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"Medicating Normal" - documentary

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FarmGirlWorks
Posted (edited)
Just received an email from an activist about this new documentary, "Medicating Normal." The trailer brought me to tears. I encourage everyone here who has the ability (and I know that some of us are sicker than others and absolutely cannot) to support this by "liking" and passing on to others and, if really strong, to get a screening in your area. I did not have a new year resolution but think that one just appeared 🙂
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Millions of Americans are physiologically dependent on, not heroin or cocaine, but commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs. While these medications often do provide effective short-term relief for emotional distress and other problems, pharmaceutical companies have hidden common side effects and long-term risks from both patients and doctors.
 
Multi-national drug companies spend billions of dollars annually promoting anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, ADHD drugs and mood stabilizers. Their arguments extolling the benefits of their products are often the only ones presented in the mainstream media. The other side of the story is rarely reported, and it is a story of harm done.
 
Combining cinema verité and investigative journalism, Medicating Normal follows the journeys of a newly married couple, a female combat veteran, a waitress, and a teenager – whose doctors prescribed psychiatric drugs to help with stress, mild depression, sleeplessness, focus, and trauma. Our subjects struggle with serious physical and mental side-effects as well as neurological damage which resulted from taking the drugs as prescribed. During the course of the film, prominent psychiatrists and scientific experts explain how it came to pass that – shockingly - one in five Americans are now taking these drugs daily. And they support and reinforce the fact that debilitating side-effects including addiction are common, and yet are not commonly acknowledged. It is the untold story of the disastrous consequences that can occur when profit-driven medicine intersects with human beings in distress.
 
Co-Producer/Directors, Lynn Cunningham & Wendy Ractliffe and Producer, Muffie Meyer are hosting private, pre-screening events for selected audiences across the country. According to one of the film’s subjects, Angela Peacock, “The film provokes important, meaningful dialogue between patients, prescribers, clinicians, veterans and families.” Agrees psychiatrist, Anna Lembke M.D., of Stanford University, “The film
promises to spark a long-overdue national conversation on the growing problem of over prescriptions.:
 
The “Medicating Normal” website has officially launched and they are slowly releasing over 100 video clips (out-takes from expert interviews) on their Youtube Channel. Experts such as Dr. David Cohen, Dr. Anna Lembke, Dr. Peter Gøtzsche, Dr. Mary Vieten, Dr. Stuart Shipko, Robert Whitaker and Dr. Kelly Brogan, share important information about psychiatric medications, withdrawal, diagnoses, and corrupted science.
 
Please share this email with your friends, “like” their pages and follow them at the below social media platforms so you can be the first to know about upcoming screenings in your area. If you subscribe to "Medicating Normal" website newsletter, see below, you can find out when a private screening or festival showing will be happening in your area. This movie has important information for everyone.
 
 
Watch 3 minute Movie Trailer on there website here:

Website: www.medicatingnormal.com 

 
 
You can subscribe on their YouTube Channel
Edited by FarmGirlWorks

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India

Is it on Netflix?

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Rhiannon

I'm very excited about this. Apparently they are going to be screening it at film festivals around the country to start with. They have a place on your website where you can donate, I made a small donation. They have a lot of good information on the website too. SO happy someone is doing this!

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carefulprayerful

I attended the Philadelphia premier.  The film is excellent.   

 

The director as well as one of the people whose story is in the film were there, and they stayed after the screening for a question-and-answer session with the audience. 

 

After that there was an opportunity to mingle with the like-minded folks, psychiatric survivors as well as progressive-thinking professionals, who came out to see the film.  I met a psychiatrist turned naturopath as well as an ex-patient with a background similar to mine who has been off psych drugs for 5 years and found other ways to cope.  

 

Hope this film gets to theatres everywhere!  (I would like to see a follow-up film--Medicating Abnormal!)

 

Best, CarefulP

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Rhiannon
On 2/14/2020 at 6:05 AM, carefulprayerful said:

I attended the Philadelphia premier.  The film is excellent.   

 

The director as well as one of the people whose story is in the film were there, and they stayed after the screening for a question-and-answer session with the audience. 

 

After that there was an opportunity to mingle with the like-minded folks, psychiatric survivors as well as progressive-thinking professionals, who came out to see the film.  I met a psychiatrist turned naturopath as well as an ex-patient with a background similar to mine who has been off psych drugs for 5 years and found other ways to cope.  

 

Hope this film gets to theatres everywhere!  (I would like to see a follow-up film--Medicating Abnormal!)

 

Best, CarefulP

 

Thanks for the review! I'll have to watch for when it hits out here, I'd like to go.

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JackieDecides

thank you for sharing this, FarmGirlWorks!

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carefulprayerful

Also it is a great film to bring a friend or family member along to see.  It helped my fiancé understand, and he says he would recommend it.

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Altostrata

Review of Medicating Normal on influential psychiatrist Awais Aftab's blog:

 

Quote

 

Primum non Nocere: A Psychiatrist’s Review of “Medicating Normal”

 
I was lucky to see a screening copy of the documentary Medicating Normal (2020, directors: Lynn Cunningham & Wendy Ractliffe) earlier this weekend, and this post is intended partly as a review and partly as a way of organizing my preliminary thoughts and reactions to it.
 
