Unlocking Work-Life Harmony: Strategies for Balance & Success

Work-Life Balance is a recurring topic in the news and on various social media. Perhaps we can narrow down the issues and alternatives.

One definition of Work-Life Balance is “the ability to manage one’s personal and professional life while maintaining well-being and self-care.” It seeks to minimize stress and maintain sustainable work and home responsibilities.

There are likely as many ways to do this as there are people needing to do this. Certainly there is no lack of advice from family, friends, co-workers, associates, doctors, and busybodies.

Discussions of Work-Life Balance are often coterminous with Burnout. This is where it overlaps with mental health and the insistence of the psychiatric industry that they can help. Unfortunately this is a red herring, since psychiatry also maintains that no proven general approach exists.

Examining various resources, the bottom line consensus seems to be the mitigation and elimination of Stress. Rather than providing a list of stress-reducing techniques, of which there are many, we focus instead on the topic of Stress itself.

One might observe that the more highly placed a person is, the more stress that hits them. While this is neither here nor there in the methods of handling the stress, it does bear noticing. A liability of stress is that persons under stress can react with momentary flashes of antisocial conduct.

A person under stress is actually under a suppression in one or more areas or aspects of his life. In this sense, suppression means a harmful intention or action against which one cannot fight back. We might also call this a “stressor”, which may be a person or persons (either present or past), a persistent thought, a harmful drug, something mental, emotional, spiritual, medical, physical, biological, environmental, or any combination thereof.

We’d like to emphasize that stress is not a mental illness. It may be promoted as such by the psychiatric industry, but that is strictly so that it can be diagnosed as a mental disorder (“Acute Stress Disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and prescribed some psychiatric treatment for which insurance will pay; usually a harmful psychiatric drug such as an antidepressant, antipsychotic, or anti-anxiety drug.

Stress can only be permanently fixed by finding and eliminating the stressors of the condition. It cannot be fixed with a drug. What’s keeping people from handling their stress? Well, there are vested interests who want the general populace immobilized by stress; the psychopharmaceutical industry, for example, who create patients for life.

How do you find these stressors? And how do you fix them? Pain is the main indicator of stress; that should give one a clue about where to look. Pain can be mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual in nature.

While there are myriads of advices on handling various aspects of stress, and one should pursue any of these that indicate, we’d really like to find just one thing to focus on that could lead anyone to some improvement. What is the most basic thing we can find that lies beneath anyone and everyone’s stress?

Here we find the dichotomy of Cause and Effect. In this Universe, all actions can be viewed from the gradient scales of cause and effect. A gradient scale is an increasing or decreasing degree of something. Any situation, then, is made up of degrees of causes and effects. A worst case example is when one is being the total effect of external and internal forces, another word for which is “victim.”

This leads us to the one thing common to all methods of handling or eliminating stress. It is moving from being the total effect of something, gradiently toward being cause over that situation; not necessarily all at once, but starting with slight gentle cause and moving gradiently toward more cause and less effect.

So the questions become, “How can one take some slight gentle cause over the situation?” or “What part of that situation can one take some responsibility for?”

Keeping in mind, throughout, that psychiatry and psychiatric drugs are not a method for handling stress of any kind.

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Brain Injury Awareness Month 

Citizens Commission on Human Rights Renews Call for Ban on Brain-Damaging Electroshock

Brain injury can be caused by electric shock and seizures, two key elements of electroshock, a psychiatric procedure not proven safe or effective, some experts say. Patients may not be given enough information about electroshock risks to give true informed consent for the procedure.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

During Brain Injury Awareness Month, a month focused on bringing attention to causes and prevention of brain injuries, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is renewing its call for legislation to ban electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, or electroshock), a controversial psychiatric procedure performed on the brain.  Brain injury can be caused by electric shock and seizures – key elements of electroshock. The procedure, performed by psychiatrists on depressed patients, has not been proven either safe or effective, some experts say. 

“Patients should not be exposed to the risk of permanent brain damage just because their psychiatrists don’t know what else to do for depression,” said Anne Goedeke, president of the CCHR National Affairs Office. 

ECT shoots up to 460 volts of electricity through brain tissue to induce a grand mal seizure, the most serious type of seizure – the kind usually caused by epilepsy.  After 85 years of performing electroshock, psychiatrists still cannot explain how ECT is supposed to work to treat depression, how much voltage it will take to produce a grand mal seizure in a patient, or how many sessions of ECT to administer.  ECT is done by trial and error. 

Psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., describes how the electric impulses of electroshock reduce the connectivity of the frontal lobes with the rest of the brain.  He explains that frontal lobes are “the seat of our capacity to be thoughtful, insightful, loving, and creative.”  He calls the brain damage from ECT “a closed-head injury in the form of an electrical lobotomy.” 

“This is what I call ‘the brain-disabling principle of psychiatric treatment,’” he writes.  “Lobotomy, ECT and psychiatric drugs all share the common factor that they ‘work’ by damaging the brain and suppressing brain function.”

CCHR co-founder, the late Thomas Szasz, M.D., a professor of psychiatry considered by many academics as present-day psychiatry’s most authoritative critic, wrote, “Most neurologists regard it as self-evident that epileptic [grand mal] seizures cause brain damage and that all injury to an intact brain is harmful.” 

