Thursday, September 8, 2011

The King is wearing no clothes, and I bought his suit!

More commentary in the Guardian on wearing the the new black in Europe (a mental health diagnosis).

A new survey from the European College of Psychopharmacology, a meta-analysis of a gathered mass of earlier research, reports that a staggering 164.8 million Europeans – 38.2% of the population – suffer from a mental disorder in any year

A couple of thoughts came to mind when I read the article. One, is that there is no mention of schizophrenia. By omitting "schizophrenia," it's an easy sell to convince readers that, yes indeed, the mental health industry has gone too far in labelling everyone because these labels can be short hand terms that we toss around for people we are just trying to make a bit of fun of, and who we really don't think are "clinical."

Of course, the prevalence of schizophrenia is the same as it's always been (about 1 in 100), so it appears that schizophrenia is not part of this label creep. But the prevalence of its near identical sibling, bipolar disorder, has skyrocketed. I think a large part of this upward trend for bipolar, is not just the resulting side effects of increased use of drugs which can trigger mania, but has to do with the fact that nobody wants to be called "schizophrenic." It's so much more acceptable to be "bipolar."

Keep in mind that psychiatrists want to OWN schizophrenia. It's their bread and butter, after all. So far, they manage to deliberately obscure the fact that many people actually RECOVER from this state, usually by taking themselves outside of the psychiatric model of the so-called "disease." When the public appears to catch on to this diagnostic label creep for relatively mild neuroses, psychiatry has always succeeded in the past and will continue to succeed in future, to convince the public that schizophrenia is a true mental illness. And, the public will nod its collective head in agreement that schizophrenia is a terrible scourge and there is no remedy but compassion for this dreadful disorder of the brain.

With all the focus on biochemical solutions to the problems of the psyche, brought to you by none other than big pharma, I have been waiting for my chance to repeat what John McCarthy ruefully says (in his delightful Irish way) about his reliance on psychiatry for 20/30 years. "The King is wearing is no clothes and I bought his suit." Please read the full interview at Beyond Meds.

In the interview, McCarthy echoes Ron Unger's post, about trying too hard to recover.

McCarthy says: "But God what I have learned from the upside: madness is an emotional feeling just like joy, love, happiness, sadness, all the others, but I shut the door in its face as I was taught to do. Rejected all it had to give, and it, madness got mad at me. I fought it, it fought back and it won. I learned so painfully and slowly, to let it in, be comfortable with it, and it has rewarded me for my kindness to it.

Beautifully said.


  1. Rossa,

    You wrote:

    "... psychiatry has always succeeded in the past and will continue to succeed in future, to convince the public that schizophrenia is a true mental illness."

    Call me an optimist, but I believe that the public is beginning to change their views on this subject. I think the recovery movement has a long way to go, but due to the Internet, social media, and the work of those like Robert Whitaker, I believe people are beginning to see this diagnosis of "schizophrenia" in a different light.

    In other words, I believe that in the not-so-distant future, recovery (thriving, actually) will become the norm.

    Call me an optimist.

    Duane Sherry

  2. That's at least two optimists, here, you and me. I totally agree. Things are changing. We must continue to be vigilant, to make sure the message gets through.

  3. Hi Rossa,

    Haven't posted in a while. I was a little put off, I guess, by a comment you made about my humor in my last comment, which was interesting because I didn't think I used any! It was loooong ago, I'm sorry I can't reference it. I had corrected you that the B'ham I sign off as is Birmingham, Alabama, not England, and then you said something about people not getting my humor. Anyway, it was, I think, a misunderstanding of sorts between us.

    Moving on, I have nevertheless been meaning to return to this site to highly recommend an author of fiction who I have been familiar with up until now in only a superficial way. Walker Percy for me is one of the greatest writers of the 20th century (he died in 1990). I have just finished reading my second Percy novel, "The Second Coming." I won't take this opportunity to try to capture all that the book meant to me, but I will say one of the characters, a young woman, was diagnosed schizophrenic and was in an institution. She overheard her visiting parents tell the psychiatrist that she stood to inherit some money, stole several hundred dollars from her mother's purse, saw her opportunity, and escaped. The adventure begins.

    A tighter work is his "The Moviegoer" where the main character battles everydayness and having malaise, and becoming a malaisian (I loved that). In short, these two books have and continue to blow me away. Their philosophical/religious underpinning is awesome.

    "The Second Coming" does not ever treat schizophrenia as a medical condition.

    I read it in a day and a half.


  4. B'ham - I'll look up these book suggestions. Moral of this story is that if I am going to attempt humor, I should become a better writer. Without getting stuck again, the remark wasn't intended to say you have a humor impediment, it was more a heads up about British humor often being taken literally by their neighbors across the pond. You were moving to Washington, D.C., right? I'll stick to the knitting, in future, to be on the safe side.

  5. Ohhh, that explains it. I'm sorry as well.

    And hopefully I think I will get some of the humor as a close relative of mine was from England, and I have relatives there.

    Another word about the book(s) - it is a Southern book, dealing with life in the South (or at least referring to it) during some periods of times that were, to short-cut it, intense if you were not white. I'll just put it that way. I am very familiar with Southern literature, so I'm not put off by racial references and so forth, but others may be. Walker Percy is not a racist, that is not what I mean - but he writes frankly. And I'll just leave it at that.


  6. I figured you were British, since I thought you were from Birmingham, England, so my mind leapt to thinking you were moving from England to the USA. I never even thought of Alabama. As I said, I'd best stick to the knitting.


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