Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Criticism Anxiety, part II

"If you want to know something, ask an experienced, not a scholar." -Chinese

So, here we've got it, the latest issue of Outsideren. Including the summary of the ECT-debate, and thus the article "Nej, nej og aldrig!" (No, no, and never!), based on an interview with me. As promised at "Criticism Anxiety, part I", I'll comment. Both on the article, and also on psychiatrist Martin Balslev Jørgensen's reply on some of my arguments against ECT: "Kun når det virkelig gælder" (Only when really necessary).

The editor's introduction to the issue states that ECT-(psychiatry-)critics don't show enough readiness for dialogue. This simply is wrong, as the example Dresden has shown. We're more than ready for dialogue. Which we're, nevertheless, are not willing to do, is exactly which psychiatry most often and quite consequently asks us to do, that is, to deny our experiences, and the positions we hold as a result from these experiences. Dialogue presupposes our experiences and positions to be respected. Just as we are supposed to respect others' experiences and positions. Interestingly, mental health staff mostly is in complete lack of the first. Psychiatrists' positions usually are based on theoretical knowledge alone, knowledge they acquired by studying clever books, written by people with a purely theoretical knowledge, acquired by studying clever books, written by people etc. Thus, their positions' foundation is of a more or less completely theoretical kind, not based on experience. Empirical research is a city in China to psychiatry.

Dialogue presupposes listening to each other. With very few exceptions, psychiatry has always been and still is characterized by denying to listen to its clientele. Martin Balslev Jørgensen (M.B.J.) the same - and I shudder to think, that the man also acts as a therapist. "People who are against ECT, from a philosophical position for example, do not have any understanding for how miserable these people feel", he says. Dear Martin Balslev Jørgensen, I feel like commenting, most of the most inveterate critics of ECT have been exposed to this kind of torture themselves. Are you implying that these people don't know what they're talking about??

"That psychiatrists can't think of anything but administering ECT as soon as possible, isn't true", M.B.J. replies to my statement, that "psychiatrists do (...) the only they can and the only they are trained to do: WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS and zapping people's brains", as it is put in the Outsideren (my emphasis). M.B.J. here, elegantly (?), navigates round half of my argumentation. The decisive half. A look at the patients' complaints board's rulings concerning complaints about involuntary ECT, shows clearly that the only less intrusive measures tried before ECT was administered, was medication. None of the rulings mentions any kind of dialogue to have been tried. Dialogue, which, by the way, isn't only less intrusive than ECT but also much less intrusive than medication. BUT: Psychiatrist indeed aren't trained to talk with their clientele. They are trained to administer "medicine" and ECT. As mentioned in a previous post: That's that. It's not without reason that they also refer to themselves as "psychopharmacologists".

In reply to my remark that psychiatry's view of human nature is a purely naturalistic one, that it doesn't take the metaphorical dimension of the mind, the psyche, into account, M.B.J. states, he "would rather compare mental distress to diabetes than to a broken leg", as the article "Kun når det virkelig gælder" tells us. I must admit, I'd be tempted to laugh if it wasn't that sad. Once again the simplistic comparison, Outsideren chooses to print instead of the more complicated explanation, I also went into at the interview, is misunderstood (on purpose?). The question is not at all, if crises are comparable to broken legs or diabetes. The question is, if crises altogether are comparable to physical harm, illness, "regulating mechanisms which do not work" (interesting rewording of the by now slightly hackneyed phrase "imbalances in brain chemistry"!), or not.

And, dear Martin Balslev Jørgensen, if you are capable of listening at all - once again I shudder...: My own EXPERIENCE (and I'm not alone in this) is, that they definitely are not. No matter how much you would like to make people believe it, in order to be able to sell them your "treatment", your pills and your ECT. And disregarded that you try to save your honour as a therapist by the bell by saying that crises aren't "a PURE physiologic problem" (my emphasis).