For all the risk of brain damage from electroshock, the procedure has never been proven effective in clinical trials, experts say.

John Read, Ph.D., a professor of psychology; Irving Kirsch, Ph.D., associate director of the Program in Placebo Studies at Harvard Medical School; and psychologist Laura McGrath, Ph.D., reviewed prior ECT studies to look for any clear proof of effectiveness and found none.

“There is no evidence that ECT is effective for its target demographic – older women, or its target diagnostic group – severely depressed people, or for suicidal people, people who have unsuccessfully tried other treatments first, involuntary patients, or adolescents,” they concluded, publishing their findings in 2020 in Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry.

The researchers found there have only been 11 placebo-controlled studies of ECT since 1985, all of which had very small sample sizes and serious flaws in methodology, according to Read.  He further wrote that even the short-term benefit reported by some patients was not due to the ECT, but was primarily a placebo effect.

Most importantly, none of the studies found any lasting benefit to patients after a course of electroshock.  “No studies have found any evidence that ECT is better than placebo beyond the end of treatment,” Read wrote. 

He further noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires electroshock machines to have signs next to them stating: “The long-term safety and effectiveness of ECT treatment has not been demonstrated.”

However, patients are not being given enough information about the serious risks and lack of effectiveness of the procedure to give true informed consent to receive it, according to Read.  He conducted a survey of information pamphlets given to patients considering ECT and found that risks were minimized, or effectiveness was asserted without mentioning that similar rates of recovery were achieved by people receiving sham (placebo) treatment.  “The minimisation of risks is not uncommon in ECT practice and research,” he wrote. 

Nobody knows how many Americans get electroshocked each year.  A widely used, but outdated estimate of 100,000 appears to come from a 1995 study. 

Psychiatrists performing electroshock can greatly increase their income.  It has been estimated that a psychiatrist spending just a few hours a week to do 20 ECT procedures can bring in an additional $300,000 per year.  Electroshock rakes in more than $3 billion a year in the U.S. alone.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) advocates a total ban on ECT and continues to raise public awareness about the brain damage it can cause.  To date, more than 134,000 people have signed the CCHR online petition to ban ECT.

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Citizens Commission on Human Rights Calls for Congressional Investigation into Psychiatric In-Patient Treatment

Study Finds Suicide Risk High after Hospitalization for Depression or Attempted Suicide

Recent studies indicate patients discharged from psychiatric facilities are at greater risk for suicide than mental health patients not hospitalized, suggesting that psychiatric hospitalization itself may be a major risk factor.  Antidepressants used as treatment during hospitalization are also linked to an increased risk of suicide.

by CCHR National Affairs Office 

Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) National Affairs Office is urging Congress to investigate after a new study has found that patients released from psychiatric hospitalization for depression or attempted suicide are at the highest risk of completing suicide in the days immediately following their hospital discharge.

Researchers examined all psychiatric hospitalizations for depression in Finland from 1996 to 2017, along with a follow-up period of two years after hospital discharge. They reported that the time frames with the greatest risks for suicide occurred in the first three days after discharge, followed by days 4 through 7. Of the patients who took their own lives within two years after discharge, 9% died during the first week after discharge, 23% during the first month.

“In this study, patients hospitalized for depression had extremely high risk of suicide during the first days after discharge,” wrote the study’s lead author, Kari Aaltonen, M.D., Ph.D.  “Thereafter, incidence declined steeply but remained high.”  The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

The findings are consistent with other research indicating that psychiatric hospitalization may not reduce the risk of repeat self-harm for some patients, but may instead increase it.

Research has found that patients who have been discharged from psychiatric facilities seem to have a greater risk for suicide than mental health patients who have not been hospitalized; that the risk of suicide after discharge from psychiatric facilities is very high, especially in the weeks and months immediately after release, and that even many years after discharge, previously hospitalized psychiatric patients have suicide rates that are many times higher than in the general population.

People who were admitted to a psychiatric facility against their will were even more likely to attempt suicide after discharge than mental health inpatients who were not forcibly admitted.

Concerning the psychiatric hospitalization of children, research has found that young people 12-24 years of age who were admitted to psychiatric facilities were at significantly higher risk for self-harm and death in the first three years after discharge when compared to young mental health patients who were not hospitalized.

All this research suggests that psychiatric hospitalization is a major risk factor for significantly worse outcomes for some patients. 

The antidepressants used in psychiatric treatment of depressed and suicidal patients have also been linked to suicidal behavior.  Researchers conducting a 2019 re-analysis of safety summaries in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) database found evidence that antidepressants significantly increase the suicide risk in adults with major depression.  The rate of attempted suicide was found to be about 2.5 times higher in those who were given antidepressants in clinical trials than those who received a placebo.

Further evidence of a link between antidepressants and suicide is provided in a newly published study, which found that the suicide rate in the U.S. increased right along with the increase in antidepressant prescriptions over the three decades from 1990 to 2020.  

