Serious Mental Illness Blog

Official blog for LIU Post's Clinical Psychology Doctorate SMI Specialty Concentration

Posts tagged rethinking madness

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Mentally Ill Patients Are More Likely to End Up in Jail Rather than a Hospital
By Justin Caba, Medical Daily
Left untreated, an individual with a serious mental illness is likely to suffer further as their symptoms worsen, and their perception of the world around them gets more and more out of touch. 
A recent survey conducted by the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC) and the National Sheriffs’ Association has found that patients with a severe mental illness are ten times more likely to end up in a state prison rather than a state mental hospital.
“The lack of treatment for seriously ill inmates is inhumane and should not be allowed in a civilized society,” lead researcher and founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, said in a statement. “This is especially true for individuals who – because of their mental illness – are not aware they are sick and therefore refuse medication.” 
Torrey and his colleagues from both the TAC and the National Sheriff’s Association probed the records of state run prisons and mental hospitals in discovering where the majority of patients with a psychiatric illness end up. Unfortunately, jails and prisons are considered the largest institutions housing individuals with a serious mental illness. Findings revealed that only 35,000 patients with a mental illness are being kept in a hospital setting compared to 356,000 who currently reside in a prison or jail cell.
Researchers called the outcome of mistreatment experienced by some mentally ill inmates “usually harmful and sometimes tragic.” Due to their erratic or disruptive behavior, many inmates with a psychiatric disorder are at danger to being beaten, raped, self-mutilated, or suicidal. Mentally ill inmates also run the risk of being thrown into solitary confinement or having physical restraints placed on them for most of their day. Although moving inmates with a serious mental illness to a more suitable institution would be in their best interest, the research team said states and counties would also benefit from the funds that would be saved on corrections.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, upward of 13.6 million adults in the United States are currently living with a serious mental illness. Many Americans may be surprised to find out what exactly is included as a serious mental illness. Major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder all fall under the category of serious mental illness. One in four Americans experiences a mental illness in a given year. 

 

 


For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Mentally Ill Patients Are More Likely to End Up in Jail Rather than a Hospital

By Justin Caba, Medical Daily

Left untreated, an individual with a serious mental illness is likely to suffer further as their symptoms worsen, and their perception of the world around them gets more and more out of touch.

A recent survey conducted by the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC) and the National Sheriffs’ Association has found that patients with a severe mental illness are ten times more likely to end up in a state prison rather than a state mental hospital.

“The lack of treatment for seriously ill inmates is inhumane and should not be allowed in a civilized society,” lead researcher and founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, said in a statement. “This is especially true for individuals who – because of their mental illness – are not aware they are sick and therefore refuse medication.” 

Torrey and his colleagues from both the TAC and the National Sheriff’s Association probed the records of state run prisons and mental hospitals in discovering where the majority of patients with a psychiatric illness end up. Unfortunately, jails and prisons are considered the largest institutions housing individuals with a serious mental illness. Findings revealed that only 35,000 patients with a mental illness are being kept in a hospital setting compared to 356,000 who currently reside in a prison or jail cell.

Researchers called the outcome of mistreatment experienced by some mentally ill inmates “usually harmful and sometimes tragic.” Due to their erratic or disruptive behavior, many inmates with a psychiatric disorder are at danger to being beaten, raped, self-mutilated, or suicidal. Mentally ill inmates also run the risk of being thrown into solitary confinement or having physical restraints placed on them for most of their day. Although moving inmates with a serious mental illness to a more suitable institution would be in their best interest, the research team said states and counties would also benefit from the funds that would be saved on corrections.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, upward of 13.6 million adults in the United States are currently living with a serious mental illness. Many Americans may be surprised to find out what exactly is included as a serious mental illness. Major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder all fall under the category of serious mental illness. One in four Americans experiences a mental illness in a given year. 

 

 





