Friday, 22 July 2011

July's Meeting

Dear Friends,

We had a nice and cozy meeting this week as a consequence of the ever changing weather conditions and the Autumn-like pouring.

Present: David K, Myra, Pia, Martin, Sergio, Brian, Nat.
Apologies from Sarah, Eamer and Sheila.

Here the highlights of the meeting:

-The SPEAK OUT AGAINST PSYCHIATRY was discussed and most of the present confirmed attendance. It was raised the question of why it has been picked the RCP and not the Institute of Psychiatry. Maybe that will be the next one?

-On Saturday the 23rd there will be a banner making session at LARC to prepare for next week demonstration. Anyone that is willing to give an extra hand or has got some suggestions to offer, please come along from 6pm.

-Cooltan Arts to host a film premiere of a documentary on Wed the 20th.
I have participated to event and it had a well attended reception.
Mad Culture portrayed with its originality and brilliance :)

-Cooltan Arts to hold their monthly Largactyl Shuffle Legacy Walk. Meeting at 12pm at the entrance of the Hackney Museum. If you can't find the walkers on the day, call CoolTan on 07985658443
The walk is organised as part of this year's London2012 Open Weekend Supported by the Centre for Better Health.

-Back on the theme of protests, David suggested to make some planning for the agitprop to hold by the ELNHSFT (mental health trust) on occasion of the AGM on 15th Sept. After a little discussion on the acronyms the conversation there has been a very good brainstorm on actions that can be taken in order to stress more and more what SU want and need when being treated. The Trust can be lobbied and participants of next week Speak Out could be invited.

-David discussed the plan for the event on November 18th "Stigma & Racism in mental health". He has invited Ronald Littlewood Professor of Anthropology and Psychiatry Department of Anthropology and Department of Mental Health Sciences, University College, London. Co-author of the book  Alien and Alienists.
We should still have plenty of time to plan this event.

-We had a wonderful contribution from Pia, which shared how she finally managed to change her consultant, as she wished, after a very long struggle. Politics go that a consultant is attached to a specific GP and the only chance patients have to choose a different specialist is if they change their GP. Some consultants even have the monopoly of entire surgeries (Pia had to skim five GP surgeries before finding one that is serviced by a different consultant than her former one). How's that possible?

Change of consultant is a recurrent problem that SU face. Very often personality clashes or just the over patronising, controlling and authoritarian attitude of some shrinks, cause unnecessary frustration, hostility and anger in already vulnerable people.
The result is conveniently used by the professionals to prove on paper that the person is unwell and needs assistance because of unsound mind. Rights of opinion of the patients are not respected, neither considered.

Is this a way to treat or cure people or all they aim to, and have fun in doing it, is to trigger more frustration in patients?

Do you? Can you? Could you take it?
I don't! Specially when these people are being paid to see us, spending time uselessly.
Well done Pia!

-We recently had some mails from medical students that wish to interview SU. I suggested we invite them to our August meeting, so if anyone is willing to answer some questions or arrange an appointment get ready for it.

-Brian also raised the issue if professionals should or not be members and participate to our meetings.
Mixed feelings was the result after the conversation.

-Core Arts is exhibiting a SU collection "Forget Who You Are" at The V&A Museum of Childhood, in Bethnal Green.

The works explore how experiences from childhood can have a lasting influence on adult creativity and artistic practice. The artists, poets and musicians used imaginary worlds and unusual scales to explore their own childhoods.The exhibition will run untill the 16th October.

-The next meeting of the Survivors History Group will be on Wednesday 27.7.2011 at the Together office, 12 Old Street, London, EC1V 9BE. Since the "Speak Out Against Psychiatry" clashes on the same day and several people want to go to both the SHG  meeting will start at 12pm. At about 2.30 there will be a food break. Those who wish to go to Belgrave Square will have time to eat before they leave. It takes 45min to reach the RCP.
Frank Bangay will conduct people across London. At 3.15pm, the Survivors History Group will re-convene for those who wish to be at that.

Fingers crossed next Wed the 27th will be a nice and sunny day.
Get you placards ready and be prepared for a day to remember.

Thursday, 14 July 2011



Subject: Protest - Speak Out Against Psychiatry
Venue: Outside Royal College of Psychiatry - 17 Belgrave Square, London, SW1X 8PG.
Date: 4 – 6pm on Wednsday the 27th July 2011
Contact: John Hoggett – 0118 941 5144,


A group called, Speak Out Against Psychiatry are organising a protest outside the Royal College of Psychiatrists between 4pm and 6pm on the 27th July. They believe that psychiatry causes more harm than good and they are inviting people to come and tell their stories of how psychiatry has badly effected their lives.

Speak Out Against Psychiatry believe that the care of severely mentally distressed people is a disgrace. On the whole people get diagnosis, drugs and if they live in the community, what is often a patronising chat with a social worker once a fortnight. This often results in people being pensioned off for life, living a life of drug numbed misery. From the beginning of the development of modern medication it has been known that although the drugs often quieten symptoms, as they are major tranquillisers they flatten all emotions, they also make it less likely that people will recover.(1)

What people who are mentally distressed need is compassionate understanding and intense social support. Sadly this is far too often lacking in the present medication based system which is strongly influenced by multi-national drug company lobbying rather than research into what actually works.

There have been many small experiments and successful units around the world that have helped people experiencing extreme mental distress resolve their problems with either low use of medication or not using any medication at all. These have often proved to be cheaper than conventional treatments offered by mainstream psychiatry. Yet they have not been taken up.

