Monday, May 31, 2010

Depression by e-mail and debilitating body odors

Science lite From the Boston Globe.

Screening college students for depression with an e-mailed questionnaire may be a promising way to track levels of mental health on campus. But connecting students with help looks more challenging, according to new research that also found depression rates higher among college students than in the general population. Irene Shyu and a team from Massachusetts General Hospital distributed a depression questionnaire at four unidentified colleges in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and California, using e-mail lists provided by student groups. A total of 631 students agreed to take the survey for a chance to win a $200 gift card.

There's a sucker born every minute. The survey found that the rate of major depression in those surveyed was higher than the rate in the general public (about four percentage points higher.)

She's at it again

For some people, worrying about bad breath or body odor can be so extreme they become housebound or suicidal, a Brown University researcher reported this week. Even though others can’t detect any smell, the preoccupation persisted among the 20 people whose cases Dr. Katharine A. Phillips described at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in New Orleans.

“Patients suffer tremendously as a result of this false belief and they appear to be very impaired,’’ she said.

I think I see where Dr. Phillips is heading. I've cut and pasted her previous infomercial from the New York Times on the subject of debilitating underbites.

The good news is that there are treatments that can help. The scientific research that’s been done indicates that serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications (for example, escitalopram, fluoxetine or fluvoxamine) and cognitive behavioral therapy are helpful for a majority of people with B.D.D. More research is needed on these treatments and on other types of therapy, but this is good news for people who suffer from this distressing, impairing and sometimes disabling disorder.

Oh I wish I were picketing down at the American Psychiatric Association Convention in New Orleans. That would be time well spent.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ramped up

In his latest book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, Robert Whitaker looks at the Open Dialogue program in Western Lapland (Finland) and can't quite put his finger on why these group meetings generally in the person's home are so effective. (The number of new cases annually in this region show an astonishing 90% drop from the 1980s.)

Without knowing this program either, but having spent two years in another program in Europe which thought it was cutting edge, I will offer some thoughts. First of all, the initial Open Dialogue meeting takes place usually in the person's home within twenty-four hours of reported psychotic behavior. If the psychotic person jumps up and leaves the room, he is encouraged to listen in to the conversation even if not physically present in the room. (The open door policy.) Medication is not usually discussed in the first few meetings and often is not recommended at all.

Whitaker claims that the Open Dialogue concept of psychosis doesn't fit into either the biological or psychological category. It is familiar to me because it is very much like the Family Constellation Therapy that Bert Hellinger and others espouse. "Psychosis does not live in the head. It lives in the in-between of family members, and the in-between of people," Salo explained. "It is in the relationship and the one who is psychotic makes the bad situation visible. He or she 'wears the symptoms' and has the burden to carry them."

As a parent, would this concept of the origin of psychosis make me feel better or worse about the situation compared to the group meetings that I went to with the family in the psychiatrist's offices? There, psychosis was considered something foreign to everybody, family and patient included. It was something that just "happened," like becoming diabetic or discovering that your house was burgled. Medications were part of the deal, and were insisted on. I'll put my money on better outcomes in Lapland.

The program we were involved with made me feel anxious. I am sure that the families are anxious in Lapland, too, but it seems like the situation is diffused rather quickly within the privacy of the home. We suffered through the horror of thinking that my son's brain was inexplicably damaged, we were led to believe that the doctors held the key and that there was nothing that we could have done to prevent this or to get over this. (There's no cure, right?) We were also encouraged to attend meetings with other parents who, naturally, were worried about their children - and it showed. It was a climate of fear. Then the side effects of the drugs quickly became apparent - leading to more fear and a sense of doom.

The "problem" had been escalated by dragging it under a bigger spotlight instead of containing it and working through it where it arose - in the home. A massive case of over-reaction to a problem of living.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Times and thinking change (again)

Today's meeting with all three psychiatrists was to confirm Dr. Stern as the sole psychiatrist from here forward. We agreed that Dr. Stern could handle both the medication and the psychotherapy. Chris ended up with an extra psychiatrist after he left the hospital last May so that Dr. Stern could concentrate on the psychotherapy without having to always be checking on the med situation. The second psychiatrist has been bringing her boss to these meetings.

We discussed taking Chris off one of the two medications and all psychiatrists agreed that one medication was better than two. I was wondering if I heard this right. Up until now, the psychiatrists here have been saying that two are better than one, and suddenly, now they agree that one is just as good as two. This is what I have been saying for the past five years, and what psychiatrists in North America have been starting to say. This is encouraging, indeed.

Ian seems to be convinced that Chris will not relapse as long as he's on the drugs, but Dr. Stern was of the opinion that Chris's recent relapse may not have been related to going off the drugs. She felt that the relapse may have been more linked to the stress of our wanting him to go back to university away from home. I was delighted to hear her say this, that getting off meds doesn't always imply relapse. More to the point, she can see a time when Chris may no longer be on any medication.

We agreed that should Chris ever relapse, we would intervene early, and involve a short term therapy program where medications wouldn't necessarily be used.

Progress has been made.

From Slate Magazine

The Three Christs of Ypsilanti
In one sense, Rokeach's book reflects a remarkably humane approach for its era. We are asked to see ourselves in the psychiatric patients, at a time when such people were regularly locked away and treated as incomprehensible objects of pity rather than individuals worthy of empathy. Rokeach's constant attempts to explain the delusions as understandable reactions to life events require us to accept that the Christs have not "lost contact" with reality, even if their interpretations are more than a little uncommon.

A cookbook for memories of sexual abuse
In the summer of 1990, Elizabeth Loftus got a phone call from an attorney in San Francisco. A man named George Franklin had been charged with murdering a child, based on the recollection of his daughter, Eileen. Loftus, a psychologist, had testified in dozens of cases about the fallibility of eyewitness memory. But this case was different. The murder had happened 21 years earlier. Eileen's purported memory, however, was less than a year old. According to the prosecution, she had repressed it.

