Posted tagged ‘The Myth of Mental Illness’

Doctor, Dred Scott is in Florid Drapetomania Again! Perhaps a Lobotomy?

April 8, 2014

Too bad those doctors who championed that notorious description of Drapetomania didn’t have Haldol at the ready to inject into their runaway slaves, like your nice modern psych wards do, it is so useful as a chemical restraint for bad behavior. But for anyone clueless about  “Drapetomania”, for anyone who needs a sad history lesson about this spurious social control technique — excuse me, I meant ‘diagnosis’ —   here it is: Civil War era doctors believed slaves held an  irrational belief –remember, this was dreamed up way back in 1851 — that freedom was better than chains. Because of course slaves loved their captors, and thus it would be irrational to escape forced labor!

This was actually argued as a medical diagnosis.

This is all very relevant to the debate going on about “The Gospel and Mental Illness” at Kevin DeYoungs site.

Because Psychiatry’s trusty double-edged sword of ontology and epistemology divides sometimes in uncomfortable ways. Until 1972, homosexuality was a pathological behavior, until Stonewall’s riots forced a rancorous vote by the APA to boot it out of the DSM.  Will “homophobia” be the next irrational behavior to be controlled by coercive psychiatry? Shall the DSM-6 suggest forced drugging for those fundies who still put up a fight against ‘marriage equality’? If not, a desperate despot can always avail oneself of the cute diagnostic category, “Not Otherwise Specified” in the DSM-5? That diagnostic black hole means psychiatrists get to make it up as they go along. What a useful dragnet it  proves for those rebellious peons who refuse to submit to the powers that be. Like Dred Scott.

Beware when judges  hobnob with Psychiatrists. Beware when they can issue gag orders to those who object to this form of social control. Beware these kinds of  comfortable relationships among the power elite. Beware when you become comfortable that  anyone holds this kind of ruling power. Beware the Murphy Bill.

Because this kind of naked abuse of power is  actually happening in this day and age:  Behold The Horrifying Story of Justina Pelletier. Psychiatry has legally locked up a fifteen year old girl with some unfortunate health issues that were of uncertain origin. But some nice doctors at Boston Children’s decided it was Somatoform Disorder, and since her  parents were interfering with their brainwashing –excuse me, I meant the curing of  her brain disease –they were denied guardianship over their daughter’s care. They have even  been accused of Medical Child Abuse, and have had gag orders issued to stifle their dissent. So Jessica is languishing in this jail– excuse me again, I mean nice comfy locked ward —  and cannot see them except in weekly supervised visits. Jessica, who was happily  ice skating in a competition before her unfortunate meetup with the nice folks at the notorious Bader 5, Boston Children’s Psych Ward, is now confined to a wheelchair after languishing  for over a year in a locked psych ward. Those helpful medical experts are now giving her psychiatric drugs, instead of the course of treatment other specialists of her peculiar Mitochondrial Disorder had decided was best. These well meaning psychiatrists are teaching Justina that her symptoms are all in her head. I hope they are not using electroshock therapy to accomplish this goal. I know I would cry uncle after experiencing this. I am relieved to note that lobotomies are no longer the current fashion in psychiatric treatment,that they are not suggesting A nice jab with an ice-pick through the eye straight into prefrontal lobe will do the trick Justina! 

Please go to that link and read that searing Wall Street Journal expose of the history of lobotomy, of the raw naked power neurologist  Dr. Walter Freeman held at one time in the 1950’s . It is deeply sobering to consider that the fabricator of this barbaric practice earned a Nobel Prize for his work, and so disturbing to consider  the sway his crackpot ideas  held over influential people — it was cutting edge science. Freeman experimented  on hapless vets suffering PTSD after World War — “in accord with our desire to keep abreast of all advances in treatment,” the V.A. says in a memo. His influence spread and soon people in psychic distress would write to him and beg for lobotomies, in order to be returned to a  “a surgically induced childhood.” His own description.

But it became a standard treatment for all the intractable and difficult to handle patients in psych wards. JFK’s father had it performed on his own daughter. It was as fashionable among the elite for a quick fix for anxiety, just as Ativan is to us now.

Faced with an ice pick, I think Justina would meekly say, “No thank you doctor, I will promise to stop cheeking my Seroquel.” How I wish for those who suffer the torments of psychic pain might have the silver bullets of targeting drugs which will afford great benefits, and do less harm! But for now I am in full agreement with Dr. Thomas Szasz, who gave us that illustration of Drapetomania for the abuses of psychiatry.  Although  Szasz  has some polarizing Libertartian philosophies that I cannot endorse, still I agree with him that “The Myth of Mental Illness”  is a linguistic construct that priveleges those in power to control behavior that they are uncomfortable or disagree with.

I cannot agree with that esteemed SUNY professor of psychiatry more. Every psychotic who is permitted agency to refuse dangerous neuroleptics for more effective and humane courses of treatment is grateful for his work.  Otherwise we might all  be hearing some Dreadful Doctor of Dred Scott saying to us,”Bend over psychiatric slave, because the DSM-5 has suggested that your condition is threatening  your safety. You really might want to escape this locked ward to freedom, and we have determined that fresh air and sunshine is not a healthy environment for you at all. ”

On this 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, please oppose the Murphy Bill HR #3717, because:

“People will turn away from forced and coercive services.
We need to feel safe and understood to connect with others.
We also need hope and a sense that we can get what we need.

So many difficulties arise in life,
especially when our parents, schools and communities
have their own problems and don’t understand our perspective.

