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When Life Robs You..

Mental Illness

Mental Health is an industry..

An industry trying to sell an unsuspecting public on the idea that the way to ‘fix’ unwanted behaviour and feelings is with a brain chemistry altering pill.

These pills are now named ‘lifestyle’ drugs..

So now you can live your life in a way that is not ‘your truth’ and not feel too bad about it.

And after all if everybody’s doing it then it must be okay.

Maybe I have a problem with the way they are marketed, or that people use them long term without making changes in their lives.. believing their minds are deficient in some way..

So why do I felt so strongly …  because I suffered from chronic depression for 40+ years and I learnt a great deal..

The real problem is we were not born to be mindless sheep.. we were born to have personal power.

Some of us lost ours…  some very early on due to abuse, neglect, trauma, others guilt or bad decisions or a combination.

… life has robbed us..

I have always found people who experience depression or emotional, spiritual or psychological suffering to be deep thinkers, highly intelligent, visionaries, idealists, creatives, sensitives, salt of the earth types.

They ‘see’ things as they really are but all too often they remain passive to change anything. Often out of fear or that they allow themselves to get pulled along by the wolves of this world.

They fail to see the power they truly have and end up instead ‘willing victims’. They conform and lose their voice.

This causing internal unrest, distress and confusion- really a great lack of inner peace, as they are not being true to themselves or their beliefs or even who they really are..

Being a sheep is never a great option for those of vision.. that indeed would make you depressed, distressed, and have your mind fluctuating between what is right for you and what is wrong for you..

I have alway seen them as the sensitive good in an often evil world. I see them as people who have important gifts.

I just wish they could see themselves as that and get up, get constructively angry, look at the big picture on what they need to heal and go on to make their own small but significant mark in this crazy and often evil world.

Maybe they need that as motivation to get up, to heal their life, to change, to live their dream and to take back their personal power.. than some ‘lifestyle’ pill.

People suffering with depression and mental confusion need to allow themselves the time and space to heal. They need courage and encouragement, love, warmth, understanding, compassion, someone trustworthy to hear them, to look into their pasts, to gain self respect, self love, self compassion and self confidence and to take back their power.. and live their dreams.. whether that be to assist others in some healing way, bring beauty into this world, or love and compassion, make healthy changes in industry, politics, medical fields etc..

Your vision is needed..

Love and baby steps,

SilverGirl

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Don’t Believe The labels..

“Mental Illness”

Believe the labels you are given and you will remain a victim all your life..

Labels are for jars not people. Mental illness. Help end the stigma.

Oh ‘I’m bipolar’… really…. why are you bipolar? Do you know why?

I am a depressive… why? Why are you a depressive?

Let me assure you there is very real reason..

I am schizophrenic – and there is nothing they can do, except medicate me… really who is they – is that the medical profession? Well, let me tell you that is true, that is all the medical profession can do for you..

I have Chronic fatigue syndrome… again WTF …

Oh.. the doctors tell me it’s how my brain works and there is nothing they can do about it… except take my meds regularly.

Well maybe your brain can heal?…

Do you really believe doctors know everything there is to know about you and your individual emotional, physical and spiritual needs..

The real fact is people can heal… the hard thing for people to accept is it is their responsibility to heal and it takes a lot of work..

The next fact is not everyone will heal.. Why?

Because it’s hard, so hard that many would prefer to die than heal.

It is not your doctors responsibility to ‘fix’ you. They will try to assist you …  but it is your choice to be proactive outside the medical field or be as inactive as you want about it.

I am not anti medication – some people need it and they know they need it. For some people it’s a lifeline during their healing.. for others its something the feel they need for the rest of their lives..

Some people are willing to accept their diagnosis – I wasn’t. But there are people who have support systems that purely focus on accepting and ‘coping’ with their ‘illness, dwelling in their misery, believing every sacred word some ‘specialist’ says and never moving forward or changing.. Some play the blame game – I’ve been guilty of that, all it does is keep you a victim for far too long.

There are also people who never give up the search for answers.. who delve into heal their physical, emotional and physical selves

There is a reason for schizophrenia, for depression, for mental illness, for bipolar.. god the list goes on and on.. often they are serious reasons that you are yet to find out on your healing journey – so don’t accept yourself as mentally ill, or mentally weak or lazy, or unmotivated, or weak or less than anyone else.. Have the courage to keep searching and you will find the answers..