Truth or Consequences? Exploiting psychology in law and advertising
But Loftus was more than a trainee. She was a trainer. She had learned how to make people remember and believe things, and this knowledge was as useful to advertisers as it was to lawyers. Her only qualm about manipulation was that people might be harmed. And advertising didn't strike her as terribly harmful. Most advertisers, she and her colleagues noted, were "unlikely to try to plant a negative memory, as has been the issue with false memories of childhood abuse."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The idiocracy of social specialization

Either because of greed, or an overspecialized view of the world, people allow that lens to color whatever impinges on their senses, to force answers to fit that view, rather that seek solutions without preconceived notions, or from other perspectives. That's why a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving is catching on. (The First Domino)

My father was a radar technician during World War II who spent time in the jungles of Burma with the Royal Air Force. We heard few stories from the war, but one thing he did share was that when the radar didn't work, he was expected to fix it himself in the jungle using whatever ingenuity he could muster. The Americans, on the other hand, would fix the equipment back at the base and parachute in the new radar equipment. My father admired the American approach. On the other hand, what would happen if one day the drop-off failed to happen? Nevertheless, when it comes to products, specialization seems to make sense.

There are plusses and minuses to everything. In my lifetime I have witnessed a steady increase in social segregation which is touted as "specialization." It strikes me that it long ago reached the level of idiocy. Lateral, all-encompassing solutions seem rare these days. The elementary school system is a prime example of the trend to social isolation. In the eighties and nineties most of the kids in my sons' classes wore some kind of label. There were "the gifted" and "special needs". There was French immersion (segregating the ambitious middle class from the supposedly "less intelligent" children, poor children, immigrant children and the handicapped), there were these really specific learning difficulties that all seemed to relate to auditory and visual processing skills. We didn't think to call it stigma, we called it "progress".

The kids that were specialized were stigmatized by those who weren't members of that particular group and vice versa. While nobody "seemed" harmed by this, it got the momentum going for seeing the world through a prism. And so we end up with doctors diagnosing "Body Dysmorphic Disorder" with a straight face.

It is hard to pinpoint where this school yard segregation all leads to because the graduates are dispersed across the population, but it is a disaster, I am convinced, when it comes to segregating mental health. The difference is that with a mental health label you get a drug and you further self-stigmatize by joining with groups of people with whom you share a "problem." Buy a tee-shirt and proudly proclaim you're bipolar or the sister of a bipolar (Glenn Close). How exactly is this going to decrease stigma? It totally takes the spotlight off the need for the medical profession to clean up its act by encouraging everybody to be abnormal and to roll in it. I have long maintained that there would be no stigma if people were encouraged to get well. Where's the money in that?

I hope, as The First Domino suggests, that a multidisciplinary approach is catching on. I think Chris's psychiatrist, Dr. Stern, gets it. She is now proposing some alternative healers herself.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Not everybody's good looking

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Jeff's underbite is now an abbreviation: B.D.D. Jeff needs an orthodontist, not a pychiatrist. (Note that Dr. Phillips thinks her judgement about Jeff is better than Jeff's judgement about Jeff.)

Obsessing About an Underbite

Katharine A. Phillips, M.D. Can concern about an ordinary body flaw like misaligned teeth be a sign of a serious psychiatric disorder? That’s the question explored by Dr. Katharine A. Phillips, a professor of psychiatry at Brown Medical School. Dr. Phillips recently joined the Consults blog to answer readers’ questions about body dysmorphic disorder, a troublesome condition in which people become so obsessed with perceived body defects that they refuse to leave the house or socialize.

Q.I have underbite. I do not have the insurance to correct it and it is a battle to walk out the door every day. I feel like people can see it from two blocks away. It has had a massively negative impact on my life and I feel like I don’t even want to try to achieve anything anymore, because why bother? I will still look like this. I’m not even looking for an answer here, I just wanted to get this off my chest. I wouldn’t wish this upon my worst enemy.

Jeff, Iowa

A.Dr. Phillips responds:

Jeff, you highlight some important points about body dysmorphic disorder, or B.D.D., although without meeting with you I can’t be sure that you have the condition. People with B.D.D. are preoccupied with slight or nonexistent defects or flaws in their appearance, and the preoccupation causes significant distress and can interfere with school, work, relationships or socializing.

Just as you feel that people can see your underbite from two blocks away, many people with B.D.D. have the distressing experience of thinking that other people take special notice of them in a negative way because of how they look — for example, by staring at them, laughing at them or making fun of them. This is an emotionally painful experience that can cause people with B.D.D. to isolate themselves from other people. It can be a clue that a person has body dysmorphic disorder.

You imply that you would like to get surgery — indeed, a majority of people with B.D.D. get cosmetic surgery or dermatologic treatments for their bodily concerns. This is problematic, because research studies indicate that cosmetic treatments usually don’t improve B.D.D. –- and can even make it worse. And people with B.D.D. tend to be dissatisfied with the results of such treatment. In contrast, people who don’t have B.D.D. are typically satisfied with the results of cosmetic treatment.

It makes sense that cosmetic treatment wouldn’t help B.D.D., because the problem in those with the condition isn’t with actual appearance -– rather, it’s a problem of distorted body image. Changing a surface physical feature doesn’t fix the person’s tendency to worry, obsess and over-focus on minor details and imperfections and to see themselves in a distorted way, differently from how other people see them.

Your comments also convey the huge impact that B.D.D. often has on people’s lives. As he says, just walking out the door every day can be a battle. Level of functioning and quality of life vary for people with B.D.D. but on average are very poor.

The good news is that there are treatments that can help. The scientific research that’s been done indicates that serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications (for example, escitalopram, fluoxetine or fluvoxamine) and cognitive behavioral therapy are helpful for a majority of people with B.D.D. More research is needed on these treatments and on other types of therapy, but this is good news for people who suffer from this distressing, impairing and sometimes disabling disorder.

To learn more about B.D.D., see Personal Health columnist Jane Brody’s story “When Your Looks Take Over Your Life.” And please join the discussion below.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Robert Whitaker and alternative mental health

Robert Whitaker's new book, Anatomy of an Epidemic is not about alternative health care per se, although he does write about the Open Dialogue program in Western Lapland and cites studies on exercise for depression. His Mad in America blog also references these two areas. All this is great, if you are a statistic, but it's not enough if you are a real person who wants some practical ideas now. Whitaker's book is a public policy critique. It's not a self-help book.

Most of us do not have the luxury to wait a few decades for societal changes which may or may not happen. We need help now. Unless we are native Laps and haven't had a first psychotic break, it's a little late to treat a first psychotic episode in Lapland. Plus, exercise for depression is like Mom, apple pie and virtue. We all know that exercise is great for depression, but the last thing that many a depressed person or a psychotic person does is want to exercise. They've got to be further along in their recovery before they take up the treadmill.

