Category Archives: Psychiatric Research Today

An analysis and often a criticism of research in psychiatry, psychology, and neuroscience today, including information on psychotropic medication, target audiences for medication, and development of medication.

COMING SOON!

There’s nothing that can convince me that this life is meant to be as complicated as we make it. There’s nothing that can convince me that we will ever find all of the answers, and to think that we have some already is naive and wishful. These are the things I think about as I backtrack in my Sudoku game, something I used to hate doing as a child because I could never get it right the first time. I have once in my life, but that was in a bout of mania. As much as I like to think it was my own brain power, it was really just a flood of neurotransmitters doing all the work.

250px-sudoku_puzzle_by_l2g-20050714_solution_standardized_layout-svgI was thinking about this the other day, about neurotransmission and Sudoku, and how they both have algorithms to describe their process. We have more neural connections in our brain than we have estimated stars in our galaxy. 1000 times more, to be exact. Sudoku has a bunch of different number possibilities, but only one answer. I fear neurotransmission is not as simple.

We have an algorithm for the probability of neural transmission: when certain neurons will fire and the chance of that happening, essentially. I believe if we do wish to describe the processes that happen in our brain, math will be the catalyst for success in that field. There are too many connections, too many variables, to settle on an explanation as simple as, say, a chemical imbalance.

I came across an essay in PLOS medicine titled “Serotonin and depression: a disconnect between the advertisements and the Scientific Literature.” This is a big deal. Although published in 2005, their words are still very relevent today. I’m sure you have heard in commercials about psychiatric medication that “so and so disorder is a chemical imbalance, and [insert drug] works to correct that balance”. Notice they will never explain how or why, because they simply don’t know. We don’t know.

And that’s where my area of study will be, once I do graduate: let’s explore this idea of chemical imbalance and what it may mean. My ultimate goal? Disprove the theory.

That’s a long way off, and it may only be a pipe dream, but I believe I can catalyst a different type of thought in the mental health community by proving, scientifically, mathematically, whatever you want to call it, that something like a chemical imbalance cannot possibly exist. Why?

As the essay says:

Attempts were also made to induce depression by depleting serotonin levels, but these experiments reaped no consistent results [9]. Likewise, researchers found that huge increases in brain serotonin, arrived at by administering high-dose L-tryptophan, were ineffective at relieving depression.

As it also says:

Contemporary neuroscience research has failed to confirm any serotonergic lesion in any mental disorder, and has in fact provided significant counterevidence to the explanation of a simple neurotransmitter deficiency. Modern neuroscience has instead shown that the brain is vastly complex and poorly understood.

And of course, let’s not forget:

There is no scientifically established ideal “chemical balance” of serotonin, let alone an identifiable pathological imbalance. To equate the impressive recent achievements of neuroscience with support for the serotonin hypothesis is a mistake.

comic-bubble-hmm_1609021If there is no established balance, there, logically, cannot be an imbalance. This article focuses purely on serotonin and depression, but this in fact relates as well to the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia and any other neurotransmitter they claim causes certain mental health issues. These studies are indeed correlational and not experiments. What does this mean for us that struggle mentally?

It means the door is open again. It means we can find a different explanation. It means we can focus on genes. We can focus on environment. We can focus on the way society structures thought–how we’re taught to think about ourselves in the first place. We can focus on things we can change, rather than this pipe dream that a little pill that may or may not cause more harm to our bodies/brains than good, can cure anything at all.

To deny that there is a biological component would be ignorant of me. To accept the propaganda that pharmaceutical companies place in front of my eyes would be even more ignorant of me.

There could be a chance that neurotransmission is just like Sudoku, and that perhaps there is one single answer and we just have to back track and back track and back track until we find the right numerical composition. But more than likely that isn’t the case. This isn’t a pattern devised by a computer. This is a pattern devised by universal chaos and quantum processes. What is there to correct? What’s created by nature is created by nature, and for us to label that right or wrong, normal or abnormal, is rather selfish and egotistical.

