Monday, 13 September 2010

September Newsletter

Dear Friends,
Following HT IV many might still be thinking about brain shrinkage after listening to what Dr Moncrieff shared with us or hopefully are practising some of the remedy that have been mentioned during an amazing participation of an avid and enthusiastic public. Hopefully FEEL we'll be able to invite Dr Moncrieff again in the future, but for the time being we would like to share the notes of her talk with those that were unable to join us on 30/07. Please note that there could be inaccuracies in them, they're not verbatim. Many thanks to Michael and Charlotte for the collection.

Next November FEEL will turn 3. We would like to plan a new event that not only celebrates FEEL third birthday, but that aims to celebrate all survivors and the best ways used to manage/maintain mental health. For some this might be a therapy, a diet, a type of exercise, a faith, or perhaps dedication to poetry, music and the'll name it!
Seeing that the only evidence Psychiatry seems to consider is the use of drugs, which does very well in keeping people hooked to them for life on top of leaving the poor souls with their original problems, a "WAY OUT" should be introduced. Lets gather "scientific evidence" for them on one night of madness :)
Big Pharma is NOT welcome!

What certainly many agree on is that "Recovery begins with NON-Compliance" (Mad Hatters of Bath).

Please, join us at our monthly meeting next Monday on the 20/09 where we'll take suggestions for our Autumn celebration and some of the events to take place for Mental Health week in October. We will have a 15 min presentation from Nelsy Cristancho "General Conclusions to My Self Research Therapy Process". We'd also like to discuss the rumours of welfare cuts. Please see:
Last but not least I would like to invite you to sign a petition. There are lots of people that still need to get educated about mental health and the police force still seems to hold brutal and ignorant elements amongst their staff, which are definitely not able to handle vulnerable people

Here are the dates for the next FEEL meetings for this year, which will be as usual held on the third Monday of each month @ The LARC Centre, 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel E1 1ES 6.30-8.30pm.

20th September
18th October
15th November
20th December

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Human Therapy not Drug Tiranny IV 30/07/10

Have a look at our records -photos and notes- taken at last Human Therapy not Drugs Tyranny IV event on 30th of July @ The Kingsley Hall.


Please note that this are not verbatim.

HUMAN THERAPY not Drug Tyranny
Friday, 30th July 2010, Kingsley Hall, Bow

Speakers: Dr Joanna Moncrieff, Sarah Barratt, Nathalie Fonnesu

Opening music from Sarah Barratt

Poetry Readings:

David Kessel
1st reading - David Kessel 1999
2nd reading - Summer rain - 2000
3rd reading - Ruby Courage - 2010

Madeleine Kenley
1st poem - "Balance"
2nd poem - "Dreams"

Frank Bangay
1st poem - a prayer about survival.
2nd poem -a prayer called "Dear Lord"

Dr Joanna Moncrieff: "The Myth of the chemical cure"

Good evening. My name is Joanna Moncrieff. I work for the North East London Mental Health Trust, UCL and other psychiatric trusts. I am also part of the Critical Psychiatry Network.
I would like to summarise the main ideas in my book, The Myth of the Chemical Cure.
The way drugs are presented in psychiatry is a misrepresentation. Drugs are given more credit than they are worth. Drugs alter the body as well as the mind. We have to see what their effects are and what harm they can cause.
There are two models of drug action:

1) The conventional "disease centred" model
This is the view prevalent in mainstream psychiatry i.e to try to cure a physical abnormality such as a chemical imbalance in the brain. This view is rooted in general medicine e.g. insulin is used for diabetes but it does not cure it, it alters its state, and painkillers act on the physical processes that produce pain to make a normal, pain-free state. According to this disease-centred view, drugs are good. So we see an increase in drug use and benefits to the pharmaceuticals industry.

2) The "drug centred" model
This acknowledges that drugs can alter the mind and body. And that they can be harmful and change the brain. And that if you keep taking them their effects reduce and the body can counteract these and so on.
This is what I am interested in - the effects of drugs as drugs - the drug induced state can affect physical and mental processes.
For example, alcohol can be useful for people with social anxiety disorder. The drug helps the person becomes more sociable and this state can be useful for those people. But the alcohol itself does not rectify anything - it is the state of being drunk that loosens inhibitions. Alcohol causes physical damage. So you have to be sure that drugs are doing good before you use them.
Psychiatry presents drugs as disease specific when they are really just creating altered states. And they can sometimes even suppress a mental health problem.


