Mental Health From a Different Perspective
I’ve been talking to a lot of people about the other side of depression, mental health, and suicide. My accountability partner, Don Karp was kind enough to share one of his posts with me so I can share with you a very personal perspective on mental health, professional approaches to treatment, and how one man took matters into his own hands with great success. (With Don’s permission, I’ve edited this post a bit from his original for readability).
Am I a Psycho in Remission?
by Don Karp, © 2018
For most, hearing a controversial viewpoint which goes against their beliefs, provides them with an excuse to reinforce their deep-seated beliefs. Then why do I bother writing this—either preaching to the choir or strengthening opposing beliefs? Well, maybe there’s just a slight outside chance someone hearing my way of expression will see things from my side. I’ll take that gamble.
I’ve published my story elsewhere—how I survived seven mental hospitalizations over a nine-year period (1969-78). The professionals labeled me “paranoid schizophrenic.” Yet here I am, thriving! In 2003 I retired and moved to Mexico. I self-published a memoir in 2013. I’ve taken no meds nor have I been hospitalized since 1978. And I have neither participated in nor needed therapy since 1982—at least not mainstream therapy.
Like many who find themselves in the hands of psychiatric professionals, they told me I might live a “normal” life, or at least one without relapses, if I continued to take the meds they prescribed.
One doctor told me: “You must take your meds for the rest of your life, like a diabetic needs to take insulin.”
The medical model of mainstream psychiatry says the cause of mental illness is a mix of genetics and imbalanced brain chemistry. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the Bible of psychiatry, lists symptoms to categorize those illnesses.
I’ve found no current scientific evidence to validate their conclusions. As far as I’m concerned, this is pseudoscience.
Why are people’s sufferings reduced to subjective diagnoses from a set of arbitrary rules pretending to be a science? Why are most of them treated with experimental neuro-toxins that kill 500,000 people every year?
What ever happened to the Hippocratic Oath? Or simple human kindness.
Is it because we like simple answers given with confidence and authority?
“It’s just like a physical illness,” they tell us.
If so, where are the blood tests, x-rays, cat scans, and other physiological test results used to diagnose such illnesses?
I believe it all comes down to the guild power of the American Psychological Association, and the profits of Big Pharma, with a little help from media spin. Or to put it more bluntly, profit over people.
Take for example a recent report of a huge study on the genetics of schizophrenia showing a two-fold rise in genetic traceability. Twice as much seems like a lot until you consider the previous baseline. The reality is the starting point was one percent which they’ve now elevated to two percent. Need I say more?
Take note that the antidepressant Prozac came on the market after Reagan took office and instituted neo-liberal policies. People lost their jobs. Depression became commonplace for good reason. But wait, here’s a new miracle drug to help with your new-found depression.
Mainstream psychiatry doesn’t talk about the real causes of people’s suffering: joblessness, homelessness, poverty, racism, sexism, trauma, or parenting.
It’s just another instance where doctors use diagnoses to control behavior someone with clout (or potential for profit) has decided they don’t like.
I’ve been writing on this topic for the past few years on different platforms: LifeHack.org, Medium.com, and Quora.com. On the Quora forum, I answered a question and got a comment from a retired psychiatric nurse:
“You give false, harmful information, using Quora to promote your book. You’re not a recovered paranoid schizophrenic. You are in remission.”
This comment made me realize I had stepped into my power as an advocate for other victims of the mental health machine. Thanks, for your help, nurse!
About the Author
Don is an expat who has lived Mexico for 15 years. He is an ex-mental patient and a peer coach. Writing on Quora.com, he specializes in questions on “psychosis.” He facilitates journaling workshops. His self-published memoir is on Amazon, and his site has a monthly blog, “Letters From Mexico.” Visit his Facebook page, or contact him at email@example.com.
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This article in no way reflects my own opinions or viewpoints, nor have I done any fact-checking. I share it because I believe it’s important to look at a very important topic from all perspectives, and welcome comments and articles which bring in those perspectives as well. If you would like to have yours published (with the qualification that I won’t tolerate anything hateful nor which bashes others for disagreeing), you may send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If I decide to publish your work, I’ll ask for a short bio and links to your website or work published on other sites.