Basically you are ill at ease.. and you can be ‘ill at ease’ on all or many levels

For some people it is easier to be sick than to heal. Because healing you have to take responsibility for yourself and often you have to face your biggest fears.

It’s estimated 5% of people will actually heal themselves.

Those people would do whatever it takes to heal even if that meant leave their job, security, partner, family.

What are you really willing to lose in order to heal? Everything you think is safe?

You have to overcome fears to heal.. abandonment, survival, failure, your own potential etc..

Often healing means making huge changes, healing also means facing huge fears and dealing with great loss and pain.

Healing takes work…and it actually may take you years of mental pain and anguish to work through the emotional and spiritual side of what is causing the unbalance and ill at ease problems in your life.

It may not even be your fault it often stems from your childhood.. but still only you can ultimately heal yourself.

I spent a lot of years searching for what was ‘wrong with me’…

I allowed myself the time and space to heal. I went through every field, medical, natural health, spiritual guidance seeking… and refusing to believe depression was the natural state I was born to live in. I spent 5 years every week religiously with a therapist, I couldn’t work from the pain I was in and from feeling and processing so much. I refused medication and dealt with the pain. Although I did self medicate on sugar binges..

I’ve been thinking about some the labels and diagnosis’s I have been given. Doctors told me I didn’t have classic symptoms.

I have always been a rebel. I have never been a conformer and I read and read and read and learn maybe that’s what saved me..

Anyway

I was..

Chronically Depressed

M.E –  Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (This is what they diagnose anyone who is chronically fatigued and they don’t know why)..

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Got this one 2 years ago)

Dissociative

Hypervigilant

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (another bullshit label..)

I must admit I spent my life avoiding the humiliating medical profession and delved into healing my spirit.

I don’t go to doctors and I haven’t taken a antibiotic in 20 years.. I did try anti depressants once and mild anti psychotics for c-ptsd but lasted one week with a fuck this shit attitude. Once lithium was offered. Maybe the lithium may have been better than the sugar binges. Sugar made me fat..

So have I functioned – no not really but through the pain and suffering I gained wisdom.

What was really making my spirit so depressed.

Was it my marriage, my career, my childhood, my historical past, some evil force – I searched everything

.. and as I searched I found everything.. and it was all of that.

What I found were the causes of my mood swings, my physical pain, my 47 yr depressed state, my isolation, my search of meaning in life, my chronic tiredness, my hypervigilance, my extreme sensitivities, my dissociation, my feeling like I don’t fit, my feelings of failure

I got from my 20+ years search, more answers than I could ever have imagined or believed..

And what I found out after my huge healing journey is that there is nothing wrong with me. 

I am unique, perfect and special just the way I am..

whether I have down days, hypervigilance etc..

My life has made me who I am today and I am amazing because of it..

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The Science that Links Depression to Your Spiritual Awakening

Do you suffer from existential depression? (click picture):
By Alex Pietrowski

Is depression simply a disease as many psychiatrists and doctors would have us believe, or is there tremendous potential for personal growth and spiritual awakening locked up in the struggle against this common ‘disorder?’

For those who are battling, or who have already conquered depression, there is certainly no one size fits all answer, but, according to one of the world’s foremost experts on the relative study of mind and spirit, Dr. Lisa Miller, severe depression and spiritual experience are two sides of the same cognitive coin.

Her idea is perhaps best presented with this metaphor: depression and spiritual awakening are two sides of the same door. On one side is the total possibility of despair, hopelessness and isolation, and a look through to the other side reveals equally strong shades of spiritual satisfaction, inner peace, and connection to all that is.

Personally driven by her own despair and depression that resulted from infertility and a lack of being able to find her and her husband’s lives worth living without their own children, she began, ever so slowly to awaken to the messages of healers and helpers that seemed to arise serendipitously on her path, offering hints at greater possibilities for happiness and fulfillment.

Slow at first, her rise in awareness of how the universe was speaking to her through others quickly gave way to a flood of synchronicity, events that were simply far too meaningful to be described as coincidence. Synchronicity, remarkably, is one of the most important and commonly shared experiences or features of the process of human awakening, and individuation onto the soul’s proper path.

