Friday, December 31, 2010

Person of the Year

Robert Whitaker, hands down.

I'm rushing today, so am taking the lazy way out and reprinting a review from Amazon about his 2010 book, Anatomy of an Epidemic; Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America.

Impeccably researched and documented, Whitaker's book is based on long-term outcome studies that have received almost no publicity from psychiatry and other guardians of the psychiatric establishment, including, of course, the pharmaceutical companies that keep churning out new generations of magic bullets. It's a multibillion dollar industry with a lot to lose were the full truth about the drug risks disclosed and understood.

While far from an anti-psychiatry or anti-drug polemic, Whitaker's interviews with patients who are on psychiatric medications are nonetheless heartrending. Also revealing is his disclosure of the brutal treatment meted out to maverick doctors like Peter Breggin, David Healy and Loren Mosher, who all questioned the efficacy of pharmaceutical treatment of mental disorders, from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder and other maladies. Harvard Medical School-trained Breggin was in effect blacklisted. Mosher lost his position with the NIMH over his successful drug-free treatment of patients through the Soteria project he founded. And Healy promptly lost a job offer after publicizing his criticism of SSRIs and their possible relation to suicide.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Waking up from the dream

"The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend"  ---Aldous Huxley

I'm new to spirituality. Spirituality is not religion but it incorporates teachings from most of the world's great religions. Spirituality can lead to the process of becoming enlightened, to wake up from the dream state where we see ourselves divided, to the awakening or awake state (rarely fully awake) where we see unity. I've found that developing a spiritual side has helped me not only to understand and empathize with Chris, but also is the beginning of my own healing process.

Spirituality as a vehicle of enlightenment is not the end of pain, however. It leads to confusion and self-doubt. I see that in Chris. I'm beginning to see that in myself. I don't claim to be enlightened, but I am learning some surprising things along the way. As I became more spiritually attuned, I believed that as Chris began to heal, I would experience a decline in my own health that would force me to undergo the same revolutionary process that he has undertaken.

I'm reading the kind of books that I never would have glanced at in my pre-spiritual days. The more I learn, the more I practice. I see how simple life is (LOVE yourself first) but there are complexities, too.

In early November, I got some troubling blood test results that in previous years would have really freaked me out and put me in a constant state of worry. (The doctor was not as concerned.) I'd been experiencing symptoms sporadically over the previous two years. By chance I went to our bookshelf and picked out a book that Ian had purchased that I didn't know we owned. "Holy Spirit for Healing: Merging Ancient Wisdom with Modern Medicine,"  by former Catholic priest Ron Roth and Peter Occhiogrosso. Using Jesus'/Buddha's/Mohammed's messages, the book explains some very simple visualizations that we can use to heal ourselves.

While I was doing the spiritual healing work I asked God/the energy field/ to tell me where the problem lay. The answer that immediately popped into my head in the quiet moment of reflection was: "It's hepatitis." The answer coming from me/God was very clear. "It's hepatitis." I tucked that away as a possible cause.

After my energy work, I "knew" that any subsequent blood test results would be back to normal, but the doctor at the clinic wanted me to wait a bit longer before being retested. When I saw the clinic doctor to go over the results of the second blood test, which as I predicted, were normal, he casually mentioned that I tested positive for Hepatitis A, but he dismissed it as something that I probably picked up more than thirty years ago.

By then I had forgotten about my hepatitis prediction and didn't make the connection with the Hepatitis A news. I decided to see a specialist later in the month to be on the safe side. The specialist could hardly believe such dramatic test results were possible in such a short period of time. He told me that, of course, he always encouraged his patients to practice spiritual healing, but it was clear to me that he felt the real answers were always medical. He thought that I might have experienced an allergic reaction to a drug, but was not able to pin it down to any medication I was taking. And, no, he also thought it was unrelated to drinking red wine.

Before Christmas I went for a third round of blood tests as part of my bi-annual company physical. Results still normal. The nurse checked to see if I was up-to-date with my vaccinations and discovered that I never got the second dose of my Hepatitis A shot. She decided that since I already had the antibodies, I didn't need the second shot. It was only then that I recalled that my meditation had told me about the hepatitis.

Since, so far, I was no clearer as to the cause of the sky-high blood test results and I am still experiencing the same symptoms from time to time, over the Christmas holidays I sat down to meditate and changed the question to: Given all of this, what part of me needs to heal?