During the early 20th century there were few psychiatric treatments available. Psychiatry glossed over treatment e.g recommended patients to get fresh air.
In the mid 20th century people got excited about therapies such as ECT. These procedures were - are - seen as having disease specific effects, even though no one knows how they work. Back then, lots of sedatives were being used e.g barbiturates for chemical restraint.
New anti-psychotics and anti-depressants came along. At first these were seen as having drug centred effects i.e. they worked by inducing states different to sedation e.g replacing schizophrenia with drug-induced Parkinsonian effects. And there was a lot of debate about this. But gradually the idea emerged that somehow that drugs were training the disease i.e. reversing an underlying abnormality. This change in thinking was reflected in the names of drugs e.g tranquillisers and neuroleptics were referred to as “anti-psychotics” and in the 60's anti-psychoactive drugs similar to stimulants were called "anti-depressants".
However, these changes happened not because a wealth of new evidence appeared but because psychiatrists wanted them to happen - so they could be on par with the rest of the other fields of medicine. Psychiatrists are insecure, as they have been throughout the 20th century. They want to present psychiatry as having nice specific treatments. And the pharmaceutical companies are happy with this “bandwagon” - presenting their drugs as disease-specific treatment can only benefit the industry.
For example, when the market for benzodiazepines collapsed in the 90s the pharmaceutical industry created a mass market with "depression", alleging that 1 in 4 adults suffered from depression. Take the SSRIs - these drugs are sold as "putting you right again" when there is no evidence that they have a specific "disease-centred" effect.
The idea that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance is simply a hypothesis. There is no evidence that there is any biochemical abnormality in people diagnosed as depressed. Most experts say that the fact that people improve when you give them antidepressants is the strongest evidence that there is a chemical imbalance. But there are other ways of explaining this - antidepressants are psychoactive drugs that may suppress emotions, or simply sedate people.
There are some theories that seem to give us evidence of underlying causes e.g. that schizophrenia is called by too much dopamine and that we can try to stop it by bringing the brain back to normal. There is lots of "evidence" for this e.g dopamine response tests for psychosis associate high levels of dopamine with psychotic episodes. But there are other important considerations. For example, when somebody is having a psychotic episode they are highly stressed and stress, arousal and movement produces dopamine. So what people are really being given is behaviour-control drugs dressed up as treatments.
Most evidence for the efficacy of psychiatric drugs simulates placebo-controlled trials i.e the drug is no different from an chalk tablet. One class of drugs might look better than another in treatment - sedatives compared with anti-psychotics get mixed results but opiates and benzodiazepines are just as good as each other. Taking a drug-centred view, there is not much distinction in trials.
So, accepting that there is no evidence that drugs work in a disease-specific way, what can be done? Can drugs effectively be applied to real situations? With anti-psychotic drugs, no one has even asked these questions - might it even be more pleasant to withstand psychosis rather than take these unpleasant drugs? What effects do these drugs have?
The old anti-psychotics seemed to produce Parkinsonian effects – emotional flattening, impaired concentration and memory e.g people in trials were not even able to get a sandwich out of the machine at work. Others produce a different state e.g lethargy and indifference, increase in appetite and resulting diabetes. Using these drugs is going to be unpleasant and dampen down symptoms and OK, that might be useful. But it also might be useful to use other simple sedatives e.g. benzodiazepenes for psychosis.
There is evidence that these drugs shrink the brain. Yet there is bias towards using them in psychiatry in general. Psychiatrists say that schizophrenics’ brains are different but a large imaging study in the US showed that differences were down to the drugs – over 3 months, the brains of people on haloperidol shrank visibly. Other studies confirm this. Also we have tolerance and the body can fight this drug, there can be long term problems.
I have recently published papers about anti-psychotics being damaging to brains. The body produces tolerance – withdrawal takes place. Relapse can be mistaken for withdrawal – and relapse can even result from withdrawal.
If you assume drug treatment is beneficial, doctors are going to reach for the prescription pad. So the pharmaceutical industry can make a lot of money and advertising out of this.
Some people could argue that if you take a drug centred view, you are assuming that all extraneous substances are harmful and that the trials show otherwise. But all studies have problems. For example, trials looking at relapse prevention in schizophrenia start with people whose medication has already been successful!

