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Justice is Not Justice if Psychiatry is Involved in the Justice System

Justice System Hijacked by Psychiatry is Not Justice

If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed. Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.  ~Adolf Hitler

The truly useless expenditure of time and intellect in the process of pumping air into a dead horse will remain just that…useless, and in the end, extremely damaging to the person who believes the horse will get up.  However, as long as the marketing pump and the courts, justice system and governments believe that the junk science of psychiatrists and psychologists has merit in the assessment of a person’s mind and intentions, the decisions of the courts will be, essentially, the decisions of pseudo-scientists who cannot objectively prove a single thing they claim as ‘fact’, but who will arrogantly claim the horse is rising! 

What is Junk Science and How Does it Affect Justice?

In his 1993 book Galilee’s Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom (pp. 2,3), author Peter Huber defined the term as follows:  “Junk science is the mirror image of real science, with much of the same form but none of the same substance.. . . It is a hodgepodge of biased data, spurious inference, and logical legerdemain, patched together by researchers whose enthusiasm for discovery and diagnosis far outstrips their skill. It is a catalog of every conceivable kind of error: data dredging, wishful thinking, truculent dogmatism, and, now and again, outright fraud. “  (more…)

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 Girl_suffering_form_anxiety     To get healthy and stay healthy, you need the truth … the truth about what is in your water, your food and especially how your mind is conditioned.  When  clients struggling with mental illness seek my clinical hypnotherapy assistance to turn their emotional and physical health around safely we start with the facts: 

  • Conventional medicine is not about ‘curing’ or ‘healing’; it is designed to suppress symptoms, which inevitably rise up as something worse later;
  • The medical-pharmaceutical complex is engaging in extraordinary levels of medical fraud, misrepresentation of facts, willful negligence, manipulation of clinical trials, control of mainstream media, manufacturing of mental illness, suppression of legitimate health information, ghost-writing and collusion – the result is that experts have deemed much of the information in ‘esteemed’ medical journals worthless and dangerous; 
  • Mainstream medical information is controlled by Big Pharma – natural healings of cancer, mental illness and catastrophic illnesses are censored;
  • Mental illness is not brain disease. Brain disease has objective scientific evidence; ‘mental illness’ is nothing more than opinion with nothing to back it up. Mental illness is a term conjured up entirely by psychiatrists to meet the needs of pharmaceutical companies to sell illness-causing drugs. Further, diagnoses are ‘voted’ in and out on the whim of psychiatrists and drug companies – not a single mental illness is backed up by science;
  • According to psychiatrists, normal human emotion and reaction is mental illness and everyone needs to be ‘treated’. The conventional treatment for normal human emotions results in worsening conditions and epidemic levels of disability;
  • SWAG – (Scientifically Wild-Assed Guess) = the way psychiatry operates;
  • The brain is not the center of emotion; it reacts to emotions.  I know of no one who has ever experienced a brain-break when hurt, betrayed, abandoned, neglected, abused, etc, but everyone has experienced heartbreak(more…)

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BEFORE undergoing any psychiatric treatment, whether by a psychiatrist or a General Practitioner prescribing psychiatric drugs, please read the following article by a Psychiatric Survivor..he was one of the lucky ones who survived, most don’t……………

25 Good Reasons Why Psychiatry Must Be Abolished

by Don Weitz, Psychiatric Survivor & 24-year activist in the psychiatric liberation movement

1. Because psychiatrists and psychiatric treatment frequently cause harm, permanent disabilities, death – death of the body-mind-spirit.

2. Because psychiatrists frequently violate the Hippocratic Oath which orders all physicians “First Do No Harm.”

3. Because psychiatrists patronize and dis-empower people, especially their patients.

4. Because psychiatry is not a medical science.

5. Because psychiatry is quackery, a pseudo-science which lacks independent diagnostic tests, testable hypotheses, and cures for “schizophrenia” and all other types of alleged “mental illness” or “mental disorder”.

6. Because psychiatrists can not accurately and reliably predict dangerousness, violence, or any other type of human behaviour, yet make such claims as “expert witnesses”, and with the media promote the “dangerous mental patient” myth/stereotype.

7. Because psychiatrists have caused a worldwide epidemic of brain damage by promoting and prescribing brain-disabling treatments such as the neuroleptics, antidepressants, electroconvulsive brainwashing (electroshock), and psychosurgery (lobotomy).

8. Because psychiatrists manufacture hundreds of “mental disorders” classified in its bible called “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (a modern witch-hunting manual); such “mental disorders” and “symptoms” are in fact negative, class-and-culturally-biased moral judgments for dissident ways of coping with personal problems and alternative ways of perceiving, interpreting or being in the world.

9. Because psychiatrists, blinded by their medical model bias, fraudulently pathologize and label people’s serious life or existential crises as “symptoms” of “mental illness” or “mental disorder” such as “schizophrenia”, “bipolar affective disorder”, and “personality disorder”.

