Mental Health News: August 2017
Aug 01, 2017
Michelle Carter, 17, texted her boyfriend Conrad Roy, 18, to kill himself, and he did. That is the story we have all been told, filtered through the lens of the media. Yet, as is often the case, there is a large and dreadful disparity between what actually happened and what we are told happened, as Harved-trained psychiatrist and mental health advocate Dr. Peter Breggin points out in his recent blog. Breggin, who is involved in the case as a medical witness, shows how both Michelle and Conrad were victims of the pharmaceutical industry, which currently dominates the world of mental health. These young teenagers were on high doses of “brain-disabling” drugs, which clouded their perceptions and judgement, resulting in a tragedy that has rocked their community, and, through prolific news coverage of the case, the world.
Michelle and Conrad’s story highlights the adverse effect that drugs can have on children, adolescents and adults. Indeed, while writing my new book on learning and the brain, in addition to my years in clinical practice, I have dealt with a number of cases involving individuals diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), depression and other mental health challenges, and have read copious amounts of literature on the subject, which has only increased my antipathy towards the current overuse of psychotropic drugs and the dangers these medications can cause. These drugs create, rather than cure, chemical imbalances in the brain, are difficult to come off and can have terrible side-effects, including suicide and homicide.
Unfortunately, there is little scientific evidence for these labels. For instance, a recent article in Disability and Society noted that the very idea of ADHD, which includes vague operational definitions such as “often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat,” is subjective and defined by what society currently deems as “normal” or “abnormal.” Similarly, Sami Timimi, a British child psychologist and mental health advocate, shows how these "ADHD" symptoms are often used as explanations in a “game of semantics,” supported by unscientific, circular reasoning.
Michelle and Conrad’s story ought to serve as a warning of the dangers of psychotropic drug use and its denial of the complex nature of everyday life. Yet, thankfully, individuals like Peter Breggin and Sami Timini continue to fight for the right of people everywhere. They are part of a paradigm shift that is happening in the world of mental health, one that focuses on the person and the a community, giving individuals the freedom to participate in their own recovery while placing emphasis on the power of love and compassion.
In her own experience as a clinical practioner, Dr. Leaf's focus and goal has been to facilitate deep thinking, learning and self-regulation through mind techniques in a community-based environment. Her research, alongside many other clinicians using similar approaches, has repeatedly shown that transforming the mind works wonders. There is indeed much to hope for!
**This is informative and NOT individual medical advice.
**DRUG WITHDRAWAL should ALWAYS be done under the supervision of a qualified professional. These drugs alter your brain chemistry, and withdrawal can be a difficult and painful process. There are thousands of patient-run sites on withdrawal from psychoactive substances on the Internet, and many books available in stores and online. We suggest you begin looking at the resources page on Mad in America or in Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients, and Their Families. New York: Springer Pub. Co., 2013.
**For more information on learning how to learn and dealing with challenges such as ADHD and other learning difficulties, see Switch on Your Brain with the 5 Step Learning Process.
**For general information on the current state of psychiatry please visit Mad in America.
**If you or someone you know is being threatened with drug treatment please visit http://psychrights.org
**To report any adverse psychotropic drug effects you have experienced, and for more detailed individual drug information, please visit Risk.