This was a time frame in which a key rationale for prescribing antidepressants – the unproven theory of a chemical (serotonin) imbalance in the brain – was popularized. During the period of 1990-2010, there was significant coverage of the theory in psychiatric and pharmacological publications.  At the same time, there was a rapid upswing in antidepressant prescriptions.

However, a landmark 2022 study found no scientific support for the theory, calling into question the prescribing of antidepressants.  The spreading of that unproven theory by psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry led to the mass prescribing of antidepressants in the U.S and worldwide.  Today some 45 million Americans take antidepressants, over 2 million of them children under the age of 18.

Despite all this antidepressant prescribing, a new study has found that increased antidepressant prescribing is not associated with any reduction in sadness, worry or unhappiness in Western nations.

Due to the number of recent studies showing a potentially adverse relationship between the treatments given and the rate of suicide, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights National Affairs Office is calling for a Congressional investigation into the matter.

WARNING:  Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of an antidepressant or other psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a physician because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

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Take Action – Missouri Legislature – Please contact your state legislators

Psychiatry’s Continued Attacks on Missouri Citizens

This session of the Missouri Legislature has several bills demonstrating the psychiatric industry’s continued attempts to defraud and abuse citizens.

The emphasis must be on workable mental healing methods that improve and strengthen individuals and thereby society by restoring people to personal strength, ability, competence, confidence, stability, responsibility and spiritual well-being. Psychiatric drugs and psychiatric treatments are not workable.

Read the text of these bills to see how this can be, and urge your Missouri state legislators to reject these bills in their current form.

The Missouri Legislature

Periodically we let you know the progress of various proposed legislation making its way through the Missouri General Assembly and suggest ways for you to contribute your viewpoint to your state Representative and state Senator.

The Missouri General Assembly is the state legislature of the State of Missouri and is composed of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The General Assembly is responsible for creating laws for governing the State of Missouri. The Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo) are electronically available on this site:  http://revisor.mo.gov/.

You can find your Representative and Senator, and their contact information, by entering your 9-digit zip code here.

The current Session this year (102nd General Assembly, 2nd Regular Session) convened on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, and will end on Friday, May 17, 2024. You can see all of the House Bills (HB) by clicking here; and the Senate Bills (SB) are listed here.

If you are not a voting resident of Missouri, you can find out about legislation in your own state and write your own state legislators; also, we are looking for volunteers to monitor legislation in Missouri and the states surrounding Missouri — let us know if you’d like to help out.

Check out our handy discussion about How to write to a legislator.

We Urge You To Contact Your Legislators To Express Your Own Viewpoints.

We’d like to describe some bills about which we’d particularly like you to contact your legislators. Please write, call or visit to express your viewpoint as an individual or professional, and not as a representative of any organization. Let us know the details and any responses you get. The full text of each bill can be found on the House and Senate Joint Bill Tracking site. Just put the bill number into the search box (e.g. SB123 or HB123).

SB761 Authorizes excusal from attendance at an elementary or secondary school if a child is unable to attend due to mental or behavioral health concerns, provided that the school receives documentation from a mental health professional. We think this is bad because it coerces children into the psychiatric mental health system, where they will probably be prescribed harmful and addictive psychotropic drugs.

See also two similar bills HB2252 and HB2343. The psychiatric industry is really pushing this to get children into the mental health care system.

Sponsor: Senator Karla May (Democrat, District 4, Parts of St. Louis City and St. Louis County)

Sponsor: Representative Michael Johnson (Democrat, District 23, Jackson county)

Sponsor: Representative Betsy Fogle (Democrat, District 135, Greene county)


SB768 (and HB1830) Allows the use of psilocybin for posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, or substance use disorders or for end of-life care. Psilocybin is a psychedelic hallucinogenic compound found in certain species of mushrooms. The total Estimated Net Effect on General Revenue over 3 years is likely to exceed $25 million.

We are seeing a rapturous psychiatric reception given to these harmful psychedelics, buoyed by a re-hashed brain chemical theory and claims of a “renaissance” in mental health treatment. It took 30 years for the “chemical-imbalance-in-the-brain-causes-depression” myth to be fully recognized as pseudoscience and dangerously misleading to consumers. We should recognize the trademark signs of this same marketing scam with psychedelics and prevent America from “turning on and tuning out” to these mind-altering drugs before it is too late. 

Sponsor: Senator Holly Thompson Rehder (Republican, District 27, Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Iron, Madison, Perry, Reynolds and Scott counties)

Sponsor: Representative Aaron McMullen (Republican, District 20, Jackson county)


SB1515  Establishes a pilot program of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for veterans, first responders, and federal agents. In TMS, a magnetic coil is placed near the patient’s scalp and a powerful and rapidly changing magnetic field passes through skin and bone and penetrates a few centimeters (up to 2.5 inches) into the outer cortex (outer gray matter) of the brain and induces an electrical current. Psychiatric treatments such as TMS are unworkable and dangerous, and while they may temporarily mask some symptoms they do not treat, correct or cure any physical disease or condition.

Sponsor: Senator Bill Eigel (Republican, District 23, Part of St. Charles County)


HB 2471 Requires suicide prevention training in schools, using the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale. This is another attempt to coerce children into the mental health system, where they will be prescribed harmful and addictive psychotropic drugs. As we have said many times before, mental health screening in schools is a major threat to the civil liberties and human rights of all those in the U.S. 