10. Because psychiatrists compound this fraud by falsely claiming, without scientific proof, that these “mental disorders” are caused by a “biochemical imbalance” in the brain, genetic factors or “genetic predispositions”, despite the fact that there are no genetic factors in “mental illness”. (more…)

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Last week I was reading a blog by Lynne McTaggart on her website www.wddty.com (What Doctors Don’t Tell You) that really scared me. After reading it I was seriously asking myself if we have made Gods of psychopaths.

Lynne was explaining that during the trial of 14,000 women vs. Wyeth, the manufacturer of Hormonal Replacement Therapy, it was learned that the company had hidden all sorts of evidence from their clinical trails that showed that their product caused breast and cervical cancer. Here for the past 14 years or so, we were told this therapy was necessary to avoid cancer and yet it in fact caused cancer and the company knew it from the get-go.

It also turned out that this kind of behavior is just part of doing business for pharmaceuticals and therefore all these studies you hear announced on the News and all these ‘research reports’ they routinely refer to in ads and TV commercials are completely unreliable.

Now all these so-called prestigious medical journals are in a tissy…one falsified and manipulated clinical trial will taint all articles that have referred to it and they will all be entirely unreliable. It seems some 75% of medical journal reports and articles are now useless, if not very dangerous because so many people have been prescribed these medications on the basis of these articles.

I haven’t touched a medication in 35 years, preferring to use homeopathy instead. Drugs have never worked and we have more catastrophic illness surfacing every day…no wonder! You would have to hog-tie me before you could get me to take a medication. Those people are deliberately forcing people onto drugs to make money and our doctors just go along, presuming that what the pharmaceuticals say is truthful. Well! The news is now out and it isn’t pretty.

I feel that if these pharmaceuticals do not meet the definition of psychopaths, their salespeople, the psychiatrists and medical doctors who favor them so highly, should change the definition of psychopath to be sure they are included.

No wonder hypnotherapy is sought after by more and more people looking for resolution of emotional issues, fears and unwanted habits!

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In my view there are not and I feel strongly that there are many justifiable reasons for referring to the drugging of children to manage so-called behavioral problems what it is…a form of child abuse. Just who is advocating for the child when he is accused of misbehaving? And, why should it be a crime punishable by ill health and life damaging drugs? Ethical doctors and scientists all over the world are calling for a ban on the psychiatric drugging of children.

Children are born loving and with a desire to please…this is consistent with the unconscious need to be accepted and therefore to survive. If a child is acting out, that child is trying to say something he is not linguistically able to express. He is frightened, feeling threatened and doing the best he can to survive with the little experience he has with life.

I have seen countless beautiful children in drug-induced stupors…on Ritalin, Concerta, Adderal, Prozac and so on. Once I get information from the caregivers, it often becomes apparent that the medications are to serve the agenda of the caregiver. More often then not, I learn those parents and caregivers have busy lifestyles and little time to spend with their children; the children are lonely and feel abandoned. They arrive at school, to a world that is even scarier then home with all its stressors. School may pose many hazards…bullying, incompetent and abusive teachers, and impossibly long days that would tire a healthy adult.

There is mounting evidence that the drugging of children is done to cover up neglect and abuse of all kinds at home. What better way to ensure that a child being sexually molested or physically assaulted can’t alert the authorities. All such abusers need do is take the child to the nearest psychiatrist and he comes out with a perfect way to avoid detection.

All sorts of chemicals and toxins in the environment can cause a negative reaction in a child and TV and video games are damaging to all little children. This was shown in research done in Australia not long ago. Then there are the additives in food and the lack of real nutrition…how can anyone expect a child to learn if he is tired, hungry, wired on sugar and neglected?

There should be a law to ensure that before any drugs are forced onto a child, all possible stressors are completely eliminated from that child’s world. With such a law it is quite likely no child would ever be on medication and Big Pharma would not like that much would they? And maybe some parents/caregivers wouldn’t either.

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At GracePlace Wellness I work with children presumed to have behavioral problems. However, as I teach parents, the child is never to blame.

The reason we look to the child for resolution is because adults presume that a child’s mind is developed to the level of their own and thus that a child should be able to reason things out, understand cause and effect and have the verbal skills to explain themselves.

When a child is born, he is virtually born blank in terms of language skills, physical skills and mental skills that adults take for granted. But they do have feelings and it is these feelings that guide them. If they feel safe and secure, they continue their behavior; if they feel unsafe and not accepted, they adjust their behavior to restore the preferred feeling. Thus their personalities develop to satisfy their evolving perception of their world. Their brain’s reactions and responses to their world are entirely consistent with the child’s belief of his level of safety.

Because of a profound lack of experience with life, children have little information with which to put stimuli in context. Thus rarely are stimuli put into the context an adult would expect. The more information a person has to draw on, the better and more reliable the context, thus it’s not hard to see that most of a child’s life is about doing the best they can to understand their world with little, if any, relevant information at hand.

The expectation that a child can engage in deductive reasoning, put events and feelings into proper and productive perspective, or recognize patterns is truly unreasonable, especially in children under twelve. They react to stressors, but with limited resources, knowledge and experience and thus the resulting behavior seems unacceptable to the adult.

All negative behavior in children has, at its root, fear. The more aggressive the child, the more fearful you can be assured he is. When the feeling is that their very survival is at risk, a child literally panics and he expresses this panic in what, for an adult, would seem to be unacceptable behavior.