That M.B.J. himself is an individual who "doesn't want to face reality", as he accuses ECT- (and psychiatry-)critics to be, statements like "...only a very few individuals complain about persistent memory loss", "It has not yet been possible to make out for sure, if memory loss is a side effect of ECT, or if it is due to the preceding depression" and: "As a psychiatrist you use which is provenly effective" prove. Again, I can only point to the Sackeim-study - which Outsideren, unfortunately, and incomprehensibly to me, chose not to refer to - as the newest of numerous studies showing persistent memory loss and persistently reduced cognitive abilities with up to 50% of the individuals who were exposed to ECT, unmistakably being caused by the "treatment". How "effective" psychiatry's "treatment" options really are, no less numerous studies show, which compare ECT to sham-ECT and "medicine" to placebo. The "effectiveness" is the same, whether it is the real McCoy or sham-ECT/placebo. Should M.B.J., the "expert" in the field he so desperately seeks to appear as - in contrast to the, according to him, oh so stupid critics - not have any knowledge of these studies?? To me, this wouldn't exactly be a sign of especially great expertise.

How "strict" the rules for involuntary ECT are, a comparison of the numbers from 2005 and 2006 shows: In 2005 90 individuals were exposed to involuntary ECT in Denmark. In 2006 this number is five times as high (!): 450 individuals were exposed to involuntary ECT. Further increase is to be expected. Inhibitions clearly dwindle, the rules become decreasingly strict. That it allegedly is impossible to do without coercion, the fact, that there are countries, like Germany and Norway, where it is against the law to administer ECT involuntarily, disproves.

It is incomprehensible to me that Outsideren chooses to link to Dansk Psykiatrisk Selskab's (The Danish Psychiatric Association) 2002-study, which is characterized by the same bias and misinformation the whole psychiatric system strongly is characterized by, but chooses to do completely without any of the links to critical and independent information, I provided several of. Admittedly: Really critical and from the pharmacological as well as the ECT-lobby independent information is only available in foreign languages, primarily in English. Information in Danish is, as far as I know, not available.

Looked at in isolation, Outsideren's article about the arguments of ECT-critics is nowhere near satisfactory, and borders to the annoying in its simplicity that invites misunderstandings, like M.B.J.'s, of my argumentation. Additionally annoying is, that M.B.J. is widely allowed to avoid the issue in his defence of ECT, that, obviously, the misunderstandings aren't corrected. Nevertheless, all in all, the whole issue of Outsideren taken into consideration, a slightly greater differentiation can be observed, which, partly, saves the honour by the bell. Partly. Still it is avoided to take a stand, and, which is worse, to let a third party, such as I am in this case, FULLY take a stand that isn't in line with mainstream psychiatry's. As far as I am concerned, I feel a strong urge to apologize to people like Leonard Roy Frank, and, in future, I will consider more carefully whom I'll give an interview.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Words, just a short intermezzo

A remark from a German friend of mine about the Danish term "sindslidende": "Probably it is due to me not using the Danish language on an every day basis, but "sindslidende" sounds to me as if the Danish suffer FROM their minds..."

"Sindslidende" is equivalent to "suffering mentally", but could as well be translated "mind-suffering". The term is quite common, and used alternately with "psykisk syg": "mentally ill".

Friday, 14 December 2007

Oh, and...

here's one more aspect of this hypocrisy in favour of Scientology: They don't FORCE anyone to join them. Maybe they try to persuade people, but they do not force them. Now that we're talking the "peaceful DEMOCRATIC order"...

Some thoughts about hypocrisy

As mentioned before: I am not a Scientologist. I have basic reservations toward everything just roughly reminding of ideologies, dogmas and the like. Nevertheless, reading the CNN-article "Germany moves to ban Scientology", I can only wonder.

In Germany they think, Scientology "threatens the peaceful democratic order", and in a report it says: "...it has been determined that (the organization) seeks to limit or rescind basic and human rights, such as the right to develop one's personality and the right to be treated equally". If this is reason enough for a ban, I'd say psychiatry ought to have been banned a long time ago. After all, Scientology only brainwashes its clientele using words. One risks psychological harm from a closer acquaintance. Psychiatry makes use of toxic chemistry and electricity in addition to words. One risks irreversible physical (brain) damage in addition to the psychological harm done at too close a contact, since psychiatry, as we all know, shows just as little if not less consideration for its clientele's "basic and human rights, such as the right to develop one's personality and the right to be treated equally", as Scientology.

All in all, Germany's hypocritical announcement strikingly reminds me of the public commotion, Denmark's extradition of some Afghan PoWs to the US gave rise to in this country: How can Denmark in decency extradite people to a nation that tortures?! Denmark, which otherwise distances itself unmistakably from everything that would remind the slightest of torture and a violation of the human rights. No torture in Denmark! Or is there???