Many people who read Whitaker's book may be left with the impression that outside of what's happening in Lapland and doing laps for depression, that's about it for alternative help.

Fear not. Most people who recover do it their way. They do whatever it takes. My blog lists the best that my own research has uncovered. Vitamins and mineral supplements in high doses act like drugs - with side benefits, not side effects. Then there are various kinds of psychotherapies - one reader insists that cathartic psychotherapies are the best (and I agree). There is cognitive behavioral therapy that many people say has benefited them. Then there is energy medicine in its many forms. I am a particular fan of the Assemblage Point Shift. It's cheap, non-invasive, shamanic in origin, fun to participate in, and it corrects your energy imbalance in ways that you can see almost instantly. Sound therapy - totally new and exciting. The particular kind of sound therapy that Chris undergoes is very similar to taking LSD under controlled conditions. The medical profession is only beginning to look into LSD as a useful treatment for mental illnesses. You can control your consciousness now by undergoing sound therapy without having to get the blessing of the medical community.

No doubt Robert Whitaker will be writing another book on mental health in America. It would be simply fabulous if his next book is on the subject of how the mental health "industry" has discouraged recovery for those in need by demonizing alternative mental health treatments, practitioners, and out-of-the-box thinkers who challenge the status quo.

Monday, May 24, 2010

WHO said it

From: Pharmacological treatment of mental disorders in primary health care
© World Health Organization 2009

Basic principles of prescribing

1.16 In general, polypharmacy should be avoided. The term polypharmacy defines the concurrent use of two or more medicines belonging to the same pharmacological class (for example two or more antipsychotics or two or more antidepressants).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Perceptual illusions

Please read Ron Unger's latest post Anatomy of a Delusion, based on his reading of Robert Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic. He writes:

What I am struck by is the similarity between the dynamics around the delusions of those who get psychiatric labels, and the delusions of the mental health system itself.

His post then lists some really good delusions of the mental health system which are also uncannily similar to the delusions of mental health clients. This is Ron Unger writing at his usual best. Here's number 4 on his list of delusions invested in by the client, which is darn similar to the delusion of the mental health system vis a vis medication, when you think about it.

Even starting to question the delusion is scary & upsets psychological equilibrium, as even considering that one might have been so wrong about something creates a sense of “losing one’s grip on reality.” This loss of equilibrium when one starts to question the delusion is taken as evidence that it should not be questioned.

Whitaker in his book, writes about the young woman/old hag optical illusion. This is the drawing that most of us are familar with that shows a young woman, if you look at the drawing one way, and an old hag if you focus on it another way. Whitaker is writing about it more in terms of a perceptual illusion in which the public prefers to believe that psychiatric drugs produce outcomes like the beautiful young woman, but he writes that a closer look will reveal what the public doesn't see - long term use of psychiatric drugs reveals the old hag, an different picture.

The young woman/old hag drawing is also useful in explaining how illusions/delusions can quickly turn to disillusion when it comes to psychiatric medication. Seeing the beautiful young woman is the illusion that I invested in the first couple of years of Chris's "illness." Gradually, disillusionment set in and and I finally was able to see the old hag. Both are there, if you look for them, but once you have seen the hidden perception, it is hard to regain the original image. Now, trying to recapture the beautiful young woman image is almost impossible for me. I know she's supposed to be there, but I don't see her.

Mommy Dearest

It's Mother's Day in France. Since I missed getting this out earlier, here are some selections from the New Yorker Book of Mom Cartoons.

Little girl dining out with her parents. "You order for me, Mommy. You know what I like."

Little boy walking with his father: "Dad, if Mom ever gets another boyfriend, I hope he's just like you."

Mother and female friend sitting on couch with little boy spray painting "I need love" on the wall behind them. "Oh, he's just trying to get my attention."

Father and son about to cross in the middle of a busy street: "Tell your Mom we crossed at the corner."

Gift card categories to choose from for Mother's Day: Earth; Career; Loving, Biological; Surrogate; Unwed; Unfit

Hollywood producer type welcoming his ancient mother into his office: "Mom, baby!"

Woman at cocktail party: "I don't have to choose between baby and a career. I'm a surrogate mother."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Psychiatric double standards

Here is a comment that I posted today to Family Dysfunction and Mental Health: Dr. Allen, like so many psychiatrists, sees schizophrenia as a special case, a "true brain disease," that is generally unresponsive to anything but medications.

Dr. Allen: When I began writing this blog, I expected to be attacked by those folks who think that child abuse and dysfunctional family interactions are a figment of the imagination of a bunch of whining liars, and that the problem with modern psychiatry is that we are just not prescribing near enough drugs. I was waiting with baited breath to hear the phrase, "Parent Bashing."

My response:
Hang on, hang on, here. To quote you "This blog covers mental health, drugs and psychotherapy with an emphasis on the role of family dysfunction in behavioral problems." A lot of what you call negative comments come from people who take issue with your opinion that schizophrenia and bipolar are "true" brain diseases. The commenters I have seen who take issue with your opinion of bipolar and SZ are people who actually believe (including me) that these conditions arise from Family Dysfunction. Many people diagnosed as bipolar and schizophrenic believe that it is family dysfunction that made them what they are and you are telling them that they are wrong? Oh, no, you have a true brain disease, you say. Take this pill and go away.

How many ways do you want to have this, Dr. Allen? To replay one of your answers to an earlier comment of mine, you wrote "I certainly do not want the mothers of psychotic patients to blame themselves for their child's illness, as such guilt generally is toxic to everyone in the family." Hello? Your blog is about linking Family Dysfunction to Mental Health. I am linking Family Dysfunction to Schizophrenia. Your professional view of schizophrenia is a bit schizophrenic, IMO. It is weird, quite frankly, that you see schizophrenia and bipolar as a brain disease and not a mental health problem.

I can't help but notice that you are getting most comments from people with a bipolar or schizophrenia background. Something about your blog twigs with them, but not with other people, judging from the lack of comments. But you are dismissing them as being negative and insisting that THEY'VE got it wrong. You are getting almost no comments from anybody else, I've noticed. Where are the personality disorder people that you treat? Can't they come up with a comment or two? What about fellow psychiatrists. Where are they in the comments? I would appreciate it if you would look at the people who actually are caring enough to respond to you and think about perhaps opening your mind just a smidgen to the possibility that mental health and family dysfunction includes schizophrenia and bipolar.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Center Cannot Hold

When I read a book about schizophrenia, I am always looking to see what things that I can emulate in order to help my son get through his own particular version of schizophrenia. This kind of guidance is virtually non-existent unless you read about it from people who have been there themselves.

