||Personal Stories of Harm:
Mike Hlebechuk (see his full story on www.mindfreedom.org)
[Mike had a happy childhood and was a high achiever. But after his father suddenly became verbally abusive and (after discovering that Mike had smoked marijuana,) repeatedly hit him, Mike became depressed, extremely anxious, and frightened. Without dealing with what had happened in Mike’s life that was connected with his anguish, a psychiatrist labeled him “Schizophrenic,” and he was hospitalized. When told about his father’s hitting him, the psychiatrist said he would have done the same if his son had smoked pot. As a result, Mike says, he] began to internalize the diagnosis and see myself not as Mike Hlebechuk, a human being, but rather as a paranoid schizophrenic. My belief in self was diminished to the point of thinking that I was worthless. I was the illness, and I was an illness to whoever was around me.
Mrs. Helen Lynn email@example.com
Five-year-old son filled the toilet with blood. Physician documented a torn bloody rectum and stated “this child has been abused”. Son’s rectum was swollen to the size of a hard ball, the color was beet red. Father’s reaction to the diagnosis was to go directly into divorce court. The abuse came first, before custody issues. There were no allegations. There is evidence suggesting that the young daughter was also abused.
On the court-ordered psychology test, father turned out paranoid schizophrenic-psychopath-skilled at deceiving-talented at exploiting the naïve, and narcissistic. Father was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Father was banned from the elementary school for inappropriate interaction with students.
Mother turned out all well within the normal range on psychology test. Court reports describe mother as hardworking-reliable-forthcoming-honest and an excellent mother.
Judge stated in court transcript that the father probably did abuse the children but was awarding the father sole custody because the mother had “Parental Alienation Syndrome.” The court-ordered investigation and report since the transfer of custody to the father shows that the children are suicidal, hearing voices, and suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
Professor Carol Bruch of UC-Davis Law School has written in the American Bar Association’s Family Law Quarterly about the illogical rationale that turns evidence of abuse into “evidence” of “Parental Alienation Syndrome.”
[Mrs. Lynn is the grandmother of the children.]
I was adopted from the Asian country where I was born and raised by a white family in a small American town. No one I saw while I was growing up looked anything like me, and neither my family -- wonderful though they were in many respects -- nor anyone else ever mentioned my being Asian. Certainly no one ever talked with me about my culture or country or religion of origin or about what it felt like to be the only Asian person in town. I felt so weird and alienated that I became very depressed. I was given a psychiatric diagnosis. This did not help. In fact, it only added to my conviction that something was wrong with me. Added to feeling strange and different in the first place was the "knowledge" that I was also "mentally ill." Then one day I came to a large city and by chance ended up in Chinatown. All around me were people who looked like me, and some were buying groceries, and some were riding bicycles, and some were talking with friends...just living ordinary lives, not looking different and apparently not feeling alienated and "sick." That is when my depression lifted.
I have been diagnosed with Dysthymic Disorder since I was thirteen.
One kind of harm I suffered from receiving a diagnosis, in and of itself, is that it seemed so final and despairing to receive as a teenager. For me, having a diagnosis seemed so final. Like it wasn't just a temporary issue that I was having, adjustment or adolescence of something, but this disorder that I was going to have for the rest of my life no matter what I did. It made it difficult to see a point in trying to work through therapy.
A psychiatrist also tried to diagnose me with Borderline Personality Disorder when I was sixteen, based on a single conversation in which I said that I was having difficulty getting along with my parents. Luckily, my therapist, (who was amazing) kept [the psychiatrist] from putting that diagnosis on my record.
Michael E. Rupp firstname.lastname@example.org
Ten and a half years ago, at the age of 27, my wife aspirated or stopped breathing before being diagnosed with Wilson’s Disease (WD). Her hospital stay was five months and cost $750,000. It was all unnecessary. Wilson’s Disease results in a deficiency in the copper-carrying protein ceruloplasmin, which allows the accumulation of copper in one’s body tissue. WD has profound psychiatric effects and causes cirrhosis of the liver and neurological effects. A major symptom of WD is Psychosis. Left untreated, WD is fatal. The current test is a blood test, and treatment is zinc given orally.
[If WD is not recognized, people who have it can be mistakenly diagnosed as mental illness, especially with] ADD/ADHD, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, anti-social behavior, and Alzheimer's Disease. If undiagnosed, it can lead to suicide. [However, if] you look at DSM-IV, only aluminum and arsenic are mentioned in connection with psychiatric problems. My wife had early age asthma [one sign of WD and] was diagnosed as a child with Attention Deficit Disorder and put in special education. She was not tested for copper level in her body.
