April 13, 2006: I'm not much of a talker...Some of the most intense and profound things that are inside of me and that need to be expressed somehow, are just not accessible to words. If at all, they find their expression in music, writing, images....
And so it is with considerable respect and an unspoken understanding that I have been trying since January to "connect" with an older patient on the "ward." I'll call him Elder.
Elder has been diagnosed with chronic, paranoid schizophrenia for most of his adult life. At over 70 years of age, he has been in/out of psychiatric hospitals since at least age 20.
Read more... Xhavana: Talking
April 17, 2006: Elder spoke to me today!! Actually spoke -- a conversation! He gifted me with the sound of his voice and the acknowledgement of my presence...
I am on Cloud 9.
Read more... Xhavana: Unexpected Gifts
May 08, 2006: I spied the nursing staff of the psychiatric intensive care unit in the public hallway. They were adjusting restraint belts on two hospital beds.
“Hello!” one of them greeted me. The rest of them looked up and smiled as I waved. “We haven’t seen you in a while; how are things?”
“Well,” I replied, my eyes watching them tear apart the velcro and unhinge the buckles. “I recently came off of nights.” I faltered for a moment and then asked the obvious question: “What are you all doing?”
“We’re running through restraint practices,” one of them replied. It was so weird to see her at that time of day; the last time I saw her was around 1:00am on a random weeknight.
“Hey,” I suggested in measured words, “can you restrain me? Just so I know what it’s like?”
Read more... Intueri: Five Point Restraints
May 08, 2006: We doctors get a lot of exposure to pharmaceutical representatives. They bring us samples. They bring us food. They give us pens, pads, clocks, calculators, tote bags, etc. They send us to San Diego. They provide us with "educational opportunities" in the form of dinner lectures, meetings, articles, impromptu informal conversations over free breakfasts.
What do they get in return for all these gifts they so generously hand out? Our ears. Our minds. Our business. They get to tell us about their drug and how great it is, how it beats out the competition hands down. They flash graphs at us while we spread cream cheese on our bagel. They leave us articles we never read. They give us trinkets with names of drugs on them in hopes of subliminally influencing us in our prescribing practices. We hand out their samples, which may or may not be the most appropriate drug for the situation (I have seen some wildly inappropriate uses) and may or may not increase our use of said drug.
Most docs I know claim that they aren't affected by this deluge of biased "information". They say they prescribe what they think is right, based on their own research or experience. This may be true, but I ask you; if Pharmarama didn't get something from their efforts, something they could put in the bank, why would they continue to do what they do? They wouldn't. And they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on us. This is a gazillion dollar industry we're talking about. They wouldn't continue to make these "investments" if it wasn't worth it to them.
Read more... Pegspot: Do I LOOK Like A Drug Whore?
May 15, 2006: TAC is Fuller Torrey's non-profit that goes around demonizing all mentally-ill Americans on the basis of the violent behavior of a few. Torrey is a controversial figure in psychiatry. He believes that a virus present in cat shit is the source of schizophrenia. I am not kidding. He has also spent much of his career accusing schizophrenics and bipolars of being John Hinkleys-in-waiting. He is also the author of the best-selling Surviving Schizophrenia. He is quoted in the press probably more than any other single expert on mental illness. He and his colleagues are powerful and argue for outpatient commitment laws before public bodies.
Here's what Torrey fails to mention. From the abstract itself: "Violence was classified at 2 severity levels: minor violence, corresponding to simple assault without injury or weapon use; and serious violence, corresponding to assault resulting in injury or involving use of a lethal weapon, threat with a lethal weapon in hand, or sexual assault."
Minor violence was reported in 15.5 percent of the cases or with 217 people. Serious violence was reported in 3.6 percent of the cases or in 49 people of the 1,400 in this study. I don't know about you, but I don't feel like seeing discussions about how we grapple with mental illness in this society being driven by 49 people out of 4,000 people in the entire fucking study.
Read more... Furious Seasons: Fuller Torrey is Dangerous
May 17, 2006: This is the sign of a hard person - he is dull stupid, mechanical. He may be a good computer, but he is not a man. You do something and he reacts in a well established way. His reaction is predictable; he is a robot.
The real man acts spontaneously. If you ask him a question, your question gets a response, not a reaction. He opens his heart to your question, exposes himself to your question, responds to it...
The whole effort of Zen is how to drop this schizophrenia, how to drop this split personality, how to drop the individual mind of man, how to become undivided, integrated, centered, crystalized.
Read more... Silent Awareness
See also: Sophia: Greatest of Exiles
May 17, 2006: Something is missing in our hard wiring and many, like author Bob Larson in his book Extreme Evil: Kids Killing Kids (1999), believe it is a “God thing,” the absence of spiritual roots. Whether you are religious or not, the “God thing” can be translated into one word, love. Love is missing in such warped lives, and love cannot live when the soul is killed. And the soul is killed when there is no time for caring.
Read more... The Present Ridiculous
May 24, 2006: Some time ago I met a psychiatrist who had an unusual theory about the causes of mental illness. He wanted us to do two MRI scans on a patient to prove his theory. When I told him that we were not yet able to do that in individuals, he was indignant, “But you’ve published all those studies showing abnormal brain structure in schizophrenia.” I explained that all the brain imaging studies have told us quite a lot about groups of people with mental illness, but little about individuals. I do not know of any academic psychiatrists anywhere in the world who think that we can yet use PET, SPECT, fMRI or MRI scans for diagnosis of mental illness.