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Words, Part II

A remark on my "Them - and us"-post from Monday: Although I didn't put "junkies" and "alcoholics" in inverted commas at that post, as I did with "schizophrenics", my position is the same when it comes to terms like these.

Laing writes in the preface to "The Divided Self" that he didn't want to explain but to understand. Understanding is the basis for an explanation that doesn't explain AWAY, while an explanation without understanding impossibly can be anything else than explaining AWAY.

The basis for understanding is that you can identify with whom you want to understand. In order to understand you'd have to set aside yourself, your own conception of reality, and try to see the other person, as who he is in his view, not in yours. You'd have to accept his view of himself and the world, his reality, as absolutely valid and meaningful to him. You'd have to see him as equal to yourself.

There's a danger to this: If you accept another person's reality as just as real, possible and valid as your own one is to you, this acceptance weakens your conception of your own reality as generally correct, since there are no two realities, that are completely the same. If your reality only is of relative correctness, validity, if it is valid only for you instead of being universally valid, it becomes insecure and interchangeable. This isn't dangerous in itself, on the contrary, I'd say this is the basis for personal development and transformation and thus for authentic being. But if you're what Laing terms "ontologically insecure", if you're constantly in doubt whether you'll survive personal development and transformation or whether it would disorganize your personality to an annihilating point, if your whole personality stands on rather shaky ground, having to accept another person's reality becomes life-threatening. The more different from your own reality another person's reality is, the more shaky the ground becomes, your reality is built upon. And the more shaky the ground, your own reality is built upon, the more dangerous it becomes to accept the validity of another person's reality. Unless you're equipped with a solid self-knowledge that allows you to develop and transform personally.

Thus, to declare another person's reality invalid is nothing but a self-preserving defence-mechanism. Nevertheless, it excludes any possibility of understanding beforehand, and it is discriminating, devaluing and dehumanising the other person, and thus it is clearly contrary to the human rights and the values of democracy. It is, in fact, a totalitarian practice. Totalitarian systems are by definition rigid. Development, transformation and diversity are their greatest enemies.

Now, there are two ways to get rid of an enemy, a threat: You can fight or negotiate, on equal terms, and you risk to lose or at least having to compromise. Or you can declare your enemy invalid, and win before there even has been a fight or negotiation. The latter practise characterizes totalitarian systems.

Calling another person "junkie", "alcoholic", "schizophrenic", "psychotic", "manic", "crazy", "stupid" etc. etc. therefor corresponds to the totalitarian practise of devaluing this person in order to, most efficiently, get rid of him as the threat to you yourself, you experience him to be. "...psychosis is and always will be meaningless in its nature", the Danish psychiatrist Lars Søndergård thus states, in line with modern, biological psychiatry's interpretation of realities, diverse from society's dogmas and these questioning. Read the fear and the aggression it causes between the lines. The "psychotic" person is explained AWAY. The threat is gone. And so is the unique opportunity for development and transformation.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Denmark beats the US!

Yes, indeed, this is right! We're not at all as behind as I'd feared. We actually took the lead among the OECD member countries concerning the growth of antidepressant consumption from 2000 to 2005. And the trend looks promising: The sale of these pills keeps on skyrocketing.

Inga Marie Lunde thinks, this is a paradox: "Never before there have been more people employed, never before we've had more welfare, never before we've had better times, economically..." Yah, economically, Inga Marie, ECONOMICALLY. But this economy has its price, when it comes to the human aspect. Thus, the exploding demand for antidepressants maybe isn't that paradoxical, anyway. In addition, it seems that the box of Zoloft or Cymbalta in the purse is becoming something of a status symbol: "Look, me too, I'm doing that great economically, that I need an antidepressant!" So, you want to impress your neighbours and friends? Out with the pills and the toothpaste smile! You're not "depressed"? No problem, it's much easier than you might believe: Think about something saddening, that all your friends, everybody but you yourself, already a long time ago supplemented their designer-sofa and -kitchen with the pharmaceutical industry's designer-happiness, e.g., and mention some trouble sleeping, that you feel tired and maybe some loss of appetite, next time you see your GP. (S)He'll hurry and write a prescription. But check up on him/her, first. If (s)he's a member of the "Læger uden sponsor" (Doctors without sponsor)-network, initiated by Inga Marie Lunde, you'll may have to switch to another GP in order to get your hands on these hip and trendy pills.

