Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Occupy the opposition's blogs

Here's an idea which springs from my own discouragement that there is no civil debate anymore. We bloggers tend to cluster around our own, patting like-minded bloggers on the back and roundly condemning the opinions of others who, of course, rarely venture onto our blogs. It's like all debate these days has been reduced to people bellowing at each other sideways. It won't be heard.

I think it all started with e-mail. Whoever thought it was really cool to just launch into the message without the nicety of starting with Dear So and So, and ending with Your Most Humble Servant? Some twenty year old tech geek, no doubt. I had to take my own sister to task. She works for a major hardware manufacturer and I guess this is how she deals with her supply chain, but really, I thought I was always in her dog house by the way she launched right into her e-mails. I reminded her to say Dear Rossa and to sign off with.... at least her name. That worked for about a week. I myself slip up on many occasions.

So, occupy this! Here's the plan. What do you think? We begin to occupy other bloggers' pavement stones (the Followers or Members box on their blogs). In Parliamentary terms we become the loyal opposition Members, not just loyal to the opinions of the bloggers we agree with, but loyal to the founding principles of Parliamentary democracy. We occasionally comment on their posts. Now, the trick is to be polite and not feel that we always have to have the last word. We make our point and we leave it for other's to read. We don't use profanity or accuse the other person of a being an idiot nor do we make snide remarks about others. We simply provide a different way of looking at mental health that we would like to share with others. Who can argue with that?

Most people are thrilled to have more followers, and will be perplexed that we are there, but they can't prevent us from being there, can they? And remember: It's a two way street.


  1. I've got followers, regular readers and people I correspond with from all camps. It's not such a hard thing to accomplish if you actually care about human beings and not just what they believe.

    And then of course you must realize that trying to slam what you believe down other people's throats is also futile.

    I support your intention here.

    People spin spin spin in circles blowing hot air. It looks very tiresome to me. Though I have to say, in general, now, with a very few exceptions, I just stay the heck out of comment sections because I am not fond of people acting like idiots regardless of what they believe.

    Comment sections all over the internet are just downright distressing with no one hearing a thing except themselves. It's sad. Some of our blogs still have civil discourse but it's like you said, that's because they are only talking to each other and not to anyone who has had a different experience.

    You know, different belief systems come from different experience and the human experience is endlessly diverse. It's nothing short of arrogant to think that our little personal idiosyncratic experience has led us to the ultimate truth.

    I question my beliefs everyday, knowing that belief is not where the truth lies.

  2. Rossa,

    I wonder how many of us would be able to do this without resorting to less than civil remarks. I am uber-aware of the cliques which exist with the blogs I read, both with the ones I read because I like their perspective, and the ones I read because their perspective is different or unique. Individual bloggers are promoted, rather than the ideas or ideals they espouse; or the story that the writer is telling, it seems sometimes. I was never one who had any need to belong to a clique when I was a kid---I certainly do not care to now. The Doors song People are Strange comes to mind.

    I have found a similar situation in the psychiatric survivor movement. Who is a survivor, and who is or has been victimized by psychiatric assault, either now or in the past and who is 'in recovery'. Whether a person can be 'in recovery' if they believe the bio-medical explanation for psychiatric diagnoses, which is merely hypothesis. These are issues which many of us are passionate, and emotional about. Language and terms are debated, and rightly so.

    Months ago, I sent a DM to a blogger, because I was stunned and hurt for the way people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia were referred to in a particular post. I wanted to share my perspective in private, because I did not want to embarrass or humiliate the writer. I felt it was necessary to simply share that the term is perceived by many--myself included--as derogatory and insulting. Well, let's just say the writer did not wish to keep it private and proceeded to belittle my critique publicly. I reacted badly and am not happy with this fact. Lesson learned: not everyone can accept criticism, or keep a private message private.