What else could it be, if not a chemical imbalance then? We could brainstorm ideas for hours. Genetics–if your mother has what we label as schizophrenia, there’s a greater chance you will too. But stop. It also depends on: Environment. There’s a striking number of people who receive this label who have been through some type of sexual abuse, physical abuse, severe emotional abuse, and often voices and delusions reflect this pain. What does that tell us? That deep pain that isn’t processed properly leaves a lasting stamp on our neural connections, and turns something on and off in our genetics. Socio-economic status plays a role: think of all the homeless people you see wandering the street talking to themselves. Assume they are not on drugs, and you’re dealing with a mental health issue. You think it’s easy to get well in poverty? You think there isn’t trauma in poverty? What effect does trauma have on the brain? There are studies on this, but what does it mean for neural connections? What does any of the things I just mentioned mean?

That’s what I plan to study in my life. I’ve given up the fight against these pharmaceutical people. I can’t fight a corporation. But I can fight their bullshit research with real research.

Ironic, considering Research Methods is my LEAST favorite class.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

 

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Another long stretch since I’ve written. I spent some days adjusting to medication, some days hating myself for taking medication, and other days deciding to come off of medication.

Experiment number 2984719374:

Hypothesis: I will have a burst of energy and feel-good neurotransmitters flooding the gates of my synaptic terminals, followed by an immediate and harrowing decline which will, therefore, push me inevitably towards reuniting with the medication I so despise.

Methods: I will stop both the Abilify and Trintellix and monitor my moods and/or whatever aspects of psychosis that may rear its ugly head.

Results: TBD

Discussion: TBD.

Now that we have that settled, let’s talk a bit about mental health and awareness. There are so many great people out there doing great advocacy online and in person. There are so many great Non-Profit organizations doing the same. There are even clubs dedicated to such a thing at my college campus. And yet, there are still people wary and ashamed of their mental health. Let me give an example of how this thought process is still prevalent.

Today, while sitting in my Cognitive Psychology class, we were going over, for the umpteenth time in my life, neurotransmission, synaptic terminals, receptors, antagonists and agonists, Dopamine, Gaba, Norepinephrine, and Serotonin, some of the main receptors you learn in an introduction class. It follows that we should then speak about the dis-regulation of some of those neurotransmitters, and discuss the THEORY of chemical imbalances: regarding primarily dopamine and schizophrenia, serotonin and anxiety/depression.

Again, the idea of a chemical imbalance is a (repeat after me kids):

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which means it can never be proven, only dis-proven.

Anyway, that brought up the topic of SSRI’s, their side effects, and their withdrawal symptoms.

One young woman, who was probably younger than I am, raised her hand and said this:

“I was wondering about the withdrawal symptoms, because I take an SSRI, and I noticed that–well, I don’t have depression, it’s for some nerve problems–but I noticed that when I didn’t take it even for just a couple days, I was sleeping a lot, I couldn’t focus in this class . . .” and yada yada yada, personal life bullshit.

But what struck me is that she immediately discounted the experience of depression. She wouldn’t want her classmates thinking she’s “mentally ill” now would she?

And this is why I advocate for changing the culture around this term “mentally ill”. Because people are ashamed of that, of “being ill”. But what if we weren’t “ill”? What if we were perfectly well humans with a variation of neurons (a very, very, very large variation of neurons) that just so happened to result in different experiences? What if believing we are “ill” is keeping us, well, “ill-er”?

What if the perception of those experiences changed from unpleasant to being perceived as unique, variable, malleable, valuable, curious, and wonderful?

That’s not to say the struggle isn’t hard, because it’s very hard. But the harder we believe it is, the harder it will get.

Now, this could all be the feel-good neurotransmitters talking, because I started my little experiment about two weeks ago, and that is about the amount of time it takes for this poison to slowly remove itself from my body. Although, if you know anything about half-lifes, it never really goes away.

But whether or not this is me being euphoric and grandiose, I think we need to expand the discussion around neurotransmitters, and inform the public of just how wrong it is to think that the pathway of ONE SINGLE neurotransmitter leads to something as complex as what we call schizophrenia or what we call anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, any of it.