For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

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After I Was Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder, I Decided to Move ForwardBy Cooper Moll; Mental health advocate, psychology student
Arianna Huffington has invited her Facebook followers to share their wake-up calls — the moments they knew they had to make changes in their lives in order to truly thrive and not just succeed — as part of a series produced in conjunction with the release of her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving. You can read all the posts in the series here.
When I was 17 years old, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, something that came as no surprise, as my life prior to my diagnosis was fraught with behavioral challenges. At 21 years old, after years of battling uncontrollable moods, fits of rage, a myriad of body image issues, addiction and frustration with finding adequate medication I found myself in my first psychotic episode. This was no way to live, I knew I was capable of so much more as an articulate young woman with big dreams. At 5 o’clock in the morning on July 7, 2011, after driving through the night with a head full of racing thoughts in a mind that possessed zero ability to cope, I found myself collapsed on the porch of my father’s home manic, enraged and inconsolable. I was surrendering, I could no longer fight the battle my life prior to that summer had felt so unrelenting and inhibiting. After a brief rest early that morning, the first few hours of sleep I had experienced in days, is when made my decision to thrive. For years prior to that hazy morning, I had been urged by loved ones to receive intensive clinical psychological treatment in a formal setting, but I believe part of me was always resisting in denial and arrogance. It was at the end of my rope where I found my desire to change the trajectory of my life. On July 11, 2011, I made the first imprints in the path toward my new way of being in the world. I spent 90 days in intensive psychological care and healing treatment where I acquired invaluable “tools” that allowed me to move forward in the world, the woman I was on my father’s porch that July morning became a shadow of my former self and an unwelcome stranger in my future. 
Almost three years later not a day goes by where I don’t draw on the lessons learned through my decision to thrive. I am currently finishing my Bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology and work as a peer counselor to youth experiencing their first onset of mental illness in Los Angeles, California. Everything I do comes from a place of gratitude for my demons and experiences that catalyzed my decision to forge the path I am on today. For I would be nothing without them just as I would be nothing without the boundless compassion, patience and support of the loved ones in my life who have championed all of my efforts.
I used to think the notion that people could change was a farce … until I did it myself. I am changing everyday, creating a more authentic self with every opportunity to do so, and within the beautiful chaos of it all — I am thriving.
(Image credits: Bipolar Disorder 1 by chi-of-ink)


For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

After I Was Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder, I Decided to Move Forward
By Cooper Moll; Mental health advocate, psychology student

Arianna Huffington has invited her Facebook followers to share their wake-up calls — the moments they knew they had to make changes in their lives in order to truly thrive and not just succeed — as part of a series produced in conjunction with the release of her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving. You can read all the posts in the series here.

When I was 17 years old, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, something that came as no surprise, as my life prior to my diagnosis was fraught with behavioral challenges. At 21 years old, after years of battling uncontrollable moods, fits of rage, a myriad of body image issues, addiction and frustration with finding adequate medication I found myself in my first psychotic episode. This was no way to live, I knew I was capable of so much more as an articulate young woman with big dreams. At 5 o’clock in the morning on July 7, 2011, after driving through the night with a head full of racing thoughts in a mind that possessed zero ability to cope, I found myself collapsed on the porch of my father’s home manic, enraged and inconsolable. I was surrendering, I could no longer fight the battle my life prior to that summer had felt so unrelenting and inhibiting. After a brief rest early that morning, the first few hours of sleep I had experienced in days, is when made my decision to thrive. For years prior to that hazy morning, I had been urged by loved ones to receive intensive clinical psychological treatment in a formal setting, but I believe part of me was always resisting in denial and arrogance. It was at the end of my rope where I found my desire to change the trajectory of my life. On July 11, 2011, I made the first imprints in the path toward my new way of being in the world. I spent 90 days in intensive psychological care and healing treatment where I acquired invaluable “tools” that allowed me to move forward in the world, the woman I was on my father’s porch that July morning became a shadow of my former self and an unwelcome stranger in my future. 

Almost three years later not a day goes by where I don’t draw on the lessons learned through my decision to thrive. I am currently finishing my Bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology and work as a peer counselor to youth experiencing their first onset of mental illness in Los Angeles, California. Everything I do comes from a place of gratitude for my demons and experiences that catalyzed my decision to forge the path I am on today. For I would be nothing without them just as I would be nothing without the boundless compassion, patience and support of the loved ones in my life who have championed all of my efforts.

I used to think the notion that people could change was a farce … until I did it myself. I am changing everyday, creating a more authentic self with every opportunity to do so, and within the beautiful chaos of it all — I am thriving.

