Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The Salvation Syndrome

Since I tagged yesterday's post with "Salvation Syndrome", I will have to explain what I mean by that.

Well, I've been wondering for quite a while what it might be which makes people in crisis believe psychiatry were an institution established and maintained in order to help THEM, while it seems quite obvious to me that this institution was established and is maintained only and solely to help everyone else than the person in crisis. That it was established and is maintained in order to help protect society from disturbed (by society) and, far more important, disturbing (society) elements.

Among other reasons, which I will return to in a future post, I arrived at what I called "Salvation Syndrome" - for once making use of an almost psychiatric categorization and terminology. I hope, I will be forgiven!

To illustrate the concept, I'll quote from a reply to my own contribution to the ect-debate - actually my debut at the Danish users-magazine "Outsideren" - that ran in the magazine some time ago. My, rather nasty, remarks in brackets.

"The psychiatrist on duty didn't know me, but so did the charge nurse. The psychiatrist considered me to be ordinarily sad (incredible! "Ordinarily sad"! How CAN he!) and was ready to send me home. The charge nurse, though, didn't like my condition and wanted to observe me for 24 hours (yah, the charge nurse KNEW K., and KNEW what K. needed and desired). Soon it showed that I was developing a manic delirium,..." (It was a close one, but thanks to the charge nurse, K. anyway was admitted entrance to the holy halls of psychiatric power, where she hastened to display all signs, i.e. "symptoms", necessary to qualify for salvation, i.e. "treatment", and thus was redeemed from having to go through her personal version of the profoundly human, though also, admittedly, painful and saddening experience of facing feelings of inner emptiness and meaninglessness.)

There you've got it: the Salvation Syndrome, or: "Save me from having to be an aware and responsible human being!"

In fact, I've never observed a choice of words more related to salvation than K.'s. "Half-unconcious as I was, I nevertheless heard the confidence inspiring voice of nurse F. and the whistling of the air in the corridors that felt like swan wings to my cheek", K. describes being taken to the ect-room. A strangly artificial and almost biblically picturesque language.

Well,as suggested above, I don't doubt that K. was sad, deeply sad, and in real great pain when she went to the psych emergency. But unfortunately, K.,too, during earlier contact with psychiatry had bought into its pseudo-solutions to her sadness and pain as the only possible and valid ones. Just as people accept the advertising industry's message, that you can become a personality by buying an "Invita"-kitchen, achieve freedom by a wireless i-net connection, or experience real life by having a Coke, they accept psychiatry's message that you can escape having to deal with your emotional and existential problems, that you can escape having to be a human being by buying into its diagnoses and "treatments". What all these messages fail to tell you, is that their pseudo-solutions for your needs and desires, because of their temporary as well as alienating nature, inevitably will create an ever greater need and desire inside you that will make you ever more dependent on the puffed goods. All the while you are told that the growing pain, the growing emptiness and meaninglessness you feel because your needs and desires never really are satisfied, is due to a chronification of your "mental illness" and thus requires even more goods, i.e. diagnoses and "treatment": Have another Coke, or two, or three... and be saved, once more.

K. ended up receiving 11 ect-"treatments" in one week. She's convinced that it "saved her life". Today, she is one of psychiatry's and ect's fiercest advocates in Denmark, giving lectures "about the course of the illness ("bipolar disorder") and electrostimulation's effectiveness", and she's been asked to write a book about her experience. The Danish Kitty Dukakis.

I don't doubt that ect saved something for K. But I'm not at all sure, if this something was her life.

Monday, 26 November 2007

A call for Big Pharma's - and psychiatry's - attention

In the US this "illness" has been known for quite a while. Eventually, it has also entered the Danes' conciousness: "compulsive shopping", or "shopaloholism". We can undoubtedly blame Big Pharma for the fact that this "disorder" not yet has been acknowledged as an actual "illness". What are you waiting for? Get a move on and develop a drug against this horrendous "illness"! So that it will become accepted as a valid diagnosis in the ICD, chapter V. It is simply a scandal, that people who loyally followed the advertising industry's calls for consumption, people who've become so exemplary consumers of all sorts of everyday as well as luxury goods that they themselves don't even think it's fun anymore, are doomed to completely do without the joy of consuming, just because you can't deliver the goods!

Provisionally, I recommend that psychiatry provides a temporarily solution for these poor individuals. Get the diagnosis approved! The poor shopaloholics have the right to be enabled to consume at least a diagnosis. Be sure, the pills will be put on the marked, sooner or later.

Until then, you might consider to learn from the experience with alcoholics and regard shopaloholism as one aspect of another underlying "mental illness" such as "anxiety" or "depression", and, voilĂ !, you got an approved, legitimate "illness" AND the pills to "treat" it!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Out of the frying pan into the fire - or: Out of one abuse into another

They are in ecstasies on Funen (an island, one of the three major geographic parts of Denmark): 7 out of 10 alcoholics stop drinking when treated by the Alkoholbehandlingscenter Fyn. For, among other things, this advanced treatment center sends alcoholics to a psychiatrist. As we all know, many addicts are "mentally ill", so their addiction can and has to be viewed as self-medication.

