Psychiatric Drug Facts via :

“Most psychiatric drugs can cause withdrawal reactions, sometimes including life-threatening emotional and physical withdrawal problems… Withdrawal from psychiatric drugs should be done carefully under experienced clinical supervision.” Dr. Peter Breggin

Sep 7, 2012

The Stigma of a Psychiatric Diagnosis is Real

File:American Lady Against The Sky.jpg
The word psyche comes from the ancient Greek for soul or butterfly.
a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. "the stigma of mental disorder"
originally published 4-25-2012 updated 9-7-2012 and 9-9-2013
The bio-disease model of psychiatry relies on two major errors of attribution.  The first is believing a patient's symptoms are in and of themselves evidence of disease or defect; absent significant empirically validated evidence to support the hypothesis, it is only a belief; the idea lacks scientific/medical validity. The second error of attribution is actually a strange claim; specifically, that a person who does not accept a psychiatric diagnosis and believe the diagnosis is evidence the person has a "neuro-biological disease," a "chemical imbalance," or "genetic defect," is refusing treatment because they have anosognosia, i.e. lacks insight. Some actually seem to believe that a person once diagnosed has no right or even an ability to communicate their treatment preferences or their treatment experiences accurately; this includes any adverse effects, benefits (or lack thereof) of psychiatric treatment.

No one has perfect insight---what utterly angers me is that the belief that a disease exists is without any valid empirical evidence; yet it has been used as a justification for manipulating the truth, coercing patients and family members, and worse, used to dismiss entirely the claims of distress and actual harm caused to countless patient's who were, and are being victimized!  There can be no doubt that psychiatric treatment has in fact traumatized countless patients.  I can attest that it was traumatic to me as a parent to be prevented from protecting my own child. My son was victimized and repeatedly traumatized by the professionals who, he has said, "had no compassion for me mom, and they were supposed to be helping me." Even if there were a disease underlying psychiatric diagnoses, how could that possibly be a justification for the cruel, dishonest, and manipulative nature of using coercion and forceful treatment?  How could a claim that a person has a disease which has not been identified, and for which no evidence that complies with the Rules of Evidence standard is offered be used in Courts of Law as"evidence" sufficient to deprive a person of their liberty and/or force a person to take teratogenic drugs and/or be given electro shock  as a "treatment?"

There are three obvious reasons for patient noncompliance besides the claim that people, 'don't know they're sick' because they have anosognosia:  One is the actual effects of the drugs, including the very real neurological, metabolic and cognitive dysfunction which the drugs cause.  The second is the inefficacy of the drugs for the symptoms they are used for.  The third is the manner in which they are treated---I can assure you, a diagnosis does not mean a person is unable to discern whether or not they are being respected and whether they are treated with compassion or coercion.  It is classic bullying behavior to rely on an abuse of power and authority and the use of intimidation and coercion to control others and gain treatment compliance. The psychiatrists and mental health practitioners who use these social control strategies act Under Color of Law, using the Courts and the Police to force "psychiatric treatment" on unwilling patients to enforce "treatment compliance."

As the 'authority' in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses, it is psychiatry itself that has ensured that people given a psychiatric diagnosis are stigmatized and marginalized, intentionally or not.  It begins with what is claimed about the nature of mental illnesses, what is told to the world, the patients, and their families about a psychiatric diagnoses.  Once given a diagnosis of schizophrenia, treatment is done 'to' not 'for' the patient's benefit...Compliance with psychiatric treatment is the primary focus; 'psycho-education' is the 'Evidence-Based' practice which teaches patients to be compliant, and teaches family members how to coerce their loved one, "for their own good" to become "treatment compliant." The primary measure or end-point used to differentiate 'successful treatment' vs 'unsuccessful treatment' of schizophrenia in the bio-disease paradigm, is treatment compliance.  Whether the treatment actually is of benefit or not, and whether the patient experiences an adverse event, even a life-threatening one; becomes disabled or there is a fatal outcome, is not as important as maintaining a patient's compliance with psychiatric treatment.

