I write this post today after a week-long effort to find my way through some of the more disturbing symptoms of my labelled mental illness diagnoses. I feel better today….. thank for asking….. and have been musing on my journey through what most would term madness. Along the way, I have personally experienced the failures as they exist in the mental health system today as well as some of the triumphs of holistic and alternative approaches by those who eschew the standard model and focus on personal recovery. I came across this open letter in some of my internet trolling on successful alternate methods of helping those with mental illness and it struck a nerve…..a big nerve. I am in no way advocating that all psych meds are all bad for all people…..first off I don’t have the right to choose for other people…..nor do I have the expertise required to make such a declaration. What I am advocating is full disclosure and a patient centered approach that gives all users all the available information and allows them to make an informed and thoughtful personal choice. Remember that in our not to distant past, lobotomies were widely thought to be the miracle cure for mental illness; that toxic pesticides were thought to be a miracle cure for crop growers insect blight; that cocaine was an actual ingredient in Coca Cola; and that thalidomide was thought to be a miracle cure for morning sickness. With that said, I present the following letter as I found it for your thoughtful consideration. Let me know your thoughts!
When will society look back on today’s chemical lobotomy?
The NY Times published an interesting article about how Eva Peron — first lady of Peru in the 1940’s — apparently received a lobotomy. When will society look back at today’s ‘chemical lobotomy’ with neuroleptic antipsychotic drugs?
This is an open letter I wrote to Barron H. Lerner, MD, who wrote a column published in today’s New York Times about the lobotomy of Eva Peron (show on right with her husband in 1945, the year before his election).
20 December 2011
Hi Dr. Lerner,
Saw your article on lobotomy and Eva Peron, amazing.
I have just one question:
When do you think society will look back and witness the lobotomy-effect of today’s widespread neuroleptic (antipsychotic) over-use?
This is my 35th year as a community organizer by and for people who use the mental health system.
Surely, you must be aware by now that there are multiple sources of evidence that long-term high-dosage neuroleptics can mean actual SHRINKAGE of the same frontal lobes targeted by the lobotomy?
If not, just google ANTIPSYCHOTIC BRAIN DAMAGE and you’ll get our folder on just some of the mainstream literature.
I hasten to add that we are for human rights, including the personal private healthcare decision to take neuroleptics. Many of our members do.
This is the 25th year of our group.
And I am amazed by the UNIVERSAL human problems of the mind, and by universal I do indeed mean everyone.
Because there is such widespread fascination with the 50,000 or so lobotomies of the 1950’s.
And meanwhile there is a massive increase of neuroleptics (antipsychotics) all over the world, today. Even of six month olds. Of children in foster care. Of seniors in nursing homes.
And we know that long-term use can cause a lobotomy effect.
You threw in the word ‘effective’ [in a reference to neuroleptics in the article] but that’s controversial, too, especially for the LONG TERM. I hope you’ve read Robert Whitaker’s book Anatomy of an Epidemic by now. I’ll copy this to him.
I have to repeat we’re pro-choice on taking prescribed drugs. Many of our members choose to take neuroleptics. I don’t want to get pigeon-holed into being ‘pro’ or ‘con’ any procedure.
But in terms of human rights? Countless people are being lied to by licensed medical practitioners about the benefits and hazards of neuroleptics. Some are being forced to have these drugs. And most are being denied commonsense non-drug alternatives that have a proven track record.
So how long will it take for society — including you — to look back at our current era, and marvel at the massive level of brain damage induced by the mental health profession while violating people’s rights?
Some World Psychiatric Association leaders published a book that includes a chapter about this more at length:
David W. Oaks, Executive Director
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office phone: 541-345-9106 fax: 480-287-8833
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