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You’ll read in a lot of studies released to the public–or at least glorified in the media–that they’ve found another link of dopamine to this, another one of serotonin to that, and it’s just not feasible that with 30-100 different molecule versions of neurotransmitters (granted there are a few that do a lot of the work) and 100 Trillion estimated neural connections plus constant variation of cell death/growth, neural connection death/growth, as well as environmental and genetic influences that dictate those neural connection and sell growths and deaths, that ONE neurotransmitter is going to be responsible for making or breaking our mental health.

Now, we can say that they are correlated. We can say we see increased dopamine in people who experience what we label as schizophrenia. But you cannot, and I repeat, CANNOT use that as CAUSATION.

Fuck I can’t stress it ENOUGH.

Psychology 101 folks: CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. 

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Dopamine may be high during what we call psychosis, but that does not mean that the high dopamine CAUSED the psychosis, or that the psychosis CAUSED the high dopamine. We haven’t learned what “causes” mental health struggles yet, that’s why chemical imbalance is a THEORY.

See how much you’ve learned already today.

And that’s what happens in a lot of these articles that are debriefed by media or science magazines online with writers who don’t know a single thing about psychology. They get hung up on correlations.

It’s also a result of research publications being manipulated to suit the needs of pharmaceutical companies.

It’s a fact that if you give someone a drug that decreases dopamine, you’ll likely see a decrease in what we call psychosis. You’ll see a decrease in a lot of other things too, and those are what we cal side-effects. But are those drugs really doing anything to the thing we call psychosis, or is it just blunting some aspects of the self? Because often “psychotic symptoms” continue during the usage of said drug.

These are all questions I can’t answer, and neither can the magazines that publish articles on published research. It’s important to read these things carefully and really take a moment to look inside of yourself and ask yourself if you want to consider yourself broken, sick, ill, and helpless.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

It feels good to be back. And by being back I mean reading articles that really have meaning to them, reading tweets that aren’t just about the memearific Kim K shoot. It feels good to be reading and reporting on articles that support and disapprove of my stance. I read one this morning called “The Corruption of Evidence Based Medicine–Killing for Profit” by a Doctor Jason Fung, a Nephrologist. You can read it here.

I mostly report on the corruption within the medicine of psychiatry, but the same happens in the sector of physical health.

This isn’t surprising. As I’ve said many times, medicine is a business. It shouldn’t be, but it is. It’s the same sort of business Tobacco is: it feeds off of people’s weaknesses. That’s not to say at least medicine has the quality of “helping” some people. Without my dad’s blood pressure medicine, his pressure rises into the 200’s easy. They’ve already seen he’s had a few mini strokes none of us knew about. So I’m not here to say we need to abolish the current system. I’m here saying we need to take a closer look.

It’s not your physicians necessarily that are in on this, it’s the researchers, the pharmaceutical companies, and if you live in the United States, the insurance companies. It’s a shame the only research that gets published is the research that very obviously supports the pharmaceutical or the procedure.

Fung quotes Doctor Marcia Angell when she stated the mean truth:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to reply on the judgement of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor.”

It didn’t take me two decades to reach that conclusion, and I wasn’t reluctant about it. As soon as I read anti-psychotics were given to three year old’s for tantrums, I knew something was screwy. It doesn’t take a rocket scientists to see the profit within that.

Some psychiatrists and physicians aren’t even aware of what they’re doing half the time. My last psychiatrist wanted to raise me to 15mg of Abilify even though the research says anything about 10mg shows no real efficacy. And yet, how high up do they go in miligrams? 30. Think about that. 2mg of Abilify is 939 dollars a prescription without insurance. Abilify is one of the top-selling Antipsychotics in the U.S. Think about it. It took me digging through a lot of papers and research to even find the truth about the efficacy.

Soon all the rage will be these injections. The easiest way to trap someone on a medication is to give them one they can’t refuse. They are, of course, for the more “difficult” patients. So not only are you a patient with no rights, you’re also a patient with no rights who knows they have no rights, so you stand up to that, and that makes you difficult. Or, your experience of psychosis hasn’t been properly approached yet, and therefore you are left to sizzle in your own mind with only the fleeting hope an injection will change things. Maybe for some it does. But at what cost?

Fung makes a good point: “Evidence based medicine is completely worthless if the evidence base is false or corrupted.” 

