Pharyngula

Scientology is evil

Now their insane denial of the legitimacy of modern psychiatry leads to an insane woman butchering her family. It’s appalling: the parents were scientologists who refused to give anti-psychotic drugs to their daughter, and the end result is that they and another daughter are slaughtered.

This is where delusional, irrational, wishful thinking leads you — to a rejection of reality that has the potential to crash in on you in lethal ways.

Comments

  1. #1 Brownian
    July 9, 2007

    Of course, the Church sure as hell won’t be paying back any of the parents money to their next-of-kin.

    “Religion: Now with 25% More Dangerous Delusion!
    Contains no Accountability!

    Warning: Religion is extremely dangerous, and should not be attempted by anyone.”

  2. #2 iain
    July 9, 2007

    Not that I don’t agree with you about Scientology being a pernicious scam, but be careful in how you report this. According to the news report linked to in the blog post you link to, the accused woman had been back on her anti-psychotics for 2 or 3 weeks prior to her attack on her family. Perhaps that’s too short a time for them to be effective, and her state can be attributed to failure to take them sooner, but it’s not obviously so.

  3. #3 Steve_C
    July 9, 2007

    It’s a dangerous pyrimid scam/cult. It should always be called a cult.

    It also makes them go ballistic. Like calling christianity a superstition.

  4. #4 molecanthro
    July 9, 2007

    “She stated that her parents did not want her to take the prescribed medication she had been on in 2006, and apparently started her on medication they got from America – which was not psychiatric in nature,” Dr Cross said.”

    not psychiatric in nature? what exactly did her parents put her on then?

  5. #5 PMembrane
    July 9, 2007

    And yet Keith Henson must languish in prison for the crime of “interfering with a religion” (i.e. picketing a Scientology compound.)

  6. #6 Rob Edwards
    July 9, 2007

    I agree with you Iain; I suspect that the S Cult’s position will be that the drugs were the cause of the woman’s behaviour, rather than her illness. More than once, I was accosted by these kooks on Hastings Street near their Vancouver office; when I humoured them, telling them that I was taking an anti-depressant, they were beside themselves with concern for my safety, if not for my mortal soul.

  7. #7 Jen Phillips
    July 9, 2007

    @#2:
    The article says that the woman’s parents ‘allowed’ her to resume taking meds a few weeks before the incident because they helped her to sleep. Admittedly this is a medically ambiguous statement, but it seems clear enough that a) no physician was consulted before the medication was resumed and b) given the viewpoint/intelligence level of her parents, I find it highly doubtful that she was taking anything like the right dosage, or the right combination of whatever anti-psychotics were prescribed to her. Furthermore, it seems crystal clear, by her own admission, that the meds were resumed not to treat any psychiatric condition, but as sleep aids (!!!!!). Anti-psychotics have some pretty profound effects on brain chemistry, and need to be closely monitored. The question may not be, as you suggest, whether they had ‘time’ to work, but whether they, in inappropriate dosages, contributed to her psychotic break. Either way, ignorance in the form of batshit crazy religion shoulders the blame here.

  8. #8 Chuck C
    July 9, 2007

    I found this interesting:

    She had moved back home with her parents following a relationship breakdown and other stresses, including changing to an evangelical church.

    So she joins a fundie church, then moves into her cultist parents’ home.

    That’s a recipe for psychosis if I’ve ever heard one.

    iain wrote:

    According to the news report linked to in the blog post you link to, the accused woman had been back on her anti-psychotics for 2 or 3 weeks prior to her attack on her family.

    The Sydney Morning Herald article states:

    The woman said her symptoms had got worse over the past three weeks, culminating in her parents apparently allowing her to restart her anti-psychotic medication as it helped her sleep.

    That doesn’t sound like she was taking the medication for several weeks: only that 2-3 weeks was how long she was in a downward spiral. The clams may be able to use that argument among their followers, but their followers aren’t about to be convinced that Scientology is bullshit under any circumstances.

  9. #9 David Marjanovi?
    July 9, 2007

    So there actually are people who believe in the dogmas of Scientology.

    The stupid. It kills.

  10. #10 David Marjanovi?
    July 9, 2007

    So there actually are people who believe in the dogmas of Scientology.

    The stupid. It kills.

  11. #11 Sacred Beef
    July 9, 2007

    I work as a doctor’s assistant in a psychiatric hospital, so I have some experience with common medications used to treat psychiatric disorders. She was probably on a combination of meds that included Trazodone, an anti-psychotic drug that is also used as a sleep aid. My guess would be that the parents put her back on the Trazodone while neglecting the rest of her treatment.

  12. #12 Dan
    July 9, 2007

    This has happened before see the story about Jeremy Perkins.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elli_Perkins

  13. #13 Justin Moretti
    July 9, 2007

    My understanding, when I saw this news on the internet(last night) was that the father is dead, the 15 year old sister is dead and the mother is in hospital, while this poor out-of-control person is the true victim, in many ways – she will have to live, when sane, with what she did while raving mad.

    I hope someone tells her whose fault it was.

  14. #14 PalMD
    July 9, 2007

    I have seen many patients who have suffered for their beliefs, but none more than Scientologists, and it seems it’s usually the family trying to interfere with treatment.
    These families are victims benefactors of a vicious, financially rapacious cult happy, happy, joy, joy philosophy of living

    Um…how do I avoid getting sued?

  15. #15 Matthew C
    July 9, 2007

    I wouldn’t call it an ‘insane denial of the legitimacy of modern psychiatry’. It is a very carefully and sanely calculated way of denying the people abused by this scam to seek a way out.

    Scientology should be outlawed.

  16. #16 Eric TF Bat
    July 9, 2007

    Am I cruel for allowing the phrases “poetic justice” and “evolution in action” to cloud my thinking about this tragedy?

  17. #17 Steverino
    July 9, 2007

    Scientology uses classic brainwashing techniques to indoctrinate their followers.

    L. Ron Hubbard was a liar, a cheat, and a second-rate novelist…who realized he could create a religion and squeeze money out of it.

  18. #18 Steve_C
    July 9, 2007

    If anyone needs more info on what a total nightmare the CoS can be, check out:

    http://www.xenu.net or http://www.clambake.org

  19. #19 PalMD
    July 9, 2007

    Ha ha, Steve…now they’re gonna sue you before they get to me.

  20. #20 Steve_C
    July 9, 2007

    Those two are the same site…
    I meant to post http://www.xenutv.com
    affiliated with the sites above.

  21. #21 N.Wells
    July 9, 2007

    The term “natural selection” comes to mind.

  22. #22 Caledonian
    July 9, 2007

    Alas, the cultish loonishness of the Scientologists doesn’t make modern psychiatry any more valid. Just because religious fanatics attack a thing, doesn’t mean that thing is correct.

  23. #23 Zeno
    July 9, 2007

    Despite its failings, Caledonian, psychiatry is the only tool we have going these days when it comes to treating various mental illnesses. (Or do you know of something else? Plain old talk-talk psychology?) At least psychiatrists are medical doctors who have some clue about the effects and side-effects of the medications they prescribe. Are their failings so great we should chuck out the baby together with the bath water?

  24. #24 John Wilkins
    July 9, 2007

    The Scam of Scientology is denying that they offer medical advice. The local news reported this with a clip of Tom Cruise’s outburst on Oprah,, just for irony’s sake.

    Keith Henson’s imprisonment is surely a major injustice. Keith is a well respected historian of science. I urge everyone to donate to his legal defence fund.

  25. #25 tony
    July 9, 2007

    Zeno: Obviously, Caledonian has no need for psychiatry, since he is so eminently balanced.

    Caledonian: Just because religious fanatics attack a thing does nothing to change its innate quality of ‘rightness’. If you have a beef with psychiatry, just say so. (maybe you need the little blue pill this time)

  26. #26 fairlane
    July 9, 2007

    Thank you for posting this. My blog was recently visited by Richard E. Vatz, one of the leading spokesman, and do-boys for Thomas Szasz and the “There is no mental illness; Yet, we are ironically mentally ill” Campaign.

