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.

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