[Since psychoactive drugs called SSRIs are often prescribed for people given some of the above named diagnostic labels, it is important to know that the [research] literature links SSRIs to increasing copper levels. [Furthermore,] if SSRIs do not work then the psychiatrist [may] put the patient on [electroshock].
I'm a 52-year-old woman who was diagnosed as "Bipolar, Manic, with Psychotic Features" when I was 50 years old. I had no prior psychiatric history. My husband chose the diagnosis and gave it to hospital staff at an emergency psychiatric facility. The diagnosis was accepted without question by all mental health professionals I encountered during the six worst weeks of my life. [In spite of this,] I'm doing very well now, but just receiving that diagnosis led to a cascade of horrible consequences, many of which are probably permanent.
My husband's diagnosis of me is firmly established in the medical records of two public psychiatric facilities and at the county MHMR offices where the hospital sent my records (so that I would have "continuity of care" -- a requirement for discharge.)
Here is what had happened:
[For several weeks prior to her initial diagnosis, Anonymous had been under extreme stress due to occurrences that would have been extremely stressful to most people. She had also been unable to sleep for several days. She says that mental and physical stress, along with a lack of sleep, took their toll on her.]
I had been acting weird. After several days of very little sleep and two days of no sleep at all, I began to exhibit symptoms of a thought disorder. Over the course of the next few days, as I continued to be unable to sleep, I became increasingly confused and disoriented; my speech and behavior got progressively more disorganized; my emotions became very unstable; and I had paranoid delusions. By the time my husband took me to the hospital, I was completely out of touch with reality, was talking nonsense, didn't know where I was, and was extremely sensitive to sound and light. I even curled under chairs in the hospital waiting room several times to escape from noise and bright lights.
Here are some negative consequences I experienced:
• I lost custody of my 16-year-old daughter for eight months. She was sent away by my husband while I was hospitalized because he, she, and my sister thought that living with a mother who supposedly had Bipolar Disorder would be too stressful for her.
• I lost three part-time jobs that were all to have started during the time I was hospitalized.
• I lost my volunteer position in my church. The board voted unanimously not to keep me as a church officer. They assumed that I was, and would continue to be, so incapacitated by my "Bipolar Disorder" that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my duties. None of them felt it necessary to even talk to me about that decision before it was made. I was vice president of the board of directors.
• A lot of former friends and acquaintances avoid me now. Many friends and family members have stopped sending me email, since the diagnosis. Very few people are uncomfortable allowing me to talk about what I went through. My family members have been told that they shouldn't be optimistic about my year and a half without psychiatric symptoms, since "people with bipolar disorder always have relapses."
• I currently have no health insurance. The reason is that the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas application for Temporary Comprehensive Major Medical Insurance says: "If the answer is “Yes” to any of the following questions, this coverage cannot be issued: In the past five years, have you or any family member to be covered ever received any medical or surgical consultation, advice or treatment including medication for any of the following: heart or circulatory system disorder including heart attack or stroke; diabetes; cancer or tumors; disorder of the blood; mental or nervous conditions or disorders; alcoholism or alcohol abuse; drug abuse, addiction or dependency?" Since I prefer not to lie, I am still uninsured.
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Altitudes for Community Excellence, Inc.
I work with foster children in the state of California.
I met “April” when she was five-years of age. April is a foster child. She was a beautiful and brilliant, African American girl who had been removed from her mother's custody due to neglect and abuse. She had also been sexually molested, probably by another relative.
April was very bright academically, but she was angry about the multitudes of things that had happened to her in her young life. In her group home placement, she would frequently have tantrums, resisting going to bed. April's evening tantrums became increasingly intense, and resulted in her being assessed by a psychiatrist, diagnosed and labeled, and drugged with multiple psychotropic drugs. Instead of her history of abuse and neglect being dealt with, she was diagnosed as ADHD, Bipolar, and Emotionally Disturbed. She was confined in a so-called treatment hospital an entire summer.
When released in September to return to school, April still had the evening tantrums. April's social worker then had her placed in a "treatment center," a residential facility where the children live and go to school. All children are drugged, and once placed in such a facility, most children never leave until their 18th birthday, at which point, they emerge into the society an involuntary addict, ill prepared to meet the demands of the society.
April is now nine years of age. If she had someone on her side who would remain consistent in her life, and offer love, support, guidance, and opportunity to breathe, she might survive. But this will never be the case. Drugs are being used as the answer to her needs and a substitute for the mother that is missing from her life. And so, April continues to cry out for help, but no one can hear her behind the closed locked doors.
Phyllis R. Silverman SILVERMAN@HELIX.MGH.HARVARD.EDU
I am Professor Emerita at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions and am currently a scholar in residence at the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center.