By the way, in another article on the matter farmacologist Claus Møldrup explains the explosive sale of antidepressants contemplating that the Danes maybe just have been "insufficiently treated" when it comes to "depression". Well, if that is so, it was about time that we made up for lost ground, I'd say!

Them - and us

This post is NOT so much about Morten as the person he is, as it is about something quite different and general.

The Outsideren (the users-magazine I do some writing for) has taken on a new journalist: Morten. Morten is an "old" 68er (a participant in the student-revolte of 1968) - yep, exactly, THAT kind - he's been writing for Information (a Danish intellectual, left-wing and slightly élitist newspaper) for several years and has been working at DR (Danmarks Radio, the only state-owned radio- and TV-station in Denmark), at P1's (a DR-channel, about just as sophisticated as Information) documentary-section. In between, something else needed to happen. Morten needed to act out his 68-ambitions in a more politically correct way than journalism would allow him to do: He chose to work at a shelter for three years. With homeless people, junkies, alcoholics and, yah, "schizophrenics", as he chose to express himself.

There went the political correctness - and my mind went blank. Completely. Guess, I just had one of my "oversensitive" days.

Yah, nah... I think, Morten is a quite all right character. Really. Apart from this "the schizophrenics"-thing, and apart from him being an "old" 68er, of THAT kind...


Sorry, Morten! I know, I'm a menace, and that you didn't mean it that way. I just need to ACT OUT my straightforwardness, after it had been locked away for a good 40 years. Well, and today it was your turn to become a victim of my straightforwardness.

By the way, the two last tags for this post are meant both ways: "old" 68er, THAT kind...

Sunday, 9 December 2007

But this is antediluvian!

If you think, the Sackeim-study has changed anything about psychiatry's view of ECT, think twice.

In 2006 about 3.500 people in Denmark have been exposed to ECT, 450 of them involuntarily, a piece of news reports yesterday on TV 2's site. The number thus is back to the same, as it was before "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" had made the damage ECT causes, known to a broader public in the early 1970ies, which had resulted in a 50% drop in the number of people exposed to ECT-"treatment".

Still today, and in spite of studies like Harold Sackeim's, that give a clear answer to the question whether memory loss is an ECT-caused "side" effect or not, Danish psychiatry dishes up with one downright lie about ECT after the other. Obviously, it is just as hard to stop lying as it is to quit any other bad habit. "Meanwhile, researchers are in great doubt if these subjective memory losses (loss of long term memory) is due to the ECT-treatment,..." it says in the article "ECT anno 2007" in the magazine "Midt i psykiatrien", October, 2007, that pictures ECT as a "highly specialized treatment" with "good results", and the method as "advanced". - Notice the choice of words at the first quotation: As soon as it comes to effects of ECT experienced as negative, these are termed "SUBJECTIVE". In other words: The OBJECTIVE (i.e. scientific) correctness of how an individual perceives himself, can - and has to be - questioned, since his perception is (unscientifically) SUBJECTIVE.

Researchers have never been and still aren't in doubt: "...there is a relation between clinical improvement and the production of brain damage or an altered state of brain function", the US-american psychiatrist, ECT advocate and notorious liar, when it comes to promoting ECT-"treatment", Max Fink says in 1966. And for once he speaks the truth, stating that a "cranio-cerebral trauma" is the basis for an effect of ECT.

Every neurologist, in fact every MD disregarded his speciality, knows that it is an alarm signal if an individual has seizures following to a head injury: The head injury has damaged the brain. Without brain damage no seizures, and without seizures no ECT. Figure it out yourself. As I read somewhere on the net, some time ago: When will they replace the ECT-machines with baseball bats? A lot of money to save for psychiatry, whose budget constantly gets cut down by the politicians. It also would spare the environment since ECT could be administered without electricity. Environmentally correct ECT.