It is easy to dismiss Elyn Saks as an over-achieving drama queen. Many people think that hers must be a mild case of schizophrenia since she is such a high achiever. I am amazed that she racked up all the credentials that she has while clearly psychotic much of the time. However, by doing this she has also demonstrated the elasticity of this diagnosis, and she has anecdotally pointed out some valuable insights for the rest of us. Her story will be disappointing for people who see getting off medications as a pathway to recovery because she finally admitted to herself, after years of refusing to take them, that she needed the medication to function. It just goes to show that there is no one size fits all solution.

When I read these first person narratives, I always ask what information is available now that wasn't available then or what did the person not do that might have helped? None of this guarantees, of course, that the outcome would have been any different. Elyn Saks did not explore vitamin therapy. Vitamins in large doses such as vitamin B3 (niacin) act like drugs and there are no negative side effects. Energy medicine, which has also helped my son, was not widely known back then, and so there is no mention is this book of therapies that could correct an energy imbalance

I have learned enough through my own investigations to see that certain factors were in her favor outside of just being female. One is that her family let her do her thing. It is sometimes said that the family has to be involved but not over-involved. This is what is called Expressed Emotion (EE). Patients with families exhibiting low EE are found to have better outcomes when it comes to schizophrenia. When I first was trying to find out some useful information about what to do for my son, I was intrigued to read that many doctors feel that people do best whose families don't seem to notice that their relative is ill. Elyn Sak's parents win top prize in that category, though it probably wasn't a deliberate strategy on their part. Once I caught on to this simple but elegant idea, I began practicing it with my son. It seems to work because it thrusts a certain responsibility on the person while they remain clueless about how really worried you are. They are less anxious this way. You will eventually be less anxious, too, by practicing low EE.

People who get labelled schizophrenic are often overly attached to their family. They are usually the dutiful, thoughtful, "good as gold", achieving child. This almost guarantees that their passage into adulthood will be troublesome in really weird ways. Becoming an adult and leaving the framework of the family frightens them. Rather than get angry and rebel (a time-honored method of achieving independence), many go psychotic. Highly sensitive to begin with, they simply freak when it becomes apparent that soon they will soon be venturing further into the world or that the world is putting more demands on them. They are, of course, way too "considerate" of their parents. German theologian and counsellor Bert Hellinger says that individuals with schizophrenia are particularly sensitive to (though consciously unaware of) family trauma often originating four generations in the past. They "self-sacrifice" for a parent as a way of atoning for past family trauma. In this case, Elyn Saks is no exception. Early on, she told a therapist that she no longer wanted to see her (Karen) because her parents were upset that the therapist hadn't figured this out and come up with a plan, and that it cost them too much money to continue to see her. "It never occurred to me back then (and if it occurred to Karen, she didn't say so) that I was taking better care of my parents than I was of myself."

The drug rehab program that she was forced into in high school by her parents left her no time to think for herself beyond the confines of what she was told to do and how to act. This may have worked to her advantage, not because she was abusing drugs (she wasn't) but because it gave her a framework of hard work and structure to her day that she was able to use throughout her psychosis. She always reached out for someone to hang onto, like clinging to a doorframe in a high wind, using that person as a frame of reference for her day. In her Oxford years she allowed time for herself to be clearly psycho within a framework of rigorous Kleinian psychotherapy, and then sobered up somehow during the rest of the day and went back and racked up more academic credentials. It was astonishing to me that the analysis that she underwent on a daily basis for three years in England didn't seem to lift her psychosis. She literally clung to the analyst right up until the day she left to go back to the United States, weeping and being her usual psychotic self. She had unknowingly done what psychiatrist Thomas Szasz advises. She found herself a contractual psychiatrist unconnected to an institution. She paid out of pocket for the privilege and she got what she wanted, rather than having the State force its one size fits all approach on her.

The high school drug rehab program also gave her a lifelong aversion to taking any drugs, whether legal or illegal. If you read Robert Whitaker's new book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, you will see that her success, messy as it is, may be in large part because she continually refused to take the antipsychotics that were offered her. Whitaker's book extensively documents that long term use of psychiatric drugs leads to poorer outcomes. Psychiatrist Daniel Carlat says: "We often talk about neuro-transmitters like serotonin and noroepharin. But that really ends up being neurobabble. It sounds impressive to patients and it makes them think we know what we're doing when we're prescribing the medications. But we don't really know how these meds work." Side effects, said Carlat, can be serious or in some cases, unknown. "We don't know enough about the side effects to know how many people we're putting at risk."

Elyn Sak's very messy psychotic life almost tempts me to say that an antipsychotic introduced earlier would have helped get her life together, and I am someone who is not at all in favour of relying on drugs to solve personal problems in living. Reading this book I am tempted to think "oh, please, just try an antipsychotic," but I am only too aware that psychiatric drugs can put you in a never-ending nightmare. They are major tranquillizers that set most people spinning off into long periods of relapse, weight gain, apathy, and unemployment. Should Elyn Saks have chosen the drug route, my guess is that she would not be where she is today, but there is also the possibility that had she received drugs earlier, she may have pulled herself together sooner and spared herself years of agony.

Another affirmation I got from this book is, if someone tells you that a certain therapy worked for them, then don't wait for the latest "scientific" evidence or psychiatrists to give it their blessing as a therapy in order to try it for yourself. Everybody "knows" apparently, that psychoanalysis "doesn't work for schizophrenics." Elyn Saks gives Kleinian psychotherapy (think Freud) major credit in helping her cope. Freud has been routinely trashed by modern psychiatry as unhelpful for schizophrenia. However, as her therapist pointed out to her back in the early 1980s, therapists have built on Freud's work as the basis of their work with schizophrenia. This influence doesn't seem to be well recognized today in an age where people think Freud has no relevance. Luckily for Elyn Saks, she didn't know what everybody else knows.