One example is the Open Dialogue method used in Western Lapland in Finland. They have the best outcomes in for first episode psychosis in the world, with about 80% of participants being back at work or training within two years. Only a third of participants ever use medication and only a fifth are on medication after five years. These results should be the envy of the developed world yet it is mainly ignored. (2) (3)

Electro-Convulsive Therapy is still used, although many people think it has been banned. There being ample research to show it is dangerous and just about useless. It causes brain damage and memory loss and any improvement in symptoms goes after a few weeks. People who are severely depressed need a lot of care and understanding yet time and again this is not found in psychiatric hospitals. (4)

Psychiatrists main activity is diagnosis, yet most service users do not find diagnosis helpful. What they do find helpful is talking to people about their lives and their symptoms yet psychiatric training can stop staff talking to people about their experiences. They are actively discouraged about talking about the voices that people diagnosed with schizophrenia often experience yet this has been shown to be helpful.

Most people who have extreme distress ha ve experienced immense personal trauma such as surviving child sexual assault or family violence. This is true for most diagnosis, yet psychiatrists ignore the evidence and prefer to talk about unproven brain disorders and imbalances in neurotransmitters. In one study two-thirds of people diagnosed with schizophrenia had suffered physical or sexual abuse, yet mainstream psychiatry ignores this, or if they do enquire they have little idea of how to help people. This does society a disservice as by ignoring the causes of mental distress as they are not prevented in future generations by feeding into other areas of social policy. (5)

There is a rising number of children that are being dangerously diagnosed and drugged for behavioural problems with absolutely no attempt to find out why they are behaving in a distressing manner. Diseases like ADHD have no scientific basis and drugs like Ritalin are known to cause problems in children. There are other ways of helping children with behavioural problems and the parents and teachers who are struggling with the children in their care that do not use dangerous and potentially addictive medication, yet they are not commonly used in the drug company dominated NHS(6)

Recently there has been the scandal of elderly people drugged up on anti-psychotics because nursing staff either did not have the skills to deal with people experiencing dementia or because of under-staffing. (7)

The skills people needed to help people who are mentally distressed are not on the whole taught in psychiatric colleges. While we recognise that some practitioners are doing excellent work, and there are some outstanding units in the NHS mental health service the common practices and mainstream culture of psychiatry is a mess.

Founder member of Speak Out Against Psychiatry, John Hoggett, became concerned about the dangers and inadequacies of psychiatry over twenty years ago when he befriended a young man who had a diagnosis of schizophrenia. His friend was on two and a half times the recommended dose of an injected tranquillizer called Haloperidol and yet he was still hallucinating and very disturbed. He saw a nurse once a fortnight for his injection but otherwise had little contact with services yet he was barely coping in the community. The drugs had serious side effects and had little, if any, benefit. He had been living like this for years and wanted to come off his medication.

His friend wanted psychotherapy but his psychiatrist was mocking of the idea yet Mr Hoggett found that using some simple counselling skills he had learnt on a phone line training event helped his friend considerably.

His friend came off his medication suddenly because he hated the effects. He then had a relapse and was detained under the mental health act. Mr Hoggett thinks that with proper advice on coming of the medication and with adequate psychological help his friend was likely to have avoided the relapse.

Recently Mr Hoggett accompanied another friend with multiple diagnosis, including schizophrenia, to see his psychiatrist to ask for psycho-therapy. He was told that the therapists in Berkshire NHS Healthcare Trust do not like providing therapy for people who have experienced psychosis as, “It could make it worse”. As there is an International Society for the Psychological Treatment of Schizophrenia and other Psychosis who list about one hundred books on the subject on their website he can only assume that the local therapists are badly trained. So he helped his friend find therapy through a voluntary agency on an IAPT contract (IAPT – individual access to psychological therapies). The voluntary agency said they did not treat people who had experienced psychosis but Mr Hoggett's friend had several other diagnosis he could use, and so he got the help he wanted, which he found extremely useful, unlike anything provided by Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust. (8)

Another of the founding members worked as an advocate for people detained under the mental health act. He noticed that psychiatrists generally made no attempt to understand what the patients were going through, preferring instead to explain their experiences as symptoms of an illness that would go away once the they agreed to comply with medication. Once patients were admitted to the hospital, they often became angry at having their freedom taken away, and frightened by the enormous power that professionals suddenly held over them. This fear and anger was always attributed to the “symptoms” of their illness, rather than to the frightening situation that they found themselves in.

1. Investigative journalist, Robert Whittaker's site, Mad in America, about the dangers and limits of psychiatric medication:

2. Article on Open Dialogue:

3. Account of Open Dialogue:

4. Article on Electro-Convulsive Therapy:

5. Oliver James article in The Guardian on personal trauma links to extreme mental distress:

6. Article on ADHD and stimulants:

7. Article on elderly people prescribed anti-psychotics:

8. International Society for the Psychological Treatment of Schizophrenia and other Psychosis -

Visit the event page on Facebook

July Newsletter.

Dear Friends,

Welcome to FEEL's July Newsletter. You will find a few nice and interesting dates for your diary for this month and beyond: from art exhibition, film premiere to a chance and right to protest at the Royal College of Psychiatry in London.

As always our wish is that services for the mental health sufferers will improve to the standards that people individually need, not to some "fits for all, fix them all" that some professional conveniently find and use.

The protest SPEAK OUT AGAINST PSYCHIATRY on 27th July will give a chance to SU to speak and soften the patronising role that majority of professionals have been leading up to today. Mistaking individuality of patients for some form of illness, the obvious failing of bringing people to a state of normality has only wasted lives and resources in most of cases, leaving an army of disempowered & dis-abled, while the enriched parmaceuthical companies BUY their leading seat in the mental health ladder.

Join us for our next monthly FEEL event, happening next Monday the 18th of July to discuss this and other matters. The agenda will be worked out on arrival: if you have any concern that you wish to be discussed we'll make sure to dedicate some time to it.