Archive for February, 2018

Smoking is So Last Year

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

“Given the disproportionate burden of tobacco health harms in psychiatric patients, e-cigarettes are being considered as a potential tool for harm reduction.”

E-cigs are battery-powered devices that typically contain nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. The liquid is heated into an aerosol that the user inhales. The use of an electronic cigarette is colloquially called “vaping” as a contraction of the inhaled “vapor”. More than 2 million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2016. While E-cigs are not tobacco, the fact that they generally contain nicotine means that they are often considered as tobacco products. In fact, as of 2016 the FDA considers “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems” as regulated tobacco products, although the deadline for regulatory compliance has been extended.

Within an 18-month tobacco-treatment clinical trial with smokers with serious mental illness over a five-year period, electronic cigarette use by those recruited for the trial increased over time, from 0% in 2009 to 25% in 2013. From this data the authors concluded that serious study should be given to the use of e-cigs as a psychiatric treatment for smoking cessation and/or mental disorders.
[“E-Cigarette Use among Smokers with Serious Mental Illness“, Judith J. Prochaska & Rachel A. Grana, 11/24/2014]

Psychiatric “best practices” recommend that psychiatrists assess tobacco use at every patient visit, since tobacco addiction is covered in the DSM-V under eight separate items, and disorders related to inhalant use have 33 entries. Therefore, the psychiatric industry considers that smoking cessation therapies are their territory, which now extends into vaping.

The DSM considers that addiction is a mental illness. It is not a mental illness and cannot be fixed with psychiatric drugs. This debunked medical model of mental distress is what justifies the prescription of harmful and addictive psychiatric drugs. There is certainly such a thing as addiction and mental distress. There can be physical addiction, which requires physical detoxification; and the mental distress, resulting from a lapse of ethics and morals and not from some hokey chemical imbalance in the brain, requires its own effective treatments.

We’ve written previously about harmful psychotropic drugs being used as smoking cessation therapies. One would expect there to be new psychiatric initiatives to use these for vaping addiction, since it opens up a new class of potential [-victims-] patients for the psychiatric industry. Don’t be fooled. There are non-drug methods to stop smoking or handle other forms of addiction, including addiction to psychiatric drugs themselves. Treating substance abuse with drugs is a major policy blunder; contact your state and federal representatives and let them know you disapprove of this trend.

The White House Taking Action on Veteran Suicides

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

Presidential Executive Order on Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition From Uniformed Service to Civilian Life (January 9, 2018)

Relevant quotes from the Presidential Executive Order:

“It is the policy of the United States to support the health and well-being of uniformed service members and veterans. … our Government must improve mental healthcare and access to suicide prevention resources available to veterans … Veterans, in their first year of separation from uniformed service, experience suicide rates approximately two times higher than the overall veteran suicide rate. To help prevent these tragedies, all veterans should have seamless access to high-quality mental healthcare and suicide prevention resources as they transition, with an emphasis on the 1-year period following separation.”

Mr. Trump’s order makes a wide range of mental health services available to all veterans as they transition back to civilian society.

It sounds nice; it sounds appropriate; it sounds like everyone would support it. What’s the “but?”

But, in this society at this time, “mental health services” generally means psychotropic drugs. “Psychotropic” means “acting on the mind; affecting the mental state,” meaning that that the drugs change brain function and result in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness or behavior. They don’t actually fix anything, they just suppress both good and bad feelings.

There is another “but” — these drugs also have serious adverse side effects, and three of the most troubling of these are addiction, violence and suicide.

So the preferred “treatment” for veterans’ mental health and suicide are drugs which have suicide as a side effect. Which came first? The drugs, of course.

The psychiatric industry protests that they have many services available, not just drugs. Well, let’s see —

  1. They can talk about it, which they call “cognitive-behavioral therapy” — which is when a therapist evaluates for the patient and tells them what behaviors they need to change.
  2. They can cut out part of the brain with surgery; like you’re going to let them do that to you.
  3. They can shock the brain with high-voltage electricity; and if you believe that is going to help, we’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn we know you’ll be eager to buy; and once you’ve had a course of electroshock treatments you won’t remember we told you so.
  4. They can wire your vagus nerve, which controls such things as heart rate, to send short bursts of electricity directly into the brain. Uh-huh.
  5. They can wrap a huge magnet around your head, called transcranial magnetic stimulation, and zap the brain with induced electric currents. You might as well just shoot yourself. Whoops, many veterans are already doing that.
And then there are all the other efforts to prescribe “breakthrough” drugs, since the normal psychotropic ones are so damaging — drugs like marijuana, magic mushrooms, MDMA (Ecstasy), Ketamine, etc. Talk about desperation!

