“If the human race survives, future men will, I suspect, look back on our enlightened epoch as a veritable Age of Darkness… They will see that what was considered ‘schizophrenic’ was one of the forms in which, often through quite ordinary people, the light began to break into our all-too-closed minds.” _Dr. R.D. Laing.
Gianna Kali at Beyond Meds republished a post a couple of days ago in which she commends how sensitively Al Siebert talked to a newly arrived young woman in a psychiatric hospital and laments her own treatment at a different institution under similar circumstances, which is the norm today for just about anybody entering a psychiatric hospital and given a serious mental health label. Al Siebert listened and respectfully discussed the young woman’s mystical union with God.
I have a friend I’ll call “Terri” who was very much like this young woman, and so many other young men and women today who are sensing that there is a powerful meaning behind life and are struggling to know how live with this growing feeling. Always a very “good” child, when Terri entered her teenage years, she became religiously observant and found herself praying a lot. She also was convinced that she was a sinner and needed to do good works to atone for her increasingly agitated thoughts. This was quite a few years ago and Terri wasn’t living in a Western industrialized country in any case, so she was actually encouraged by her admittedly alarmed family to continue her ritualistic praying with the hopes that maybe she would eventually find her vocation. Instead of ostracizing her, her family considered her passions perhaps a sign of something worth encouraging.
Terri spent the next few years refining her ideas of prayer, praying so much that she figured out that there was a right way and a wrong way to have a union with God. The right way is to start with silence, and to hold silence around you as much as possible, in order to clear the mind to allow God’s grace to eventually penetrate the soul. She knew nothing about Buddhism or Eastern meditation practices. She focused her prayers on on the body of Christ. Make no mistake about it. Terri is odd by to our Western industrialized concept of what a person her age should be doing. She could get away with doing so little by today’s upward mobility standards because she was living communally and her expenses were few. Her family was proud of her if they thought of her at all.
Over time, Terri perfected her ideas about prayer, which weren’t just ideas, they were her lived experience. She sees union with God as a teachable process, informed by suffering and devotion.
She’s very, very old now, and she even has a prayer about how to be old gracefully It involves not filling the air with idle talk at every opportunity or telling other people how to run their lives.
Luckily for “Terri,” her unusual proclivities weren’t pathologized and forcefully treated as “mental illness,” otherwise her story may have been very different. There are many versions of her fascinating internal life, but here is an official one.
Here is an excellent interview with Dr. Michael Cornwall and Yana Jacobs on peer-run respite care. We are in the middle of a perfect storm that will eventually see these models establish themselves in most larger centers.
Good article about the Hearing Voices Network, but disturbing because of the insistence that the Hearing Voices Network claims that childhood sexual abuse is almost always at the root of psychosis. Doesn’t the complexity of human experience defy simple answers?
I’m not a joiner by nature, but occasionally, I find a cause worth joining. One of these is the Mother Bear Community Action Network, or Mother Bear CAN. This network of not just mothers, by the way, is a grassroots response to the hijacking of mental health care by professional psychiatry and psychopharmacology. That’s my own spin on the work that this network does. The Network has an excellent resource section with a reading list that includes Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic, Thomas Szasz’s The Myth of Mental Illness, and Peter Breggin’s book, Your Drug May be Your Problem. Please read some highlights from the site that I have reprinted below, and sign up to their newsletter for your regular dose of positive and empathetic knowledge about helping to navigate the recovery process for a family member.
Hope is real
by Larry Drain:
We are all much more than any label. A diagnosis is simply a word used to describe the distress you, a family member or friend may struggle with every day or perhaps only for a short while. Diagnoses can he helpful as a way of making meaning, but they can be harmful for the very same reason. We often give labels far too much power. We let them determine the course of our lives. We hold on to them even when they are no longer useful or true.
We are all much more than our distress. What we value, who and what we care about are central to our lives regardless of our struggles. Our hopes, dreams, strengths and talents say much more about us than whatever makes us a “patient.”
Human beings are resilient. Life is a constant process of change, adjustment and growth. Human beings are designed to face challenges and find new ways to adapt. We can learn to handle life’s challenges by meeting life in each moment. We can ask ourselves, what would be helpful in this moment? What is the next best step? When we get there, we ask again. And again. And again.
Over time we find that we have increased our capacity for change, and we are no longer so fearful of it. Change happens, so does recovery
At the Core of Mother Bear
Your family should not face a mental health challenge alone. When families come together to support each other, we tap into our instinctual protective and loving power to make mental health care choices that restore hope and promote real and lasting recovery.
Our Mother Bear CAN families embrace the following recovery values:
• Recovery is not only possible; it is expected.
• Emotional distress has many causes and many possible solutions.
