Friday, 30 April 2010

Alice Miller 1923 - 2010

Just in case you haven't heard it yet: Alice Miller died on April 14th at her home in Provence, France, 87 years old. For now, I want to quote from a Swedish blog: "Thank you Alice Miller for all you have done and everything you have written!" More later.

Via Holistic Recovery from Schizophrenia

Thursday, 15 April 2010

"Went off medication - and did not ask for permission before afterwards" - A note to consumers

As mentioned in my post about why the latest Danish research showing "schizophrenics" to do better off drugs won't change a bit about treatment the title of the article caused some indignation among consumers and survivors, and had somebody start a discussion at a Danish mainstream forum:

"What do you think about this title?
As a mentally ill person, don't you have any right to control your own body?
Comments, anyone?"

Well, of course you don't have any right to control your own body - or anything else - as a mentally ill person.

According to mainstream psychiatry "mentally ill" means brain diseased. Now ask yourself which part of your body, which organ, do you make use of as a tool when you have to estimate a situation, and decide how to react to it? Your shin bone? Your pancreas ("It's like diabetes, you know.")? I suppose not. Probably you'll make use of your brain.

I recently watched an interesting documentary about the Mary Celeste , the "archetypal ghost ship", according to Wikipedia. Which the Wikipedia entry, as far as I can see, doesn't tell is that it recently has become known that the Mary Celeste left New York for Genoa, Italy, with only one single chronometer on board. Usually an ocean-going ship of her size would not go anywhere without several, at least three or four, chronometers on board. Turns out, the one single chronometer on board of the Mary Celeste is defective, which of course renders it impossible for her captain, Benjamin Briggs, to calculate the position of the ship accurately. This, in addition to the Mary Celeste taking in water after having been through some rough weather, probably has led to his decision to abandon the ship. A very bad, in fact for him, his family and the rest of the crew fatal, decision made on the basis of inaccurate measurements (make that an inaccurate estimation) of the ship's position (make that any given situation), carried out with a defective chronometer (make that a diseased brain).

The situation would have been different had Briggs known that the chronometer was defective, in which way, and to which extent. He then could have taken the margin of error into account, and calculated the ship's position more accurately - and he maybe wouldn't have panicked and abandoned the ship, as she, although she was taking in some water, easily could have made it to her destination from where she was abandoned.

However, in the latter situation, the only correction tool at Briggs' disposal would have been his brain. And if it is your brain that is the defective chronometer, it is self-evident that you can't use it as a tool to correct itself, and expect accurate calculations. So, to the extent someone accepts the biological model and identifies as "mentally ill" they accept their tool for decision making to be defective, and will consequently have to accept that their estimation of any given situation may be inaccurate rendering their decisions potentially disastrous, maybe even fatal. They will have to accept being defined as incapacitated in regard to everything that requires brain activity. You can't have your cake and eat it. This is either-or, not both-and. Either you identify as "mentally ill", and you will have to give up on your freedoms and rights as a human being, or you don't, and you will have to take responsibility for yourself. For all that you do.

You can't righteously claim control of your body, for instance in regard to whether you want to reduce the dosage and number of psych drugs you're on, or maybe even whether to go entirely off of them, you can't righteously claim control of anything in your life, and at the same time whenever it suits you hold on to the idea that you can't be held responsible for any of your decisions that turn out bad, because you're "mentally ill". You can't even righteously feel offended by a title like the quoted one. It is only logic that you will have to leave all decision making to others, and ask for permission, no matter what you'd like to do if all you've got is a defective chronometer, a broken brain.

This by the way also applies to those who do not necessarily identify as suffering from a biological brain disease, but still think of their mind as being ill, as that which constitutes your mind are your thoughts and feelings, and as it is these you make use of in your decision making.

