Friday, 26 September 2008

Another Friday-intermezzo

Some bloggers subject their readers to the irresistible beauty, grace and charme of cats. I'll subject you to some more irresistible Richard Wright. Here's

David Gilmour - Echoes LIVE

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

If you still believe, that "schizophrenia" causes brain shrinkage...

...you can get wiser reading Ron Unger's latest blog entry.

The question remains, whether these research results will have any greater impact on future treatment - and if so in which way: will real alternatives be made available, or will we just be presented with "newer and safer medications", as we already know them all too well? - or whether they'll be brushed under the rug, downplayed, and distorted, as we have seen it been done with equally "inconvenient" results so many times before?

Related articles at MindFreedom's site:

- Neuroleptics shrink brains in monkeys.
- Scientific article: Neuroleptic (antipsychotic) drugs may cause cell death.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Tribute to Richard Wright

Psychdiagnonsense III - jawdropping

I must admit, that my jaw dropped at H.'s (the "believer") comment on my post about psych diagnoses, especially at her reaction to Janie Lee asking: "Do you not think it takes away my dignity, hope, and initiative to do better or be better in life?":

"No I don't think so", H. wrote, "I think, this is a choice of your own, Janie Lee! No matter what excuses and explanations people use to not have initiative, to not try and do better, to not be happy - it's still an individual choice about excuse and explanation. - And actually I don't really care whether the excuse/explanation is a bad childhood, a bad marriage, a psychiatric diagnosis or other. We are all human beings. Equal. Of equal worth. And we choose on our own."

In the following H. expressed that she sees a psych diagnosis as part of one's being as a human individual. Thus, she indicates, the non-acceptance of a psych label equals to the non-acceptance of who someone is.

I replied: "I agree with you as far as it, of course, is an individual choice, whether someone wants to suffer while the stake is on fire beneath them... Alternatively, one can choose to transcend. But that doesn't justify the Inquisition. Far from. Just because we're all of equal worth (in theory). Disregarded belief.

I am not with you in as far as you regard it non-acceptance to reject identification with a label, such as "schizophrenia". It is exactly non-acceptance of who/what a person really is, if such a label is accepted."

In reply, H. contrasts a diagnosis as a negative evil to a diagnosis as just one more detail that makes someone the person s/he is, and continues, that the negative aspect also is strengthened by those who reject diagnoses as such. Since, as she says, the focus then gets directed on the diagnosis, instead of on the person's individual characteristics:

"...persistent proposals about that no - we don't have any diagnosis, and, by the way, my eyes aren't blue, to me is non-acceptance of who someone is. (...)

Concerning people's own accounts, I can find at least just as many, that go the other way round. While they neither disclaim responsibility for themselves nor for their lives. Thousands of people who are happy for the additional understanding they have got for reacting the way they do - without regarding it a pretext for doing nothing about it.

(...)

And no, of course no one should accept a narrow view that a diagnosis is who someone really is. (...) ...a diagnosis is only an addition..."

Now what? Is a diagnosis - part of - someone's identity, or isn't it?? I thought.

I started to write, and I have to warn: as it occasionally has happened before, the words took over, and I decided to let them do it. So, if you at any point in the past have experienced trouble following my occasional "flights of fancy", be prepared! (Well, it gets worse, in part 2.) But I guess, I'm excused, as "loose association", "tangentiality", "clanging" (uhhh, I really love this one! I did restrain myself, though), etc. all just are symptoms... of a brain disease. Not of what you thought. - Here's my rant, first part:

Just found my comment on "Måske jeg bare skulle hænge mig del 2" [a post at H.'s blog], that I think also fits very well here: "People want labels. Without them, they don't understand. - As if the labels were to understand!" 
 


Labels... In theory they're all right, are a precondition for us being able to communicate through words. All words ultimately are "labels" - not the thing itself, but a representative - and thus never satisfactory.

To me, this isn't problematic unless the labels are divided into "good" and "bad" ones, and unless we at the same time identify the thing - everything, people included - with the label.

