You! Stop It RIGHT NOW: ADHD meds and Psychosis

Alright, everyone STOP.

I found something to rag on already? Damn, it must be a divine plan for me to come back to this blog.

I need to stop this shit before it gets out of hand. I can’t even get through ten posts on my reader on WordPress without seeing: “ADHD medication may increase the risk of psychosis”. And I can’t read one fucking article related to that without getting this bullshit statistic of “rates of ADHD have increased by *enter bullshit number* within the last year”.

Let’s tackle this one stupid point at a time.

First of all, let’s review: The ADHD medications which are being talked about are stimulants. They are not, and let me repeat this, THEY ARE NOT CLEARED FOR NOR RESEARCHED FOR CHILDREN CONSUMPTION, and yet they are given to toddlers, pre-teens, teenagers, and people under 25. What do all those age brackets have in common? Their brains are still developing.

Some idiot doctor is quoted in this article saying “We compared amphetamines [Adderall and Vyvanse] to people who were prescribed methylphenidates [Ritalin and Concerta]. We found that the Adderall type drugs had an increased risk of psychosis”.

Wow, you guys! Really? Is that what you found? And did something similar happen when you asked people to mainline some meth? Bump some cocaine twice a day? And moreover, did you ask a thirteen year old to do it?

Someone please just take a bat to my fucking head so I don’t have to read this nonsense anymore. No one should be surprised that a type of amphetamine that has a very similar chemical structure to illegal amphetamines is causing something illegal amphetamines cause in otherwise healthy people quite fucking often.

If anything they need to take this opportunity to learn from this. They already fucked up multitudes of people’s lives. So do us all a favor. Do something you should have been doing from the beginning. Scan the brains of your patients before you put them on this shitty medication and scan their brains afterwards, when they decent into brutal, prescription induced psychosis, and publish the results. And tell us exactly what these psychiatric medications are changing in our brains.

But you won’t do that. That would harm your fucking business.

Now, obviously, not everyone experiences this side-effect. Don’t get fooled–that does not mean the structure of your brain doesn’t change. Let me share an article I posted on my job’s facebook page. And let’s really, really talk about this.

This article here is posted on Mad In America. It’s essentially an interview with a man who was on psychiatric medication, anti-depressants, and has his doctorate now, in medicine, and doing research on behalf of medication withdrawal. It was found in some studies that as much as 1/40th of a general starting dose of an antidepressant immediately effects every serotonin synapse, 70% of which are in your gut.

So let’s think about that. I was started out on 10mg on my antidepressant back in the day. 1/40th of that is .25. .25mg of that antidepressant would have had an immediate effect on me. Would I feel it? Probably not. But your body and your cells and your synapses would. And over time, eventually you would too.

Adderall is an amphetamine and therefore directly effects serotonin levels. The recommended starting dose of Adderall for adults is 30mg. Not quite sure how they came up with starting dose for anyone other than adults considering it’s never been researched on children.

.75mg of Adderall will have an immediate effect on your system. Think about that.

We have absolutely ZERO clue as to what any of these psychotropic medications do to our brains. That’s not me hating on the system, that, my friends, is simply a fact. The research is biased, often perpetrated by bribed researchers, and the media is so inept at reporting truth half of what the studies actually say are never reported. Don’t believe me? If you’re in college, take your university library card, get on the database, and go read some real journals. Trust me, if you understand statistics a lot of these studies will ultimately disappoint you.

On a child, on an underdeveloped brain, even half of 30mg is going to have a lasting effect on them.

This idea that ADHD is rising is also bullshit. Why? Firstly, doctors get paid to prescribe these medications. They get little kick backs from pharmaceutical companies. So, if you come in with your child who has a few tantrums a day and has trouble sitting in school, that doctor isn’t going to ask you what the nature of the classroom is or the nature of the household (i.e, whether or not the child is being stimulated in school, whether or not there’s enough physical activity, whether or not the child’s diet is overdosed with sugar, whether or not the child is glued to electronic devices, whether or not your parenting just sucks ass).

What this is doing is invalidating the people who really do have deficits in their attention. You could go in a doctor’s office and say you’re having trouble focusing and walk out with a fucking Adderall prescription.

Recesses are being taken out of schools or the time outside is being shortened. You think that’s not going to affect a child? Even though I was silent throughout my school years, when it was raining and we weren’t allowed to go outside I got fucking restless. Why? Because I was a fucking kid. That’s why.

I feel bad for the children who really can’t focus, who literally spend every day and every night fighting their brains, trying to finish a paragraph in a book they’re assigned to read. While their classmates talk out of turn one time and are suddenly given a prescription.