So, you may want to make up your mind. Do you want freedom, or do you want to be "mentally ill"?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

How to make a shrink shit his pants

Visiting David M. Allan, M.D.'s blog, your first impression might be a rather positive one. He seems to have got at least something. And yes, he has got something. But, alas!, when it comes to so-called "schizophrenia" the guy hasn't got a clue. No more than any other of the drug-pushers in the business. Watch this - the comments. Watch him get increasingly insecure, defensive, and eventually almost hostile *), although I'm really gentle with him, if I may say so myself.

Isn't it just mind-boggling? I mean, wouldn't you expect someone who has dedicated his professional life to helping people to be curious about different perspectives and opinions, instead of being this dismissive of them, and unwilling to give them a thought? Where's the problem, Dr Allen? Oh. I see, two main problems: 1. If I'm right, it means there would basically be no need for you as a shrink anymore. There would be no need for any shrink anymore. You would have to find yourself another job, maybe even give up on the "M.D." as other medical specialities have certain standards... And if you want to stay in the business, you'd have to start from scratch, as all you've been taught so far is how to help society - get rid of people in emotional distress, as discrete, fast and efficient as possible. You haven't been taught how to help people in emotional crises themselves. 2. If I'm right, and you want to stay in the business, you'd have to do something radical about your fear of yourself, your own "issues", or dysfunctionality... Ugh, yeah, that's tough! Especially the latter is a really nasty one. For any narcissist.

*) Any resemblance with adjectives you might catch Dr Allen scribble down in his "patients'" charts is intentional. :D

Oh and, note that in his last comment Dr Allen writes "True psychosis is never a normal variant of anything." This statement doesn't really make much sense, unless you take Dr Allan's at this point presumably rather "disturbed" state of mind ("disturbed" as in "psychosis", yup) into consideration. What he seems to try to say is that true "psychosis", that is being truly disturbed (by/about something)..., has got nothing to do with being human. So, when someone is "psychotic" (disturbed, by/about something, my or Dr Allan's statements for instance...) s/he is not really human. Aha. So much for seeing the person, and not the diagnosis. Thank you for clarifying this for us, Dr Allan!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

"Are you riding yet, or are you still rolling?"

I found this at Wu Wei Verlag's website, a German publisher specializing in, among other things, publications critical of our culture's increasing violence and abusiveness in the field of equitation, which especially the "Rollkur" *) - which means forcing the horse to bend his neck to a point where his nose almost touches his chest, an unnatural position and extremely damaging especially to the horse's upper vertebrae (though in a broader sense damaging to his entire body and soul) - is an expression of.

The text says: "Are you riding yet, or are you still rolling?" It reminded me of what one of my trainers used to say, that the motto of dressage competitions should be "Look what I'm NOT able of!"

Any parallels to the mh system? Well, if you ask me, the whole mh system is an expression of what its professionals are NOT able of, and one could ask them: "Are you helping people yet, or are you still oppressing them?"

Via Camera-Obscura

*)The English term is hyperflexion.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The OPUS Trials - comparing drug "treatment" to drug "treatment"

Here you can find an overview in English over the research I referred to in both yesterday's post and this one from March 16.

While you scroll down to the "Funding" section at the bottom - and I'll get back to why you might want to have a look at this section -, don't be fooled by the charts. It's the figures that count, not the bars or lines. And the figures tell us that OPUS indeed works significantly better than "treatment" as usual. Well, at least in regard to "treatment adherence", "compliance" that is, and in regard to indoctrinating parents/family - which, on its part, certainly contributes to the higher "treatment adherence" achieved in an OPUS-setting compared to "treatment" as usual. Otherwise, thus also in regard to outcomes, differences are rather insignificant.

As I suspected in my previous post, the research was only and solely designed to compare OPUS to "treatment" as usual, and thus did not follow up on people who decided to take another, potentially more promising, route to recovery, than OPUS or "treatment" as usual. While these people seem to make up a considerable amount in both groups. Almost half of the initial participants in the study did not respond to the five-year-follow-up interview. Some of them certainly because they've become wiser than to remain uncritically cheerful about the received "treatment" in the meantime.