It is a fact that we in our culture identify things through their names, and take the name for the thing: "That's a tree." instead of: "The name/word for this is 'tree'. " This is which alienates us from the world and from ourselves. Now you may say that it isn't that black and white. But, yes, H., unfortunately, this black and white it is. There's "the right kind", and there's "the wrong/bad kind" in our culture. Even if it is hardly ever stated in a direct way - because that then would be discrimination. Exactly.

I say "in our culture", because in eastern cultures for instance this alienation through language doesn't go just as far. The Chinese language for instance brings out the words' function as representatives, signs, and not as the thing itself, to a far greater extent, both through its structure and written appearance, thus preventing misidentification.

It is also in these cultures that a philosophy is found, that doesn't categorize everything into "good" and "bad/evil": Buddhism. - Though, in its original form Christianity doesn't do this either. The Fall of Man is an addition, that isn't part of the Tanakh. And Jesus was a Jew. - The division into "good" and "bad/evil" is an ego-invention: "I am better/worthier than you." This self-image, this ego-identification, permeates our whole culture, has done so for a long time. It provides the basis for how our western culture functions - not. "Not" because, in the end, it is self-destructive.

To get back to psych diagnoses: all these diagnoses are a result of an ego-wish to be able to categorize human behaviour, human being(s), as "bad/evil" in contrast to which at any given time, and alone on the basis of cultural values, is regarded to be "normal" = "good". So that the "good" can be clearly delimited from the "bad/evil", and recognized as "good" [as western culture, since the Fall of Man, is characterized by dichotomic thinking]. Blue eyes are not a diagnosis, no. But to have dark skin, or being gay, or or or, actually once was.

As mentioned, I'm completely all right with being categorized as "maladjusted" - to a sick world. But I'm definitely not all right with being forced to define myself as "bad/less worthy", which "schizophrenic" is synonymous of. We are all equal, and we all have the right to define ourselves. In theory. Psychiatric reality, our culture's reality in general, is a completely different. Individuals are forced to confess their faith: "I am schizophrenic." Individuals who choose to say: "I am maladjusted to a sick world." are told they lack insight. - Not to mention that our Orwellian culture, psychiatry very much included, regards it a certain sign of "insanity" if someone thinks, it's their environment, not they themselves, that something is wrong with. - A "lack of insight" qualifies an individual to receive even more "treatment", i.e. torture. It justifies torture until the individual goes down and accepts others' definition of himself, thus giving up on himself: Metropolis, or Brave New World.

I don't object to words. But I definitely object to the values, historical, social, cultural, etc., that are attributed to certain words, such as "schizophrenic". In addition, I just as definitely object to that what I call "junk-science" is used to justify these values to be attributed to these words. Just as I regard it a violation of human rights to force a psychiatric label onto anyone.

I certainly don't close my eyes to who I am, to my "weaknesses" and "strengths". I accept them as good as I can. If I didn't do that, I wouldn't sit here today, having this discussion with you. I'd probably sit at Ringbo [a Danish half-way-house-like institution], hardly capable of spelling my own name. Acceptance is the precondition for transformation. The transformation I am in the process of, exactly because I haven't accepted and do not accept the "life sentence".

Friday, 19 September 2008

Friday-intermezzo

One brilliant and totally crazy show. "Bowie go home!" I was about to quote a YouTube comment. No offense meant :) Enjoy!

Genesis with Peter Gabriel - Live at Shepperton 1973

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Psychdiagnonsense II - ...and some more frustration

This is a thing, I'll never get. I just ended up surfing the blogosphere a bit. It happens sometimes. Someone has a link to someone who has a link... etc. I came by some of the V.I.P.s in the mental health blogosphere, too. Especially one of them - no names here - actually breaks my heart, each time I come by there.

