Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Anti-Psychiatry, Scientology, and Psychedelic Healing, part 4

No medical evidence and/or testing exists for 'mental illness'. Thomas Szasz's Summary Statement Manifesto

This doesn't mean that bodymind emotional, and psychosomatic problems, don't exist, but that they are not biological diseases.

It is like saying "my heart is broken' at the end of a love affair, unrequited love, or losing a loved one, etc. The meaning is meant to be metaphorical, although you really can feel it, such as a 'heavy heart', no energy, feeling "in bits", and so on.
Who goes to the cardiologist to heal a 'broken heart'?

A heart attack, yes....!

NEXT follows a really interesting interview with a very talented artist, and friend of mine, Oz J Thomas, who is a psychiatric survivor, and shares my passion for helping people understand the myth of mental illness and thus becoming more empowered.

Interview with Oz J Thomas:

Hi OZ, now you have experienced being involuntarily detained within the confines of the mental health system. How did you feel--knowing that you could not leave the building. Were restrained?

Oz: I was never involuntarily restrained, but once you are in there, it is hard to get out and a lot of your freedoms get taken from you. To elaborate..:

When I was about 21 I had a hypomanic agitated response to Zoloft which is what I believe led to a suicide attempt. I was hospitalized and at the time I still had little to question about the psychiatric industry, I mean, I was naive at the time, I just didn't know.

My time in the "normal" hospital was OK, but boring but once I went into the psych hospital... I think I began to feel very dehumanized, felt very much like there was something wrong here...

Can you please try and describe in detail what you mean by this sense of feeling dehumanized?

Oz: There was screaming when someone would get agitated, they'd have to sit in a white room, I think they called it a quiet room and I saw a few times people being shot up with antipsychotics for being agitated or angry. I also just generally felt less than human, talked down to. I was not viewed as an equal on the floor with the staff. Dehumanized. Let me give you a few more examples...
Actually I think the ones above show that very well.

So do I!! You must have felt in danger in such an environment?

Oz: Maybe I can talk about after I got out of the hospital?

Yes please do.

Oz: Yeah, it was very much a hostile environment, very authoritative, like I said, you are not treated as a human, just "crazy", which is why they have no problem with forced medication, quiet rooms, not telling you the complete truth. On more than one occasion, I was alone, the staff convinced I was up to something, later on the staff really freaked out when I went to the wrong side of the counter asking for a pencil, they were really afraid.
But I played by their rules because I wanted to get out.

That's interesting. So the staff feared you?

Oz: I had a feeling the staff feared me, yes, and the patients in general.

I went to see this doctor and continued medication, and he sent me to a therapist, I changed a few times... I think the thing that bothered me most was when I really researched the medications and found out all the lies he was feeding me. Especially when I asked him point blank if there was any chance of addiction with ativan, he said no, I later told him I had looked it up, but he went back and said, oh its not addictive but can make you physically dependant, so that made me lose a lot of respect for him and feel a lot of anger and wonder about the drugs in general.

And there was a lot of mistrust, you weren't allowed anything, not just things that could be dangerous like shoelaces or knives, but anything personal at all...

At that time, it was a huge disappointment, because I really didn't have anywhere else to go. I wound up walking up and down the states(the AT trail, camping) and then for a few years I was just really depressed, on disability, just really terrible.

So you felt this deep sense of isolation? No one to turn to for support you felt you could trust?

Oz: Pretty much, yes. The psychiatrists just offered more of the same. I was pretty desperate at this time, so to show how fucked up I was, I went back. This was after two years off of psych meds. I had experimented with other drugs as well, religions, and I knew about the dangers of psych meds and most of the knowledge I know today, but I still went back on them.


Oz: At this time, my dad moved to the shore and I had to leave house. I think the reason I went back on them is why I am sympathetic to those on them or those on other drugs-- I could not see any way out. I was going in and out of dissociative states, I couldn't barely leave the house, I was just really barely breathing and there really was nowhere to go.
I felt...

They were your only means is what your saying? No alternatives were available?

Oz: Yeah, at the time I didn't even care that I was poisoning myself, I just wanted it all to stop. It was like a legal high for me, cheap, easily accessible. I never felt like the drugs helped. Maybe I should talk about that?