Of course, it is very nice that the dosage of neuroleptics in an OPUS setting, presumably thanks to the massive indoctrination and rat training offered by OPUS, is kept about 20% lower than in a "treatment" as usual setting. Nevertheless, this still is no reason to get over-the-top enthusiastic about OPUS as people in "treatment" as usual settings often are senselessly overdrugged, meaning that people in OPUS settings are just a little less overdrugged, and, well, as there still is a looong way from a little less overdrugged to the barely drugged at all of alternatives like Soteria or Open Dialog.

Did you scroll down to the "Funding" section? If so, you'll maybe remember that I referred to Merete Nordentoft as the Danish Fuller Torrey. Yup, also The Stanley Medical Research Institute funded this research project. Is it any wonder that drug-free, non-medical alternatives were of no interest to the researchers, and that learning to live with a chronic illness through OPUS is hailed to be as good as it can get?...

Best buddies
(How I wish I had Photoshop!)

Friday, 9 April 2010

Why Merete Nordentoft's recent research showing "schizophrenics" to do better without drugs won't change a thing about treatment

Well, in short, because the 19% of study participants reported to be "fully recovered" aren't really fully recovered, but rehabilitated.

A follow-up article in the Danish journal Dagens Medicin portrays Mai Pedersen, a 30-year-old with a high school exam (it's the smart ones who do best, remember?), and with some of the most loving and supportive parents imaginable (it's the ones with a truly idyllic family background who do best, remember?), who was labelled "schizophrenic" seven years ago, put into OPUS (Merete Nordentoft's early intervention program) and on drugs, of course, both neuroleptics and "anti-depressants", and who decided to go off the drugs some time ago. The latter actually, and this is the really disturbing part as the article's title, which translates into "Went off medication - and didn't ask for permission before afterwards", indicates, without asking permission from her shrink. Imagine! She didn't ask her shrink before tapering off the drugs!! How incredibly cheeky!*)

Although Mai Pedersen doesn't take any drugs today, she is "symptom-free". So, according to the article, Mai Pedersen is "fully recovered". But is she really? Mai Pedersen has an enemy. The enemy is stress. And it still has that much power over her as to have her weigh everything she does in regard to how the enemy "stress" probably will react to it. Mai Pedersen has, certainly thanks to CBT-rat training (and yes, it may well make training progress come more swiftly and be more lasting if the rat has some brains), and thanks to her wonderfully supportive parents (yes, relatives can play a decisive role when it comes to "insight" and "compliance", the better they manage to hide their own dysfunctionality behind a facade of pure family idyl, the more of a "support" - for biopsychiatric "treatment" - they will be) learned to live as a victim of "schizophrenia", a slave of a chronic brain disease. She has accepted that nothing ever will come as easy to her as it does to her "normal" friends and acquaintances, that she will have to make sacrifices to the "illness" for the rest of her life, that the "illness" dictates what she can and can't do, and that she maybe even will end up in hospital again, and again, and again... - And btw, take a look at the photograph at the top of the article, and note how beautifully it communicates the heavy burden of suffering from "schizophrenia".

Mai Pedersen succeeded in becoming a licensed psychomotrician, and is a member of the OPUS-panel, which "tries to spread information in the community about the many success stories that show also patients with schizophrenia to be able to live rewarding lives." A real success story. Or, as Mai Pedersen puts it herself, "a lousy Danielle Steele novel". Indeed!

Well well, here it is that I ask, how about a panel to try and spread some information in the community about the many real success stories that show labelled people to be able to overcome their crisis, and live a life without "schizophrenia", without constantly having to be on their guard against an enemy called "stress", without massive limitations and sacrifices, and without having the spectre of returning "psychosis" and re-hospitalization hanging over their heads?? How about a panel to try and spread some information in the community about real recovery, real freedom, to be possible??