According to the mechanics of meditation, the answer may come immediately, or it may come over the next few hours or few days, if you pay attention.

In the wee hours of the following morning, I woke up suddenly. A voice/a thought said to me, very clearly, and this is where it gets very strange . . . "Get Chris a blood test."

Get Chris a blood test? That's not the answer in any way, shape or form that I thought I was expecting. How is this related to me?

I am learning, that becoming enlightened is troubling.

This strange imperative leads to new complexities. If I believe, then I must act on my belief. I'm going to have to come up with a plausible reason to say to Dr. Stern that Chris needs a thorough blood test, not like the one-off specific testing that is done for clozapine, for example. I'm going to have to figure out with Chris, what our course of action will be based on the test results. I can't imagine that the results are going to be normal for anyone on a neuroleptic (and that's why these tests are ordered by doctors only for a known life threatening side-effect).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

From the archives of the Onion

Wonder Drug Inspires Deep, Unwavering Love of Pharmaceutical Companies

"Many individuals today lack the deep, abiding affection for drug makers that is found in healthy people, such as myself," Pfizer CEO Hank McKinnell said. "These tragic disorders are reaching epidemic levels, and as a company dedicated to promoting the health, well-being, and long life of our company's public image, it was imperative that we did something to combat them."

Although many psychotropic drugs impart a generalized feeling of well-being, PharmAmorin is the first to induce and focus intense feelings of affection externally, toward for-profit drug makers. Pfizer representatives say that, if taken regularly, PharmAmorin can increase affection for and trust in its developers by as much as 96.5 percent.


A preventable death: Jesus of Nazareth

A fun new blog has caught my eye. NAMI Dearest: Helping NAMI parents overcome laziness.

Below is an excerpt from a recent post: Ancient Families of the Mentally Ill: Back when tragedies weren't preventable with meds. . .

The untimely death of Jesus of Nazareth may have been prevented if his severe and persistent mental illness had been properly treated, but alas, there were no miraculous antipsychotic medications 2000 years ago, and they, unfortunately, were forced to crucify the young man.
 No, my friends, there was no NAMI Nazareth to assist the needy Joseph and Mary. Count your blessings.

We can see from Jesus’ family history that his mother, Mary, also suffered from untreated delusions and hallucinations. At the age of fourteen, young Mary believed she was visited by an Archangel named “Gabriel” whom she claimed appeared in order to inform her that she was pregnant with the Son of G-d. Mary suffered also from command hallucinations in which, she felt, the angel was ordering her to name her baby Jesus. It is common for schizophrenia to run in families. In fact, Mary’s mother Anna was also afflicted with hallucinatory visions of angels.

Mary’s much older guardian, Joseph the Carpenter, upon discovering her predicament, was not pleased. He was determined to leave Mary and dismiss her entirely. The stress of being unwed and pregnant in ancient times, may have triggered Mary’s genetic predisposition to mental illness, the very same illness that Jesus went on to develop during early adulthood. Joseph opted instead to assist in concealing Mary’s crime, and they were secretly married by the high priest.

Indeed, this was a troubled family, prone to instability and homeless wandering. Jesus himself was born under less than sanitary conditions, surrounded by animals and their droppings, which gives credence to the possibility that he may have been infected at birth with a schizo-virus found in the animal fecal matter. Upon the birth of Jesus, three social workers visited to assess the situation, and provided some limited assistance. Yet, even with the large taxes being assessed in Bethlehem, there was insufficient funding for helping these displaced and mentally ill homeless individuals, and Mary and baby Jesus fell through the cracks of a cold, uncaring system. No, My friends, there was no Mother’s Act. Without the support of Joseph, Mary and Jesus may have succumbed much sooner to the ravages of untreated schizophrenia.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The job application form

A friend of mine sent me a question this week that I'd like to throw out to the wider community. Her son has been offered a job that requires a physical. There are now two concerns of hers that center on disclosure and stigma. The family doctor refuses to sign off on the medical form because her son was hospitalized for three weeks at this time last year, he is no longer on meds and the doctor feels he will have relapse.

My friend understands the doctor's position from a legal standpoint, but is upset that the diagnosis will follow him around wherever he goes. She objects to the fact that he was "diagnosed" after a 45 minute interview by a doctor. Many job forms ask about mental health history.