Doctor Relman makes another good point:

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”

It’s very disgraceful. This is why I have such a strong moral stance against taking medication, this is why I hate to admit that sometimes, yes, a low dosage of a medication does even out my mood. Yes, a low dosage of a medication does help me better understand and better dictate what thoughts I listen to and what thoughts I don’t.

It’s when doctors push up your milligrams because your voices haven’t gone that is the problem. Maybe the voices will never go away: if you haven’t accepted or made peace with that, that’s not a problem medication will solve. Maybe the delusional thoughts will always be there. The depression. The anxiety. If you haven’t accepted any of that, again, that’s not a problem medication will solve. 

It’s also not a problem to be solved. It’s an experience to learn from. It’s an experience to learn how to experience it in a way where you can still live the life you want to. Everyone has some kind of struggle that holds them back at some point in life. You are no different. And to sit back and say “Well, this is my ‘sickness’, I guess I’m doomed to a life of nothingness” is called giving up. That’s not acceptance.

That’s one thing that I struggle with in accepting this “mental health awareness” campaign everyone has going. They’re making awareness for the sickness, the illness, for this idea of helplessness because “your mental illness will never go away”. We should be empowering each other. We should be introducing each other to new perspectives, new ways of hearing voices, new ways of interpreting delusions, new ways of tackling anxiety, new ways of coping with depressions, new ways of experiencing mood swings. The only way we will avoid the corruption of ourselves is to keep ourselves. We can’t lose ourselves within this idea of being ill, of being sick, of needing this, needing that, being disabled.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

Alright, let’s talk about this. Some of you probably already know my stance on psychology, psychiatry, and the way the system is set up. If you’re new to this blog, and haven’t been through the ringer with me, check out the quotes at the bottom of the home page and you’ll probably get the jist really quickly.

But there’s a trend on social media that I kind of want to address. It’s this cliche thing of naming what people like to call “mental illness”. I’ll use the term here because they do, but know I don’t believe in it, and never will I call myself mentally ill.

twitter_512I came across a Tweet (yes, I use twitter: @Ipenned) today stating “Social Anxiety disorder is not to be confused with introversion–which is true. It went on to state that people who are extroverted can also have social anxiety, which is certainly true. But then they had to ruin that truth with “Social Anxiety Disorder is a mental illness and can affect anyone”.

Why does that ruin the truth? Well, as someone who has struggled with social anxiety since I was a toddler (4 years old), and we’re talking severe social anxiety, I used to faint if I got called to the front of the class, and once spoke in tongues in front of a whole class because a substitute teacher called on me and my brain stopped working. I’ve made two whole friends in my life by myself. But as someone who has struggled with this, the last thing I want to be called is ill.

I’d rather be told I experience life differently. I’d rather be told not only is it okay to be anxious, but it’s okay to not need, want, or feel pressured to make or be involved in friendships. A lot of my anxiety abated when I went off on my own. Not because I’m some sick loner that needs to get my shit together, but because I actually enjoy time to myself, and the anxiety tires me out if I’m around people too long. That’s not a problem. That’s not something that’s wrong with me. That’s me. And if other people have a problem with it, that’s on them. They don’t have the right to call that part of me an illness.

I don’t consider my psychosis an illness. I interpret things differently, I think about things differently, my perspective is often through a lens of trauma, which becomes a lens of delusion, and once I was helped to understand that, a lot of clarity ensued.

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I don’t consider my depression an illness. I’ve been through a lot in my life, including homelessness, growing up around a lot of alcohol and drugs, domestic violence, violence–that changes the way you think, the way you see things, and the way you feel. Your neurons develop different connections. That’s not an illness. That’s an environmental change, an evolution. That’s called plasticity. Depression has opened up so much beauty in the world to me, I wouldn’t be as grateful, thankful, or happy as I am today without depression. And that’s not me glorifying the situation, that’s me finding the good in what everyone says is bad.

So it frustrates me when I see people on social media promoting this idea of illness. Why are you insulting yourself? Why are you feeding into the labels? I’m so confused.

I’m confused on why people think injections of medication is a good thing. I’m confused on why that’s not seen as a trap. I get that a lot of people have trouble taking their medication, I’m one of those people, but are once-monthly injections necessary? What if the person wishes to get off and their doctor doesn’t agree? Their power is taken away. And I understand that people really wholly believe their doctor knows what’s best for them. But I’m come across many psychiatrists who instead push their own agenda and don’t listen to a word I say. How is that knowing best? How is not listening to your “patient” knowing what’s best?

