By Ann LawsonNorwich, UK
Mental illness has an extremely poor image. It’s been called the last taboo. Unfortunately those who suffer or have suffered from being diagnosed with a mental illness tend to be dragged down by this image. Once you have been diagnosed or initially admitted to an institution for treatment, it is almost impossible to escape the stigmatization which automatically follows. Nor is it only those on the outside of the caring professions who carry these prejudices. Blind ignorance is also rife within psychiatry.
There is currently a research article which connects schizophrenia to the incidence of being cross-eyed or being born in a month with particularly intemperate weather. It seems we have progressed little from when entrails were read in Ancient Rome to anticipate events. The fact is no one has a clue about what causes schizophrenia, although as with most things these days a genetic cause is being sought, so far with little success. The most widely held theory for nearly all kinds of mental illness is it is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain.
I find this fascinating since no patient these days avoids the use of chemicals from first diagnosis, often till death. So how do psychiatrists’ determine that there is a chemical imbalance when the brains of mental patients have been bombarded with powerful chemicals from the beginning? What is even more disturbing about this theory is that if the drugs themselves have caused this imbalance, is that not good reason for stopping them?
Psychiatric drugs do not in any way cure the patient or even make him or her feel better. The side effects are appalling. They include the onset of neurological disorders. They include diabetes due to weight gain and innumerable minor and not so minor discomforts. It is seldom claimed that the drugs are therapeutic: They merely mask symptoms – symptoms which probably were less troubling than the effects of the drugs.
The drugs do this by crudely interfering with the normal chemical makeup of the brain, making thought processes difficult and sleep (or unconsciousness that appears to be sleep) hard to avoid. Did you ever wonder why mental patients are like zombies? Well, there’s your answer. Psychiatric drugs are making them feel ill and cause them to see the world with only half a brain. Drugs are the current historical sequel to long term institutionalization and chains – and lobotomy.
Basically psychiatry is a violent and intrusive way of controlling people who do not conform to other people’s expectations – or those who are vulnerable. Remember that treatment is not voluntary once force is used. Mental patients do not have meaningful civil rights. In the UK, often they are not even allowed to vote. In “hospitals,” “medication” is routinely administered by force if the patient refuses or is “non-compliant”. Mental patients have no right to privacy even when living in the community: “Health” workers may go round neighbors asking about the “patient’s” behavior, among other ploys. Medication is usually administered for a lifetime. There is no way anyone ever gets ‘better’ on psychiatric drugs. Being ‘mentally ill’ is a social status, not a medical condition. And the hospitals are merely prisons.
Why has psychiatry not been abandoned, since it is based on overt ignorance and involves obvious abuse? Why does the myth of mental illness persist?
Of course, we all suffer from time to time – usually depression resulting from life experience. There are various strategies which can be used to lift ones spirits and improve one’s health. They include exercise and diet. However the idea of the mentally ill as a category of persons distinct from the rest of the human race continues. I think this happens partly because of vested interests: The companies that market the drugs, which are the current treatment, make vast profits exceeded only by share prices for Internet companies. It is in the interest of these drug companies and their shareholders, which include many doctors, that psychiatry widen its net, constantly bringing more and more people into the sphere of those who are forced to ingest psychiatric drugs for the rest of their lives. Their motives and their lack of a sense of social responsibility are like those of the tobacco companies.
A drug has recently been developed which makes people less shy. Suddenly a new illness, a new diagnosis, was created to make use of this drug: “social phobia.” Now people are being diagnosed with this and – surprise! surprise! – are prescribed this new drug. The need to sell this drug and make a profit actually created the diagnosis! Tobacco companies do not need to force their customers to smoke since tobacco is highly addictive.
Most people find psychiatric drugs almost intolerable. So drug advocates create such fear and paranoia concerning mentally ill people (who are statistically considerably less dangerous to others than the general population) that a hysterical policy of containment and pharmacological control of mental patients is adopted and enforced.
Some researchers search for the causes of mental illness, particularly schizophrenia, ad infinitum. Science is no where nearer to understanding it than when it was first defined. Based on considerable experience and with great confidence, I argue that the whole course of this “illness” is created by the way it is “treated.” It is the confinement, the stigmatization, the ignorance, the physical and emotional abuse, the drugs, the prejudice of employers and consequent poverty, and the overbearing attitude of psychiatrists and others that cause this “illness.” For most people, mental illness has a career path from which there is no escape.
There is a vast industry profiting financially from the abject misery of mental patients whose problems are exacerbated by an effort to create hysteria, thereby making them outcasts. This makes sense of the otherwise cruel and senseless profession of psychiatry. The mentally ill are an essential part of what supports a very profitable psychiatric drug manufacturing industry. And psychiatry maintains the status quo by drugging into oblivion those who challenge it.
I’m not saying there are not vulnerable individuals, individuals with problems, and unhappy people – even people who are not healthy. But I am saying that conventional western psychiatry does not even attempt to cure them but simply to contain them and perpetuate them as “patients.” Secondly, western psychiatry often creates problems, such as in the case of schizophrenia, where there were none before, by its attitude and it’s “treatment.”
The widening grip of psychiatry also has been at the expense of less intrusive, more friendly and wholesome approaches to helping mentally or emotionally troubled people. What might be a temporary problem due to some minor upset or even a mistaken diagnosis, psychiatry can and usually does convert into a dramatic condition which requires a lifetime of treatment. This damages the individual to the core of his being.
The mentally ill are not more dangerous than anyone else despite the way they are mistreated. Paranoid schizophrenia is a logical response to psychiatric treatment and not the result of some unfortunate genetic modification. Any fool should be able to understand this, but try explaining it to a psychiatrist! It makes more sense to them what the temperature was outside when you were born. Who is mad here – psychiatry’s patients or its defenders?