We are all in this boat. Frankly, I've been avoiding this issue because I know it will rear its ugly head when Chris eventually gets around to being employed or needing insurance. I'm just hoping that things are not as negative as they sometimes look.

Can  someone get "undiagnosed?" Or, can someone go to their doctor and demand a downgrade of their diagnosis? Since medical records are private, if someone is asked on an employment form (insurance forms are more serious if falsified) what their mental health history is, what's the matter with saying "depression?" Now that  antipsychotics are being turned into antidepressants, where's the harm in claiming you were suffering from depression? Who's going to know? What about getting a driver's license for the first time?What legal recourse is there from a discrimination point-of-view?

What have we not thought of? What words of advice can you offer us?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pharma's amazing miracle

If I were a parent who's child returned from his or her first semester on campus with a prescription for Abilify or lithium in hand, I would want to sue the university for promoting drug addiction and encouraging depression. Check out this horror story in the New York Times. This story laments the number of students arriving on campus taking drugs for various mental health issues (and predictably overdosing on the drugs they brought from home), and it endorses the idea that it's then okay to conduct surveys asking students if they are depressed. 

Pharmaceutical companies are, of course, behind these screenings. Follow the money.

She learned she had clinical depression. She eventually conquered it with psychotherapy, Cymbalta and lithium. She went on to form a Stony Brook chapter of Active Minds, a national campus-based suicide-prevention group.

On recent day, she was one of two dozen volunteers in black T-shirts reading “Chill” who stopped passers-by in the Student Activities Center during lunch hour.
 “Would you like to take a depression screening?” they asked, offering a clipboard with a one-page form to all who unplugged their ear buds. Students checked boxes if they had difficulty sleeping, felt hopeless or “had feelings of worthlessness.” They were offered a chance to speak privately with a psychologist in a nearby office. Sixteen said yes.

The depression screenings are part of a program to enlist students to monitor the mental health of peers, which is run by the four-year-old Center for Outreach and Prevention, a division of mental health services that Dr. Hwang oversaw before her promotion to director of all counseling services.

This story also is witness to the triumph of Abilify's image and market make-over from an antipsychotic to an antidepressant.

The New York Times does not allow comments to this article. It would be flooded with critical comments if it did.

Canada's receptivity to progress and innovation

I just posted to Twitter an article from The National Post that raised once again doubts about how sophisticated Canadians are in understanding and treating so-called "serious mental health conditions." The article focuses on the oddity of University of Ottawa social work Professor Neree St-Amand's views being at odds with the mainstream. Professor St-Amand believes in "empowerment" and alternative therapies, which the article cluck clucks about as being at odds with the mainstream. Canadians hate being at odds with the mainstream. The article portrays Professor Armand's views as if they are stuck in the quaint time warp of the swinging sixties where "discredited" types like R.D. Laing held forth. There is no mention that St-Amand's views aren't even considered that radical these days for people who believe in mental health empowerment. Isn't there any other live academic in Canada with these views? Singling out St-Amand makes it look like there is not.

Unfortunately, I could only "like" this article on Facebook and not post my own rebuttal to it. I tried posting a comment. The comments section wasn't sophisticated enough to let me know if my word count exceeded its maximum. Well, I don't like this article. I think it's totally out-of-date and has an agenda. You be the judge.

Canadians (and I'm one) are infinitely less sophisticated than their closest neighbor, the Americans, certainly if this article and the comments to the article are any indication. I say this because Canada lacks an effective opposition in so many areas. There is simply not a critical enough mass of people in that geographically huge country to muster much effective opposition to a wide array of social, economic or political initiatives. Say what Canadians do say repeatedly about the ills of the United States, but when it comes to voices of dissent, well, the voices are few and far between in the country to the north. You need a critical mass of people and a political and economic climate that is fertile to innovation. Canada is historically very slow in this regard. This is not a good thing when it comes to innovative mental health treatment.

People who don't know their history may find it astonishing that what is now Ontario in the early 1800s was virtually ruled by an informal "Family Compact" made up of a closed oligarchy of landowners, administrators, churchmen and businessmen who virtually monopolized public office and controlled the economy. Canada has been suffering the effects of this and other British North American elitism in one form or another ever since. Canadians by and large are more trusting of authority than in other countries. They end up with mainstream policies that they accept unquestioningly, but that often are not in their best interests if they thought about it long enough, which they don't. The Family Compact mentality lives on in so many ways.