But alas, such a panel would probably not consist of a bunch of happy and grateful OPUS-patients (and Mai Pedersen is still a patient today, she still sees her shrink on a regular basis, apropos of "fully recovered"...), a bunch of Elyn Sakses, who identify as being "mentally ill", as suffering from a chronic brain disease by the name of "schizophrenia". So, it is rather unlikely that we will see such a panel initiated by the establishment anytime in the foreseeable future. Just as a paradigm shift in the definition and treatment of crisis is unlikely to happen as long as the Mai Pedersens and Elyn Sakses of this world aren't only made slaves of an alleged illness, but also, and even more important, of a system, that (ab-)uses them big time to sell its hopeless messages and harmful "treatment" to the community.

To get back to Merete Nordentoft's research, the rate of 19% "fully recovered" participants is obviously an error, resulting from an erroneous concept of "full recovery". The true figure probably is closer to 0%, as the study apparently was not designed to include participants, who dropped out of "treatment", but seems to exclusively have concentrated on individuals, who stayed in contact with the mh system throughout the entire five years during which they were monitored. If this is the case, and I have a very strong hunch that it is, not least because the article in Dagens Medicin otherwise probably would have portrayed someone else instead of Mai Pedersen, real full recovery of course is excluded in advance from figuring in the results as a possible outcome. I suppose, this is what is called "biased" then.

A high school exam, the ability to think clearly, and a supportive network, family or other, are without doubt useful in the recovery process. But there is one more important thing , maybe the most important of them all, in terms of recovery that isn't mentioned anywhere in context with Merete Nordentoft's research, and that thing is what Al Siebert termed "resilience". The ability to "resile", or resist (without breaking your neck over it), for instance the massive indoctrination labelled people usually face in the mh system. The ability to preserve one's integrity in an environment designed to strip you entirely of it. Mai Pedersen had the high school exam, but unfortunately she didn't have the amount of resilience necessary to achieve real full recovery, and I also wonder if she would have had her family's support in case she had had the necessary amount of resilience, and had chosen to opt for freedom, instead of for slavery.

*) The title of the article caused some indignation among consumers/survivors, and gave rise to an interesting discussion at a Danish mainstream forum. - Of course I simply had to set the cat among the pigeons... :D - I will write about my thoughts on the matter in a future post here.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The latest in psych ward design from the Architectural Digest

Need new furniture for your bedroom? This bed isn't only maintenance-free, but, according to the manufacturer, also a real delight to the eye, or, well, "visually appealing" at least. Watch the straight lines and clearly defined colors. Indeed, neo-minimalistic aesthetics at its best!

Via Liz Spikol.

...and for some reason the Comfy Chair comes to mind:

Friday, 2 April 2010

Mental Helse Akershus (Norway) is mocking survivors

A regional branch of the Norwegian organization Mental Helse, Mental Helse Akershus (Akershus is Norway's most populated region after Oslo), plans to have a public arrangement in support of Norwegian psychiatry on the 8th of May 2010. The 8th of May 1945 is the day the German troop's occupation of Norway ended with Germany having surrendered unconditionally. The day is officially celebrated in Norway as "Frigjøringsdagen", liberation day.

Considered that it is no longer a secret that innumerable people experience psychiatric "help" in every regard as an assault on their fundamental rights and freedoms as human beings, considered that psychiatric "help" indeed more often than not comes along in the shape of incarceration, humiliation, and oppression, an official arrangement in support of a system that systematically does these things to people, and, metaphorically speaking, systematically occupies its victims, their bodies, their minds and their souls, held on a day that celebrates liberation from oppression is a slap in the face of each of these victims, and an outright statement of disrespect towards not just the Norwegian, but the international survivor movement.

E-mail Mental Helse Norge at and/or Mental Helse Akershus at, and, and ask them, politely but firmly, to show some respect, and move the arrangement to another date.

Via Jan Olaf