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BREAKING: Robert Whitaker is interviewed on All Education Matters


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I recently got Robert Whitaker to speak with Cryn Johannsen, the founder of All Education Matters, a non-profit dedicated to lobbying for student loan debtors' interests. Many people outside of college age still don't know how dire it is out there for student loan debtors: it's not uncommon for students to rack up six-figures of debt on their tuition, and this debt is NOT dischargeable in bankruptcy! You heard that right: student loan debt is currently the ONLY debt in the country that is not dischargable in bankruptcy! That means that no matter what, the debt will hang around your neck until you die, and then it will just roll over to the co-signers. In fact, that is often what prevents some student loan debtors from killing themselves: they just couldn't allow their debt to fall on their parents. Put all that together with the worst economy since the depression, and you start to get the big picture.

 

It is especially bad for law school grads: the legal job market has been hollowed out over the last two decades, and many of the paralegal positions budding lawyers count on to get their foot in the door have either been outsourced or replaced by computers. Many new law grads graduate without ever even TRYING to look for work; they just take what they can elsewhere, even if it's just a $9/hr job that won't even pay the interest on their loans. One law school grad has over $300K of debt and has never held a law job, and he got his degree in the 90s! He is well into his 30s (maybe early 40s) and lives in his parents basement. He has some serious respiratory issues now too because of all the painting jobs he's done over the years (the only gigs he can find). And by the way: his debt started at only 79K when he graduated in '97! Don't believe me? Well you're in luck, because he has SCANNED HIS STUDENT LOAN BILL! Look below for the full force of reality:

 

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Below is the text of one of his posts about his utter despair over his situation. I was struck by how eerily similar it is to how many of us feel about SSRIs. In fact, if you substitute "SSRIs" for "law school" and "student loan," it's basically the same thing!

 

THOUGHTS OF DEATH.

 

THOUGHTS OF INSANE DEBT.

 

INSANE

 

INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

DEBT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

THOUGHTS OF INJUSTICE.

 

NO ONE TO TRUST.

 

RUINED CREDIT FOR LIFE.

 

RUINED PROSPECTS.

 

THOUGHTS OF ETERNAL PEACE IN ANOTHER WORLD.

 

OH GOD.

 

OH GOD, DEAR GOD HELP ME.

 

DEAR GOD! HOW I WISH I NEVER WENT TO A LAW SCHOOL

 

HOW I WISH I COULD START MY LIFE OVER, AND HOW I WISH THAT SOMEONE, SOMEHOW, AND SOMEWHERE HAD TOLD ME TO NEVER,

 

NEVER,,,NEVER EVER,,,NEVER EVER

 

 

NEVER, NEVER,NEVER,NEVER,NEVER

TO HAVE TOLD ME TO NEVER TAKE OUT A STUDENT LOAN.

 

TO HAVE NEVER GONE TO A LAW SCHOOL.

 

ALL I THINK ABOUT NOW ARE PHANTOMS AND HALLOWEEN GHOULS AND DEATH AND MOULDERING GRAVES.

 

OPEN GRAVES, WAITING TO BE FILLED AND COVERED OVER.

 

AND UNHAPPINESS.

 

OH GOD HOW UNHAPPY I FEEL SOMETIMES.

 

AS IF LIFE IS A GREAT BURDEN TO BEAR.

 

OH DEAR GOD, SUCH UNHAPPINESS.

 

I WENT THROUGHT THE PROGRAM AND GRADUATED WITH ALL THE POMP ONCE.

 

I DID!

 

I REALLY DID!

 

Now, it is possible to get loans forgiven, but the requirements are astonishing: death (in some cases), or debilitating illness or injury that prevents you from working. Cryn recently spoke with a woman who got her student loan debt forgiven when she had her "head blown in" while serving in Iraq.

 

Cryn herself is no stranger to debt. She's racked up a good amount and is now living with her husband's parents. She's in her 30s and has admitted to herself, with much pain, that she won't be able to have children. Not with the amount of debt she has.