• All family members deserve support and education for their own emotional distress.
• Individual and family empowerment are essential for recovery.
• Families, with honest education and support, can play a powerful role in recovery.
• The role and decision to use medication should be carefully considered including documented studies of risks.
• Recovery is a universal human experience that requires patience, hope and encouragement.
Mother Bear CAN Advisory Committee
Our advisory committee is composed of a diverse group of family members and individuals with lived experience, mental health reform advocates, recovery movement leaders, peer support counselors, recovery and peer-led organization leaders, family recovery education specialists, philanthropists, scientists, and recovery-oriented providers including psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors.
We are grateful to have the support and guidance of many wise bears including those affiliated with
• Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University
• Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, Education & Living
• CooperRiis Healing Community
• Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care
• Icarus Project
• International Network of Integrative Mental Health
• International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry
• Family Outreach and Response Program
• MindFreedom International
• National Empowerment Center
• Utah Youth Village
Mother Bear CAN actively seeks partnerships with recovery- and family-oriented organizations that share our vision of helping families recover and thrive—emotionally, physically and socially.
I wasn’t at the Heritage Foundation presentation, but I watched the live streaming. Dr. E. Fuller Torrey advocated making mental health care a state responsibility, not a federal one. That argument strikes me as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, but then Torrey complicated his point further by arguing for benchmarks and incentives that institutions must comply with or they will lose their funding, the carrot and stick approach which he thinks will lead to “good mental health outcomes.” Carrot and stick (emphasis on the stick) technique is also typical of his coercive brand of mental health activism. This strikes me as the same dubious technique used in the educational system, which is called “teaching to the test.” Teaching to the test has all kinds of perverse outcomes.
One positive thing that I took away from the presentation was how Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, is making inroads. Psychiatrist Sally Satel was talking as if for decades now, people have been encouraged to be on the lowest possible dose of medication, and she went on as if it is perfectly well known that many, if not most, people should be encouraged to get off their drugs. Huh? Well, it wasn’t so long ago, eight years ago in fact, that I was told all kinds of nonsense about the drugs being needed for life, and there were plenty of people around who were on and probably still are on high doses of a antipychotic cocktails. I noticed that E. Fuller Torrey conspicuously avoided looking in Satel’s direction when she was expressing herself. E. Fuller Torrey has done more than most psychiatrists to imbed the image in the mind of the public of a schizophrenic as always needing medication. This is serious mental illness, after all!
Another great positive from the presentation was the dedicated group of people who showed up to make the point that medications, not the federal/state situation, are the real reasons the mental health system and its patients are messed up. What the activists had to say directly contradicted the revisionist history that Dr. Satel was painting. Alaska attorney Jim Gottstein introduced this point, and said that people are dying on average twenty-five years early due to the drugs, and if they’re not dead, they are often disabled. Gottstein and others were there to remind Torrey, Satel, and the Heritage Foundation that psychiatry as practiced has victims. Lawyer Diane Engster made a poignant statement directed to Torrey that she followed his advice, she took her drugs, she used to be thin like Dr. Torrey, but she is one hundred pounds overweight and is disabled because of complications from the drugs. She would love to make the kind of money that Torrey and the others do, but she can’t work because she swallowed what Torrey was dishing out. Dr. Torrey played with his ear while she was speaking. Maybe he was trying to turn down the volume.
There was a lot of discussion about ACT (assisted community treatment) and PACT, and how ACT doesn’t act as well as its enthusiasts tell you it does.
Activist Daniel Hazen from Glens Falls, NY got in the last word. He respectfully disrupted the proceedings to tell the psychiatrists that, contrary to what they were saying, there is mental health care inside the prison system, and it’s coercive. Here’s an animation put together by Lauren Tenney that gives his intervention verbatim.
We owe an immense debt of gratitude to Jim Gottstein, Daniel Hazen, Daniel Fisher, Diane Engster and Yvonne Z. Smith for speaking up on our behalf.
For people who would like to view the presentation, click the WATCH ONLINE button at the Heritage Foundation site. A reminder e-mail will be sent by the Foundation.
The presentation will begin at 12:00 p.m. EST (6 p.m. Central European Time and 5 p.m. in Great Britain/United Kingdom).
With America’s jails and prisons crowded with mentally ill inmates, Medicaid costs soaring, and mentally disabled homeless Americans wandering the streets, it is clear that our mental health system is dysfunctional. What began as a grand and noble experiment has become a costly failure, both in terms of human lives and in terms of dollars. But what needs to be done? E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., a leading psychiatrist and researcher, has written extensively on the problems of U.S. mental health policy and urges fundamental reform based on returning primary responsibility to the states.