The TV 2-piece of news also reports that LAP doesn't think, the side effects of ECT are sufficiently investigated. I strongly recommend to LAP a look at the Sackeim-study - or, for that sake, at one of numerous other studies which have shown evidence of irreversible memory loss and persistently reduced cognitive abilities as well as clear evidence of ECT-caused brain damage, ever since the 1930ies/1940ies, when ECT was developed. Leonard Roy Frank's "The Electroshock Quotationary" gives a good survey. More references can be found at John M. Friedberg's site.

Actually, there isn't anything "advanced" about today's ECT, compared with the "Cuckoo's Nest"-version, but the lies told about this form for torture. These, in return, have really become very advanced in the meantime.

Concerning the "effectiveness" of ECT, I recently found this little anecdote from Britain on the net:

For two years they used a defective ECT-machine at a hospital in the north of England, without anyone noticing that the machine didn't work. Both the staff and the "patients" were very satisfied with the "treatment". - Here, for once, "treatment" stands in quotation marks because there actually was no treatment at all, the ECT-machine being out of action. Not because the correct term would be "torture". - Until a new head nurse arrived at the hospital and discovered the mistake.

This anecdote confirms many studies' results, that show no advantage at all of real ECT over the sham-version. The, by the way, by psychiatry wanted and as "improvement" termed, confusion and disorientation many individuals experience following the "treatment", can easily be achieved only by using anaesthetics.

When it comes to ECT's "life saving" effect, preferably emphasized in context with so-called "delirious" states of mind, I wonder if I really would have to refer to the fact, that, among others, Laing has proven it to be absolutely unnecessary to fry people's brains. Far better results are achieved by humane approaches - unless the wanted result is an electrical lobotomy. Admittedly, THAT is problematic to achieve by humane treatment methods. At Arbours Crisis Centre's website the video "A Celebration of The Life And Work of Mary Barnes" at "Past Events" (in the side bar) shows, how such a humane approach might look like. Another, newer, example is told by Daniel Dorman in his book "Dante's Cure".

When I told a friend, that ECT, administered involuntarily, is a reality and on the agenda in today's Denmark, the reaction was: "You're kidding! But this is antediluvian!" Well, as long as both psychiatry and society keep on regarding the electrical lobotomy an adequate treatment-solution for disturbed and disturbing (!) individuals - "It's a gain both for the patient AND THE RELATIVES", Thomas Middelboe thus says to TV 2's news reporter (my emphasis) - we'll hardly get rid of this antediluvian method of torture. Not at all in Denmark, where psychiatry grossly makes use of having the language barrier on its side: To read and understand a study like Harold Sackeim's, or just to follow the discussion it has given rise to in the US, requires some solid proficiency in English. So, the lying can continue, mostly undisturbed.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Some paranoid campaigning against avaricious campaigning

What I find quite baffling, time and time again, is that, while feelings run high about an independent. private blog, no one seems to be appalled at, just as an example, psykiatrifonden's (a major Danish organization , promoting bio-psychiatry) CAMPAIGN: "Depression can be measured". Yes, indeed! Sadness can be measured, you bet! You maybe didn't know? "The Hamilton Rating Scale is an internationally acknowledged method for measuring the degree of depression", the website tells us.

Well, some time ago, I actually took the test, on the i-net. Oh boy! I made a score of 29, and thus would have won a lifetime supply of Effexor, scoring clearly above the limit for "major depression". Had it just been for real. Now, one thing is certain: I'm definitely not "depressed". That's just not my style. Never was. So much for the international acknowledgement of this method.

Effexor? Why Effexor of all those antidepressants? Precisely! The campaign, which also ran on TV, is sponsored by Wyeth. We maybe aren't (yet) that sophisticated in Denmark to have direct-to-consumer advertising, but we sure do have indirect-to-consumer advertising! (Did I hear anyone murmur something about sarcasm??)

Paranoid campaigning?

"This is a smear campaign against psychiatry! You're campaigning against psychiatry!" someone said after visiting my blog. The person is absolutely right. In a way. Although, as I see it, I just give my view of this institution based on the facts I learned about it. That my view is not exactly a positive one, well, that's inextricably bound up with the facts I learned about psychiatry. Admittedly, sometimes I get slightly sarcastic. My way of airing the rage which still overwhelms me once in a while when I see myself confronted with yet another atrocity, downright lie and/or violation of people's human rights. Being not as diplomatic as I maybe ought to be. I'll try to improve, doing a lot more Zazen.