Mental health screening aims to get whole populations on drugs and thus under control. The kinds of drugs used create further medical and social problems, and these subsequent complications require additional taxes and laws to handle them. The net result is a sick and fearful population dependent on the government to “solve” all their problems. 

Sponsor: Representative Cyndi Buchheit-Courtway (Republican, District 115, Jefferson county)


HB2520 Requires the department of mental health to apply for a federal grant to implement a statewide mobile mental health unit program in cooperation with local public health agencies. Beware: psychs may be rolling in to your home town in force unless you tell your Missouri representative “no, thank you.”

Sponsor: Representative Michael Johnson (Democrat, District 23, Jackson county)


Summary

The real problem is that psychiatrists fraudulently diagnose life’s problems as an “illness”, and stigmatize unwanted behavior as “diseases.” Psychiatry’s stigmatizing labels, programs and treatments are harmful junk science; their diagnoses of “mental disorders” are a hoax – unscientific, fraudulent and harmful. All psychiatric treatments, not just psychiatric drugs, are dangerous.

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Mental Health Watchdog Protests U.S. Psychiatrists’ Use of Electroshock; Procedure Violates International Human Rights Standards When Forcibly Administered

Psychiatrists perform electroshock on patients, especially women and older people, despite risks of brain damage and permanent memory loss and no conclusive proof of effectiveness, experts say.  Even young children are electroshocked in the U.S.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

Calling for a ban on the psychiatric procedure of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, or “electroshock”), protesters demonstrated Thursday against psychiatrists attending the annual meeting of the American College of Psychiatrists (ACP) in New Orleans.  The protest was organized by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a mental health watchdog organization that has long advocated for laws to ban ECT. 

Psychiatrists administering electroshock generate an estimated $3 billion in revenue annually, despite significant risks to their patients of permanent memory loss and brain damage, as well as no conclusive proof of effectiveness, according to experts. CCHR calls on the ACP to actively take a stand against the procedure.

The protest was followed by the opening of CCHR’s traveling exhibit, “Psychiatry: An Industry of Death,” at a nearby venue.  The exhibit documents the history of psychiatric fraud and abuse up to present day.

ECT is a procedure in which psychiatrists shoot up to 460 volts of electricity through brain tissue, intentionally causing seizures that can last up to 30 minutes.  It is reportedly used mostly on women and the elderly. 

Psychiatrists still cannot explain how this procedure is supposed to work to alleviate depression or other behavioral issues.  The voltage and number of sessions used is a matter of trial and error.  While the use of ECT is not tracked across the U.S., a conservative estimate is that over 100,000 Americans are electroshocked annually.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), electroshock can cause brain damage, cognitive impairment, permanent memory loss, prolonged or persistent seizures, worsening psychiatric symptoms, cardiovascular complications (including heart attacks), breathing complications and death. 

A new study has provided additional evidence of memory loss, finding that 61% of adults and 69% of teenagers who received electroshock suffered memory impairment after the procedure.

However, patients are not always fully informed of these risks before consenting to the procedure, and psychiatrists can get a court order to perform ECT against a patient’s will.

“Patients should not be exposed to such extremely serious, even life-threatening risks just because their psychiatrists don’t know what else to do,” said Anne Goedeke, president of the National Affairs Office of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.  “The procedure should be banned outright.”  

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recently issued guidance calling on U.N. member nations to ban all forced electroshock.  “International human rights standards clarify that ECT without consent violates the right to physical and mental integrity and may constitute torture and ill-treatment,” the guidance says. 

WHO and OHCHR also oppose any use of ECT on children and call for laws to be enacted to ban it.  In the U.S., reports required to be filed in some states on the use of ECT reveal that children 5 years old and younger are given electroshock.

Although psychiatrists recommend electroshock for depressed patients who may be at risk for suicide, recent research has found no evidence that ECT is any more effective than sham ECT (general anesthesia but not the electric shock).  Patients who received treatment with ECT had no lower risk for suicide than mental health patients who did not.

John Read, Ph.D., a professor of psychology, Irving Kirsch, Ph.D., associate director of the Program in Placebo Studies at Harvard Medical School, and psychologist Laura McGrath, Ph.D., conducted a comprehensive analysis of prior studies on ECT. They found that the quality of those studies was so poor that nothing could be concluded about any effectiveness of the procedure. 

“There is no evidence that ECT is effective for its target demographic – older women, or its target diagnostic group – severely depressed people, or for suicidal people, people who have unsuccessfully tried other treatments first, involuntary patients, or adolescents,” they concluded. 

Psychiatrists performing electroshock can greatly increase their income.  It has been estimated that a psychiatrist spending just a few hours a week to do 20 ECT procedures can bring in an additional $300,000 per year.  Electroshock rakes in an estimated $3 billion a year in the U.S. alone.

CCHR’s documentaryTherapy or Torture: The Truth About Electroshock, warns consumers about the serious risks of ECT.  To date, more than 134,000 people have signed CCHR’s petition to ban electroshock.