The synchronistic events in her life ultimately gave way to a letting go of sorts, a submission to new possibilities, a release, if you will, of previously held notions of what she thought happiness was supposed to be or to mean in her life.

As a researcher and professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, Lisa ended up in a position of critical curiosity about the nature of depression: is it a disease or not? If so, how can a disease be caused by emotionally charged events in one’s life, such as the loss of a family member, or in her case, the lack of being able to create a family?

The causal link simply did not fully add up, thus she applied her skills as a scientist to the matter and came upon a significant discovery about how the brain is physically constructed with regards to its disposition of being in a depressed or spiritually connected state. For in her eyes, these two concepts seem to mirror each other philosophically, so why not scientifically?

Researching this with her team at Colombia, they discovered that yes, indeed, the actual substance of the brain where depression and spiritual fulfillment are registered are remarkably different with each of these states, reflecting a genuine physical polarity to accompany the metaphysical connection. The study began by recruiting some of the most depressed people she could find, especially those with a long family history of crippling depression, then looking at people with equally long lineages of spiritual presence.

They realized that the subjects all had a similar condition in the cortex region of the brain, and in the case of the depressed participants, the brain’s cortex was literally withered and underdeveloped, as though it had been starved. Similar to how a plant reacts to insufficient water.

Conversely, when looking at spiritually awakened subjects, those with a rich history of happiness and feeling connected to physical and spiritual realms of our multidimensional existence, these same regions of the brain were markedly stronger, more robust and larger, looking like the broad trunks of healthy trees.

“What we found, was that in precisely those regions of the brain which  atrophied and withered in lifelong depression, for those people with strong personal spirituality, there was thickening of those very same regions. The cortex was thick, as if you were looking at a tree in the Amazon, versus a tree withering in the cold and drought.

Depression is not always an illness. It can be… but very often, depression, as every one will face it, is core to our endowment and core to our development.” –  Dr. Lisa Miller

Another fascinating thing that they found, indicating what clinical science can show about the spiritual path, is when they looked at women who, “through suffering had come to a spiritual path, with nice thick cortexes, they also had another quality. The back of their head gave off a certain wavelength of energy that we call alpha, and its also found on the back of the head of a meditating monk.”

Of the possible frequencies that the human brain can naturally operate under, such as alpha, beta, delta and gamma, alpha is the same frequency as the Schumann resonance, the known frequency given off by the earth. In other words, those on the spiritual path, with healthy and vibrant brain cortexes, are operating at the same frequency of our home, the earth.

“The spiritually engaged brain vibrates at the frequency of the earth’s crust.” – Dr. Lisa Miller

Final Thoughts

This information can uplift many of the millions of people struggling though depression and looking for some hope to find their way out of the isolation, despair and darkness of this common condition. The more deeply a person feels depression, the greater the possibility for spiritual awakening that sets a person firmly on the spiritual path.

“The world is alive and infused with that sacred field we might measure as high amplitude alpha. Knowing this, we live into an inspired life. All life of meaning that is not one that we create, but one that is truly in the fabric of the world. We live an inspired life.” – Lisa Miller

Take a listen to Dr. Miller’s beautiful and uplifting story. At the very end she reveals an incredible even that adds even more to this story of synchronicity and inspiration.

 

About the Author

Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

 

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Seeking Freedom

Those who are called ‘mentally ill’ or ‘mad’ are the voices in the wilderness, the ones who point to the distress of society, the ones who convict it of its crimes. By their ‘strange’ appearance and parting from the ‘norms’, they challenge and reveal that humanity is not free. They reveal that what is normal is but an accepted madness of the majority.

~ DR. DAN L. EDMUNDS

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The Origins Of Mental Illness And Extreme States

Love this by Dr. Dan L. Edmunds. In a world where the majority are unable to see the bigger picture and therefore have little compassion for extreme states and mental illness, this is exciting. Gives me great hope for change.

SG x

What is termed “madness” or “mental illness” is for some the only means for expression of their being lost and confused in a world which has caused them deep hurt and pain. Such is not disease but behavior with metaphorical meaning. There has been received through life mixed messages and placement into situations where regardless of the option they chose they felt damned. They seek to break out from the reality which has only caused them distress. The development of hallucinations and delusions are all metaphors for the very real demons they have encountered in a disordered society.