    It’s terrible to see someone hurt, but maybe this will wake people up, as this moronic movement is gaining steam.

  27. #27 Caledonian
    July 9, 2007

    Despite its failings, Caledonian, psychiatry is the only tool we have going these days when it comes to treating various mental illnesses.

    Given that even the bad treatment options are pretty much the only ones we have, people within the profession work hard to get people to utilize them. And if that requires misrepresenting what they are and how they work, hey, the end justifies the means in their minds.

  28. #28 gwangung
    July 9, 2007

    Binary thinking, Caledonian.

    I expect better out of you.

  29. #29 Caledonian
    July 9, 2007

    The only binary thinking being done here is by the people who think that criticizing something means I consider it entirely worthless.

    I’m not a big fan of psychoanalytic theory in general, but ‘projection’ is a concept you might want to look up.

  30. #30 craig
    July 9, 2007

    The Scientology headquarters is here in Clearwater. Strange things happen when you wander around there holding a camera. People appear out of nowhere asking who you are and what you’re doing. Which is pretty stupid considering it’s a beach town and they’re right across from the bus station and their parking lot is an obvious and handy shortcut.

    The headquarters here, incidentally, is where they killed Lisa McPherson. Nearby is an alley that the city fixed up as a pedestrian walkway, and sold bricks that donors could have engraved. The scientologists destroyed the “Remember Lisa McPherson” brick.

  31. #31 Ian H Spedding FCD
    July 9, 2007

    Caledonian wrote:

    Despite its failings, Caledonian, psychiatry is the only tool we have going these days when it comes to treating various mental illnesses.

    Given that even the bad treatment options are pretty much the only ones we have, people within the profession work hard to get people to utilize them. And if that requires misrepresenting what they are and how they work, hey, the end justifies the means in their minds.

    I have observed two cases of treatment for psychiatric disorders. In one case, treatment had a clearly beneficial effect. It was not perfect and it took several years but it was a measurable improvement. The second case, drugs were used to control abnormal behaviour. The drugs seemed to have the intended effect while being taken but the side-effects were so difficult to bear that the patient would stop taking them occasionally.

    Given that psychiatrists are attempting to treat disorders of what has been described as the most complex object in the known Universe, it is hardly surprising they have difficulties but what is the alternative?

    What examples of misrepresentation did you have in mind?

  32. #32 Jack
    July 9, 2007

    I take great exception with Steverino’s comment:

    “L. Ron Hubbard was a liar, a cheat, and a second-rate novelist…who realized he could create a religion and squeeze money out of it.”

    I cannot sit by silently while these lies are promulgated! I’ve read a couple of Hubbard’s books and the truth is that the man was strictly a third-rate novelist.

  33. #33 raven
    July 9, 2007

    I’ve noticed that people who claim mental illness doesn’t exist are usually very strange. Their form of claiming generally consists of ranting and ravng and is not too coherent. They frequently do things that are bizarre at best and self destructive at worst.

    One died by jumping off a 5 story building with a homemade and not very functional hang glider. Another has lived in the park for the last ten years. During the summer it is probably OK but winter….

  34. #34 Monado
    July 9, 2007

    You can read more about Keith Henson’s plight here.

  35. #35 John Wilkins
    July 9, 2007

    I read a Hubbard (pre-Scientology) novel once. He made Heinlein look like Tolstoy. He was not a novelist – he was someone who pulped paper. Of course, back in the 40s this was true of nearly all SF writers at the time, but he never got past it.

  36. #36 Ira Fews
    July 9, 2007

    Steve C wrote:

    “It’s a dangerous pyrimid scam/cult. It should always be called a cult.

    It also makes them go ballistic. Like calling christianity a superstition.”

    A corollary is that calling Christianity a cult, which is also accurate, makes them go apeshit.

    All religions that require subservience to an entity for which there is no evidence is a cult, whether or not the entity in question is a depicted as a despotic, insecure fuckwad like the Christian one is.

  37. #37 John Wilkins
    July 9, 2007

    I seem to have confused Keith Henson with Keith Benson above.

  38. #38 PalMD
    July 9, 2007

    Some folks here don’t know much about psychology, medicine, or evidence. Psychiatry is a very different field than many imagine. And different types of therapies and medications have been subjected to (often) decent research. So, if you are living in the “One Flew…” days, time to catch up.

  39. #39 dorid
    July 10, 2007

    1. under two or three weeks isn’t enough to stabilize a person on anti-psychotics.

    2. The “medicines” from America were probably vitamins, which are prescribed by Scientology in cases of “difficult members” including psychotics. The idea is that they need to give their bodies extra nutrients because the are fighting off evil extraterrestrial spirits.

    3. In order to do this, the typical treatment is to isolate the individual (usually in one room) and allow no communication until the individual is healed.

    I posted about this earlier, with links to various news reports including the Lisa McPherson case (Lisa was a psychotic who died during the Scientology islolation treatment)

    you can find that post and all the links HERE.

  40. #40 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    July 10, 2007

    All religions began as cults, it is just that after a while they reach the point of acceptance in society. Scientology was deliberately modeled on religion, as a way to make money.

    Scientologists have worked very hard over the years to claim the religious label for themselves. They resorted to criminal actions against the IRS and the FBI while attempting to achieve their goal of a non-profit tax exemption. They wanted to spin this as government recognition of religious status as well as the effective subsidy of their expensive indoctrination program.

    Scientology is a scam run by criminals who encourage their followers to attack anyone who criticises them.

    Part of their come-on to potential victims is a claim to cure depression, etc. This recruiting focus plus their brain washing techniques mean a lot of fragile people are being hurt by them.

    I am sure that many more people have ended up mentally worse off than when they started, but without much publicity because of the aggressive way Scientologists hide their blemishes.

    Beware their Narcanon and youth anti-drug programs which are disguised recruitment ploys. Several states and school boards have been deceived into paying for these ‘services’. Likewise they will go to disaster areas and provide one-on-one ‘counseling’ which is short on help and long on indoctrination.

    Evil, sociopathic, organised criminals; what more needs to be said?

  41. #41 Dorid
    July 10, 2007

    geez, PalMD, I’ve seen some psych wards that very much remind me of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest recently.

    I have to hang with Cal on this one to some extent. I have personal friends in the field and as much as I respect psychiatrists I also have had too many bad experiences dealing with them as a board member of AMI and as a parent of a schizophrenic child and an autistic child.

    One thing I find is that kids often get the short end of the stick when it comes to care. Sure, you don’t want to put kids on meds that can, over the long run, cause nerve damage, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to just tranquilize them or send them cognitive/ behavior therapy without meds when they’re seeing creatures coming out of the wall commanding them to kill themselves.

    ok, I can go on and on on this topic. Let me just say that psychiatrists AND insurance companies AND hospitals AND state and local legislatures (who control the funding streams) have a long way to go before whatever wonderful theories and ideals psychiatrists have actually trickle down from the universities and research facilities and benefit the patients.

    I can understand Cal’s (or other individual’s) suspicion and unease with psychiatry.

  42. #42 Eric Paulsen
    July 10, 2007

    Oh Please. Mental illness was not a factor here, it was the girls susceptability to the coercive forces of the zeta reticulans because she wasn’t a high enough level whatchamacallit, or whatever ridiculous nonsense passes for Scientology. Or do they believe in the same demonic boogens and sprites that the Christians blame? I really can’t follow along with all of the superstitious nonsense every cult espouses now days.

  43. #43 Oprah
    July 10, 2007

    I’m afraid it’s even simpler than that: She hadn’t read The Secret.

  44. #44 Triumphal_Thusnelda
    July 10, 2007

    It gets better. Now the local Scientologist ratbag, “vice-President Cyrus Brooks” has crawled out of a hole to assure Herald readers that the fact that the family were Scientologists is just “a red herring” and in fact, that matter had little, if anything, to do with the murders. (And you can trust him… see? He’s grimacing — I mean, smiling.)