One can quibble by saying that since she still suffers from psychosis, then what good did psychotherapy do? I understand that she is now in training to be a psychoanalyst so she must believe in it strongly. People say the same things about cognitive behavioural therapy, which is finally getting a rethink after many years of being dismissed for schizophrenia. Most psychiatrists don't want to get that involved with their psychotic patients. It's easier and more financially rewarding to medicate them than to do the really hard work of getting to know them. I can't believe the number of people who won't try something because "there is no scientific evidence" that it works for schizophrenia. Well, individuals are not statistics, you are the persons most interested in your own recovery and you should do whatever it takes to get there. I have introduced to my son some truly unusual therapies, short of dancing on a toad's grave, but if I thought that might work, I'd be game. I noticed that most of these non-sanctioned therapies moved him forward in some way. The bottom line here is think for yourself. You are you, but you are simply a statistic to the medical profession as it stands today.

To make a long story short, I think this is a great book with a lot of insight.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Here is a quote straight from the horse's mouth of psychiatrist Daniel Carlat:

"We often talk about neuro-transmitters like serotonin and noroepharin. But that really ends up being neurobabble. It sounds impressive to patients and it makes them think we know what we're doing when we're prescribing the medications. But we don't really know how these meds work." Side effects, said Carlat, can be serious or in some cases, unknown. "We don't know enough about the side effects to know how many people we're putting at risk."

It irks me that patients and relatives have been saying this for years, then suddenly young Daniel Carlat "sees the light" and is gathering great respect and a book contract with this wisdom. My eyes used to quickly glaze over with all the psychobabble trash talk that meant absolutely nothing to me and only raised my suspicions. Seemed like a lot of smoke and mirrors. Neurotransmitters? Who cares? Serotonin, neurotonin, dopamine, up, down, down, up, blah blah blah blah blah.

No doubt Daniel Carlat still sees schizophrenia as a "special case", so I will not go out of my way to praise his latest efforts, but at least these things are starting to be said by people who supposedly count - the medical profession. Actually, as Gianna Kali points out, Carlat is still drinking the kool-aid. He's still digging into his grab bag of labels and symptom hunting. The only difference now is that he has expanded his world vision to include the possibility that meds don't solve everything.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Great quote about creativity, dopamine and schizophrenia

"Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box," says Dr Ullén about his new findings.

ScienceDaily (May 18, 2010) — New research shows a possible explanation for the link between mental health and creativity. By studying receptors in the brain, researchers at Karolinska Institute have managed to show that the dopamine system in healthy, highly creative people is similar in some respects to that seen in people with schizophrenia.

Rossa's comment: The "schizophrenic" brain apparently looks normal enough to these researchers.

Anatomy of an Epidemic and alternative mental health

In Robert Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic there is no mention of alternative mental health remedies. This, I suppose, is understandable given that the book is about how pharma and her willing handmaidens have contributed to the epidemic of mental illness. However, from a consumer point of view it would be instructive to know if the people whose stories are told in the book ever seriously tried some form of psychotherapy or took vitamin supplements to help them get off the drugs.

It is clear even if you haven't read this book that psychiatry has been hijacked by drug prescription and that psychiatrists (American ones, anyway) are handsomely remunerated for prescribing not listening. Psychiatrists have convinced themselves that the drugs are needed to help them do their job better, but their patients aren't at all convinced. If they were, why is drug compliance such a problem? Why are people so fed up with their psychiatrists not listening to them?

Drug based psychiatry seems to be one area where the customer is always wrong. If manufacturers noticed that people were failing to use their products in they way they were intended, would they blame the customer? Of course not! Many psychiatrists, however, have this patronizing view that their clients are mentally ill and incapable of making rational choices when it comes to how they feel about what they are swallowing.

There is another way and people shouldn't lose hope.

Taking vitamins, undergoing certain psychotherapies, practicing yoga and changing your belief system is not a quick fix, but it does work over time. As a relative, I can vouch that this also works for me. We all can benefit from the experience. Vitamin support should be a first line of defence if you are trying to get off your meds. Some people may not need this, but many do. Not everybody is going to have a hard time withdrawing from the drugs, but they will be the exception, not the rule. The drugs change your biochemistry. Your biochemistry is not changed because you are depressed or schizophrenic. For every study that claims it is, there is a study that refutes this. So why buy into the former claim? It makes you worse off in the long term, as Anatomy of an Epidemic so rightly points out.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Like diabetics need insulin

I must confess that reading Robert Whitaker's book Anatomy of an Epidemic is getting me down. He has nailed the human carnage that usually begins with the psychiatrist saying to the patient, "you have an incurable disease and you are going to need meds for the rest of your life just like a diabetic needs insulin." We have all heard this Orwellian phrase and it is absolutely untrue but that is what we have all been told. So begins the slippery slope that we have all been on. And when I say "we" I include people like me in this because I am collateral damage. I suffer too from being told my son is incurable and needs the drugs.

Someone on another blog, a psychiatrist no less, accused Robert Whitaker of sensationalizing the negativity, especially when it comes to the drugs. I don't see it and the fact that a psychiatrist doesn't see this is troubling, especially if he's taken the time to read the book. Whitaker's book is factual, he interviews psychiatrists, researchers and patients alike, and what they report is what I know to be true. People used to have mental illnesses and got over them or suffered from them episodically. Whitaker links the rise of the number of people collecting disability for mental illnesses to the long term use of drugs - they are being treated as if they have an immediate, life-threatening, chronic illness.

Teenagers, a group in which depression was almost unheard of a few decades ago, are particularly vulnerable. Antidepressants can kick start a lifetime merry-go-round of drug use. The number of young people in the book who went in for depression, were treated with an antidepressant, went manic and told they were bipolar is not surprising. I have learned enough on my own to know this happens. We are not anecdotal evidence. We are real and numerous.

Who ever heard of bipolar disorder a few years ago? I hadn't until about fifteen years ago when a friend went fairly loopy. Now, bipolar disorder is the flavor du jour - seems like everybody has it and may include those who would prefer not to say they might be schizophrenic. You are never not bipolar these days, probably due to the drugs that you need to take like a diabetic must take insulin. I had heard of manic-depression, but only knew of one person over the course of my life who was diagnosed with it. Every so often she would flip out and have to be hospitalized and take her lithium. Otherwise she carried on as the life of the party - and died at a fairly ripe old age.

Nobody today is going to die at a ripe old age if they permit their doctor to turn their personal coping skills into a biological disease. Judging from the swollen ranks of those collecting long term disability they won't even be working.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Postcards from the edge

I have been travelling by car for the past four days with my husband, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law through a popular tourist destination. Where doesn't matter because what is usually more memorable is the interaction between all the vibrating molecules in the car, while tramping through tourist sites and over dinner.

