Monday, 27 September 2010

The NEC apologizes to Will Hall

For whatever reason -- could it be the massive protest on Facebook?... -- the organizers of Alternatives 2010, the NEC, apologized to Will Hall, and restored his workshop in its original form. Will Hall has agreed to withdraw his cancellation, and to do the workshop as planned. Yay! Have a great conference, everybody!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Alternatives 2010 censors Will Hall

Yup, first they try to keep Bob Whitaker from talking, and now they've decided that Will Hall may not include coming off drugs at his workshop. A workshop about choice in regard to drugs, where you may not talk about coming off?? Sounds sort of meaningless, I'd say. "Alternatives" my ass!

Here's the press release:


Coming Off Medications Workshop Censored at 'Alternatives 2010' Mental Health Conference

Alternatives, the mental health consumer/survivor conference with more than 1,000 participants annually, has withdrawn its previous approval for a workshop on coming off psychiatric medications.

The workshop, based in a pro-treatment choice, harm-reduction philosophy, was to share information about continuing, reducing, or coming off medications. After approving the workshop in June, the National Empowerment Center, which organizes the conference to be held in Anaheim California, made a last-minute decision to change the title and description to remove any reference to coming off medications. Will Hall, an internationally-recognized schizophrenia survivor and radio host who was set to lead the workshop, decided that he could not go along with the decision and will not be attending the conference. "Coming off medications is a topic vital to wellness and recovery, and should not be censored," he said.

The controversial move by the National Empowerment Center comes in the wake of a recent similar decision to bar Robert Whitaker, a Pulitzer finalist investigative journalist whose work spotlights medication dangers and growing evidence that non-drug alternatives work better for some patients. Whitaker was restored as a conference keynote speaker only after mental health advocates mobilized quickly on the internet to challenge the decision.

The annual Alternatives conference is organized by consumer/survivor groups and federally funded. With workshops ranging from wellness, youth, housing, employment, advocacy and diversity issues, Alternatives is the country's most prominent gathering for mental health consumers, who attend from all US states and as far away as Guam. Medication issues, however, have consistently been excluded from the program.

Hall, who works as a therapist, says he is not anti-medication and does not give medical advice, but instead educates individuals, families, and health care providers to make more informed choices. "People are caught between pro-drug marketing by pharmaceutical companies and the anti-drug message of some activists. We need honest and unbiased information about psychiatric medications, including assessing drug risks and discussing how to come off drugs safely when they aren't right for you. Many people find medications helpful, but there are huge dangers involved, and sometimes it's better to reduce medication or slowly go off."

After several hospitalizations and a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder schizophrenia, Hall has been medication-free for more than 17 years. He says a combination of holistic health, support groups, and spiritual practice nurtured his recovery from mental illness, but believes that "each person's path to recovery is different. My work fills a great need for information, and it's a shame this topic is censored at a national conference that claims to be dedicated to
wellness and calls itself 'Alternatives.'"

Hall is the author of the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Medications, published by mental health peer groups The Icarus Project and Freedom Center. The guide, available freely on the internet, has been distributed to more than 15,000 people and is available in Spanish and German translations.


Saturday, 18 September 2010

The perfect parent

If everything else doesn't pan out, there's one thing you can do to achieve god-like status, perfection, in life: become a parent. At least to judge from the reaction of lots of parents to the least suggestion that maybe, just maybe, they didn't only have an influence on any success achieved by their offspring, but maybe, just maybe, also on one or the other failure, suffering, in their kids' lives, these parents seem to think they don't have to take the least responsibility for their parenting as being a parent in their opinion obviously equals to being the perfect parent. Being a parent seems to, automatically, turn you into some kind of supernatural being, infallible, and beyond any criticism. By definition there's no such thing as "bad parenting", there's no such thing as child abuse, neglect, or any kind of dysfunctional communication patterns acted out by parents towards their children. Parents don't make mistakes. To insinuate that they maybe, just maybe, are no less imperfect, fallible, and human as everybody else, and to ask them to take responsibility for their imperfection, their fallibility, and their humanity, borders to a cardinal sin.

Lola's is a quite interesting comment in this regard. Her daughter's upbringing was nothing less than perfect. No one, least of all Lola herself, made as much as one single mistake raising her daughter. It was all beer and skittles. Well, until "mental illness" struck, like a bolt from the blue. Never mind that alone reading about a "mentally ill" mother (Lola), that is a mother with major "issues", which, since she herself ascribes them to "mental illness", hardly can be anything but unresolved -- and as we all know, unresolved trauma inevitably gets acted out and thus passed on to any children, if there are any --, and about an "ex", into the bargain also this "ex" with "mental health issues", which means divorce, would, and should!, have everybody with just a minimum of insight into the human psyche shudder, and wonder how the kids cope in such a dysfunctional environment. Never mind that reading about all this obvious dysfunctionality wouldn't, and shouldn't!, have anyone with just a minimum of insight into the human psyche be the least surprised when they hear that a kid raised in this dysfunctionality reacts to it developing coping strategies that then, ignoring any insight into the human psyche, and maintaining the delusion of the perfect parent, conveniently can be labelled "mental illness".