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/scientologists-flat-earthers/2007/07/10/1183833476294.html

  45. #45 G. Tingey
    July 10, 2007

    BUT

    You can’t say “Evil” – as an atheist, there is no such thing as right and wrong, because good and evil are defined by “god” …
    / sarcasm /

  46. #46 Geoffrey
    July 10, 2007

    iain/Chuck C: I think you two may have seen different versions of the SMH article. The current version matches Chuck’s reading, but my recollection of the (slightly shorter) version I read last night matches iain’s – “symptoms worsened, so she restarted her meds three weeks before the killings”. SMH quite often modifies articles in the first few hours after they’re posted, so I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if this was a correction.

  47. #47 bernarda
    July 10, 2007

    Scientology could be seen as a sort of terrorist organization. Back in the 70′s or 80′s it had a program called “Snow White” whose goal was to infiltrate government agencies to manipulate policy and gather information to intimidate people.

    http://theunfunnytruth.ytmnd.com/

    It also brainwashes its group of thugs to intimidate people, its version of the brownshirts. Many people end up dead from their encounter with Scientology. This site has a video from XenuTV showing some. You can easily see the techniques they have learned. These guys obviously cannot think for themselves, but only apply the techniques. But sometimes they forget their lines. Even worse, the policeman backs the Scientology confiscation of public property.

    http://www.bestweekever.tv/2006/09/08/just-go-ahead-and-pretend-this-was-never-posted/

    Back in the eighties they had a prisonship in their SeaOrg. People were treated as slaves on it and physically punished.

    Germany and France take a much stronger stand against Scientology. Back in the 90′s its head in France was convicted of fraud. There is a government agency on sects/cults that recommended it be banned.

    Citizens are also active. Every time Scientology tries to open a center, neighbors publicly protest and try to get it closed.

  48. #48 bernarda
    July 10, 2007

    Here is an article on the French government report on Scientology.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/635986.stm

    “A government committee in France has recommended dissolving the Church of Scientology there, on the grounds that its activities threatens public order.

    A report submitted to the Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, described the church as a “totalitarian” sect that kept files containing personal information on its members.

    The head of the committee, Alain Vivien, said that while the committee opposed a blanket ban on what he termed sects, it favoured dissolving “extremely dangerous” organisations such as the Church of Scientology.”

  49. #49 Pastor Tobin Maker
    July 10, 2007

    Until last month, Australia’s largest tv network was controlled by a scientologist and good friend of Tom Cruise. The Nine Network’s “A Current Affair” tabloid news show was notoriously soft on Scientology.

    Interestingly, it seems this policy is about to change. “A Current Affair ” is promoting a story about this “killer Scientologist” case. It’ll be on in 10 minutes or so.

  50. #50 Shawn
    July 10, 2007

    This may sound harsh but this is just the kind of thing that gives me a bloodthirsty, lizard brained satisfaction. The parents got what they deserved as far as I’m concerned. I just hope that the poor mentally ill woman now has the help she needs.

    Still, it won’t serve as an example to Scientologists. Xenu strikes again, I guess.

  51. #51 chiropetra
    July 10, 2007

    Just think of it as evolution in action. :-( Sounds like the whole family got a downcheck on their reproductive fitness report.

    It’s certainly terrible, but think how much worse it would have been if the woman had killed some innocent family and we had to listen to her Scientologist parents blame the whole thing on those evil drugs she’d been given by the evil psychiatrists. Not to mention the lawsuit they undoubtedly would have filed against the drug company.

    And yes, antipsychotic drugs typically take a month or more to become fully effective. (Depending on the precise nature of the condition and the drug involved.)

  52. #52 Caledonian
    July 10, 2007

    What examples of misrepresentation did you have in mind?

    1) That mental disorders have well-understood causes

    2) That we can confirm that mental disorders are actually organic illnesses, and can distinguish them from normal states

    3) That the classifications we have are actually the ones used to make diagnoses

    4) That the various treatments compensate for the underlying physiological problem and normalize patients

    All of those points (in variously restated forms) have been promoted to the point where they are generally accepted by not only people in general but physicians and nurses themselves, particularly if they’re practicing only and not interested in research; all of those points are grossly wrong.

    The fact that we don’t know how the treatments are actually effective, that we don’t understand the underlying cause of conditions, etc. doesn’t make the treatments any less useful or even necessary. There really aren’t any suitable and effective treatments for mania and bipolar states besides lithium, and many people have no other options if they want to function anywhere near normally, for example. The drug’s effects are almost certainly symptoms of low-level metal poisoning, but it can be a lifesaver.

    I simply object to the perpetuation of comforting lies about what mental orders are and how they can be treated.

  53. #53 Arakasi
    July 10, 2007

    A good source for Hubbard’s history is Russel Miller’s
    Bare-Faced Messiah (warning – pdf)

    (here’s hoping I got the link format correct)

  54. #54 Arakasi
    July 10, 2007

    Hmmm… when I tested the link, it sent me right trying to save the file on my computer. If you don’t want to do that, try copying and pasting this:

    http://www.apologeticsindex.org/Bare%20Faced%20Messiah.pdf

  55. #55 daedalus2u
    July 10, 2007

    I have another explanation for this. Self-defense.

    Her parents were preventing her from getting mental health treatments she obviously needed and needed very badly. For her to kill them was an obvious act of self-defense.

  56. #56 timmy
    July 10, 2007

    [Lithium's] effects are almost certainly symptoms of low-level metal poisoning…

    Yes, just as the effects of Tylenol are symptoms of low-level acetaminophin poisoning.

    Or do you have a link?

  57. #57 Caledonian
    July 10, 2007

    Yes, just as the effects of Tylenol are symptoms of low-level acetaminophin poisoning.

    You’re closer than you think, given that Tylenol is a neurotoxin. (O noes!)

    The distinction between Tylenol and lithium lies in the differences between their clinical effective and hazardous serum levels – the level of lithium used to treat mania is much, MUCH closer to the level where it causes seizures, coma, and brain damage than the analgesic dose of Tylenol is to its toxic levels.

  58. #58 qedpro
    July 10, 2007

    Evolution in action

  59. #59 Kseniya
    July 10, 2007

    There’s still a lot of trial-and-error in the practice of psychpharm. Drugs don’t aways work as expected and the side effects can be brutal, but as Cal says, for those who need them, they can literally be lifesavers. The same could be said for chemo and radiation treatments for cancer, but we don’t spend a lot of time debating their efficacy, precision, or underlying correctness. To the extent that they work – they work.

    Our descendents will likely look back on the current state of medicine and psychiatry and shake their heads over how barbaric we were, but for the time being we’re stuck with what we’ve got. Anybody who has witnessed a patient, acquaintence, or loved one come back from the brink (or depths) of madness with the aid of lithium or anti-psychotics knows that things could be a lot worse. Onwards and upwards, I say.

  60. #60 Margaret
    July 10, 2007

    A lucky escape from a Virginia Tech re-enactment. IIRC, Cho was diagnosed as mentally unstable and a danger to himself, but did not get treatment, and his Christian family was trying to get religious “treatment” for his problems. The Xian cults may not be as overtly insane as the Xenu cult, but they are still dangerously insane.

  61. #61 uncle frogy
    July 10, 2007

    Scientology is obviously a made up and contrived “religion” it was not revealed by to its founder by an “Angel of God in the woods” nor a “burning bush” nor the “voice of God” in the desert. It was “created” by a failed fiction writer who discovered who was to blame for all the bad stuff and how to have a happy and successful life.

    I tend to agree with Caledonia on the state of Psychiatric treatment and psychology today.
    We have stopped using chains and “imprisonment” mostly though a very large percentage of our regular prison population are suffering from mental illness.
    I have been witness to the effects of our DE-institutionalized “treatment.” Drugs do keep the more disruptive behavior under more control than without but they do not in themselves seem to cure anything and those who are suffering do not look so disturbing but the side effects can be almost as bad sometimes.

    What do we do with people who are talking to people who are invisible or seeing things that we do not see, who are shouting in the street about invisible evils all around us? They can be at times violent and dangerous besides they can’t hold a job and are very disruptive.