    This chain of events lead me to experience one of the worst depressions I have had decades--and for this reason, I am definitely more cautious with whom I communicate. Similar life experiences do not necessarily bring similar attitudes or perspectives; nor do those who have had similar experiences necessarily friendly, or have the potential to be my friend...

    There is so much 'us' and 'them' type of thinking that underlies all of this childish behavior...and THAT is what bothers me the most---because IMO, mental health care and the mistreatment of those who have a psychiatric diagnosis is about ALL of US--the family of man--so it seems to me that the more separate and clique-ish any of us is or becomes---such as when it is the bloggers themselves who are promoted---instead of the material---it becomes more about who's who. It is interesting to me the number of writers who only retweet links when they themselves are mentioned or their own writing is referenced...Makes me wonder how much of their mental health activism and blogging is for 'the cause' and how much of their effort is for recognition and self-promotion?

  3. Becky,
    people posting private mail happened to me twice. they thought they were being nice too...and were offended when I told them the email was private. I put a copyright at the end of my email after that, though people thought it was really weird, it never happened again.

    the biggest reason I am not active online now is I'm just too sick...have barely enough energy to post let alone take care of and leave comments...well that and I've been at this for over 6 years. It does get old.

    and yes, here is to all of us remembering we are human beings who pretty much want the same thing...we're all more alike than not. I think I'm posting something about that tomorrow!

  4. Rossa,

    When I was 20 years old (about the age of my oldest son), I decided to attend training as a Little League baseball umpire.

    My first season into the game as an official, I was assigned to be the plate umpire for the Championship game.

    I made the last call at the plate.

    Last inning.
    Two outs.
    An infield single.
    Runner on 3rd comes sliding into the plate.

    "He's out!"

    I had a good view of the play.
    (Right on top of it).
    I called it like I saw it.

    The game was over.
    So was the season.

    And half of the bleachers were rocking.
    With parents screaming at me with all their might... Parents who were convinced the call was no good.... Several met me on the field, where they got in my face, and let me know they didn't appreciate the call.

    What has this got to do with the subject at hand?

    IMO, everything.
    It has to do with calling things as we see them. Even when it means people are going to get upset.

    How do I see it?

    Psychiatric labels injure.
    Beyond description.

    Psychiatric drugs do the same, especially their long-term use...
    They impede recovery and cause disability.

    ECT is a brain concussion.

    Psychiatric hospitals isolate and seclude.
    And dehumanize.

    Psychiatry circumvents the Constitution.
    It is a tyranical form of "medicine" by force.

    Psychiatry is not based upon science.
    It is a pseudoscience.

    That's my call.

    I don't care about being politically correct.

    I'd rather do what I think is the right thing to do... To let others know about the dangers of this dark art we call 'psychiatry'...

    In hopes that it might save a life or two.
    No matter how angry some people might get.

    Because it's important to present the facts.
    To tell the truth.
    To call it like we see it.

    That's my call.


  5. I hope you don't consider me a part of this supposed opposition, as I am far more on your side than against it; my main two issues with your posts -- as I stated over at The Mindstorm -- were 1) A narrow focus on and seeming demonetization of psychiatry when, as those with physical illness (such as I) are likely able to attest, every branch of medicine is equally prone to the same faults and 2) A seeming denial, at least at first, that long-term medication use may be indicated and appropriate for certain patients. That is all. Other than that, I am not the opposition. I can't be -- I don't align with any nonexistent camp or side. I align with the idea that a patient's ultimate health and well-being should be the guiding force of all treatment, whatever the best treatment for that person may be. For some, their bath may be best served by long-term medication management and other services (case management, etc); others may be served best by a mixing of medication and therapy at first and, after some time of this (after sufficient progress has been made), a transition to therapy-only; others may be best served by spiritual healing; and so on and so forth. As I also mentioned, I was of the therapy + medication --> therapy path and it has worked quite well for me (as a sufferer of major trauma and childhood-onset mental illness, this is the first time I can say that I really feel OK -- in fact, I feel good); however, I would never say that is necessarily best everyone, though I will provide insight and answer questions to someone else interested in going down the same path.