Then everyone wonders why, when that child turns 13, she has a psychotic break.

For example, I have attention problems. I start things and I don’t finish them. I space out when people are talking and then randomly blurt something. I’m either very interested in one thing, or interested in nothing. But I function like every other person. I love school, and learning, and my attention issues have never been a problem for me, even as a child. I didn’t grow up with the t.v on every second, with a smart phone in my hand, eating freaking Frosted Flakes with extra sugar. Whenever a psychiatrist asks me if I have attention problems I always say no because I’m not going get punched with a label I don’t need when there are people out there who literally have breakdowns because they can’t focus.

Everyone STOP this MASS HYSTERIA. And think CRITICALLY. Please don’t believe everything you read–including me. Go research for yourself.

And stop trying to find quick fixes for every little hiccup in your life. Because quick fixes don’t exist.

Sudoku and Neurotransmission

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.

 

 

How Sick Are You, Pt 2

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.

 

Who’s In Your Driver’s Seat?

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.

 

Quantum Biology and Hallucinations

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.

Who Do You Advocate?

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

 

 

Once Again: CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION

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I tried, ya’ll. I tried so hard. Before I took a personal break from this blog, before wordpress updated everything and my tags went wonky, before Trump figured out he can give executive orders and still have them banned, I told you all very, very blatantly, very calmly and collectively that my hatred for the industry had ceased. That I would focus more in my career and life on expanding and integrating Peer Support services.

I told you all that this blog would no longer be a clusterfuck of my sarcastic droning on people like Alex Gorksy or that guy on his team who wanted to put lollipops in packages of Risperdal for children.

I kept my promise.

Until now.

There is a textbook that has set my brain aflame. My skin has rotted away from words in this textbook. My brain started fucking my rectum because of words from this textbook. I ripped out my own eyes, stuffed them in my ears, and ate fifteen poisonous frogs when I heard words from this textbook.

This college textbook:

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Fuck you, Pearson, and Your 14th Edition

No classroom should ever, ever have a student read a textbook for a health science class with a mental health section as sloppy and bullshit as this one. It’s like the authors wrote all the things they’ve been told about mental health from their super conservative, super gullible, super fucked-in-the-head second cousins all twice removed who all like to staple their heads for YouTube views who thought just because they read an article on google scholar, that they knew the complete biological, environmental, and genetic causes of these things labeled mental disorders.

But, no, it gets better. Oh it gets so much better.

I don’t hate on any textbook, article, or person who believes in the medical model of psychiatry. I understand that it’s the widespread belief, I understand that there’s been research (and that the research has been warped and twisted with lies for the sake of money), and I certainly understand that until there’s more widespread research proving otherwise, people will continue to believe they are sick and defective for life.

However, a textbook that promotes this and attempts to, quite literally, discredit every other form of research is one that should, along with the authors, be stabbed, maimed, thrown in a hole, pissed on by someone with Gonorrhea, then burned.

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And of course they make the most misunderstood, most feared, most confusing, and most stigmatized “mental disorder” their fucking scapegoat for their shitty view of mental health.

This, people, is why stigma exists. Books and classrooms based on this viewpoint are literally the reason stigma exists.

Let me give you some quotes and then discredit the shit out of them with actual credible sources. #Karma, bitch.

First, their definition of schizophrenia was pretty typical. “A psychological disorder that affects about 1 percent of the U.S population”. Yada, yada, heard it all before, right?

They go on.

“For decades, scientists believed that schizophrenia was a form of madness provoked by the environment in which a child lived” (mostly blamed on the mother back then), and “they blamed abnormal family interactions or early childhood trauma.”

Another true statement. They go on.

Basically, MRI and PET scans “[allowed] scientists to study brain function more closely; based on that knowledge, schizophrenia was found to be a biological disease of the brain. The damage occurs early in life, possibly as early as the second trimester of fetal development. Fetal exposure to toxic substances, infections, and medications have been studied as a possible risk, and hereditary links are being explored.”

And it continues.

“Even though theories that blame abnormal family life or childhood trauma for schizophrenia have been discarded in favor of biological theories, a stigma remains attached to the disease.” Then they go in to talk about how the families of people with schizophrenia need extra support.

If none of that really bothers you (YET, wait for it), “support of loved ones and access to therapy [helps] many schizophrenics lead normal lives”.

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Wonderful. Let’s all give this piece of shit book a big round of “a-fuck-you”.