When we medicalize grief, we do all of us a disservice. What are the consequences for society if we look at grief--as deviant behavior that can be fixed with treatment?
I have complaints from people that family and friends don't want to hear about their sorrow and tell them to "take a pill." "Are you taking your medicine? And have you seen your therapist?" This is offensive.
As a result they join support groups were they meet other widowed people who are supportive and understanding, etc. This is a good solution but not a psychiatric one. And what about those who don't find help and whose family, clergy, or physician send them off to a therapist to "fix" their grief? Can it be fixed?
I have written about this in several places, including my book, Widow to Widow.
Rich Winkel email@example.com
As a childhood [electro]shock survivor, whose mother was mentally murdered by [electro]shock (women have long been prime targets) it's impossible for me to communicate the depth of cruelty, arrogance and demonstrable criminal complicity of psychiatric shock pushers who have KNOWINGLY inflicted brain damaging treatments on unwitting patients/victims as a routine practice under fraudulent consent.
My mother (and, later, I) was "diagnosed" with "depression," as if we had some kind of short circuit or demons in our brains that caused irrational delusions of misery. The reality was that we had excellent reasons for being miserable: we lived with a brute (my father), who was emotionally and physically abusive to the entire family. My father hired a psychiatrist to "fix" us, which meant to suppress the overt symptoms of our discontent, so that my father could maintain the myth of his own normalcy. Since the psychiatrist was hired and paid by my father, he of course had a profound conflict of interest between his duty to his "patients" and his wallet. He chose to blame the victims.
We were subjected to [electro]shock “treatment.” My mother had dozens, later I had 6, when I was 15. It was the most unimaginably devastating catastrophe I've ever experienced. I've been picking up the pieces of my life ever since.
My mother (of 4 young boys) killed herself soon after her treatments. I understand completely why she did it, and I don't blame her. As for myself, instead of finishing the job the shrink started, I've been trying to make a life for myself while dragging around a lifeless child-corpse inside of me, as if my Siamese twin had died.
In a larger context… studies show that somewhere between 50 and 80% of psychiatric inmates have histories of domestic abuse victimization, and more than half have a diagnosis of "depression" (i.e. internalized oppression). Assuming a society-wide domestic abuse victimization rate of 20%, this means that domestic abuse victims are between 4 and 16 TIMES more likely to be committed than non-abused people.
If psychiatry was a science, it would be shouting this discovery from the rooftops and congratulating itself for finding a major cause of depression. But it's much more profitable to simply drug the victim and thus help to perpetuate the cause of the problem.
Since familial abusers tend to be the same people who initiate [psychiatric hospitalization] committal in a family, psychiatry's main business model seems to be to provide enforcement services to domestic abusers, while taking the abuse to a whole new level. So the "diagnosis" we received from the shrink turned out to be an economically self-serving rationalization for the status quo and a value judgment which placed the "man-of-the-house" rights of my father above the human rights of the rest of the family. The social pathology and misogyny implicit in all this should be self-evident. Research in the UK has shown that [what gets labeled] “Schizophrenia” among black people is strongly linked to social oppression rather than genetics. In short, it appears psychiatry has made a science of fraud and human rights abuse on a massive scale.
Jan Comstock firstname.lastname@example.org
I am one of those people who were falsely diagnosed by a psychologist in a custody evaluation.
My husband, of whom countless examples of unstable and controlling behavior were [reported] by five teen and adult children of ours, as well as myself, was found to be a 'pretty good dad' - despite emotional abuse, verbal abuse, animal abuse, financial abuse, etc.
I raised ten children, was being emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, financially, and verbally abused - and was very tired of it. I was trying to
get out, as were the older children [In spite of this, the psychologist] ended up labeling me 'Delusional' - recommending my abusive husband to have sole legal and physical custody of five minor children, and recommending sending our two teen sons to boarding school. This was devastating.
Fortunately, his recommendations were not followed, but it cost our family great distress, as the siblings couldn't see each other for three months, and the little ones went five weeks without seeing me. The psychologist says my ‘delusion’ is of an unusual nature, that I am a very well-functioning person, but have a 'fixed idea' about my husband - that he is abusive So, for almost two years now, I've had crying, pleading children, wanting to live with me - while the abuser gets them and uses them in his continuing efforts to make me 'submit'.
Dave Walker, Ph.D. email@example.com
Ani'sahoni Consulting Services
608 Superior Lane
Yakima, WA 98902
The following are cases from my own experience working with Native people here. They are all quite true but with some alterations in identifying information.