    It is that last bit that is important, as well; the idea of a sharing of experiences. Everyone who has traversed this road of mental illness -- or whatever your preferred terminology -- has a story tell and a right to scream that story from the rooftops of NYC, if they so please. Each of us has something that is worth sharing with someone else and each of us has something to learn from someone else. Thus, it bothers me when I see this talk of "the opposition" because, even though we are all climbing up different roads, we are ultimately all on the same mountain. Nothing good can come out of dividing ourselves; but, yet, I see both "sides" -- the very fact that we all seem prone to breaking into them! -- doing just that. Those who have positive experiences with medication often treat those with more negative experiences with disbelief and avoidance; those who have negative experiences often treat those with positive experiences the same way. Those from both "sides" treat the other as f they, are somehow, wrong.

    There are no "sides", no "opposition" to speak of. There are just people, connected by a similar and shared experience of pain, suffering, fright, hope, resilience and immutable spirit of stubbornness and fight (how else how would we all have survived to be so outspoken?!). We are not enemies; we are comrades. I wish that that those from all "sides" would see that.

    Just to be clear, I do not mean to focus in specifically on you or anyone else. As someone who has had both positive and negative experiences with psychopharmacology, and has therefore walked the line between these two supposed sides, I am just frustrated at the needless division among the mental health community because, in the end, most all of us are fighting with the same mission and passion (to help those diagnosed with mental illness -- or whatever you want to call it).

    So, yes, spread your story, bring awareness to it; but please, all of us (from all sides -- I say the same thing to those who are very pro-medication), need to stop treating each other as if we are from warring religions who believe that their conflict can only be resolved by mass conversion. As history shows us, that's just untrue; learning to coexist is our best shot at resolution.

    *Sigh* Apologies for the long response/rant. I just felt that it needed to be said.

  6. And please excuse all the typos.

    By the way, I did not just come upon this blog to state the above; I have been popping in, as a lurker, for quite some time. Just as I read Gianna's blog while I was tapering off. And so on. I do mean it when I say I traverse both sides and, truly, don't have an actual side because I don't believe they exist.

  7. Erika - Thanks for your comments. It's always nice to hear a new perspective.

  8. Rossa -
    As with you. I wish the best for your son and yourself.

  9. Erika,

    It seems (at least to me) that your thoughts on this subject are quite similar to (what seems to be) the vast majority of "open-minded" people.

    I disagree with most of them.
    For lots of reasons, that have nothing to do with a person's right to make an informed choice, and have everything to do with the lies, deception, and force used by a very "sick" form of "medicine."

    And I think that's okay.

    I hope some "open-minded" folks might come to appreciate the thoughts of those who (appear to be) "closed-minded" on these issues.

    Ironically, I hope some people might be "open-minded" enough to at least hear the views of a hell-bent (pro-freedom, pro-recovery) guy like myself.

    However "closed-minded" those views appear (at least at first glance).

    I hope you find the things in life that you're looking for.

    My best,


  10. Duane;

    I am open to hearing any view or opinion on these matters and, as I stated, you have every right to voice them.

    What I am curious about is what you are in disagreement with. If you noticed in my post, I acknowledged that many people have had incredibly negative and harmful experiences with psychiatry and its pharmacological interventions. Reading your previous response, it is obvious that yours was likely of this group.

    Now, let me ask you a question: Would you be angered, frustrated, hurt or any combination of such emotions if I told you, flat out, that it was impossible for your experiences to be negative and that EVERYONE'S experience was positive?

    If you have had a negative experience that should, at the very *least*, annoy you or inspire you into action. You know it's false and you know that, at the core of yourself, because you experienced the opposite. Unfortunately, it wouldn't surprise me if many have done and said similar things to you. If they have, I apologize on their behalf -- everyone has a right to have their story validated.