The inner mind, the voice within us, becomes amplified and becomes “possessed” with the demons coming forward from the trauma and distress which has been encountered. Rebellion against the system of things becomes self-destructive as the person seeks to send a message to the world of their distress, but it remains unheard. Each coping mechanism that has been employed has often led to failure and not brought them out of the unlivable situation that is their life. However, the catharsis of this pain and grief can go in two directions – it can be misery and existential death, or it can be transformative.

Through the pain and struggle, through the breaking out of the “typical reality” one can journey through various modes of altered consciousness. Many deemed “mad” speak of the supernatural. They have sought every attempt to reach out and create meaning. If they can be helped by a loving, supportive network to navigate through this state of confusion and the various realms of altered consciousness towards rebuilding and reconstructing a life of meaning, then they can come forward to a recovery that gives them valuable insight about human nature, who they really are, and the reality of the impermanence of this life and the world around us. They will find that suffering is inevitable, and in that suffering is the state of the world that is mired in greed and attachment. The ones deemed “mad” have accomplished a rare task – they have completely detached. But this detachment is only from the typical standards of the world. They remain haunted by the visions of their previous life.

They cannot escape it, and thus they become anxious and paranoid that something or someone will pull them back to that painful existence. At times, rage comes forward as the reaction to challenges, but who would not be outraged if their voice was suppressed and they became the scapegoat for the problems of their families or those around them? Those deemed “mad”, feeling always alone, depart to a world where they remain alone from people, yet may create for themselves beings who give them comfort and solace. This is really the end of their search, to simply be accepted and loved. But here too lies a problem, for when their lives have been devoid of love and they receive unconditional love, it becomes like an overwhelming fire that consumes them. They have never been loved, so how can they respond to an outpouring of love?

When all they knew was that oppression and coercion was said to be because “we love you”, when “love” really was only about control, how can the person then understand genuine love? Once again, the confusion sets in. To reach the person who has been deemed “mad”, we cannot overwhelm. Our sincerity will not be enough, for their trust has been shattered time and time again. It is only through entering their world for what it is, by joining in, and learning to speak the language of madness, that we ourselves can begin to understand the experience of these individuals. It is only by this joining in that the person may have the chance for the journey known as “madness” to reach a transformative movement towards discovery.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds.

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PSYCHIATRY ALMOST DROVE ME CRAZY

 

Great article by Paul Levy (a pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, and a healer in private practice) regarding psychiatric abuse (psychiatry’s invalidation of trauma and protection of the abuser). Psychiatry makes the sane ones.. the sick ones, the invalids (the in-valids).

SG x

I am a survivor of severe psychiatric abuse. There was a year or so in the early 1980’s when I was in and out of psychiatric hospitals at least four times. During my visits to the hospital I was in the midst of a spiritual awakening that I was struggling to contain that was triggered and complicated by extreme psychological abuse at the hands of my father, who was a very sick man. I was suffering so deeply from the psychic violence perpetrated upon my mother and me by my father that it was making me “sick.” One of the most difficult parts of my ordeal in the hospitals was not being listened to by the psychiatrists, either about the abuse by my father or the spiritual awakening. Spiritual emergences/emergencies oftentimes become activated because of a deep experience of wounding, abuse, or trauma. In its initial stage, a spiritual awakening can look like and mimic a nervous breakdown, as our habitual structures of holding ourselves together fall apart and break down so that a deeper and more coherent expression of our intrinsic wholeness can emerge. The spiritual awakening aspect of my experience was so off psychiatry’s map that it wasn’t even remotely recognized. Instead of hearing me, about either the abuse or the awakening, I was immediately pathologized and labeled as the sick one. Being cast in the role of the “identified patient,” I was assured that I was going to be mentally ill for the rest of my days, as if I was being given a life sentence with no possibility for parole, with no time off for good behavior. The fact that I wanted to dialogue about this and question their diagnosis was proof, to the psychiatrists in charge of me, of my illness. The whole thing was totally nuts. Fully licensed and certified by the state, the psychiatric system’s abuse of its position of power was truly unconscionable. What the profession of psychiatry was unconsciously en-acting was truly crazy-making for those under their dominion. I was lucky to escape the psychiatric world with my sanity intact. Many others are not so fortunate.