(Image credits: Bipolar Disorder 1 by chi-of-ink)



For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Filed under news story true story bipolar bipolar disorder disorder diagnosis hope recovery rethinking madness madness crazy manic psychosis psychotic recover mental health mental illness health illness psychology psychiatry med meds therapy mental mad mind body brain

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Mental Illness Parity Needs to Be the New Gay RightsOpinion By Marilee Newell
While sexuality is an aspect of human nature to embrace whereas moodiness, depression, and paranoia may be harder to stomach, these are aspects of human nature too, and nobody — especially if they have no choice over their behavior — deserves to be the target of discriminatory laws and assumptions that make their lives even more difficult.Mental illness and homosexuality are considered separate issues in 2014, but one important thing they have in common is a long history of cultural perception revolving around the individual’s “choice” to be gay or “choice” to be mentally ill. Retired psychologist Dr. Philip Hickey says that until 1974, homosexuality was even considered a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. Hickey calls homosexuality “the mental illness that went away” and says that mainstream vilification and persecution of homosexuals was done away with because “gay people gained a voice and began to make themselves heard.” Society has proved itself capable of deeper understanding and a broader concept of human rights in terms of gay parity and anti-discrimination laws over the past decade: now mental illness parity needs to follow suit in the cultural consciousness.
There was no scientific breakthrough justifying the removal of homosexuality from the DSM-II, according to Hickey — just a gradual shift in understanding. Hickey says that there are no mental illnesses, only complicated people — and yet, many people in the United States living with diagnoses recognized as mental illnesses are subject to the kinds of persecution and sensationalizing of their conditions that, were it directed at a different people-group, would be seen as outright bigoted.
There is much conflicting information about mental illness and so many unknowns. This complicates understanding. Some studies indicate that mental illness is caused by a person’s environment: rates of mental illness have shown to be higher in soldiers than civilians, for example. Other studies point toward a genetic cause, such as a father aged upwards of 45.
Many people living with mental illness feel afraid to come out of the closet and tell their friends and co-workers of their condition for fear of stigma. In the US, health insurance companies have denied coverage to the mentally ill. What will it take for people with mental illnesses to feel that they can make their voices heard in society? In the Gay Rights Movement, many prominent public figures and celebrities came out as either gay or in support of gay rights, speaking up for those who did not have a voice. In his 2006 documentary The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, British actor and writer Stephen Fry explores his own journey living with a mental illness, as well as the story of Princess Leia actress Carrie Fischer.
The behavior of a person with a mental illness is often assumed to be the person’s fault: poor impulse control, bad choices, and drug use — without much insight on the part of the person making the assumption that many people with such illnesses use drugs and alcohol to slf-medicate. Additionally, many people may not have access to effective, legal treatments such as psychiatric evaluation and therapy. Even when people have access to therapeutic medications, many of the generic versions of these drugs are manufactured in China and India without adequate FDA regulation, in order to save US drug companies money. Some generics are essentially placebos with no active ingredients, and yet for many people insurance will not cover the more closely regulated name-brand drugs, which can cost as much as $250 per medication, per month. Seeing as 1 in 5 Americans is estimated to have a mental illness, what if society became as outraged over this lack of parity for America’s mentally ill as, during the recent Sochi Olympics, Americans became outraged by Vladimir Putin’s law against promoting homosexuality to minors? Americans were also shocked at Russia imprisoning people for being homosexual, yet unmedicated people with mental illnesses often end up in America’s for-profit prison system.
Perhaps this is because there is a strain running through American society that seems to be telling people mental illness is just an excuse for bad behavior. Fox News recently ran the headline “Kidnapping dad caught faking mental illness,” emphasizing a plea of mental insanity as a way of getting away with crimes. In literature, too, there is the notion that the mad woman in the attic is not really mad.When former child star Amanda Bynes famously went through a psychotic break in 2013, many people, ignorant of what a bipolar or schizophrenic episode might look like, assumed from Bynes’s behavior that she was a simply spoiled star who had let fame and fortune ruin her judgment instead of a person in desperate need of compassion and help. When Bynes finally set fire to herself and her dog in a woman’s driveway, was placed under a psychiatric hold, and diagnosed with schizophrenia, the press finally had the decency to stop jeering at her downfall (although perhaps then only because in hospital she was away from the public eye).
A society that can move away from prejudices against homosexuality and towards an acceptance of gay parity laws should be capable of the move towards treating those who live with mental illness with acceptance, as human beings, with understanding of their reality. While sexuality is an aspect of human nature to embrace whereas moodiness, depression, and paranoia may be harder to stomach, these are aspects of human nature too, and nobody — especially if they have no choice over their behavior — deserves to be the target of discriminatory laws and assumptions that make their lives even more difficult.


For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Mental Illness Parity Needs to Be the New Gay Rights
Opinion By Marilee Newell

While sexuality is an aspect of human nature to embrace whereas moodiness, depression, and paranoia may be harder to stomach, these are aspects of human nature too, and nobody — especially if they have no choice over their behavior — deserves to be the target of discriminatory laws and assumptions that make their lives even more difficult.

