Friday, 29 March 2013

in the name of psychiatry

Today is Good Friday in the Christian calendar, a religious holiday remembering the crucifixion of Christ, leading on to Easter Sunday and the resurrection.  It has caused me to think even more of the religion or church of psychiatry with its belief system and set of doctrines.  For that's how it seems to those of us who were involuntary conscripts for a while then had to make our escape without looking back (like Lot's wife, pillar of salt).

Although I have a Christian faith I'm not very good at organised religion where I'm required to do certain things according to the church, to earn my place at the table or to be accepted/acceptable.  Being a non-conformist I always have to consider if the rules and regulations make sense and if they don't then I won't be compliant.  It's a matter of conscience and logic, also truth and fairness, as I see it.  

Therefore I haven't held positions in churches, since 1981 when I first became a member.  Rather I did other stuff like children's and youth work, visiting the housebound or playing the guitar and singing.  In 1983 I did try to become a lay preacher in the Church of Scotland and completed 2yrs of training.  But the church that I belonged to didn't accept women in leadership and I was labelled as an 'apostate' by the male minister.  Then in 2008, 25yrs later, I tried again to become a lay minister but again was turned away on the say so of a male minister, claiming I lacked effective communication skills.  Maybe I was too effective?

It's ironic to think that I'm now locking horns with another male dominated institution, psychiatry, with its belief in biomedical models of mental illness, lifelong psychiatric drugging and labelling.  And it's interesting to think that I've only ever had dealings with male psychiatrists who tried to convince me that I had severe and enduring mental illness that required lifelong lithium to maintain it.  I didn't believe it, took charge of my own mental health and recovered.

Maybe I'm the exception to the rule?  But I don't believe that either.  If they got it wrong with me then they must be getting it wrong with other folk.  It makes sense.  There's a lot of talk and government documents that mentions 'experts by experience'.  Well, if we are experts in our own lives, then it's up to us to decide if psychiatry has got it right and to choose whether to follow their religion or not.   The use of compulsion or force doesn't justify their stance but strengthens our cause and resistance to conformity in the name of psychiatry.


  1. No Chrys, you are not unique. I could have been on medication for the laqst 30 years. I said no. I am bi-polar and since 1997 when i discovered Mary Ellens work i have not been in hospital, I have self managed and had the kind of life (Teaching/parenthood/26 year relationship) it would have been impossible to have had I been a "medical Zombie". I am now facilitating wrap and am saddened by the total lack of progress that has been made and the very poor deal being offered to service users. It is Drugs Drugs skill and tools for recovery? No chance!

    1. Thanks for comment. Yes it is psych drugs wherever we go for mental health help, especially for people with 'severe and enduring mental illness' labels who have few choices apart from psych drugs. I'm also a WRAP facilitator, did the training in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2008, and saw it as a power tool, a way of a person taking charge of their own mental health, and taking back the power from psychiatry. However here in Scotland it seems to be a more of a wellness tool rather than having a action or recovery focus.

      Same with peer support which has been assimilated into mental health services, a sort of 'don't rock the boat' role and be careful what you share with others. I'm not sure that sharing info about tapering psych drugs will be allowed. Even the hearing voices group where I live tells people to stay on the drugs. So there is no escape. Self management tools and PS are only allowed if a person stays in the psychiatric system or within MH services, if they have been given a lifelong label or mental illness prognosis.

      I never believed the labels or prognosis, took charge of my own mental health and recovered. But I seem to be in the minority. Others who did so aren't speaking out about it because if they do then they are likely to be bullied or excluded or told to be quiet. Such is the recovery movement in Scotland, only recovery for some and maintenance for others.


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