Continue reading

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Depression Is Not A Disease

Voces del Tierra

Robin Williams What Dreams May Come-Robin Williams  RIP

After hearing the sad news of Robin Williams and his suspected suicide, I am really tired of hearing some people refer to depression as a ‘disease’. It is not a disease, but more chemical and emotional imbalance of the brain, normally affected by long-term stress, deep trauma or grief, for some it is difficult to diagnose the root cause. Here is a good article written by Dr John Grohol on defining Depression for those of you that are insistent on calling it a ”disease”.

 Furthermore,  should it really be referred to as a ‘mental illness’ either? Through my research and personal experiences, depression is an understandable psychological reaction to the stress and violent deformities of the modern world.

I have tried a number of conventional and non-conventional methods to treat my own depression and I feel the most valuable activities are spending time in…

View original post 1,208 more words

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The Gift of Presence, the Perils of Advice

Now in our mid-seventies, my wife and I have no imminent need for assisted living or nursing care. But the house we live in is, by definition, a two-person residential facility for the aging. Here at what we fondly call The Home, it’s not uncommon for one of us to try “improve” the other’s quality of life by offering “extra services.” Unfortunately, those services often take the form of advice.

A few years ago, my wife gave me some advice that struck me as — how shall I say? — superfluous. Remembering our experience with my mother, I said, “Could I pay a little less this month?” To this day, that line gives us a chance to laugh instead of getting defensive when one of us attempts, as both of us do now and then, to give the other unsolicited and unwanted “help.”

Advice-giving comes naturally to our species, and is mostly done with good intent. But in my experience, the driver behind a lot of advice has as much to do with self-interest as interest in the other’s needs — and some advice can end up doing more harm than good.

Last week I got a call from a man who’d recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He’d emailed his bad news to a few family members and friends, one of whom had come over right away. “How are you feeling?” his friend asked. “Well, as I said in my email, I’m feeling amazingly at peace with all this. I’m not worried about what lies ahead.”

The friend replied, “Look, you need to get a second opinion. At the same time, you should start exploring complementary medicine. You should also sign up for a meditation program, and I know a good book that can get you started down that path.”

I asked my caller how that response had made him feel. “I’m sure my friend meant well,” he said, “but his advice left me less at peace.”

I told him I’d have felt the same way, and offered this image: Imagine that I need support with a serious problem, when along comes a guy with advanced CPR certification. He’s so eager to show off his skills that he isn’t able to hear my true need. Instead, he starts administering chest compressions and “rescue breathing,” even though I’m perfectly able to breathe for myself. Now I have another big problem as I try to fight off the “helper” who’s smothering me.

I asked my caller how he would have felt if his friend had simply said, “How great that you’re at peace! Tell me more.” “That would have been wonderful,” he replied. “But everyone I talked to had advice for me, including a relative who said I needed to join her church before it was too late.”

I asked how he’d been feeling recently — he said he’d been feeling afraid. “Do you want to talk about your fear?”, I asked. He talked while I listened and asked a few more questions. When we were done, he told me that some measure of peace had returned. It was a peace that had come from within him, not from anything I’d said. I’d simply helped clear some rubble that blocked his access to his own soul.

My misgivings about advice began with my first experience of clinical depression thirty-five years ago. The people who tried to support me had good intentions. But, for the most part, what they did left me feeling more depressed.

Some went for the nature cure: “Why don’t you get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air? Everything is blooming and it’s such a beautiful day!” When you’re depressed, you know intellectually that it’s beautiful out there. But you can’t feel a bit of that beauty because your feelings are dead — and being reminded of that gap is depressing.

Other would-be helpers tried to spruce up my self-image: “Why so down on yourself? You’ve helped so many people.” But when you’re depressed, the only voice you can hear is one that tells you that you’re a worthless fraud. Those compliments deepened my depression by making me feel that I’d defrauded yet another person: “If he knew what a worm I am, he’d never speak to me again.”

Here’s the deal. The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.

Aye, there’s the rub. Many of us “helper” types are as much or more concerned with being seen as good helpers as we are with serving the soul-deep needs of the person who needs help. Witnessing and companioning take time and patience, which we often lack — especially when we’re in the presence of suffering so painful we can barely stand to be there, as if we were in danger of catching a contagious disease. We want to apply our “fix,” then cut and run, figuring we’ve done the best we can to “save” the other person.

