Please read and circulate

The following is an excellent critique of Dr. Thomas Insel, head of the National Institute of Mental Health. It is taken in its entirety from the blog Involuntary Transformation.

Becky Murphy writes:

My intent when I started this blog was to talk about my family’s experiences with the mental health system. I find that it has for me become a way to share my experiences, observations and opinions about mental health issues in general, and how my son’s treatment more often than not, caused further harm. Mental Health Transformation is happening–for some individuals and groups, it is too slow in occurring; and for others it appears to be an Involuntary Transformation.

For All Of Us…Support and Appreciate Our Diversity We Will Achieve Our Individual And Collective Full Potential.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Head of NIMH Has Not Heard About “Nothing About Us Without Us?”

Thank you Gina DeLuca for sharing this link:

The following link contains the Highlander Call to Action from 2000 and The Bastille 2010 document that leaders in the consumer/survivor movement wrote.

Thomas Insel, M.D.: “We’re in the middle of a revolution. We have the chance to change the world—not tomorrow, but by staying on course.”

Credit: David Hathcox

Apparently, Thomas Insel is not aware of the Consumer/survivor movement. How this can be the case is not easily explainable. It is most disturbing that this man is the head of the National Institutes of Mental Health. This statement flies in the face of the Mental Health Transformation that is being implemented in this country. It is a statement I can relate to applied to my advocacy for myself and my family and fellow consumer/survivors; but not in the context to which Dr. Insel applies it. The context he applies it is indicative to me he is perhaps ignorant of the grave harm done by the bio-psychiatric model of defining and treating those with what are identified as trauma-induced maladaptive interpersonal and sociological behavior patterns; labeling these people as having “mental Illness” and “brain diseases” has in fact been determined to be the cause of the stigma attached to such labeling! As reported in the Science Daily and The American Journal of Psychiatry Online:

The abstract in the American Journal of Psychiatry acknowledges the theory that “Mental Illness is like any other illness,” was a strategy developed to fight stigma and gain the support for and acceptance of those who have been labeled as “mentally ill” by the general public. The reality is as reported, in the same journal Dr. Insel’s article: that the general public were supportive of more treatment, but those labeled were rejected more! So it is this lie which became a strategy to decrease the stigma of “mental illness” did not and worse it increased the discrimination the very people this fraud was perpetrated to “serve!”

Very telling is The PACT Advocacy guide that is distributed as part of NAMI’s PACT across America campaign. It is plain that NAMI is in fact advocating for a pharmaceutical industry funded agenda; not the people who have what they are labeling as “mental illness” or their families.

Bio-psychiatry devotees medicate into disability and early or sudden death those whom they treat in “traditionally” with medication, wanted or not, informed consent or not. It is common for coercion and manipulation to be tools used, in “treatment.” An example of this is the Assertive Community Treatment, or Program of Assertive Community Treatment, as it is known in Washington State. people these people purport to feel a clinical psychiatry.

The consumer/survivor movement has stayed the course for decades now, as has the NIMH. Why we have stayed the course is obvious. Our recovery and survival depend upon our staying the course and standing up against the tyrannical practices to which we have been subjected. which has forged among us a firm resolve to transform the current system to one which is grounded in science, morality, compassionate care leading to recovery.

What is motivating the NIMH? It seems to me from this article, it is being driven by the same flawed thinking that drives the pharmaceutical industry and the media machine funded by Big-Pharma, cosigned by the American Psychiatric Association and so called grassroots movement of “Advocates of the Seriously Mentally Ill.” Altruism is not the only thing missing from this type of advocacy; it also lacks the valid science upon which any and all efforts to treat human beings for any condition, no matter what the cause or how it is manifested should be grounded in.

Shame on you Dr. Insel!

In other words, the show must go on

“We cannot afford to take any chances with the integrity of the research process,” Collins said.

The NIH’s tougher disclosure requirements came in response to a spate of bad press showing huge private-sector bucks flowing to researchers at universities and institutes and the like, creating, as NIH Director Francis S. Collins said, an appearance of a conflict of interest that could undermine public trust.

