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Critical Issues the Media Ignores
During Mental Health Month Every May

by Al Siebert, PhD

During Mental Health Month every May, all newspaper and magazine articles about mental conditions uncritically parrot statements made by mainstream psychiatry. The articles and stories read like press releases from the American Psychiatric Association. The media consistently ignores nine important issues the public deserves to know about.

Critical questions that writers, reporters, and editors do not ask include:

Issue #1. Why do psychiatrists and psychologists provide no practical information about mental health during "Mental Health" month? Why does the National Institute of Mental Health have no information about how to be mentally healthy? Why do people who claim to be mental health professionals talk only about diagnosing and treating mental illnesses?

Issue #2. Psychiatrists have the lowest malpractice insurance rates because there has never been a malpractice judgment against a psychiatrist for incorrectly diagnosing a person as mentally ill or for prescribing harmful medication. Why are psychiatrists not held responsible for their mistakes and the harm they cause?

Research has documented that the long-term use of neuroleptic drugs can cause irreversible neurological damage called "tardive dyskinesia", but psychiatrists have never been held liable for this damage.

The situation is especially disturbing in light of an observation made by the psychiatrist Werner Mendel in 1976:

"In the Post-World War II literature, there are many examples of patients who went to state hospitals incorrectly diagnosed as either schizophrenic or mentally retarded and who stayed for thirty or forty years only to be discovered, during the renaissance of psychiatry after World War II, not to be ill at all. These patients show a psychological condition based entirely on having been in the hospital for thirty or forty years without any initial mental illness or mental retardation." (p. 123)

Issue #3. Why is psychiatry given more control over people's lives than any other medical specialty AND is the only medical specialty allowed to blame its patients when its prescribed treatments don't work?

Issue #4. Why is psychiatry the only medical specialty that must arrange for police protection from street demonstrations by former patients at its conventions?

Issue #5. The Surgeon General of the United States, David Satcher, said in 1999, that mental illnesses are physical illnesses. Why is the media not reporting that laboratory tests and brain scans cannot independently determine who has a mental illness and who does not--as is the case with physical illnesses?

Issue #6. Why is the media silent about the way the drug companies have orchestrated the emergence of biological psychiatry? Drug companies give millions of dollars to psychiatrists to research the effects of psychoactive drugs. Drug companies underwrite presentations at American Psychiatric Association conferences where drug research outcomes are reported. Drug companies support psychiatric publications that report the research findings through expensive advertising. The viewpoint of "biological psychiatry" is that mental illnesses are said to be physical illnesses that require life-long drug treatments.

Issue #7. Prominent schizophrenia researchers such as Nancy C. Andreason and E. Fuller Torrey are saying that schizophrenia is a brain disease like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and multiple sclerosis. They say this even though there is ample research showing that "schizophrenia" is not a condition of neurological deterioration. Many people diagnosed with "schizophrenia" recover on their own without treatment and no one dies from schizophrenia, even when untreated. Why are the statements about schizophrenia being a brain disease like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and multiple sclerosis going unchallenged?

Issue #8. Many people fully recover from their so-called "mental illness" and then continue to become even more mentally healthy than they were before.

Psychiatrist Karl Menninger wrote "Not infrequently we observe that a patient...gets as well as he was, and then continues to improve still further. He becomes, one might say, 'weller than well.'...there are thousands of unknown examples who have not been discovered or who have not yet written about their experiences."

Why does the media carry no stories about people transformed in beneficial ways by their "psychiatric" experience?

Issue #9. Nancy C. Andreason, editor of the Journal of Psychiatry, and administrators with National Institute for Mental Health say that one out of every ten people with schizophrenia commits suicide. They say this even though there is no research to support their declaration.

Since one percent of the population in the United States is said to have schizophrenia (over 2.9 million cases), if psychiatrists are right, the national suicide statistics for people with schizophrenia would be over 290,000 a year. The US rate of all suicides for all causes, however, is about 30,000 a year, with most suicides being older people with physical problems. Where are all the missing bodies (over a quarter million) of suicides from schizophrenia that psychiatrists claim are taking place?


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Andreason, Nancy C. (2000). "Schizophrenia: The Fundamental Questions." Brain Research Reviews, 31, 106-112.

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Cohen, D. (1997). "A Critique of the Use of Neuroleptic Drugs in Psychiatry." In S. Fisher & R.G. Greeberg (Eds), From Placebo to Panacea: Putting Psychiatric Drugs to the Test. (pp. 173-228.) New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Farnsworth, E. (1998). "Unstable Minds." National Public Broadcasting System. Transcript at Jim Lehrer's PBS internet web site: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/july-dec98/weston_7-27.html. Past programs file, July 27, 1998.

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Menninger, K.A. (1963). The Vital Balance. New York: Viking Press.

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Satcher, David (1999). Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General.

Siebert, A. (1999). "Brain Disease Hypothesis For Schizophrenia Disconfirmed By All Evidence." Journal of Ethical Human Sciences and Services, 1 (2), 179-189.

Siebert, A. (2000). "How Non-Diagnostic Listening Led to a Rapid 'Recovery' from Paranoid Schizophrenia: What is Wrong With Psychiatry?" Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 40 (1), 34-58.

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Whitaker, R. (2002) Mad In America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally ill. Cambridge: Perseus Publishing.


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Disclaimer: Material found on the Successful Schizophrenia website is for your information only. We are not able dispense specific advice for your situation. If you are under a doctor's care, you should talk with him or her about your mental health goals and if they are not on the same page as you, ask for a referral to a doctor or counselor who is. It may mean interviewing several. If you are on your own, you may wish to contact your local county mental health department to ask for local resources. Our site exists to show people that there are all varieties of mental states and assessments of those states; that sometimes 'mental health' is in the eye of the beholder; and that the mental health profession needs to continue to open itself up to the new paradigm ... progress is being made!