I sometimes participate in conversations on linked-in. It’s become a source of gratification at least some of the time as I see more and more people waking up to what is happening in the mental health system. That said, I’m also still often horrified at what I meet there out in the mainstream of mental health providers. I hang around, however, because I’ve also found that there are many folks who are really deeply grappling with issues that only a decade ago were simply widely avoided. It’s an exciting time and people are really opening up to the possibility of deeply humane ways of helping folks that at this time get labeled with psychiatric DSM diagnosis. Below I’m posting some slightly edited comments from one of the threads.
This sort of belief is tragically still rampant among mental health workers. It’s like a cancer and it needs to be called out and destroyed.
MHP is “mental health professional.” She is referring to Robert Whitaker’s talk at NAMI in the first comment. She feels that perhaps “patients” and family members should have been protected from the radical truth. OMFG. It’s like we live in the dark ages.
MHP: It can be questioned as to whether this was the best forum for such a speech as family members and patients were present. Would this be better served to have been presented only to professionals to prevent patients from grasping onto this view as a reason to stop their medications?
ME: yeah…lets keep on infantilizing everyone…they can’t handle the truth, right? Can’t make analytical choices or listen to debate? This is exactly what has been wrong with mental health treatment as currently practiced….the truth is routinely withheld and people cannot make informed choices. It’s nothing short of criminal when considered from that stand point. Some of us have been gravely harmed because we were not given choices. That’s why we’re motivated to share the whole truth…then people can decide what risks they want to take or not.
MHP: Monica, some people really can’t handle the truth, make analytical choices or listen to debate precisely because of their mental illness. On the other hand, many can despite any mental illness. That is what makes balance in this field so difficult to achieve.
ME: I was a social worker for many years in social services with the “seriously mentally ill.” The only people I routinely dealt with who couldn’t handle the truth were some of my colleagues and the administrators…that was my experience. And it continues to be my experience now. Mental health professionals are often terrified of the truth to the detriment of those they serve.
The truth is GREY, not black and white, those who understand this are very good at helping others understand it too. Withholding the facts about these treatments is LYING. Truth is nuanced — choosing which bits to share is dangerous and amounts to coercion in psychiatry because real choice cannot be made when only bits are given.
What is most frightening to me is that there are people who imagine they’re in a position to determine when and how what parts of the truth is communicated…and to whom.There are people who imagine they have the ability to determine who is fit for the facts and who is not fit for the facts…
This is far uglier than just paternalism or infantilization. It’s oppressive, repressive and ultimately brutally coercive. This is why a good number of people who’ve been harmed by psychiatry are so angry. I don’t know why that’s so hard to understand for so many people. It really only takes a modicum of empathy to imagine the indignity of such treatment.
Also in response to the first comment about this information being dangerous because “patients” might just up and stop their meds I wrote:
Robert Whitaker is always very careful to make clear that coming off medications precipitously is dangerous and ill advised. This is made clear in his books and in every talk I’ve heard him give.
Coming off medications must be done very carefully. And those of us who’ve come off them and help others do so are very explicit about how potentially dangerous it is and how careful and well-informed people need to be.
If anyone would like such information see here:
The sad reality is the medical establishment gets people on medications but doesn’t have a clue about how to safely help people off. Please do carefully educate yourselves and don’t expect psychiatrists to know how to do it in the safest ways. They are simply untrained in it and often cause much more severe withdrawal problems…it’s an absolute travesty.
For further consideration on this topic:
The truth is often ugly… (what people are up against when they choose to free themselves from psych meds) — this is an article that discusses how resistant some professionals are to the truth
Daniel Carlat MD on Fresh Air — discussed by Giovanna Pompele — here we see a psychiatrist justify lying outright to his patients