& alerts from www.MindFreedom.org firstname.lastname@example.org
4:42 AM (5 hours ago)
MindFreedom International News – please forward
United Human Rights Activism in Mental Health
Urgent Alert — In Less Than 48 Hours:
Activists Use Facebook to Create Instant Protest of Heritage Foundation “Psychiatric Tyranny”
Fest in Washington, D.C., on Wed., 18 July
E. Fuller Torrey, Pusher of Forced Psychiatric Drugging of Americans in their Homes, to Speak
by MindFreedom International
The Heritage Foundation web site claims it is for “limited government” and “individual freedom.”
But this Wednesday, 18 July 2012, this very same Heritage Foundation is spotlighting one of the main crusaders for the very worst of Big Government: psychiatric tyranny.
On Wednesday, July 18, 2012, the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C., is hosting a talk by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., widely considered to be one of the top pushers for laws making it easier to force psychiatric drugs into Americans, even if they are living peacefully in their own homes out in the community.
With very short notice, Occupy Psychiatry, a new joint project by the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights) and MindFreedom International, will be at the presentation to counter Torrey’s falsehoods. With less than 48 hours to go before the event, activists are asking people to contact concerned people in the Washington, D.C. area.
People are gathering for a peaceful protest at 11:30 a.m. at 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C.
For the Facebook “Occupy Torrey Tirade Facebook Event Page” go here:
PsychRights web page news release is here:
PDF version of the PsychRights news release:
Web page for Heritage Foundation
To stay in touch with other “instant actions: connect on this new Facebook page:
The Occupy Psychiatry Facebook project emerged from the successful protest of the American Psychiatric Association this Spring, for photos and videos of that event go here:
HERITAGE FOUNDATION MAKES BIG MISTAKE
The Heritage Foundation may find a lot of others on the right are not pleased. Right wing activists from Rush Limbaugh to Michael Savage have personally blasted the massive promotion of psychiatric drugging, especially in children.
Said David Oaks, Director of MindFreedom International, “There are right wingers and left wingers and libertarians who are true to their ideals, and who are outraged at the crime of extreme psychiatric drugging of the USA population, especially young people. Opposing psychiatric abuse unites a lot of red and blue voters. May the Heritage Foundation find out soon they made a mistake by promoting E. Fuller Torrey’s bizarre, tyrannical, anti-American values.”
ACTION – Please forward this news to others, especially in Washington, D.C. area.~
If you did not get this alert directly from mindfreedom-news, sign up for this free public alert list here: http://bit.ly/mfi-news
I’m going to be candid about what I know about this therapy, and that’s very little. Like most of the therapies Chris and I have pursued, not knowing much about the “science” behind them never stops us from trying them and reaping the benefits. I am going to do an in-depth explanation of scalar energy for my book after I learn more about this work. The shaman who introduced me to this therapy is an electronics (quantum mechanics) engineer by training. His company tests for electromagnetic radiation interfering with optimum cellular function in living organisms. Many people may understand the potential of the technology as using the products to clear a building and the people in it of electromagnetic radiation. The scientific origins of this scalar energy go back to Nicolas Tesla. Lt. Col. Tom Bearden talks about Tesla and the suppression of free energy on Youtube.
What is important to keep in mind when approaching alternative therapies is that you don’t usually know in advance how a particular therapy will benefit you. It’s not like taking an antibiotic for a known infection, where you can expect that when you finish the course of treatment there will be no more infection. Instead, depending on your specific condition, you may hope for a greater sense of ease, a better focus, a coming around to “self.” These feelings are hard to objectively quantify and measure.
According to the shaman, trauma is registered in the cellular structure. Clearing the effects of trauma is the first thing that needs to be done in the cell before a closer medical look can be taken to see what the cell looks like “normally.” The shaman can tell when in life your traumas occurred by examining a recent photograph showing shoulders and head. Time and matter are compressed information (energy), and we can re-live (go back to) and clear the trauma in the moment in time when the trauma occured by doing some simple exercises involving light and colors.
I sent photos of Ian, Chris and me to the shaman. He put them through a scalar energy device that measures energy as information and returned a mysterious report that said:
Ancestral – none
Pre birth 2.5, 5, 7 months
Life self 8, 16, 26
Life others 16, 24
Conflict transitions all colours
Prebirth 2, 4 > months
Life self 10, 20 30
Life others 25-30
Transition cycle – orange (crisis)
Conflict transitions old behaviour, conflict course all colours
Pre birth self 3, 5.5
Pre birth others 3.5, 5
Life line others 23, 40,
Life line self 13, 24-25, 30, 40
Conflict transitions all colours conflict course
The therapy involved placing the palm of my hand on a battery operated light source and a finger of my other hand on a plastic sheet containing pre-birth and lifeline charts with color bars corresponding to the colors of the chakras.