So, the alcoholics are sent to a psychiatrist who then, of course, will find one or another diagnosis to label the person with. Preferably "anxiety" or "depression". Well, and after the person is diagnosed, "treatment" in the shape of psych drugs needs to get started. The sooner the better. The consumption of these pills, of course, is not termed "abuse" but "treatment", even if their effect by and large is just the same as the effect of alcohol: They influence an individuals state of mind by creating an imbalance in brain chemistry, and thus they see to that the individual is no longer capable of sensing himself and his emotional reactions as he'd be in an uninfluenced condition.

The pills are called "medicine" even though most psych drugs, especially benzodiazepines, are far more addictive than recreational drugs like cannabis, heroin, cocaine and, well, alcohol, and often cause severe withdrawal symptoms, as soon as you, against psychiatry's urgent request to stay on them for the rest of your life, try to quit them. Heroin, yah. Indeed, it is easier to quit heroin than to quit most psych drugs.

The pills are called "medicine" even though all psych drugs, just like synthetic processed recreational drugs like Ecstasy, cause brain shrinkage and cell death on a long-term basis, and to, at least, the same if not a greater extent than alcohol e.g. But this is of course the intended effect, as it is with all psychiatric "treatment".

The advantage of psychiatrically prescribed pill-abuse to self-determined, private alcohol-abuse is that the psychiatrically prescribed version of abuse through the public institution psychiatry provides total control of the individual's abuse, and thereby of the individual himself, to society. Something which can't be said of a private alcohol or drug abuse.

The advantage for the abusing individual is that the coveted, self-anaesthetizing effect doesn't cost the individual half of the money an alcohol- or drug-abuse would cost him, if achieved with the help of prescribed pills. Health insurance pays, up to nearly the whole price, depending on the individual's private economy.

Out of private into state sponsored (and controlled) abuse. Truly a great success! As they call it on Funen.

Words, Part I

It seems a common phenomenon that individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis refer to themselves as "mentally ill". Psychiatry's illness-terminology is often uncritically adopted, even by people who don't adopt the gene- nor neurotransmitter story, who don't believe in "mental illness" as physiological illness, uncritically.

Obviously it is widely assumed, that words, terms, don't mean a lot. This is wrong. Language is a means of power and identification which can't be underestimated. It is not without reason that rhetoric and semiotics e.g. are sciences of their own.

My words, my choice of words, defines me. My words ARE me. At many discussion forums and websites one can read the well-intentioned advice that you shouldn't identify with your "illness" since you ARE not your illness. Preferably uttered by people who elsewhere at the same forum say: "I AM mentally ill".

I guess, we can agree that when an individual says: "I am a diabetic", that doesn't make him a "sick" personality. It doesn't make his mind, his thoughts, feelings and actions "sick". Unfortunately, it is a horse of a different colour when it comes to "mental illness". Because both, an individual's personality as well as a potential "mental illness", are located in the individual's brain. Consequently, it has to be this individual's personality which is sick. Can you take someone seriously whose mind, whose thoughts, feelings and the resulting actions are sick? Hardly. Nevertheless, this is exactly what the "mentally ill" demand: To be listened to and taken seriously. On equal terms with people who are not "mentally ill". On what basis?

This is in fact the same problem as with the slave who refers to himself as "slave" and at the same time demands to be treated as a free individual. An unreasonable demand. To adopt the "master's", psychiatry's, terminology, makes me which the "master", psychiatry, views me to be: a "slave", a "mental illness", a diagnosis. An unpredictable, "sick", defective and thus worthless thing, which there's no reason to listen to or to take seriously. Not only in the eyes of psychiatry, but also, consciously or unconsciously, in my own. One of several reasons why I chose to do without terms like "mentally ill" or any other terminology relating to a (brain) disease, when it comes to me personally.


Just as my Danish blog, I decided to start this one with Don Weitz' "25 Good Reasons why Psychiatry Must Be Abolished". Some people have a problem with Don Weitz' directness. Personally, I think there's nothing wrong with calling a spade for a spade as long as you, convincingly, can argue for it. Which is exactly what Don Weitz is able to do. Unquestionably, Don is one of my greatest heroes.