    I wish I knew how to “fix” the problem instead of reading these kinds of stories about someone else who finally looses all control and kills a bunch of people.

  62. #62 Kristine
    July 10, 2007

    Did anyone catch this? “She had moved back home with her parents following a relationship breakdown and other stresses, including changing to an evangelical church.”

    Multiple religions/cults at play here.

    Why were her parents dictating the treatment of a 24-year-old? Did they have power of attorney? Maybe the state should have tried to intervene more.

  63. #63 fairlane
    July 10, 2007

    As a person who currently uses medication (Adderall) to treat ADD, I can confidently say it’s helped me a great deal.

    I can actually sit down, and focus on what I’m doing. I’m better able to pay attention to conversations, and to prioritize my thoughts.

    Of course I’m not “cured”, but there is no cure for ADD or any other Psychological disorder. And I think this is the reason many become frustrated with Psychiatry and Psychology. They expect a “cure.”

    We can’t cure cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or even the common cold either.

    Dealing with ADD is very difficult. The medication helps, but you still have to do a lot on your own to overcome the obstacles it presents. Most people simply want to take a pill and be done with it. (Much like overweight people who search for the “Magic Bullet” that allows them to sit on the couch eating Big Macs while they lose weight). Unfortunately, there is no such pill.

    One of the unfortunate side effects of this blather is that some of their concerns are legitimate. The system is in shambles, but it’s not because “Mental Illnesses” are a myth, it’s because most social programs are given just enough money to sustain themselves, but not enough to actually effect any real changes.

    I remember when I still worked in the field, watching “Drug Reps” come in on a daily basis. Some were not even College Educated, and they made more money than our Psychiatrists. Drug companies make billions, while the people who do the work make jack shit. That is the “Conspiracy.”

    There’s no “collusion” between Psychiatrists and Drug Companies. But there very well may be collusion between the Government and Drug Companies/Insurance Companies.

    Are the drugs over prescribed? In some cases, yes. But the same can be said about all medications. Do people who injure their backs really need Oxycontin? And why do some Doctors give people with a cold (a virus) anti-biotics?

    Much of Medicine is educated guessing. You present your complaints and the Doctor diagnoses you based on probability, unless of course you undergo extensive testing.

    In February, I went to my Dr. with abdominal pain. He said it was probably a side-effect of the Adderall (Amphetamines can cause severe constipation and stomach pain). Turns out I had appendicitis. Does that mean Medicine is a “joke?”

    Sorry this is so long. As you can see, I’m very passionate about this issue. I spent 10 years working with the Mentally Ill and I’ve watched many people’s lives utterly disintegrate because of it. These fools are every bit as dangerous as the fools who want to teach Creationism or who deny Global Warming. In fact, many of them overlap.

  64. #64 PalMD
    July 10, 2007

    Responding to the comment much further up, modern psychiatric units are failing patients in a much different way than they used to. They used to zap, lobotomize, mistreat, overmedicate, wherehouse folks, until Pres. Kennedy set the patients free. Now they keep people just until insurance stops paying, using “milieu” therapy (read “wander around”), with heavy reliance on meds and less reliance on psychotherapy, and poor out-of-hospital follow up, mostly due to insurance limitations. It’s a national disgrace.

  65. #65 llewelly
    July 10, 2007

    fairlane:

    But there very well may be collusion between the Government and Drug Companies/Insurance Companies.

    The word you are looking for is ‘lobbying’.
    It may leave a filthier taste your mouth than ‘collusion’, but it is nonetheless the right word.

  66. #66 Suze
    July 10, 2007

    She was probably on a combination of meds that included Trazodone, an anti-psychotic drug that is also used as a sleep aid. My guess would be that the parents put her back on the Trazodone while neglecting the rest of her treatment.

    Slight correction: trazodone is an older and fairly ineffective tetracyclic antidepressant, not an anti-psychotic. It’s used in low doses with patients both mentally ill and not, to induce drowsiness and deep sleep. But you’re right that they might have selected that med out of a group, since it is commonly used with disorders involving anxiety and insomnia.

  67. #67 fairlane
    July 10, 2007

    Suze,

    I think your comment helped me figure it out.

    These knuckleheads assert that there’s a “conspiracy” going on , and I realize now that they’re right. But it’s not between Psychiatrists and Drug Companies, it’s between these Idiots and Insurance Companies.

    If the idea that Mental Illness is a “Myth” ever gained enough momentum, who would benefit right off the bat?

    Insurance companies.

    No longer would they have to pay for medications, therapy, or hospitalizations. Think of the money those poor blokes could save.

    Insurance companies fought forever to keep Mental Health coverage off the table, and even now the coverage is crap. Ten therapy sessions per year? I imagine if you’re needing to see a Therapist you probably need to see them at least a couple of times per month. They won’t even pay for once a month. That’s $70-100, on average, you have to come up with out of your own pocket per session.

    I think I’ll write a post about this “Conspiracy.” It might take a while to make up all of my “evidence”, but one the great things about ADD is we never run out of ideas.

    Thanks Suze

  68. #68 David Marjanovi?
    July 10, 2007

    But there very well may be collusion between the Government and Drug Companies/Insurance Companies.

    In Europe, the governments negotiate prices with the drug companies.

    In the USA, the government wants campaign contributions from the drug companies.

    Note: over here election campaigns are publicly financed (and limited in duration), and there’s a low ceiling on private donations to political parties.

  69. #69 David Marjanovi?
    July 10, 2007

    But there very well may be collusion between the Government and Drug Companies/Insurance Companies.

    In Europe, the governments negotiate prices with the drug companies.

    In the USA, the government wants campaign contributions from the drug companies.

    Note: over here election campaigns are publicly financed (and limited in duration), and there’s a low ceiling on private donations to political parties.

  70. #70 Caledonian
    July 10, 2007

    If the idea that Mental Illness is a “Myth”

    You’ve got it wrong – the myth is that mental disorders are illnesses. ‘Mental illness’ is a metaphor that people like to treat as a literal truth for a variety of reasons.

  71. #71 PalMD
    July 10, 2007

    Um, not to wax ineloquent, but…WTF???

  72. #72 Steve_C
    July 10, 2007

    I’m with Pal.

    WTF?

  73. #73 Leon
    July 10, 2007

    Dorid, thank you for your input on this. It sounds like our mental-health system is in more of a shambles than I had suspected. As a parent of two children (who might, after all, possibly see the inside of that system some day), I’m glad to get the heads-up in advance.

    fairlane, I enjoyed your post. It was well thought out, and not unreasonably long (although you did apologize for its length). Much of what you say seems spot-on.

  74. #74 PalMD
    July 10, 2007

    I’m still thinking “WTF”, but there are people who believe anything. You cannot doubt that mental illness exists any more than you can doubt that heart disease exists.
    Now, there are plenty of existential and philosophical questions regarding the mind and mental illness, but that does not invalidate a disease model. From a scientific standpoint, the ONLY way to investigate brain/mind problems is as an illness. Operational definitions are put in place, hypotheses are tested. I mean how else can you approach it? Guess? Purge those thetans?
    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

  75. #75 Suze
    July 10, 2007

    Of course mental illness is physical. Your mind is the output of your brain, not some mystical God-assigned aura or something. You can make or break personalities by tinkering in the gray stuff (try reading The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, a lot of examples of what can go wrong). Brains are just organs and just as susceptible to damage, illness, chemical haywires and genetics as your liver or heart. Antidepressants are used to treat chronic pain and other conditions in the rest of the body. Anti-seizure drugs are used to treat bipolar disorder. Major stress can cause depression or heart attacks. It’s all just one big wet unified system.

  76. #76 Caledonian
    July 10, 2007

    You cannot doubt that mental illness exists any more than you can doubt that heart disease exists.

    We can define some of the disease states for the heart. We can do that for the brain, too – but those aren’t psychiatric problems, they’re neurological. If we knew what psychiatric problems were, they’d have been moved to neurology.

    And we can ‘doubt’ anything we like. It’s not a matter of doubt or faith – this isn’t a religious matter.