Read more... A New Atlas Promises Breakthroughs
June 12, 2006: In keeping with my recent theme of entrepreneurship in medicine, I'm posting about another money-raising venture related to mental health: web sites designed to provide information about physicians. Let me say first that I think patients do have a right to know the qualifications and experience of their doctors. That's really not the issue. The issue I have is that there are businesses out there profiting from patient fear. For example: HealthGrades. This is a company that offers to provide reports about the physician of your choice, including information about internship and residency, hospital affiliations, disciplinary actions and malpractice claims. This is all pertinent information that patients might want to know about their doctors. What this web site doesn't mention is the fact that all this information is already available to you, for free, through your state's medical board. Or you can go to the reference section of your local public library and use the American Board of Medical Specialties to look up information.
Read more... Investigate Your Doc
June 24, 2006: The Unconscious, whether Individual or Collective, communicates with us in symbolic form through dreams and mythology for a reason – most Egos are not capable of facing the truth, reality, and pain that the unconscious reveals to them. Sigmund Freud named the agent of this protective, veiled means of communication the 'Censor', and that term suitably summarises the exact purpose of symbolic communication – to censor the Ego from the harm that comes with exposure to ones deepest truths. Mythology warns us that the Underworld is not a place for the unprepared, and that going there whilst unequipped or inexperienced could have a dire effect upon the Ego. The descent into the underworld represents the symbolic death of the Ego, or more specifically, the parts of the Ego that are required for sacrifice for a greater renewal of Self to occur. This death/rebirth symbolism is again universal to world mythology, be it in the form of Odhinn’s sacrifice to himself on Yggdrasil, Lleu’s death and transformation at the hands of Gronw and Gwydion in the Mabinogion, or the rebirth of Mithras from his cavernous tomb.
Read More ... The Shattered Realm
July 29, 2006: One evening in 1965, my mother finally got the courage and strength to stand up to my father and the live-in girl. She insisted the relationship end and the girl find a new home. My father was outraged and told my mother she was “crazy.” As the evening progressed, the arguing continued to the point where my mother was out of control crying. My father said [he] had heard enough and was taking her to the hospital “to get a shot” because she was “crazy.”
Unfortunately, a lot of the trips to the ER for “the shot” ended up that my mother would be admitted to the hospital for evaluation, then be kept there anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. At the time, this hospital had a psychiatric unit. My father found this quite handy.
My father convinced the ER doctors that she was “crazy” for no reason. He never told them that he had a live in teenage girlfriend, which would have been the cause for her behavior.
Read more... Hospitalization: A Different Facet
August 20, 2006: Birmingham Psychiatrist Dr. Hiebold Moranis was recently stripped of his credentials and permanently banned from Psychiatric practice because of his record of curing patients rather than “treating” their symptoms. His actions were deemed contrary to modern psychiatric practice by the licensing board and by the Psychiatric Profit Society.
The licensing bureau’s statement says it all. “We can’t have just anyone going around and ‘curing’ patients, now can we?” stated the Dr. Steven Dubiouski of the licensing bureau, “I mean really, how do we know that his patients were cured? Just because they feel better, go back to work and have successful lives is no reason to not give them a lifetime of psychiatric treatment. With standard psychiatric treatment, cure is impossible but you can be assured that they will be in treatment for the rest of their lives, which, of course, is better for everyone. When someone is cured and released, you just never know what might happen. They are free to do anything they want. They might even run for parliament, or might someday have something else go wrong. Under psychiatric care, we avoid all this mystery, because the person will always be a mental patient, simple, stress-free, and will be supporting the industry that got him where he is, psychiatry and drug companies. Surely anyone with half a brain fried by ECT or drugs can see that.”
Read more... Psychiatrist Ousted for Curing Patients
September 1, 2006: Dressed in pyjamas, we are a group of campaigners who are pushing a psychiatric bed from Mill View Psychiatric Hospital in Brighton 60 miles to the original site of ‘Bedlam,’ the Bethlem asylum in London.
The Great Escape Bed Push aims to raise awareness about the poor levels of choice of treatments and the widespread use of force used in the psychiatric hospitals. The Great Escape Bed Push Team believe, in its current state, psychiatric care often makes people’s problems worse and that the use of unnecessary force is on the increase.
Forcing patients to take medication against their will is a spirit-breaking practice. It can put someone off mental health services for life, as it breaks down trust between staff and the individual they are supposed to be taking care of.Many of the campaigners have been in-patients who have witnessed and experienced the use of forced drug treatment. They are joined by nurses and others concerned by the emphasis on control in psychiatry and the lack of therapeutic activities. We are campaigning for more meaningful activities in hospitals, access to alternative therapies, more accountability about levels of force used in psychiatry and more alternatives to hospital admission provided (e.g. crisis houses).
-- Dr Rufus May, Clinical Psychologist and former patient.
Read more... The Great Escape Bed Push
February 14, 2007: What Psych Drugs Did to Me...
They put me in the medical hospital
They took me out of the mental hospital.
They brought me up from my depression
They brought me down down from my mania.
They made me shuffle when I walked
They made me mumble when I talked
They made my legs swing.
They made my neck spasm
They made me poop less
They made me pee more.
They upset my tummy
They irritated my lungs
They made me walk slow as molasses
They made me pace the floor
They made me drool
They made me stick out my tongue
They made me sit as still as a rock
They made me sit and rock
They gave me problems with my joints
They made me lose lots of hair
They gave me insomnia
They gave me nightmares
They made my blood pressure drop
They made my triglycerides rise
They made my mouth dry
They made my hands shake
Most of all they gave me Tardive Dyskinesia/Tardive Dystonia
These pills were supposed to:
Help me talk better
Help me relate and reason better
Help me sleep better
Never once did they do anything they were supposed to do.
Read More...Spirit Within