Monday, September 20, 2010

Why I feel psychiatry is an abuse

Psychiatry, which actually does know better, tells everybody's story but the patient's. Psychiatry, largely rejecting R.D. Laing, Thomas Szasz, Soteria, and patient inspired approaches, finds itself in thrall to the drug rep's story, the thrilling story of Novartis, AstraZeneca and Bristol-Meyers-Squib. The pharmaceutical companies tell the story of guys under the bridge, who miraculously "start talking sense" after a course of their drugs. What happens to these guys under the bridge? Well, supposedly they are not cured, because drug companies and doctors don't believe in cure, only management. Perhaps they are now living out their lives in half way houses or are back under the bridge. We'll never know, will we? Psychiatry seems to keep poor records of what happens to its patients in the long run. If they did, we might be hearing a different story, the story Robert Whitaker tells in Anatomy of an Epidemic.

Psychiatry and drug companies don't allow families to tell their stories. Families ask for help, and despite the fact that psychiatry does know better, we are told that there is no cure, that we are not to blame, that the patient has a damaged brain. Just trust in us, they tell us, and we will manage the problem. But, they don't, do they? Usually, the problem gets worse.

Psychiatry knows better, but it lost the plot years ago. Remember Mark Vonnegut, the son of Kurt Vonnegut who wrote a really good story about his psychotic break (The Eden Express). In the book, Vonnegut credits a lot of his initial recovery to the vitamins that he took.* Fast forward a few editions of the book and he expresses regret that he ever said that. I was really puzzled about why he turned his back on vitamin support and his healthy skeptcism of the medical profession, until I realized that in the intervening time, he had gone to medical school, where he no doubt learned that vitamins couldn't possibly be responsible for his recovery. He became one of "them." I always thought that Mark Vonnegut had a psychotic break or two and then recovered. Apparently, this is not the case. He actually suffers from what appears to be tardive dyskinesia from the drugs that he subsequently opted for in favor of the medical paradigm.**

*From In his book, The Eden Express, Mark Vonnegut, the son of novelist Kurt Vonnegut described his experience with schizophrenic delusions. Standard psychotherapy was unable to help him, and most of his doctors said his case was hopeless. Then Vonnegut went to the Brain Bio Center and "the biochemists said otherwise. They fixed me up with embarrassingly inexpensive, simple, nonprescription pills. Vitamins mostly."

**This information was gleaned from an address that Mark Vonnegut gave in 2003 at a NAMI convention. Unfortunately, it is no longer available at this link. In his speech he refers to the side effects of the drugs he takes.


  1. Vitamins, nutrition, acupuncture, exercise - it is too easy and inexpensive. It CAN'T work if it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
    My daughter was in the very "best" hospitals and treatment centers in the US. After tossing her, none of them have inquired how she is fairing. They have asked for more money, but not where she is and what she is doing. My dogs have been seen by a holistic vet for years, they do better follow-up than any of these psychiatric institutions.
    Maybe Vonnegut followed the money...

  2. You would think psychiatric hospitals and programs would be interested in knowing how their "graduates" fare down the road. That job only seemed to interest Courtney Harding (the Vermont study) to track down the people who were years earlier in the back wards of the state hospital.

  3. Is this the same Mark Vonnegut as in this video, where he hems and haws about ADHD? Oy vey, he really went over to the dark side, didn't he?

  4. Rossa,

    Had never heard the Vonnegut story before... Interesting.

    So, you "feel psychiatry is an abuse?"

    Well, it's obvious from your blog, you've done the research.

    I say trust your gut.


    P.S. - It's abuse!

  5. Like an old patient,just like Mark Vonnegut, of Dr. Carl Pfeiffer from the Princeton Brain Bio Center, I was very dissapointed when I finished to read "The Eden Express". In my edition and in a note at the end of the book he said that he no more supported the orthomolecular therapy.

    I think that without dr. Pfeiffer therapy he probably was not be able to finish his career like a medical peditrician. Study a hard career with a conventional dose of neuroleptics is almost impossible.

    I meet last time dr. Pfeiffer in May 1988 and I have followed since then his prescription of vitamins, minerals and amino acids and a very low dose of Haldol. Some months later he died.

    Without dr. Pfeiffer and the orthomolecular medicine I would not be able to work until the last July and probably I would be dead some time ago. Now I am 65 years and retired. During all these years I have some relapses but I always returned to dr. Pfeiffer prescriptions.

    Dr. Pfeiffer mentionned in some of his books to Mark Vonnegut like an example of the succes of his therapy. The last book of dr. Pfeiffer was the 1.987 "Nutrition and Mental Illnes" and is still in print.

    Mark Vonnegut has wrotten his memoirs and is going to be publish next.

    Excuse me my english, I write from my country: Spain.

  6. Anonymous - It's great to hear about your own experience with Dr. Pfeiffer and the orthomolecular approach. Your testimonial means a lot to other people. Duane - I will try again to find Vonnegut's address to NAMI and reprint it here. Strange, though that it is no longer available... He says very clearly that he trembles and shakes from the medications he is taking. Kimbriel - Thanks for the YouTube link. I had to cut short my viewing and will be interested to listen to it in its entirety.

  7. Rossa,

    If you can find it, that would be great!

    Thank you,


  8. Duane - Darn, I keep looking for that article and my suspicions tell me that it is gone forever. I've tried just googling the article under a variety of different key words and have turned up nothing.