  77. #77 tony
    July 10, 2007

    So, Caledonian:

    If we knew what psychiatric problems were, they’d have been moved to neurology

    So what do you do with those things that ‘haven’t yet been mapped’? This is still an area in its infancy. It wasn’t so long ago (as people have stated above) that the SOTA was a pre-frontal-lobotomy.

    Psychiatry is at least an honest effort to provide care, counseling, and support to those who don’t fit your rigid straight-jacket diagnosis (pun intended)

    So – What would you do?

  78. #78 Caledonian
    July 10, 2007

    If you’re not going to respond to the point, you could at least have the decency to remain silent.

  79. #79 raven
    July 10, 2007

    PalMD:
    I’m still thinking “WTF”, but there are people who believe anything. You cannot doubt that mental illness exists any more than you can doubt that heart disease exists.

    The only people I’ve met that claimed mental illness didn’t exist were bughouse crazy and had the pills, police runins, and shambled lives to prove it. They might not have believed it, but their friends and family sure did.

    Purge those thetans?

    Don’t you mean, exorcise those demons? LOL

  80. #80 a lurker
    July 10, 2007

    PalMD & co.

    Caledonian tries to sound wise and curmudgeonly but at the same time slightly “mysterious”. He never says outright in a straightforward manner what exactly he means by anything, and often uses idiosyncratic terminology or phrasing. And when asked to explain himself he just gets, well, weirder while pretending that the other person is obtuse. So requesting clarification is generally futile.

    I’m guessing that what he originally meant was that “mental illness” isn’t an illness in the sense of something you “catch” (like a cold) but more a structural defect in the same manner of a physical deformity. I think it’s more a matter of him pretending to be pedantic about colloquialisms without actually explaining his objections.

  81. #81 Lepht
    July 10, 2007

    i thought the world had known about this kind of thing for years; Lisa McPherson died a long time ago, and she’s not the first or last Scientology death. the sad thing is, the clams really do believe they’re saving lives – to them, McPherson and others like her were rescued from months of suffering under the evil talons of electric-shocking, lobotomising, 1950s-stereotype “psychs”, and it wasn’t Scientology’s fault they didn’t live.

    i am honestly scared that this has gone unnoticed in the world at large.

    Lepht

  82. #82 Marcus Ranum
    July 10, 2007

    How on EARTH can people who believe retarded stuff about alien engrams and weird brain-wave-reading doodads possibly have the unmitigated gall to call psychology/psychopharmacology unscientific? It just boggles the mind.

    Now, I’m quite OK with people saying psychology is largely pseudoscience and hand-waving (My apologies to any psychs here. It certainly was when I got my psych degree in ’85) but if a bunch of yoohoos who use E-meters think antipsychotics are bogus – well, pot: meet kettle.

  83. #83 Marcus Ranum
    July 10, 2007

    Uncle Frogy asks:
    “What do we do with people who are talking to people who are invisible or seeing things that we do not see, who are shouting in the street about invisible evils all around us?”

    We elect them president.

  84. #84 Caledonian
    July 10, 2007

    And when asked to explain himself he just gets, well, weirder while pretending that the other person is obtuse.

    If I’ve already explained the objection in simplest terms, explaining further would be pointless. I need ‘pretend’ nothing when you fall over yourselves in your rush to be dumb.

    ***

    Even ‘disorder’ is problematic, given that it depends a great deal upon what you consider the proper ordered state to be. Is homosexuality a variation or a disorder? That depends on who you ask. ‘Illness’ is right out.

  85. #85 David Marjanovi?
    July 10, 2007

    Caledonian tries to sound wise and curmudgeonly but at the same time slightly “mysterious”.

    I don’t think he tries. I don’t think he cares.

    I get the impression he believes anyone who isn’t too stupid to think at all thinks exactly the way he does, so he needs at most to hint at what he thinks, rather than explaining it in detail, because it’s all dead obvious anyway. So, if you ask him to explain, that alone proves you’re stupid; if you weren’t, you would have successfully “read” his thoughts.

    He clearly doesn’t care about emotional reactions to whatever he writes, one way or another.

    Let me tentatively diagnose a more extreme form of Asperger’s “syndrome” than I have.

    And let me mention that not all “great minds think” exactly “alike”.

  86. #86 David Marjanovi?
    July 10, 2007

    Caledonian tries to sound wise and curmudgeonly but at the same time slightly “mysterious”.

    I don’t think he tries. I don’t think he cares.

    I get the impression he believes anyone who isn’t too stupid to think at all thinks exactly the way he does, so he needs at most to hint at what he thinks, rather than explaining it in detail, because it’s all dead obvious anyway. So, if you ask him to explain, that alone proves you’re stupid; if you weren’t, you would have successfully “read” his thoughts.

    He clearly doesn’t care about emotional reactions to whatever he writes, one way or another.

    Let me tentatively diagnose a more extreme form of Asperger’s “syndrome” than I have.

    And let me mention that not all “great minds think” exactly “alike”.

  87. #87 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    July 10, 2007

    So who here thinks the US is wrong when “[l]ast year, a US Government report raised questions about freedom of expression for new religious groups in France and several other European countries, including Germany.”? This is from the BBC article on Scientology as linked by bernarda in #47.

    I think the error here is that organised crime legislation is what should be used to judge Scientology, not the US constitution.

    Is it legal to belong to the Mafia or criminal motorcycle gangs in the US?

  88. #88 PalMD
    July 10, 2007

    I’m not sure why I bother, but it would be helpful if he explained himself better.
    I do understand his rhetorical point of separating neurology and psychiatry, but it really is clinically ridiculous in RL.

    Also, to start a semantic argument about “disorder” is horseshit. There are certain things that we all agree on…hearing voices and responding to them in modern, western society is batshit insane, leads to an inability to succeed (meaning finding food, clothing, shelter, and companionship), and is DISORDERED.

    So don’t be a freakin’ idiot about it…state a real point for real world use, or it’s time to stop feeding the COS troll.

  89. #89 fairlane
    July 10, 2007

    Here’s how Richard Vatz explains Thomas Szasz’s views on Psychiatry. (Szasz is the Progenitor of much of this Lunacy).

    “The major tenets of Szasz’s approach are the following, with apologies for our somewhat oversimplifying his arguments: mental illness is a myth because the mind is not an organ; the mind is a construct, and a construct cannot be diseased, except metaphorically. Further, there are no pathological correlates specific to any given mental illness. As he has argued in several of his works, texts in pathology make no reference to mental illness; therefore, mental illness is a bogus disease.”

    (Ironically, or maybe not so ironically, this crap plays big time among people who are Mentally Ill. “See I’m not really sick. It’s perfectly fine wearing aluminum foil on your head to keep the CIA from stealing your brain”).

    From what I gather, most of what they claim amounts to nothing more than Semantics. Vatz has a Ph.D in “Rhetoric and Communications.” He speaks extensively about playing with and manipulating language.

    My take on Caledonian is this; His use of language is very pretentious. His sentences, much like Vatz’s on my blog, seem “Constructed” as though he worked really hard to sound a certain way. Intellectual perhaps? Whatever the reason, it’s all smoke and mirrors.

    After Vatz visited my blog, I watched Tom Cruise’s meltdown on The Today show. That fake reporter/journalist asked him to explain his “theories”, but he never did. He did say you don’t understand what I understand etc. But when asked to explain what he “understood” he dodged the question.

    It’s because these people have no idea what in the fuck they are talking about. Szasz and Vatz never really explain it either. It can’t be explained. A “Myth?” Atlantis is a myth, cyclops is a myth.

    To me, this is no different than debating with an “Intelligent Design Theorist.” Made up nonsense.

    Vatz never returned after I answered his Comment. What could he say? “Well, sure I wrote that article, but you just don’t understand the way I do…”

    No doubt they are clever, but being clever has nothing to do with Intelligence. A person with a 95 I.Q. can be clever. Hell, my 3 year old daughter is clever.

    Oh, and Caledonian if you happen to bump into Vatz, as I’m sure you know who he is, tell him I said Hello, and was wondering why he never returned. It’s not very polite to challenge someone and then disappear. Kind of cowardly if you ask me.