During my depression, there was one friend who truly helped. With my permission, Bill came to my house every day around 4:00 PM, sat me down in an easy chair, and massaged my feet. He rarely said a word. But somehow he found the one place in my body where I could feel a sense of connection with another person, relieving my awful sense of isolation while bearing silent witness to my condition.

By offering me this quiet companionship for a couple of months, day in and day out, Bill helped save my life. Unafraid to accompany me in my suffering, he made me less afraid of myself. He was present — simply and fully present — in the same way one needs to be at the bedside of a dying person.

It’s at such a bedside where we finally learn that we have no “fix” or “save” to offer those who suffer deeply. And yet, we have something better: our gift of self in the form of personal presence and attention, the kind that invites the other’s soul to show up. As Mary Oliver has written:

“This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.”

I leave you with two pieces of advice — a flagrant self-contradiction for which my only defense is Emerson’s dictum that “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” (1) Don’t give advice, unless someone insists. Instead, be fully present, listen deeply, and ask the kind of questions that give the other a chance to express more of his or her own truth, whatever it may be. (2) If you find yourself receiving unwanted advice from someone close to you, smile and ask politely if you can pay a little less this month.

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Psychiatric Diagnosis is a Fraud: The Destructive and Damaging Fiction of Biological ‘Diseases’

Great article!

SG x

By

“Life is pain, Princess. Anyone who tells you different is selling you something.”
– Dread Pirate Roberts, in “The Princess Bride”

Everywhere you turn, you see “OCD, ASD, MDD, ADD, ADHD, BPD, GAD, PD, SAD, PTSD, NPD,” etc. The problem is not limited to this acronym soup, but the pseudo diagnoses they represent. Patients today get stained by the specious medical diagnoses of biological psychiatry. And furthermore they are brainwashed to believe that these fictitious brain ‘diseases’ are genetic. Biological psychiatry treats people like they are mechanical objects, renaming them almost as they are re-branding products. The one I like the best is the renaming of ‘manic-depressive’ to ‘bipolar.’ Instead of a name which accurately describes the states of suffering, it was turned into something mechanical — a battery with two poles. We’ve gone from something human to something Frankensteinian.

But fear not; we have psychoactive drugs that will correct the imbalance in your genetically damaged brain. We have antidepressants for your depression; Benzodiazepines for your anxiety, amphetamines for your ADHD, anti-psychotics for schizophrenia, antidepressants for your OCD, etc.

Sadly, I have heard many stories from patients that began when they received their “diagnosis.” They are told they have a disease. “It’s not your fault,” they are told; “it’s genetic.” For the lucky few it may take only a few years to discover that their biological diagnosis is bogus, then to find their way to a good therapy, and/or continue on their journey.

We are sold a bill of goods where it is believed that taking drugs could possibly attend to the incredible complexity of human suffering. How did it happen that within a generation such a delusion captured the public imagination and currently holds sway? Young people have said to me, “You’re a psychiatrist and you do psychotherapy? I never heard of that.” Initially, I was shocked. Now, I get letters all the time from people who ask me if I know any psychiatrists in their town who don’t give drugs.

There have always been two competing currents in psychiatry — Psychodynamic (fundamentally psychoanalytic) psychotherapy  vs. Somatic psychiatry. Now there is only one. For the story of somatic psychiatry, see — “Do No Harm: The Destructive History of Pharmaceutical Psychiatry and its Bedfellows — Electroshock, Insulin Shock, and Lobotomies.” This gives the true story of somatic psychiatry. Its practice has been to act directly on our brains — shocking them, reaming them out with ice picks — and now reaming them out chemically. Somatic psychiatry has always done great harm, but its sordid history has gotten lost in the amnesia of time. But make no mistake; pharmaceutical psychiatry is the current incarnation of somatic psychiatry. And we are doing harm all over again.

Regarding the psychoanalytic, there have been many very good therapists; illuminating writers like Fairbairn, Winnicott, and Harry Stack Sullivan, as well as important understandings about attachment. And there were many excellent teachers. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of problems due to faulty psychoanalytic theories which interfered with responsiveness to our patients. Nevertheless, I am suggesting a new paradigm in the psychotherapy tradition.