As described by the filmmakers: “Medicating Normal is the untold story of what can happen when profit-driven medicine intersects with human beings in distress.” The film is well-made and remarkable. It is engaging and rewards emotional investment.
 
The focus of the documentary is on the harms of psychiatric medications, the harms these medications can do while one is taking them, and the harms these medications can do when one tries to stop taking them or has stopped taking them.

....

The personal narratives of the ex-patients/survivors are certainly the most powerful component of the film. They are also the most persuasive: the tremendous suffering of these individuals is indisputable and heart-wrenching. Common threads among these various stories are: high “premorbid” psychosocial and occupational functioning; experiences of anxiety/trauma/grief/stress/insomnia which were diagnosed by various clinicians as specific mental disorders (PTSD/GAD/MDD, etc.) with little to no exploration of the psychosocial context; these diagnoses were offered with a generally implicit disease-based understanding; psychotropic medications were prescribed, with little to no informed consent, and the potential harms of these medications were either not discussed or discussed in a manner that severely minimized them; there was typically quick short-term relief, followed by onset of side-effects and problematic experiences (emotional blunting, cognitive impairment, suicidality, psychosis, worsening anxiety, etc.); these new experiences were attributed to the progression of their disease with little to no consideration that these might be due to the medications; this led to a cascade of multiple additional diagnoses (ADHD, MDD, psychotic illness) with compounding polypharmacy such that many of these individuals were on psychotropic cocktails which included benzodiazepines, stimulants, antidepressants, and antipsychotics; this was followed by a rapid decline in psychosocial and occupational functioning leading to a disabled status; years of misery and disability in which their disability continued to be attributed to their illness and not to their medications; slow loss of trust in the system; decision to go off medications; experiences of withdrawal; finally coming off medications and slow restoration of psychosocial and occupational functioning.
 
Supplementary to these terrible experiences with psychotropic medications is another background narrative that pops us repeatedly. That narrative challenges the validity of psychiatric diagnoses – and the attribution of disorder/disease status to the experiences of these individuals – which provided the justification for the use of medications, with the subsequent iatrogenic cascade. The sentiment is that: “We were experiencing stress, trauma, grief, life issues. What we needed was reassurance, normalization, empathy, time, and psychological support for healing. Instead we were offered quick diagnostic labels, told we had a disease, and prescribed medications with no informed consent, which made everything exponentially worse, and destroyed our lives.”
....
The way this documentary is received by psychiatrists will depend heavily on the subtext as well as some aspects of the text. The body of works and opinions of individuals such as Robert Whitaker and Peter Gøtzsche with their long history of controversy shapes that context; the active adoption and endorsement of this documentary by various groups and platforms long felt to be unfairly critical of psychiatry also shapes that context. Aspects of the narrative – which rather simplistically see psychiatric diagnoses as unscientific – will also provoke certain typical reactions. There are many legitimate criticisms to be made along those lines. There is also the case that the clinical practice and prescribing patterns that we get to see in the documentary fall well below the standards of good psychiatric practice that I was taught as a resident as well as standards that are enshrined in current practice guidelines. So many psychiatrists can reasonably protest that what happened to the individuals in the documentary was not supposed to happen. Yet it is also the case that it did happen and that it has happened and continues to happen to a woefully large number of individuals across the world. The question of good psychiatric practice aside, it is the case – and I speak from my experience of psychiatric training and from what I’ve observed in my psychiatric colleagues and teachers across many institutions – that many psychiatrists severely underestimate considerations of certain sorts of iatrogenic harm and withdrawal reactions.
 
What we are witnessing is a failure of pharma, a failure of regulatory agencies, a failure of legislation, a failure of academic medicine, a failure of funding agencies, a failure of psychiatric institutions, on such a massive scale such that the only thing left for ex-patients/survivors and other concerned citizens to do is to take up the mantle themselves, armed with their personal experiences and the tools and information at their disposal. They were sold a hollow understanding of their distress, and they were offered cures which turned out to be poisons for them, and now they are reclaiming their stories, and understanding and interpreting them on their own terms.
 
Just as the disease-based understanding of psychiatric diagnoses is simplistic, misguided, not-the-whole-truth, the notion that psychiatric diagnoses are “all made up” and unscientific is also simplistic, misguided, not-the-whole-truth. Yet I say this from a position of power and privilege; I say this with years of philosophical and scientific reflection, which allows me to think of psychiatric diagnoses in a conceptual manner that is different from that of the average clinician as well as the lay individual. My ivory tower philosophical search for truth is far removed from the experience of the harmed patient in the documentary, who cries out at one point, “What have all these diagnoses ever done for me?” (I am somewhat paraphrasing here based on my recall).
 
I can anticipate that many psychiatrists will react to this documentary in a very defensive manner. They will bring up legitimate criticisms and will focus on the subtext of the movie, some of which I’ve briefly touched on above. They will focus on how this is not representative of all psychiatrists, how this is not representative of good practice. They will also focus on how normalization fails to do justice to the experiences of individuals with serious mental illness who are genuinely impaired and suffering, and psychiatric medications, for most of them, offer a realistic hope at some semblance of normalcy and alleviation of suffering. I agree with all that.
 
Yet to do so exclusively will also miss the larger point of the documentary. Psychiatry can continue to be aggrieved and defensive for good reasons, but in my view that is a precarious strategy and may simply be a recipe for future irrelevance. The conversation is no longer in the hands of the psychiatrists. The conversation has moved into the community. The pandora’s box is open. Many individuals have lost trust in the medical system, they have lost trust in organized psychiatry, they have lost faith in the ability of psychiatric diagnoses and medications to help them. These individuals are taking ownership of their distress and making sense of it in ways that speak to them in more authentic ways. Organized psychiatry has a choice to make here. It can continue to pretend that everything is hunky-dory, and it can continue to dismiss the experiences of harmed patients as anecdotal evidence. Or it can begin to acknowledge the reality of harmed patients, the myriad ways in which we have ignored them and let them down, the ways in which we have allowed the profit and greed of pharmaceutical companies to corrupt our science, and the ways in which we as a profession are failing to offer narratives to our patients that do not reduce their existence to disease and disability.
 
 
Awais Aftab is a psychiatrist in Cleveland, Ohio.

 

 

SurvivingAntidepressants.org will present a showing of Medicating Normal on Saturday, August 22, 2020, 10 a.m. EST
 

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Glosmom

Very powerful reply.  I was fortunate enough to watch the last screening and was moved beyond words. I live this every day with Glo, yet seeing the lives of others who have lost so much, continues to require me to be silent no more.   I work in the supposed 'healthcare" industry and it gets harder each day to fight the hypocrisy.  Mr. Aftab's words below are very wise....

 

Quote

What we are witnessing is a failure of pharma, a failure of regulatory agencies, a failure of legislation, a failure of academic medicine, a failure of funding agencies, a failure of psychiatric institutions, on such a massive scale such that the only thing left for ex-patients/survivors and other concerned citizens to do is to take up the mantle themselves, armed with their personal experiences and the tools and information at their disposal.

 

 

We must be warriors.   Watch the film.  It is worth it.  Glosmom

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Erell
Posted (edited)

Wow !

Hope lot of people will see this !

 

I've sent a message via Facebook : there is a French subtitled version !

You can buy a ticket for the 22 August and ask them the subtitled version.

 

French translation :

 

J'ai contacté l'équipe du film sur Facebook et ils ont réalisé une version sous-titrée en Français.

Il est possible d'acheter un ticket pour la diffusion du 22 Août et de leur demander la version sous-titrée.

 

Edited by Erell

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carefulprayerful

This is overall nice to see!

 

On 7/16/2020 at 1:52 PM, Altostrata said:
What we are witnessing is a failure of pharma, a failure of regulatory agencies, a failure of legislation, a failure of academic medicine, a failure of funding agencies, a failure of psychiatric institutions, on such a massive scale such that the only thing left for ex-patients/survivors and other concerned citizens to do is to take up the mantle themselves, armed with their personal experiences and the tools and information at their disposal. They were sold a hollow understanding of their distress, and they were offered cures which turned out to be poisons for them, and now they are reclaiming their stories, and understanding and interpreting them on their own terms.

These drugs are poisons for everyone, of course. 

 

Dr. Healy explains in his book Pharmageddon that the practice of medicine is the selective use of poisons.  The right amount (of an antibiotic for example) at the right time can save a life, but today patients are being over-medicated in pretty much all branches of medicine.

 

On 7/16/2020 at 1:52 PM, Altostrata said:

I can anticipate that many psychiatrists will react to this documentary in a very defensive manner. They will bring up legitimate criticisms and will focus on the subtext of the movie, some of which I’ve briefly touched on above. They will focus on how this is not representative of all psychiatrists, how this is not representative of good practice. They will also focus on how normalization fails to do justice to the experiences of individuals with serious mental illness who are genuinely impaired and suffering, and psychiatric medications, for most of them, offer a realistic hope at some semblance of normalcy and alleviation of suffering. I agree with all that.

 The problem with this statement is that there is plenty of evidence that people who do not take psychiatric medication have better outcomes, even people with bipolar or schizophrenia (Robert Whitaker, one of the experts in Medicating Normal, writes about this in his book, Anatomy of an Epidemic).  In the film, Dr. Allen Frances says that in his opinion the vast majority of people on medications do not need to take them on an ongoing basis. 

 

I don't think 'normalization fails to do justice to the experiences of individuals with serious mental illness who are genuinely impaired and suffering.'  People who respond to trauma with mental distress are responding to those experiences normally.  A psychiatrist's sympathy is not worth much when it does not empower people or inspire hope.  Continually diagnosing and drugging people takes away their power to begin their journey to find ways of healing for real.   

 

This film is a battle cry 😃

Glad to read everyone's posts here! 

Wishing everyone love, light, and healing

CarefulP

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