What sorts on psychiatry

Here are a few What sorts posts on psychiatry

Does anyone remember “lobotomy”?

Is your dog on prozac?

Marcia Angell on Big Pharma


Defending Electroshock

What sorts of people?  Empathy deficit disorder–do you suffer from it?

Pride in maddness–the new visibility


A few snippets from Benedict Carey’s recent New York Times article Psychiatrists Revise the Book of Human Troubles on the ongoing revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, expected to be published in 2012:

Is compulsive shopping a mental problem? Do children who continually recoil from sights and sounds suffer from sensory problems — or just need extra attention? Should a fetish be considered a mental disorder, as many now are? Panels of psychiatrists are hashing out just such questions, and their answers — to be published in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — will have consequences for insurance reimbursement, research and individuals’ psychological identity for years to come. The process has become such a contentious social and scientific exercise that for the first time the book’s publisher, the American Psychiatric Association, has required its contributors to sign a nondisclosure agreement.

You can read the whole article right here.

Defending Electroshock

The Alliance for Human Research Protection blog has a detailed and informative post that revolves around a recent National Public Radio broadcast on “Day to Day” that focuses on the forced electro-convulsive treatment (ECT) of a Minnesota man, Ray Sanford. The AHRP post ties this story, in interesting ways, to Shorter and Healy’s recent book on the history and return of ECT. The ARHP post ends with a quote from psychiatrist David Kaiser’s Psychiatric Times article from 1996, claiming it to be “as pertinent today as when he wrote it–except for his lack of knowledge about the hazardous effects of the new drugs”: Continue reading

Never Mind the Bollocks: It’s Heavy Load!

The five members of heavy load raising a red flag (literally)

The five members of heavy load launching a red flag

Yesterday I saw the world premier of the brilliant documentary Heavy Load: A Film About Happiness at the Edmonton International Film Festival. It’s about the UK punkish band of the same name. They’re middle-aged punk rockers with a difference: the band started with the musical dreams of several individuals, each with some cognitive / learning impairment or other, to be in a band. Together with support staff Paul and Mick (guitars), Michael (drums and vocals), Simon (vocals) and Jim (guitar and vocals) formed Heavy Load over 10 years ago. The doc follows the band over about a 24 month period, culminating in their Stay Up Late Campaign last year, which highlighted a late night limitation of many of their audience members: Continue reading

Tactical Biopolitics: Art, Activism, and Technoscience

Tactical Biopolitics

Tactical Biopolitics

In this period where biological facts, research, and worldviews carry enormous weight, what role does the lay-person, artist, activist, and academic play in engaging with these biological debates? This is, perhaps, the central question that guides the series of chapters in a book, just hot off the press, Tactical Biopolitics. The collection includes interviews with biologists, a piece by the Critical Arts Ensemble, among many others. There are too many interesting topic to list of here but they include the ethics of experimenting with living tissue, the biopolitics of the human genome project, and a piece I wrote on psychiatric survivors among many others. You can see the full table of contents and access some of the sample chapters here

Podcast of Talks on Eugenic Sterilization in Alberta

Podcasts are available of nearly all of the talks that were given in a public conference held at the University of Alberta in Edmonton last year, “Eugenics and Sterilization in Alberta: 35 Years Later”. Eugenic sterilization was practiced in Alberta until 1972, when a new provincial government repealed the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta. The conference was public not only in the sense that it was “open to the public” but in that it strove to include the voices of community members who were affected by the long history of eugenic sterilization in the province of Alberta. Speakers included the Honorable David King, the MLA and cabinet minister in the provincial government who led the way in the repeal of the SSAA in 1972 and offered his own personal reflections; Claudia Malacrida, a sociologist who talked about dehumanization and sterilization in institutional contexts; and Leilani Muir and Judy Lytton, two Albertans who lived in those contexts. You can get the program from the conference, see abstracts for the talks, and listen to the podcasts, right here.

Pride in Maddness, the New Visibility

Those advocates involved in the fight to end psychiatric abuse and generate a real space for alternatives in the area of mental health, often known as psychiatric survivors and consumers, only recently jumped fully aboard the disability rights political wagon. But they have been celebrating pride, mad pride, for a long time.

Recently, the New York Times, who has actually done a better than normal job in covering issues related to mental health abuse, ran a story about the politics of pride ‘Mad Pride’ Fights Stigma (though I honestly don’t understand why it is in fashion and style but hey… so long as it is covered). While celebrations have been going on for many years, one of the reasons for the new visibility has to do with a growing awareness of disability and the politics of stigma, along with the proliferation of blogs and video blogging, a trend that did not go unnoticed in the article.

Unsurprisingly, the mad pride movement must accommodate a variety of voices and viewpoints, a point also made by the Times:

Members of the mad pride movement do not always agree on their aims and intentions. For some, the objective is to continue the destigmatization of mental illness. A vocal, controversial wing rejects the need to treat mental afflictions with psychotropic drugs and seeks alternatives to the shifting, often inconsistent care offered by the medical establishment. Many members of the movement say they are publicly discussing their own struggles to help those with similar conditions and to inform the general public.

Accommodating different can be a “maddening” exercise but surely one of the reasons for the strength and current vibrancy of the movement. To learn more about some current projects affiliated with this fight to end stigma and psychiatric abuse check out Icarus as well as Mind Freedom. For some of the best reporting on pharma and mental health, check out Furious Seasons.