Psychiatric patients can be marginalized, emotionally abandoned and discriminated against by their own family members who believe
the "professionals." The trust of family members is betrayed when professionals then teach family members to manipulate, coerce and control their loved one in distress "for their own good" instead of seeking to understand, to support, to protect and to assist a loved one who is experiencing emotional and neuro-cognitive difficulties. The "professionals" claim these tactics are justified, is predicated by the notion that the person in fact has a neuro-biological disease. The primary purpose served by the manipulation and coercion is to gain control of the patient. This is all done in an attempt to teach the patient how very important it is to comply with treatment, and take the drugs, it is done to maintain treatment compliance, regardless of the effects of the treatment on the patient.  In this way, people who are diagnosed are then effectively invalidated by their "mental health treatment providers and their families, "for their own good."

A person who experiences being repeatedly 
invalidated, is traumatized by the experience. Instead of learning to care for and about themselves more effectively; they learn to invalidate themselves, and this is how a person learns to self-stigmatize. They come to believe they have a "disease," and accept that they are less that worthy of the same respect others who are not "diseased" can take for granted. What they feel, and what they think is often reduced to simply being a symptom, a manifestation of their "disease;" instead of simply being evidence of their humanity.  Practitioners who believe in the bio-disease paradigm will claim a patient "lacks insight" if a person labeled with a diagnosis refuses to accept the diagnosis and/or refuses psychiatric treatment, this effectively serves to prevent the person from escaping the psychiatric system of coercive treatment. Are we so naive as to believe that the only reason patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia do not want to take neuroleptic drugs that cause a myriad of iatrogenic diseases and potentially disabling and fatal impairments is due to the fact that the people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia "lack  insight?"  I'd be willing to bet that noncompliance is more often than not due to the effects of teratogenic drugs which in fact DO NOT WORK, i.e. do not extinguish the symptoms they are supposed to treat, for the vast majority of people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Psychiatric survivors have for decades been telling about being abused and the harm that they have endured as a result of being BULLIED by psychiatry.  Some have been disabled; and were never informed of the risks involved with the treatment.  People who are diagnosed and treated who claim the drugs do not help them; or claim the drugs make them sick, lethargic and unable to function ironically, are labeled as oppositional defiant, and paranoid; what is not so ironic, these people are often labeled as being overly suspicious and disrespectful of authority.

My son, continues to pay a steep price for being victimized by psychiatric bullies.  I know I was bullied by my son's psychiatrists who were aided and abetted by public servants all of whom ignored the law and the ethical codes of conduct for their chosen professions.  Psychiatrists who bully their patients are unethical and in reality, criminals.  Psychiatric practice relies on subverting the truth about the nature of psychiatric diagnoses, that are "validated" by a quasi-democratic process, not a scientific one.  Diagnoses are conferred, not made through conducting a scientific investigation; but conferred absent 
reliable, replicable, empirically validated, i.e. scientific, diagnostic criteria. Psychiatry relies on consensus-based  diagnostic criteria, and a consensus based practice parameters and standard practices; in every other branch of medicine, the diagnostic criteria, practice parameters and standard practices used are derived from empirical data, and supported by subjective opinions.  Psychiatry is a long way from being 'Evidence-Based.'

Doctors who determine who is "sick" and in "need of medical treatment" by consensus, and then use toxic drugs to "treat" patients/victims, but fail to Inform or gain Consent for teratogenic "treatment" are conducting experiments on Humans; not providing ethical medical treatment with the primary focus on the best interests of the patient. The scientific Evidence Base does not support neuroleptic drugs as a 'first line' treatment for schizophrenia; nonetheless, it is public policy, and can even be compelled by a Court Order, in effect, being a compliant patient, is the Law in most states.  Being "legal" does not in fact make it valid medical treatment, it does not make the treatment therapeutic; and it does not make it  an ethical
medical treatment. What it does is make the stigma of a psychiatric diagnosis horrifyingly real.  A psychiatric diagnosis may in fact lead to a person being sentenced to compulsive psychiatric treatment that can be fatal; it can literally be a death sentence. 