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Human Rights Group Renews Call for Laws to Ban Electroshock – A Procedure Never Proven Safe or Effective, Experts Say

Psychiatrists perform electroshock on depressed patients despite serious risks of brain damage and permanent memory loss.  Psychiatrists do not know how ECT-induced convulsions are supposed to treat depression, or how much voltage or how many sessions of the procedure to use.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has renewed its call for legislation to ban electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, or “electroshock”), a procedure performed by psychiatrists on depressed patients despite the significant risk of permanent memory loss and brain damage, as well as the lack of any conclusive proof of effectiveness, according to experts. 

Electroconvulsive therapy is a procedure in which psychiatrists shoot up to 460 volts of electricity through brain tissue to induce convulsions that can last up to 30 minutes.  It is reportedly used mostly on women and the elderly.  Psychiatrists still cannot explain how ECT is supposed to work, how much voltage it will take, or how many sessions of ECT to administer.  It is a matter of trial and error with human lives. 

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), electroshock can cause brain damage, cognitive impairment, permanent memory loss, prolonged or persistent seizures, worsening psychiatric symptoms, cardiovascular complications (including heart attacks), breathing complications and death.  

A new study has provided additional evidence of memory loss, finding that 61% of adults and 69% of teenagers who received electroshock suffered memory impairment after the procedure.

In 2018, as a result of a lawsuit against Somatics, a manufacturer of ECT machines, the company revised its disclosures to patients to warn that ECT can cause permanent memory loss and permanent brain damage.

However, patients are not always fully informed of these risks before consenting to the procedure, and psychiatrists can get a court order to perform ECT against a patient’s will.

“Patients should not be exposed to such extremely serious, even life-threatening risks just because their psychiatrists don’t know what else to do,” said Anne Goedeke, president of the National Affairs Office of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR).  “The procedure should be banned outright.”   

Psychiatrists recommend electroshock for deeply depressed patients who may be at risk for suicide, but recent research has found no evidence that ECT is any more effective than sham ECT (general anesthesia but not the electric shock).

John Read, Ph.D., a professor of psychology, Irving Kirsch, Ph.D., associate director of the Program in Placebo Studies at Harvard Medical School, and psychologist Laura McGrath, Ph.D., conducted a comprehensive analysis of prior studies on ECT. They found that the quality of those studies was so poor that nothing could be concluded about any effectiveness of the procedure.  

“There is no evidence that ECT is effective for its target demographic – older women, or its target diagnostic group – severely depressed people, or for suicidal people, people who have unsuccessfully tried other treatments first, involuntary patients, or adolescents,” they concluded. 

They further wrote, “Given the high risk of permanent memory loss and the small mortality risk, this longstanding failure to determine whether or not ECT works means that its use should be immediately suspended until a series of well-designed, randomized, placebo-controlled studies have investigated whether there really are any significant benefits against which the proven significant risks can be weighed.”  Their findings were published in 2020 in Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry.

Other recent research has found that ECT fails to reduce the risk of death by suicide.  One study found that the odds of patients committing suicide in the year after receiving ECT were not statistically different from the odds of those who did not receive it, while another study revealed that patients who received ECT remain at an elevated risk of suicide and are 44 times more likely to die from suicide in the two years following treatment than the general population.

Psychiatrists performing electroshock can greatly increase their income.  It has been estimated that a psychiatrist spending just a few hours a week to do 20 ECT procedures can bring in an additional $300,000 per year.  Electroshock rakes in more than $3 billion a year in the U.S. alone.

CCHR’s documentaryTherapy or Torture: The Truth About Electroshock, which can be viewed online, warns consumers about the serious risks of ECT.  To date, more than 134,000 people have signed CCHR’s petition to ban electroshock.

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CCHR’s Warnings of Potential Harms from ADHD Diagnosing and Treatment Supported by New Research

Evidence of benefit from ADHD diagnosis and treatment is uncertain, but the ADHD label itself, as well as the stimulant drugs that may be prescribed as treatment, can harm children, researchers find. Addressing behavior instead of diagnosing is advised.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) has long warned about the potential harm of giving inattentive and overactive children the psychiatric label of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and prescribing them stimulant drugs as treatment, rather than addressing the true underlying causes of the behavior.  A new analysis of evidence on ADHD diagnosis and treatment details how the labeling itself, as well as the stimulant drugs that may be prescribed as treatment, carry potentially harmful consequences for children, while evidence of any benefit is uncertain.  The study’s researchers call for a greater focus on the care and appropriate support of children with behavioral issues, rather than on whether they should be given the psychiatric label of ADHD. 

The prevalence of ADHD in children has been rising for several decades without any accompanying increase in the severity and frequency of symptoms, according to Australian researchers who analyzed the benefits and harms of ADHD diagnosis.  This indicates children are being wrongly diagnosed, as ADHD diagnosis is highly subjective.

“Rising rates of ADHD diagnosis without changes in behavioural symptom profiles suggest an epidemic of ADHD diagnosis, not an epidemic of ADHD,” wrote lead author Luise Kazda of the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney in Australia. 

Kazda and colleagues point out that diagnostic labels can be harmful and that “evidence that all children given an ADHD diagnosis will benefit from the diagnosis is currently lacking.”  They cite a study finding that children with low and moderate levels of inattentiveness or overactivity who were given an ADHD diagnosis scored lower in reading and math than children with similar levels of symptoms who were not diagnosed with ADHD. 