Story of Ms. M
Ms. M was a Native American client diagnosed with “Bipolar II Disorder,” who introduced herself as “I’m Bipolar” before giving her name. She had been hospitalized by psychiatrists three times across a 10-year period. She dropped out of her first year of college because a psychiatrist said that her disorder made it impossible for her to succeed. She now lived alone on an SSI benefit and had few friends. At first, she was shocked by [a new] therapist’s challenge that seeing her self “as a diagnosis” might be helping her avoid bigger problems in her life. Soon, she began wondering what she might gain within the role of a “mentally-ill, Bipolar psychiatric patient.” Eventually, Ms. M began creative writing for the first time in 10 years and re-encountered the pain of her mother’s physical abuse of her and her siblings. Her mother had grown up learning this behavior in a federally-run Indian boarding school. Recently, her mother had been gambling away her profoundly developmentally-disabled brother’s benefit, leaving him in poor health. Ms. M decided to confront her mother in court, and, while she did not completely prevail, her mother took notice and began caring more for her brother. No longer imprisoned by her psychiatric label, Ms. M dropped most of her medications, resumed college, became president of the Indian Club, and was last noted to be working on a masters degree. If she had not questioned her psychiatric diagnosis, where would she be?
Story of Johnny
When I began working with him, Johnny was a 15-year-old Native American boy who had been diagnosed with “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”. After 6 years on Ritalin, we discovered he had a hearing deficit in his left ear, a fact that was known but ignored in his original ADHD diagnosis. Because of hearing loss, he would try to sit close to the front of class, but because his head was cocked when listening, it looked like he was staring out the window. With this long-ignored hearing problem, Johnny had many academic failures and was anxious about class tests and assignments. I sent him to an audiologist, then taught him to meditate in order to cope with his performance anxiety. He began to excel at school. He was the first among his siblings to successfully graduate from high school. Because of his ADHD diagnosis, Johnny had spent 6 years in special education classrooms, with his hearing problem ignored.
Story of Lillie
A helpful intervention with unemployed Native American client 33-year-old Lillie came when she said she thought her childhood diagnosis of “Learning Disorder” made her inferior to her white, college classmates. She admitted that she felt most Native Americans were born intellectually inferior to white people. I told her that I did not agree with her on this point, so she should be prepared for “a formal debate” at our next session in two days. She returned to the session saying she could not stop thinking about my challenge“if I win the debate, I prove I’m inferior and, if you win, I will feel inferior.” I noted that this must be how it feels to be stuck feeling inferior just because you are a Native person with a childhood LD diagnosis. Lillie gained some confidence and resumed employment at a better job but could not bring herself to finish college, due to her fears of being discriminated against for “being slow”.
Story of Stevie
Native American Stevie was 10 years old when he was diagnosed with “Bipolar Disorder, Childhood Onset,” an “unapproved” DSM [psychiatric diagnostic manual] category increasingly utilized around here. He had been placed on heavy dosages of several psychiatric medications, rather than being taken out of the place where he lived with periodic physical and sexual abuse, violence, and abandonment. After several weeks on twice the recommended adult daily dose of Zoloft, he hung himself from a cherry tree behind his grandfather’s house. More recent revelations linking SSRI antidepressants, “akathisia” and suicide in children and youth might have saved his life. His psychiatric label of “Bipolar Disorder” though not even officially approved for the diagnostic manual was carte blanche for providers to experiment on him.
On www.mindfreedom.org there are 36 oral histories, with contact information for each person. Some of those are included in the collection here.
Terry Bailey-Pullen (see full story on www.mindfreedom.org) [who was under tremendous pressures at work and had a “breakdown,” was put on numerous medications. They were changed in rapid succession, and at one point (on the basis of having been given several psychiatric diagnoses), he was on nine psychotropic drugs at a time. When adverse reactions to the medications included “seeing demons” clawing themselves out of his walls, his medications were increased, thus worsening the terrifying images. At one point, he went into a coma, and he was given an antidepressant while in a “coma-like state,” something that would have been unlikely if he had not had a psychiatric label. His wife’s request for a procedure that would have relieved the pressure in his central nervous system was refused, and he was never given a CT scan. It was later learned that this was because] “the consultant of neurology was under the misguided impression that anxiety was causing my collapse and that I had a ‘psychogenic’ coma!!!”
Beate Braun (see full story on www.mindfreedom.org) [who was labeled a Chronic Paranoid Schizophrenic, was forced to take powerful psychoactive drugs that] caused me to have these awful convulsions, [and when she reported this to hospital staff, she was disbelieved because of her psychiatric diagnosis.] When I would complain, the doctor told me that I was lying, I didn't have convulsions, and wouldn't do anything to help me. [Furthermore, being labeled led to her being treated in a dehumanizing way:] If you are diagnosed with schizophrenia, they talk with you like you are not there. They talk about you but not with you, but you have to hear it. But if you really want to talk, the doctors and nurses in the hospital don't have time for a conversation.