The same person also called me "paranoid". I have two comments on that one:

1. "Paranoia is just knowing all the facts." William S. Burroughs. Seen in this way, I'll have to thank the person for the compliment! Indeed, it took a great deal of time, energy and nerves to do the research. Nerves, yep. Since it isn't always that easy to, for example, listen to people tell about their experiences with and inside this institution. Not at all when you're pretty much aware of that it might as well have been you yourself, having been exposed to that kind of experiences, and when you're just as aware of that things like that happen everywhere in this world, uncountable times every single day, without anyone who'd have the authority to stop it finding it necessary to do anything. Not easy to put up with.

2. listen to this.

On the winding up of the specifically human

The following was written by a friend of mine. I won't comment directly. The text speaks for itself. I'll just add a news: The FDA has approved Abilify for "depression" if combined with an antidepressant. Abilify is a neuroleptic. The other makers of neuroleptics are expected to seek approval for their drugs (Seroquel, Risperdal, Zyprexa etc.) for "depression", too, in the near future.

On the winding up of the specifically human:

Which the specifically human really is
doesn't stand completely clearly, yet this much stands somehow clearly:
If the winding up of the specifically human comes off,
hardly anyone afterwards will really have a clue
what happened and what was winded up.

And the MOTIVE for certain forces to want such
a winding up? Yah! One would be this nicely excused from
having to take others seriously AS HUMAN BEINGS,
and thus the others are nothing but means to increase one's own profit.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

"Mental illness" - a myth

Here's the second of my posts on LAP's and the Sindnet-users' demand for more beds at psychiatric wards, which I wrote since my thoughts about psychiatry in general and its illness-concept in particular didn't seem to have been understood by some people. The two last paragraphs refer to a proposal to convert private wards into wards with several beds in order to establish more beds in general.

"Mental illness" is a myth, Thomas Szasz says. - And at this occasion I'd like to stress that I am NOT a scientologist, since I can hear some people mumble something along those lines, already, while I allow myself to quote Thomas Szasz. Whom I, by the way, am a great admirer of. - He's often misinterpreted (on purpose?), alleged to say that there were no such thing as psychological suffering. The point with his statement is that a metaphorical entity, such as the mind, can't be or fall ill in the same way the body can. The term "illness", mentioned in context with a metaphorical entity like the mind, thus functions as a metaphor itself, just as a "broken heart" is a metaphor and not a real, physical heart injury.

However, what psychiatry does is to equal the mind, the soul, to the brain. In the eyes of psychiatry the mind IS the brain. Why psychiatry almost exclusively concentrates on trying to find a defect, an injury in the brains of people who suffer from an injury to their soul. This is the same as to try to locate the break in the heart of someone who has a "broken heart". Psychiatry has been looking for more than a hundred years by now and hasn't found a scrap. But instead of expanding the search field, instead of taking others than the purely physical possibilities into account for closer investigation, psychiatry persistently adheres to the theory that the only possible cause of a broken heart would have to be a physically broken heart. - I once heard a neurosurgeon tell that he'd looked into uncountable brains during his career but he'd never seen a thought yet.

It is not without reason that psychiatry adheres so persistently - and actually unscientifically; true science never excludes any possibility unless real evidence is found - to its hypotheses about brain diseases. An expansion of the research that acknowledges the metaphorical nature of the mind, would automatically mean an admission of failure to psychiatry in favour of psychology, philosophy and sociology. One has to be aware of that psychiatrists by definition and training are medical doctors, experts in human physics, not humanists, whose speciality are human existential conditions, interpersonal relations or sociological conditions. Their psychiatric training is of no use in the humanistic field. Just as a training as an auto mechanic would be of no use in this field. In order to continuously be able to participate on a scientific level, psychiatrists would need to start completely from scratch and get themselves an education. A humanistic education, like Thomas Szasz has got it in addition to his training as a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists would have to face that their scientific, medical interest matches badly respectively not at all with a possible interest for the human psyche. "Possible" because with most psychiatrists I have a hard time tracing such an interest at all, except if the psyche, the mind, is equalled to the brain, or, and this is the crucial point, if the interest is all about how to control the human mind.