The Psychotherapy of Character” is a specialized form of human engagement that repairs the damage to one’s personality by acting on the play of consciousness in the very way that it formed in the brain in the first place. It is an art and a science that bridges the old divide between psychotherapy and the brain. To put it simply, human struggle is purely a human problem. It is derived from the consequences of deprivation and abuse in our formative years, followed by additional struggles that result from our adaptations to the ongoing traumas of life. Psychotherapy promotes the recovery of a person’s “Authentic Being” through genuine and trusted engagement with the therapist. Mourning the pain of this inner play heals our symptoms and our suffering.

The specious enterprise of healing ‘brain diseases’ is based on a faulty understanding of neuroscience and the brain. The biological orientation has mistaken parts of the brain for the whole. Separate elements of the brain operate mechanically, and are not the cause of psychiatric symptoms. The parts all work in concert to create the Play of Consciousness. The truth is that memories of trauma, stored throughout the limbic system, the amygdala, and the hippocampus, are the seat of our suffering and symptoms. The invisible replay of the scenes in the play generate our symptoms. Our genetic temperament gives form to the symptoms — phobias in one person, or obsessions in another. And when the trauma is mourned — as when, watching a tragic play, we undergo a “catharsis” — we sit with the pain, and the brain changes all on its own.

Psychiatry has always been a poor stepchild of medicine. In doctorly circles it was demeaned and disrespected. The somatic psychiatrists wished to achieve status, and if they invented medical diseases they could put on their white coats and qualify as “real scientists.” Real psychiatrists, however, never cared about this. They understood that psychiatry is different where the medical model does not apply.

When I was a psychiatric resident in the early 70’s, it was fully understood that psychiatric diagnoses are not medical and they never have been. At best, a diagnosis was a short-hand understanding that was intended to be an aid to the therapist in highlighting pertinent issues. All that mattered was the true story, the actual history.  That is to say; ‘his story,’ or ‘her story.’ Each patient would lead the way to whatever needed attended to. Ultimately the ‘art’ of psychotherapy is about feeling, caring, and meaning-making.

A good psychotherapist does not need to be a doctor, but there are certain experiences in becoming a doctor that helped shape me in a positive way. The experience of dissecting a human body changes a young medical student forever and plunges him into the secret mysteries of life.  To be in a position to make informed life-and-death decisions for patients breeds a sense of responsibility. It changes a young doctor powerfully. To learn about the mysteries of the body and the life-course of diseases, to understand about life-altering conditions such as cancer, immunological diseases, asthma, heart disease, real neurological conditions, etc., provides important experiences in grappling with the full spectrum of human experience. Eventually all people get sick with something. It was important for me, for instance, to have evaluated a “psychotic” man, and recognize that he had late-stage syphilis, not schizophrenia.

The core paradigm of the Psychotherapy of Character is a unified field theory of human consciousness and how the brain actually operates that is consonant with neuroscience, myths, dreams, religion, art, and Darwin. The medicalization of the human condition did not begin with psychiatry; humans have been looking to nature — herbs, tree barks, trepanation (drilling holes in the head) — for cures of psychic distress since civilization began. However the cause of much of the psychic distress we sought to relieve is really to be found when we look inward, to our selves, and to civilization itself. “Psychiatry” refers, after all, literally, to the “medical treatment of the soul.” Which begs the essential question of what a “soul” is, where it resides, and by what means it can be addressed. In my understanding, as the patient mourns the pain of his inner play, he writes a new script infused with his own authenticity and his own capacity to love. This is his soul, or in my terms his ‘Authentic Being.’

When I was a resident, a senior psychiatrist who was influential in the alcohol world announced that alcoholism should be referred to as a ‘real’ disease. He explained that since people make moral judgments about alcoholism, shifting the metaphor to ‘real’ will help them not blame themselves or be blamed by others. He said that this was just an innocent shading of the truth and will help people. I objected, because it wasn’t a disease. Truth matters. Words matter. About a decade later medical insurance came into play; it wouldn’t cover alcoholism because it was an addiction (which it is), not a disease. In 1987, to deal with the insurance issue, the AMA redefined alcoholism into a disease. Do I smell money here?

