140. DR. PATRICK HAHN AGREES WITH ME--PSYCHIATRISTS SHOULD BE ABOLISHED ALONG WITH THEIR DRUGS
Psychotherapy and "analysis" are unproven and rife with abuse, but the drugs are worse.
In the psychiatric drug chapters from Butchered by “Healthcare,” I come to the same conclusions as Dr. Hahn. I cite him among others.
Dr. Hahn convinced me during our conversation that even the worst psychiatric diseases like schizophrenia are due to environmental factors such as abuse rather than to heredity. No genetic influences have ever been proven for any “mental illness.” No scan or test has is ever successfully diagnosed it, either. Plus, overwhelming research shows that these issues respond to love, kindness, and human contact just like developmental disorders. Therefore, Hahn says they are not “illness,” a word that equates these issues to physical sickness with documented signs and symptoms.
The current biological/genetic model of psychiatric disease has no backing. So there is no shred of justification for the use of toxic, brain-damaging medications.
As for talking therapy, Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of a Psychoanalyst* (1998) by Jeffrey Masson is a timeless, powerful, and beautifully written indictment of Freudian psychoanalysis. He shows that it is ineffective, rife with patient sexual and emotional abuse, and that the process is tailored to benefit the analysts. If you have any connection with counseling, psychotherapy, or psychoanalysis, this book is a must-read.
As I look back on my training, I can see that much of it was an indoctrination process, a means of socializing me in a certain direction; it was partly intellectual, partly political, and even to some extent had to do with class. The guild mattered more than anything else. If this process was successful, it became almost impossible to question any of the major ideas within the parent organization…
Stepping outside of that framework, being willing to question the very foundations of psychoanalysis, is unthinkable for most analysts. For a while, it was unthinkable for me. Life within that framework was too comfortable; the money was good, there were conferences, and university appointments and honors and friends. The rewards were abundant. There was even a degree of warmth and security in accepting the “wisdom” handed down over the last hundred years. Outside, to be sure, it was a far colder world. I am not even certain that had I not been forced out, I would ever have had the courage to step outside entirely on my own.
I went into psychoanalysis looking for the truth about myself. I believed that psychoanalysis was the one science dedicated to discovering such truths and that I would be assisted in my quest. To be sure, I was looking for more than an objective, sympathetic listener and fellow investigator of my own past. But I trusted the tenets of psychoanalysis that “insight” would come about through an emotional relationship with another “trained” person, the analyst, who is free from the biases and distorting needs of his own unmastered past, and who would slowly and skillfully point out my “transference” and lead me to freedom from illusions.
I got the emotional intensity I was looking for, and a great deal more into the bargain, which psychoanalysis in its hypocrisy does not tell you about. In a sense, psychoanalysis is undone by the apparent modesty of its claims. Like the sorcerer’s apprentice, it unwittingly unleashes forces it can no longer control. Psychoanalysis, despite its dictate, cannot transform the tumultuous storm of human relationships into the artificial calm of a therapeutic alliance...
What I was searching for, and what psychoanalysis promises, cannot in fact be given by another person, cannot be found in a theory or a profession, no matter how well-meaning. It is only, I am convinced, to be had or not had, through living. There are no experts in loving, no scholars of living, no doctors of human emotions, and no gurus of the soul. But we need not be alone; friendship is a precious gift, and all that we need do to see is remove the blinders… (my emphasis).
Masson also describes abuses, for example:
I learned that Alan Parkin… who had been the president of the Toronto Psychoanalytic Institute and of the Canadian Psychoanalytic Society, and even a vice president the International Psychoanalytical Association, had voluntarily given up his medical license rather than face accusations, from several psychoanalytic female patients that he sexually abused them during office hours (and charged for the sessions!)… Not surprisingly, the news made the national newspapers, but no comment I ever saw was forthcoming from the local psychoanalytic societies. Another bad apple, I guess. At what point, I wondered, will people look at the conditions in the barrel itself? The rot may not be systematic, but it certainly is systemic.
Other types of “professional” talking treatment by people with pretenses of psychiatric and psychological degrees are no better than contact with clergy. I cite the references in Butchered by “Healthcare.”
The punch line is that during my 30s, I was a believer. During that entire decade, I awkwardly dog-paddled through on-the-couch psychoanalysis. I was psychologically kidnapped, then identified with and defended the analyst-kidnapper. This is the Stockholm Syndrome, and to use the woke parlance, I am a “survivor.” My wife laughs at this labeling. She says I was crazy and my shrink a conman.
I was never physically abused by this “care provider,” but we spent many expensive hours discussing his conviction that I had shagged my mother. “Repressed memory” theories like these have been since discredited, but they were all the rage at the time. As you may recall, this was the era of the McMartin cases here in Los Angeles, where toddlers at daycare were encouraged to make up stories about their caregivers. The prosecutors put the staff in prison for years.
The following relevant chapters are at the start and end of the psychiatry section of my book. I describe the drug disasters in other chapters.
INTRODUCTION TO PLANET PSYCH
Most physicians view psychiatrists as somewhat feral animals. We suspect—with some justification—that many of their ideas are hot air. Unlike any other specialty, psychiatrists take care of people with normal labs and radiologic tests. They keep only patients with purely subjective problems. Psychiatrists pass patients who have “organic” issues such as thyroid disease to others. These are the ones with identifiable physical signs, symptoms, and tests. Likewise, psychiatrists base treatment outcomes solely on their theories and observing patient behavior rather than on measurable, objective results.
