There is a lot of madness when it comes to psychiatry. One recent example of madness–perhaps insanity– is this faux peer review journal. At least there seems to be a growing counter-current in medicine that wants to sever the umbilical cord between doctors and drug companies as well as a vibrant grass roots move to embrace a different politics in and of madness.
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.
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
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
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.
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.