Mental illness and homosexuality are considered separate issues in 2014, but one important thing they have in common is a long history of cultural perception revolving around the individual’s “choice” to be gay or “choice” to be mentally ill. Retired psychologist Dr. Philip Hickey says that until 1974, homosexuality was even considered a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. Hickey calls homosexuality “the mental illness that went away” and says that mainstream vilification and persecution of homosexuals was done away with because “gay people gained a voice and began to make themselves heard.” Society has proved itself capable of deeper understanding and a broader concept of human rights in terms of gay parity and anti-discrimination laws over the past decade: now mental illness parity needs to follow suit in the cultural consciousness.

There was no scientific breakthrough justifying the removal of homosexuality from the DSM-II, according to Hickey — just a gradual shift in understanding. Hickey says that there are no mental illnesses, only complicated people — and yet, many people in the United States living with diagnoses recognized as mental illnesses are subject to the kinds of persecution and sensationalizing of their conditions that, were it directed at a different people-group, would be seen as outright bigoted.

There is much conflicting information about mental illness and so many unknowns. This complicates understanding. Some studies indicate that mental illness is caused by a person’s environment: rates of mental illness have shown to be higher in soldiers than civilians, for example. Other studies point toward a genetic cause, such as a father aged upwards of 45.

Many people living with mental illness feel afraid to come out of the closet and tell their friends and co-workers of their condition for fear of stigma. In the US, health insurance companies have denied coverage to the mentally ill. What will it take for people with mental illnesses to feel that they can make their voices heard in society? In the Gay Rights Movement, many prominent public figures and celebrities came out as either gay or in support of gay rights, speaking up for those who did not have a voice. In his 2006 documentary The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, British actor and writer Stephen Fry explores his own journey living with a mental illness, as well as the story of Princess Leia actress Carrie Fischer.

The behavior of a person with a mental illness is often assumed to be the person’s fault: poor impulse control, bad choices, and drug use — without much insight on the part of the person making the assumption that many people with such illnesses use drugs and alcohol to slf-medicate. Additionally, many people may not have access to effective, legal treatments such as psychiatric evaluation and therapy. Even when people have access to therapeutic medications, many of the generic versions of these drugs are manufactured in China and India without adequate FDA regulation, in order to save US drug companies money. Some generics are essentially placebos with no active ingredients, and yet for many people insurance will not cover the more closely regulated name-brand drugs, which can cost as much as $250 per medication, per month. Seeing as 1 in 5 Americans is estimated to have a mental illness, what if society became as outraged over this lack of parity for America’s mentally ill as, during the recent Sochi Olympics, Americans became outraged by Vladimir Putin’s law against promoting homosexuality to minors? Americans were also shocked at Russia imprisoning people for being homosexual, yet unmedicated people with mental illnesses often end up in America’s for-profit prison system.

Perhaps this is because there is a strain running through American society that seems to be telling people mental illness is just an excuse for bad behavior. Fox News recently ran the headline “Kidnapping dad caught faking mental illness,” emphasizing a plea of mental insanity as a way of getting away with crimes. In literature, too, there is the notion that the mad woman in the attic is not really mad.
When former child star Amanda Bynes famously went through a psychotic break in 2013, many people, ignorant of what a bipolar or schizophrenic episode might look like, assumed from Bynes’s behavior that she was a simply spoiled star who had let fame and fortune ruin her judgment instead of a person in desperate need of compassion and help. When Bynes finally set fire to herself and her dog in a woman’s driveway, was placed under a psychiatric hold, and diagnosed with schizophrenia, the press finally had the decency to stop jeering at her downfall (although perhaps then only because in hospital she was away from the public eye).

A society that can move away from prejudices against homosexuality and towards an acceptance of gay parity laws should be capable of the move towards treating those who live with mental illness with acceptance, as human beings, with understanding of their reality. While sexuality is an aspect of human nature to embrace whereas moodiness, depression, and paranoia may be harder to stomach, these are aspects of human nature too, and nobody — especially if they have no choice over their behavior — deserves to be the target of discriminatory laws and assumptions that make their lives even more difficult.