I guess I’m just confused in general. I’m sick of being seen as the enemy. I’m sick of people thinking that because I refuse to feed into the hype of pop psychology that I’m in denial of my own issues. If you want to consider yourself disordered and sick and ill and put all these negative connotations on yourself, and then turn around and say you’re not your illness, you go ahead and play around with it, try to make that logically sound. I, however, refuse to play into bullshit and refuse to play into the hype.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

I have a poem for you all today about something I’ve been struggling with on an astronomical level. It’s something that’s been hounding me since I first started on this journey when I was 16 or 17. Take a read.

Take it, they say, and I do.

It’s for the better, they say, and I pretend

to believe them.

But there’s no better medicine than human connection,

than walks in nature

where the fireflies conjure

and the Cougars roar.

There’s no better medicine than a domestic cat’s purr,

than a puppy’s head rub,

or the bloom of a rose.

But take it, they said, and I do,

for I understand the consequences of moods

that are self destructive,

that cause more pain than happiness,

that force me to believe

everyone is against me,

even as the evidence proves otherwise.

Two little pills will not dictate my life

but they hound my moral conscience mercilessly:

“You’re feeding the demon, Big Pharma,

going against what you believe in,

what Karma

will that produce at the end of your life span

here on Earth?

You’re hurting your liver, your kidneys, your organs.

How will your heart feel after 21 years of torture

by two little pills?

Don’t you remember Prolonged QT,

or have you forgotten you’re getting a science degree?

It can cause a fatal Arrhythmia after prolonged use of anti-psychotics

and who knows this but you?

A psychiatrist won’t tell you,

a physician won’t tell you

and yet you take those two little pills

against your very own will.

This is all the voice in my head

the one that used to constantly want me dead.

Now he begs for me to save my life

by throwing away those two little pills

that cause me so much moral strife.

 

Check out this poem and more on my Booksie account here.

I was on a TED talk binge this morning, and I watched Jim Al-Khalili talk about Quantum Biology. Although this is regarded as a relatively new field, it’s not. It’s been around since the 30’s/40’s and was really contemplated within Schrodinger’s book “What is life”.

Essentially Quantum Biology is the study of quantum properties acting within biological systems, like cells. Al-Khalili gave a pretty good summary of the way we have already provided some evidence of this, like the Robin which uses particles that are Quantum entangled in their retina to sense the magnetic poles around the earth–this is how they know which direction to fly during migration. I think this study is the most well known one. The other has to do with Quantum tunneling.

Quantum tunneling is this:

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Basically, a particle has the ability to pass through a physical barrier. This has been shown to be a process within the sun and is a prime occurrence in nuclear fusion, but it has also been shown to occur within enzyme processes. Enzymes are those little guys that help with digestion and metabolism. They keep processes speedy and accurate. It only makes sense that they would evolve a quantum process to help them keep up speed.

If you would like to watch the video and get a better summary/explanation than this, here is the link to Khalili’s Ted Talk. 

What I find so fascinating about this besides the quantum element is what it could mean were we to ever really understand what we’re seeing. Especially what it could mean for medicine. Could you imagine understanding the real quantum process within an enzyme that has been infected with a Cancer?

We’d obviously be dealing with a lot probability and uncertainty, but I think we’d have a greater chance at really understanding what’s going on with diseases like that were we to have somewhat of a better understanding of the process it goes through, and the processes it disrupts. I’m no doctor, and I’m certainly no physicist yet, but I do pride myself on being pretty logical and philosophical and there are a lot of ideas that come to mind when I watch videos like this.

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There are a few more lectures on YouTube about Quantum Tunneling if you’re interested. When I was in high school I got interested in physics and picked up a bunch of books on the subject. This was before I understood an ounce of math, so I didn’t really get that part of things, but I understood the theories. You don’t have to go to college to learn this kind of stuff if you’re dedicated.