New Speaker:
So if the psychiatric drugs are not good are there drugs that are? Anti-depressants seem to reduce relapse rates.

Dr MC: On relapse prevention, there are problems with all the studies because they have used subjects that got better because of the drugs. And if people feel they are getting better because of the drugs and then get off them, they will feel vulnerable.
There can be a problem with Lithium studies because if you start on Lithium you are more likely to have a relapse than if you had never started it. You cannot trust any of the trials because of this. Even if you use Lithium and it reduces the psychotic rate to 80%, this is still not high and this is neither a useful nor a realistic figure: after all, do you want to reduce the relapse a bit and put up with all of the side effects? Is it worth the trade off?
Research says people who take anti psychotics have a better prognosis. Please could you comment on this and how chemical cures have been sold to us and what politicians might gain from this?
As far as prognosis is concerned, what you’re told is based on the trials! Naturalistic studies show that people who don’t take anti-psychotics do better than those who do. There are many reasons for this, though.
The situation and politics in the 1970s are interesting – psychiatrists were attacked and had economic competition so they needed to find a “cure”. Care was also managed differently, especially in places like the US, where psycho analysis had become popular. The psychiatrists had to compete with the analysts. Neither psychiatry nor the pharmaceuticals industry would have been big enough to win alone. But together their lobby increased.
And governments have needed more and more to simplify the complex and problematic area of mental health and push it under the carpet.Governments have wanted to put this onto the medical world - doing that is an easy and simple solution to the problem. During Parliamentary debates, it is often the politicians more than the doctors who are pushing meds! Up until 1959 all admission to mental health hospitals had to go to a magistrate. But there was the desire to push all this onto the medical world and not have any legislation so this act was amended.

New Speaker:
I work with service users. Do you still prescribe meds to your patients? Where does acceptance of what you said lead us? Where do we go next?

Dr MC: I do still prescribe. I have inherited patients and try to reduce their loads. I also work in teams.
Where do we go? Interesting question – in a way it puts the ball back in your court; you have to tell us when meds are useful or not and we have to listen. We need to do an awful lot more research into these drugs. This could change the nature of psychiatry profoundly – reliance on drugs could become a lot more fragile – in fact, we could ask whether we need doctors/psychiatrists in this framework at all.

New Speaker:
It does not seem as if much more research needs to take place – there is already evidence that people are NOT responding. We are labelled for years as being ill but our mental challenges can often be cured by looking at the underlying cause. So what are the alternatives? They are out there for all of us and don’t cost much. I think that we can go without these drugs.

Dr MC: I absolutely agree. When we start people on these drugs we put them on a road to lifelong problems. The whole system is so geared around drugs it’s almost impossible to find somewhere for people in distress to go without being medicated. But it can be done. Some people can get through psychotic episodes without these drugs. But the will in this country does not seem to exist.
However, the Soteria Network are trying to set up a house in Bradford where people can get through psychotic episodes without drugs.
New Speaker:
I’ve been around the survivor scenes for decades and I agree. After several psychotic episodes myself I believe that they were caused by lack of sleep.

Dr MC: I agree that continued over-arousal makes people psychotic.

New Speaker:
This is the 2nd time I’ve heard about brain shrinkage. I’ve been on meds for years – is there any way I can find out how much my brain has shrunk?


Dr MC: I should qualify this. There is no “right” brain size. But we should be trying to find out a bit more. These studies have compared two groups of people. The differences are not large and the differences are not permanent.

New Speaker:
I had to use services once. It’s preposterous how people’s relationships and sexual health is affected – the description of these drugs serves no purpose. They just contain people within their own homes, cause incontinence etc – the list goes on. Have you ever cured anyone with psychiatry? I think not. The disease model suits society because undesirable "non functional” people are removed from society. The holistic approach costs more and takes more time but people recover from ill health! Given the right conditions I could induce psychosis! Psychiatry is an arse – not you personally but I’m lost for words. Qi Gong, vegan diets and colonic irrigation works. But there’s no money in it. It’s all about money – Big Pharma is rich and wants to make money.