  90. #90 a lurker
    July 10, 2007

    Re: # 83,
    Yes, I suspect you’re assessment is probably closer to the mark than mine. I’m just always amazed by his attitude that any failure to understand his meaning is the reader’s fault and none of his own. No matter how many smart people come onto this blog, engage him and then ask for clarification when he make one of his obscure remarks — it’s always because they’re dense, not due to a lack of clarity on his part. Oh, no, never that.

    Re: #85,
    Caledonian can occasionally say something almost approaching insightful if you happen to catch his meaning. Or perhaps it’s just an affectation that yields a stopped clock hit every once and a while if you throw your own charitable spin into interpreting what he’s hinting at. But, yes he’d be better served by adding clarity to his writing and perhaps a bit of bulk to flesh it out for us dim bulbs out here.

    The pseudo-intellectual quibble about “disorder” vs. “variation” is, well, his usual disingenuousness. At some point a significant variation from the norm (whatever the current norm) becomes a disorder. Especially if that variation hampers the individual from successfully functioning in the society. Over time society/ies have allowed larger varations to be considered, ah, “normal”, but there’s always been some non-sharp cutoff beyond which actions/behaviours were considered intolerable. And while I think that allowed variance is going to continue to widen, I think there will always be some states that are never going to be acceptable. At a minimum those that hear voices that instruct them to kill others aren’t “variations” but “disordered” (or “ill” to use the commonly accepted colloquialism).

    None of that is to say that I care much for the terms “mentally ill” or even “emotionally disturbed” (which is what the local school classifies ADHD/Asperger’s kids as). The first carries so much baggage and the second, well, I don’t know it bugs me.

  91. #91 Baratos
    July 10, 2007

    I get the impression he believes anyone who isn’t too stupid to think at all thinks exactly the way he does, so he needs at most to hint at what he thinks, rather than explaining it in detail, because it’s all dead obvious anyway. So, if you ask him to explain, that alone proves you’re stupid; if you weren’t, you would have successfully “read” his thoughts.

    So Caledonian is basically like me when I was 8 years old. Fascinating.

  92. #92 raven
    July 10, 2007

    mental illness is a myth because the mind is not an organ;

    I’ve heard that one before. It is a favorite among the bughouse set. They say, “mental illness can’t be seen directly, measured, or quantified by instruments, therefore it doesn’t exist.

    The first half is sort of true. OTOH, we can’t see thoughts, emotions, truth, beauty, sanity, good, etc. either. Few will argue that because we can’t take a picture of these or weigh them that they don’t exist.

  93. #93 Kseniya
    July 11, 2007

    “Illness” has not been defined for the purpose of this discussion. Until terms are defined, having a productive discussion on what is or is not precisely an illness may not be possible.

    Illness, disease, disorder, syndrome…

    People tend to speak about things like AIDS in a colloquial fashion. There’s a good reason for that, even if it betrays a certain lack of knowledge or precision. (Again I offer myself as Exhibit A.)

    It’s reasonable to conceptualize AIDS as something that can be contracted, and as something that can kill you, because we hear about it all the time. So we worry about “catching” AIDS. That is, of course, impossible. There is no contagious disease called “AIDS” and never will be. AIDS doesn’t really exist. It can’t kill you. Neither can the pathogen that you can catch, the one that causes AIDS. Despite all that, it would require a very narrow definition of “illness” to enable one to successfully argue that AIDS is not an illness.

    The same goes for any disease, condition, disorder or syndrome that inhibits (or has the potential to inhibit) function. Illness is unwellness. It’s a broad and imprecise term, though, and definitions vary. When does a case of OCD become mental illness?

    “Never,” says Caledonian. (Or so I imagine.)

    “Oh? Really?” says I, from way over here.

    “Your reading comprehension is off the scale,” Caledonian asserts (or so I imagine).

    “Perhaps you mean to say that it’s not a disease,” says I, from way over here.

    “Dictionaries – use them!” says Cal (or so I imagine.)

    “I already have,” says I, from way over here.

    Semantic quibbles aside, when Cal started this rap, my thoughts turned – as they always do – to alcoholism.

    Oh my – is it 3:00 a.m. already?! Holy crumbling shortcake! Time for bed.

  94. #94 Ichthyic
    July 11, 2007

    He clearly doesn’t care about emotional reactions to whatever he writes, one way or another.

    Hmm. I think I would take the exact opposite position and say that much of the time, that’s ALL he cares about.

    not that I think that’s necessarily a bad thing; we all get different things out of posting on a blog.

  95. #95 Caledonian
    July 11, 2007

    Make up your minds, people. Are my posts too obscure and confusing for you to understand, or do they give you a profound insight into my motivations?

    If you really don’t grasp the things I say, why do you believe you know why I say them? You’ve never met me. Your ability to extract meaning from the posts – the only actual interaction with me you’ve ever had – is deeply limited.

    On some level, I think you know perfectly well that my motivations aren’t at all what you’d like them to be. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t need to work so hard convincing yourselves, giving one another reassurance that I can be safely ignored.

    After all, if you tried to understand a position other than your own, you might be forced to conclude that your position is inadequate. Incomplete. Incorrect.

    How much easier it is to cling to the idea that you’re so obviously right that the people who disagree with your positions do so only to provoke you. Like the theists who believe everyone knows God exists, people who claim not to must act from a perverse need to deny the clear and obvious truth. So much simpler, so much clearer. You need not question yourselves, because you cannot be wrong.

  96. #96 Caledonian
    July 11, 2007

    The same goes for any disease, condition, disorder or syndrome that inhibits (or has the potential to inhibit) function. Illness is unwellness. It’s a broad and imprecise term, though, and definitions vary. When does a case of OCD become mental illness?

    Ah, but that’s not the usage people are trying to establish. Using your definition we could speak of physical illness, and mental illness – both times, using the meaning that has been broken off and given to ‘disorder’ in the medical sense.

    But what people have tried to do is not simply say that people’s minds are operating incorrectly or wrongly. They’re trying to imply that the mental disorders are physical illnesses, and in the process they are abandoning the use you’ve referenced and violating the categories that have already been established.

    Evaluating other people’s thinking is always a perilous exercise, but I think we can reasonably agree people babbling in word salad or launching themselves on ecstatic shopping sprees or withdrawn into depression so profound they don’t have the energy to kill themselves have something wrong with them. The problem is that we don’t know what. We cannot determine whether physiological problems are involved, the nature of such hypothetical problems, whether there are other possible causes, whether more than one cause can be responsible for a given set of symptoms…

    Brains are complex information-processing devices. Like all such devices, they have meaningful structure on multiple levels of analysis. Errors or problems on one level do not imply errors or problems with deeper levels. There can be ‘software’ and ‘hardware’ problems.

    We don’t know whether the states we identify as mental disorders are problems with hardware, software, or both; we cannot even say that the diagnostic categories reflect an actual distinction in reality. We have no objective tests to judge, and we don’t even apply our subjective tests consistently.

  97. #97 speedwell
    July 11, 2007

    “Are my posts too obscure and confusing for you to understand, or do they give you a profound insight into my motivations?”

    Unfortunately, I think I do understand your posts, and they do indeed give me some insight into, if not your motivation, then into your ability to understand and objectively analyze the available evidence and into your unaccountable readiness to characterize those who hold other theories as “the opposition.” This is somewhat alarming to me since I share the majority of what others here apparently see as your peculiar and characteristic prejudices. I would hate for you to turn on me and characterize me as an enemy for no other reason than that I occasionally fail to agree with you. Frankly, I’m disappointed. (Sorry to get a bit personal on a public forum, but, brother, you asked for it.)

    I’m no pill-popper myself; I’ve chosen to suffer with depression rather than risk unexpected changes to my personality caused by depression; I seem to be chronically unable to find a trustworthy and objective therapist, but I don’t attempt to argue that illnesses that have no known biological basis will never have a known biological basis, and I’m surprised that you seem to be doing just that. Perhaps the proper modeling of a neurophysical model of behavior is out of reach of our engineers right now (if it was easily graspable, we could have engineered working models by now, i.e. AI); but that need not always be the case. As in any science, imperfect models are better than no models. I wouldn’t attempt to drive across an imperfectly engineered bridge, for example, but such a construct can be used as, at best, something to build upon to make a more functional structure, and at worst, an object lesson.