I will not promote the idea that children develop schizophrenia from fucked up mothers. If that were true, a lot more people would, as this textbook would say, “be schizophrenic”. I also refuse to promote this strange idea that we are 100% certain this is a disease.

Because the research is very, very faulty. They’re doing comparative studies, in which they study the brain of someone who already hears voices, sees things, and has cognitive problems, compares them to someone who doesn’t and then says that depleted white matter, or that so called “abnormal” level of dopamine is,  a result of the disease of schizophrenia. The problem? You couldn’t possibly know if “schizophrenia” caused that, or the depletion of the brain matter or the abnormal dopamine or whatever caused it. Basically, you still don’t know shit. Waste of time and money.

Unless your’re big pharma and can cash big on telling people they have an incurable disease that no amount of TLC can ever, ever relieve, no amount of support or activity in life will ever, ever relieve. Medication will correct your brain abnormalities. Because you’re defective.

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*COUGH COUGH*

Correlation is not causation. CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. If you did not study these brains of these children– many, many children, not just 18, that’s not a large enough sample size if you’re trying to define a fucking disease–from the time they were born until the time they developed characteristics of schizophrenia, than you know absolutely nothing about how the brain develops.

In fact, you’d need to study them prenatally.  All those risk factors that you hear about? The flu? All that? You know what they are? HYPOTHESES. It’s called the NEURODEVELOPMENT HYPOTHESIS. They’re not facts, they don’t even have enough agglomerate, valid, credible research to be called a THEORY! They’re hypotheses. Hypotheses with experiments that:

“… provided evidence consistent with an association between second-trimester exposure to influenza epidemics and schizophrenia; further investigations, however, some of which were larger and featured more complete case ascertainment, failed to replicate the association. While similarly designed studies of other infectious agents have suggested potential relationships with schizophrenia, the effects have been generally weak, and few replication attempts have been made” (1)

You know what you need in research to publish a real study? To be credible? REPLICATED EXPERIMENTS.

You can read that publication if you wish to learn about the other risk factors that apparently had a slightly more correlational effect. But once again, CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. BASIC PSYCHOLOGY 101.

Check all the studies you want: Trauma has never, ever been discarded as a major catalyst towards the development of any mental health issue. Never. Not. Once. In fact, it’s never even been studied to a great extent. I have not found, in my search of databases of empirical articles at least, one article that specifically disproves that trauma of any kind changes the physicality and mental state of your brain. How much do you want to bet that it does? 

If none of these reasons disturb you about what our future health students are learning about health, than at least be pissed off they said “schizophrenics”. Come on. That’s so 1980.

If you’re going to make a bold claim of a mental health problem solely being biological, at least have the facts and the research to back it up.

(1): Brown, A. S., & Derkits, E. J. (2010). Prenatal Infection and Schizophrenia: A Review of Epidemiologic and Translational Studies. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 167(3), 261–280. http://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.09030361

It’s The Thought That Counts

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I tried ya’ll.

I tried so hard to ignore it.

But everyone is posting about it, I’m seeing articles on major magazine websites pouring their heart into it, and as much as I respect their excitement and their enthusiasm for totally real, hardcore science, I must push my way through the crowd and get a little word in.

“New Imaging  Study Shows How Schizophrenic Brains Regenerate”.

“Science may have moved much closer to curing Schizophrenia”. 

“Imaging study shows promising results for patients with Schizophrenia”

“Brains of people with Schizophrenia attempt self-repair:study”.

One categorized schizophrenia s a “neurological disorder”.

I . . .

Look ya’ll, I’m going to be frank. I know I’ve been in sort of a professional, formal sounding haze these last few weeks, but this kind of shit just pisses me off.

 

 

A neurological disorder? When was this concluded? NEVER, THAT’S WHEN.

*breathe*

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There are such things as hallucinations caused by neurological issues. For example, often elder people in nursing homes who are blind have visual hallucinations. I recall hearing a story of one woman in her nineties who had lost her vision for many years but was steadily seeing people walking past her. She saw napkins floating in mid-air. None of these interacted with her, none of them acknowledged her, and if you fucking ask Oliver Sacks what the difference between a psychotic hallucination and a neurological hallucination is, he’ll tell you in your fucking face that psychotic hallucinations tend to interact with you. They tend to recognize you are there, even if that means just looking over at you. They are (generally) not just a scene in front of your eyes that are pretty to look at. They are (generally) not a cute little movie based on the real world that you get to watch and smile at.

Unless you count hundreds of bugs crawling on the wall or shadow figures sitting at a table with red eyes with little movie based on the real world that you smile at.

Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, everyone experiences such things differently. But if you want to get “Sciencey”, if you want to act like a textbook has all the answers, there’s the scientific/textbook difference between a psychotic hallucination and a neurologically-caused one for you.

child-abuse1Could there be a reason for this difference? Oh absolutely. Could you think of a reason? I could think of one huge one: environment. How you grew up. Where you grew up. What you were told. How you were exposed to the world. Trauma.

For example I’ve learned from talking with people who are in the state of mind where they walk up to you very boldly, very furious, and say “stop stealing my thoughts. I hate it, get out of my head, stop stealing my thoughts!” 

And at first you’re a little taken aback. You go on the defense and your first reaction is “I’m not” or “calm down” or “here, take these”. You might even be fearful as we’ve all been taught people sucked within delusions or hallucinations are unpredictable. And in some cases that has been truth. But has anyone ever paid attention how we react to them? Does anyone care about that? 

Because I’ve learned to react a different way. I’ve learned to sit and speak with them about why they feel someone is stealing their thoughts. And you know what I’ve discovered in a few? They have a history of feeling invaded. Of feeling their privacy means nothing, as if they had none to begin with. How their brain reacts to that?: People are stealing my thoughts. 

Is that neurological?

After speaking with them, after steadily extracting a whole new story from them, have I convinced them someone is not stealing their thoughts? No. But we just spent an hour talking about their restrictive childhood and suddenly I’m not the one stealing their thoughts anymore.

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Often in these articles I read they support the idea that you are born with schizophrenia, that you are born with a broken mind, one that it (this cracks me up) needs to be repaired.

Is childhood psychosis something of interest? Absolutely. There are tons of children who seem to hallucinate before they turn 3 years old. Does that warrant some interesting neuroscience? I think so. But it doesn’t mean you only speak to them in clinical terms, it doesn’t mean you constantly reassure them they are sick and “damaged” as one article put it. How much of a difference does self-esteem make? Has this been studied as well?

But when it comes to adults, when it comes to people with troubled pasts, or  even un-troubled pasts but just experiences where they may have been constantly controlled, invaded, or verbally abused once in a while, it warrants we take a look at their entire life and not only their neurology.

“It’s been suggested that neural degeneration in this region is at the root of Schizophrenia, though this is still widely debated . . .”

It is very widely debated. But you don’t hear much about the side debating, do you? 

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Everyone loves NAMI. Oh they’re raising so much awareness, they’re doing this, they’re doing that. Well, if you go on the NAMI or NIMH website, whichever hosts research articles I forget, and download their studies on Schizophrenia, and you search for the word “Trauma” you won’t find it once.

Not. Once.

That tells me this is a one-sided conversation. This tells me we’re hunting after schizophrenia like it’s going to be a crack in the brain somewhere, that as soon as we find that hole all we’ll have to do is patch it up with a little super-glue and it’ll be gone.

I feel we do that with many “disorders” we characterize.

As someone studying in the psychiatric field, as someone with lived experience of mental health issues, I can confirm heavily for you that as an industry we set up a batch of symptoms, we analyze you without taking into consideration who you are or where you’re from, and then we stick you with a label and tell you, well, this is for the rest of your life.

I love that one article which talks about “self-repair”, as if there is a leak to stop somewhere.

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“The researchers’ main finding is that, in terms of overall grey matter volume, schizophrenic brains become more “normal” the longer they’re schizophrenic. That is, the largest deviations occur early in the illnesses onset. Moreover, patients with the most dramatic deviations from normal early in the illness were not necessarily the most likely to be better or worse off later in the illness than patients with less deviations.”

Source

Love the “schizophrenic brains”and “longer they’re schizophrenic” rather than  “brains with schizophrenia” or “the longer they experience schizophrenia”.

They depersonalize these articles on purpose. These findings are meant to generalize an entire population, they’re meant to isolate an illness. They’re not meant to speak on behalf of the people going through these experiences. And that’s where the biological model falls short.

Yes, I can’t deny they have found differences in grey matter in people with schizophrenia versus people without. But the thing is, they can’t prove whether it’s because of the way people react to the world around them or because of the physical matter of the brain. They act like it’s because of the way the physical matter is developed, but they have no proof. No one has any proof either way.

So each side spends all their time trying to convince us either way instead of taking time to speak with the people they’re degrading. 

I guess the DSM-5 made an attempt: they did put out a call to the general public to see if anyone had a disorder they wanted published before they finalized the DSM-5 in 2013.

Can anyone see how that’s a bad idea?

Can anyone see just how fabricated a lot of these characterizations are made now?