Dr MC: You’d think people should have a choice but they don’t. On sexual effects, a general dampening of desire is down to the drugs. Your emotional life is flattened out.
If we talk about the holistic approach people have been shown to recover from mental illness. There are many issues - such as stimulants - that can induce psychosis. People should have the choice to take up holistic therapies but it is not there.

Second Part

Nathalie Fonnesu
A Power Point presentation on Complementary therapies is shown.

Sarah Barratt – Craniosacral Therapist and Reflexologist

My talk is about receiving complementary therapy of different kinds
We are all survivors and all the walking wounded. What we experienced in our childhood will affect us for the rest of our lives. Despite this we keep a part of ourselves.
I am amazed that some of the people here are here despite what they have gone through.
If you go through a trauma you can be repeatedly overwhelmed. Sometimes you need grounding or relaxation. There are different levels of this. One example is sleep, which is essential. You can sleep naturally or may need someone to facilitate this, for example in the form of a complementary therapist.
Visiting a therapist can be is a significant thing for a person and for a person's overall wellbeing. The first time I saw an osteopath for my bad back I really had to think and reason about it. But it helped me a lot. Since then I have undergone a wide range of therapies.
Sometimes using a complementary therapy is about loving and caring for yourself. And I would say that the world needs more people who love themselves. Things can change if enough people love themselves - this is important.

Q & A (to Sarah Barratt & Nathalie Fonnesu)

If we all aim to be balanced are there times when we have to concentrate on several things. Are there times we should concentrate on just one or two?
Nat: We as humans are multitasking. However sometimes we cannot just push ourselves too much. Eating well is the number one priority to keep our bodies and minds functioning properly. You need to have a good, strong blood to flow and nourish every cell of your body.

Myra Garrett (to the audience)

We say that complementary therapies are not on the wards. Which of you think that we should have these on the wards? The mental health trust said that there is no evidence for this to be of use.

All agree!!!

New Speaker:
The Royal Homeopathic Association is having a big debate on this. We have to have a collection of information on this and one of the friends of St Helens raised money for this and it was the staff who queued up for this first. Please join in this so we can do something about this. With the big society idea is it not up to us to do something about this.

New Speaker:
I have Aspergers syndrome, depression, OCD and have to take lots of drugs for this and receive therapies. If I turned to complementary therapy what therapies would help?

Sarah: I would think that use Tai chi, reflexology and anyone is good. It is not about which one is good but which one works for you. You have to believe in this and will help you gradually. It is not something that can be proved but you have to get into it and then feel it.

New Speaker:
There is only one that you have not mentioned today. This is the one that is free: Sunshine! Exercise is important too.

Nat: There are plenty of more free remedies and therapies for any condition out there, yet it seems that drugs are the only solution available/offered to people. You can end up getting bad habits/dependence from other remedies too, which could be hard to get out of. I used to smoke for example and stopped without using patches; I believe in willpower. We live in a society that is so diverse and some professionals mistaken diversities for illnesses. There is the idea that the world is civilised, but differences are not taken into consideration.

New Speaker:
I had my own experience of depression and tried all sorts of things. The best thing I found was Prana Yoga - breathing exercises to purify the body and is good for lots of things and Diva Yog ( ): this is a charity and promotes well being for free. Any form of ill health is disease and worked hard at relaxation.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Have a safe journey back home.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Easing sleep.

Some people more than others get influenced by ambience: does your surroundings invites a good night of sleep?

£4bn CUTS...taking from the wrong side

Welfare spending to be cut by £4bn, says George Osborne


There are SIX more plays until the 1st of October of this new play, 'Bedlam', based on the 18th century Bethlem hospital. See the Shakespeare's Globe theatre website.

Cuts on DLA?

A new report has raised concerns that the coalition government could be planning moves to cut the amount it spends on disability living allowance (DLA).
This article might be a few months old, but decisions will be taken very soon.

Economic Crisis hitting the disadvantaged ones.

Greece, Spain, France...soon Britain???
Why don't the bankers, parliamentarians and politicians get a slice off their FAT salaries? Debt would get paid in a instant.

Grab it, bag it, bin it!!!

Grab it, bag it, bin it - a new approach to psychological problem solving. It pretty much seems to follow Eastern philosophies such as Feng Shui: dis-ease takes shape mentally and physically when energy is not allowed to run naturally and freely.