The overriding factor for all beings is the unstoppable instinct to survive. A problem child is a child trying, in his not yet fully developed mind, to survive as best he can…and adults are not understanding the message often enough to help him.

Visit my website www.graceplacewellness.ca to learn more about mindful parenting.

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As a clinical hypnotherapist I’ve been asked this question countless times by clients who have healed themselves after years of drug-therapy and psychotherapy, but who found themselves unable to get their hypnotherapy fee reimbursed.  It is frustrating and confusing to a person who is helping themselves to heal, get back to work and productivity, when insurers of disability and extended health benefits will simply not reimburse the cost of the alternative remedies and therapies such as hypnotherapy and homeopathy, despite the client demonstrating sucess.

My clients will say, logically, that in  the end they are saving the insurer money if they are no longer have to claim reimbursement for drugs and therapy by having healed themselves.  But to see the logic used by the insurance companies when it comes to alternative treatments and remedies, you need only follow the money trail.

Insurance companies reinvest the monies they collect as premiums.  A high proportion of those reinvestments are in stocks and since pharmaceutical companies are among the richest and most successful, insurance companies invest heavily in them.  Insurers need to be very effective investors in order to survive…insurance policy premiums are not enough to satisfy shareholders in their companies.

I’m sure you can already figure the rest out.  If insurers started to reimburse claimants for treatments that work, yes, claims would end or stop for that claimant, but the big picture would be dire for the pharmaceuticals…fewer and fewer sales of drugs.  Fewer sales of drugs would mean less earnings for the pharmaceutical companies, and thus result in a dropping value of the investments insurance companies have in those stocks.

People routinely make the mistake of thinking that people who run these enterprises care about our health or really do want to see us get well.  Think again…there is no money for them in our getting well.

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Hello everyone,
I received the article below as part of a discussion our hypnotherapy mentoring group is having on the practice of psychiatry and I thought you might find it interesting.  The fraudulent and harmful psychiatric practices which are now-a-days the norm, as more and more people end up on as many as 4 to 6 psychotropic drugs for issues which started as depressive feelings, need to be made a government priority. Because people are then put on another 4—5 drugs to manage the side-effects of those highly damaging medications, it is not uncommon today to find people on as many as 8-20 drugs at one time with their health and lives in absolute shambles. 

Warm regards,
Grace 

IS PRACTICING PSYCHIATRY A DISORDER IN NEED OF TREATMENT? DR. STEPHEN MURGATROYD TROY MEDIA CORPORATION: FEB 2010:

Who knew? Psychiatrists are currently debating whether “sex addiction” should be added to the catalogue of psychological disorders that can be reliably diagnosed and treated. On the one hand, some are saying that sexual addiction, in the true sense of a diagnosis, is a real disorder and anyone who works with sex addicts know that they have a long array of behaviors. Others, however, believe the term is simply used to excuse bad behavior. Next in line will be the Tiger Woods syndrome, along with catastrophic views on the environment, an addiction to Starbucks, liking Barry Manilow and singing the praises of Rush Limbaugh. Soon all of our lives will be illness states, with some of us coping better than others in managing our daily diagnostics and treating ourselves through counseling, psychiatry and self-medication. Everything is problematic.

The quest to add sex addiction to the catalogue of recognized illness states is just a part of the desire of psychiatrists to identify everything as problematic. The handbook for diagnosis, known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), now in its 4th edition, is the bible of mental illness. If you want to call in sick, go to the library and find a copy “it’s a treasure trove of sick-day opportunities. A new edition, the fifth, is due in 2013.
The DSM itself is problematic. Diagnoses like “homosexuality”, once classified as an illness, come and go depending on societal pressures. By no stretch of the imagination is it a scientific, evidence-based document. This is not surprising. Freud was not a scientist who used evidence and data for his treatment. Now Freud’s ideas have been largely discounted and his diagnostic category of “neurosis” is no longer used. Indeed, several forms of therapy once popular have, on the basis of evidence, been sidelined. What hasn’t been revised is the approach to the definition of mental illness.

There has also been a lot of psychiatric nonsense and billable rubbish, including the recovered memory craze, Satanic abuse confabulations, facilitated communication, multiple personality disorder with up to a hundred or more alternative personalities, including animals. Then there was Harvard psychiatrist John Mack’s gullible speculations about alien abductions — a suitable case for treatment in itself. Some psychiatrists are addicted to revenue and new illness categories “capture” more customers. Thomas Szasz argued that there was no such thing as mental illness and that psychiatry is largely a fraud. He had many followers. Indeed, fraud and psychiatry sometimes go together. In the 1990’s the medical insurers in the US took Szasz’s claims seriously and started to investigate psychiatric fraud. They looked at 50,000 cases handled by the National Medical Enterprises Corporation’s psychiatric hospitals. What they found was startling: 32.6 per cent contained a fraudulent diagnosis to match insurance coverage, while 43.4 per cent of the cases were billed for services not actually rendered. Is systematic deception to be a new addiction and a new DSM category?