Personally, I, just as Thomas Szasz and many other humanists, count among those people who do not distinguish between "mental illness" and an existential crisis as psychiatry does. To me, the first is psychiatry's and society's discriminating term for the latter. And at the same time a view of existential crises being brain diseases, provides the only, in a democracy morally acceptable raison d'etre to psychiatry. Even though, seen in a medical context, it doesn't even quite hold, since brain diseases are the speciality of neurology, not psychiatry.

The moment "mental illness" were regarded an existential crisis, a reaction to one's life story instead of an imbalance in brain chemistry, psychiatry would appear as what I in accordance with the Swiss therapist Marc Rufer think it really is: a force of law and order. And as such its maintenance would no longer be acceptable in a democracy. Psychiatry, as the force of law and order it is, is a phenomenon that belongs in totalitarian systems. Since only totalitarian systems control their citizens' thoughts and emotions as psychiatry controls its clients' thoughts and emotions - with the help of drugs, ect and indoctrination. In a democracy the single individual's thoughts and emotions are free, disregarded their nature, the individual is free to believe, think and experience whatsoever and however he wants, both in relation to himself and his surroundings. Real democracy would never devalue an individual's self-image or scheme of things as "delusion", it would never devalue an individual's experience of himself and his surroundings as "hallucination", as meaningless "symptom" of a disease.

This is why neurology doesn't like to get mixed up with psychiatry, doesn't show much interest in the so called "mental illnesses", which, as mentioned, would come under neurology's field if there were any reason to believe they really were brain diseases. Psychiatry is a speciality that deals with finding ways to manipulate people's thoughts, emotions and actions for the purpose of gaining greatest possible control and power over them. We saw this more clearly than ever before or after in Nazi-Germany. There are other examples, although not as clear and well-known, such as the CIA's mind control programs, and psychiatry's role in general in openly totalitarian systems throughout history. In fact, it is this control task which delimits psychiatry from neurology on the one hand and the humanistic sciences on the other, and thus legitimates the speciality.

Least clearly this, psychiatry's real, totalitarian interest and task, appears if you can make people in crisis, voluntarily - although..., term and understand themselves as ill, and make them want psychiatry's help, make them want psychiatry to interfere and take over control, so that you, in this way, easily and effectively can cover up your totalitarian ideology and sell it as being a democratic service, part of the health system of a state whose political system goes under the name "democracy". It is quite a feat to get a victim of assault to want the assaults to happen himself. The Nazis in Germany weren't yet that advanced that they would have succeeded in this. They still only concentrated on justifying the discrimination of certain communities, sections of the population, towards the rest of society. Today we're about to have reached the point where this discrimination also is wanted by the discriminated. Not only concerning psychiatry.

That even the most "ill" people, those who are most severely hit by crisis, can be helped without the interference of pychiatry, by using non-psychiatric methods alone, and with far better outcomes than psychiatry's, among others, Laing has proven at Kingsley Hall. That both his and other's (Loren Mosher, John Weir Perry, Edward Podvoll, Bertram P. Karon etc.) ideas and results still today, almost half a century later, are almost completely ignored, tells me something about the society we're living in, and about the political system we're living under, which Ghandi named "nominal democracy" - democracy on paper (and only on paper).

The term and concept of "mental illness" serves, as mentioned, primarily the purpose of discriminating the individual who is named "mentally ill". An individual with a brain disease can't be taken seriously. Neither this individual can be allowed to be responsible for himself which results in paternalism and patronizing. That such an attitude actually is a (sad) reality in today's Denmark, the media's coverage of "the mentally ill" shows time and time again. Often it isn't even considered the least to speak with a member of this community himself when it comes to matters concerning "the mentally ill".

Furthermore, the term and concept serves to clear society of any responsibility in context with an individual's unhappiness in life, in society. Because, obviously, if the unhappiness is due to genes and brain chemistry, society can do nothing about it, and hasn't the slightest responsibility for the problems' emergence.

Last but not least it serves to clear the individual in crisis himself: "If I believe that it is my genes and neurotransmitters that's something wrong with", if I believe I suffer from a genetically caused, chronic and incurable brain disease, "I can do just as little about it as I can do about having brown and not blue eyes", Jakob Litschig (ex-psychiatrist, therapist and psychosis-experienced) says. I only can follow psychiatry's orders concerning medication, and thus leave responsibility for myself to psychiatry.

