Mind you that I am not a lot of things: a fan of big drug companies and their profiteering, a believer in ECT, or a supporter of involuntary commitment without evidence of danger to self or others. But I have little tolerance for the stigma from within the body of the afflicted, from those who refuse to take medications because they are so caught up in their mental illness that they are thralls to their disease.
Here is what I wrote, in part, in response to someone who has been making the rounds of bipolar and therapeutic blogs in a crusade to insult us by association with the psychiatric profession.
Read more... Pax Nortona: Response to a Refusenik
That's Joel. He's referring to me. I ran into him via that conversation with psychiatrist #2. Anyway, he's got me thinking about something...
I read a comment the other day that Loren Mosher -- a highly devoted psychiatrist -- was in fact, an "anti-psychiatrist". I, too, am apparently an anti-psychiatrist, even though I have two blogs packed to the rim with quotes and links from psychiatrists I sincerely admire. What's more, I seem to be encountering and finding numerous others who are also anti-psychiatrists, even if they're psychiatrists. On reflection, it seems to me that being an anti-psychiatrist isn't really about being a psychiatrist or sincerely admiring any of them. It seems to me that it's about this...
"...they can get by without the medications."
That's the critical identifying characteristic; an anti-psychiatrist is someone who can get by without medication. Loren Mosher did it, John Weir Perry did it, Jaakko Seikkula is doing it, I did it, many others have done it, and still others are doing it right this very moment. What's more, many of them are doing it very well. I haven't figured out all the rules yet but I think that being an "anti-psychiatrist" is supposed to be a very bad thing. The important thing is, if you see me in the lunch room you probably shouldn't sit at my table -- after all, it might be catching!
I once met a woman who said that she "hated" people like me; "people like me" being people who get well without medication. Interesting, isn't it? Not having taken medication is enough to get me hated and labelled as someone who "thinks psychiatry is evil... a miniature Tom Cruise without Scientology... a proponent of anti-psychiatry ... a declarer of a magical remedy... droning like a cricket whose one word is chirp... on a crusade to insult us by association with the psychiatric profession."
Perhaps, a bit of history is worth repeating: When I went through my experience I didn't know that what I was going through was considered a "schizophrenic break". As a result, I didn't go to the hospital. Instead, I went into the experience and found that to be enormously helpful and incredibly insightful. More than a year passed before I actually had a name for that experience. By then, I was certainly no longer in a state of psychosis. People don't take an aspirin for a headache they had a year ago and I couldn't see any reason why I should take anti-psychotic medication for a state of psychosis that was over and done with. Besides, I couldn't afford to hire a psychiatrist and even if I could, the local one had a waiting list that was eight months long. Quite honestly, I'm glad that's the way it went. I seem to have made it through without medications and I'm not comfortable with what I'm learning about them now.
There are, of course, many people in the world who go through psychotic episodes without taking anti-psychotic medication, just as there are many women who give birth without pain medication. There are a multitude of reasons for why a woman might do so: she might be concerned about side effects; she may have had an unpleasant experience previously; she might believe it's her moral duty to suffer; she might find the presence of loved ones helps her cope quite effectively; she might believe a drug-free birth will be best for her baby; she might find the pain tolerable; she might not think to ask; she might not be aware that it's an option; she might not have the option available at all. Can anyone come up with a good reason why a woman should be considered evil or deserving of hatred under any of those circumstances?
For what it's worth, here's my stance on medication, schizophrenia, psychosis, and recovery.
Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Recovery, The Recovery Based Model, Hope for Schizophrenia Sufferers