Connection, unconditional positive regard,
trauma informed services and safety
must replace coercive, medical models
and forced services if we hope to help others heal.”

words of Cindy Peterson Dana, as a comment on a thread at Mad in America, titled– Murphy Bill: Violates Civil Rights, Increases Government Intrusion and Control, and Ignores Scientific Research

Heath Lambert and The Rabbits Psychiatrists Pulled From Hats — Like Retts’s Syndrome from the DSM

April 3, 2014

So Heath Lambert says, very baldly: Mental Ilness is a Atheistic Myth.  And this has riled some.

He notes the interesting fluidity of psychiatric classification that exists  for a diagnosis, without a biological marker to define it. Lots of people do not understand this. They have been trained so long with the convenient  myth of the chemical imbalance theory, they actually think there is other things besides behavior that get you labeled crazy for life.  This is a paradigm shift for some, and it makes them really mad.

In particular,  David  Murray has got his Scottish up over Heath Lambert’s blog series. I got my own Irish up about some months ago over the  apalling lack of informed consent Murray demonstrated  in his blogpost “I’m Thinking of Going to the Doctor for Depression Meds.”  I did apologize on Challies for my uncharitable spirit,  I once again extend to Dr. Murray a sincere apology for implying he was not a good sheperd of his sheep. I am sure he is a fine pastor. He is just wrong in counseling depressed persons.  Since Bob Kelleman sucessfully countered Murray’s callous dismissal of legitimate concerns concerning psychiatric medication’s harmful side effects, and his dangerous  legitimization of non-Christian CBT practitioners, I was able to give my Irish some rest, and I agree with Lambert, we can do better than this in speaking truth with love.  I want to do better.

Update October 2014: I can certainly do better in comment boxes as well. It is painful for me to reread my posts at that TGC guestblog — I sound completely unhinged. I wrote in haste, and some were double-posted, and I was alarmed that comment moderation was continuing over several days. I thought the discussion was being shut down at a critical point. Though I asked the moderators on TGC to delete the duplicates, they still stand and make me look unreliable as a reporter of facts. Gaslighting,maybe? As both a woman and someone with lived experience of psychosis, I cannot afford to look like someone  gone “off her meds again.” .  So I have ruthlessly purged the bloat from this post.

But David Murray thinks Lambert has gone too far, when  Lambert writes, a “massive collection of secular professionals actually agree with my assessment of the problem”. There were  howls of outrage in the comments.  But  in an interesting series of posts, Lambert tries manfully to loosen the grip that the atheistic  “Myth of Mental Illness” has on the church.

Lambert speaks so well on the subject that hardly more needs to be said, but I  will add  a plea here  for pastors and counselors to create a safe place in their churches for those who agree with Lambert, who want to taper off their meds, and feel that they are harmed by psychiatry. The process of medication tapering is messy, and can look like a relapse. My hope and prayer is that the the voices of the psychiatric survivor movement would  grow strong in Christian community, and that the agency we cherish over our own bodies will be respected. That the church would give up the convenient marginalization of labels like “mentally ill” —  and do the harder work of effective hospitality aimed towards our real needs. I think it is well past time for  Christian Mental Health Professionals  to agree with one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, ‘The Lancet’ which has said, “It is time to flush the drugs”   Otherwise the Church will miss a wonderfully opportune time to minister to those who suffer, when the best alternatives being offered by the world to those wanting an alternative to psychotropics are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Eastern Mindfulness exercises, and similar tools borrowed from the New Age. We have the Good News, and the Great Physician,–-we can do better.

Lambert is in the process of developing an extremely nuanced argument, and I am sure he will account for biological factors in mental disorders. But still, his arguments are valid — there is no such thing as a mental illness! When mental disorders begin to be medical in etiology, they magically disappear from the DSM. That is Lambert’s  major point: psychiatric diagnoses are a construct of language — and Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz would add– of power.

Because of its coercive nature, much harm has been done to the sufferers of psychic pain at the hands of psychiatric power, with its scientifically unverifiable labels that stigmatize. And I think this is at the core of the pain felt by those who would be free of this inhumane and atheistic paradigm. Susan Beachy is the mother of a student who gave up on life after receiving an incorrect diagnoses of schizophrenia after a single psychotic episode in response to the stress of 9/11 — which in previous generations would have been understood to be a simple nervous breakdown, and thus fully recoverable. She poignantly said:

“Being told that mental illness is like diabetes is misleading and discouraging. This is not a fair comparison.  Diabetes is due to a well understood defect in a body part, the pancreas. Mental illness, on the other hand, literally means that your mind is sick. Your mind, unlike your pancreas, is not just a body part. Your mind enables you to relate, set goals, dream, and have hope. If you and the people around you believe that your mind will be defective and sick for the rest of your life, you are left without hope of ever having the agency to build a life…We need not burden distressed young people with hope-sucking labels of chronic mental defect. There is a better way.”

Psychiatry is not valid science. Its diagnoses are voted in and out of the DSM by a messy and rancorous process. The irony is, once biological markers *are* found for any illness in the DSM, it is dropped as a ‘mental illness’! Look at the history of Retts Syndrome: when its genetic cause and neurological etiology was finally understood, it was dropped from the Autism spectrum disorder, and thus from the manual. This created quite the controversy, back in 2011, as the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative notes here”

“The DSM is about behavior, not cause, or ‘etiology,’ so including “a specific etiologic entity, such as Rett’s Disorder, is inappropriate,” the revision committee states on its website.But many scientists investigating the biological mechanisms underlying Rett syndrome object to that reasoning.”We’re going to discover that all autism spectrum disorders have a genetic cause,” says Huda Zoghbi, director of the Neurological Research Institute at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “So are we going to keep removing them every time we have the genetic basis of one?”

If the history of the DSM is any indication, yes they will.

Because, psychiatric diagnoses without real biological markers is just pulling rabbits out of hats. Or Rett’s Syndrome from the DSM.