We had a lovely time with few hiccups. My husband has now locked himself in the bedroom and is practicing Emotional Freedom Technique, hoping he can make it through till tomorrow. I may have to resort to this technique after they leave to relieve the double-duty pressure of loyal wife and in-law. (I'm on everybody's side!)

A few years ago after one of my mother-in-law's visits, it became clear to me how emotional vibrations and can affect our health. We often try to keep things "in" while we entertain our guests, without even being aware that we are doing so. A couple of days after she left, I suddenly felt extremely ill from what felt like high blood pressure. I became quite concerned that I would need to go to the hospital and therefore started to do some Emotional Freedom Technique. I tried out a couple of possible explanations for the way I was feeling, without much success. Then, I thought, maybe, just maybe, the way I am feeling is linked to the pressure of the visit and being simultaneously the loyal wife and loyal daughter-in-law. I started to tap out the problem and within five minutes I felt completely well.

The family visits now go quite well because we have found a great stress reliever in Emotional Freedom Technique.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The hallucination of separateness

A message from Eric Allen Bell, founder, Global One TV - Online Spiritual Television for a New Age

A message to all members of Global One TV

I want to thank everyone who participated in the live chat with Deepak Chopra on Sunday. The topic was "Oneness" and he had quite a bit to say on the subject.

What I found particularly interesting was this notion that the internet has become the modern Akashic Records. And that if you wanted to know the state of humankind, look at what's popular online. Of course this has been a fascination of mine for some time and is much of the reason for my decision to launch Global One TV in the first place.

I asked Dr. Chopra a couple of questions and I wanted to share with you the answers that he gave...

The first question I asked was a rather general one, but perhaps a classic when it comes to one of the obstacles so many people have in believing in a Divine intelligence. I asked Deepak, "Why is there suffering in the world" and he answered.."All suffering comes from the hallucination of separateness".

There was a lot of talk about non-duality. Although I don't personally have a religion, if I did it would be that of Advaita Vedanta - the Vedic mystic tradition of non-duality. Separateness is clearly an illusion. It causes us to perceive ourselves as being separate from God. That and the idea that we are separate from one another has been the source of most wars. The concept of us and them exists only in the mind, which leads me to the second question I asked Deepak:

I asked,"Does the mind exist in time or does time exist in the mind?" to which he answered..."Neither. Time and mind exist in non-local consciousness."

Someone asked where we go when we die and he answered, "You do not go anywhere as there is no time and space."

On the subject of oneness and non-duality Dr. Chopra went on to say that "You are the ocean and the drop of water" meaning that we are not one or the other. There is a beautiful saying I heard once at a Science of Mind conference that says, "God in me, as me, is me." Chopra put it differently referring to a quote by Franz Kafka which says, "All of our problems are the result of an inability to sit quietly and do nothing."

But of all the insight that Deepak Chopra had to share with us, what stuck with me the most was this quote: "I am that, you are that, all of this is that and that is all there is."

Sunday, May 9, 2010


One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge — even to ourselves — that we’ve been so credulous. – Carl Sagan

I swiped this quote from Beyond Meds because Robert Whitaker's new book Anatomy of an Epidemic*, currently on my reading table, points to the "Big Bamboozle" in the pharmaceutical industry when it comes to the treatment of the mentally ill. As it was with Ida Tarbell and Standard Oil, Upton Sinclair and the meat packing industry, let's hope that the Whitaker book will put an end to the encroachment of the big pharma/academia/American Medical Association alliance on your brain.

The meticulously documented book explains that it was the Medicare and Medicaid legislation enacted in 1965 that allowed the discharge of chronic schizophrenia patients from unsubsidized state mental hospitals into subsidized nursing homes, not the invention of Thorazine in 1955, as it is so often attributed. Patients treated with neuropleptics in a 1956 studied cited had a lower discharge rate for first psychotic episodes than those who had been treated with a neuroleptic. The general opinion of researchers back then was that patients treated with neuroleptics had lower discharge rates than patients for whom no neuroleptics were administered.

Unfortunately our societal belief that it was this medication that emptied the asylums, which is so central to the "psychopharmacology revolution" narrative, is belied by the hospital census data.

Numerous studies in the 1980s cited in the Whitaker book came to the conclusion that there was no evidence that the dopamine function of the brain is disturbed in schizophrenia. Still the public continued to be told that people diagnosed with schizophrenia had overactive dopamine systems, with the drugs likened to "insulin for diabetes," and thus former NIMH director Steve Hyman, in his 2002 book, Molecular Neuropharmacology, was moved to once again remind readers of the truth. "There is no compelling evidence that a lesion in the dopamine system is a primary cause of schizophrenia," he wrote.

The pharma bamboozle is particularly poignant because of the millions of lives wasted and lost. Parents have been told, by a medical profession that they trust, that their child has a brain disease, just like diabetes, and that in order to "protect the brain," they must continue to take these medications, just like a diabetic must do with insulin. That guilt is overwhelming because it is personal and had we been less credulous, the outcome may have been different.

Having heard Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), I have no great confidence that that organization, despite it being a supposed watchdog of public mental health, will suddenly "see the light". He stated very clearly in that seminar that research has demonstrated again and again that current and past drugs are ineffective in treating mental disorders, but they were shining their flashlights looking for the key in the wrong areas! They just haven't found the right drug targeted to the particular problem! There's a term for that in business that eludes me. . . when you trash the old product in order to stimulate sales of the new one. Don't worry, in the NIMH's world, there are always exciting new drug possibilities. So, the Big Bamboozle will continue as long as the public is gullible. It will take a different pharmaceutical tactic, that's all. The insulin for diabetics idea has been exposed, so we're not buying that one, but what will it be? It'll be clever, that's for sure.

is where Dr. Insel's flashlight is looking:
We must address mental illnesses, from autism to schizophrenia, as developmental brain disorders with genetic and environmental factors leading to altered circuits and altered behavior. Today’s state-of-the-art biology, neuroscience, imaging, and genomics are yielding new approaches to understanding mental illnesses, supplementing our psychological explanations. Understanding the causes and nature of malfunctioning brain circuits in mental disorders may make earlier diagnosis possible. Interventions could then be tailored to address the underlying causes directly and quickly, changing the trajectory of these illnesses, as we have done in ischemic heart disease and some forms of cancer. For serious mental illness, this is a new vision for prevention, based on understanding individual risk and developing innovative treatments to preempt disability.
Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychatric Drugs, and the Atonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, author Robert Whitaker

Friday, May 7, 2010

Another perspective on the Garden and the Fall

Here is a lengthy messsage from The Last Domino to me re my post on the Garden. In the shared hope of advancing the dialog, and promoting discussion, I have bolded a few key concepts.

