Letters to the Editor
7 Oct 2005
Re: Mental Health Screening Ridiculous
This is worse than ridiculous.
The nation is creating millions of drug addicts which will be a constant drain on its future, not to mention that many of those children will become unemployable and disabled as a result of the course they are being set on.
The sooner and the greater volumes of litigation begin, the better. Political leaders and their advisors who enable these 'screening' programmes to occur should be held personally accountable for the outcome. The advisors know the risks for the young people involved.
Psychiatry is NOT a proven science. Everyone knows this. The damage and injuries psychiatry has done over countless years, to millions of vulnerable people, whether 'ill', handicapped, or indeed neither at outset, but experiencing normal responses to abnormal situations, the psychiatry experience is a shameful blight on what we like to think of as civilization.
To ignore this past, whilst taking risks with the future is utmost folly and irresponsibility.
Competing interests: None
Biological or psychological
I am totally opposed to diagnosing our young people with psychiatric illnesses and giving them psychotropic meds. Based on the materials I study they can be dangerous to their developing brains. I having been studying some info that suggests that just our diets alone can be enough to cause substantial damage to our brains. Why isn't our government looking at that? (Drug companies? Money?) Why aren't they looking at PET Scans so we can understand how our brains are being damaged?
I was amazed a few years ago when I heard that someone had done PET Scans on some of the worst criminals in prison (the worst of the worst). They found that the more severe the crime had been the more severe the brain damage was in that person.
I have a real problem with the psychiatric community just looking at the emotional and behavioral symptoms and not addressing the biological, other than saying chemical imbalance, when it comes to our (biological !!!!) brain. It is an organ in our bodies just like any other organ.
I am trying to educate myself so I don't feel like my ignorance is part of the problem in what is happening to our young people. Most of what I personally experience is what psychiatry refers to as "Dual Diagnosis" (substance abuse and mental illness)
Competing interests: None declared
Seperate the issues
Seperate the issues
After discussing what I see as the issues, I end with a personal anecdote from my teen years.
It seems to me there are two overlapping issues here: (1) The issue of the nation-state interfering with the private individual/family in general (2) The issue of using psychiatry to attempt to solve personal and societal problems
The first is, strictly speaking, part of the subject called political philosophy. In this, I know my own view: the state should force indiviudals with threat where other individuals may come to harm. The state should not force individuals for their own "benefit". I believe that the state, and agents of the state, do not know what is best for me more than I do. Further, I do not believe that the state is sufficiently motivated to do what is best for me, even if it did know. Finally, even if I choose to behave in a way that is harmful to myself, this is an issue for my friends, family, employers and community, but not the state. The state may or may not offer help through active participation in the community, but to "enforce help" - no. Note, the buzzword in political philosophy is "choice" which implies free will and ability to choose.
The second is an emotive and controversial issue. Traditionally, the assisting with personal and societal ills is the domain of the pastor. This position has been usurped by psychiatry. Psych-iatry means soul- doctor. He claims to know better than the pastor how to be at peace with oneself and society. To me it is obvious that psychiatry is mutually exclusive with religous or spiritual belief. The one is based on the idea that you are "chemicals in the brain" and the other that you have a spiritual existence of some sort. Thus the very word psychiatry is a misnomer, as he is not a soul-doctor. But neither is he a brain-doctor, because that's a neurologist...
Now I ask you to connect that with the concept of "choice" mentioned above. If you are nothing but "chemicals in the brain" then there is no such thing as "choice" - your body does what your brain commands, and you brain does what the chemicals command, all by mechanistic laws of physics and chemistry, and so when the psychiatrist gives you a drug, his brain chemicals are altering your brain chemicals (via a prescription pad), and "you" don't fit into it except as as a non-defined entity which gets to passively "feel" better except what is it that is "feeling" better except some chemicals in a different part of the brain?
Political choice implies that you exist as an entity that can make choice; that is not necessarily determined by physical laws but which has a non-physical/chemical component. An entity that is thinking, emoting, planning, intending, dreaming, communicating and living.
In other words, psychiatry goes hand-in-hand with a top-heavy dictatorial state, an authoritarian attitude, loss of personal freedom, because, after all, there's no "you" to be free anyway. How can chemicals be "free"? It also goes hand-in-hand with irresponsibility, amorality and personal degradation. Whilst believing in your own existence as a being, acknowledging others as existing as beings and having some sense of a spiritual side to existence goes hand-in-hand with being free and having choice and responsibility.
Whilst historically religion has many times "turned psychiatric" in its form, most people I talk to are astute and quite able to seperate (for example) the teachings of Jesus from the Inquisition, the teachings of Mohammed from 9/11 or the teachings of Bhuddha from stone idols. Where it religion has lost its path, the result has been an eventual back- lash resulting in a very clear demand that the state and religion have nothing to do with each other. And so it should be with psychiatry. And if the state has no right to enforce religious dogmas, I do not see why it has a right to enforce psychiatric dogmas.
I do not trust psychiatry. I do not trust psychiatrists. I think psychiatry is founded on false principles. I think psychiatrists have demonstrated incompetence and downright inhumanity too often. I have seen and known too many whom psychiatry has ruined with its "help".
I would rather sort out "mental" problems I have by talking to friends and family than by seeing a psychiatrist. The state and its agents have no right to force psychiatry on anyone, least of all me or my children.
Anecdote: At the age of 14 I had a crush on a girl at school, who rejected my advances. Following that I went through a period of "depression" or feeling sad or sorry for myself, and was quite a different person during that time. I found my own way out. I took a little while and had some dead -ends. I ended up looking at what life really meant to me. All in all I'm actually pretty happy with the way things turned out. I'm doing well in life for myself and family. I *shiver* at the thought that had that been 2007 instead of 1987, I may have been labelled for life and put on drugs by someone who believes in nothing but brains on the one hand, but who's techniques fall far far short of scientific standard on the other. I am thankful TeenScreen did not exist when I was at school. I will fight every move to introduce it before my children are through school.
Thank you for reading.
Stewart E Cambridge
Freelance IT Consultant
Redhill, RH1 1QT, United Kingdom