Black Lives Matter: Schizophrenia – from sexist to racist.

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Advertisement associating black protester with schizophrenia drug haldol

In case you had any doubts, mental health disorders are socially constructed and reflect a job of the mental health profession to enforce the dominant cultural norms. The disorders and their check list criteria are voted on by psychiatrists, who by the way are largely being paid by drug companies. I recently re-listened to a Madness Radio interview available as a podcast as well as here of the psychiatrist Jonathan Metzl, author of The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia became a Black Disease.

I wanted to remind myself of some of the things I previously heard about Schizophrenia before the 1960’s being associated with frail or nervous housewives who were distressed about their role or embarrassing their husbands. These days there is a common association of violence with the Schizophrenia diagnosis. How did that happen? Could it be systemic racism?

The interview highlights how in the 1960’s there was an increase in the professional literature of case studies of angry black male protesters suffering from new manifestations of Schizophrenia with symptoms such as hostility, aggression, and violence. Then in 1968, aggression and hostility were added to the schizophrenia diagnosis in the DSM manual of mental disorders.

Dr. Metzl discussed how black protesters were locked away in mental institutions. Black men would experience paranoia about the police and doctors, another symptom of schizophrenia. Black Lives Matter protesters in the past couple of weeks have brought to light the black and brown people’s justified fear of police, not paranoia.

Male breastfeeding article published in Rebelle Society

Yes you read correctly. I have published a piece on male breastfeeding. I thank my wife for giving assent to publish such a peephole into our private home life conversation that inspired the writing. I wrote specifically for Rebelle Society a platform for “creatively maladjusted rebels with a cause.” My heart sobs regularly for so many treated by the mental health system by force or without information given regarding the consequences of treatment and alternatives to wellness. I sat on the edited article for many months. Then, while with my family at the nearby river on one of the hottest days of the summer I noticed a lone topless woman among the crowd enjoying the river. My 8-year-old daughter had been complaining for days about having to wear shirts when it was so hot, and yes she was quite right. It is just plain wrong that only males are privileged to go topless in public. It was time to do my miniscule part to confront sexism by airing the topic of male breastfeeding. If males bodies have the potential to grow breasts and produce milk, then why should one gender be expected to cover them and another not?

Check out the article here.

Update:

2-months after I published this piece in Rebelle Society, 2 related pieces were published in the New York Times.

First was an opinion piece by a professor at Stockholm University regarding if society is ready for the breastfeeding father and explores historical evidence of male breastfeeding that I had touched on available here.

Second, and part of my motivation for my writing to get information out that has been minimized is an article about an $8 billion jury award against Johnson & Johnson for a boy who grew breasts when given risperdal at 9 years of age available here.

What Johnson & Johnson has done to children is criminal and the article points out that in 2013 they settled for $2.2 billion in criminal and civil fines related to illegal marketing that has harmed children. Of course the fines do nothing to change criminal business practices as the article points out about $82 billion in revenue came in to Johnson & Johnson in 2018 alone.

Crazywise Film Screening and Discussion Event

Crazywise image and linkI will be facilitating a screening and discussion of the film Crazywise at Amistad in Portland, ME on March 21, 2019 at 5-7:15pm.

This is an amazing film. Director Phil Borges had interviewed around 40 shamans from all over the world and found they got their start in similar ways. In their teens or early 20’s they started hearing things others did not hear and seeing things others did not see. They were identified as having a special gift or sensitivity and had mentors to train them how to use their abilities as shamans to help their communities. He draws a comparison with the much different treatment for the same experiences that young people in the West receive from the mental health system.

For resources related to the film:

There is a good Ted Talk by Phil Borges while in the process of making the film with over two million views. It was posted February 23, 2014 titled Psychosis or Spiritual Awakening: Phil Borges at TEDx UMKC.

There is a great interview of Ekhaya, one of the subjects of the film by Madness Radio and posted October 1, 2017. The interview touches on some of the training she underwent to become a shaman.

Hearing Voices Network

Hearing Voices Network USA logo

I was graced with the opportunity to attend a three-day Hearing Voices Network Facilitators’ Training this month conducted by Western Mass Recovery Learning Community trainers. Within the Hearing Voices Network all possible explanations for experiences that would typically be labeled psychosis in a clinical setting are welcomed and allowed along with the additional perspective that the experiences are just a normal variation of human experience. It was stated that one in 10 people hear voices at some point in life and two thirds of them never seek psychiatric services. The Hearing Voices Network is composed of self-help groups throughout the world where people come together to talk about their voices, visions, and unusual experiences in a non-clinical environment with no assumption of an underlying illness to their experiences and no requirement to have any exposure to the mental health system to attend groups. Each individual is allowed the freedom to interpret their experiences in any way and the group accepts that voices and visions are real experiences. The Hearing Voices Network can be considered a civil rights movement that started when a patient confronted the psychiatrist Marius Romme in the 1980’s about limitations of the psychiatric care being provided. Regarding psychiatry’s attempts to stop voices with treatment, Romme eventually compared “eradicating people’s voices to forcing homosexuals to become heterosexual” (Sapey & Bullimore, 2013, p. 4). The groups started in the United Kingdom and are in at least 32 countries around the world now. In the United States there are at least 94 registered groups. The State of Maine Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services has been funding trainings to facilitate the growth of Hearing Voices Network groups. Though not all Maine groups are listed yet, http://www.hearingvoicesusa.org/ does have a listing of some Maine groups including one in Portland. There are additional meetings in Maine forming at peer drop in centers.

Reference

Sapey, B., & Bullimore, P. (2013). Listening to voice hearers. Journal of Social Work,
13(6), 616-632.

My story: Published by Mad In America this month

In a 2013 United Nations report on “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” it was stated that:

“…medical treatments of an intrusive and irreversible nature, when lacking a therapeutic purpose or when aimed at correcting or alleviating a disability, may constitute torture or ill treatment when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person concerned.”

Saddened by the increase in forced treatment in America, I submitted a related abbreviated personal story to Mad In America:

https://www.madinamerica.com/2018/09/god-figment-imagination/

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