As a footnote to today's post, I wrote an earlier critique of Susan Inman's book that I also posted on Amazon.

Please feel free to send your own (short) comments on the article to the newspaper. Let's raise the collective IQ on display. Thanks!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Who writes this stuff?

Read the recent NAMI message below. Where does it mention helping 10,000 people each day actually RECOVER from mental illness? Misery loves company is not an incentive to thrive. Let's dump the hope and inspiration in the general sense, and raise our expectations about recovery. has become a beacon of hope for more than 10,000 people each day.

Visitors to find information, support and the comfort of knowing that they are not alone in their experience of mental illness.

Whether through one of the site's comprehensive education portals or personal contact through NAMI discussion groups, millions now have access to the hope and inspiration they so richly need and deserve.

NAMI needs your support to help us continue to sustain, grow and improve this valuable resource. Please donate generously.

Another space race in mental health

Official Washington rallies 'round a cause
Patrick Kennedy announced earlier this year that he would not seek relection to Congress in order to devote the next phase of his life to fighting the stigma of mental illness. I did an earlier post in which I expressed the hope that he would investigate the world of holistic mental health if he really wanted to make a difference in the lives of the so-called mentally ill. Most of us know that this a naive hope, given that Kennedy's world is Washington politics. Power brokers in Washington like to associate with power brokers like themselves, even long after they've left Washington.

It comes as no surprise that Kennedy has announced the formation of
to bring the best minds in neuroscience together to work on the to fight the "stigma" of mental illness by taking the same old tired scientific backscratching approach.

The website has posted a letter to Mr. Kennedy from The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) that makes my holistic heart sink. It's the usual scientific neurobabble about mental illness as a diseased brain, and how SCIENCE is going to tackle a subject where it has continously failed to get even a passing grade.

The SfN has been tasked by Kennedy to identify gaps in the knowledge base and research infrastructure 
  • Identify critical research areas and gaps in scientific knowledge
  • Support the most creative science, both emerging topics and innovative approaches 
  • Ensure outstanding young scientists are inspired and motivated to continue in research and are free to take risks and innovate 
  • Establish new partnerships across disciplines that are currently far apart and disconnected 
  • Enrich the scientific infrastructure by developing new cutting-edge technologies to explore how genes, cells, neural networks and systems operate in the healthy brain and how normal processes are altered in the diseased or injured brain 
  • Develop and support coordinating mechanisms, helping researchers collaborate, share resources, and exchange ideas and information among different institutions both nationally and internationally 
  • Remove barriers to new treatments through radically rethinking partnerships between academic laboratories, the pharmaceutical industry, and health care providers 
  • Ensure a sustained and aggressive national research funding commitment that enables progress on all of the above.  
I'm sure you've all noticed the glaring gap in this initiative. The gap is that there are plenty of people who know how to overcome so-called mental illness, have been doing so successfully for years, and apparently this organization is not at all aware that this is happening all over the world.  Those who have succeeded in overcoming the stigma of mental illness almost unanimously discredit brain chemistry as a source of their problems but also cite the brain chemistry model as the reason why their recovery is prolongued.  That's why there is no representation from working well in the SfN.
The outcomes of this discredited approach will be: drum roll, please: 
  • More conferences
  • More chance for neuroscientists to network at conferences
  • More money thrown at universities to attract young, rigid scientifc minds
  • More drugs
  • More academic articles
  • More funded people to shout down dissent
  • Washington galas "to fight the stigma"
  • Presidential iniatives "to fight the stigma"
  • Little or no progress in overcoming mental illness, because, as you can see, the biochemical model of mental illness is a front for industry.
Mr. Kennedy, there would be no stigma if the labelled mentally ill were actually getting well in sufficiently large numbers to make public health and social policies over the last few decades look well-directed.  As a population, the so-called mentally ill are in dire straights. As individuals, many are doing really well because they have taken it upon themselves to do so, against the best scientific advice.
Washington loves a good stigma buster chance to party and party it will.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vitamins work, but sometimes not enough

I got to thinking about the role of vitamins in recovery early this morning (4 a.m.) when I suddenly woke up from a deep sleep. That's funny, I thought. I haven't even had a drop of alcohol, I went to yoga; so why am I waking up? Then blinding insight struck. Waking up must have been to bring my perspective to Marian's and Duane's recent exchange of comments on the chicken and egg subject "is it mental or is it physical?" Yes, that was it!

