If anyone has an interest, I hope you will read the article. Before posting my comments here on the IG forum, I would also call attention to two books that go a long way toward chronicling the worldwide history of psychiatry and describing the rise of mental illness in the United States. Both were written by Robert Whitaker. The first, Mad in America was published in 2002 and reflected Mr. Whitaker’s interest as an accomplished young journalist for a broad range of topics until an “accidental” event. He describes “stumbling onto an unusual line of psychiatric research (in 1998) which I reported on for the Boston Globe” which pertained to the “study of the biology of schizophrenia” and further stated that American scientists “were giving the mentally ill chemical agents – amphetamines, ketamine, and methylphenidate – expected to heighten their psychosis.” While reporting on that article, he ran across two studies in the medical literature that reported (Harvard Medical School) “outcomes for schizophrenia patients had worsened during the past twenty years.” This piqued his interest, and he began asking questions and seeking answers.
His second book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, published in 2010, built on his findings when pursuing answers to the questions he posed while researching the material for his first book. The subtitle speaks directly to the controversial nature and the heart of the purpose of his second book: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America.
Dr. Phillip Hickey is a contemporary of Robert Whitaker and a frequent contributor to MIA newsletter. I’ve read many articles by him and enjoy his wit, his command of the English language, as well as his considerable knowledge gained from decades of practicing psychology. His deconstruction of the review of Lieberman and colleagues includes this excerpt from the published paper’s conclusions: “There is ‘little evidence’ that initial use antipsychotics or maintenance treatment with the drugs have a ‘negative long-term effect’. There are just a ‘small number’ of patients that may recover from a first episode of psychosis without pharmacologic treatment or may discontinue medication and remain stable for extended periods of time.”
Dr. Hickey and Robert Whitaker point out how psychiatry continues to reinforce its authority by publishing articles summarizing research studies that are less than conclusive - in language that promotes a less than comprehensive view of the need for psychotropic medications – based on questionable motivations.
This, seventeen years into the 21st century! I guess it shouldn’t amaze me, but it does.
My own experience gives the academic a very personal reference point. It was 1976 when I had my first involuntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital arising from what was determined to be a psychotic break. What a concept! I took this basic definition from the internet: “A psychotic break occurs when a person experiences an episode of acute primary psychosis, generally for the first time.”
As to it being my ‘first time’ – who knows? But a neighbor found me in the bottom of my bedroom closet when she came over; it was witnessed. And because I was unresponsive with no apparent sign of any physical trauma, I was taken to the local state-run psychiatric hospital by EMS.
All these years later, the part of that episode that still rankles me the most is that I was given an antipsychotic drug – for three straight weeks – with no previous history of mental illness to guide the action. That was the scope of psychiatric authority then. And for many, it is still the scope.
And just to underscore how ineffectual that scope was, when it came time for discharge I was given a mild tranquilizer prescription and sent on my merry way. I was 26 years old and the attending psychiatrist entrusted that recommendation for outpatient psychiatric follow-up to one of my abusers, NOT to me.
And, as example of how the dominoes of such actions can continue to fall, my abuser never shared that recommendation with me.
It is a most instructive article – for how the field of psychiatry operates today, and for the how its practitioners insure the continuation of their own omnipotence.