For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Filed under mental health illness psy psych psychologyy mental health mental illness psychology psychiatry stigma gay rights gay rights stigmatizing mad madness rethinking madness human rights diagnosis dsm homosexuality mentally ill apa sexuality sex gender equality

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Op-ed: Mental illness: Another point of viewBy: Richard Shulman
Richard Shulman, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and director of West Hartford-based Volunteers In Psychotherapy, which provides strictly private therapy to people in exchange for community volunteer work they provide, privately and independently, to the charity of their choice.
The Connecticut Forum will soon host a panel of celebrities and professionals to take “An Honest Look at Mental Illness.”  The selected panelists’ consensus is that science has demonstrated that ‘mental illnesses’ are illnesses – biological diseases of bodily tissue… (and that pharmaceuticals are indispensable).
The problem: Prominent psychiatrists – the same people who promulgated this view – now admit that this isn’t demonstrated fact. Never has been.
The psychiatrist heading the National Institute of Mental Health criticized psychiatric “diagnoses” as lacking in both “validity” and any “objective laboratory measure.” His NIMH predecessor agreed: “psychiatric diagnoses seem arbitrary and lack objective tests; and there are no validated biomarkers…”.
Physician Marcia Angell, M.D., former editor-in-chief of the “New England Journal of Medicine,” concurs:  “Unlike the conditions treated in most other branches of medicine, there are no objective signs or tests for mental illness – no lab data or MRI findings…”  “I have spent most of my professional life evaluating the quality of clinical research, and I believe it is especially poor in psychiatry.”
A prominent psychiatrist admitted in the “Psychiatric Times” that the truism repeated to the public, about people’s problems being rooted in “chemical imbalances,” is an “urban legend” – “never a theory seriously propounded by well informed psychiatrists.”
But, isn’t this the very explanation most psychiatric professionals promote to the public? Based on past statements, there’s little evidence that this viewpoint, or the centrality of psychotropic medications, will be questioned by Forum panelists.
People who are upset, confused, overwhelmed are presumed “ill” – not emotionally distressed but medically sick.
For 20 years I served on the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Hartford Hospital–Institute of Living, an ethics-in-research committee. IRBs ensure that potential research participants are told the truth about their medical or psychiatric conditions. “Informed Consent” is the medical ethics doctrine requiring that people be given accurate, understandable information; to make their own decisions based on honest assessments of their conditions, and the known risks/benefits of their options.
Researchers (whether funded by drug companies, government or others) are required to submit to IRBs their research designs, including comprehensive summaries of previous research. Buried in pages of background, these scientists repeatedly admit that the conditions we mislabel “psychiatric illnesses” are simply not documented to be diseases of the body – despite decades of attempts to verify biomarkers, specific lesions or physical/chemical malfunctions that might cause these “conditions.”
No reliable, reproducible research has ever demonstrated people’s sadness (“depression”) or a child’s rambunctiousness (“ADHD”) to be physically rooted in tissue abnormality; nor is there an identifiable brain disease called “schizophrenia.” Physical confirmation of “mental illness” is unavailable in research, hence absent in clinical practice.
Check any library. Medical pathology textbooks codify disease — verifiable physical/chemical abnormalities. “Psychopathology” lists theories – not established physical evidence. Markedly different rules of science, logic and culture apply in psychiatry compared to medical science. The proponents of biological theories, ascendant in psychiatry and pharmaceutical companies, downplay this illogicality.
Will Forum panelists tell you that the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the most media-quoted nonprofit source of “lay” information, was secretly majority-funded by the pharmaceutical industry, until a congressional inquiry forced NAMI to divulge their commercial backing?
Will panelists admit the non-specificity of psychoactive medications, their documented sedative, stimulant or placebo effects, and their often downplayed but expectable side-effects?
Will there be any mention of “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” which won the prestigious Investigative Reporters and Editors Prize for best book of 2010 (with judges’ comments, “an in-depth exploration of medical studies and science … [that] punches holes in the conventional wisdom of treatment of mental illness with drugs.”)?
Neglected, in the tunnel-vision search for the biological cause and nature of “mental illness” (and its misleading promotion as established fact) is human experience.
News outlets regularly publish stories of murder, sexual abuse, genocide, family conflict. We human beings, affected by overwhelming events, sometimes show our distress in complex, confusing ways. We may cope with painful, troubling personal difficulties and secrets, and usually work hard to keep those secrets — sometimes even deceiving ourselves.
We can and do help people with their private confusions, trauma, upset and conflict – without a “medical” paradigm that may interfere with their self-examination and improvement. A growing number of resources, including Greater Hartford’s Volunteers In Psychotherapy, help people by exploring and discussing people’s private lives under truly private conditions (with no reports to insurers).
You deserve a second opinion. An “Honest Look” must include the previously mentioned empirical findings… and must consider people’s troubling secrets, which often explain their initially inscrutable personal problems.


For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Op-ed: Mental illness: Another point of view
By: Richard Shulman

Richard Shulman, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and director of West Hartford-based Volunteers In Psychotherapy, which provides strictly private therapy to people in exchange for community volunteer work they provide, privately and independently, to the charity of their choice.