No other specialty has a sizable group of protesters who oppose their legitimacy. These include not only Scientologists, but psychologists, scientists, journalists, and a few renegade psychiatrists. These “psychiatry deniers” believe that most psychiatric drugs used today are harmful, ineffective, and vastly overprescribed. They question the specialty’s power to lock people up and force them to take damaging medications based only on their opinions.
Most of the public, however, sees psychiatry as valid, sensible, and scientifically based. Patients expect health insurance to pay for it.
Mainstream psychiatrists believe the four primary drug categories they use—stimulants, SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors), benzodiazepines, and antipsychotics—are effective, beneficial, and cause little harm. Citing their close-range experience treating mental illness, they claim that these diseases are under-treated and that even patients with mild symptoms should take medications. Their studies and standards support this. But these are so structurally compromised and biased with industry money that they are useless.
These “psychoactive” medications influence sleep, wakefulness, mood, behavior, and so forth. Unlike most drugs, they enter the brain by crossing the blood–brain barrier, which is a natural microscopic defense against toxins. Drugs that behave like this can alter or damage the entire central nervous system. Although these medications are commonly used and casually prescribed, taking them is a trap because addiction is common and frequently irreversible.
As you read the next few chapters, contemplate:
1) Mental health is America's most expensive medical sector, estimated to be $213 billion in 2018 (cardiology and cardiac surgery combined might be in second place, at $143 billion).
2) A 2016 Scientific American source said one in six US citizens takes psychiatric medication. The Wall Street Journal said this is one in five, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) claims that one in four of us have a mental illness.
3) Thirteen percent of all US citizens age twelve and over received an antidepressant in 2017.
4) In the US, 9.4 percent of our children get diagnosed with hyperactivity (CDC, 2019) and about half get medication (New York Times, 2013).
5) Antipsychotics are considerably overused for nursing home residents. The vast majority of demented patients get them, mainly for the convenience of the caregivers and in order to cheaply decrease staffing levels.
SURVIVING ON PLANET PSYCH
Here on Planet Psych, the biggest obstacle is that the psychiatrists and the rest of us look at the scene the same way. The doctors think the medicines work because they watch their patients. The rest of us all know someone (maybe us) who swears these drugs have helped them. All this seems irrefutable. Why is it necessary to debunk something so obvious?
To review: Much of psychiatric patient behavior is because of the drugs, and the most commonly seen symptoms are because of withdrawal. This mimics the conditions being treated. Rather than proving the medications work, these symptoms are proof of brain alteration or damage. This confuses every observer. Once patients take these drugs, most are stuck on them indefinitely, both because they are addicted and also because their caregivers sincerely believe the medications help. (Note for this Substack post: the current epidemic of violent behavior is mostly caused by psychiatrists pushing toxic drugs that were only approved because the FDA was bribed.)
Can you ever quit them? That depends. For some, the best path is to stay on the drugs. But if you have a strong internal compass and understand the medications, stopping them may be worth a try because you might feel better. Since withdrawal is unpredictable, you need your doctor to monitor you. A compounding pharmacy can make up progressively weaker pills for you to take during the months that this will take.
Stuart Shipko, MD, a California psychiatrist, thinks that although these drugs are not specific treatments for mental problems, they are the only alternatives for the sickest people. When his patients are considering therapy, he fully discloses the chances of TD and other permanent issues. He tells them that the medications are “neurotoxic” rather than saying they are addictive. Most people consulting him decide against using them.
He has decades of experience trying to get people off the drugs, and he says that quitting might be possible after short-term use. However, when patients have taken these medications for years, this is typically agonizing and may be futile. Some people deteriorate and a few become psychotic. Up to six months after stopping, a severe reaction such as chronic, unremitting restlessness may still occur. Medication tapering can take up to two and a half years.
Patients who quit must read the books by Peter Gøtzsche, Peter Breggin, Robert Whitaker, and Jill Moncrieff, plus the stories on survivingantidepressants.org. Gøtzsche’s Mental Health Survival Kit (2020) is particularly valuable. It explains why psychiatric medications are such disasters and instructs how to discontinue them.
Psychoactive drugs are justified long-term only for people with crippling mental problems. Perhaps they are justified only for patients who are seriously disrupting the lives of others. When these medications are used, the patient must accept brain damage. Although using them may help behavior over the brief term, over time they make most problems worse. The system railroads many people into institutions and forces them to take medications. Patients need advocates, preferably relatives, who can help them. Judges automatically rule for a commitment on the most trivial of grounds, and psychiatrists have little time to consider much but the convenience of everyone else involved.
PATRICK D. HAHN, Ph.D., is an Affiliate Professor of Biology at Loyola University Maryland and has two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in biology. He works entirely outside of healthcare and makes no money from it or his books. He is a neutral observer who sees these issues from a biological background. This gives him deep credibility, particularly because his humanist conclusions are at odds with his training in genetics.
Dr. Hahn is the author of Obedience Pills: ADHD and the Medicalization of Childhood (2022), Prescription for Sorrow: Antidepressants, Suicide, and Violence (2020), and Madness and Genetic Determinism: Is Mental Illness in Our Genes? (2019). He writes at Mad In America and at patrickdhahn.substack.com.
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