Well, nevertheless, I keep on wondering. Most of these people have had no less than horrid experiences with the mental health system. And most of them seem to be rather intelligent people. Still, it doesn't seem to enter their heads, that there might be something essentially wrong with psychiatry in itself. They seem to think, it were just them, and maybe one or two others, who have been unlucky. Or, at most, that there are some few unfavourable tendencies, like the tendency to overmedicate, that would have to get adjusted, and everything would be fine with psychiatry. No, sorry folks. Nothing would be, is, has ever been, or will ever be fine with psychiatry as such!

Never mind, I just sometimes get really desperate about all this blindness, or naiveté, or whatever...

Well, now that I allowed myself to vent a little frustration - I'll move on to vent some more. Although the following frustration already has been vented at my Danish blog, this past weekend. Here's part two of the discussion about psychiatry's status as a medical science and, in particular, about psychiatric diagnoses.

As I wanted to address the question whether psychiatric diagnoses were of any benefit for the diagnozed, but as feelings still were running somewhat high the next afternoon, after I'd posted the first part, I decided to concentrate on quoting others' accounts of how they perceived psychiatric diagnoses, just adding a few remarks of my own.



"Powerful words with much and little meaning. They help to classify, but not understand. They act as excuses, but not answers. They make it easy to describe, but not really explain. They separate us from ourselves and others. So do you fear me or trust me, do you help me or punish me, do you believe me or call me a liar if I am diagnosed with one of these labels? Do you not think it hurts me to be labeled like this? Do you not think it takes away my dignity, hope, and initiative to do better or be better in life? We have to hide now to keep the system from forcing one of these diagnoses on us or using it in such a way that it hurts and stigmatizes us for the rest of our lives." Janie Lee, M.Ed.
_______________

"Psychiatric diagnoses like schizophrenia always risk harming people, always risk becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, always deny people the right to define and understand themselves for themselves, always mislead people about the facts of what is truly known and not known about mental illness, always unfairly promote narrow drug treatments against holistic alternatives, and always impose an interpretation on based on subservience to power. Psychiatric diagnoses perpetuate a long legacy of mistreatment of the mentally ill, who should be embraced as humans deserving of full dignity, not labeled as broken and different.

I believe that our system of helping people in extreme states of consciousness and severe suffering can and should dispense with pseudo-scientific psychiatric diagnoses. I believe we can find ways to care for people without harming them." Will Hall, co-founder of Freedom Center
_______________

"I had an experience in the early 1950's, shortly after I started in private practice, of how psychiatric diagnosis can harm. A young mother was referred to me for aftercare upon her discharge from Hillside Hospital, where I had trained and where I was on the clinic staff. We met, I took a history and I saw no obstacle to our working together psychotherapeutically.

At the end of the meeting, she asked me her diagnosis, and I told her 'schizophrenia' - her hospital diagnosis which, even then, I did not consider irreversible. But that's apparently how she saw it, because she went home and hanged herself.

Since then, I have never used that term with a patient or a family; for those disorganized enough to meet the diagnostic criteria, I merely say they are somewhat disorganized and that our therapeutic task is to help them get their heads together again.

The basic problem with psychiatric diagnosis, as I see it, is its denial of the ease with which people's minds can change. Someone facing a difficult situation can be anxious on Monday, depressed on Tuesday and a bit disorganized – 'schizzy' - on Wednesday. Whichever day he is seen by the psychiatrist will determine his 'diagnosis,' which will in turn magnify his related symptoms and dampen the others.

Even more important is the permanence which "diagnosis," (schizophrenia especially,) is supposed to possess. Although I had a schizophrenic break (my response to drugs during that episode is described in Bob Whitaker's superb book, 'Mad in America'), many of my psychiatric colleagues insisted that the diagnosis had to be wrong because I recovered. This means that whenever these colleagues diagnose someone as having "schizophrenia," they are convinced in their hearts that the patient will never recover. This attitude is hardly helpful for the patients they care for!" Nathaniel S. Lehrman, M.D.
_______________