Now that I have taken some physics classes, things are even more clearer. So, honestly, had I not read those books I did in high school, I probably would have had a much rougher time in the classes, and I still had a pretty rough time. Too much group work. I can’t group-think. I have to individual-think.

I think the point in all of this is don’t believe everything you see.

There are so many things out in this universe that we don’t understand.

I was listening to another Ted talk from a man talking about how consciousness is basically all of us hallucinating but agreeing on the hallucinations: that’s what we call reality. He said that the brain uses more information that it’s already gathered about the world to show you what you see, rather than actually seeing what’s in front of you, and therefore what we see and experience are kind of like “controlled” hallucinations. This got me thinking, as he mentioned psychosis and other altered states could then be considered “uncontrolled perceptions”. But because he is assuming that all perception comes from something we’ve already perceived, then what is it that the brain has perceived that makes some people see/hear demons, as yours truly does? What is it in this world, outside of our physical realm, that our brains can sense that we can’t?

You can watch that video here.

Consciousness and the world of quantum mechanics is so convoluted and complicated that anyone who claims to really understand any of it is certainly a liar. Anyone who claims they understand the process of hallucinations is also a liar.

Just food for thought: today’s mental truth.

There’s an argument that’s not a good argument that people think is a great argument that is really a weak argument. First, let’s do a little visualization.

Imagine I’m 12 years old. Imagine I’m sitting on the edge of a brick pot housing a small tree, and I’m eating my lunch, my good old healthy baloney and mayonnaise sandwich that is probably healthier than the slop fed in the cafeteria. Imagine, as I sit there, two thirteen year old girls with their shorts they hid under pants before leaving their house, with their golden loop earrings down to their shoulders and their Coach sneakers they tell everyone their mom got for 100 dollars at Coach, but were really thirty dollars in Marshalls.  They slap my sandwich from my hand. They knock over my last sip of carton apple juice. They call me names like poor and stupid throw my backpack across the yard and laugh. They push me on the ground when I get up, and laugh, and rub my face in the dirt and laugh and this goes on every day for four years until the ringleader’s mom gets busted for her meth lab in the garage and the ringleader has to move.

Their bullying leads me to start a hashtag on twitter. #stopbaloneybullying. The hashtag is a sensation and I become the head of a campaign, then a non-profit foundation, then a non-profit national organization against bullying. Then my accountant quits, and all the connections made throughout the years sit on a stick and drop out as funders.

Word gets around a company called “Cheap Shoes for High Prices (CSHP)” sold primarily to teens and children were interested in us, and I become interested in them. I meet them and realize one of the women was the girl who slapped Baloney out of my hand. She apologizes about that, though, after the meeting, and says she’d love to become a funder, she funded several other bullying organizations in small areas.

I say yes and soon notice things. Not good things, not bad things, just things. I hear the way their staff bullies other staff, intimidates them and certain kinds of customers. Kinds of customers that looked like me and sometimes who I met walking through the store. Those kind of customers and I all had similar stories.

Then the CSHP business start telling me how to run my campaigns, which kind of children I could hire in commercials, and say I need to push against the state’s attempt to hire more counselors for public schools to stop bullying, that less counselors aren’t the problem, it’s troubled youth that are the problem, and teachers aren’t noticing. It’s the teachers and poor school policies that are responsible. I say yes because they fund 76 percent of me.

People tell me it’s Conflict of Interest. Financial Conflict of Interest.

And this, dear readers, is the problem with NAMI. It’s the problem with DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Association), it’s the problem with MHA (Mental Health America) and any other form of MHA, like the Mental Health Association. It’s become a problem with websites, and mental health advocacy groups in general.

Pharmaceutical companies are everywhere, they’re a virus, very similar to the kind they treat with their vaccines. Don’t get me wrong, being free of Polio is great. Being free of the measles and chicken pox is also pretty damn great. Anesthesia for surgery, wonderful –if your anesthesiologist is paying attention and knows what he’s doing. Blood pressure pills under a watchful eye? Keeps half of my family alive (which is a whole other philosophical question I don’t feel much like going into right now).

But psychotropics?

Maybe it’s not the meds, maybe it’s the people who push them and claim them as gods that are the problem. Maybe it’s the fact that they aren’t thoroughly researched, or that their efficacy is often exaggerated and/or doesn’t exist statistically or realistically. Maybe it’s the fact that the people who stand behind these meds get involved in areas they need to get outofvolved.