 

Now, the interview itself doesn't contain anything new for regular readers here. It's more of a primer for the student loan crowd. I wanted this interview to happen because I saw a lot of similarities between student loan debt and psychiatry (see my two-part response on the post to see what I mean) and to warn student loan debtors to not make a bad situation worse by starting down the psych path unless absolutely necessary.

 

I also just received an email from Cryn who said my post reminded her of a post someone made on her facebook page when her Whitaker interview came out. Here is the post. I'm sure everyone here will appreciate it, especially the part about emotional blunting, which is a hot thread right now on our forums:

 

I can tell you a long horror story about by experience with Paxil, which was prescribed to me for the treatment of PTSD. The treatment was nearly as bad as the ailment. In some ways, worse. I'm not sure that I would do it again.

 

 

I could write a book about my experience. In brief, it is Hell on earth, and insidious in its subtleties.

 

 

Paxil, and I suspect all SSRIs, 'break your mind', if that makes any sense. It interferes with your ability to feel your own soul. It seems like another person has possessed you. I know that's vague, but it's an extremely complex thing to relate to another person.

 

 

Take "brain zaps" for example. Anybody on Paxil will know instantly what I mean when I use that term. To anybody else, you can't explain it, because it's such an alien concept. It is literally incomprehensible.

 

 

The fact that these drugs affect your emotions is the irony. You are left second-guessing everything, because your ability to reason is largely unaffected. This is hard to reconcile, especially in an emotional, empathic person like myself. It took a great deal of discipline to make decisions based on facts, logic and reason, as opposed to my gut feelings.

 

 

The people around you make it worse. Never tell anybody that you're on an SSRI--they will use it against you, trust me. Friends become suspicious. Bosses start imagining that you'll come into work and shoot up the place (I actually had to deal with this nonsense) and family will bring it up anytime there's a minor quarrel. It scares the hell out of people. It's like, "Well, you admit that your brain isn't working, so anything you say or do is suspect". They revert to rather primitive behaviors. This fuels instability, and it spirals down from there. Paxil destroys relationships. How can you possibly get out of a depressed state if you can't form any meaningful relationships? You can't.

 

 

Note that most, if not all, of the "school shooters" were by people on one type of SSRI or another.

 

 

I'm not down on all psychotropic drugs, but I do believe that they are far too easily dispensed, without proper warnings, and without proper follow up. They are powerful, powerful drugs and they should be treated with the utmost respect and caution. As it is, they're given out like candy.

 

 

 

For an increasing amount of people in this country, life is becoming a most macabre pissing match. It goes something like this:

 

-Student loan debtor: "Man, MY LIFE IS OVER! I've got $180,000 in debt, and it will double in the next decade! And I can't even get a minimum wage job in this economy! I'll never get married, have kids, have a house..."

-SSRI victim: "Oh shaddup! At least you can still GET A BONER! AT LEAST YOU CAN STILL FEEL EMOTIONS!"

-Subprime mortgage fraud victim: "Shut up the both of you! At least you HAVE A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD!"

-Wall Street fat cat: "Ah, stop complaining. This is still the greatest country in the world!"

-Psychiatrist: "Are you depressed? Did you say you had thoughts of killing yourself? There's this new medication on the market, and it has less side effects than..."

 

What a country, eh?

Been on SSRIs since 1998:

1998-2005: Paxil in varying doses

2005-present: Lexapro.

2006-early '08: Effexor AND Lexapro! Good thing I got off the Effexor rather quickly (within a year).