The Connecticut Forum will soon host a panel of celebrities and professionals to take “An Honest Look at Mental Illness.”  The selected panelists’ consensus is that science has demonstrated that ‘mental illnesses’ are illnesses – biological diseases of bodily tissue… (and that pharmaceuticals are indispensable).

The problem: Prominent psychiatrists – the same people who promulgated this view – now admit that this isn’t demonstrated fact. Never has been.

The psychiatrist heading the National Institute of Mental Health criticized psychiatric “diagnoses” as lacking in both “validity” and any “objective laboratory measure.” His NIMH predecessor agreed: “psychiatric diagnoses seem arbitrary and lack objective tests; and there are no validated biomarkers…”.

Physician Marcia Angell, M.D., former editor-in-chief of the “New England Journal of Medicine,” concurs:  “Unlike the conditions treated in most other branches of medicine, there are no objective signs or tests for mental illness – no lab data or MRI findings…”  “I have spent most of my professional life evaluating the quality of clinical research, and I believe it is especially poor in psychiatry.”

A prominent psychiatrist admitted in the “Psychiatric Times” that the truism repeated to the public, about people’s problems being rooted in “chemical imbalances,” is an “urban legend” – “never a theory seriously propounded by well informed psychiatrists.”

But, isn’t this the very explanation most psychiatric professionals promote to the public? Based on past statements, there’s little evidence that this viewpoint, or the centrality of psychotropic medications, will be questioned by Forum panelists.

People who are upset, confused, overwhelmed are presumed “ill” – not emotionally distressed but medically sick.

For 20 years I served on the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Hartford Hospital–Institute of Living, an ethics-in-research committee. IRBs ensure that potential research participants are told the truth about their medical or psychiatric conditions. “Informed Consent” is the medical ethics doctrine requiring that people be given accurate, understandable information; to make their own decisions based on honest assessments of their conditions, and the known risks/benefits of their options.

Researchers (whether funded by drug companies, government or others) are required to submit to IRBs their research designs, including comprehensive summaries of previous research. Buried in pages of background, these scientists repeatedly admit that the conditions we mislabel “psychiatric illnesses” are simply not documented to be diseases of the body – despite decades of attempts to verify biomarkers, specific lesions or physical/chemical malfunctions that might cause these “conditions.”

No reliable, reproducible research has ever demonstrated people’s sadness (“depression”) or a child’s rambunctiousness (“ADHD”) to be physically rooted in tissue abnormality; nor is there an identifiable brain disease called “schizophrenia.” Physical confirmation of “mental illness” is unavailable in research, hence absent in clinical practice.

Check any library. Medical pathology textbooks codify disease — verifiable physical/chemical abnormalities. “Psychopathology” lists theories – not established physical evidence. Markedly different rules of science, logic and culture apply in psychiatry compared to medical science. The proponents of biological theories, ascendant in psychiatry and pharmaceutical companies, downplay this illogicality.

Will Forum panelists tell you that the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the most media-quoted nonprofit source of “lay” information, was secretly majority-funded by the pharmaceutical industry, until a congressional inquiry forced NAMI to divulge their commercial backing?

Will panelists admit the non-specificity of psychoactive medications, their documented sedative, stimulant or placebo effects, and their often downplayed but expectable side-effects?

Will there be any mention of “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” which won the prestigious Investigative Reporters and Editors Prize for best book of 2010 (with judges’ comments, “an in-depth exploration of medical studies and science … [that] punches holes in the conventional wisdom of treatment of mental illness with drugs.”)?

Neglected, in the tunnel-vision search for the biological cause and nature of “mental illness” (and its misleading promotion as established fact) is human experience.

News outlets regularly publish stories of murder, sexual abuse, genocide, family conflict. We human beings, affected by overwhelming events, sometimes show our distress in complex, confusing ways. We may cope with painful, troubling personal difficulties and secrets, and usually work hard to keep those secrets — sometimes even deceiving ourselves.

We can and do help people with their private confusions, trauma, upset and conflict – without a “medical” paradigm that may interfere with their self-examination and improvement. A growing number of resources, including Greater Hartford’s Volunteers In Psychotherapy, help people by exploring and discussing people’s private lives under truly private conditions (with no reports to insurers).

You deserve a second opinion. An “Honest Look” must include the previously mentioned empirical findings… and must consider people’s troubling secrets, which often explain their initially inscrutable personal problems.