Yes please talk about it

Oz: I know the drugs are helpful to some, maybe 10%, but also 10% have really bad reactions, which I include myself on.
For the SSRI's, which I started on, being diagnosed depression, social anxiety, I had pretty bad reaction overall.
The anxiety I felt like abated somewhat, but I was left with a deep sense of ennui, some of the side effects were bad that made me have to stop certain meds(I slept 12-14 hours a day on Paxil), but with Zoloft I became so agitated, I didn't barely sleep after I took it, and began to be really risky, almost crashing my car, then I took some pills, which I didn't think of much at the time, but I was really suicidally depressed/manic what they call a mixed state
I did not stay on the ativan/xanax drugs for long because I was really pissed at my doc for lying to me about them. Also, I didn't feel they were any better than rum or benadryl or cough syrup or anything else i'd messed myself up with.

Mostly after that I was off meds for a long time, wandering the roads and then sitting at home for a long time, when I went back to medications.
So at that time, I realize it is very contradictory, I realized that the meds were in effect poison, but just like you can realize alcohol or whatnot is poisonous and still do it, I just wanted it all to stop, the depression, the dissociation's, the anxiety, the bizarre confused thoughts...

The next doctor I went to(I wasn't going back to that quack) put me on effexor, which helped somewhat but left me in a really grey state after a while, maybe 7-8 months? he tried to put me on zyprexa and then risperdal, actually i don't remember which was first...
But he was convinced I was schizophrenic or had schizophrenic tendencies so put me on these antipsychotics and this is the second lie i was told, because I was really unhappy with the first medication, my mind just shut off. it was the worst feeling, the worst kind of chemical rape.
So he put me on the second drug, and I told him I didn't want to go on anything like the first drug again, and he told me this was completely different. I did my research this time, though and found out it was all bullshit. So I had completely lost faith and I went to NIMH to do research studies on medications

I did not have a problem with anyone at NIMH, they all treated me very well, and all in all, I'd have to say most of my doctors were not so bad, but I always felt like this medication regime was just pushing me down further or letting me drug myself into oblivion.
At NIMH, I was put on a lot of drugs. I was Dx bipolar with all of the anxiety disorders (I think- OCD, GAD, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder) and was first tried and stabilized on Lithium, which made me really really feel ill and I had to have blood tests...
And then, no wait, I did studies for Scopolamine and Pramipexole first.

First I was put on Pramipexole, which is an antiparkinsons med, which affects dopamine. It was a blind study, but I pretty much knew I had gotten the medication, but I had felt it did not work very well for me because it was kind of like some of the ADD or Wellbutrin meds which tend to make anxiety a lot worse. I did feel very energetic though, even with the Lithium.
After that, the Scopalamine(sp?) which is a seasickness/ anticholinergic drug
I also didn't know if I was getting the drug(this time it was an injection), but it was easy to guess as well.
It made you feel really dizzy and giddy, which was fun and I got paid for it, but that was about the extent of it for me.
After that they did follow up treatment and stabilized me on Lithium. And added Lamictal, which worked somewhat, or at least had few side effects.
So during all of this, I had not really felt anything was any better, I had started going to school, because I had dropped out of school and because I was sick of working crappy jobs like factory jobs.
It was maybe halfway into this all that I started Lamictal. I am not going to deny that there were some positive effects from the medication, such as all antidepressants, but negative ones as well. At least I knew what I was doing now. I was going to use this drug and then get off.
So I finished school, Web and Multimedia, had a part time/ web design intern position...
Before I graduated, about 2 years ago from right now(I graduated 1 and 1/2 years ago), I stopped Lamictal, graduating down from my fairly big dosage, coming down each week.
I had really vivid, almost seizure like reactions, even though I tapered down real careful. I let my therapist know, and after about 2 months I was off.