 

**PSYCHIATRY: TAKE YOUR CHEMICAL IMBALANCE AND CHOKE ON IT!

APA=FUBAR

FDA=SNAFU

NIMH=LMFAO

 

Currently tapering Lexapro ~10% every month:

 

STARTING: 15 mg

11/7/10: 13.5 mg

12/7/10: 12.2 mg

1/6/11: 10.9 mg

2/3/11: 9.8 mg

3/3/11: 8.8 mg

4/1/11: 7.8 mg

4/29/11: 7 mg

5/27/11: 6.4 mg

6/24/11: 5.7 mg

7/22/11: 5 mg

8/18/11: 4.5 mg

9/14/11: 4 mg

10/13/11: 3.6 mg

11/9/11: 3.2 mg

12/7/11: 2.6 mg

1/3/12: 2.1 mg

2/2/12: 1.8 mg

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For an increasing amount of people in this country, life is becoming a most macabre pissing match. It goes something like this:

 

-Student loan debtor: "Man, MY LIFE IS OVER! I've got $180,000 in debt, and it will double in the next decade! And I can't even get a minimum wage job in this economy! I'll never get married, have kids, have a house..."

-SSRI victim: "Oh shaddup! At least you can still GET A BONER! AT LEAST YOU CAN STILL FEEL EMOTIONS!"

-Subprime mortgage fraud victim: "Shut up the both of you! At least you HAVE A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD!"

-Wall Street fat cat: "Ah, stop complaining. This is still the greatest country in the world!"

-Psychiatrist: "Are you depressed? Did you say you had thoughts of killing yourself? There's this new medication on the market, and it has less side effects than..."

 

What a country, eh?

 

 

 

Yep! And it seems to be what's happening all over the world in one way or another.

 

 

Charter Member 2011

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I am thinking these days psychiatric medications are being widely vended as a solution to modern life, which contains so many unmanageable stresses as we are all ground down to being merely consumers -- including consumers of, as they say, loan products.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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I am thinking these days psychiatric medications are being widely vended as a solution to modern life, which contains so many unmanageable stresses as we are all ground down to being merely consumers -- including consumers of, as they say, loan products.

Yes, exactly. Pills and credit/loans are the new opium of the masses. "Let them eat pills!" and "Let them eat credit!"

 

This society is just so freakin' unsustainable it's laughable at this point. A major change MUST happen, and I wonder if it's possible for it to be a voluntary change at this point. To quote a student loan blog: it can't go on like this.

 

PS: You're right about Americans being ground down to consumers. America has always been the ultimate consumer economy, but never on this level, and never this cynically. We're consuming things we never even thought were consumable, like happiness (in a pill of course) or even abstract things like prosperity itself ("promised" by a loan or a credit card, of course). The result is unmitigated disaster, of course, because you can't buy those things. But since common sense has been out the window in this country since at least the 80s and has been replaced by a slavish belief in technology and science, we're more and more willing to let ever more ingenious advertising firms (and pharmaceutical companies!) convince us that these intangibles can indeed be bought. It's sick, and it has to stop.

Been on SSRIs since 1998:

1998-2005: Paxil in varying doses

2005-present: Lexapro.

2006-early '08: Effexor AND Lexapro! Good thing I got off the Effexor rather quickly (within a year).

 

**PSYCHIATRY: TAKE YOUR CHEMICAL IMBALANCE AND CHOKE ON IT!

APA=FUBAR

FDA=SNAFU

NIMH=LMFAO

 

Currently tapering Lexapro ~10% every month:

 

STARTING: 15 mg

11/7/10: 13.5 mg

12/7/10: 12.2 mg

1/6/11: 10.9 mg

2/3/11: 9.8 mg

3/3/11: 8.8 mg

4/1/11: 7.8 mg

4/29/11: 7 mg

5/27/11: 6.4 mg

6/24/11: 5.7 mg

7/22/11: 5 mg

8/18/11: 4.5 mg

9/14/11: 4 mg

10/13/11: 3.6 mg

11/9/11: 3.2 mg

12/7/11: 2.6 mg

1/3/12: 2.1 mg

2/2/12: 1.8 mg

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Right -- the pursuit of happiness, in a pill!

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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