For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Filed under psy psych psychology psychiatry psychological research psychiatrist crazy mad madness rethinking madness diagnosis mental illness mental health mental illness health therapy hope recovery recover mind body brain neuro neuroscience new news science scientific

23 notes

Schizophrenic and wanting to connectBy Michael Hedrick
It takes work, a lot of work, to get better, but it can be done. It has been a long road from that first group therapy session. But life is nothing if it’s not a road. 
I still remember the first group therapy session I went to after I got out of the hospital. I was 20 and had been diagnosed as schizophrenic after a road trip that took me from Colorado to the United Nations building in New York City, my mind riddled with notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and a determination to save the world. Now I was in something of a state of shock, having come to understand that amid the delusions and paranoia that swarmed through my head I was, in reality, insane.
A constant need to move felt like ants crawling over my skin, a side effect of the antipsychotic medications I had been prescribed. Every second of every day, I felt like clawing out my eyes and tearing out my hair because I just couldn’t sit still.
I held up my front, though. I smiled when I thought I had to and tried to be nice to people. Laughter, however, was not something that was possible, and wouldn’t be for a long time.
The group was a dual-functioning therapy technique to address both mental health issues and drug abuse. I had been assigned to it after disclosing that I had a marijuana habit. The doctors had told me that therapy groups were an integral part of my getting better. I agreed to go only to get out of the hospital prison and back home to my warm bed.
I sat in a circle with a melting pot of people. There was the construction worker still wearing dusty boots and clothes splattered with mud, and the depressed sorority girl, makeup and hair still impeccable. The two had formed a friendship over their history with methamphetamine. There was the quiet bipolar Hispanic man who spoke only in short staccato sentences, and the rotund marketing guy who introduced himself by saying his drugs of choice were food, cocaine and marijuana.
I sat there looking at them, hands nervously trying to find a natural position. I could tell they were thinking things about me, adjudicating me on my appearance and facial expressions. While they nodded in a sort of feigned acceptance, I knew they were going to go back to their friends and joke about me, the schizophrenic kid who looked weird.
When it was my turn to speak, I stood and told them in a quiet voice, almost so quiet you couldn’t hear the nervous wavering, that my name was Mike. “Hey Mike, welcome” rang the chorus in a strange unison. It seemed welcoming, but I knew they were waiting for their opportunity to strike. Summoning everything to get any words out, I told them that I had been an inpatient the previous week, where the doctors said I was schizophrenic, and that my drugs of choice were marijuana, cigarettes and, taking a cue from the marketing guy, food.
Having their eyes on me was a special kind of hell, as I stood there fidgeting and averting my gaze. They were all drilling holes into me, isolating my weaknesses and then laughing about them to themselves. They were wolves, chewing at and snapping my bones. I just wanted to get out, but I continued, and when I was done, I sat back down in the chair and lowered my head, refusing to say a thing or acknowledge anyone for the rest of the session.
How had it come to this? I had been happy in high school, popular even, unafraid of my own insecurities, unconcerned with what people thought of me. I can remember having friends from every different clique, every group and every grade. The ability to connect with people seemed so effortless then.
It’s a goal I’ve been striving to reattain for the last eight years.
When you have schizophrenia, the overarching plot of the experience is the inability to tell whether the things you are thinking are actually taking place in reality. Was that inflection in your voice a signal that I should be more friendly — or more reserved? Was that laughter I heard over my shoulder about me or something totally innocuous? These are the kinds of things I ask myself daily.
Recovering from mental illness is a process. It takes diligence in therapy, a strong support system and habitually taking your meds. With different drugs, the paranoia has calmed down, though it is still there, a reminder I’m still sick. Learning to accept what that paranoia was telling me and being all right with it, that I would still be the same person whether or not people thought negative things about me, has been a big part of my recovery.
Since that first group therapy session, I’ve worked harder than you can imagine trying to perfect a state of normal. Regaining the ability to relate to others has been a driving force. I’ve studied books on body language, manners, neuroscience and behavior just to get any small grasp on being a normal person. I know that if I do it right, and successfully connect with another human being, I feel giddy. But more often the interactions are a bit off, or a lot off, though not the end of the world.
Needless to say, it should be obvious that dating is hard for me. But I have friends, and they all know that I have schizophrenia and don’t seem to mind. They seem to accept that mental illness is a disease and not some defect of self. I can see the stigma lessening day by day, although a lot of people are still afraid of it. It’s nothing that a few little jokes and a sense of humor often can’t fix. Still, I know many others with schizophrenia who don’t have it as easy, who suffer every day, and I feel for them because I’ve sure been there.
It takes work, a lot of work, to get better, but it can be done. It has been a long road from that first group therapy session. But life is nothing if it’s not a road.