And I think the thing I realized when I got off was how dull Lamictal had made everything, how constrictive, how unemotional and robotic, and I didn't find any negative side effects, but this emotional aspect came back, because Lamictal had acted as a "mood stabiliser"
After college, I had gone out to Vancouver, and later that year, started working freelance and moved out to Seattle area.
*sorry i got order of events at nimh wrong, is impossible to recall all exactly.
: *if you have anymore qi will be on a bit later.
I just wanted to add, when going off Lamictal, what I felt was when I went off Effexor or the other drugs- my feelings returned and I felt really sad.
I mean, I had spent so long on these drugs and just feeling so much inertia and it made me feel ok to just sit at home and play video games, I think it made me worse in some ways
I mean, in college, I was being exposed, but at same time, was cut off and so was not really experiencing college(only community 2 yr school though)
So when I went out to Seattle area(Eastside/Suburbs) I didn't suddenly become better, so I am not writing this as recovered person, I am only writing my point of view, my experience.
I continued to work freelance and have struggled with that because I feel it is so alienating, yet at the same time, after years of these problems, getting up and working outside is not an easy prospect.
Basically had to drop out of college because the stimulation was making me sick every day, my thoughts became really really confused and driving became impossible
So I am still very much in recovery mode, but I feel much better than I have my entire life, and really am becoming big fan of the clubhouse model and the importance of the supermarket approach in mental illness.
Which is to say, let people choose if they want medication or not, but give them ALL the facts, not just ones slanted in your direction
And recognize that it IS possible, in fact very preferable not to stay on these meds, because they are very toxic.
Check this out in regard to clubhouses, Julian:

What do you wish society was like, and what alternatives would you have liked when you were seeking support? And generally of course

Oz: That is a good question, yes.
I think what I always felt, I mean starting in elementary school was that I was different, I mean I know a lot of people feel this and there isn't much leeway really. We need to be respecting and honoring everyone, not pushing everyone into little boxes. Now that's pretty general and a pretty common complaint, so I will elaborate...
I think as to schooling, some kids will want to dance, maybe some will be good at math, maybe some will be good at art, and others, carpenters. I think listening, really listening is key, no matter how complex psychology will get, listening is key, because we are not diseases, but unique people with unique needs...
for example, depression can be caused by many things, so support needs to be there to really try and figure that out, be it over stimulation, emotional trouble, figure out the root causes and allow that.
I am rambling. sorry...
So alternatives/ real support...

I entirely agree!

Oz: I always liked idea of quaker house, soteria, real community is key, but not something to be forced or coerced into, you know.

So the problem as I see it is exacerbated by a hostile system which is, and/or pretends to be unaware of its pressure on children, and peoples that cause so much distress

Oz: Respect for each other as individual, which will start as places like clubhouses, and also respect for other alternative treatments.

Yes. For me, the trouble was exacerbated by the fact that I was/ still tend to be so beaten into acceptance of things that I let them do whatever they wanted

Yes, NO coercion. No sense of 'you must do, or else'
well when you feel vulnerable its easy to get exploited

Oz: Yes. there are many taboos, many things that for me are still impossible to talk about it psychiatry setting, suicide is one thing you "don't talk about"


Oz: Yes, it is easy to exploit, take advantage, I sent you the article for clubhouse, which is talking about taking staff off of pedestal onto a real person basis.

People you can trust to talk about anything. Even suicidal desires.

Oz: Suicidality is important because it shows a longing, it shows, almost paradoxically the real feelings and must be explored in order to understand your life more.


Oz: Yes, for me, there was always a fear, because I did not know what I could trust talking to my psychiatrist about

And that leaves you even MORE isolated
Because for many, the shrink is supposed to be THE support

Oz: Like I was saying, I think the model has to be looking at the individual, really looking, because you can't assume anything, like I said, depression can have so many causes. I believe a lot is caused by the alienation, divorce from nature of our society, but diet, disease, a lot of other things cause it as well.
It's not realistic to be supported by someone you see once a week or less

With such POWER
power to lock you up?
if you could sum up the power you feel they had/have over you what would it be?

Oz: How do I sum it up... Let me think a moment... How do you sum it up. They are just there to control society, to push people down, to keep it all in line...
If you look at it from a distance, this is much easier to see.

you mean more than close-up?

Oz : Yes. I think so. Looking at the bigger patterns in society, in the world, in history, in politics, the pattern of control and suppression becomes apparent. Now if you take the drugs and follow, you're good, but step out of line too much. For me, I don't think they're worried too much, because I do have the law behind me with a right to choose my own method of treatment, but step out of line too much... they'll knock you down. The Indigenous People, Animals, it all continues on, and on and on, the patterns are the same, so close up, looking at what they say, you can lose that picture.

Oh yes Oz, you explain this really well! I very much feel you!

You say you've had psychedelic experience? What with?

Morning Glory
Hawaiian Baby Woodrose

Oz: I think I've talked to you about this

Have they helped you?

Oz: I had a few really beautiful experiences on Baby Woodrose, which is supposed to be similar to LSD, I mean that one earlier this year, but I don't really know how much it actually helped me.
Most of my experiences were kind of mixed...LSD was bad for me, because it was a big party, didn't know really anyone

If psychedelic therapy was available, do you think you would like to try it?