    I don’t, actually, see why one can’t simply call “the study of the genetic and environmental causes and effects of neurophysical events related to the ability of individuals to adequately understand and appropriately react to their experiences” by the name of “psychiatry.” I kind of thought that was what the word meant.

  98. #98 speedwell
    July 11, 2007

    “…I’ve chosen to suffer with depression rather than risk unexpected changes to my personality caused by depression…” s/b “I’ve chosen to suffer with depression rather than risk unexpected changes to my personality caused by medication….”

  99. #99 Caledonian
    July 11, 2007

    but I don’t attempt to argue that illnesses that have no known biological basis will never have a known biological basis, and I’m surprised that you seem to be doing just that

    Then you understand neither my posts nor my intentions.

    Go back; reread my statements. At no point have I ever claimed that mental disorders have no biological basis. I have claimed that we do not know that they have a biological basis, denied that we understand their nature.

    The negation of a claim is not usually the opposite of the claim.

  100. #100 tony
    July 11, 2007

    Caledonian: You are being intensely sophisticated (in the original meaning of thay word.

    Paraphrasing what I’ve read, you seem to be saying that we don’t know whether a person’s behaviour is socially aberrant because of ‘wacky wiring’ (hardware), ‘kooky chemicals’ (software) or is simply a conscious choice.

    I don’t disagree. Nor, I suspect, do other contributors here.

    You also seem to say that our efforts to date are both worthless and indeed misguided.

    I disagree.

    We have an approach. Based in Science. A very early science, so it’s a little like alchemy at the moment, full of stumbling and learning, and ad-hoc empiricism.

    Neurology can provide some limited information to help us distinguish these modes. Psychiatry provides others.

    It is sophistry of the most extreme form to suggest that beacause we don’t know how to distinguish these cases yet, that our best efforts to do so are worthless.

  101. #101 Caledonian
    July 11, 2007

    You also seem to say that our efforts to date are both worthless and indeed misguided.

    Wrong.

    Our efforts to understand have been very fruitful – we’ve eliminated hypothesis after hypothesis. That’s what scientific progress looks like most of the time.

    Our attempts to engineer our society’s understanding of mental disorders have been filthy, filthy lies. Rather than cope with uncertainty, many people have chosen to believe comfortable fabrications, and many medical professionals have embraced those beliefs in an effort to get people to accept the treatments they offer.

    This is a Bad Thing.

  102. #102 tony
    July 11, 2007

    Rather than cope with uncertainty, many people have chosen to believe comfortable fabrications, and many medical professionals have embraced those beliefs in an effort to get people to accept the treatments they offer.

    But…. that’s just WOO!

    We.Know.That! We hate woo! We all fight woo, each and every day!

    If that’s your position why didn’t you simply say so, instead of engaging in all the semantic word games?

    And note…. please don’t over-generalize (one of your bugbears, I note) many medical professionals is not the entirety of the profession…

  103. #103 Chris
    July 11, 2007

    Caledonian’s position appears to me to be (with apologies if I’m misstating it) that much of the accepted state of the field *is* woo, and people who defend the state of the field are therefore defending woo.

    Specifically, that using a term like “mental illness” assumes more about what is going on than has actually been proven, and is therefore a Bad Idea because it encourages people to think in the ways implied by the terminology, not the ways implied by the reality.

    In addition (and I’m not sure if Caledonian intended this point, but if not, I’m adding it myself), “illness” contains a value judgment that may not be justified in some cases (is something a personality trait or an illness?)

    At some point a significant variation from the norm (whatever the current norm) becomes a disorder. Especially if that variation hampers the individual from successfully functioning in the society.

    At what point? Who decides?

    It hasn’t been that long since a variation in skin color would hamper individuals from successfully functioning in this society. Does that mean it was an illness? Or was the problem in society’s treatment of those people? How do you decide, and how does that decision carry over to slightly more recent society’s treatment of homosexuals (Turing comes to mind, but there are still people hawking “cures” for homosexuality today), or current treatment of people who are mentally different in other ways? How many other “mental illnesses” are just as bogus as considering homosexuality a mental illness? Who decides, and on what grounds?

    There’s a huge conceptual gulf between looking at people with ADD, OCD or autism as “ill” or “diseased”, and looking at them (or in all honesty, maybe I should say “us”) as a minority that faces hostility because of their differentness. (Including drugging children because their *parents* find their behavior inconvenient.) Which side of it are you on, and why?

  104. #104 a lurker
    July 11, 2007

    Our attempts to engineer our society’s understanding of mental disorders have been filthy, filthy lies. Rather than cope with uncertainty, many people have chosen to believe comfortable fabrications, and many medical professionals have embraced those beliefs in an effort to get people to accept the treatments they offer.

    As a parent of a child with, ah, “issues” — “issues” that seem to be a matter of brain chemistry and not simply personality — I’m wondering if Caledonian could expand upon what aspects he sees as “filthy, filthy lies” and “comfortable fabrications”. My discussions with our child’s psychiatrist made it quite clear that we weren’t dealing with any “comfortable fabrications” but that the diagnosis was always conditional and always involved a lot of uncertainty and there were no hard and fast classifications. In fact she made it quite clear on the first visit that our working with her wasn’t going to be like a visit to the pediatrician where the doctor can point at something physical or a lab test result and say “the problem is X here’s the treatment”.

    No, we’re stumbling around in the dark with just the soft glow of (a perhaps false) dawn to work by. But the alternative is to do nothing and that’s just not an actual option — giving him a med that partially helps “even the keel” even if we don’t know exactly how it works or why down to the minute detail wins out over having him be a danger to himself or others. I prefer to make some, albeit flawed, attempt rather than having him institutionalized or in jail.

    And it’s clear that there is no magic bullet. It’s an ongoing effort to balance medicine
    (to which his reaction/tolerance changes, or we try alternatives) and training/conditioning. So if someone sold you a bill of goods with “here’s the magic pill; take it and all will be fine” then you were misled by one individual. None of the books I’ve read, none of the doctors we’ve visited said this was going to be straightforward, easy or comfortable.

  105. #105 a lurker
    July 11, 2007

    Make up your minds, people. Are my posts too obscure and confusing for you to understand, or do they give you a profound insight into my motivations?

    If you really don’t grasp the things I say, why do you believe you know why I say them? You’ve never met me. Your ability to extract meaning from the posts – the only actual interaction with me you’ve ever had – is deeply limited.

    Ah, those two bits are to first order orthogonal. One needn’t fully grasp what someone is saying to understand or guess at motivation. I needn’t fully grok what a lunatic babbling on the street is ranting about in order to make a good guess that that person is “mentally ill”. Or to take a less extreme case, I occassionally get ah, physics spam from the physics equivalent of the creationist/ID’er — I don’t need to understand every detail of where they’ve gone wrong (the first several instances will do) to know “why” they send it (generally “ego” as in “I’m smarter than Einstein”). Similarly we can speculate — make informed hypotheses, if you’d like — about why you’re such a prick ah, personality.

    Yes, we only have imperfect data — your, not so, limited contributions to this blog — but as scientists we’re used to making tentative hypotheses based on limited data.
    You could provide more, alternative data and we’d adjust those speculations accordingly. Don’t like how we’ve characterized you? … fine, provide us with some reason to think you aren’t just someone with the personality of an 8 year-old who believes everyone and anyone smart thinks identically to you (and can thus “read your mind” from your often curt hints) and if they don’t they’re too stupid to think at all.

    So the alternatives seem to be

    • this is your real personality and motivation
    • you’re purposely putting on an act or affectation
    • you don’t express yourself very well in writing

    Let us know which one of these seems to be the best fit — or suggest an alternative, preferrably other than “you’re all sooo stupid”.

