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 -

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