Oz: Salvia was in my druggy days, same with DXM, more for fun than any kind of introspection... I would, yes, actually, but remember that link you sent me?
It was with Rick Dobbs, McKennas brother, some others, a big forum...

Yes I remember. A podcast!

Oz: I think there needs to be great caution here, is what needs to be stressed because these medicines can affect you deeply and make you vulnerable. I think that's what I took from it.

Of course. I remember you saying your first LSD trip was in a very bad Set&Setting

Oz: Yeah. Especially considering most of the Legal Highs are dodgy and some kind of poisonous, like MG seeds, Amanitas, etc

Oz: Getting Ecstasy or LSD from the streets can also be risky

Yes true, which is why it should BE available

Oz: Yes. There is starting to become more evidence it is helpful but there is a huge hurdle to overcome, even more than Marijuana, I think.

Just say that psychedelic therapies were available, so you could have a choice of healing therapy/or whatever you want to call it---What do you think you would choose?
How would you like the therapy to be?

Oz: I would give it a try, surely, yes, I think it would need to be with someone really familiar with the medicine.
Helping you to reintegrate, might need some space, time to recuperate

Of course. One therapist--I read, said he would give people MDMA so they had the inspiration to open up, talking, and then later have LSD sessions. I thought that sounded very interesting

Oz: Rick Dobbs, I bet, he is big on MDMA

Yes I am familiar with Rick Dobs from MAPS, but I am talking about Torsten Passie

Oz: Yeah.
I mean it is kind of precarious, the gov't can shut them down at any time

So fear yet again!

Oz: Yes. I don't think it can ever be fully suppressed, the spirit keeps coming back, so it is hopeful

There HAS to be alternative also to the 'medical model'?

Oz: Yet I see that the way it is going about, I fear it being too medicalized, trying to fit it into the current model, as you know, it follows a very different model of healing.

So this goes right to the heart of it, because it is the so-called 'medical model' that has been the lie

Oz: The thing is, we need to look at it, keep questioning it, because I think they are right that there are changes in brain, but that doesn't mean it is a genetic illness, and there is some relief with these drugs, but there are great dangers, too, and the pharma drugs keep you frozen in place and cut off.
I think is similar to what Sean was saying about waking up, and the way I see it now is more of a process, more of an awakening that can sometimes be painful and dramatic and scary, but very healing

waking up to....?

Oz: The fact that so many indigeneous peoples used psychedelics means they should be looked at very closely, because indigineous people know a lot about medicine.
Well he and i see it a little different, but i see the waking up, the distress of your body, your spirit calling you back to your true being, not this lie you are living, trying to be..

And also rituals for loosening up our sense of flowing energy, like dance, singing, chanting

Oz: I have to go now for the day, we can pick up later. But I think you might also want to explore these ideas of the dangers of these thoughts interpreted through Western lenses. Ie- what Sjoo talks about sometimes in her critiques of New Age...

Yes I'll reflect on that. Great man ;) have a good day

Oz: hehe u2


Oz: ok, i think maybe already did, but i'll check it. thnx


  1. Hi Julian, thnx. I have been reading on Madness Radio and some interesting stuff. I will send you links.

  2. Great. I really look foreward to that.

  3. "For me, the trouble was exacerbated by the fact that I was/still tend to be so beaten into acceptance of things that I let them do whatever they wanted." I suppose that mental health workers might also have had an acquiescent attitude drummed into them at some stage in their lives. Hence it might be difficult for them to confront the true nature of what they have become involved in. I don't mean to to excuse the abuse that's going on. "...and at the time I still had little to question about the psychiatric industry, I mean, I was naive at the time, I just didn't know." People starting careers in the m/h system might be similarly naïve and by the time they start questioning these situations they might be to immersed in the situation to back out. It would be interesting to hear you interview a m/h worker. I mean the average employee rather than a maverick voice. To paraphrase Foucault: They have been carrying around their guilty conciousness for a long time. Good interview.

  4. As an effective medicine, paxil would surely provide you immense relief if you are in the grip of panic disorder, depression or generalized anxiety disorder but it is altogether true that the usage of Paxil occasionally facilitates certain side-effects such as headache, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat et al. These side-effects can yield serious results if not treated immediately hence take this medicine only on proper prescription.