NEW SCIENTIST on Protest of Psychiatric Labels

NEW SCIENTIST – 17 May 2012

‘Label jars, not people’:Lobbying against the shrinks

by James Davies

“LABEL jars, not people” and “stop medicalising the normal symptoms of life” read placards, as hundreds of protesters — including former patients, academics and doctors — gathered to lobby the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) annual meeting.

The demonstration aimed to highlight the harm the protesters believe psychiatry is perpetrating in the name of healing. One concern is that while psychiatric medications are more widely prescribed than almost any drugs in history, they often don’t work well and have debilitating side effects. Psychiatry also professes to respect human rights, while regularly treating people against their will. Finally, psychiatry keeps expanding its list of disorders without solid scientific justification.

At the heart of the issue is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) — psychiatry’s diagnostic “bible” (see main story). Allen Frances, who headed the last major rewrite of the manual — DSM-IV — fears that the revised version will undermine the profession’s credibility. “What concerns me most,” he says, “is that its publication will dramatically expand the realm of psychiatry and narrow the realm of normality.”

Among the revisions he believes will be most damaging are those to generalised anxiety disorder, which threatens to turn the pains and disappointments of everyday life into mental illness, while “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder” will see children’s temper tantrums become symptoms of a disorder.

Drug alternatives

One protester, Harvard graduate and writer Laura Delano, started taking psychiatric medication at age 14, after a bipolar diagnosis. She felt this worsened her state until, in 2004, she attempted suicide. It was only once she had rejected her treatment and her identity as a psychiatric patient that things began to get better.

Many of the protesters want reform in the shape of alternatives to drug treatment. As protest organiser Susan Rogers explained: “People here are for choice, for the right to decline as well as choose treatment. We want [mental health consumer and psychiatric survivors] to know there are alternatives to hospitals and medication — they can go into peer support run by people like themselves.”

“The best success rate for a diagnosis of schizophrenia is in rural Finland, where there is a slogan that problems aren’t in our heads, but between our heads,” says fellow organiser David Oaks. “They emphasise the importance of peer support in recovery.”

Talking to psychiatrists as they filed past the protest, there was quite a lot of sympathy. “These voices have to be heard. We are seeing a manifestation of some legitimate concerns,” said one.

Another was nearly as militant as the protesters: “Psychiatrists usually take 15 minutes to give a diagnosis, so we shouldn’t be surprised if we are getting it wrong. These 15-minute sessions are a form of malpractice.”

The APA’s response was to say: “Many of the proposed changes help to better characterise people currently seeking treatment but who are not well defined by DSM-IV. It is unfortunate there are instances in which people do not feel they have benefited, but these circumstances cannot discredit the clinical practice of psychiatry, or those helped by mental healthcare.”

It is significant that the protests exposed once again the lines of division not just between protesters and the establishment, but within the establishment too. Meanwhile, patients are still caught in the middle, sometimes to their detriment.


Profile: James Davies is a senior lecturer in social anthropology and psychotherapy at the University of Roehampton, London

– end New Scientist article –

BELOW is text. At BOTTOM are links to updated list of news about protest, including how to hear BBC global coverage of protest debate, see Youtubes of march, speakers, protest and more….


OTHER NEWS on Peaceful Protest of Five-Five
American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

BBC GAVE GLOBAL COVERAGE of protest that day:
Starting at “Minute 14” to “Minute 20” hear David Oaks speak
about the protest and the DSM, followed by psychiatrist
Allen Frances who “half agrees” but defends APA here:

Philadelphia Inquirer covered protest twice:

NewsWorks KHYY has slide show of protest plus news article here:




See Youtube of historic Occupy APA MARCH here:

See protest directly in front of American Psychiatric Association here:

Lauren Tenney images of protest here:

Lauren’s fun TRAILER for historic “Five Five”:



LAURA DELANO speaks before protest here:

TED CHABASINSKI speaks before protest:

JIM GOTTSTEIN speaks before protest here:

Psychotherapist ADINA LAMBERT of ISEPP speaks before protest here:

DAN HAZEN speaks before protest here:

DAVID OAKS speaks before protest here:

FRANK BLANKENSHIP speaks before protest here:

LAUREN TENNEY speaks before protest here:


Psychiatrist CLANCY MCKENZIE speaks before protest here:

AKI IMAI speaks before protest here:

