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!

Would you prefer “small brain volume?”

Robert Whitaker has a blog post today on a research finding* published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

In this NIMH-funded study, researchers reported that male neonates born to mothers diagnosed and treated for schizophrenia were found to have “several larger than normal brain volumes.” The researchers concluded that this was evidence that “prenatal and early neonatal brain development is abnormal in males at genetic risk for schizophrenia.“

In other words, researchers saw this abnormality as evidence of a “schizophrenic” process already underway in the male neonates. But the mothers diagnosed with schizophrenia in this study were taking antipsychotics, which are known to cause changes in brain volumes. Thus, it may be that the abnormalities seen in the brains of the male neonates were due to the drugs, rather than to any underlying genetic risk for schizophrenia.

The female neonates born to mothers diagnosed with schizophrenia did not have “larger than normal brain volumes,” which of course leads to further doubt about any conclusions that can be drawn from this study.

I am in full agreement with Whitaker’s conclusions questioning whether the drugs are responsible for the observed results and why this affects only males and I will go further. It’s not a good idea for the results of these kinds of studies to fall into the hands of someone like me. First of all, I’m a parent who has never gone to medical school, and why am I subjected to stupid words like “male neonate” when I guess what we are really talking about here are male babies, not male monkeys. Bullshit factor number 1. It sounds impressive and potentially scares the hell out of your non-medical school graduate. Your psychiatrist will trot this kind of medical vocabulary to keep you in line.

Bullshit factor number 2 to the medically uneducated is the “larger than normal brain volumes.” Well, that sounds scary in this context because the research is signaling alarm, but come on, shouldn’t larger than normal brain volume be preferable to “smaller than normal brain volume?” Where is the actual problem here? Bigger volume, more room to think and make connections? Right? Who says it’s wrong? Bullshit factor number 3 is that the NIMH funded this study. The NIMH is strenuously looking into the magic bullet solution for schizophrenia and other serious mental health problems. It pays lip service to complementary and alternative mental health solutions. Bullshit factor number 4 is that so far, there is no identified gene for schizophrenia, so to my medically uneducated brain, there is no established genetic risk for schizophrenia. If my mother suffered from a mental health problem, no doubt I would have psychological problems myself from interacting with her (see my blog portrait) but don’t try to pin genetics on this. Try blaming the environment instead.

Unfortunately, these kind of research findings find their way into the public consciousness and are of no help to anyone actually wanting to recover from their diagnosis.

J. Gilmore. “Prenatal and neonatal brain structure and white matter maturation in children at high risk for schizophrenia.” American Journal of Psychiatry, published in advance online, June 1,2010.

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.”