Ted Chabasinski J.D. (see full story on www.mindfreedom.org) [was in a foster home as a child. When he wanted to] stay in the back yard and make mud pies with my sister, [he was labeled] passive and withdrawn, and my mommy and daddy were supposed to encourage me to explore the neighborhood more. When I started to wander around the neighborhood, I went to a neighbor's garden and picked some flowers. [As a result, he was labeled “hostile.” He was admitted to Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric ward, where he was] one of the first children to be ‘treated’ with electric shock. I was six years old.
Donita Diamata (see full story on www.mindfreedom.org) [began by feeling depressed and anxious, but the more mental health professionals she saw, the more different diagnoses she was given, and with each new diagnosis came more, new medications presumably targeted at the problems represented by the new labels. Because she had been thus labeled, no one asked her about the most fundamental things, such as about what her life was like. As a result of the multiple drugs, she had terrific physical problems and hallucinations, which led to her being diagnosed as Schizophrenic. At age 25, she was wrongly persuaded that she had an “eating disorder,” and this belief was exacerbated when she started losing weight, although the weight loss was due to her taking Prozac.]
Andrea DoSantos (see full story on www.mindfreedom.org) [felt depressed and was put on Prozac. The Prozac led to an episode of “mania,” but instead of recognizing that it was caused by the medication, the clinician diagnosed her as “Bipolar.”]
Janet Foner (see full story on www.mindfreedom.org) [having been labeled “schizophrenic,” was subjected to] humiliation, patronized by some staff, cruel and unusual boredom, analysis as a ‘caseespecially by being ‘presented’ at case conferences. [She found that tremendous obstacles after being diagnosed included] the idea that you are a ‘mental patient’ for life, there is something mysterious and wrong with you that no one knows how to cure.
Leonard Roy Frank (see full story on www.mindfreedom.org) [discovered that he had been given a provisional diagnosis of Schizophrenia, and he found this by reading a report that pointed out that he] had become asocial, had grown a beard, was not working, had become a vegetarian, and… ‘was living the life of a beatnik to a certain extent.’ [His parents had insisted on his getting psychiatric care because, as a young adult, he had changed from being quite materialistic to becoming fascinated with ideas like those of Gandhi, to the point that he lost his job. On the “flimsy evidence” described above, he was committed to a psychiatric facility, where he was held for more than 7 months and subjected to 50 insulin coma “treatments” and 35 electrode convulsive “treatments.”]
Dianne Post, MA (Psychology) PostDlpost@aol.com
Coordinator, Phoenix Women Take Back the Night, Phoenix, AZ
I have a master’s degree in psychology and have been a lawyer since 1979 representing women and children who have been battered and raped. There is no doubt that such diagnoses are used against women and children; not only the false Parental Alienation Syndrome, but many others as well.
Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D., Clinical and Research Psychologist
Teenaged children of immigrants to the United States often have conflicts with their parents about how much to hold onto their culture and language of origin and how much the children should be allowed to follow this country's practices of allowing adolescents considerable independence. In my clinical experience, I have often seen therapists label the children as having "Conduct Disorder" or "Oppositional Defiant Disorder," thus treating them as mentally ill instead of having understandable responses to culture clashes, and I have often seen therapists label the parents of these teens as "over controlling," "passive-aggressive," or "guilt-inducing." Recently, a colleague who runs a multicultural program in a large city told me that they avoid giving psychiatric labels to the children, and instead of providing standard psychiatric "treatment," they do other, elegantly simple things that they find tremendously effective. For instance, they show the teens films about the immigrant experience and find that they are simply astonished by what their parents have gone through. Often, the parents have tried to protect their children from worry by not telling them some of the worst troubles they have had in leaving, sometimes even having to escape from, their native countries, but even if they have told their stories, it's one thing for the teens to hear them at home, where they may feel their parents are exaggerating the negative aspects or trying to make them feel guilty; it's quite another thing to see well-made films told by people other than their own family members and to do so in the company of other teens who are in similar situations. And instead of pathologizing the children and the parents, which tends to increase the tensions and conflicts between them, approaches like the showing of these films, followed by discussion, helps the children understand their parents' contexts and thus tends to draw them closer together, the emphasis being on the health of the parent-child relationships and desirability of encouraging closeness and mutual understanding rather than simply encouraging the teens, for instance, to rebel against overprotective parents or giving parents the message that their adolescents' upset about the culture clash is somehow "sick" and possibly even the parents' fault.