SUSAN ROGERS speaks before protest here:

JOSEPH ROGERS speaks before protest here:

DIANA GONZALEZ psychiatric survivor from ISEPP:

FAITH RHYNE gets folks ready for ‘label rip’:

Pharmageddon – how the pharmaceutical industry has co-opted medicine

Dr. David Healy has spent decades delving into the dark corners of the pharmaceutical industry, where, for instance, drug companies have tried to hide the worrisome connection between antidepressant drugs and suicide. In the psychiatrist’s best-known previous books, The Antidepressant Era and Let Them Eat Prozac, Healy explored the often vexing history of the mental health field and its troubled relationship with Big Pharma. In his latest book, Pharmageddon, he presents an even bleaker picture of the way industry has co-opted medicine in general — not just mental health. Healthland spoke with Healy about his findings.

What do you mean by ‘pharmageddon’?

At the moment, treatment-induced death is the fourth leading cause of death [overall], and within the mental health field, it’s probably the leading cause of death.

It’s a little bit like climate change. It may feel great to have a car, the convenience you get is a thing we appreciate each time we hop in the car and drive down to the market. But the use of cars is contributing to the bigger picture of climate change. In the same way, quite a few medications we take produce good outcomes. But we’ve [had a] climate change in medicine, which runs the risk of completely destroying medicine as we’ve known it.

And the key tool in all of this is how companies use the scientific evidence. They construct trials to get the outcomes they want; they only publish positive trials. The study often shows the opposite of what the data actually shows.

In the book, you look at how drug companies sell us on reducing risks — like say, high cholesterol — that may not actually do much to keep us healthy because high cholesterol itself is just a marker for cardiovascular disease risk, not an illness itself.

Read more:

Teen tied and shocked for hours; mom calls it “torture”

Video of a disabled teen tied down and given painful electric shocks for seven hours should be made public, the youth’s mother said, so everyone can see what she describes as the “torture” her son went through at the controversial school, the only one in Massachusetts that uses pain to treat its clients.

“This is worse than a nightmare,” Cheryl McCollins said about her disabled son, Andre. “It is horrific. And poor Andre, who had to suffer through this, and not know why.”

The ordeal began after Andre hit a staff member. Inside a classroom, as a camera was recording, he was tied to a restraint board, face down, a helmet over his head.

He stayed like that for seven hours without a break, no food, no water, or trips to the bathroom. Each time he screamed or tensed up, he was shocked, 31 times in all. His mother called the next day to check on him.

“I said, ‘Andre.’ I said, ‘Hello.’ And so he said, ‘Help me,'” McCollins said.

After spending three days in a comatose state, not eating or drinking, Andre was taken to Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with “acute stress response” caused by the shocks.

“The doctors took all the shackles and all those things off of him. Andre’s not talking to me. I’m just holding him and telling him how much I love him, and asking him please to talk to me, just tell me what happened,” McCollins said.

What happened that morning in October 2002 became clear after the Rotenberg Center showed her the video of Andre’s ordeal, recorded by the classroom camera.

“When I viewed the tape, I saw Andre walking into a room, someone asking him to take off his coat. Andre said no, they shocked him, he went underneath the table trying to get away from them. They pulled him out, tied him up and they continued to shock him,” McCollins said.

“When you look at that videotape, what was the purpose of all those shocks?” asked FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.

“I have no idea,” McCollins replied.

“Did you get an apology?” Beaudet asked.

“No, they felt what they did was therapy,” McCollins replied.

“Does that look like therapy to you?” Beaudet asked.

“No, it was torture,” McCollins said.

For now, the public can’t see for themselves what Andre’s treatment looks like because the Rotenberg Center asked a Norfolk Superior Court judge to seal the video tape, saying it would be unsettling for viewers who didn’t understand the context. The judge agreed, and the video remains under a protective order.

“This is video they fought vehemently not to release, fought vehemently to keep quiet and I think now are very concerned that this tape is out there,” said attorney Andrew Meyer, who represents Andre McCollins in a lawsuit against the Rotenberg Center.

“The Judge Rotenberg Center has consistently gotten away with being able to soft sell their treatment, to whitewash what they’ve done about it being therapeutic: ‘It’s not so bad, it helps these children.’ But the eyewitness accounts that we now have about what actually goes on at this center puts to lie everything they’ve been saying,” Meyer said.