What Do You Mean “OutofVolved?”

In June of 2016, New York University Medical School shut down a total of eight studies at their psychiatric research center. Quietly. This wasn’t in the big news, it wasn’t anything any president spoke of or any mayor took real notice of. The lead investigator/Director of Molecular Imaging program for Mood and Anxiety disorders/professor Dr. Alexander Neumeister was dismissed.

The main objective of Neumeister and his team were to study the effects of a drug that mimics Marijuana to treat PTSD. Let’s examine THAT statement for a moment. A synthetic, lab-generated drug that mimics the natural effects a plant has on our brains to ‘treat’ experiences related solely to trauma. There are several things wrong with this picture before the study even beings. 

 

Firstly: biological markers and blood tests. For PTSD. That defies all logic on every level. Their defense was there were lower levels of the brains natural version of THC/Cannabis in those who were traumatized severely, as if the brain isn’t capable of increasing that neurotransmitter in other ways besides medication. It’s one of the ‘controversial’ areas of psychiatry these studies aimed to test. The guinea pigs of the experiment were given this fake marijuana pill and shoved out the door without any real follow up.

Pfitzer, the pharmaceutical company who created this FAAH Inhibitor, and tested it on guinea pigs with osteoarthritis (we’re all clear guinea pigs = humans, right?), said there were no real side effects, and approved it for testing with NYU. The FDA shot a warning letter listing the observed conditions in which could have, and probably would have, undermined the validity of the study. I would list these conditions if there weren’t a million of them.

Manipulating research  is more common than expressed in the archives of FDA warning letters. It’s not difficult to create an experiment which looks appealing, sounds appealing, and has appealing results when you have a few billion dollars you’re willing to throw in the direction of the researchers.

Pfitzer was not a silent partner, they weren’t a bystander, and for them to say “N.Y.U was responsible for conducting the trial” without reminding the public the millions they sponsored the trial with, without reminding the public they own the rights to whatever research is discovered-, without reminding the public they’re shady for denying any public access to their clinical trial results is only reminiscent of that one kid in kindergarten who pulled everyone’s hair then denied doing so even when the teacher saw them do it.

If corporations are considered people by the law, then they should be tried in family court because they all act like children.

They lie like children as well. This particular F.A.A.H inhibitor killed one of six clinical volunteers and sent the rest to the hospital with neurological damage. 

The bottom line? If they–the pharmaceutical companies–fund something, they control it. They own it, they direct it. What is supposed to be neutral, valid, and reliable data becomes tarnished with serious manipulation of controls, of bias, and of confounds.

What Do Advocacy Groups Really Advocate?

A large portion of the community here is involved with NAMI. They offer support groups and volunteer positions, job positions even, giving those of us who have a struggled a chance to get our voice heard and a purpose, a reason to wake up in the morning. That’s a beautiful concept. CONCEPT. 

It’s no secret that NAMI, DBSA, Mental Health America, and Mental Health Associations are the largest so-called advocacy groups which receive the bulk of their funding from five or more pharmaceutical companies. Let’s pick on NAMI.

In 2016, NAMI received 20,500 from Astrazeneca, 50,000 from Bristol Meyers Squibb, 28,000 from Eli Lilly, 25,000 from Navartis, and I would share the results from Pfitzer, but they block public access to quarterly and yearly reports.

To find this information it’s not too difficult: get the name of a pharamceutical company, and search for their quarterly reports or type in Google “Johnson and Johnson Donations”. A nice blurb of bullshit from my favorite man Alex Gorsky will pop up, but so will their quarterly reports of the organizations and non-profits they’ve donated to. I’ll only list a few findings in this article: the rest is up to you.

In 2016, NAMI, from just those 4 companies, received 123,500 dollars. Considering at least 60% of their funding comes from Big Pharma, you can imagine the donations they also receive from Pfitzer, Roche Pharma, Sanofi-Avantis, Wyeth, Johnson and Johnson/Jassen/all the other Johnson and Johnson Pharma companies, Merck–the list could go on and on. Until donations hit the millions. 123,500 is nothing.

