Thursday, October 20, 2011

Like-minded parents muscle their way into the ISEPP conference

I was pleased to be asked to contribute a blog post to the upcoming International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) conference in Los Angeles, Oct. 28-29. The conference is entitled: Alternatives to Biological Psychiatry: If we don’t medicate, what do we do?

The content of my post (below) is the usual stuff that I yammer on about, that everybody talks about alternatives to the current mainly drug based treatment for schizophrenia, but what is anybody actually DOING about it?
Actually, it is parents who are disastisfied with the current group think about mental health, who, through trial and error, have figured out how to put the pieces of their child back together. We are reluctant to deliver our relative into the hands of professionals, having learned through experience that if you want to do something right, do it yourself. Unfortunately, parents who have figured it out, are rarely invited to speak at conferences, which are the domain of mental health professionals. That being said, the ISEPP conference is a terrific opportunity to shape and direct the future of alternatives to biological psychiatry. Fellow bloggers, Becky Murphy and Duane Sherry have also contributed posts to the ISEPP blog. Read Becky's contributions here and Duane's here
A Mother’s Search Through Alternatives to Biological Psychiatry: If we don’t medicate, what do we do?

By: Rossa Forbes

First of all, I am delighted to have the chance to speak to this issue in my blog post to ISEPP. That’s the big question, isn’t it?

If we don’t medicate, what do we do?

Where is the how-to guide?

In December 2003 when my then nineteen year old son, “Chris,” was first hospitalized and given a diagnosis of “schizophrenia,” I had no idea that there were any alternatives to the medications. Certainly, no doctor informed my husband and I that there are competing schools of thought about schizophrenia and other so-called mental illnesses. Instead, we were told the usual claptrap that he had a brain disease and drugs would control it but not cure him. That negative message stopped us in our tracks for at least two years. My son did not get better during that period, even in an expensive outpatient program that he attended daily. He was as much a mystery to the psychiatrists when he left—as medicated as when he entered.

However, I got better, meaning I got smarter and started to investigate what I could do for him. I decided to take my inspiration from psychiatrists and others who have a generally more upbeat perspective on schizophrenia—Abram Hoffer, Thomas Szasz, R.D. Laing, Dr. Peter Breggin, and Dr. Loren Mosher. I went even further afield and read Carlos Castaneda, Hermann Hesse, and Daniel Paul Schreber and began to sense a wonderful magic to this so-called disease. I am not romanticizing this condition, but it’s important to see the magic. I read about the German New Medicine of Dr. Ryke Geert Hamer and I saw how trauma or shock registers in the body as cancer, schizophrenia and other health problems. Dr. Hamer also says that rendering a diagnosis sets in place feelings of hopeless and despair that prevent healing. How right he is. Armed with this information, I put together my own healing program for my son. This generally amounted to dragging him (and me) through some weird and wonderful stuff. I figured that chances are, as his mother, I had a role in why he reacted to life as he did, and I may as well take this opportunity to heal myself, too.

Read the rest here.


  1. Nice work. As for me, Rossa, I challenge the medical model in a different way.

    My alternatives have involved changing my diet to manage for reactive hypoglycemia, making sure I get regular Omega-3 supplementation for good brain substrate, taking magnesium and B-vitamins, regular massage, creative work, exercise to manage anxiety, and understanding how childhood trauma (I witnessed my mom have a breakdown at the age of four and as an adult I am pretty sure she has undiagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder, which created endless double binds for me psychologically) can set us up for emotional/neurological vulnerabilities.

    And realizing that my vulnerability to psychosis always involves lack of sleep. The docs will tell you poor sleep is part of the disease, is downright deceptive to downplay the role of poor sleep hygiene. Today, they see psychosis induced by simple lack of sleep and say that's schizophrenia--until you disentangle your story from the grossly oversimplified pharmaceutical story. What an insult mistruth is.

    This is a multivariable illness. Tell that to your doctors. In my case, perimenopause played also played a key role. The brain likes estrogen. And my brain at 45 said, WTF is going on in your body? When I was admitted in '03, I was 45. On the copy of my intake documents, the official admitting me wrote, "patient looks older than 45." I did not know I was in perimenopause until I completely lost my period in '06. That is when I knew, in hindsight, that the anxiety and lack of sleep that had been part of the '03 episode had likely been triggered by "the change. "

    Once I knew that key piece, I knew for sure the medications were irrelevant, and got my doctor to agree to full weaning. And of course, those meds don't do what the doctors say they do, anyways. Prevent psychosis? No, dear doctor, I know my body better than you. Seroquel sedates. Duh.

    I don't need seroquel unless I am not sleeping....

  2. Rossa,

    Thank you for sharing your family's story on the ISEPP blog. IMO, the things that work best are getting the body and brain strong through exercise and nutrition; learning to get the mind calm; expanding the comfort zone to learn to accept and embrace pain; forgiveness and learning to appreciate ones one worth. Those are my thoughts. I also believe that these things can be done in various ways, whatever works for each individual.

    Also, I think it helps to read and get involved in life, with lots of things that have NOTHING to do with understanding mental wellness (especially, mental illness). In other words, living... really living.

    It was one of the hottest heat spells in Texas this past summer. Now, we're having some beautiful days and nights. So I've been taking lots of walks, riding my bicycle, and enjoying the weather!

    Our Texas Rangers are in the World Series (for the second time in the ball club's history). We take on the St. Louis Cardinals tomorrow night here in Texas. As a man who played baseball from age 6 into college; umpired Little League Baseball, and coached blind baseball (beepbaseball) players for many years, I'm excited about the prospect of the Rangers winning the title this year.

    Going to be watching tomorrow night. Which reminds me of one of the best movies ever made...

    "Watching the world series would be good therapy too, wouldn't it Nurse Ratched?" - McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

    Good stuff!

    Be well,




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