A remark in connection with Nathaniel S. Lehrman's account: So-called "schizophrenia" - psychiatry's sacred cow - has always been defined as an incurable illness, a "life sentence", and still today is defined the same by psychiatry - disregarded the large number of people labelled with "schizophrenia", who at any given time throughout history have achieved full recovery, and do achieve full recovery today. Though, as mentioned in other contexts before, it is only people who either manage to completely avoid the system, or who manage to leave the system at some point, who do fully recover. People who stay in contact with and dependent on the system do not recover fully. With the exception of those, who use the system's services to emancipate themselves from it, that is. - Having Gianna at Beyond Meds in mind, yep. - Since only those who stay inside the system do appear in the system's statistics, "schizophrenia" thus is confirmed to be an incurable illness.

Still today, psychiatry doesn't hesitate to tell every person with a diagnosis of "schizophrenia" - or of any other "severe mental illness" - that this diagnosis is irreversible, a "life sentence". While it, at the same time, is tried to explain away the high percentage of especially first-time "psychotics" who commit suicide as a "symptom" of the "illness" - rather than that suicide is acknowledged to be a completely natural and rational - not at all "insane" - reaction to receiving the message of having a life-long, incurable brain disease. Rather than that full recovery is acknowledged to be possible, and rather than that the consequence is taken in regard to the by now well-established fact, that psychiatric "treatment" prevents full recovery. Instead the system stops at virtually nothing in order to legitimate itself as a "medical science"... "Forgive them, for they don't know what they do"?

The above quotations are retrieved from Paula J. Caplan's website, PsychDiagnosis.net. Paula Caplan has been a member of the DSM V writing group, leaving the group when she realized how little real science actually provides the basis for diagnoses to be approved respectively dismissed. Again, I want to outline that psychiatry is the only "medical science" that approves respectively dismisses diagnoses alone on the basis of voting, and not on the basis of any given behaviour to be scientifically provenly a symptom of illness, or of any other scientifically provable diagnostic criteria for "mental illness" to exist. An interview with Paula Caplan can be listened to here.

I want to contrast the above quotations with a quotation from an article at a Danish website, that clearly shows the false ego-identification, that is promoted by psychiatry and its diagnoses, and that in a decisive manner contributes to the diagnozed individual becoming stuck in irreversible crisis, "chronic mental illness":

"Following this [having experienced increasing signs of an extreme state of mind] Jacob is admitted to a psychiatric ward, and, after three months of hospitalization, is told that he has schizophrenia.

'Subsequently, I entered into the OPUS project, and got started with the so-called social skills training together with four other young, mentally ill people.'

He describes his experience with OPUS like this: 'I experienced it as an awakening... it was like finding my identity, an explanation for the feelings and thoughts I had. From feeling odd man out, it was like I'd went to find my right place'."

The example is taken from J.A. Jensen (ed.), Sindets labyrinter. Seks beretninger fra mødet med psykiatrien. (Labyrinths of the mind. Six accounts about the encounter with psychiatry. - And, sure, Jacob's example is meant to illustrate a successful encounter with psychiatry. As if there were such a thing!) Copenhagen, 2002.

Jacob found an identity, yes - as a "schizophrenic". But is this who he really is? And what will happen the moment Jacob realizes, that he has become a victim of a huge self-/deceit, realizing at the same time, that he cannot leave the place he found - as a "schizophrenic"?

Psychdiagnonsense I - Oh boy!

Once again I had to face the idea that psychiatric diagnoses would be scientifically valid and for the diagnozed a good thing to happen. As a result, I spent the past weekend discussing the matter on my Danish blog. Here's the first part of the discussion.

The idea was uttered by someone whose blog I quite frequently visit, and whose overall - critically - political/social views I widely share. Of interest in the context might be, that the concerned blogger has a diagnozed teenage (?) son, who obviously is on Ritalin, while both blogger and son experience diagnosis and "treatment" as helpful - so far.