    Now, understanding all of this, I ask you to turn the tables a little bit. There are people who have had, thankfully, positive experiences with psychiatry; who consider it as a whole and their psychiatrist to have saved their life. Then, this person hears/reads the following:

    "All experiences with psychiatry are negative, harmful and full of lies. Nobody has good experience -- it is, in fact, impossible -- and if someone thinks they are, then they are just being manipulated."

    That person is going to feel all the same emotions -- all that same anger, hurt, frustration, annoyance, pain -- that you or anyone who has had a negative experience would to the first statement.

    In other words, my point is: Just as it is wrong to invalidate you or others with negative experience by saying all psychiatry is positive, it is equally wrong to invalidate someone with positive experiences by saying all psychiatry is negative. And, in this situation, both people making each statement would be equally in the wrong.

    I don't doubt that your experiences have been incredibly negative and I apologize for any hurt you have gone through. Likewise, I don't doubt that you have found a treatment path that works for you and excludes psychiatry. But to say that all people are experiencing the same harm, to say that your way is right for everyone, to say that psychiatry is wrong for everyone, etc -- that is not only false; but, as previously stated, incredibly invalidating to those with better experiences. That is my issue with such black and white side taking -- ultimately, both sides will just end up hurting each other. And that is why, though I will believe your story and believe your path is right for you and others, I cannot agree with you saying that your experience is everyone's or that your path is right for everyone.

    You also used the terms "pro-freedom" and "pro-recovery". Though I do not know what meaning you assign to these words, as they are defined in my own lexicon, I would say that I am both of them. I would also add "pro-choice" and "pro-validation" and "pro-respect". I believe in one's right to be free from the suffering that can be mental illness and their right to use whatever means necessary (excluding violence, self-harm and illegal activity, of course) to achieve that; I believe in recovery and that it should be the ultimate goal of any treatment (I believe that it is possible, too); I believe in one's right to choose what type of treatment to receive, who is going to provide said treatment and to choose to walk away if something is not working; I believe in listening to and believing others' story and experiences; and I believe in respecting each other.


  11. I am free from mental illness. I have recovered. I choose traditional psychiatry (with some modification -- I weaned/tapered of all medication with my psychiatrist's support); but I would never push this path upon anyone else and, if they feel something totally different (let's say, shamanic healing) is best for them, I will support them in that choice and do everything I can to help (do you need help finding a shaman?). I will validate your experiences; however, I ask the same in return. I respect you and your choices and I ask the same in return.

    If you would like to contact me directly, I can give you my e-mail, as well.


  12. Just skimmed through your website --
    My philosophy on treatment is the "recovery model" and I agree with quite a bit on your proposed act. I just believe that some people, upon truly exploring their options, find that traditional psychiatry is best for them. I know many people like this. So, I am confused, where is the disagreement? Do you just not believe that some people have positive experiences? Truly, I am trying to understand your position.

  13. Erika -I'm not sure what you mean by traditional psychiatry, but to me, trad psych as perhaps you are defining it is a recent phenomenon which promotes the diseased brain model of mental illness and vehemently attacks people who do not see drugs as the be all and end all. There is no problem for people who accept psychiatry's current treatment, but there are huge problems for people like me who want to use other means to help themselves or their relative. Psychiatry today has been heavily compromised by its willingness to side with pharma ($$) against what their patients are telling them. I do not believe my son or other people's relatives have damaged brains or are somehow "diseased", and yet that's what today's psych would want us to believe. The most progress we have made is when we ignored what our psychiatrists were telling us. If you need a concrete example of what my experience has been, do a search on OBE or out of body experience on this blog and see what happened when my son's psychiatrist found out what we had been up to. This therapy has been tremendously helpful for my son, yet his psychiatrist wanted it stopped. I have noticed that recovered people claim they had to remove themselves from the medical model in order to recover. This means active opposition to it in many cases. Of course people have had positive experiences with psychiatrists. But I would wager that many more people have not been so fortunate, and the rosy picture that psychiatry would like us to see is fading, because the science of the so-called disease model has been largely fabricated. I started my blog to give hope to the hopeless, parents like me who were told that their relative could not expect to get beyond "management" of the so-called disease. Along the way I found out about some interesting stuff that mainstream psychiatrists will never tell you about, so I thought it would be a good idea to share this information.

