Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Re-examining the Biochemical Model after Newtown: The Effects of Stigma and the Need for Better Family Coaching

Re-examining the Biochemical Model after Newtown: The Effects of Stigma and the Need for Better Family Coaching

by Rossa Forbes

January 7, 2013

The media discussions around the horrific event that unfolded in Newtown, Connecticut just before Christmas once again focus the world’s attention on the nation’s gun control laws. Let’s hope that this time, the right actions for the right reasons will be taken to prevent these kinds of atrocities from occurring. This latest gun tragedy is also a topic of much debate in the mental health communities.

Discussion of what particular DSM mental health label Adam Lanza had, as with previous mass murders, is a red herring. That being said, our culture, our school system, the way we treat our family members has more and more adapted itself to psychiatric classification and labeling. The drugs used to treat these labels are more or less the same, thereby undermining these distinctions. Those of us in the more militant wing of the recovery movement believe that people have emotional problems in adjusting to living no matter what category they are deemed to fall under in the DSM.
What I am about to say will not stop the kinds of tragedies we see in Newtown, but it may save some individuals like Adam Lanza from becoming mass murderers.   Read more here


  1. Great article....here is Point 2 found in NAMI letter to President Obama a few weeks back. This goes along with the point of educating others about mental illness and identifying risk factors and triggers.

    NAMI wrote our President:
    2- Provide training to school personnel, law enforcement, families and members of the community on how to identify and respond to youth and adults experiencing mental health crises. Too often, those in a position to help do not know what to do when a child or adult manifests the early signs and symptoms of mental illness. Education and training for school personnel, law enforcement professionals, families and other community members exist, including Mental Health First Aid, NAMI’s Parents and Teachers as Allies, NAMI’s Family-to-Family, Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs for law enforcement and more. Implementing these programs on a national level represents significant progress in promoting increased awareness and capacity to help those living with mental illnesses. The unfortunate reality is that mental illness and how to respond to it remains a taboo subject for many and we need leadership to help change that. One immediate step that can be taken is enactment of the Mental Health First Aid Higher Education Act (S. 3325/HR 5966)

  2. Thanks, Gerald, and welcome to this blog. I have long had a problem with NAMI, because of its non-liberating view of "mental illness," and its funding by pharmaceutical companies, which represents an obvious conflict of interest. But, there are pockets of the organization that are beginning to question the status quo, and that's hopeful.
    Best regards,


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