What are the alternatives? What can the White House and the Veterans Administration do that would actually be effective help for veterans? If enough people tell the White House and the VA about the horrors of psychiatric treatments and the availability of workable alternatives, they might start to listen. Can you call the White House and make a comment about this?

Contact the White House at https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ and/or leave your comments at 202-456-1111. Contact the various key White House personnel mentioned in the President’s Executive Order as well, but WH musical chairs may make it difficult to nail down their names and contact information. Last we knew, here are some of the names:

Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council- Andrew Bremberg
Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council – either Paul Winfree or Lance Leggitt
Healthcare Policy- Katy Talento
Secretary of Defense – Gen. James Mattis, USMC
Secretary of Homeland Security – Kirstjen Nielsen
Secretary of Veterans Affairs – Dr. David J. Shulkin

You can reference the CCHR STL blog here for more information.

The Loneliness Epidemic

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

A recent Scientific American has an extensive article about loneliness.
[“Loneliness Can Be Toxic“, by Francine Russo, January 2018]

Here are some relevant quotes from this article (plus our comments):
“Loneliness is defined as perceived social isolation and the experience of being cut off from others.”

[The dictionary basically says, “the sadness of being alone,” from Middle English alone, al all + one one.]

“…researchers have been probing the nature of different types of loneliness, their biological mechanisms and their effects on mind and body.”

[Recognize here the emphasis on the discredited biological (medical) model of psychiatry.]

“…insufficient social connection … is a major public health concern”.

[Recognize here the inference of a dangerous environment.]

“Growing evidence has linked loneliness to a marked vulnerability to a host of psychological and physiological ills…”

[Recognize here the invocation of a psychological aspect plus the psychiatric medical model.]

“Part of the problem in the scientific literature is that the standard tools for measuring loneliness do not necessarily gauge the same things.”

[Recognize here the admission that psychologists don’t really understand the issue.]

“The most commonly used measure of loneliness, the Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale, assesses individuals’ perceived dissatisfaction with the quality or quantity of their relationships.”

[This is a 20-item questionnaire purported to measure one’s subjective feelings of loneliness as well as feelings of social isolation. Participants rate each item on a scale from 1 (Never) to 4 (Often).]

The psychiatric billing bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) has no shortage of items that could be related to loneliness, covering pretty much all the bases — in other words, regardless of what the patient says is the matter, a diagnosis could be found here.

[The purpose of which is to be able to bill insurance for counseling or drugs for any of these diagnoses:]

“Problem related to living alone”
“Disinhibited social engagement disorder”
“Other problem related to psychosocial circumstances”
“Social (pragmatic) communication disorder”
“Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)”
“Social exclusion or rejection”
“Unspecified problem related to social environment”
“Unspecified problem related to unspecified psychosocial circumstances”
“Psychological factors affecting other medical conditions”
“Other personal history of psychological trauma”
“Unspecified personality disorder”

In 1959 a German psychoanalyst, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, thought that loneliness might arise from premature weaning; her own severe loneliness was apparently related to her own and familial deafness. In 2012 and 2016, published research reported that loneliness was age-related. Other studies reported loneliness factors related to being married, or being employed, or relations with parents, or issues with trust, or with health or discrimination. Again, psychologists don’t really understand it, but they can sure get funds for researching whatever symptoms they think could be related to it.

Then, too, a scan through the side effects of psychotropic drugs gives one the impression that many of these adverse reactions could certainly lead to feelings of loneliness.

At first we thought it was a joke when we read that Prime Minister Theresa May appointed a Minister for Loneliness on January 17, 2018, based on a report from The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness claiming that over 9 million people in the United Kingdom are lonely. But they are entirely serious; perhaps too serious. One suspects, however, that this is really just another drug marketing campaign diagnosing common life situations such as sadness and loneliness as “mental illness.”

The main “treatment” for symptoms of loneliness is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a form of psychotherapy that attempts to modify dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts — by evaluating and challenging a person’s behaviors and getting the person to change those behaviors, often in combination with psychiatric drugs. Some recommendations are for drug treatment with allopregnanolone, a neurosteroid related to progesterone, although this is still being researched (naturally, since they don’t really understand it.)

So, what is loneliness, and how should it be treated?

Well, let’s stop explaining it in terms of symptoms and then trying to treat those individual symptoms with evaluative psychotherapy or harmful drugs. Let’s find a root cause.

The root cause of any feelings of loneliness is an absence or scarcity of communication. Communication is livingness.

There is certainly no scarcity of silence, which would be another way to describe aloneness, but silence itself is death. The answer is to provide more communication.

The American Psychological Association (APA) states that “Our mission is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.” How unfortunate it is that the APA does not actually use communication as a treatment.