There they are, the kids. Initially wanted, not for their own sake, but as an extension of their parents (' egos), whose only purpose in life it is to confirm their parents' infallibility, their god-like perfection as persons. But God help the kids, if they can't or won't fulfil this purpose, if they have the rudeness, selfishness, and ungratefulness to protest and thus expose their parents' violence towards them! Since the violence can't and must not be, in their parents' minds, since acknowledging to it would equal to having to give up on their "God delusion", it has to be the child who's imperfect, indeed defective, diseased.

So, please! psychiatry, step in and silence these rude, selfish, and ungrateful brats' completely unfounded accusations against us with your (pseudo-)scientific, medical authority! Once and for all. Please, label these rude, selfish, and ungrateful brats insane, that is whatever they say or do a symptom of "mental illness", and thereby invalid, not worth being listened to, and please, if ever you can, shut them up, free us from having to hear them scream out in pain over the violence we've inflicted on them!!!

Which also is quite interesting, is to watch some of these perfect parents go even further, not settling for having the rude, selfish, and ungrateful brat silenced, but additionally, in both hugging themselves, and fishing for the sympathy of people with just a minimum of insight into the human psyche, washing their hands of this dirty job of silencing the brat, and accusing psychiatry of being violent. These are the parents who complain about "misdiagnoses", side effects, lack of "treatment" efficacy, lack of services, and so on, and so on.

Sorry people, you have nothing to complain about. You asked for their help, and you got it. At least, they do whatever is in their power to meet your expectations. There's no way how psychiatry, or any other institution, ever could silence your children, and at the same time make them the successes, you initially wanted them to be. Success in life presupposes a language of one's own, through which the self can express itself. No language, no success. You asked for it yourselves. You asked for your children to be turned into non-persons, into a "mental illness", a failure.

You have no right whatsoever to judge and condemn people like Joseph Biederman or the Schofields. What these people do is nothing else but what you asked them to do, respectively what you do yourselves. You have no right to blame the pharmaceutical companies for pushing drugs with debilitating, and partly fatal "side" effects, and covering these "side" effects up. You asked for your children to be debilitated, and rendered lifeless. That you asked for this to happen in a metaphorical way, debilitating and killing your childrens' protesting self, doesn't make a difference. And you also asked for the cover-up. Since no perfect parent would ask for their child to be denied a self.

Psychiatry didn't establish itself, out of the blue. Just like your children didn't become "mentally ill" out of the blue. You asked for psychiatry to be established, in exactly the way it appears today, just like your behavior had your children react to it, and become "mentally ill".

Lastly, there's the returning "walk a mile in my shoes!"-thing. Well, I have. I've been about just as unconscious, unaware, and irresponsible, as these perfect parents are, or choose to be. Because, as mentioned before, the moment you know more than one side of the story, you're not innocent anymore. You stand with a choice, and with the entire responsibility for whatever choice you decide to make. And no, you don't even need to hear another side of the story from some critical professional or survivors, or whoever. You just need to listen to your children's side of the story. You just need to set yourself aside for once, and really listen to them. Not to whatever comes out of their mouth after they were "brought back" to seeing the world through your eyes, while they're drugged up over their own eyeballs, but while they're the most themselves, in "psychosis". You just have to try and walk a mile in your children's shoes.

Apart from all this, I can only wonder why someone, who thinks psych drugs, especially neuroleptics, are not designed for someone like her daughter, read between the lines: while they sure as hell are designed for the "real loonies", those not "misdiagnosed" -- and the concept of "misdiagnosis" always implies that there would be such a thing as correct diagnosis -- kept visiting and commenting on a blog authored by such a "real loony", playing up to this "real loony", who, into the bargain, isn't on any drugs, and, what more is, is a pronounced opponent to psych drugs and labels, and the institution of psychiatry as such. I can only wonder why someone who obviously firmly believes in biologically based brain diseases, at the same time, and repeatedly, joins in whenever there's a call for Soteria Houses. Soteria wasn't created to treat biologically based brain diseases. It was created out of the belief that the alleged biologically based brain diseases indeed were personal, existential crises. -- And the outcomes Soteria produced confirmed this belief to be true, btw. -- So, what's the big idea behind this sailing under false colors, behind this hypocrisy? Why not simply stand by one's convictions? Looking for sympathy? Seeking absolution for one's discriminatory us-and-them-thinking, even from the "real loonies" themselves? I have to disappoint you, X. No sympathy nor absolution for violence available here.