Which essentially made me react, was the concerned blogger's call for more children to get diagnozed, the diagnozing procedure to be speeded up, and thus to provide access to psychiatric "treatment" for far more children, than those who already are psychiatrized in today's Denmark - which actually already is a disturbingly large number - tendency: skyrocketing - and, in my opinion, far too disturbingly large a number, as I regard one single psychiatrized child to be one single psychiatrized child too many. Especially when the treatment includes drugs, which it almost always does. As drugs, apart from electroshock, are the only "help" psychiatry as such can provide, while the industry becomes increasingly reluctant to let go its hold of and refer even children to really helpful but with psychiatry competing treatment options like therapy without, first of all, seeking to keep them dependent on its own "services", i.e. drugs.

Another reason for me to react was the unlimited trust in psychiatry as a true science, that had produced scientific evidence of existential crises to be genetically caused biological illnesses, I had observed. Not least because it also made me, as mentioned a frequent reader - and commenter - at the concerned person's blog, a genetically defective, sick-in-the-head individual. Oh boy! Well, this, of course, was my ego feeling hurt in its pride. Why I abstained for a day to write the announced post about the matter, working to get a grip on myself, or my ego, again. No matter how indirect a statement about me being defective and sick in my head, it still can be a major trigger to my ego - trigger like in trauma, yes - and it takes its time to retrieve the Buddhist calm that is so wonderfully indifferent to whatever others might think about me and my brain.

Nevertheless, I posted a short entry, providing some basics in regard to the question, if there really is scientific evidence for psychiatry's claims about the genetic/biological nature of existential cirses:

Robert Whitaker, Mad In America. Review here. Interview with Robert Whitaker here. Both very informative, while one, of course, doesn't get round reading the book in order to get the whole argumentation.

Mary Boyle, Schizophrenia. A Scientific Delusion? Review here. The ultimate disclosure of psychiatric "science" to be junk-science.

Finally, there is Bruce Lipton's lecture "The Biology of Perception", that can be viewed as a playlist at YouTube.

The maybe fastest way to get an idea of how "scientifically proven" psychiatry's claims are, is to just have a look at Big Pharma's websites:

"The symptoms of schizophrenia are thought to be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain." (my italics) - From abilify.com

"Doctors and researchers believe that it ["bipolar disorder"] may be caused by chemicals imbalances in the brain." (my italics) - From seroquel.com

"It is believed that ADHD is caused by either a lower level, or an imbalance, of chemicals, called neurotransmitters." (my italics) - From concerta.net

"There are many theories about the cause of depression. One of the most commonly accepted theories suggests that two naturally occurring substances, serotonin and norepinephrine, are believed to affect core mood and pain symptoms of depression." (my italics) - From cymbalta.com

"Two natural chemicals in the brain, serotonin and norepinephrine, are thought to be linked to this condition, as well as to other anxiety disorders and depression. Prescription medications that affect these chemicals may help eliminate the symptoms of GAD." (my italics) - From effexorxr.com

The list is long. There is virtually not one among all these sites, that doesn't make use of a wording like the one, I italicized in the quotations.The question is, would anyone, especially a company that wants nothing more than sell its product, hedge their bets like this, always the risk included, that people stumble over it (although most people unfortunately don't), if there was any scientific proof of the statements to be true?

BTW: I like that the responsible people at AstraZeneca obviously aren't even capable of correct spelling - I used the copy-paste-method for the quotations. Makes me wonder how capable the people are, who are responsible for the company's research...

Friday, 12 September 2008

T4

Now they really shout it from the roof tops: "Schizophrenia's riddle solved - with Danish help". As a matter of fact. It's all about the same research I wrote about here (and here).

"Just like in the case of Downs syndrome it [the research results] opens up for considerations about embryo checks in regard to abortion", the spokeswoman for SIND, a Danish user organization, says according to the article.

Fasten seat belts, folks! We're heading straight towards a refined version of what went on in the Third Reich. And even user organizations applaud enthusiastically...

Make sure to have a look at this before you go down with major depression, thinking you'd really be genetically defective.