatric standard of care for a long time. At some point I became a skeptic. However, I never stopped to consider my suspicions could be evidence of a serious mental illness until it was suggested to me by my supervisor in a “counseling” meeting.

Although it’s hard to specify when the seeds of my insanity took root, the documentation of it began shortly after I donated Robert Whitakers Anatomy of an Epidemic  to our clinical library. I suggested that Whitakers statistics mimicked trends in our own clients.

Questions of my sanity first came up behind my back.  I only know about it from a former coworker, after she switched allegiance.

Months passed. Whitaker’s statistics clearly correlated with the day to day, person to person anecdotal evidence in our patients. I was especially interested in the people who returned to us, months or years after being discharged. What these people had in common was that they accepted their illness and complied with medications.

Obviously I shared my observations with my team. I was eventually able to form something of a predictive template for bad outcomes. I wasn’t surprised by the initial defensive reaction. It’s an understandable reaction to cognitive dissonance.

I was surprised that as evidence accumulated (and accumulate it did) the defensiveness only deepened.

The official pushback began gently. I was invited to counseling sessions, offered more trainings and greater supervision. I believe they genuinely wanted to bring me back into the fold.

It was no longer gentle after the fourth or fifth disciplinary counseling session. They had to come right out and tell me to “stop telling people they can get better.”

Ultimately they expressed their concerns for my own mental health, which they assure me, were shared by many members of my team. Although they declined to offer a specific diagnosis.

My boss asked me “how, could you be the only person who sees this big conspiracy?  

A valid question, it must be said. And I had no immediate response.

This, after all, actually is a definition of a delusion, especially now that the DSM 5 is the new standard.

Perhaps, all this time I have only been in denial?

I developed a list of all the crazy things I believed.

There are no lab tests of any kind for any DSM diagnosis. The diagnosis is subjective The diagnosis can’t be tested for, measured for severity, or tested against.  The current system lacks validity and reliability. Everyone inside the system seems to acknowledge this, but simultaneously insist on treating a diagnosis as sacred.

For example: It is rare that two psychiatrists in our network seeing the same patient will arrive at an identical diagnosis.

And Any legal case involving competing psychiatric testimony will demonstrate how two experts can examine the exact same evidence for as much time as they care to and arrive at completely contradictory conclusions.

Psychiatry is faith based medicine.  It discourages second opinions. Psychiatry places an institutional priority in convincing people to “accept their illness”, even at the expense of informed consent.

The chemical imbalance theory had been completely debunked even before Prozac came out. This is so well known that psychiatric talking heads are even now trying to pretend they never believed it.

Psychiatrists who did promote the idea, or continue to present it, are simply misleading people for their own good.  The “stigma of mental illness” justifies a little coercion. Since, obviously, the people who accept their illness and comply with medications will have the best outcomes.

Except that there is very little evidence that people who get treatment have better outcomes then people who don’t. In fact, the worst outcomes, (chronic illness, disability, shorter life span, suicide, violence) are associated with people who have been exposed to treatment, especially across time.

By “treatment” I am referring to medications, and/or psychotherapy. Although psychotherapy will not cause weight gain, diabetes, and shorter life span of medications, it is far from benign.

1 in 5 Americans are currently taking a psychiatric medication. Yet the conventional wisdom holds that not enough people are in treatment.  The numbers are often repeated “40% of mental illness is untreated”. Which led a recent APA president to declare “the greatest challenge facing psychiatry is untreated illness”.

Prescription drugs are now the leading cause of death in young adults. Opiates being the worst, but psych meds are frequently involved, particularly benzodiazepams.

 

A recent CDC report on suicide confirms one of my less documented long standing delusions; The suicide rate (for mental illness) has never been higher, and most people who kill themselves are in treatment when they die. Many people were not suicidal until after they got into treatment.

It surprises even the most experienced clinicians fail to realize that there is no treatment proven to prevent suicide, simply because you can only accurately measure suicide in those who succeeding in killing themselves. In other words, those who failed in treatment.

Suicide prevention consists on a series of assumptions we make about why people kill themselves and what they need from us to not die.  Mostly this amounts to drugs, talking at length about why life sucks and is futile, and being very subtly rewarded for making existential threats and gestures.