I directly put the question to Thomas Insel a couple of years ago. “Dr. Insel,” said I, “how come I, a mere mother, can figure out what is going on with my son’s mental health issue and what to do about it, but here’s the NIMH still chasing magic bullets? Why don’t you pay attention to people like me more and forget trying to find the next wonder drug? It hasn’t happened yet and there have been plenty of bright minds working on this.” Okay, I didn’t say exactly that, but that was the gist of my argument.

I guess we can all predict what his answer was. Here’s a reasonable facsimile of what he said. “Yes, I often meet people like you, and maybe we should be looking into emulating what others have successfully accomplished. But, of course, schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder, so I absolutely disagree with you that drugs are not the answer.”

Emulating what works for others who have been there is not going to happen when the “smart” money is into drugs dreamed up to combat the continually elusive “serious mental health disorders.”


One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge — even to ourselves — that we’ve been so credulous. – Carl Sagan

I swiped this quote from Beyond Meds because Robert Whitaker’s new book Anatomy of an Epidemic*, currently on my reading table, points to the “Big Bamboozle” in the pharmaceutical industry when it comes to the treatment of the mentally ill. As it was with Ida Tarbell and Standard Oil, Upton Sinclair and the meat packing industry, let’s hope that the Whitaker book will put an end to the encroachment of the big pharma/academia/American Medical Association alliance on your brain.

The meticulously documented book explains that it was the Medicare and Medicaid legislation enacted in 1965 that allowed the discharge of chronic schizophrenia patients from unsubsidized state mental hospitals into subsidized nursing homes, not the invention of Thorazine in 1955, as it is so often attributed. Patients treated with neuropleptics in a 1956 studied cited had a lower discharge rate for first psychotic episodes than those who had been treated with a neuroleptic. The general opinion of researchers back then was that patients treated with neuroleptics had lower discharge rates than patients for whom no neuroleptics were administered.

Unfortunately our societal belief that it was this medication that emptied the asylums, which is so central to the “psychopharmacology revolution” narrative, is belied by the hospital census data.

Numerous studies in the 1980s cited in the Whitaker book came to the conclusion that there was no evidence that the dopamine function of the brain is disturbed in schizophrenia. Still the public continued to be told that people diagnosed with schizophrenia had overactive dopamine systems, with the drugs likened to “insulin for diabetes,” and thus former NIMH director Steve Hyman, in his 2002 book, Molecular Neuropharmacology, was moved to once again remind readers of the truth. “There is no compelling evidence that a lesion in the dopamine system is a primary cause of schizophrenia,” he wrote.

The pharma bamboozle is particularly poignant because of the millions of lives wasted and lost. Parents have been told, by a medical profession that they trust, that their child has a brain disease, just like diabetes, and that in order to “protect the brain,” they must continue to take these medications, just like a diabetic must do with insulin. That guilt is overwhelming because it is personal and had we been less credulous, the outcome may have been different.

Having heard Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), I have no great confidence that that organization, despite it being a supposed watchdog of public mental health, will suddenly “see the light”. He stated very clearly in that seminar that research has demonstrated again and again that current and past drugs are ineffective in treating mental disorders, but they were shining their flashlights looking for the key in the wrong areas! They just haven’t found the right drug targeted to the particular problem! There’s a term for that in business that eludes me. . . when you trash the old product in order to stimulate sales of the new one. Don’t worry, in the NIMH’s world, there are always exciting new drug possibilities. So, the Big Bamboozle will continue as long as the public is gullible. It will take a different pharmaceutical tactic, that’s all. The insulin for diabetics idea has been exposed, so we’re not buying that one, but what will it be? It’ll be clever, that’s for sure.

is where Dr. Insel’s flashlight is looking:
We must address mental illnesses, from autism to schizophrenia, as developmental brain disorders with genetic and environmental factors leading to altered circuits and altered behavior. Today’s state-of-the-art biology, neuroscience, imaging, and genomics are yielding new approaches to understanding mental illnesses, supplementing our psychological explanations. Understanding the causes and nature of malfunctioning brain circuits in mental disorders may make earlier diagnosis possible. Interventions could then be tailored to address the underlying causes directly and quickly, changing the trajectory of these illnesses, as we have done in ischemic heart disease and some forms of cancer. For serious mental illness, this is a new vision for prevention, based on understanding individual risk and developing innovative treatments to preempt disability.
Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychatric Drugs, and the Atonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, author Robert Whitaker