Millions of students are now sent to special education classes or given prescriptions for Ritalin and other powerful, addictive medications for conditions termed “learning disabilities”, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and attention deficit disorder (ADD). Fred Bauman, M.D., a specialist in child neurology for 35 years, contends that these children are said to have conditions that do not really exist: “I diagnose these children the same way that I diagnose real diseases, such as epilepsy, brain tumors, and so on, and I find that they are normal. I do not find that I can validate the presence of any disease in this population of children,” he said. Some of us went to school before Ritalin was available, when we found ourselves with ADHD we were reassigned to activities which demanded our attention. Now we administer drugs.

Everything is not a form of illness: It’s time to rethink mental illness and to challenge the assumption that everything we do is a form of illness; from eating well (dietary disorder), drinking good wine (alcoholism), needing three cups of coffee to kick start the morning (Starbucks addiction), sex two times a day (sex addiction), telling funny stories (humour addiction), not paying attention when the news is on (attention deficit disorder), having sex while the news is on and drinking wine at the same time (deviancy) and so on. While there are real mental illnesses; depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disease, not everything we do is “on the edge” of madness.
It may actually be the case that psychiatry itself is the new disorder in need of treatment.

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This is a fascinating read as to how cultures which had previously experienced little or none of the mental ilness issues we face today, are now becoming programmed to believe that ordinary feelings of every day living are ‘mental illness’, just as was done throughout North America in the last 50 years…..

The Americanization of Mental Illness 

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
By ETHAN WATTERS  Published: January 8, 2010 

AMERICANS, particularly if they are of a certain leftward-leaning, college-educated type, worry about our country’s blunders into other cultures. In some circles, it is easy to make friends with a rousing rant about the McDonald’s near Tiananmen Square, the Nike factory in Malaysia or the latest blowback from our political or military interventions abroad. For all our self-recrimination, however, we may have yet to face one of the most remarkable effects of American-led globalization. We have for many years been busily engaged in a grand project of Americanizing the world’s understanding of mental health and illness. We may indeed be far along in homogenizing the way the world goes mad.

This unnerving possibility springs from recent research by a loose group of anthropologists and cross-cultural psychiatrists. Swimming against the biomedical currents of the time, they have argued that mental illnesses are not discrete entities like the polio virus with their own natural histories.

These researchers have amassed an impressive body of evidence suggesting that mental illnesses have never been the same the world over (either in prevalence or in form) but are inevitably sparked and shaped by the ethos of particular times and places. In some Southeast Asian cultures, men have been known to experience what is called amok, an episode of murderous rage followed by amnesia; men in the region also suffer from koro, which is characterized by the debilitating certainty that their genitals are retracting into their bodies. Across the fertile crescent of the Middle East there is zar, a condition related to spirit-possession beliefs that brings forth dissociative episodes of laughing, shouting and singing. 

The diversity that can be found across cultures can be seen across time as well. In his book “Mad Travelers,” the philosopher Ian Hacking documents the fleeting appearance in the 1890s of a fugue state in which European men would walk in a trance for hundreds of miles with no knowledge of their identities. The hysterical-leg paralysis that afflicted thousands of middle-class women in the late 19th century not only gives us a visceral understanding of the restrictions set on women’s social roles at the time but can also be seen from this distance as a social role itself — the troubled unconscious minds of a certain class of women speaking the idiom of distress of their time. 

“We might think of the culture as possessing a ‘symptom repertoire’ — a range of physical symptoms available to the unconscious mind for the physical expression of psychological conflict,” Edward Shorter, a medical historian at the University of Toronto, wrote in his book “Paralysis: The Rise and Fall of a ‘Hysterical’ Symptom.” “In some epochs, convulsions, the sudden inability to speak or terrible leg pain may loom prominently in the repertoire. In other epochs patients may draw chiefly upon such symptoms as abdominal pain, false estimates of body weight and enervating weakness as metaphors for conveying psychic stress.”

 In any given era, those who minister to the mentally ill — doctors or shamans or priests — inadvertently help to select which symptoms will be recognized as legitimate. Because the troubled mind has been influenced by healers of diverse religious and scientific persuasions, the forms of madness from one place and time often look remarkably different from the forms of madness in another.

That is until recently. 

For more than a generation now, we in the West have aggressively spread our modern knowledge of mental illness around the world. We have done this in the name of science, believing that our approaches reveal the biological basis of psychic suffering and dispel prescientific myths and harmful stigma. There is now good evidence to suggest that in the process of teaching the rest of the world to think like us, we’ve been exporting our Western “symptom repertoire” as well. That is, we’ve been changing not only the treatments but also the expression of mental illness in other cultures. Indeed, a handful of mental-health disorders — depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia among them — now appear to be spreading across cultures with the speed of contagious diseases. These symptom clusters are becoming the lingua franca of human suffering, replacing indigenous forms of mental illness. 

DR. SING LEE, a psychiatrist and researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, watched the Westernization of a mental illness firsthand. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was busy documenting a rare and culturally specific form of anorexia nervosa in Hong Kong. Unlike American anorexics, most of his patients did not intentionally diet nor did they express a fear of becoming fat. The complaints of Lee’s patients were typically somatic — they complained most frequently of having bloated stomachs. Lee was trying to understand this indigenous form of anorexia and, at the same time, figure out why the disease remained so rare. 

