Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Schizophrenia - needed by bad psychiatry

I try to avoid Dr. David Allen's blog Family Dysfunction and Mental Health, because, Dr. Allen, alas, does not understand schizophrenia and seems resistant to ex-patients explaining to him that their issues relate in some way to overt trauma or family dysfunction. Some of my blog's energetic readers have taken him on in the past, but to no avail. He, like 99.9% of psychiatrists, thinks schizophrenia is always the special case, some kind of weird creature unrelated to trauma and not treatable in a trauma-related context. Family dysfunction only has an impact on other conditions, apparently.

None-the-less, Dr. Allen's latest blog post, linking the increase in psychiatric diagnoses to the disability benefits juggernaut is quite interesting, and he makes some good points. I also have to give Dr. Allen credit that his blog is open to all, unlike some sites where you have to be a mental health "professional" to sign in and comment.

However, then there is Dr. James Woods comment to the Allen post below. Can you imagine getting better if Dr. Woods (or 99.9% of psychiatrists) was your shrink? Before you take on a shrink (and yes, they can be helpful), find out how schizo positive he or she is. My educated guess is that most psychiatrists will say all the right things, but keep you on the drugs and other dependencies because they really see you as mentally disabled. Here's a nasty thought of mine. Homosexuality as a mental illness label  got away from psychiatry in the 1970s through mass action by the gay rights movement, but "schizophrenics" will have difficulty organizing themselves against psychiatry if they are on disability and heavily drugged. Truly a malicious thought on my part.

Kudos for an extremely well-written and timely article, David.

As a psychiatrist myself, I try to avoid disabling people and rather concentrate my efforts on enabling people.

While certainly there are some diseases such as classic autism, moderate to severe schizophrenia, moderate mental retardation etc. which require disability, (and I am delighted to participate in securing disability services for these patients) we must remember as psychiatrists that many of our disorders are episodic; and tend to get better with treatment.

We need love (sic) work and play.

James Woods M.D.

I guess Dr. Woods does not consider people with schizophrenia as people, otherwise he, too, would avoid disabling them. Anyone want to picket his office? Oh darn, he didn't leave an address!


  1. Rossa,

    He's stuck.

    Especially in the area of "schizophrenia"
    (re: "schizophrenia"...in the words of the late Loren Mosher, M.D.: "Whatever that is")

    Dr. Allen has a one-sided view of "bipolar" as well ... He writes this -

    "Patients who really do have bipolar disorder should almost never be on disability anyway because, in the vast majority of cases, it is a highly treatable illness, and people are completely normal if they take their medications, are not in a manic or depressive episode, and do not have any co-occuring psychological issues."

    Boy ole boy, lithium works wonders, as does Depakote and the other anti-convulsants.

    Nothing quite as "therapeutic" as a thousand milligrams of toxic lithium salt in the diet. Not to worry, they'll do blood work and make sure the lithium is just below the level of placing a person in a coma. Pay not attention to that thyroid or that kidney.

    Psychiatrists are "doctors" and they'll set a person up for artificial thyroid replacement drugs and/or kidney dialysis... Those are just organs... They have ways to deal with them when they shut down... Not to worry.

    Never mind that the brain is not having seizures, take the Depakote (or other anti-convulsant anyway... "Do as you're told")

    Never mind the FDA warnings a few years back about increased suicidal ideation and suicide with the entire class of anti-convulsants...

    Psychiatry will address that with a anti-depressant, and if you still feel uptight about everything, they'll toss in an anti-anxiety drug.

    Trust them.

    I find his thinking to flucuate between the 1950s and 1980s. There's not much "new" about Dr. Allen.

    Oh by the way, in case your reading Dr. Allen (and we know you are)...

    The 1950's called.
    They want their failed biological theories back...

    And the 1970's wants back the haircut.



  2. Duane, you make some excellent points (and I laughed), but let's try to avoid the personal attacks.

  3. Yeah, let's try.
    Speaking to Dr. Allen.


  4. Rossa,

    We've discussed this before, but I think it bears repeating (further discussion, for any other readers who might like to chime-in)...

    The idea that an "illness" is "easily treatable" is not only a failed concept before it "gets outta the gate" (as we say here in Texas, especially rodeo fans)...

    There are lots of flaws in this failed thinking...

    Namely, very few people are able to be good little boys and girls and "stay on their medicine"... The ones that never chewed gum in class, day-dreamed out the window, or challenged a teacher in school (the folks that are much more likely to be labeled "mentally ill later on) don't like to be "told" what to do when they are adults.

    Also, once the drugs fail, as they do in the vast majority of cases (notice I didn't say "always"... not sure if it's emotional growth, or just plain getting tired of being called a "zebra"... see earlier post)... ONCE the drugs fail, the patient is then further labeled: "treatment resistant"... or worse, "personality disorder."

    In other words, the drugs fail and the patient is seen as the "failure."

    In psychiatry,
    Drugs fail.
    Not patients.

    In life,
    Failure is an event.
    Not a person.

    The arrogance of this profession known as psychiatry!

    It's not about being "compliant"...
    It's about finding the inner spirit... Overcoming (with or without symptoms)...

    In spite of the nay-sayers, especially the ones in white lab coats who haven't any more a clue about this mind of ours than we do.

    It is NOT about compliance!
    It is NOT about "conformity" -

    "Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." - J.F Kennedy

    Freedom runs pretty deep in this hill country kid!


  5. Yeah, I wonder about the "easily" treatable. If these things are so easy to treat, why are so many people considered chronic? On another topic, my son's had a university textbook with a chapter on it on what life used to be like in the Texas hill country and it was an eye opener. It was the fact that electricity took so long to arrive there, making life very difficult. The things we take for granted!

  6. good points about it being 'chronic' for so many people

    if your son is like most young people, he would love the hill country... it's beautiful



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