Many people come into the mental health system often after being betrayed and traumatized in a number of ways: too often, the mental health system ends up betraying these people again, causing more harm than help. I believe the system has been too slow to respond to criticism, and to take seriously all the ways it can cause harm and how things could be changed to reduce harm.
Anyone interested in such issues may want to check out some of the resources listed below. I developed this list for some seminars I am currently presenting (along with Pam Birrell PhD) – we just finished presenting to a good group of 62 people in Eugene Oregon yesterday, and will be presenting in Portland Oregon on 9/14/12, more at http://ethicspdx.eventbrite.com/ I also hope to make this into a webinar, with ethics CEUs for professionals, by next spring.
The resource list for the seminar:
Many of the articles listed below are available for free at the included links.
Learn to think critically about psychiatric medications, while also earning up to 12 free CE credits, for free: http://www.criticalthinkrx.org/ (This site was funded through a settlement for drug company misbehavior.)
One place to find out more about medications and risks, that is professionally run but not drug company funded: Rxisk.org . This site offers the ability to search for a drug and see all the available data from fda’s medwatch, organized in an easy-to-understand manner, with charts, graphs, leaflets, and other information that may not be available anywhere else, and it’s all free. A number of psychiatrists, including David Healy, are the creators of this site.
There are two sources in particular that you might want to check in on frequently to make sure you have access to critical information about biopsychiatric claims. One is Mad in America , a website organized by Robert Whitaker but also featuring many others, that includes both easy to read blog posts by a number of authors, plus references to the most recent research. Another is which is a facebook group that describes its purpose as “To be clear, this group is absolutely not anti-pharmacology. It is decidedly anti-pharmaceutical corruption, including perpetuation of pharma myths, concealing iatrogenic effects, under-representing and concealing side-effects, and exaggerating clinical efficacy.”
One thing that makes informed consent for medications difficult is the fact that people come in with lots of untrue expectations about the ability of professionals to really know what is wrong with them and what will safely fix it. Advocates Inc. developed an informed consent form that really addresses these issues, in a way that empowers the people receiving the medications while fully disclosing the limits of professional knowledge. You can access this form at Http://bit.ly/NmNlix
The Triumph of Bad Science is a blog post by Robert Whitaker that explains the history of the false claim that black box warnings about antidepressants are increasing rates of suicide. For access to lots of articles that document reasons to doubt the long term usefulness of all the types of psychiatric drugs, broken down by drug category, go to the Anatomy of an Epidemic website and look at the sidebar on the lower left.
Some current trends in therapy are moving away from both a focus on diagnosis and even on the “symptoms” that underlie the diagnosis: for an introduction to one of them, see this video introduction to the Method of Levels, which has also been called a “transdiagnostic” form of CBT. The focus is simply on helping the person work out conflicting purposes.
Lots of articles are available online for those interested in the Open Dialogue approach.
Psychiatrist Pat Bracken speaks on the current “crisis of legitimacy in psychiatry,” and the growth of the international “service user” movement at the Forum for Existential Psychology and Therapy. The root cause of the crisis is not attributable to psychopharmacology or “a few mistakes in the DSM” that more research would get right, he argues; the root cause lies deep in the dominant paradigm; a “modernist” agenda to frame all human problems in scientific and technological terms. http://tinyurl.com/cw2f3xp
Articles by Pamela Birrell PhD:
Birrell, P.J. & Freyd, J.J. (2006). Betrayal trauma: Relational models of harm and healing. Journal of Trauma Practice , 5(1), 49-63.
Birrell, P. J. (2006) Ethics of Possibility: Relationship, Risk and Presence. Ethics and Behavior , 16(2), 95-115.
Birrell, P.J. (2006) Schizophrenia Under Siege: The Unmaking of a Disease. [book review] Journal of Trauma and Dissociation , 7(2), 91-95.