As he was in the midst of publishing his finding that food refusal had a particular expression and meaning in Hong Kong, the public’s understanding of anorexia suddenly shifted. On Nov. 24, 1994, a teenage anorexic girl named Charlene Hsu Chi-Ying collapsed and died on a busy downtown street in Hong Kong. The death caught the attention of the media and was featured prominently in local papers. “Anorexia Made Her All Skin and Bones: Schoolgirl Falls on Ground Dead,” read one headline in a Chinese-language newspaper. “Thinner Than a Yellow Flower, Weight-Loss Book Found in School Bag, Schoolgirl Falls Dead on Street,” reported another Chinese-language paper. 

In trying to explain what happened to Charlene, local reporters often simply copied out of American diagnostic manuals. The mental-health experts quoted in the Hong Kong papers and magazines confidently reported that anorexia in Hong Kong was the same disorder that appeared in the United States and Europe. In the wake of Charlene’s death, the transfer of knowledge about the nature of anorexia (including how and why it was manifested and who was at risk) went only one way: from West to East. 

Western ideas did not simply obscure the understanding of anorexia in Hong Kong; they also may have changed the expression of the illness itself. As the general public and the region’s mental-health professionals came to understand the American diagnosis of anorexia, the presentation of the illness in Lee’s patient population appeared to transform into the more virulent American standard. Lee once saw two or three anorexic patients a year; by the end of the 1990s he was seeing that many new cases each month. That increase sparked another series of media reports. “Children as Young as 10 Starving Themselves as Eating Ailments Rise,” announced a headline in one daily newspaper. By the late 1990s, Lee’s studies reported that between 3 and 10 percent of young women in Hong Kong showed disordered eating behavior. In contrast to Lee’s earlier patients, these women most often cited fat phobia as the single most important reason for their self-starvation. By 2007 about 90 percent of the anorexics Lee treated reported fat phobia. New patients appeared to be increasingly conforming their experience of anorexia to the Western version of the disease. 

What is being missed, Lee and others have suggested, is a deep understanding of how the expectations and beliefs of the sufferer shape their suffering. “Culture shapes the way general psychopathology is going to be translated partially or completely into specific psychopathology,” Lee says. “When there is a cultural atmosphere in which professionals, the media, schools, doctors, psychologists all recognize and endorse and talk about and publicize eating disorders, then people can be triggered to consciously or unconsciously pick eating-disorder pathology as a way to express that conflict.”

The problem becomes especially worrisome in a time of globalization, when symptom repertoires can cross borders with ease. Having been trained in England and the United States, Lee knows better than most the locomotive force behind Western ideas about mental health and illness. Mental-health professionals in the West, and in the United States in particular, create official categories of mental diseases and promote them in a diagnostic manual that has become the worldwide standard. American researchers and institutions run most of the premier scholarly journals and host top conferences in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. 

Western drug companies dole out large sums for research and spend billions marketing medications for mental illnesses. In addition, Western-trained traumatologists often rush in where war or natural disasters strike to deliver “psychological first aid,” bringing with them their assumptions about how the mind becomes broken by horrible events and how it is best healed. Taken together this is a juggernaut that Lee sees little chance of stopping. 

“As Western categories for diseases have gained dominance, micro-cultures that shape the illness experiences of individual patients are being discarded,” Lee says. “The current has become too strong.” 

Would anorexia have so quickly become part of Hong Kong’s symptom repertoire without the importation of the Western template for the disease? It seems unlikely. Beginning with scattered European cases in the early 19th century, it took more than 50 years for Western mental-health professionals to name, codify and popularize anorexia as a manifestation of hysteria. By contrast, after Charlene fell onto the sidewalk on Wan Chai Road on that late November day in 1994, it was just a matter of hours before the Hong Kong population learned the name of the disease, who was at risk and what it meant. 

THE IDEA THAT our Western conception of mental health and illness might be shaping the expression of illnesses in other cultures is rarely discussed in the professional literature. Many modern mental-health practitioners and researchers believe that the scientific standing of our drugs, our illness categories and our theories of the mind have put the field beyond the influence of endlessly shifting cultural trends and beliefs. After all, we now have machines that can literally watch the mind at work. We can change the chemistry of the brain in a variety of interesting ways and we can examine DNA sequences for abnormalities. The assumption is that these remarkable scientific advances have allowed modern-day practitioners to avoid the blind spots and cultural biases of their predecessors.

Modern-day mental-health practitioners often look back at previous generations of psychiatrists and psychologists with a thinly veiled pity, wondering how they could have been so swept away by the cultural currents of their time. The confident pronouncements of Victorian-era doctors regarding the epidemic of hysterical women are now dismissed as cultural artifacts. Similarly, illnesses found only in other cultures are often treated like carnival sideshows. Koro, amok and the like can be found far back in the American diagnostic manual (DSM-IV, Pages 845-849) under the heading “culture-bound syndromes.” Given the attention they get, they might as well be labeled “Psychiatric Exotica: Two Bits a Gander.”