  14. Rossa -

    First, I would just like to reiterate the fact that psychiatry is not the only field in medicine prone to this. Saying that all, or even the majority, of psychiatrists are corrupt is equivalent to saying that all or most internists are corrupt. The truth is that there likely are quite a few of them; however, one must also acknowledge that, statistically, there are going to be many that are not. Unfortunately, when one has a negative experience, it is easy to stay focused on that. I understand that. I have had them -- both with psychiatry and other specialties within medicine. I have also had many positive experiences and credit my current psychiatrist (who uses therapy and conservatively prescribed medication) with saving my life (and making it a lot better). My current primary care physician is pretty good, too.

    Traditional psychiatry, when I use the term/think of it, refers to medication, certain forms of therapy (psychodynamic, psychoanalysis, CBT, DBT, etc), aspects of social psychiatry (which includes things such as case work, vocational programs, group therapy and, in essence, any program/mode of intervention aimed at increasing functioning and community integration), and a few other things; I would also consider the use of things such as St. John's Wort, Fish Oil, diet, exercise, etc to be fairly accepted as augmentations at this point. Non-traditional psychiatry would include most herbals, Chinese traditional medicine, any spiritual intervention (ex, the OBEs), therapies other than those I mentioned, diet (as a complete cure, versus as something to boost overall well being), complete dismissal of medication, therapy as a complete cure for SMIs (Bipolar and Schizophrenia), etc. I think there are some things that I would consider to be a part of neither, as I have seen aspects of it rejected and accepted by both -- ie, the recovery model.

    I do not consider 15 minute medication checks (ie, no therapy) to be traditional psychiatry and the majority of psychiatrists I know are against them and, when surveyed, the majority of psychiatrists in the US still do medication with some of their patients. To also note, when I mention things such as St. John's Wort, Fish Oil, diet and exercise in reference to traditional/mainstream psychiatry, I mean that most physicians I know believe they can contribute to overall health and, because of that, can be a mood-booster, etc. Now, as I have mentioned, I also recognize there are truly bad psychiatrists out there who only care about money (same with other specialties) and worship the 15 minute medication check. There are others that are just cautious and unsure: they have taught/told one thing and change can be difficult; but, if talked to enough, will likely come around.

    Either way, even good traditional/mainstream psychiatry is not right for everyone. It was for me. It may not be for your son. It may not be for the next person. It may be for the person after that. I support choice.

  15. In terms of the medical model vs social vs bio-psychosocial vs spiritual vs etc: I agree that psychiatry has, in many ways, gotten ahead of itself. We don't really know what causes X, or why Z happens or why Y does E. I will say that I believe it is a valid idea that, if one looks at enough people with the same condition, they will notice neurostructural/biological differences between that group and those without the condition. I would say that is a "Duh!" thought -- your brain controls everything so, if you are psychotic, it is likely acting in a certain way. I will also say that this fact does not validate medication as the only choice and exclude therapy. There have been numerous studies (if you want citations, I can find them) showing that therapy changes one's brain structure/biology. I would say this is also obvious -- when you change the way one thinks, self-regulates, etc, you are going to change some pathway. The fact is, everything influences the chemicals, biology and even structure of your brain: from trauma to your thoughts to what you ate today. I will also say that, because of that, there being differences between a psychotic person's brain and a non-psychotic's person brain does not necessarily prove it is a disease. I will leave that up to each individual to decide. If it helps someone most to see their psychosis as a spiritual crisis, they should; as a (happily) non-spiritual person (no problem with others' beliefs, though), it never worked for me. In my case, I have a traumatic background. I think the amount of stress and pain and fear and suffering that puts on a young child's mind is going to damage their ability to self-regulate, process things, etc. I also think mental illness (or whatever your preferred term) is too complex to say everyone develops it for the same reasons. I think it can be biological/structural in many, maybe genetic, others it will be caused by trauma, some others a combination, others a stress/adjustment/crisis in one's life and so on. I do know I don't have all the answers.