I probably have got some of their points wrong, so please read the comment string at the bottom of the post. Marian, Duane and I agree more than disagree about the importance of vitamins for good mental health. For Duane, recovery seems more about the vitamins correcting underlying health conditions that can lead to psychosis. For Marian, it's more about healing the trauma that produced the symptoms. Marian feels more strongly than Duane that original trauma lies at the heart of an eventual schizophrenia diagnosis. Duane has experienced success when supplements were administered to his teenage son, so naturally, he sees the value of this strategy. Duane's not alone, because there are thousands of people who have credited their recovery to orthomolecular therapy. I have seen instant turn-around in myself when I use vitamins for specific health problems.

Actress Margo Kidder, recovered from bipolar disorder, always says that the first thing you need to do is get a hair test. I took her advice for my youngest son, Taylor, who was beginning to worry me back in high school. This was after Chris got his "diagnosis." Taylor's rebound was phenomenal and you can read about it here.  I only wish I had known about hair tests and orthomolecular therapy before Chris fell into the mental health maze. Based on what I observed with Taylor, it is very possible that Chris would have recovered quickly if I had got to him around the age of sixteen when he first began showing symptoms. (Severe acne may be one of the symptoms, according to Dr. Hoffer, as sufferers from pellagra, a vitamin B deficiency, have the same skin problems.)

You don't have to be as young as sixteen to experience turn-around on vitamins alone, but then there are the people, like Chris, and like many others, who have become psychotic, and that's where I think it gets tricky. It is possible that once someone experiences psychosis, recovery on vitamins alone is more problematic, not because it can't happen, but because it takes longer, or perhaps because the person begins to "enjoy" certain aspects of the psychosis and/or starts to question every aspect of existence. If you experience a spiritual awakening, also known as a kundalini crisis, once the djinii is out of the bottle, it gets harder to put it back in. The crisis begins to take on a life of its own. Kundalini crises don't resolve overnight.

The problem is, and always will be, the meds. It becomes very hard to untangle what is actually going on once meds enter the picture. I have no doubt that many more people would recover quicker than they do if megavitamins and dietary changes were introduced at the outset instead of the meds. Many more people would also recover quicker if they encountered the right kind of therapy or found the right person who said the right thing at the right time.

That's why I don't play up the role of vitamins as much in my blog as much as some readers would wish. Much of the impetus for my blog comes from wanting to show people that the "harder" cases, the so-called chronic or "treatment resistant" cases are often the people where it just means you have to work harder to get at the roots of the problem. I have seen my son improve when vitamins were introduced on top of the meds, I've seen him do very well when he was off the meds and on vitamins alone, and I've seen him relapse after doing very well on vitamins alone. Some people have recovered never having been introduced to vitamins at all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The drugs don't work, and yet they do

I've been busy lately and not able to focus much on the blog. My OLF (old lady friend) who I wrote about two posts ago got out of the hospital after three days and is bouncing around like a someone half her age. She was telling everyone she knew that she didn't need to go to the hospital and I did her no favor by taking her there. So, I read her the Riot Act, telling her that her symptoms were such that I would have been negligent if I didn't take her to the hospital. What I was trying to impress on her was that at her age, not having regular, reliable medical care isn't going to work for her much longer. She was having none of it.

This and pre-Christmas preparations have distracted me from being able to focus on cranking out a decent post. Here's what I was working on before I got side-tracked.

The Drugs Don't Work is the title of a 2009 article in Prospect magazine ("Good writing about things that matter"). I won't bore you with summary of the article, except to say that it's an in-depth review of "The Emperor's New Drugs," by Irving Kirsch, yet another book that claims that antidepressant SSRI's are worse than useless. While many of us are heartened that we finally are getting to hear the bad news about antidepressants and neuroleptics, when it comes to antidepressants, we also know that these kinds of meds work for most people. David Nutt, of Imperial College, who heads one of the largest departments of psychopharmacology in Britain says "Antidepressants work in clinical practice, and everybody knows they work."