Western mental-health practitioners often prefer to believe that the 844 pages of the DSM-IV prior to the inclusion of culture-bound syndromes describe real disorders of the mind, illnesses with symptomatology and outcomes relatively unaffected by shifting cultural beliefs. And, it logically follows, if these disorders are unaffected by culture, then they are surely universal to humans everywhere. In this view, the DSM is a field guide to the world’s psyche, and applying it around the world represents simply the brave march of scientific knowledge.

 Of course, we can become psychologically unhinged for many reasons that are common to all, like personal traumas, social upheavals or biochemical imbalances in our brains. Modern science has begun to reveal these causes. Whatever the trigger, however, the ill individual and those around him invariably rely on cultural beliefs and stories to understand what is happening. Those stories, whether they tell of spirit possession, semen loss or serotonin depletion, predict and shape the course of the illness in dramatic and often counterintuitive ways. In the end, what cross-cultural psychiatrists and anthropologists have to tell us is that all mental illnesses, including depression, P.T.S.D. and even schizophrenia, can be every bit as influenced by cultural beliefs and expectations today as hysterical-leg paralysis or the vapors or zar or any other mental illness ever experienced in the history of human madness. This does not mean that these illnesses and the pain associated with them are not real, or that sufferers deliberately shape their symptoms to fit a certain cultural niche. It means that a mental illness is an illness of the mind and cannot be understood without understanding the ideas, habits and predispositions — the idiosyncratic cultural trappings — of the mind that is its host.

 EVEN WHEN THE underlying science is sound and the intentions altruistic, the export of Western biomedical ideas can have frustrating and unexpected consequences. For the last 50-odd years, Western mental-health professionals have been pushing what they call “mental-health literacy” on the rest of the world. Cultures became more “literate” as they adopted Western biomedical conceptions of diseases like depression and schizophrenia. One study published in The International Journal of Mental Health, for instance, portrayed those who endorsed the statement that “mental illness is an illness like any other” as having a “knowledgeable, benevolent, supportive orientation toward the mentally ill.”

Mental illnesses, it was suggested, should be treated like “brain diseases” over which the patient has little choice or responsibility. This was promoted both as a scientific fact and as a social narrative that would reap great benefits. The logic seemed unassailable: Once people believed that the onset of mental illnesses did not spring from supernatural forces, character flaws, semen loss or some other prescientific notion, the sufferer would be protected from blame and stigma. This idea has been promoted by mental-health providers, drug companies and patient-advocacy groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness in the United States and SANE in Britain. In a sometimes fractious field, everyone seemed to agree that this modern way of thinking about mental illness would reduce the social isolation and stigma often experienced by those with mental illness. Trampling on indigenous prescientific superstitions about the cause of mental illness seemed a small price to pay to relieve some of the social suffering of the mentally ill. 

But does the “brain disease” belief actually reduce stigma?

In 1997, Prof. Sheila Mehta from Auburn UniversityMontgomery in Alabama decided to find out if the “brain disease” narrative had the intended effect. She suspected that the biomedical explanation for mental illness might be influencing our attitudes toward the mentally ill in ways we weren’t conscious of, so she thought up a clever experiment.

In her study, test subjects were led to believe that they were participating in a simple learning task with a partner who was, unbeknownst to them, a confederate in the study. Before the experiment started, the partners exchanged some biographical data, and the confederate informed the test subject that he suffered from a mental illness.

The confederate then stated either that the illness occurred because of “the kind of things that happened to me when I was a kid” or that he had “a disease just like any other, which affected my biochemistry.” (These were termed the “psychosocial” explanation and the “disease” explanation respectively.) The experiment then called for the test subject to teach the confederate a pattern of button presses. When the confederate pushed the wrong button, the only feedback the test subject could give was a “barely discernible” to “somewhat painful” electrical shock. 

Analyzing the data, Mehta found a difference between the group of subjects given the psychosocial explanation for their partner’s mental-illness history and those given the brain-disease explanation. Those who believed that their partner suffered a biochemical “disease like any other” increased the severity of the shocks at a faster rate than those who believed they were paired with someone who had a mental disorder caused by an event in the past. 

“The results of the current study suggest that we may actually treat people more harshly when their problem is described in disease terms,” Mehta wrote. “We say we are being kind, but our actions suggest otherwise.” The problem, it appears, is that the biomedical narrative about an illness like schizophrenia carries with it the subtle assumption that a brain made ill through biomedical or genetic abnormalities is more thoroughly broken and permanently abnormal than one made ill though life events. “Viewing those with mental disorders as diseased sets them apart and may lead to our perceiving them as physically distinct. Biochemical aberrations make them almost a different species.” 

In other words, the belief that was assumed to decrease stigma actually increased it. Was the same true outside the lab in the real world? 

The question is important because the Western push for “mental-health literacy” has gained ground. Studies show that much of the world has steadily adopted this medical model of mental illness. Although these changes are most extensive in the United States and Europe, similar shifts have been documented elsewhere. When asked to name the sources of mental illness, people from a variety of cultures are increasingly likely to mention “chemical imbalance” or “brain disease” or “genetic/inherited” factors. 