    In terms of recovery, I would agree that, to achieve it, one must distance themselves from the 100% medical model. As in, the model that states they have zero control over their own actions, responses, etc and they are destined to be disabled forever. My opinion, based off my own experience, is this: everyone will have their own limits and abilities. They must first identify those. Next, it should be accepted that, for the most part, one cannot control one's emotions. Without proper treatment and enough work (whatever one's preferred treatment), however, one can develop the ability to respond to them and to regulate their feelings so they are not destructive. Many may find that they lessen -- others may not. Many will be able to function to some level despite this and most all will be able to make significant improvements. In other words, to recover functioning, I believe must come to think they have at least some control.

    As stated, I absolutely support you speaking out and sharing. Just remember that the person who has found their version of recovery with medications and is a strong advocate for that is speaking for very similar reasons, which is all I am trying to say. Advocates on both "sides" are speaking their own truth and far more alike than different. Everyone needs to see that and be kinder and more accepting of each others experiences. We are, after all, struggling with the same things. We are much stronger together than fragmented and we all have a lot to learn (nobody holds the Holy Grail, in this case).


  16. One more comment --

    "The most progress we have made is when we ignored what our psychiatrists were telling us."

    This line stood out to me as my experience was so incredibly different. I made the most progress when I began to listen to my psychiatrist, though I see him as exemplifying what "good" traditional psychiatry should be -- therapy, medication used but conservatively, honest about we know/don't know, etc.

  17. Also (I know, I know -- sorry for the amount of comments, I just think of things to add after hitting 'submit), I know quite a few people who have had at least somewhat positive experiences. In fact, I would say that the majority that I know in real life have had said experiences; at the very least, almost all of them have not had completely negative experiences. (Perhaps I just live in a good area? Who knows). Obviously, there are quite a lot of people who have had completely negative experiences, as well. The majority of people I know, myself included, had mixed experiences -- in other words, having been seen by both really awful psychiatrists and really amazing ones.

    As for giving hope to other parents, you have every right to do that -- in fact, you should. I mentioned earlier that I believe we all have something to learn from each other. If your story can guide someone else on to a path that is right for them, that is great. I don't blog anymore (used to); but, as I stated, though I would never say I had found the only way, I found a way that many didn't think possible (coping without medications) and I want others to know that, in certain cases, it is very possible. Likewise, there are others who do best on medication and that is why I believe those with those experiences should speak out, too.

  18. Thought I'd pass this along, too. This is what most psychiatrists I know agree with it. There is still a lot in there I believe you will not agree with -- which, as I stated, is fine -- but this type of approach is what I consider to be good, traditional psychiatry.

  19. Rossa,

    You've asked that your site not be turned into a place for anti-psychiatry rants. I apologize for doing so, and will work on keeping the comments more positive.


    I took the time to read each of your comments (more than once), and did my best to see your point of view. I'm sure there were some things I was supposed to learn from them. This is Rossa's blog (not mine), so I think it best to leave things were they are.


  20. Erika,

    Thank you for at least trying to understand people like me: people who take and benefit from medication but realize that it is not the answer to all of life's problems.

    I'm still searching for the answers, but I keep coming up with more and more questions! That's why I read this blog (among others)and I try to keep an open mind myself.

    Understanding seems to be in short supply no matter what you think or where you look, so it really means a lot to me when people try.

    Thanks again.


I am no longer approving comments. All I ask is that you be respectful of others and refrain from using profanity.