Having a medical license does not make bullying of vulnerable people a valid or ethical way to provide medical treatment. Medicine is based on science---Attitudes, actions and behaviors that in any other context would be recognized as abusive, coercive and manipulative are not magically transformed simply because college educated, licensed medical professionals are exhibiting the behaviors.  The nature of subterfuge, manipulation and coercion are still what they are: dishonest methods used in an abuse of power to unfairly gain control over others.  Relying on the respect historically given to medical experts, psychiatry lobbied for and gained the legal authority to Court Order individuals to their potentially fatal treatments.  Obviously, there is no ethical duty or legal obligation to comply with the Rules of Evidence when obtaining Court Orders for Involuntary Treatment---That would require empirical evidence of the illusory "disease." Opinions, even educated ones, are not facts; and a consensus of educated opinions is evidence only of agreement. 

Let's be clear why the stigma is real: the stigma is the psychiatric diagnosis itself.  Based on the opinions of a relative (albeit educated) few, a person given a psychiatric diagnosis can lose the right to choose where they live, and whether to take dangerous teratogenic drugs or not; which is a significant, if not total loss of autonomy and can happen automatically--no "due process."  A diagnosed person can be confined in a locked psychiatric ward under Court Order without their Civil Rights being preserved, protected or defended in the Court procedure which places them in a locked facility. Standard Court Procedures are not followed in this process in which a loss of liberty results. Many naturally also experience a loss of hope as a natural consequence of a diagnosis; especially when the diagnosis is accompanied by a fraudulent claim meant to coerce the person into being treatment compliant. The claim that psychiatric diagnosis is a disease, a disease which can never be cured; but can only be "effectively treated" with drugs people are told are "safe and effective" but are in fact teratogenic drugs which cause diseases that disable and kill a statistically significant number of psychiatric patients of all ages around the globe..   

Invalidating, abusive, discriminatory treatment experienced by people with a psychiatric diagnosis of schizophrenia is a natural consequence of the manner in which the bio-disease paradigm has been marketed through education and advocacy campaigns; the misinformation spread through "patient advocacy groups."  But just as important is the complete failure of an entire medical specialty to ethically conduct psychiatric research and physician education---The APA membership  has not censured the offenders, one is President-elect of the APA.  Psychiatry has not retracted any discredited, fraudulent 'work product' from 'professional peer-reviewed' journals.  Incredibly, this work is retained as a resource in what has in fact become, psychiatry's pseudo-science "Evidence Base"...and some researcher's whose work has been discredited, are now "Scientific Advisers" and Board Members of 'Patient Advocacy Groups'  

STIGMA is not something than can be 'busted' or educated out of human society.  The Stigma is the psychiatric diagnosis itself.  A diagnosis stigmatizes automatically, because once a diagnosis is attached to a person, the free exercise of their autonomy is questioned, and their legal and political power diminished as a matter of course.  A diagnosis immediately puts the person at risk of losing their liberty; potentially their life.  The stigma is real.  The loss of legal and political status, the deprivation of basic Human Rights is discriminatory, it is also a direct adverse effect of having a psychiatric diagnosis, and the widespread belief that a psychiatric diagnosis is indicative of having a brain disease. The stigma of psychiatric diagnoses are real; and the stigma is entrenched culturally, and politically. When diagnoses are attached through adjudication procedures in Courts, psychiatric diagnoses are used to "legally" deprive an entire class of people of fundamental Human Rights... 
If that isn't a STIGMA, I'm Mary Freaking Poppins! 

photo credit
Mary Poppins gif from


Jennifer said...

Good analysis. I did my PhD thesis in such a way that analysed this topic in relation to an author that people wanted to stigmatize to discredit for his psychological and political analyses, which happened to be perfectly accurate. Look up DAMBUDZO MARECHERA.

Unknown said...

Hi Jennifer,
Thanks for your comment. I'd love to read your thesis, if you'd like to share it.


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