Unfortunately, at the same time that Western mental-health professionals have been convincing the world to think and talk about mental illnesses in biomedical terms, we have been simultaneously losing the war against stigma at home and abroad. Studies of attitudes in the United States from 1950 to 1996 have shown that the perception of dangerousness surrounding people with schizophrenia has steadily increased over this time. Similarly, a study in Germany found that the public’s desire to maintain distance from those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia increased from 1990 to 2001.

 Researchers hoping to learn what was causing this rise in stigma found the same surprising connection that Mehta discovered in her lab. It turns out that those who adopted biomedical/genetic beliefs about mental disorders were the same people who wanted less contact with the mentally ill and thought of them as more dangerous and unpredictable. This unfortunate relationship has popped up in numerous studies around the world. In a study conducted in Turkey, for example, those who labeled schizophrenic behavior as akil hastaligi(illness of the brain or reasoning abilities) were more inclined to assert that schizophrenics were aggressive and should not live freely in the community than those who saw the disorder asruhsal hastagi (a disorder of the spiritual or inner self). Another study, which looked at populations in Germany, Russia and Mongolia, found that “irrespective of place . . . endorsing biological factors as the cause of schizophrenia was associated with a greater desire for social distance.”

 Even as we have congratulated ourselves for becoming more “benevolent and supportive” of the mentally ill, we have steadily backed away from the sufferers themselves. It appears, in short, that the impact of our worldwide antistigma campaign may have been the exact opposite of what we intended. 

NOWHERE ARE THE limitations of Western ideas and treatments more evident than in the case of schizophrenia. Researchers have long sought to understand what may be the most perplexing finding in the cross-cultural study of mental illness: people with schizophrenia in developing countries appear to fare better over time than those living in industrialized nations.

This was the startling result of three large international studies carried out by the World Health Organization over the course of 30 years, starting in the early 1970s. The research showed that patients outside the United States and Europe had significantly lower relapse rates — as much as two-thirds lower in one follow-up study. These findings have been widely discussed and debated in part because of their obvious incongruity: the regions of the world with the most resources to devote to the illness — the best technology, the cutting-edge medicines and the best-financed academic and private-research institutions — had the most troubled and socially marginalized patients.

 Trying to unravel this mystery, the anthropologist Juli McGruder from the University of Puget Sound spent years in Zanzibar studying families of schizophrenics. Though the population is predominantly Muslim, Swahili spirit-possession beliefs are still prevalent in the archipelago and commonly evoked to explain the actions of anyone violating social norms — from a sister lashing out at her brother to someone beset by psychotic delusions.

 McGruder found that far from being stigmatizing, these beliefs served certain useful functions. The beliefs prescribed a variety of socially accepted interventions and ministrations that kept the ill person bound to the family and kinship group. “Muslim and Swahili spirits are not exorcised in the Christian sense of casting out demons,” McGruder determined. “Rather they are coaxed with food and goods, feted with song and dance. They are placated, settled, reduced in malfeasance.” McGruder saw this approach in many small acts of kindness. She watched family members use saffron paste to write phrases from the Koran on the rims of drinking bowls so the ill person could literally imbibe the holy words. The spirit-possession beliefs had other unexpected benefits. Critically, the story allowed the person with schizophrenia a cleaner bill of health when the illness went into remission. An ill individual enjoying a time of relative mental health could, at least temporarily, retake his or her responsibilities in the kinship group. Since the illness was seen as the work of outside forces, it was understood as an affliction for the sufferer but not as an identity.

 For McGruder, the point was not that these practices or beliefs were effective in curing schizophrenia. Rather, she said she believed that they indirectly helped control the course of the illness. Besides keeping the sick individual in the social group, the religious beliefs in Zanzibar also allowed for a type of calmness and acquiescence in the face of the illness that she had rarely witnessed in the West.

 The course of a metastasizing cancer is unlikely to be changed by how we talk about it. With schizophrenia, however, symptoms are inevitably entangled in a person’s complex interactions with those around him or her. In fact, researchers have long documented how certain emotional reactions from family members correlate with higher relapse rates for people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Collectively referred to as “high expressed emotion,” these reactions include criticism, hostility and emotional over-involvement (like over-protectiveness or constant intrusiveness in the patient’s life). In one study, 67 percent of white American families with a schizophrenic family member were rated as “high EE.” (Among British families, 48 percent were high EE; among Mexican families the figure was 41 percent and for Indian families 23 percent.)

 Does this high level of “expressed emotion” in the United States mean that we lack sympathy or the desire to care for our mentally ill? Quite the opposite. Relatives who were “high EE” were simply expressing a particularly American view of the self. They tended to believe that individuals are the captains of their own destiny and should be able to overcome their problems by force of personal will. Their critical comments to the mentally ill person didn’t mean that these family members were cruel or uncaring; they were simply applying the same assumptions about human nature that they applied to themselves. They were reflecting an “approach to the world that is active, resourceful and that emphasizes personal accountability,” Prof. Jill M. Hooley of Harvard University concluded. “Far from high criticism reflecting something negative about the family members of patients with schizophrenia, high criticism (and hence high EE) was associated with a characteristic that is widely regarded as positive.”