  106. #106 a lurker
    July 11, 2007

    At some point a significant variation from the norm (whatever the current norm) becomes a disorder. Especially if that variation hampers the individual from successfully functioning in the society.

    At what point? Who decides?
    It hasn’t been that long since a variation in skin color would hamper individuals from successfully functioning in this society. Does that mean it was an illness?
    [...recent society's treatment of homosexuals ..]
    Who decides, and on what grounds?

    No, skin color was never deemed an “illness” — I thought we were discussing psychiatry , behaviour and the mind here in this thread. Homosexuality … well, perhaps you can blame another “illness” (religiosity) for that classification as a “disorder”

    There’s a huge conceptual gulf between looking at people with ADD, OCD or autism as “ill” or “diseased”, and looking at them (or in all honesty, maybe I should say “us”) as a minority that faces hostility because of their differentness. (Including drugging children because their *parents* find their behavior inconvenient.) Which side of it are you on, and why?

    Ah, I never intended to imply that I always agreed with a society’s choice of where the cutoff between variation and disorder lay. Rather I thought I was making the essentially tautological statement that society as a whole will make a “choice” and that choice changes with time. I, as an individual, might disagree about where that division stands at any time and work to tilt it one way … but in the end a choice is made. Society comes to some “consensus” on the value judgements involved. Who decides and how inclusive that “consensus” is depends very much on the structure of that society. And we can make our own value judgements on how those decisions are made. And we can find ourselves disagreeing with them or even cut out from the process. I wasn’t being prescriptive here, I was being descriptive. Now if you want to discuss “At what point” and “Who decides” that’s something one could do. I hope you weren’t inferring any particular position on my part from what I wrote. I’m a pretty liberal guy — I’d let a lot of things slide based on informed individual choice, but, well, no one appointed me King so I don’t get to choose, but rather all I can do is try to push my little corner of society to be more tolerant of “variation”.

    Moving on …
    Sorry, but as a father of a child with ADHD (and other “issues”) I don’t look on him and those, such as classmates, with similar issues with “hostility” because of their differentness. And I don’t give my son meds simply because I find his behaviour “inconvenient”. I would prefer that he didn’t hurt himself or others, myself included,
    and so there are meds to help with those “issues”. And I would prefer that he not be a complete failure at school because I can see that he’s bright — he tested into the gifted/talented program at the same time he was tested at reading 2 years behind in reading, so he’s in both the G-T program and the alternative education (for the “emotionally disturbed”) system. Does seriously attempting to hurt his parents when he “melts down” qualify as sufficiently “inconvenient” behaviour to warrent “drugging” in your estimation? How about an inability to sit still long enough to function at all in school — even one specialized for those like him?

    Perhaps I reading too much into your (rhetorical?) questions, but I’m sensing a hostility to any “drugging” here. And I vehemently oppose those who would claim that it is never necessary. Yes, perhaps in some instances medication isn’t the answer, but I think the great hubbaballo about overdrugging is itself overhyped. And it makes me want to lash back out because it implicitly seems to put pressure me to justify my approach with my son.

  107. #107 PalMD
    July 11, 2007

    I’m still trying to decide if this is interesting, productive back and forth, or just feeding time at the troll cage.

  108. #108 Leon
    July 11, 2007

    Caledonian says:

    If I’ve already explained the objection in simplest terms

    No. You haven’t. You’ve made posts that bring up strong objections to things without really explaining why, and when asked for clarification, you insult those who asked–as in your next sentence, “I need ‘pretend’ nothing when you fall over yourselves in your rush to be dumb.”

    Look, you’re not in a forum surrounded by hostile enemies. The folks here are probably in general agreement with most of your viewpoints. But when people don’t agree with you that doesn’t necessarily make them adversaries, and when they don’t understand what you say it doesn’t make them stupid.

  109. #109 PalMD
    July 11, 2007

    Darn it, Leon, you’re probably right…I guess I have to be nicer.
    So, questions to C…
    Could you clarify your point for the rest of us…shed a little light?
    1) How would you identify those whom we currently refer to as mentally ill? They don’t feel well, so we have to call them something or other to start to help them.

    Just a starting question.

  110. #110 Kseniya
    July 11, 2007

    Speedwell,

    Depression is no picnic. You know this. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right therapist/prescriber and to develop a beneficial theraputic relationship. IMO it’s worth the time it takes if there’s a need.

    Regarding medications, I have a suggestion. The best way to determine whether or not the side effects (whatever they may be, up to and including unexpected personality changes) are worse than the depression is to give them a fair trial. But don’t rely exclusively on guesswork and subjective memory. Keep tabs on those aspects of life you see as most volatile: your sleep and eating habits, your attention to the obligatory details of life, and of emotional states and events. Have friend or other loved one offer periodic objective assessments of how you are doing. The risk is minimal. If you don’t like what’s happening, stop taking the stuff.

    You seem to have succumbed to the stigma of “pill-popping” for no apparent reason, and in doing so, cut yourself off from options that may well be effective for you. There’s no moral issue here. It’s not a question of weakness versus strength, purity versus impurity, independence versus dependence. Those are artificial issues heaped upon us by those who imagine that things like depression are either fictional or a weakness of character. (Please review the original topic of this thread.) I urge you not to allow them to have the last word.

    Caledonian, et al:

    The topic fascinates me, and I feel some obligation to respond to Cal’s response to me, but I’ve fallen way behind the thread and don’t have time to do the topic (or my fellow commenters) justice at the moment.

  111. #111 Caledonian
    July 17, 2007

    Any chance of a continuation, Kseniya?

  112. #112 tony
    July 17, 2007

    Coming back to this thread after an absence…

    Caledonian: I ‘believe’ we may be in “violent agreement”. (and my apologies for using the ‘b’ word in a posting to you)

    I agree (as I said before) that much of what passes for psychiatric treatment should be categorized as woo. I also agree (as you said) that we don’t have a good formal definition of what constitutes mental ‘illness’.

    However, as many posters have said (apologies to all for paraphrasing, mis-stating) mental illness may be either intrinsic, inherent, or environmental — we don’t yet know enough to fully distinguish. Others have also said that our definition of ‘mental illness’ has changed significantly over time, and we can expect this ‘evolution’ of the diagnosis to continue.

    This does not make it useless, bad, or ‘un-scientific’ to attempt diagnosis. It does not make it wrong to attempt treatment based on ‘best knowledge’.

    No-one here is arguing otherwise.

    Competent pracvtitioners are attempting to move the field forwards though reason and reasearch. Unscrupulous practitioners are attempting to ‘cash-in’. Does that mean we should tar the good with the bad? Should we stop all ‘treatment’ because we don’t yet know ‘enough’?

    In that regard, we should refuse *all* medical treatment requiring pharmaceuticals since we don’t know enough about effects (short & long term). Stupid? Emminently! Yet that appears to be the position you advocate when you tar the entire field with the same brush!

    I don’t for a moment think that this is your actual position, so I ask again, very politely, that you please clarify your position for me. I’m not stupid. I am merely mis-informed.

  113. #113 Kseniya
    July 17, 2007

    Any chance of a continuation, Kseniya?

    Caledonian, I’m flattered you would ask. Answer: Yes. I’ll have to review the comments, though. You may have noticed that I’ve been posting merrily away on various threads over the past day or two, and this may mask the fact that I’m pretty worn out from a difficult and taxing five-day stretch in 3D. I may need a little rest to recharge the batteries and get all ten brain cells back online. Stay tuned.

  114. #114 Caledonian
    July 23, 2007

    Will your thoughts be soon in coming, or should I remove this thread from my bookmarks now?

  115. #115 tus
    February 22, 2008

    im with annonymous on the issue of scientology, they need to go away now. calling them a cult is too good for them, they are an organized crime syndicate. and one of the best rackets made yet, why did other mob bosses think of this…religion, best way to insure loyalty is through brain washing, best way to hide what you do and get immunity from the law is with the guise of religion. and whats more you have people just HANDING you everything they own and more.

    perfect racket, im surprised more mob bosses havent followed in their footsteps.