But the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have always been a spiritual practice. “When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.” When alcoholism was referred to as a physical disease, it was understood as a metaphor. Then people actually started to believe the ‘disease’ concept. When brain scans showed differences in the brains of people who were chronic alcoholics, this was taken as proof that it really is a disease. (It didn’t matter that when people stopped drinking, their brains returned to normal.) The brain reflects behaviors, it doesn’t cause behaviors. Once the disease model was accepted as an established fact, researchers found pseudo-evidence that alcoholism is also genetic. Though not true, it has become accepted as fact.

Psychiatric diagnosis has followed the same trajectory as alcoholism. Each diagnosis in turn has been constructed by somatic psychiatrists as a disease, in each case building a similar house of cards. It doesn’t seem to matter that the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry and its influence-peddling in academic psychiatry has been exposed as financially and scientifically corrupted and manipulated. The drug companies have engaged in study suppression, falsification, strategic marketing, and financial incentives.

Take, for example, the antidepressants: the chemical imbalance theory has been discredited, but this didn’t alter the fact that the theory is still believed. Never mind that antidepressants don’t actually do anything constructive, apart from the fact that people believe they do (which has also been proved). And in their wake a lot of harm has been done (see “No, It’s not the Neurotransmitters, Depression is not a biological disease caused by an imbalance of serotonin” ).

The brain reflects. It doesn’t cause. Time and space don’t permit me to go through the entire DSM-5, but each ‘disease’ is  a work of fiction. Brain scans showing thinned areas of the cortex in “affected” regions of brain which correlated to a “symptom” are taken as proof of genetic disease. This cannot be so, or therapy would not magically reverse the thinning, as we know it to do.

A so-called landmark study, all over the press, is that a gene related to eliminating connections between neurons in adolescence is the “cause” of schizophrenia. Since neurons are eliminated in adolescence, the new theory is that an overactive gene variant is responsible. This theory is believed, then taken as a major breakthrough. But it doesn’t prove anything. Conclusions, in the absence of real mechanisms, or solid and comprehensive explanations that fit every instance, end up creating a false and speculative fantasy that is then taken as “knowledge.” Once these conclusions are established, they become reified and operate as beliefs. This one is already (falsely) established, as if it has been actually been proven that schizophrenia is biological (see- “‘Evidence-based’ Psychiatry is ‘Evidence’ in Name Only, A call for the science of psychotherapy has taken a wrong turn”).

Here are two random — yet typical — examples that popped up on Google: “Genetic Discovery Could Lead to Development of New Bipolar Meds.” The research indicates that abnormal variations in PDE10A19 might (my italics) impact signaling of cAMP by engaging with another protein, restricting that protein’s activity and its signaling. “Once we understand how this protein helps neurons remain healthy, we might (my italics) be able to develop medications to treat neurons when they function abnormally, such as in patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.” These leaps are delusional. In addition, one study then uses a previous study as a fact and extends them. There is nothing here but a house of cards.

And how about this one, “Biomarker Could Lead to Earlier Detection in Women of Mental Disorders”:

“A newly identified biomarker linked to mental illness in female psychiatric patients could lead the way for a simple blood test for improved interventions and treatment, (my italics) according to a study in EBioMedicine. … overproduction of XIST has been found in female patients with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia. About half of the female patients had abnormally higher levels of XIST and other genes related to the X chromosomes, which could (my italics) indicate that overproduction of XIST and genes from the inactive X chromosome are common denominators in the development of psychiatric disorders in patients … in the general population of female psychiatric patients.”

This study has already taken as fact that these three conditions are diseases in the first place. There has never been a study where these assumptions ever turn out to lead anywhere.

We have to stem the tide of somatic psychiatry and bring sanity back to psychiatry. A recent article by Peter Kinderman, “Mental illness mostly caused by life events not genetics, argue psychologists” challenges the waste of research money in England which has been based on the assumption that the cause of human struggle is biological. We need to do this in America, and worldwide. Our understanding of human suffering needs to return to a legacy of caring and wisdom. Our children’s futures — all our futures — depend on it.

Robert Berezin, MDRobert Berezin has been in private practice and taught psychiatry at Harvard Medical School for thirty years. He is the author of Psychotherapy of Character: The Play of Consciousness in the Theater of the Brain and Do No Harm: The Destructive History of Pharmaceutical Psychiatry and its Bedfellows. He blogs at www.robertberezin.com.