The researchers also reference studies that indicate “an ADHD diagnosis does not protect children against adverse academic or socioemotional outcomes and has a negative effect on young adults’ ability to get and keep jobs.”

A 2022 study by Kazda and colleagues found that labeling teens with a diagnosis of ADHD does not lead to any improvement in their quality of life compared to teens not diagnosed with ADHD, but it is associated with lower self-esteem, worse social behavior, and a significantly increased risk of self-harm.  The negative outcomes were greatest in those adolescents who were diagnosed with ADHD earliest (6-7 years of age).

Other research has found that individuals who are given diagnostic labels may experience harmful psychological consequences, including sadness, anxiety, confusion, and perceptions of themselves as unwell, less competent, powerless, stigmatized, and isolated.

The psychiatric label of ADHD often leads to treatment with prescription stimulants.  These drugs are classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as Schedule II controlled substances, defined as “drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.”  Stimulant drugs commonly prescribed for ADHD include Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall and Vyvanse. 

The FDA recently required an update to the prescribing information for stimulants to warn that the drugs carry the risks of misuse, abuse, addiction, and overdose.  According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1.8 million teens ages 12-17 and 4.3 million young adults ages 18-25 reported taking prescription stimulant drugs in the past year.  Among those users, 430,000 teens (24%, or one in four teen users) and 1.9 million young adults (45%, or nearly half of young adult users) reported misuse of their prescription stimulants.

As for results in children who take stimulant drugs, research has found no convincing evidence of any long-term benefit.  Meanwhile, the drugs carry the risks of side effects that include loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, headaches, nausea and vomiting, tremors, and increased heart rate and blood pressure.  Though rare, heart disease, psychosis, seizures, and stroke have a greater chance of occurring.  Stimulants have also been linked to delayed growth in children.  The stimulant-type ADHD drug methylphenidate has been associated with an increased risk of depression in children.

Given the uncertain benefits and known harms of ADHD diagnosis and treatment, Kazda and colleagues argue for community health organizations and schools to deliver “services that focus on behaviours (rather than on diagnoses) to optimise children’s skills and functioning.”  They call for inclusive educational environments that “tackle the needs of all children, irrespective of their hyperactive/inattentive behaviours, without requiring a diagnosis.”  Their findings were published in the British Medical Association’s journal, The BMJ.

Mary Ann Block, D.O., author of No More ADHD, has written that providing children with appropriate services that address the underlying causes of children’s inattention or hyperactivity can eliminate any reason for an ADHD diagnosis or stimulant drug treatment.

“By taking a thorough history and giving these children a complete physical exam as well as doing lab tests and allergy testing, I have consistently found that these children do not have ADHD, but instead have allergies, dietary problems, nutritional deficiencies, thyroid problems and learning difficulties that are causing their symptoms,” she wrote.  “All of these medical and educational problems can be treated, allowing the child to be successful, without being drugged.”

WARNING:  Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of an ADHD drug or any other psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a physician because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

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Black History Month: African Americans Warned of Long History of Psychiatrists and Psychologists’ Racism and Its Legacy in Today’s Mental Health System

Scientific research shows Blacks are more likely than Whites to be labeled with a mental disorder related to disruptive, defiant, or psychotic behavior, to be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility, and to be physically, mechanically, or chemically restrained, and for a longer time.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

A largely unrecognized, but major part of Black history is the prime role of psychiatrists and psychologists in promoting and sustaining so-called “scientific racism” in America.  The term “scientific racism” refers to the use of false or quack science to supposedly prove racial inferiority and so to supposedly justify racial inequality and discrimination. 

This racism is still ingrained in the mental health system, as admitted by leading psychiatric and psychological associations and as found in the experiences of Blacks in the mental health system today. “The legacy of ‘scientific racism,’ heavily promoted for more than 200 years by American psychiatrists and psychologists, is still pervasive and entrenched in the U.S. mental health system and throughout our society today,” said Anne Goedeke, president of the National Affairs Office of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR). “African Americans should be aware of who instigated and perpetuated this racism.”

In 2021, the American Psychiatric Association detailed psychiatrists’ long history of promoting “scientific racism,” admitting that “these appalling past actions, as well as their harmful effects, are ingrained in the structure of psychiatric practice and continue to harm…psychological well-being even today.”

That same year, the American Psychological Association laid out the details of “the role of psychology…in promoting, perpetuating, and failing to challenge racism, and the harms that have been inflicted on communities of color as a result.”

The harm by psychiatry and psychology started with Dr. Benjamin Rush, the slave-owning “father of American psychiatry,” who claimed in 1792 that black skin was caused by a disease that he called “negritude” and that Blacks needed to be segregated to prevent them from infecting others.  In so doing, he created the first false-science justification for racism. 

Just before the Civil War, psychologist Samuel Cartwright, who had apprenticed with Benjamin Rush, invented a racist mental illness that he claimed caused slaves to have an uncontrollable urge to escape.  The treatment was “whipping the devil out of them.” 

