Stigma alive and well among mental health professionals

I made a phone call to a trauma therapist who is an MD as well (but not a psychiatrist). This is the email I sent him after he abruptly ended our  phone call and told me to send him an email if I wanted to talk to him more. I think I could hear his eyes gloss over when I referenced Charles Whitfield’s work and said that psychotropics could be “agents of trauma.” Or maybe I lost him as soon as I said that I’d been on massive doses of psychotropics for twenty years. There is no better way to lose credibility quickly than acknowledging you were sucker enough to do such a thing. Except professionals generally don’t think “suckered.” They think, oh, “I’ve got an unreliable mental patient who really needed the drugs here.” EXCEPT they don’t think that either. They have a knee-jerk reaction in their gut and don’t even realize it! It’s completely unconscious on their part.

Oh yeah, I talk about this “credibility” problem with professionals here. I never get this sort of energetic about-face if I don’t acknowledge my personal psychiatric history. When I do acknowledge my history the vast majority of mental health professionals shift gear and stop taking me seriously.

The first time I became acutely aware of this phenomena was many years ago on a date! I went out with a psychoanalyst and we chatted all evening. He kept on talking about the future the way a new date does when they want to express interest in seeing you again. Then I revealed my history!! Oh my, if he could have run run run away he would have, but he had to drive me home first.

So, it’s always the same with people who are going to go down the knee-jerk path. Doesn’t matter if it’s a date, an employer, a colleague or a therapist. The only thing they all have in common is that they are MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS. And as I’ve stated in the post I wrote about this it matters not one iota if these professionals bill themselves as radical or alternative either. Bigotry is alive and well throughout the entire system and that which rebels against the system, too. If the person has professional training of any kind there is a very good chance that the victims of the system are further victimized even by those who profess to critique the system.

To make matters more complicated the psychiatrist most responsible for my heavy drugging actually showed great respect and warm regard towards me. He believed in me; problem was he also didn’t realize the drugs were toxic, debilitating and deadly. Yet, his regard for me as an equal was quite a bit more than some “alternative” anti-medication type professionals I’ve encountered. This is not a phenomena that is divided by whether one is apt to treat with drugs or not. Nope. That is one of the reasons it’s so complicated.

I’ve learned to pick it up quickly now and find there are few people I can work with because of it. The good part though is when I find the people who are free from this bigotry and prejudice they are rare and wonderful healing people and I’m pretty good at eliminating the ones that can’t help themselves in their bigotry at this point. People free from prejudice of this kind do exist! The challenge with my condition now is I am finding that I need lots of different folks to fine tune what I need to learn and it’s hard to find those folks. Slowly but surely I am doing it though.

This is the email I sent to the trauma therapist:

Since you seemed to have no idea what I was talking about when I told you about the iatrogenic illness I have I thought I’d share some documentation with you. People become crippled coming off of benzodiazepines alone…it’s very easy to find this documentation…

I have lots of evidence about the other psychotropics too, but it’s harder to collect for the purposes of a brief email.

I cannot possibly work with you if you aren’t willing to grasp and understand and embrace the neurotoxic nature of psychotropics.

I was a social worker in mental health for 15 years. I worked with people who had been damaged by these drugs. People die 25 years earlier on average when they’ve taken neuroleptics their whole lives. Anyone with eyes who are not in denial can see the toxicity in these populations. We’re taught and trained though that “crazy” people should tolerate toxic crap because it’s better than being crazy.

It’s an (almost) unspoken tragedy but finally there are many speaking out.

These are news articles about such damage:

If you want more information about ALL the classes of psychotropics I recommend Robert Whitaker’s book:

and also Charles Whitfield’s which gets explicit about drug treatment actually exacerbating and/or causing PTSD.

I’ve got much much more information if you are interested. But I can tell you if you don’t believe these drugs profoundly harmed my body I won’t work with you. It seemed you switched right off when I shared this with you and since I prefaced it with a statement that made it clear it was something I was nervous about sharing I can only surmise you did what most doctors do to the psychiatrized and made it all about my poor sick, traumatized brain.

I might be wrong. That would be nice.

This was sent purely for his education as it’s unlikely I was wrong about the reason for his abrupt ending of the phone call. It’s exhausting approaching new people for information or care.

Writing the above email made me realize I really need to collect info pages on neuroleptics and other classes of drugs like I’ve done for benzodiazepines. It was easy to toss this email together by visiting this benzo page on my blog.

A project for a future day.

Charles Whitfield reports that the most toxic and dangerous class of drugs are the antipsychotics/neuroleptics followed by antidepressants, stimulants and finally the benzodiazepines. He doesn’t talk about mood stabilizers, but Grace Jackson does and they too are vile and toxic. (here and here) Lamictal may be the worst. So you see, the above dismaying articles I’ve shared about benzos aren’t even as bad as it gets, though he points out that they can certainly have the most painful withdrawal syndrome. The other classes of drugs are even more neurotoxic.

It’s harder to come up with such a well documented collection of information on the other classes of drugs because there has been so much less systemic study into the dangers of the other psychotropic drugs, but it is out there and available and really, I just need to cull this very blog for all the news articles over the last four years pertaining to such. It’s just a lot of the evidence isn’t laid out as explicitly in the media as they still tip toe around being critical about other psychiatric drugs. Benzodiazepines fell out of favor a long time ago so it’s easier to find explicit damnation of them. The other classes of drugs are still protected by their patents. Benzos are no longer patented so there is no financial risk in shredding their public image. Patents are running out on the psychotropics now which is why the criticism is getting louder in the media. We’ll see much more as time goes by.

**the doctor responded to the above email saying he thought that he was not the right therapist f0r me. You think? He did  thank me for the email. I responded with this brief message:

yes, that seemed clear to me but I wanted to share the info and perhaps find out if I hadn’t judged the situation correctly. I’m aware that may still be the case.

I do hope you’ll educate yourself on what I shared. Many people are sick and do not know why and their doctors do not tell them because they do not know why either.

Iatrogenisis is far too common among people who have been subjected to psychiatric drugs.

All MDs who work with any sort of general population need to know about this.

**another post on how professionals treat those labeled with psychiatric diagnosis here: Bridging the Patient/Professional Divide

**there is now a page with a collection of posts on: About having been both a mental health professional and a psych patient

**I have posts about other emails I’ve written to my long-time prescribing shrink and a couple of other MDs here.

**my severe sensitivity to the computer monitor has passed for now. That was almost a week of forced break from screen time! I still plan to slow down and do less posting on the blog, but we’ll see. I sometimes simply get caught up in doing it. It’s a way to structure my days and to have a routine while stuck at home.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters