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The Myth of Mental Illness


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Thought I'd post Thomas Szasz's seminal 1960 essay "The Myth of Mental Illness" and see what folks think of it. I agree with practically everything Szasz says in the essay, but I'm sure there are many who will not.

 

It's a relatively quick read.

 

http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Szasz/myth.htm

3 Years 150 mgs Effexor

2 month taper down to zero

3 terrible weeks at zero

Back up to 75 mgs

2 months at 75

6 or so months back to regular dose of 150 - was able to restabilize fine.

3 month taper back to zero

1 HORRENDOUS week at zero

2 days back up to 37.5

3 days back up to 75

One week at 150 - unable to stabilize.

Back down to 75 mgs

At 75 mgs (half original dose) and suffering withdrawal symptoms since October 2012.

 

"It is a radical cure for all pessimism to become ill, to remain ill for a good while, and then grow well for a still longer period." - Nietzsche

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I read Szasz's book, The Myth of Mental Illness, many, many years ago when I was a therapist in a state mental institution. I agreed with it then and have never forgotten its basic premise that people who are different or otherwise problematic are often ostracized and institutionalized. With the exception of a couple of patients who had brain damage from alcoholism and syphilis, none of them on the wards where I worked struck me as "mentally ill", although there were a large number who were zombified from Thorazine and its companion drugs for side effects. Quite a few, including some tragically young men, were committed by family who simply couldn't be bothered with them. One young man was institutionalized for taking a swing at his mother because she was spending the family welfare check on her boyfriend. (The "patient" was already showing symptoms of tardive dyskinesia at the age of 19, grimacing and twitchy fingers).

 

And even way back then in my early twenties, I thought the DSM III was a crock. I read through it and realized that the explanations of various diagnoses were nothing but exaggerations of normal behavior and that just about anyone could be diagnosed with a "mental illness". I no doubt became a problematic person myself right then and there.

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1588-introducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6263-success-jemima-survives-lexapro-and-dr-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 

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I haven't read the book, though I think I have a copy somewhere.

 

It must have been very strange and sociological to work in an institution under the influence of Szasz's ideas. I'm sure you did some good just by virtue of being there.

3 Years 150 mgs Effexor

2 month taper down to zero

3 terrible weeks at zero

Back up to 75 mgs

2 months at 75

6 or so months back to regular dose of 150 - was able to restabilize fine.

3 month taper back to zero

1 HORRENDOUS week at zero

2 days back up to 37.5

3 days back up to 75

One week at 150 - unable to stabilize.

Back down to 75 mgs

At 75 mgs (half original dose) and suffering withdrawal symptoms since October 2012.

 

"It is a radical cure for all pessimism to become ill, to remain ill for a good while, and then grow well for a still longer period." - Nietzsche

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Thought I'd post Thomas Szasz's seminal 1960 essay "The Myth of Mental Illness" and see what folks think of it. I agree with practically everything Szasz says in the essay, but I'm sure there are many who will not.

 

It's a relatively quick read.

 

http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Szasz/myth.htm

 

a lot has changed since 1960, however, it seems that Szasz has some good points. The problem I have with the "there is no such thing as mental illness" group is that in some cases, even perhaps many, there is, in fact, biochemical issues going on (not really talking about the chemical imbalance thing but sort of) in the person which manifests as so called mental illness. Does this mean the person has a disease of the mind? Or brain? no, it means that their symptoms are a sign that something needs to be addressed, whether that is psycho-social, biochemical, both, or what have you. For example, eliminate vitamin B12 from your diet, completely. You will, in fact, develop problems that could very well manifest as mental illness. Do the same for the ESSENTIAL fat omega 3. See what happens. Get into an abusive relationship or experience a traumatic event (i.e. war) and I guarantee you that there very well may be physical changes to your body, including brain, which may manifest as so called mental illness. And parasites? There was an article I read about parasites actually causing schizophrenia in people.

 

I just have a problem with the group who believe you can think your way out of a severe depression if say, for example, that depression is caused by an undetected blood sugar problem or a toxicity caused by eating too many pesticide, antibiotic ridden foods. Thats just my opinion.

Various SSRIs/SNRIs 7- 1/2 years

Went Cold Turkey from Celexa 2011, Stayed Off

Psych Drug Free and Loving Life (over 6 years and counting)

 

How I Stay Well: Diet, exercise, meditation, supplements, etc

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I just have a problem with the group who believe you can think your way out of a severe depression if say, for example, that depression is caused by an undetected blood sugar problem or a toxicity caused by eating too many pesticide, antibiotic ridden foods. Thats just my opinion.

 

 

I don't think that's what Szasz is saying. I strongly disagree with the "bootstrap" viewpoint myself, and I believe every possible medical cause should be explored when someone starts feeling or acting really off. When he speaks of "problems of living", I believe he means that many people who are diagnosed as mentally ill in actuality have poor problem-solving skills, such as flying into a rage over a minor frustration rather than figuring out what to do about it. Or like the patient with the negligent mother, a teenager being raised by a mother with really screwed up values, being stuck in a bad situation with few to no resources can make a person very mad or very sad.

 

To write any of this off - presumed "mental illness" due to medical or social problems - and then stifle the suffering persons with dangerous psychiatric drugs is just unconscionable, IMO.

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1588-introducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6263-success-jemima-survives-lexapro-and-dr-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 

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Right. To say that depression isn't a medical problem doesn't mean that it has anything to do with willpower. People often sense that the only choices with regards to something like depression is to see it either as a biochemical disease or as something one can just will themselves through with some basic determination. People tend to pick the first explanation because it seems to acknowledge the seriousness of the problem. What is needed I think is an approach that acknowledges the terrible gravity of something like depression without confining it to its medical or bodily components.

 

As for recent theories about the nutritional origins of mental illnesses, I'm sort of ambivalent. When these theories are used to the point way to a more holistic picture of the problem, then I generally approve. But when people seriously propose that one can heal the chronic despair and frustration that lies at the heart of modern life with whole grains or something, I'm turned off. The logic is the same as Big Pharma's, except the cure is rye bread instead of Lexapro. These theories should be taken with a grain of salt (that is, until they start saying that salt causes depression).

3 Years 150 mgs Effexor

2 month taper down to zero

3 terrible weeks at zero

Back up to 75 mgs

2 months at 75

6 or so months back to regular dose of 150 - was able to restabilize fine.

3 month taper back to zero

1 HORRENDOUS week at zero

2 days back up to 37.5

3 days back up to 75

One week at 150 - unable to stabilize.

Back down to 75 mgs

At 75 mgs (half original dose) and suffering withdrawal symptoms since October 2012.

 

"It is a radical cure for all pessimism to become ill, to remain ill for a good while, and then grow well for a still longer period." - Nietzsche

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Right. To say that depression isn't a medical problem doesn't mean that it has anything to do with willpower. People often sense that the only choices with regards to something like depression is to see it either as a biochemical disease or as something one can just will themselves through with some basic determination. People tend to pick the first explanation because it seems to acknowledge the seriousness of the problem. What is needed I think is an approach that acknowledges the terrible gravity of something like depression without confining it to its medical or bodily components.

 

Totally agree.

 

I think what prevents this from happening is that in our society, we're supposed to be optimistic even if our life is deteriorating big time. There no shades of gray.

 

As for recent theories about the nutritional origins of mental illnesses, I'm sort of ambivalent. When these theories are used to the point way to a more holistic picture of the problem, then I generally approve. But when people seriously propose that one can heal the chronic despair and frustration that lies at the heart of modern life with whole grains or something, I'm turned off. The logic is the same as Big Pharma's, except the cure is rye bread instead of Lexapro. These theories should be taken with a grain of salt (that is, until they start saying that salt causes depression).

Again, I totally agree.

 

Also, while alternative folks don't believe in psych meds obviously, they still are perpetuating the false chemical imbalance theory that miraculously is alleviated by supplements that they sell.

 

CS

Drug cocktail 1995 - 2010
Started taper of Adderall, Wellbutrin XL, Remeron, and Doxepin in 2006
Finished taper on June 10, 2010

Temazepam on a PRN basis approximately twice a month - 2014 to 2016

Beginning in 2017 - Consumption increased to about two times per week

April 2017 - Increased to taking it full time for insomnia

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