In the years following the Civil War, English psychologist Francis Galton, who was a cousin of Charles Darwin, applied Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest” to humans and came up with the idea of racial purification, which he called “eugenics.”  This pseudoscience led people to believe that for the good of the country, those with “undesirable” traits could be subjected to forced birth control and sterilization to prevent them from having children.

In the U.S., psychiatrists and psychologists in the American mental health movement from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s adopted and heavily promoted the false science of eugenics, actively spreading racist ideas of Black inferiority and the need for segregation.  More than half of the American Psychological Association presidents between 1892 and 1947 also had leadership positions in eugenics organizations.  Courses on eugenics were offered by psychiatrists and psychologists at America’s leading universities, leading the public to believe that laws mandating racial segregation were supported by science.

Psychologists assumed a particularly central role in the eugenics movement throughout the 1900s with their use of culturally biased intelligence testing that supposedly proved African Americans possessed lower IQs. 

Starting in the 1950s, African Americans were used in unethical psychosurgery and drug experiments conducted by psychiatrists and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the country’s top psychiatric research facility.

In the 1960s, psychiatrists targeted African Americans by inventing a new mental illness, “protest psychosis,” to portray Blacks participating in the Civil Rights movement as aggressive and mentally ill.  In psychiatric journals, images of angry Black men or African tribal symbols were used in ads to sell powerful antipsychotic drugs.  Today, African Americans are still disproportionately diagnosed with psychosis and disproportionately prescribed antipsychotic drugs.

In the second half of the 20th century, psychologists continued to promote racist, false-science theories.  As the American Psychological Association admitted, “From the 1960s on, psychologists gave explicit assistance to, and participated in racial extremist, white nationalist, and neo-Nazi groups….”

The legacy of “scientific racism” is still prevalent today in the mental health system. Government data reveals that African Americans receive disproportionately more diagnoses of mental disorders related to disruptive, defiant, and psychotic behavior, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).  Blacks are overly prescribed antipsychotic drugs, with Black men more likely to be prescribed excessive doses of them.

African American children are disproportionately diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed stimulant drugs that the FDA warns can lead to abuse, addiction and overdose.  African American children are also disproportionately diagnosed with conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.       

Blacks are more likely than Whites to be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility and more likely to be physically, mechanically, or chemically restrained there and for a longer time. As a human rights organization and mental health industry watchdog, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights has exposed and campaigned against racism and racial abuse in the mental health system since CCHR’s inception in 1969.  CCHR has worked with the NAACP since 2003 in exposing the stigmatizing labeling and drugging of African American children and, with Rev. Fred Shaw of CCHR’s Task Force Against Racism and Modern-Day Eugenics, obtaining three national NAACP resolutions on these issues.

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CCHR Renews Call for Ban on Restraint and Seclusion After New Report of School Districts Ignoring Reporting Requirements

The number of schoolchildren subjected to restraint or seclusion is unknown.  No federal law bans the practices, which are disproportionately used on disabled students and students of color and have resulted in children’s broken bones and death.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

A report from KFF Health News sheds new light on the failure of school districts to accurately provide the U.S. Department of Education with the number of K-12 students placed in restraint and seclusion – practices that are disproportionately used on students with disabilities, students of color, and boys.  The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) renews its long-standing call for laws prohibiting restraints and seclusion in schools, nursing homes and psychiatric facilities, a ban now strongly advocated by the World Health Organization and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

No federal law prohibits restraint and seclusion, and state laws concerning the practices vary widely.  However, federal law does require school districts to report to the U.S. Department of Education the instances of restraint and seclusion of students. 

Physical restraint is defined as any personal restriction that prevents the student from moving freely, such as being pinned to the floor.  Mechanical restraint is the use of devices or equipment to restrict the student’s freedom of movement, such as belts to strap them down.  Seclusion is subjecting the student to solitary confinement in a room or area that they are physically prevented from leaving, such as locking them in a room or closet.

Despite the federal reporting requirement, KFF Health News reports that for nearly a decade, a public school district in North Carolina, one of the largest in the nation, failed to report incidents of restraint or seclusion that were, in fact, occurring in the district. 

The nonreporting came to light after a mother reportedly found no documentation in school records of her autistic son’s repeated instances of restraint and seclusion, including an alleged incident of seclusion in second grade in which her son repeatedly punched himself in the face, splattering blood on the walls of the room.

“Sometimes school communities are making a deliberate choice not to record,”said Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education, quoted in the KFF article.  She said that restraint and seclusion are “used at often very high rates in ways that are quite damaging” and called the practices “a life-or-death topic.”

The harm resulting from the use and abuse of restraint and seclusion in public and private schools was the focus of a 2009 investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).  The probe found hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and death over the prior two decades from the use of these methods on schoolchildren.

“Examples of these cases include a 7 year old purportedly dying after being held face down for hours by school staff, 5 year olds allegedly being tied to chairs with bungee cords and duct tape by their teacher and suffering broken arms and bloody noses, and a 13 year old reportedly hanging himself in a seclusion room after prolonged confinement,” the GAO’s report on their investigation stated.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education issued a resource document on restraint and seclusion, advising that “as many reports have documented, the use of restraint and seclusion can, in some cases, have very serious consequences, including, most tragically, death.”