We all know they work, due to something called the placebo effect, and we also know that while they in most cases are quick depression busters, they come with the price tag of side effects. (Peter Jones, psychiatry prof at Cambridge University, makes the astonishing claim in the article that no teenager ever committed suicide while in a clinical trial.) Kirsch's contribution is to point out that there cannot possibly be blinded studies on this particular class of medications because the clinical trial participants will quickly figure out if they are on an SSRI because they will be experiencing side effects.

The key to the placebo effect in clinical trials is expectation. People who believe they are taking the real drug are more confident that they are improving, and improve they will, even if they are on the placebo. The article explains that research shows the worse your depression, the more you will improve on an SSRI. According to Kirsch, as dosages increase in response to increasing depression, the side effects increase, too, making it more obvious to the patient that they are taking the real drug. So much for double blind trials.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Today's obituary

John E. du Pont

I'd like to see the autopsy report.

John E. du Pont, an heir to the du Pont chemical fortune whose benevolent support of Olympic athletes deteriorated into delusion and ended in the shooting death of a champion wrestler, died Thursday in a western Pennsylvania prison. He was 72.

Mr. du Pont was found unresponsive in his cell at Laurel Highlands State Prison near Somerset, Pa., a prison spokeswoman told The Associated Press.

“He had had some illnesses, so we are considering it natural,” Susan McNaughton, the spokeswoman, told The A.P., adding that the Somerset County coroner would make the final determination of the cause of death.

Monday, December 6, 2010

'Tis the season to be jolly

I make a point on my blog not to enter the territory of Gloom because enough people get their fill of gloom from the professionals dealing with "serious mental illness."

This week-end has been gloomy. The winter weather where I live would make even a cock-eyed optimist slit his wrists, but it's actually loneliness I'm speaking of. I spent part of Saturday night in an ambulance accompanying an elderly friend to the hospital. On reflection and without knowing further medical details, I believe that her extreme loneliness caused neurological symptoms.  I found her sitting in a darkened apartment, her skin was flaming hot to the touch, and she had a look of shock on her face. She kept repeating that she didn't feel well and that she was so sad. Well, she has every reason to be sad. Her beloved husband passed away three years ago last month, the Christmas season is fast approaching, and she lives completely alone.

This brings me to the next story. Chris visited a friend on Saturday night who he met at the day program he attended a few years ago. The friend is living with two cats in subsidized housing. I sent Chris off with a couple of good steaks to accompany their jamming session because his friend's refrigerator is usually empty. Chris told me that his friend doesn't understand why his family keeps him at a distance and that most people find him strange. He's been living on an electrical apprentice stipend of $20 a day for the past five years. Since he lives far from the training site, occasionally he is forced to take a cab. The people who run this sheltered workshop type of arrangement criticize him for taking a cab when he's paid so little. He's thinking of quitting.

I suspect that this sheltered workshop arrangement is the final step of the program that they both attended. Chris was encouraged to try out furniture repair after the program ended. Chris never learned furniture repair. The whole experiment fizzled out through lack of interest on his part. Since he emerged from the "recovery" program in pretty marginal shape he didn't enthusiastically embrace the work. He sat on a chair, sipping a coffee, watching the work, not doing it. The day program had the best of intentions, of course, but, as the saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

This sheltered workshop is a "good idea" that doesn't work for a lot of people, maybe because it's stigmatizing. It says to the individual that something isn't right with him while perhaps punishing the individual for living marginally, as was the case with Chris's friend. Recovery does take a while and one wonders where would the person be if these programs weren't available. In the absence of an encouraging family that person may well be on the streets.

Being separated from the family can be an outgrowth of the "good intention" approach. I maintain that more families would nurture their relatives if they weren't put off by the gloomy diagnosis in the first place. Families need to be told that complete recovery is indeed expected and here's what they can do to help. Instead, the doctors tell us that our children have brain diseases and will have to take medications their entire lives. Maybe they can live productively, but don't count on it. The medical model encourages sheltered workshops and subsidized housing. The individual becomes a problem from the families' perspective. People like Chris's friend are the biggest victims in this way of thinking.

Extending the hand of friendship is a powerful influence on outcomes in people's lives. Words and gestures can turn lives around.