"I must confess: I know very little about schizophrenia, although I've lived what may be described as a "split existence" most of my life. That split is natural for me, and is my normal. Yet I still feel a sense of Oneness with God, and with All Things.

The title of this piece, "We've got to get ourselves back to the Garden" is true. The split, however, occurred, not at the creation of Eve (At bottom, we're still male and female, yin and yang.), but because of the eating of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The split had more to do with the mind of humans (and their resulting expulsion from Eden), and little to do with the creative process.

On my blog, the Secret Place, I'm examining, anew, the Creation stories. There are two accounts.

I'll try to keep this brief.

"One rabbinical commentary asserts that Adam 'was a man on his right side, a woman on his left; but God split him into two halves.'"

It wasn't really a split. It was more like an assignment, or an assigning, a defining of roles in a larger creative process.

What I've been told is this: Eve is internal; Adam is external. Eve's role(the Mother of All Living) is to be "bone of [his] bones (Adam), and flesh of [his] flesh (Adam)."

They're united in this process (wedded, husband and wife).

In forming the man, God instituted the first creative act. Ensuing creative acts by humans resulted as a collaboration between Adam and Eve (man and woman). The two creations reveal how God and humans create.

Because the woman was taken from man, "Therefore shall a man [MANifestation] leave his father and his mother [God], and shall cleave unto his wife [Eve, humans' creative impetus and power]: and they shall be one flesh [seamless, an indispensable union in the creative process];" in short, manifestations would now be subject to Adam (red clay) and Eve (the Mother of All), and not directly to the creative process of "his father and his mother," God (Spirit).

Eve (the Mother part of our being that gives birth to All) pushes out, and Adam is that which is pushed out (MANifested).

Knowing their role and their assignments, it's not surprising that Eve ate of the fruit of The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil first, and then gave it to Adam.

What she tastes, he tastes. What she eats, he eats.

Another role assigned to Adam is that of "Name Giver." Adam decides what things will be called, that is, their nature and attributes, "and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof."
Eve, too, is subject to Adam in this regard, and is not Self-Named.

The fruit is not two fruits, but one fruit. Humans get to eat the fruit (experience it), and call it whatever they choose (Good or Evil).

Every experience in our world, then, becomes the fruit--every human act, every environmental (worldly) act, or occurrence, that we bring to our intellect, and attention, to judge, becomes the fruit.

An act is not inherently good, or bad, but "thinking makes it so." We label it either good or bad.

Adam and Eve in their pristine state, where God (in the first creation, not Lord God of the second) did the judging, and the creating, this knowledge of Good and Evil did not exist, hence judgment didn't exist.

Neutrality prevailed. As the writer you cited observed, "The world after the Fall, outside the Garden, is essentially colorless, neutral, impersonal." Actually, this description best describes the condition of Adam and Eve in the Garden before the Fall, not after.

Neutrality (a non-judgmental state) existed inside the Garden, and was mostly "impersonal", in that Adam and Eve were "naked" and weren't "ashamed".

Once their eyes were opened (after eating the fruit), they could see their nakedness, and could now respond judgmentally to their nakedness, and, hence, concluded that they were "ashamed," shame being a judgmental state.

This judgmental state constitutes a "splitting of the mind," what some mystics have called an altering of the mind, a condition that creates an "altered mind". Don't confuse this with an "altered state of mind." Now a thing could be seen as either sinful, or sinless.

To "regain Paradise," once it's lost--and most humans reside in a "split mind," lost state--requires nothing more than living without judgment, without dividing the world into Good and Evil, Good and Bad, and seeing the world as God sees it.

The God of the First Creation made this observation of the All, after All was created: "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."

Because "good" may be confused with "the good" identified in the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, it might be better, indeed, edifying, if we move into a new understanding, one of "very good," that is, perfection, and dwell there.

Rather than judge (and alter, and split our minds, "Judge not, that ye be not judged."), we should declare perfection all about ("Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.").

Granted, this is not an easy thing to do. We humans are accustom to seeing a divided world, as a result of a divided mind, where a thing is rarely seen as neutral, but on a continuum between Good and Evil, with Good on one side and Evil on the other, with degrees of Good and Evil in between.

The best way to keep the mind "The Same" is to dwell in love. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." The "secret place" is Love. Fear, or any emotion that has it's foundation in Fear, divides the mind. We're told: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Way Out of Madness (his and mine)

The book finally arrived! Not a moment too soon.

A Way Out of Madness: Dealing with Your Family After You've Been Diagnosed with a Psychiatric Disorder [Paperback] Daniel Mackler (Author), Matthew Morrissey (Contributor)

I am hoping to be the first to review it. Maybe Chris will take a crack at it, too. It's with him right now.


I was planning to do a longer post on body and soul, but then had my own out-of-body experience in the early hours of this morning that captures my frustrations with the slow pace of the way things are going. I was drifting between sleeping and being awake, thinking about my conversation with Chris last night that left both him and me frustrated. From my perspective, nothing is happening with him, he is going absolutely nowhere, confining himself more and more to the apartment while eating everything in sight. A high school friend who is getting married this summer was in town and Chris didn't feel up to meeting him. Perhaps even more frustratingly, if that is possible, Chris seems to look at paid employment or going back to university as an intellectual exercise, something best thought about but never actually achieved. He is stuck in his own mind.

Under scrutiny, he appears to think that Ian and I somehow need him to be with us, as if we would completely crumple up and die if he wasn't there to support us in our declining years. The situation is becoming once more intolerable. What do we have a headshrinker and an occupational therapist for? The OT has been working with him for a year, and still he is shedding more and more activities.

So, I put it to Chris once again: Chris, maybe you are not so concerned about us as you profess, maybe you are angry with us and this is your best revenge. Do you think you are doing guard duty by hanging around the house to protect me from Ian or Ian from me? I posed the last question, because it is a time-honored tradition to be angry with one or both parents. People who mature beyond the anger move on, people who don't are stuck. Chris mumbled something about maybe he was sticking around to make sure Ian and I don't divorce. As if!