Since somebody pointed out to me that, especially for people who haven't been following X's blog and/or her comments, here or elsewhere, for some time, it might look like I condemn X on the basis of one single remark about psych drugs on her blog: No, I don't. This is what I wrote in reply to this somebody, and I hope, it contributes to a better understanding of what I react to. -- Also I decided to anonymize. As the above mentioned somebody also points out to me, X is by far not the only one to engage in this kind of behavior, so, it's probably a little unfair to mention only her by name:

X has puzzled me for the entire about 2 years I've been following her blog. Lots of critical comments, asking for Soteria Houses, when everybody else was, slamming the Schofields, when everybody else did, or Joseph Biederman, when everybody else did, criticizing one or the other pharmaceutical company, when everybody else did, etc. etc. (and "everybody else" of course means a certain clique in the blogosphere). Still, at the same time there also always were these small inconsistencies. "Misdiagnosis", over and over again, and as if there was such a thing as a correct diagnosis, mentioning "psychosis" and "schizophrenia" as if they were valid labels, just not for her daughter, and also that over and over again. Not just once. But she also successfully avoided to ever take a clear stand, whether she does believe in the labels, in the drugs, in biopsychiatry, or not. So, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. And, frankly, I didn't believe my own eyes when I read her comments at "Lola's story", that quite clearly, and clearer than ever, state that she does believe in the righteousness of for instance a "bipolar"-label for, and the drugging for it of, kids. I mean, read the comments at Fid's blog. Lola writes about 6-year-olds who get labelled and drugged, and are helped by it, and no objection from X. She agrees. Lola's her friend, she admires Lola, Lola's right when she says, kids are helped by psychiatry, its labels, its drugs. I can only conclude that this does not add up with slamming the Schofields for having their 6-year-old daughter labelled and drugged. Not at all. She did it, because everybody else did it. The same applies to her slamming Biederman on her blog. One minute she condemns the man, also joins in whenever people voice ethical concerns about the labelling and drugging of children, the next she agrees that "bipolar" in kids is real. I ask her, at Fid's blog, if this really is what she believes. Yes, it is.

One thing is that I, under these circumstances, couldn't disagree more with her. And I think, I myself don't make a secret of my points of view on my blog. It's pretty clear where I stand. [So, it should have been clear to X, too.] Another is that I a) really don't understand why on earth she doesn't simply say so, when she disagrees, but keeps giving the impression that she would agree with people, when obviously she doesn't, and b) can't do with hypocrites. I actually have more sympathy with someone like Lola than with X. Lola never came to my blog, or made a comment elsewhere, pretending to agree when in truth she didn't.

Additionally, I want to emphasize -- if anybody is in doubt -- that a disagreeing opinion alone, brought forward in a factual manner, has my full respect. What I have no respect for whatsoever is hypocrisy.

Monday, 13 September 2010

The saddest thing

Reading "Lola's story", in fact more like her daughter's story, on Bob Fiddaman's blog yesterday really saddened me.

I came to think of the comment by "CJ" on the NYT-piece "Child's Ordeal Shows Risks of Psychosis Drugs for Young", quoted by Rossa Forbes in her critique on the piece:

"It appears today's parents don't want to take time to examine themselves, their lifestyles, their parenting skills (or lack thereof) to see what might be affecting their child/ren. In addition, they might look to the schools, who have in many instances effectively taken away all outlets for normal childhood rambunctiousness by eliminating recess and phys ed, and requiring these little ones stay at their desks most of the day.

As for parents and physicians 'drugging' infants and preschoolers, well, as they say, you can't cure dumb.

As a nation, we are doing our youngsters a great disservice, substituting drugs for parenting, and placing the blame on others. Parents, take control. Do this by first taking control of yourselves."

Control, or responsibility. It hurts to face one's own inadequacies, mistakes, and dysfunctionality as a parent reflected in one's child reactions to them. And the more extreme the child's reactions, the more it hurts, because the more extreme the dysfunctionality they reflect. So, no doubt that it is a lot more comfortable to believe the misery isn't one's own responsibility, that you're not responsible for neither your own nor your "loved one's" pain. That it is all caused by fate, faulty genes, an imbalanced brain chemistry, nothing you could have done or can do anything about.

Related to this is the belief that the people who hold fate, faulty genes, and an imbalanced brain chemistry responsible are "just misguided", as a friend of mine keeps on telling me whenever I mention this dirty word: responsibility. And I mention it a lot, as the reader of this blog might have noticed. "Have compassion. It is no one's fault. They're just misguided." No one's fault. As in "it's a brain disease, bad genes, it's no one's fault". Or "no one's responsibility".

I recently complained to a friend about somebody's behavior really annoying me, draining me of energy. Like you'd complain to a shrink about your brain diseased child's behavior ruining your delusion of being the perfect parent. "You know," my friend said, "it's actually not that this person is annoying you, draining you of energy. You let her annoy you, and drain you of energy." Touché. Just as people, unless they are completely innocent, and don't know but one single version of a story, aren't misguided, but let themselves be misguided. With pleasure. For their own convenience.

This I wrote in a comment on another post at Rossa's blog:

"Everybody makes mistakes. Many people don't have the guts to admit their mistakes, to neither others, nor, and even less, to themselves. So they blame the suffering their mistakes causes not least themselves on others: "mental illness", and miss out on the opportunity to create transformation and growth for both themselves and their 'loved ones'. "

That's the price you have to pay for running from responsibility. You lose freedom. Also that from suffering. It's like peeing your pants, in the sense the Danes use the expression: at first, it feels nice and warm, but after a short while it gets really, really cold. But, no, you can't cure dumb. And the saddest thing is, when children have to pay for their parents' dumbness.