Using a similar, nonpathologizing approach, the people who run the same program also avoid psychiatric labeling of the adult immigrants who often come to the attention of the mental health system and are diagnosed as "depressed" and given medication in response to the disturbances these individuals are feeling as a result of missing their homelands and feeling frightened and disoriented in the new culture. But in this very different program, the clinicians simple, nonpathologizing approaches. For instance, instead of focusing on how many criteria for "Major Depressive Disorder" in the psychiatric manual these immigrants meet, they focus on listening to their stories and getting to know who they are, understanding their contexts in order to be able better to understand the causes of their problems. They ask them to describe in their own words the feelings they are having. Terms like "profound sadness" and "fear" are often used, and these terms are so obviously understandable, healthy responses to loss and disorientation that it is easier to help them avoid feeling bad about feeling bad. And just using ordinary, unofficial terms to describe their feelings is an important step in allowing them to grieve in helpful ways. One experienced clinician who has long worked in that program says, "What is frightening is how much they don't tell the doctors who primarily label them and put them on medications. Their holding back so much can be dangerous, given the medications that they are prescribed. None of us wants to be seen in stereotyped, pathologizing ways that do not reflect who we are."
Whatever happened to the Hippocratic oath of “First, do no harm”?
I suffered severe physical illness Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for five years which was always overlooked or disregarded, in favour of the mental health diagnosis - which none of the [psychiatrists] tested or challenged. Instead, they just accepted it and wrote prescriptions for more drugs which did no good. Appropriate and effective treatment was with-held for five years while the doctors just kept throwing prescriptions at me and not looking any further.
During the five years that I was declared a mental health patient I was just given increasing doses of various SSRIs, which led to toxicity problems and major cognitive dysfunction which persist to this day. Five years of feeling like death and getting nowhere with the medical profession feels like a very long time. What annoys me even more is that I had to pay for all the useless sessions with them, that none of them could think beyond SSRIs.
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Nathaniel S. Lehrman, M.D.
10 Nob Hill Gate, Roslyn NY 11576
Former Clinical Director, Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, Brooklyn NY;
One time Chairman, Task Force on Religion and Mental Health, Commission on Synagogue Relations, New York Federation of Jewish Philanthropies.
I was born in 1923, was graduated from Harvard in 1942, got married in 1944, and got my M.D. (from Albany Med.) in 1946. I then went through formal psychiatric training and was certified in psychiatry, psychoanalysis and administrative psychiatry. I then worked in New York State Office of Mental Health facilities until I retired in 1978, after 5 1/2 years as Clinical Director at Kingsboro Psychiatric Center in Brooklyn.
I had an experience in the early 1950's, shortly after I started in private practice, of how psychiatric diagnosis can harm. A young mother was referred to me for aftercare upon her discharge from Hillside Hospital, where I had trained and where I was on the clinic staff. We met, I took a history and I saw no obstacle to our working together psychotherapeutically.
At the end of the meeting, she asked me her diagnosis, and I told her "schizophrenia" - her hospital diagnosis which, even then, I did not consider irreversible. But that's apparently how she saw it, because she went home and hanged herself.
Since then, I have never used that term with a patient or a family; for those disorganized enough to meet the diagnostic criteria, I merely say they are somewhat disorganized and that our therapeutic task is to help them get their heads together again.
The basic problem with psychiatric diagnosis, as I see it, is its denial of the ease with which people's minds can change. Someone facing a difficult situation can be anxious on Monday, depressed on Tuesday and a bit disorganized “schizzy” - on Wednesday. Whichever day he is seen by the psychiatrist will determine his "diagnosis," which will in turn magnify his related symptoms and dampen the others.
Even more important is the permanence which "diagnosis," (schizophrenia especially,) is supposed to possess. Although I had a schizophrenic break (my response to drugs during that episode is described in Bob Whitaker's superb book, "Mad in America"), many of my psychiatric colleagues insisted that the diagnosis had to be wrong because I recovered. This means that whenever these colleagues diagnose someone as having "schizophrenia," they are convinced in their hearts that the patient will never recover. This attitude is hardly helpful for the patients they care for!
Renee Jacques firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a member of the Yahoo Non Custodial Moms group. I am the proud mother of two boys, Brandon, 15, and Alex, 6. Based in large part on my having been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder by a psychiatrist who had spent only fifteen minutes with me, I lost custody of my six-year-old little boy in my case that is still being fought today.
I wish there was something more I could do, to prevent these Judges from ruling how they do outside of the law. But it takes money that I no longer have. I've already spent my life savings and my husband has cashed in stocks to pay attorney's fees that we have incurred. I'm now tainted, no matter what court room I walk into up against my ex. As soon as they say, "She was diagnosed Bi-Polar" automatically I'm labeled as being crazy.