“Close your eyes and you are now at the point of conception,” the shaman instructed me. “Think of what it is like.” I thought about it, not really knowing what to think about. Then he instructed me to do the same for certain points pre-birth. Again, it was a struggle to think of anything relevant to my feeling while in my mother’s womb. But, in scalar energy, taking yourself back in time by thinking of that point in time clears the trauma. Our cells know. The shaman then retraced the pattern of the chart using his own finger, feeling where there might be lingering resistance. I redid the exercise twice, and my own traumas no longer register resistance on the color charts.
The shaman maintains from having analyzed two photos of Chris and gone through his color charts with him that Chris’s trauma that eventually resulted in his breakdown at the age of 20 occurred between the ages of 8 and 10. He has suggested a possible medical reason that may explain what happened to Chris. In the meantime he is doing more scans while I am planning to ask for Chris’s medical records from when he was hospitalized.
We’ll see where this latest alternative therapy takes us. In the meantime, I already am feeling one of its intended effects and I think I am observing the same in Chris. According to the shaman, Chris and I will experience a long overdue separation effect. This is probably what Carl Jung refers to as “individuation,” “the process in which the individual Self develops out of an undifferentiated unconscious. It is a developmental, psychical process, the process whereby the innate elements of personality, the different experiences of a person’s life and the different aspects and components of the immature psyche become integrated over time into a well-functioning whole.”
For several days I’ve had an unrelenting sinking feeling when I think of Chris, as if a stone were dropping through the fiber of my being, dragging me down, down, down. It’s as if I’ve been hit by something, and I wonder if it is aftershock of scalar energy. I woke up last night feeling intensely lonely for the old Chris. He has taken the giant psychic step forward of distancing himself from me. For the past few days he has stayed in his room a lot and avoids engaging in small talk. We argued when I got home from work yesterday. Chris had deliberately missed an eye test for a driver’s permit and I accused him of only going through the motions of wanting to learn to drive a car in the first place. The argument was petty, but symptomatic of something tumultuous happening to Chris. He is more and more willing to express vexation with me and frustration with himself.
I feel like the umbilical cord has finally been severed.
Thanks go out to WillSpirit! for alerting me to Elyn Saks’ TEDTalk. Dr. Saks is a University of Southern California professor of law and author of The Center Cannot Hold, her autobiography of her experience with schizophrenia.
If you haven’t yet read The Center Cannot Hold, please put it on your reading list. I gave it a positive review on Amazon. In this video she refers to schizophrenia as a “disease,” and says that she takes medication. In that sense I find that she is a out of step with current research that has not found any brain pathology associated with the condition. The effectiveness of medication to treat the so-called “disease” is also scientifically questionable. Is the medication effective for her? In a Time Magazine interview here’s what she said in 2007.
What protection does medicine offer you?
It’s very good. The new meds I’m on [Clozapine, an anti-psychotic medication] make the episodes come further apart; they last less long when they happen, and they’re less intense when they happen. So it’s a kind of floor below which I don’t go. When I was on Navane [another anti-psychotic medication] back in New Haven, and the first five or 10 years in L.A., I was teetering on the edge all of the time. A slight breeze would push me over into the land of psychosis. Now, I’m mostly well. I’m mostly thinking clearly. I do have episodes, but it’s not like I’m struggling all of the time to stay on the right side of the line. Read more: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1656592,00.html#ixzz20JPa0aNH
From reading her book I understood that the only therapy Elyn Saks underwent was years of Kleinian psychotherapy. As far as I’m aware, she doesn’t practice yoga or meditation, take vitamin supplements or do anything else to manage her condition. What she does do is work. Work is her focus and her salvation, as she confides in the video. But, she may have added extra stress in the process of hard work, by not allowing herself time to heal, to reflect, to take time off, to really think about what else might be contributing to her psychosis. She may think that the medications do more for her than they actually do, based on old, and by now, increasingly suspect scientific data. It is also found that people’s symptoms diminish with age and Saks may be attributing to the meds what aging has accomplished. Still, it’s her experience, and she has a right to tell it as she knows it, but I can already see from comments here and there on the web that her story is being used as living proof of the triumph of meds in combination with psychotherapy. By her own admission, she continues to struggle. She is a law professor who actively works against the use of physical restraints, which is admirable. But, many people consider the use of medications to be a human rights abuse – chemical restraints. Will Dr. Saks also use her legal expertise and influence to look at all aspects of human rights abuses in mental health?
Elyn Saks owns her experience and tells her story well, so more power to her. I just hope her story isn’t highjacked into yet another glossy pharmaceuticalized depiction of “the meds are so much better these days that it’s just a question of finding the right ones.”