It can be a huge relief for some people to, via psychiatry's illness concept, be deprived responsibility for their thoughts, emotions and actions. All in all though, such a self-conception only contributes to paternalism and patronizing, and increases helplessness to a considerable amount. Quite often with the result that full recovery as a possibility is excluded beforehand, and therefor neither is achieved. A self fulfilling prophecy, so to speak. And in addition, when taking psychiatry's role as a force of law and order into consideration, the desired result.

Concerning Michalla's remark about private wards, my opinion is that everybody has the right to a such. Especially people who are psychotic need privacy. As far as I am concerned, it would have meant additional pills, if I 'd been asked to share a room with as much as one other person since I couldn't do without the possibility to withdraw when psychotic. Now, psychiatry regards this withdrawal as being a "symptom" which needs to be combated. However, my own experience was that the possibility for withdrawal and undisturbed self-reflection was crucial to my recovery. And I am not alone in this.

Some people might object that more private wards are far too expensive. Yes, if they are located at a psychiatric facility. The single rooms Soteria and projects alike of course provide, are much cheaper than a private ward at a hospital, just as the whole Soteria-model is much cheaper than psychiatry, without being as ineffective as the crisis center Michalla talks about in her comment on my previous post. As mentioned above in context with Kingsley Hall, Soteria and the like are proven to be far more effective than psychiatry. Although not at a "mind control level"... Soteria doesn't control, Soteria liberates.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Here they go again, the colonized!

I received an invitation for a demo. I like the overall idea, the initiative, I like that SOMETHING actually is happening. However, I'll never be able to identify with being "mentally ill", I'll never be able to accept that individuals like myself belong at a hospital, popping pills indefinitely. I am in complete denial, "suffering" from a total lack of insight. No insight, absolutely zero. But, as a matter of fact, I think that exactly this, my complete denial, made recovery possible for me.

Well, I commented on my Danish blog. Here's the first of a couple of posts I produced on the matter:

Thursday, December 13, 2007 LAP (a Danish users-organization) will hold demos at Copenhagen, Århus and Odense. The demos' aim is to draw attention to "the mentally ills' " social and treatment-related conditions. Also, a petition initiated by Sindnet-users (Sindnet is a Danish dating-site and web-community for users) will be handed over to politicians at these occasions. The users' want list contains 12 issues, of which I, without trouble, can support the 11. However, that I neither signed the petition nor will participate in the demo is due to the 12th issue, which says: "We want more beds at psychiatric wards."

What I want is anything else than more beds at psych wards. What I want instead, and what I think is missing on the list, are alternatives to psychiatry. Alternatives like crisis-centers, facilities like Soteria, Windhorse or the Weglaufhaus at Berlin.

I don't share the view that individuals in crisis belong at a hospital. A hospital-atmosphere, no matter how newly painted in pastel shades the walls might be, communicates a self-perception of being "ill": helpless, dependent on care, not able to take care of oneself. This glaringly contrasts with the first and most important condition for recovery: empowerment.

Of course, and not least from my own experience, I am pretty much aware of that an individual in crisis can have serious trouble with taking responsibility for and care of himself. Why he, undoubtedly, would need support. But to place an individual in crisis at a hospital is not to support him retrieve the resources necessary to, again, take his life into his own hands. To place an individual in crisis at a hospital is to confirm his self-perception of being defective, weak, ill, and with the latter it is nothing but another message about the biological brain diseases which psychiatry would so like to make its users believe in to be able to sell its "treatment", its pills to them.

Seen from this angle, the want for more psychotherapy and free access to it for everyone, falls flat. Talking to a psychologist can't cure a physical illness. Talking to a psychologist can resolve emotional, existential problems. But what does an individual with an emotional, existential problem do at a hospital? He's not physically ill. Or is our brave new world already arrived at the point where it is a physical illness to be a thinking, feeling and alive human being?? If this is the case, I guess, psychologists aren't at all needed anymore in this brave new world. Neither "more psychotherapeutic and analytic training of staff/psychiatrists" is needed in this case. The only things needed are more pills, more ect and preferably also implants and psychosurgery. And, sure, more beds at psychiatric wards.

A want for alternatives, free of psychiatric indoctrination and "medicine", would have been nice and would definitely have made me sign the petition and participate in the demo. A want for more beds at psych wards I can't and won't support.

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, voilà!, 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

Who's Marian?

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