As far as I can tell, most of the mass/spree shootings in America involve people who have been exposed to treatment.   And, as far as I can tell, mental health professionals are as good at predicting violence as the CIA was in predicting the fall of communism.

Because of the legal requirements for disability, 100% of the people permanently disabled by mental illness have participated in treatment, usually across time. No one has slipped through the cracks to disability, simply because it requires a doctor’s efforts to become successfully disabled.

And the disability rates are staggering and unsustainable. I suspect they increase wherever psychiatric treatment is more widely available. It is not uncommon for a person to have maintained an occupation and social role without any treatment at all, only to become disabled after getting into treatment.

I suspect the same correlation can be found in the divorce rate and availability of marriage counselors. The incidence of unresolved grief and the availability of bereavement counselors, and the rate of ptsd and the availability or trauma counselors.   As I said, therapy is not benign.

Obviously there is a very clear financial incentive to encourage chronicity, since we can’t charge someone who recovers. There is no profit in recovery for the treatment provider. Like any other business our best customers came back over and over again.

And treatment is the only item on the menu. The only option for someone who clearly deteriorated after getting into treatment is more treatment.

The people who become chronically mentally ill are our best customers.

People who pursue disability are particularly profitable, because they will engage in treatment in order to secure documentation, and don’t complain when treatment fails. They may come back to inpatient several times in the two years of appeals in order to demonstrate and document their incompetence.

Like any other faith based system, its impossible to disprove a negative. I can’t disprove God any more then I can disprove restless leg syndrome. Or Asperger’s, or ADHD.  Faith and denial are evidence resistant.

Certainly my sincerely held beliefs conflict with widely held conventional wisdom, which is the very definition of a delusion. And now I have been diagnosed by several skilled and experienced mental health experts who knew me well. Yet I don’t accept my illness, which constitutes anosognosia, more evidence that I am indeed insane.

The last year at the hospital was bad. I hired a lawyer. I went to work every day expecting security to come walk me out. I attended six therapy sessions through our EAP program.

The whole thing ended rather quietly. I was downsized and given a generous severance package. People cried when they announced I’d be leaving.

I can’t find anyone in the field to work for who has managed to avoid the corruption, and even if I could, who would want an old group therapist with a fixed delusion? The people with integrity went out of business a long time ago.  These days I run a very selective online private practice and produce a podcast about the dark underbelly of the mental health system. The podcast is called anosognosiac, and you can find us on iTunes.

I did find an answer to my boss’ question that troubled me “how could you be the only person who sees this?”

I am not the only one. Many other people have come to the same conclusions I have. Many are articulate and offer compelling evidence.

Also, since leaving the hospital I’ve been quietly approached by some of my former team members, including one who participated in my diagnosis, who admitted they actually saw the same problems I did, but worried over the consequences of speaking out.

I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand its vindication. On the other hand, some of those professionals looked me in the eye and made me question my own sanity.

 

A Reader

bipolar disorder

This post was submitted by a reader.
It saddens me that there appears to be 6 distinct camps on mental illness’s validity. I am convinced that Camp 1, the APA and their DSM, allow or add so many disorders, and constantly rewrite diagnosis criteria to pump up business. Camp 2: The “worried well” that feed this machine by seeking help for normal human behaviors that disturb them and they request or demand to be “cured.” Camp 3: Big Pharma, encouraging the above 2. (Advertising symptoms to advertise “cures.”) Camp 4: The dissenters , often those who have been misdiagnosed and fed the “cure” only to find out later (or hopefully sooner) that they never needed drugs to alleviate their “symptoms” of their “abnormality. This camp also includes those affected by a loved one’s misdiagnosis and altogether unnecessary “treatment” with drugs.  Sometimes these include those who have opinions, but no experience.  Camp 5: Those who have experienced the horrors of living with EXTREME and valid symptoms of some abnormality that cannot be verified with any medical tests. Most of these do not seek help, usually because they don’t believe they are abnormal or hope against hope that these “problems with living” will pass and their own form of normal will return and stay. (Normal can and does indeed fall on a spectrum, which often falls far to either pole.)