That line of reasoning was getting us nowhere, so we all went to bed. Eventually, after trying out several dreams, I saw my chance to end it all. Like some kind of manic cartoon character (a woodpecker or a buzzard with attitude), I was hovering in the air, getting a bead on a some acreage down below. I started to back up and take a run at it. At first I hesitated, because I thought I knew what was coming, then I thought "what the heck, go for it." As the land came up and tilted towards me, I hit it full on -- and immediately morphed into another dream.

There is never an end. There are only beginnings.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We've got to get ourselves back to the Garden

God was the first schizophrenic. In India every god has a "terrible form" as well as a benevolent one. The Bulgarians say that Satan arose from God's shadow and convinced God to divide the world between the two of them. The Finns say that God asked his reflection in the water how to make the world. Reflections and shadows are schizophrenic images; when they step out of their relation of dependence and seize their own autonomy, a split occurs (in Greek schizein means "to split").

Prior to my reading very much about theories of schizophrenia, I had a crazy intuition that Chris and others like him had been there when our world was created. His sense of the dark forces of the universe while struggling with hallucinations was so profound that I found it incomprehensible that someone so young (19 or so) with so little life experience could be so aware of ancient forces. His struggle seemed Biblical, centering around the creation myth but also the quantum Big Bang. There is a Forrest Gump quality to Chris and others. They were there when it happened. I can't explain it.

The key here is when they step out of their relation of dependence and seize their own autonomy, a split occurs. For most people this is the period of young adulthood.

If the action of "splitting" or the state of "being split" isn't explicitly present in the concepts of God of most primitive peoples, it is virtually present in all their creation myths. Creation is always a "fall" from wholeness, a separation, a dividing. When divinity is pictured as an indivisible totality, the creation of the world becomes a breaking down of this totality......This kind of process, the movement from wholesness to splitting, is a universal one in the act of being human. Erich Neumann sees in it the birth of the ego and the origin of human consciousness

Modern science has labelled the sometimes violent and often frightening process of becoming human, a pathological illness. Is religious preocupation or seeing the world in shadows and light really an illness or is it a journey? Chris became extremely preocupied with the concept of sin, and that he had sinned. Later on, he began to make amends to his childhood friends, whom he felt he had sinned against. I have no idea how this idea entered his head. Childhood sins? When he had his first psychotic break, he was reading Karl Menninger's book, Whatever Became of Sin? Religious preoccupations and androgeneity are just part of the territory of psychosis. Yet, people still persist in calling this a disease of the mind, where others might see it as the disease of the fall from Grace.

In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve live in a proximate, and fluid environment. There is an aspect of wholeness to this life, a naive and direct participation of all forms of life in each other, a synthetic function to all of experience.....The world after the Fall, outside the Garden, is essentially colorless, neutral, impersonal. It has been separated from the person. There is no longer a synthesis....The sense of the unity of the body in the Garden has found expression in the assertion that Adam is androgynous. One rabbinical commentary asserts that Adam "was a man on his right side, a woman on his left; but God split him into two halves."

From The Garden and the Map: Schizophrenia in twentieth-century literature and culture, by John Vernon, University of Illinois Press, 1973

Celebrity molecules

From today's New York Times

The drugs in his system also included the antidepressants fluoxetine and olanzapine; the tranquilizers diazepam and meprobamate, which are found in Valium and other medications; the cough-suppressant dextromethorphan; and the antihistamine diphenhydramine.

The actor Corey Haim died from pneumonia complicated by an enlarged heart and narrowed blood vessels, while drugs found in his system played no role in his death, the Los Angeles County coroner said Tuesday.

The coroner has made two calls: that he died of pneumonia unrelated to the drugs in his system and that olanzapine, otherwise known as Zyprexa, is an antidepressant.

Celebrity molecules are also making a name for themselves in the visual arts.

Lizzie Burns is a biochemist and artist affiliated with Oxford University who designs jewelry and men’s ties based on the chemical structure of celebrity molecules like testosterone or dopamine. “The designs of chemical structures can have an intrinsic natural beauty and balance,” she said. Not to mention a certain conceptual consistency: there’s caffeine with its three reactive “hands,” as she calls the little methyl groups, waving at you to wake up; the lightning-bolt zigzag of the capsaicin molecule that gives chili its fire; and the bicycle shape of Ritalin, inviting the aimless wanderer to hop aboard and ride.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF)

I urge you to read one psychiatrist's opinion of the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation. Preying on Human Misery points out that the organization has had to distance itself from its reliance on funding from pharmaceutical companies due to the growing public outcry over the use of off-label drugs for children. To me, this organization is right up there with NAMI, with parents willing to label their children as brain diseased rather than to look into their own family dysfunction as a possible recourse.

I met another psychiatrist in the audience who told me about the existence of a website,, which is the homepage of an organization called the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF). He said the organization was primarily funded by the drug companies, and featured messageboards with advice from parents of allegedly bipolar children on what other parents should tell and not tell their doctors in order to get their child labeled with the disorder. The drug companies also used the website to recruit subjects for ongoing clinical trials of drugs for pediatric bipolar disorder, thereby assuring that the subjects in their clinical trials were only those whose parents were anxious to have their child so labeled.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sound of mind

I sent Chris's sound shaman the New York Times article on hallucinogens. It is very exciting to me that researchers are actively probing the ways in which consciousness can be heightened by chemical means (psilocybin). Though the results so far are encouraging they are also preliminary, and, according to the article researchers caution against reading too much into these small-scale studies. They do not want to repeat the mistakes of the 1960s, when some scientists-turned-evangelists exaggerated their understanding of the drugs’ risks and benefits. (Rossa's comment: Now, if only they would use their findings for good and not evil!)

Chris's sound shaman is mechanically inducing heightened consciousness through sound manipulation, which is a drugless way of going after the same results. Here is his reply to my e-mail.

Hello Rossa,

Thank you for the interesting link.

The key phrase here is experience in which the boundaries between the self and others disappear . This exceptional phenomenon is attributed to an ecstatic, spiritual, and out of body sensation, as it spans a vast realm of experience, method, and interpretation. These sensations can be brought upon by the use of external stimulants. In practically all cultures the practice of changing sensory state is achieved through a change in sensory perception functions via the energy exchange occurring between elements through chemical reaction, mechanical vibration, and motive force! Specific drugs, sound, and movement, are the primary interface methods for experiencing this phenomenon known as a changed state of perception.

Wishing you a good evening, and hope to speak with you soon.