  9. Rossa,

    Thanks anyway.
    It's nice to see a blog out there that mentions Orthomolecular Medicine, and shows the appreciation for it that you do.

    I really believe in taking lots of supplements, and also herbs. They really help, in so many areas - prevention of disease, overall functioning - mind and body.

    Be well,


  10. Rossa,

    I searched for the address to NAMI by Mark Vonnegut, but came up with a dead link to a NAMI Massachussets site... Apparently, he made the speech back in 2003, and now the link is no longer active... Oh well.

    I remember reading his dad's (Kurt Vonnegut)book, Slaughterhouse Five... His dad's history is impressive - a WWII prisoner, witnessed the bombing of Dresden... He had quite a sense of humor, which helped him survive.

    You have an interesting site... Always something new!


  11. Thanks for the nice compliment. I try to vary the output. I agree, Mark Vonnegut had a good sense of humor. The Eden Express is very funny. My feeling about his breakdown was that he was taking a load of psychelic drugs and it was kind of obvious that he went on an extended trip. It made me feel bad at first, since my son's breakdown wasn't drug-related. The reason I felt bad is that doctors try to tell you that if it isn't drug-related, you are really doomed. Anyway, I got over that one by deciding it was nonsense.

  12. Rossa,

    Well, I tend to think there is something physical going on behind these "breakdowns," and although this may seem like double-talk to some, it's just what I've come to believe.

    In other words, trauma can be behind a psychotic episode, and so can something physical - ie, drugs - legal/illegal, over-the-counter drugs, just the changes in the body/mind of a young person, stress, lack of sleep, all kinds of things.

    Some in the anti-psychiatry group are quick to point out that there is no chemical imbalance. I say, nobody can prove a chemical imbalance, and nobody can disprove it either.

    I think the brain can become imbalanced chemically... Trauma can do that for sure, it would seem... So can lack of nutrients, lack of sleep, reaction to stress, etc... Or so it would seem to me.

    As you know, some people are really down on "blaming the brain.".... I tend to think that the brain may be the problem, temporarily, at least.... especially if someoneone's been on psych drugs, or has nutritionial deficiciences, sensitivities to the chemicals in a worksite, the list is long....

    The difference in my way of thinking, I suppose is that I don't think any of it is permanent, or that any of it is incurable. Period!

    Who says a person can't have some faulty "brain chemistry" that can be repaired naturally, huh? With sleep, nutrients, exercise, etc...

    And as much as I can appreciate the trauma argument behind "mental illness"... I think it can lead to something just as dangerous as "blame the brain"... namely, "blame the parent."

    Some kids go through trauma that may have very little or nothing to do with home environment... Some kids are traumatized outside the home, and some trauma is subtle, not so easy to find... Otherwise, it would seem to me that we wouldn't have brothers and sisters... one of whom is diagnosed with a "mental illness", the other not....

    Sometimes, it can be the parents... without question. But in those cases, who's to say that the parent can't learn to improve, do better? A lot like the "blame the brain" issue... Rather than "blame the parent", it would seem to make sense to work on making the family stronger, and healthier, just as any of us can do with our own brains, our own bodies.

    I don't know, Rossa... I don't have all the answers...

    Other than, I hate psychiatric drugs, and conventional psychiatry... and "advocacy" groups who continue to perpetuate the myth that people can't get well. Of course they can.... Any of us can grow, and be better and stronger today than we were yesterday. That's what it's about, I think.

    You really do have a wonderful blog!

    My best,


  13. Goods points, and a remember that when it comes to physical and mental health, it is good not to put all your eggs in one basket. The body influences the mind and the mind the body. I have mentioned Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt's pyramid of healing many times. He believes that addressing the mental situation through psychspiritual therapies changes the brain chemistry, but he also believes that you should pump as many nutrients into the body at the same time. I hope others see your comment because it will help them understand the optimism here.

  14. Duane: I agree that whatever we experience in life leaves its mark both in body and mind. And I can follow your chain of reasoning that whenever body and mind are experiencing extreme states they're not balanced. I'm hesitant though to call these marks "imbalances", as they seem to me to be perfectly balanced with the experience that left them, and as "imbalance" suggests "wrong". And I don't think there's anything "wrong" about an extreme, "imbalanced" response to an extreme, out of balance experience. This is what psychiatry wants us to believe, that whatever the experience, everybody should remain completely unaffected and nonreactive, and that whoever doesn't needs to be fixed, in fact zombified.

    There's life on this planet, because all life that is on it has the ability to react to its environment. A life form that is unable to react to its environment is also unable to survive. Whether it's a cell facing a change in the organism it is part of, or whether it is a human being facing a (hungry) tiger, for instance. Remaining unaffected and nonreactive in such a situation may well result in death. Nature has equipped us with the ability to become "imbalanced", and react in order to secure our survival. Actually, when I thought about this earlier today, I came to think of the phrase "survival of the fittest", and I thought, wait a minute, they tell us we're sick, weak, unfit, when all we do is react, out of a maybe even greater ability to do so than the average person has, while, in fact, we may be some of the healthiest, strongest, fittest human beings on the planet...

    Apart from that admittedly a little élitist thought (but it's they who want us to be genetically-biologically different, isn't it? :D ), it is always a lot more empowering for people to be told that what makes them weak in the eyes of the world (and themselves) may as well be seen as a strength, rather than an "imbalance", with the prefix "im" implying something wrong, a weakness.


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