Let’s not forget Camp 6. The dead due to suicide. They cannot defend or even explain their “stance” on it. The almost MISSING Camp is the balanced view. They (I) take ALL of the above into consideration.  I know nothing of any of the many many disorders in the DSM. (DSM 5 is frighteningly LITTERED with old and new.) I do know quite a bit about Bipolar 1, Manic Depression, WHATEVER you wish to label it.. I have 30 years of experience in and out of each camp.   Your take on the various symptoms as simply being a result of adults never outgrowing childish behaviors is probably 99% accurate. The other 1% are the only ones that are rarely mentioned, described, or outspoken about the growing controversy.

Let me speak briefly of my own life experience. I am have always been normal by all standards MOST of the time.  The EXTREME EXTREMES didn’t begin to manifest until I was 26 and they ranged in intensity so as to assure even myself that I would eventually return to my normal state. The extreme extremes were periodic and came in short or long episodes and short or long periods.  I was happily married, had (and have) a great job, many friends and a close knit family. I was marginally shy and relatively serious, but nothing out of the ordinary, normal range. Stress and life circumstances affected my state of mind and emotion as they do among all human beings.

I began to experience excessive displays of severe manic and depressive behavior that was very very noticeable to my family, friends and co-workers. I blew them off because I SO enjoyed the mania that the depressive periods were well worth it.  One morning at age 28, after an evening of an essentially good time with friends, I experienced a new form of “depression.” (New friends, as most of the old ones had deserted me out of confusion over my unexpected and sporadic escapades. My weirdness drove them away 1 by 1) I nearly sawed my hands off in what I can only guess was a psychotic “depression.” There were NO life circumstances that made me “feel suicidal” nor had I been thinking about it. I awoke in a medical psych ward to my parents and a doctor, having no idea where I was or why I might be there. The psychiatrist had spoken extensively with my parents, who were well qualified to recount the bizarre behavior over the past several years. I cannot begin to express how relieved I was to hear that I might (they said I definitely did) have an illness, disorder, or whatever you’d like to term it, and that it was treatable with medication. (Drugs. Let’s call a spade a spade. All medications are drugs.)

Over time and despite the stigmas I balanced out and became myself again. Family, friends and co-workers remarked on the difference.  Unfortunately, a few years later I decided I was well. I was, for 18 months. Again, not due to any traumatic life circumstances or any reasonable explanation, I sliced and stabbed my arms one afternoon. Back to the psych ward I went. Again I complied with the doctor and yet, again I stopped the medication. But this time I recognized the gradual decline in my behavior and view of reality. I started the medication, but took less and less, trying to find the perfect dosage without my doctor’s knowledge. This went on and on over the years. You see, the TRULY ill, the 1%, do not want to take the drugs. I had no side effects to the latest one and stayed stable on a consistent dose AND YET I would not or could not see the correlation.(My doctor and I jointly agreed that less is better, not treating every “emergence” of situational “symptoms.”)

I have FINALLY, only from repeated experience, accepted that to be is better than to not be. To treat rather than not is best FOR ME.) I wish the parameters that many doctors and the DSM swear by were more stringent and that the public was not intentionally roped into the fads of old and new disorders. I also wish the drug companies and treatment centers were forbidden to advertise symptoms and illnesses so that everyone with daily struggles wasn’t exposed to them and swayed into thinking they “need help!) Thank you for reading, if you’ve even read this entire long post. It’s impossible to see the whole view without a larger look at (much of) the whole picture.  I’m grateful I am able to speak as a Camp 6 survivor. My suggestions? Give life time to show you the truth. Trust people close to you for many years to help you see the evidence or absence of true disorder.

Don’t share YOUR truth or brag about a misunderstood illness to the world.

I have not lost my family or my job because both were supportive during these trials and errors. I HAVE lost many friends, but thankfully have developed new ones whom which I do NOT always share any of this with.

“Crazy” is not something people want to get very close too.

 

A Reader

Klonopin and prozac withdrawal

This post was submitted by a reader.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been almost 3 months since I have ingested any antidepressants or benzos. Almost died after drinking a large amount of vodka with the daily does of pills. Went to a rehab for a month and have been clean since. This is after over 27 years of benzos and prozac. I am 60 years old and am finally coming a awake. The Withdrawals, notably the restless leg and horrible cramping have been horrid at night, but I am totally committed to staying off the evil pills! Thanks for listening!

 

A Reader