As long as there is breath in my body, I will continue to fight for justice and the return of my child. I will make a difference in how a mental diagnosis will not result in the loss of a Mother's child.
A new Doctor I sought out, who was referred to me on my new Insurance Plan, misdiagnosed me with BiPolar2 Disorder. Approximately one year later, changing Doctors in the meantime, my actual diagnosis is Depression triggered by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The initial Doctor put me on five different medications, knowing I was a social drinker and failing to advise me not to consume alcoholic beverages, until I ended up in the Intensive Care Unit after having drinks with my coworkers. During my hospitalization, Alex's father filed an Ex-parte Motion for custody of our son, accusing me of attempting suicide and stating that I was an unfit mother. With no proof of his accusations against me, [the judge] granted the Motion in a matter of hours, without my knowledge, because … “Bipolar” was written in the Motion against me.
I fought in court over a period of nine months. It was proven in court that it was not an attempted suicide. My toxicology reports show it was a medication error, and my meds were taken as prescribed by my attending physician. Two Psychiatrists, one testified in court, the other via medical records and his assessment of me, that I am not suicidal, this was a medication error and I am more than able to parent my children. The Doctor even admitted on the stand, on the record, that he failed to advise me not to consume alcohol when he handed me a sample pack of medication and sent me on my way.
During court proceedings the Dept. of Children and Families (DCF) of Florida investigated the alleged suicide attempt and my inability to mother my children as the father of my child accused. After a lengthy investigation, D.C.F. found that it was not a suicide attempt and I was more than able to parent my children. A report from DCF stating those found facts was also submitted to the court, and hand delivered, once again, to [the judge]. The Judge ignored those issues.
During these grueling hearings, it was proven that the father of my son is abusive both physically and mentally in the presence of our son. His current wife testified against him regarding his violent behavior and his jealous rages in the presence of our child, as well as her own child who is the same age.
The Judge took my child away from me and gave him to a known abuser because I was a diagnosed Bi Polar 2 Patient. This same judge had ordered an injunction for protection from domestic violence for me against the father of my son three years prior to these hearings.
Ann Petersen email@example.com
I was harmed by diagnosis because the underlying medical, nonpsychiatric conditions were not addressed. I have been hurt socially because of the stigma attached to the "Bipolar" diagnosis, but when I was homeless, having a diagnosis actually helped me take advantage of some programs that helped me a great deal. I don't think of myself as "Bipolar" or "Manic Depressive" and because I don't consider that a real diagnosis for myself, I don't let it affect me. The psychiatrists can go ahead and pooh-pooh my alternative medicine and the solutions that I've found, and I will continue to live a good life despite them.
I suffered my first depression in my senior year at high school. I had problems concentrating on schoolwork and suffered night terrors and even hallucinated occasionally. In retrospect, I was eating very poorly and was drawn powerfully to sugar and chocolate.
My first “manic” episode hit at the age of 21 when I was on my own. My sisters took me to the hospital “for a rest” in the psychiatric ward. The doctors didn’t know quite what to make of me, so they tried lithium and a thorazine-like medication on me. If it worked, then they would classify me as having “Manic Depression” or what is now known as, “Bipolar Disorder”. The meds controlled me quickly, so that was the label that stuck. I hated the lithium with a passion and tried to go off of it five times. For four of those times, I ended up in the hospital. Lithium slowed down my metabolism (it was suppressing my already diseased thyroid), gave me acne and lots of weight gain.
Finally, years later, at an emergency clinic, I met a doctor that changed my life. I had been having severe abdominal pains and basically crawled in to see Dr. Randy Baker. He asked me if I’d ever heard of “candida albicans”. I hadn’t. He gave me a list of books to read. I rushed to tell my psychiatrist about it all, and he told me, “Put the books away! There are a few witch doctors around town that believe in that sort of thing. You have to accept that you have a very serious mental illness and that you will have to remain on heavy drugs for the rest of your life. But if you stay on your medication, you will be able to lead a near normal life.”
I put myself on the [candida albicans] diet. When my digestion was restored to good health, I became clear minded, calm, good-natured, had energy and slept like a baby. I could focus, make snap decisions and accomplish much more in a day than ever before.
It wasn’t until much later, after slipping further away from the candida diet that ADD-like symptoms, fatigue and depression returned. When I lost my fiancé and my job on Valentine’s Day 1997, I turned to a food bank to help me pull through my financial crisis. This food was mostly packaged, additive-laden and 90% gluten. Things went from bad to worse, and after a protracted and anxiety-ridden descent into overwhelming uselessness, I ended up homeless.