For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

Schizophrenic and wanting to connect
By Michael Hedrick

It takes work, a lot of work, to get better, but it can be done. It has been a long road from that first group therapy session. But life is nothing if it’s not a road. 

I still remember the first group therapy session I went to after I got out of the hospital. I was 20 and had been diagnosed as schizophrenic after a road trip that took me from Colorado to the United Nations building in New York City, my mind riddled with notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and a determination to save the world. Now I was in something of a state of shock, having come to understand that amid the delusions and paranoia that swarmed through my head I was, in reality, insane.

A constant need to move felt like ants crawling over my skin, a side effect of the antipsychotic medications I had been prescribed. Every second of every day, I felt like clawing out my eyes and tearing out my hair because I just couldn’t sit still.

I held up my front, though. I smiled when I thought I had to and tried to be nice to people. Laughter, however, was not something that was possible, and wouldn’t be for a long time.

The group was a dual-functioning therapy technique to address both mental health issues and drug abuse. I had been assigned to it after disclosing that I had a marijuana habit. The doctors had told me that therapy groups were an integral part of my getting better. I agreed to go only to get out of the hospital prison and back home to my warm bed.

I sat in a circle with a melting pot of people. There was the construction worker still wearing dusty boots and clothes splattered with mud, and the depressed sorority girl, makeup and hair still impeccable. The two had formed a friendship over their history with methamphetamine. There was the quiet bipolar Hispanic man who spoke only in short staccato sentences, and the rotund marketing guy who introduced himself by saying his drugs of choice were food, cocaine and marijuana.

I sat there looking at them, hands nervously trying to find a natural position. I could tell they were thinking things about me, adjudicating me on my appearance and facial expressions. While they nodded in a sort of feigned acceptance, I knew they were going to go back to their friends and joke about me, the schizophrenic kid who looked weird.

When it was my turn to speak, I stood and told them in a quiet voice, almost so quiet you couldn’t hear the nervous wavering, that my name was Mike. “Hey Mike, welcome” rang the chorus in a strange unison. It seemed welcoming, but I knew they were waiting for their opportunity to strike. Summoning everything to get any words out, I told them that I had been an inpatient the previous week, where the doctors said I was schizophrenic, and that my drugs of choice were marijuana, cigarettes and, taking a cue from the marketing guy, food.

Having their eyes on me was a special kind of hell, as I stood there fidgeting and averting my gaze. They were all drilling holes into me, isolating my weaknesses and then laughing about them to themselves. They were wolves, chewing at and snapping my bones. I just wanted to get out, but I continued, and when I was done, I sat back down in the chair and lowered my head, refusing to say a thing or acknowledge anyone for the rest of the session.

How had it come to this? I had been happy in high school, popular even, unafraid of my own insecurities, unconcerned with what people thought of me. I can remember having friends from every different clique, every group and every grade. The ability to connect with people seemed so effortless then.

It’s a goal I’ve been striving to reattain for the last eight years.

When you have schizophrenia, the overarching plot of the experience is the inability to tell whether the things you are thinking are actually taking place in reality. Was that inflection in your voice a signal that I should be more friendly — or more reserved? Was that laughter I heard over my shoulder about me or something totally innocuous? These are the kinds of things I ask myself daily.

Recovering from mental illness is a process. It takes diligence in therapy, a strong support system and habitually taking your meds. With different drugs, the paranoia has calmed down, though it is still there, a reminder I’m still sick. Learning to accept what that paranoia was telling me and being all right with it, that I would still be the same person whether or not people thought negative things about me, has been a big part of my recovery.

Since that first group therapy session, I’ve worked harder than you can imagine trying to perfect a state of normal. Regaining the ability to relate to others has been a driving force. I’ve studied books on body language, manners, neuroscience and behavior just to get any small grasp on being a normal person. I know that if I do it right, and successfully connect with another human being, I feel giddy. But more often the interactions are a bit off, or a lot off, though not the end of the world.

Needless to say, it should be obvious that dating is hard for me. But I have friends, and they all know that I have schizophrenia and don’t seem to mind. They seem to accept that mental illness is a disease and not some defect of self. I can see the stigma lessening day by day, although a lot of people are still afraid of it. It’s nothing that a few little jokes and a sense of humor often can’t fix. Still, I know many others with schizophrenia who don’t have it as easy, who suffer every day, and I feel for them because I’ve sure been there.

It takes work, a lot of work, to get better, but it can be done. It has been a long road from that first group therapy session. But life is nothing if it’s not a road.



For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog

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