Importantly, it further stated, “There is no evidence that using restraint or seclusion is effective in reducing the occurrence of the problem behaviors that frequently precipitate the use of such techniques.”

Yet the use of restraint or seclusion in schools has continued, and it disproportionately affects students with disabilities, students of color, and boys. 

National level data from 2020-21, released by OCR last November, revealed that students with disabilities who receive school services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act represented 14% of K-12 student enrollment, but accounted for 81% of students physically restrained, 32% of students mechanically restrained, and 75% of students put in seclusion.  Black students represented 15% of student enrollment, but 21% of students physically restrained, 42% of students mechanically restrained, and 19% of students put in seclusion.  Boys represented 51% of student enrollment, but 83% of students physically restrained, 82% of students mechanically restrained, and 82% of students put in seclusion.

Last October, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a blueprint for laws to end all coercive mental health practices, including restraint and seclusion. The report states, “Not only are seclusion and restraint contrary to international human rights law, their use is incompatible with a recovery approach, counters the purpose of care, and can lead to physical and psychological harm, even death,” adding, “There are always alternatives to seclusion and restraint.”

The report cites examples of countries with laws prohibiting the practices:  “For example, India, Italy, Mexico and Peru have banned the use of seclusion or solitary confinement in their mental health systems, with Mexico expressly prohibiting the use of restraints.”

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has been a global leader in the fight to eliminate coercive and abusive mental health practices, including restraints and seclusion, to protect individuals from violations of their human rights. CCHR continues to call for legislation to ban restraint and seclusion.

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CCHR Says FDA Must Correct Widespread Misinformation: Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms Are Not Short and Mild for Many Patients

Recent research and antidepressant users’ lived experience show that antidepressant withdrawal symptoms may be severe and long-lasting. Patients and their prescribers need accurate information on withdrawal risks and tapering guidance from the FDA.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

A mounting body of evidence has found that many patients who attempt to stop taking antidepressants experience physical, mental, and emotional withdrawal symptoms that are more severe and longer-lasting than the conventional medical view of mild symptoms lasting only two to three weeks.  It is long past time for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to address this issue, correct the widespread misinformation, and issue guidance to prescribers on how to discontinue antidepressants, says the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), an international mental health watchdog organization.

Even though withdrawal symptoms have been documented for more than 40 years for older antidepressants and for more than 30 years for newer generation antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), there is still a lack of scientific studies of withdrawal.

While some people may experience mild, short-lived withdrawal symptoms, for others the symptoms may be so severe and long-lasting that normal functioning is impossible, even when the antidepressant dosage has been tapered slowly and gradually.

A 2019 study revealed that more than half (56%) of people who attempt to come off antidepressants experience withdrawal symptoms, with nearly half (46%) of them describing those symptoms as severe.  The researchers also found that it is not uncommon for the withdrawal effects to last for several weeks or months.

A separate study pegged the average duration of withdrawal symptoms at 90.5 weeks for SSRIs and 50.8 weeks for serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressants.

There is also evidence of a growing number of long-time users who have been unable to come off their antidepressants because of the debilitating withdrawal symptoms they experienced when trying to stop.  

“Some 15.5 million Americans have taken antidepressants for at least five years,” according to science reporter Benedict Carey, writing in the New York Times in 2018.  “The rate has almost doubled since 2010, and more than tripled since 2000.”

“What you see is the number of long-term users just piling up year after year,” said Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, quoted in Carey’s article.

Antidepressant withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, dizziness, headache, flu-like symptoms, nausea, insomnia, irritability, hallucinations, muscle tremors, electric shock-like sensations (“brain zaps” or “body zaps”), mania, emotional blunting, and sexual dysfunction that can be long-lasting or even permanent.

A new study focused on the emotional and social effects of withdrawal.  Researchers found that withdrawal had a significant negative impact on the emotional and social functioning and overall well-being of those going through withdrawal from antidepressants.  More than half of the study participants said their relationships were negatively affected, such as by angry outbursts.

Psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff, M.D., recently co-authored an article about why antidepressant withdrawal should be taken seriously.  Moncrieff with colleagues previously conducted the landmark 2022 study which found no scientific support for the theory that depression is caused by a chemical (serotonin) imbalance in the brain.

The recent article points out that updated guidelines have been issued by British medical authorities, advising that after long-term use, antidepressant users wanting to stop should be tapered off the drugs gradually over months and sometimes years, with the dose reduced by smaller and smaller amounts, known as “hyperbolic tapering.”  The U.S., however, has not yet updated its guidance, which still recommends stopping the drugs relatively rapidly, the authors report.

CCHR calls on the FDA to address this issue and provide updated guidance on discontinuing antidepressants, as well as updated antidepressant prescribing information.  Patients and their prescribers need accurate and complete information on the risks associated with discontinuing antidepressants so they can make fully informed decisions about starting or stopping the drugs.  Some 45 million Americans are currently taking antidepressants.

The FDA should also update its antidepressants webpage for consumers, which only mentions “withdrawal symptoms” once, listing them as a “less common” side effect.

WARNING:  Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of an antidepressant or other psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a physician because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

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