Psychiatric News is the APA’s online bulletin. On Jan 15, it ran an article by Vabren Watts (an APA staff writer). The article is called APA Gives Schizophrenia Research Capitol Hill Spotlight.
It is reported in the article that on December 12, 2013, the APA, together with the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus and the American Brain Coalition, made a joint presentation to legislators and their staffs on
“…latest research on treatments for schizophrenia…”
The session was moderated by Saul Levin, MD, MPA, who is the APA’s Medical Director and CEO.
APA’s President, Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, participated in the discussion, and reportedly stressed the strong link between psychiatry and neuroscience, and how this
“…may lead to the development of diagnostic tests to help predict the likelihood of schizophrenia episodes in those at greatest risk.” [Emphasis added]
The article is standard psychiatric PR, and the legislators were assured that the APA will continue to be a
“…strong advocate for more federal investment in biomedical research…”
This plaintive cry for government dollars is a constant theme with organized psychiatry. It has increased in recent years as big pharma, psychiatry’s previous bankroller, is distancing itself, largely for financial reasons, from psychiatry’s trail of destruction and scandal.
But there are two points in the article that, in my opinion, warrant further examination. They were both quotes from Lisa Dixon, MD, a psychiatrist at Columbia University and the NY State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Dixon is also involved in the NIMH-funded RAISE study (Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenic Episode).
Here’s the first quote:
“‘Support for employment and education [for teenagers with schizophrenia] is not something that we typically have in the mental health package. It is critically important to keep these young people in their lives—keeping them on track and on trajectory…'”
There’s some interesting history here.
Prior to the 1980’s, most people with developmental disabilities were either not employed, or were employed in sheltered workshops. Then the notion that these individuals could, in many cases, obtain and hold down mainstream jobs began to gain currency. Case managers, trainers, and job coaches throughout the US became empowered to reject the stigmatizing labels of helplessness and dependency that had constituted orthodox thinking concerning these individuals, and today one can find developmentally disabled people working in fast-food restaurants, grocery stores, motels, and other sites.
As the success of these programs became increasingly evident, attempts were made by program managers and staff to provide similar services to people with “mental illnesses,” including “schizophrenia.” These attempts were routinely resisted by psychiatry, who insisted that because schizophrenia is an incurable, degenerative brain disease, the best we can offer these clients is neuroleptic drugs, forced if necessary, to keep their “illness” in remission, trips to the state hospital for “stabilization” as needed, and a completely non-demanding, unstressed milieu. Clubhouses and drop-in centers were about as much as they could be expected to handle.
In this historical context, Dr. Dixon’s proclaimed enthusiasm for “keeping them on track and on trajectory” rings a little hollow. It was psychiatrists, Kraepelinian blinkers firmly in place, that relegated these individuals to the psychiatric wards and the “day treatment” centers and the clubhouses. It was psychiatrists who told family members, in no uncertain terms, that these individuals were not to be challenged or stressed in any way. It was psychiatrists who insisted that these individuals would never be able to continue their studies or even hope to hold down jobs.
And all this despite the fact that in pre-Kraepelinian times, individuals with essentially the same presentation were being successfully encouraged to learn new skills, to resolve their problems, and obtain gainful employment.
Psychiatry’s scandalous message of disempowerment, and their routine destruction of these people’s brains with toxic drugs, was not based on any kind of scientific discovery. Rather, it was based on a slavish adherence to bio-psychiatric orthodoxy; a narcissistic faith in its own pronouncements; and an inexplicable, but apparently endless willingness to inflict destructive “treatments” on those entrusted to their care.
And now – with their concepts debunked, their destructive practices exposed, and their profession reeling drunkenly from one scandal to the next, psychiatry is trying to co-opt the recovery movement with its “discovery” that people with “schizophrenia” need to be kept “on track and on trajectory.”
But there isn’t even a hint of recognition or acknowledgement that it was psychiatry’s condescending dogmatism that knocked these individuals off track in the first place, and that for a hundred years condemned them to a life of disempowerment, hopelessness, horrific “treatments,” devastating adverse effects, and an early death.
The second quote from Dr. Dixon is also in reference to the RAISE study. She is quoted as saying that the RAISE initiative is not a project in which people seek out the program for support; instead:
“…the program goes to the people.”
In the NIH August 2011 document describing the Columbia RAISE study it states that the project
“…will identify ways to effectively integrate a comprehensive early intervention program for schizophrenia and related disorders into existing medical care systems…” [Emphasis added]
There it is again – a psychiatrist or a psychiatrist’s assistant in every GP’s office, and screening for early intervention. So a socially awkward teenager, who visits his/her GP for a sore throat, can be shunted across the hall to the psychiatric specialist for “screening.” The program goes to the people!
And this, coupled with the fact that “attenuated psychosis syndrome” is included in the DSM-5 (p 122), despite APA’s assurances that it would not be, is a cause for major concern.
Despite everything that has been said and written about psychiatry’s spuriousness and destructiveness; despite the outspoken protests of its victims; despite the growing dissent in its own ranks; the psychiatric juggernaut is still at full throttle, expanding its insatiable “diagnostic” net, and selling more drugs to more people.
We can only hope that our legislators have enough sense to see through this self-serving promotion, and start diverting some of these research funds to questions that genuinely need to be addressed. For instance: are psychiatric drugs playing a causative role in the mass shootings that have become commonplace in the US in the past 20 years?