 Widely regarded as positive, that is, in the United States. Many traditional cultures regard the self in different terms — as inseparable from your role in your kinship group, intertwined with the story of your ancestry and permeable to the spirit world. What McGruder found in Zanzibar was that families often drew strength from this more connected and less isolating idea of human nature. Their ability to maintain a low level of expressed emotion relied on these beliefs. And that level of expressed emotion in turn may be key to improving the fortunes of the schizophrenia sufferer.

Of course, to the extent that our modern psychopharmacological drugs can relieve suffering, they should not be denied to the rest of the world. The problem is that our biomedical advances are hard to separate from our particular cultural beliefs. It is difficult to distinguish, for example, the biomedical conception of schizophrenia — the idea that the disease exists within the biochemistry of the brain — from the more inchoate Western assumption that the self resides there as well. “Mental illness is feared and has such a stigma because it represents a reversal of what Western humans . . . have come to value as the essence of human nature,” McGruder concludes. “Because our culture so highly values . . . an illusion of self-control and control of circumstance, we become abject when contemplating mentation that seems more changeable, less restrained and less controllable, more open to outside influence, than we imagine our own to be.”

 CROSS-CULTURAL psychiatrists have pointed out that the mental-health ideas we export to the world are rarely unadulterated scientific facts and never culturally neutral. “Western mental-health discourse introduces core components of Western culture, including a theory of human nature, a definition of personhood, a sense of time and memory and a source of moral authority. None of this is universal,” Derek Summerfield of the Institute of Psychiatry in London observes. He has also written: “The problem is the overall thrust that comes from being at the heart of the one globalizing culture. It is as if one version of human nature is being presented as definitive, and one set of ideas about pain and suffering. . . . There is no one definitive psychology.”

 Behind the promotion of Western ideas of mental health and healing lie a variety of cultural assumptions about human nature. Westerners share, for instance, evolving beliefs about what type of life event is likely to make one psychologically traumatized, and we agree that venting emotions by talking is more healthy than stoic silence. We’ve come to agree that the human mind is rather fragile and that it is best to consider many emotional experiences and mental states as illnesses that require professional intervention. (The National Institute of Mental Health reports that a quarter of Americans have diagnosable mental illnesses each year.) The ideas we export often have at their heart a particularly American brand of hyperintrospection — a penchant for “psychologizing” daily existence. These ideas remain deeply influenced by the Cartesian split between the mind and the body, the Freudian duality between the conscious and unconscious, as well as the many self-help philosophies and schools of therapy that have encouraged Americans to separate the health of the individual from the health of the group. These Western ideas of the mind are proving as seductive to the rest of the world as fast food and rap music, and we are spreading them with speed and vigor.

 No one would suggest that we withhold our medical advances from other countries, but it’s perhaps past time to admit that even our most remarkable scientific leaps in understanding the brain haven’t yet created the sorts of cultural stories from which humans take comfort and meaning. When these scientific advances are translated into popular belief and cultural stories, they are often stripped of the complexity of the science and become comically insubstantial narratives. Take for instance this Web site text advertising the antidepressant Paxil: “Just as a cake recipe requires you to use flour, sugar and baking powder in the right amounts, your brain needs a fine chemical balance in order to perform at its best.” The Western mind, endlessly analyzed by generations of theorists and researchers, has now been reduced to a batter of chemicals we carry around in the mixing bowl of our skulls.

 All cultures struggle with intractable mental illnesses with varying degrees of compassion and cruelty, equanimity and fear. Looking at ourselves through the eyes of those living in places where madness and psychological trauma are still embedded in complex religious and cultural narratives, however, we get a glimpse of ourselves as an increasingly insecure and fearful people. Some philosophers and psychiatrists have suggested that we are investing our great wealth in researching and treating mental illness — medicalizing ever larger swaths of human experience — because we have rather suddenly lost older belief systems that once gave meaning and context to mental suffering.

 If our rising need for mental-health services does indeed spring from a breakdown of meaning, our insistence that the rest of the world think like us may be all the more problematic. Offering the latest Western mental-health theories, treatments and categories in an attempt to ameliorate the psychological stress sparked by modernization and globalization is not a solution; it may be part of the problem. When we undermine local conceptions of the self and modes of healing, we may be speeding along the disorienting changes that are at the very heart of much of the world’s mental distress.

 Ethan Watters lives in San Francisco. This essay is adapted from his book “Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche,” which will be published later this month by Free Press.

An earlier version of this article misstated the publisher of Ethan Watters’s book. An earlier version of this article also misstated the name of the group National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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There are many ethical, honorable scientists, researchers and doctors who are independent of drug companies.  This is one of their refute of a pharmaceutical coalition speaker’s (Dr. Brown) clearly false claims on the merits of vaccinating children.  It seems that ‘Dr. Brown’, the speaker, couldn’t say one truthful thing in her entire speech… Especially the last page where she lists the health damaging additives and toxins in vaccines and then tries to dismiss them as ‘minimal amounts’.  

      http://www.medicalveritas.com/manWakefield.pdf

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