by Don Weitz

1. Because psychiatrists frequently cause harm, permanent disabilities, death - death of the body-mind-spirit.
2. Because psychiatrists frequently violate the Hippocratic Oath which orders all physicians "First Do No Harm."
3. Because psychiatrists patronize and disempower people, especially their patients.
4. Because psychiatry is not a medical science.
5. Because psychiatry is quackery, a pseudo-science which lacks independent diagnostic tests, testable hypotheses, and cures for "schizophrenia" and all other types of alleged "mental illness" or "mental disorder".
6. Because psychiatrists can not accurately and reliably predict dangerousness, violence, or any other type of human behaviour, yet make such claims as "expert witnesses", and with the media promote the "dangerous mental patient" myth/stereotype.
7. Because psychiatrists have caused a worldwide epidemic of brain damage by promoting and prescribing brain-disabling treatments such as the neuroleptics, antidepressants, electroconvulsive brainwashing (electroshock), and psychosurgery (lobotomy).
8. Because psychiatrists manufacture hundreds of "mental disorders" classified in its bible called "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (a modern witch-hunting manual); such "mental disorders" and "symptoms" are in fact negative, class-and-culturally-biased moral judgments for dissident ways of coping with personal problems and alternative ways of perceiving, interpreting or being in the world.
9. Because psychiatrists, blinded by their medical model bias, fraudulently pathologize and label people's serious life or existential crises as "symptoms" of "mental illness" or "mental disorder" such as "schizophrenia","bipolar affective disorder", and "personality disorder".
10. Because psychiatrists compound this fraud by falsely claiming, without scientific proof, that these "mental disorders" are caused by a "biochemical imbalance" in the brain, genetic factors or "genetic predispositions", despite the fact that there are no genetic factors in "mental illness".
11. Because psychiatrists frequently misinform their patients, families and the public by claiming that brain-disabling procedures such as the neurotoxins (e.g.,"antipsychotic medication" and "antidepressasnts"), electroconvulsive brainwashing (electroconvulsive therapy/"ECT"), psychosurgery (lobotomy) and other behaviour modification-mind control procedures are "safe, effective and lifesaving".  The exact opposite is tragically true.
12. Because psychiatrists routinely deceive or lie to patients, prisoners, their families, and the public.
13. Because psychiatrists routinely and willfully violate the medical-ethical principle of "informed consent" by misinforming or not informing their patients about the numerous toxic, disabling and frequently permanent effects of the neuroleptics such as memory loss, tardive dyskinesia, tardive psychosis, parkinsonism, dementia (all signs of brain damage), and death.
14. Because psychiatrists routinely threaten, intimidate or coerce many patients - particularly women, children, the elderly, and prisoners - into consenting to health-threatening/brain-damaging "treatment" such as the antidepressants, neuroleptics, electroconvulsive brainwashing, and hi-risk experiments.
15. Because psychiatrists frequently fail to fully inform psychiatric inmates and prisoners about existing safe and humane, non-medical alternatives in the community such as survivor-controlled crisis centres, drop-ins, self-help or advocacy groups, diet, massage, wholistic medicine, affordable supportive housing, and jobs.
16. Because psychiatrists are sexist in frequently stereotyping women in crisis as "hysterical" or "over-emotional", blaming women whenever they voice real complaints and assertively express their feelings and emotions, prescribing massive doses of tranquilizers and antidrepressants to disproportionately large numbers of women, and in sexually assaulting women in their offices and institutions.
17. Because psychiatrists, particularly white male psychiatrists, are homophobic - the American Psychiatric Association (APA) once labelled homosexuality as a "mental illness" or "mental disorder" - and have used forced electroshock on lesbians, trying to coerce them into adopting a heterosexual life style.
18. Because psychiatrists are ageist in prescribing tranquilizers, antidepressants ("medication") and electroconvulsive brainwashing for disproportionately large numbers of elderly people - a form of elder abuse.
19. Because psychiatrists are racist in disproportionately incarcerating and drugging people of African descent, aboringal people, other people of colour and labelling them "psychotic" or "schizophrenic".
20. Because psychiatrists routinely violate people's civil rights, human rights and constitutional rights such as imprisoning innocent people without court trial or public hearing ("involuntary commitment"), and subjecting them to cruel and unusual punishments or tortures such as forced drugging, electroconvulsive brainwashing, psychosurgery, solitary confinement, "chemical restraints", and 4-point or 5-point restraints.
21. Because psychiatrists masterminded the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people including disabled children, the elderly and psychiatric patients during The Holocaust in Nazi Germany, and "selected" hundreds of thousands of concentration camp prisoners for death ("T-4 euthanasia" program) - historical facts still missing in psychiatric textbooks and histories.
22. Because psychiatrists have willingly participated in and administered mind-control experiments in the United States and Canada since the early 1950s - its chief targets have been poor patients, women, dissidents and prisoners.
23. Because psychiatry, particularly institutional-biological psychiatry, is based on the 3 Fs: Fear, Fraud,and Force.
24. Because psychiatry is a form of social control or punishment - not treatment.
25. Because psychiatry, particularly institutional-biological psychiatry, is fascist - a direct threat to democracy, human rights and life.
A note from the author:This statement is a slightly revised version of the original written in Spring 1998.  Feel free to add and publish your own reasons.  I am a psychiatric survivor and antipsychiatry activist who has been involved in the psychiatric survivor liberation movment for 24 years. I am also co-editor of "Shrink Resistant: The Struggle Against Psychiatry in Canada" (1988), host-producer of the antipsychiatry program "Shrinkrap" on CKLN radio (88.1 FM) in Toronto, member of People Against Coercive Treatment (P.A.C.T.), and member of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).]
The author, Don Weitz can be reached at his e-mail address: dweitz@interlog.com

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