Biopsychiatry is all the rage these days isn’t it? How have mental illnesses, like Borderline Personality Disorder, and so many others, suddenly become pathologized beyond belief with a new stigma – “brain disorder” – the message that implies the need for pharmaceuticals. A message that the National Association of Mental Health (NAMI) in the United States has forwarded. As if drugs are, or will someday be, the “cure”. As if drugs are the answer. Says who? Who do you believe?
The pharmaceutical industry influence on the psychiatric profession has been growing for sometime now. Is it a scam? Who is it designed to serve, really? In many ways this is a new stigma forwarded by drug companies out to make money. Conventional messages of organizations that mental illness is somehow this deep brain structure issue, brain disorder thing, suddenly, that requires drug treatment many believe to be the direct result of studies that have been funded by the pharmaceutical industry.
“Studies have shown that medical students and residents are susceptible to undue influence from pharmaceutical companies due to the companies involvement in medical school programs.” (Wikipedia)
“Antidepressants have been shown to have only a minimal effect, over that of a placebo, on patients. In an essay on advertisements for anti-depressants published in PLoS Medicine, social work academic Jeffrey Lacasse and neuroanatomist Jonathan Leo state that, despite this, the chemical imbalance theory is promoted by the medical industry as an explanation to depression and that their medicines correct the chemical imbalance. They also state that there is some evidence that both patients and professionals are influenced by the advertisements and patients may get prescribed medicines when other interventions are more suitable. In a further article they state that chemical imbalance has also been cited in media as an important cause of depression despite a lack of scientific literature that shows this causality.” (Wikipedia)
I found a video quite by accident. (Ah, but I am a believer that there really are no “accidents”) I believe, however, that it is certainly worth watching. If nothing else, Dr. John Breeding, makes some very interesting points about what he calls, “Big Pharma Front Groups, NAMI? Psychiatry Mental Health” Consumers need to really think more about the influence of pharmaceutical companies and the funding they provide to some major mental health and other advocacy organizations whose messages may well be tailored to suit these funding sources.
In the case of NAMI for example, I know that is where I first read online about Borderline Personality Disorder being categorized and described as a “brain disorder”. As I’ve always maintained, based upon my own experience, as someone who recovered from BPD – and by the way I was NOT EVER on any psychiatric medication – despite there being some neurobiological aspects to BPD – there is also the reality that BPD has a large part of its etiology in the nurture half of the equation. The nurture versus nature – the psychological/environmental versus biology – debate is a well-entrenched one. There are many professionals on both sides of the argument. It seems that most professionals associated with NAMI, in the United States, who according to the information provided by Dr. Breeding in the above video, only disclosed its funding when it was forced to and received over 50% of its funding from the pharmaceutical industry, are on the nature side of the debate citing studies that are also likely “pharma funded”.
Other organizations and perhaps what little media coverage BPD garners are following NAMI’s lead – or are being mislead? Next thing you know, brand new stigma – Borderline Personality Disordered individuals end up feeling hopeless or helpless thinking that they cannot change or recover unless and until that magical pill (biggest scam of all) is discovered because they are being told that this disorder has its roots in abornmal brain structure and/or function.
How can NAMI justify this? How can they claim to be a leading national association of mental health (in the United States) and do such disservice to their members? Just as with the other example Dr. Breeding cites about the Freedom From Fear organization actually being a perveyor of fear, something that seems largely a part of American society and culture – just reference Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” documentary where he gives an in depth explanation of the fear-mongering that is prevelant in so many areas of American society and media – witness the 24/7 cable news networks, that after all, need something to fill all that air time with.
People who are put in helpless and fearful positions or mindsets by those in government, media, or mental health, who are charged with authority, responsibility, and the well-being of those they are supposed to serve, can suffer untold and perhaps even unmeasurable confusion, distrust, and harm.
Sadly, perhaps even tragically for so many people, so many mental health consumers, the more the pharmaceutical industry flexes its powerful and far-reaching money-making muscles the more distorted the information that they need really becomes. The more they are likely to be told they need drugs to treat what is “wrong” with them. The more drugs they are given, the less actual therapy that is delivered. The more the message of mental illness being biological is put forth, the less people are actually helped and the more powerless they actually become.
The search for therapy is best conducted in areas of the mental health profession that do not prescribe drugs. I was most helped in my own recovery from BPD by social workers, a couple of psychiatric nurses, and psychologists. In fact, all I did with any contact I had with psychiatrists was refuse all of their attempts to get me to take medication. Medication that I knew was not the answer then for me. Medication that I don’t think is the (overall) answer for people now.
The pharmaceutical industry is victimizing mental health consumers and there are middle-“men” in the mix. Some psychiatrists. NAMI? The media? The pharmaceutical industry is disempowering the unsuspecting mental health consumer. Mental health consumers need to empower themselves with as much information as they can and certainly not rely only on the biopsychiatry that is dominating a lot of psychiatric practice in recent years (particularly in the United States).On Biological Psychiatry “I want to provide the basic information necessary to understand the misguided beliefs, and subsequent harmful practices of psychiatry today. As there are millions of homeless people in this country, and as “mental illness” is purported to be a major cause of homelessness, I will focus on how psychiatry treats homeless people. Know, however, that the principles apply to everyone. Our mental health system today is almost entirely guided by a very specific belief system, called biological psychiatry (biopsychiatry). Therefore, The assumptions of biopsychiatry have had an enormous impact on modern life. Modeled after the practice of medicine, biopsychiatry has all the trappings of language that we associate with scientific medicine. Biopsychiatry has the language, but not the science. To understand psychiatry today, it is necessary to be very clear that it is not about medicine; it is really about social control. The basic assumptions of biopsychiatry are as follows:
- Adjustment to society is good.
- Failure to adjust is the result of “mental illness.”
- “Mental illness” (Depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.) is a medical disease.
- “Mental illness” is the result of biological and/or genetic defects.
- “Mental illness” is chronic, progressive, and basically incurable.
- “Mental illness” can (and must) be controlled primarily by drugs; secondarily, and for really severe “mental illness,” by electroshock.
- People with “mental illness” are irrational, and unable to make responsible decisions for themselves; therefore, coercion is necessary and justified.
For a fuller exposition of these seven assumptions, please see my books, The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses, and The Necessity of Madness and Unproductivity: Psychiatric Oppression or Human Transformation. For now it is sufficient to recognize that these false beliefs provide the rationale for a coercive “final solution,” a logically inevitable expression of a dangerous and distorted worldview. Psychiatry supports and defends the power structure, values, practices and appearances of the status quo; it looks at the world and selects out “defective” individuals for “treatment.” Source: Dr. John Breeding — My Views on Psychiatry and “Mental Illness”
You can read more on what Dr. Breeding refers to as psychiatric oppression on his website at: wildestcolts.com
© A.J. Mahari, December 19, 2009 – All rights reserved except for what is © Wikipedia and Dr. John Breeding