Why does this matter? Why does it matter if people’s lives are getting to be filled with purpose and hope and community?

In 2004, Josh Weinstein, a man who served in senior executive positions for three large pharmaceutical companies and is president of jw Einstein Strategic Messaging, said this:

“As a veteran pharma marketer, I have witnessed that the most direct and efficient tool for driving long-term support for brands has been, and continues to be, a well-designed, advocacy-based public education program . . . working with Advocacy groups is one of the most accomplished means of raising disease awareness and enhancing the industry’s image.”

That doesn’t sound much like the community boosting, empowering-the-‘mentally-ill’ interest of advocacy groups.

This is a financial conflict of interest, a large one, and as the pharmaceutical companies donate more they use their power of funding to manipulate the advocacy groups, pressing them to fight against state legislatures, particularly those who have attempted to lower the amount of prescriptions doctors could write in certain states.  NAMI, DSBA, MHA, become puppets.

At this point, they’re advocating Big Pharma, the idea of Mental Illness, and the myth of chemical imbalance. They’re advocating brands with their hashtags on twitter about the importance of research, and they’re advocating our dependence on a system whose interest is already conflicted.

It’s leaking into the alternative world. Those of us who are peer mentors, counselors, supporters, whatever you want to call us, aren’t safe from this infectious disease.

There is a certification run by the MHA called “Peer Specialist Certification”. This allows individuals with lived experience of mental health issues, training, and job experience  to be recognized by clinical standards as people who can offer support to others struggling. It allows peers to work beside psychiatrists, psychologists, and in primary care settings. Once again, great concept, disturbing execution.

Alkermes and Johnson and Johnson are two large funders of the MHA, pitching in 50,000 to 100,000 dollars each specifically for peer certifications and peer programs. What’s stopping them from forcing their agenda into the peer world as well? What’s stopping them from making certain specifications in the certification that may very well go against the togetherness and honesty peer support stands for? What’s stopping them from doing to the MHA’s certification program what they’ve done to NAMI?

What All This Means

As a peer supporter, were I to find out a program I worked for or did business with received funding from pharmaceutical companies, and with that implemented the pharmaceutical companies’ agenda into their business, pressed this idea of mental illness, pressed the myth of chemical imbalance and then had the audacity to call that “advocacy”, I’d quit. I’d live on the street again before I compromised my morals.

After speaking with Mike, the C.E.O of the website The Mighty, and learning that they too are in the workings of receiving revenue from such companies, that they will start having “surveys” available to contributors on their website, surveys presumably conducted by Big Pharma for whatever petty research they claim to be doing, that he declined to go into further explanation, I understand this infection is spreading rapidly.

If we looked at this with a lens from the DSM-V, we could easily spot the Antisocial Personalities heading the executive seats of these companies. If it look at this through a lens of facts and truth, we see greed and dishonesty and major conflict of interest. We see that consumers aren’t aware of the inner workings. We see that consumers don’t read the research that debunks Chemical Imbalances. We see that the FDA takes more time cracking down on small CBD businesses rather than large pharmaceutical companies like Pfitzer and their shady research teams.

We also see large groups of people coming to together outside of this. We see people understanding the true, humanely benefits of alternatives, we see people spending their waking hours debunking the invalid research conducted by these companies. We see people flourishing beyond whatever sickness they’re purported to have, not because they’re cured, not because they’re “taking their meds”, but because they’ve had the opportunity to grow comfortable being human.

Big Pharma sending money to advocacy groups isn’t the end of the world. It keeps the non-profit alive, and from a business standpoint, that’s all that matters to them. The end of the world only comes when we turn a blind eye to truth, the end of the world comes when we dismiss the truth just because the good people working in these non-profits have no personal connection with Big Pharma.

It’s the end of the world when we think #mentalhealthawareness means something.

 

Resources:

F.A.A.H Inhibitor Trial

FDA Warning Letter To Neumeister

N.Y.U studies shut down Critique

Manipulation In The System

N.Y Times Reports On N.Y.U

DBSA Donation Reports (have to enlarge, they don’t make the print readable).

20 Pharma companies listed on MHA

Manipulation In Clinical Research