I have met so many psychiatrists that are resistant to investigating how underlying health conditions can lead to psychiatric or neurological symptoms. It’s a form of tunnel vision that is often fiercely guarded. There is also a dearth of doctors that understand nutrition and its powerful complexities.
15 Hartford St.
San Francisco CA 94114
Of special concern to me is the high rate (especially in the past) of autism, Tourette’s Syndrome and other similar neurological conditions being misdiagnosed (frequently as schizophrenia). I'm aware of a number of people on the internet who suffered greatly in institutions, often with inappropriate and dangerous medication.
Dan Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a practicing therapist, grad school educator, and Ph.D. candidate in counselor education at the University at Buffalo (SUNY).
I spent the summer conducting groups for folks with an Axis I diagnosis. In most cases what was keeping them in group and treatment, hindering their recovery, was their belief, their primary counselor's belief and their psychiatrist's belief in their diagnosis. It was as if a damaging fable were co-created between these folks to hold the client in place.
Victoria Denise Gaines email@example.com
I can talk a mile a minute. And have tremendous energy. I also can have the tendency to jump from one thought to another (associations) because my thoughts come so rapidly, I think about so much and I can see how so many things are connected to another. But obviously, I can also think very logically and consecutively, or I could not have been a very good programmer. [She had worked for the same corporation for 13 years.] But my strengths are written up as part of my alleged Bi-polar illness. My own idiosyncratic belief in my Creator is part of my alleged delusions and Schizo-affective Disease/Disorder. Dear God, I think "too fast," talk "too fast," move too fast and can run circles around most people. For that I must suffer. I must be slowed down. Or so the shrinks think.
Mental health hospital records are part of my history, and should ever anyone inquire as to who and what I am or was, I will not be remembered as what I thought I was (an extremely smart and capable Black woman) but for my alleged mental illness.
[Victoria was involuntarily committed.] Disputes on my job with management [she had stood up against them for what she thought was right see more detail about this in “Want to Read More?”] which my mother became aware of and became concerned about and used as part of the justification for my involuntary commitment. My mom was upset that I was supposedly going into work and "arguing" with management--never the truth for I was always civil, logical and well-prepared.
Police came to my hotel room after being sent by my Mom, I believe. [And she was locked up a second time, when a violent ex-boyfriend told police that she was a "non-compliant mental case not taking her medication." She arrived at the psychiatric ward bruised and frightened, but no one would listen to her.] My former involuntary commitment and diagnosis were used to keep me hospitalized against my will. Everything I said was discounted. Everything my ex, my family and former hospital records said were taken as truth. This is when I learned what power a mental illness diagnosis can have over a person. You become a lying non-entity.
The first way the diagnosis harmed me is that I could immediately see that family and some friends treated me differently--as if I could be easily written off as a "head case." Because of my anger at being involuntarily committed, all the truths about what happened to me beforehand and during hospitalization could easily be ignored by them. It is not that I was taken that seriously in the first place (that is partly why, when my behavior changed it was seen as a sign/symptom of mental illness rather than someone attempting to act differently than in the ways which seemed to have no effect upon people) but now people had an authoritative reason for discounting me, for I was certified delusional, irrational and allegedly suffering from hallucinations. What does a person have if they do not have their credibility and good name? I feel both of mine have been taken away from me with this mental illness label.
[She was also harmed because, even after being diagnosed with TMJ [a painful jaw disorder] and a hiatal hernia, those physical disorders were ignored by medical professionals, who] ...are quick to suggest I see a psychologist or psychiatrist.
[In addition to the diagnoses already mentioned, she was called] paranoid (because I knew they wanted to commit me and keep me committed), grandiose (because I dared defend myself with intelligence,) and psychotic (a given with the alleged severity of my illness, delusions, hallucinations and such. It was not until this happened to me that I realized how powerless I am and how a person really does not have any inalienable rights or right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness in this so-called land of freedom.
It was during my hospitalization that it was noted that I talk fast, etc., and was (therefore?) incoherent, etc. My second and subsequent hospitalizations had more to say about my "rapidities" and other incoherencies or whatever.
My family had listed as causes for my breakdown the death of my step-grandfather about a year earlier and a recent breakup with my boyfriend. I was upset about my ex but not my grandfather. I felt that part of what I did wrong with my ex was not speak up (and stand up to his racism and sexism), so I was going out of my way to speak up and be heard, to both my bosses and my Mom.
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In middle school I started having a great deal of social difficulties. True or not, I at least believed I was the least liked kid in the school. I was very hyper sensitive when I was aware of people’s opinions, as well as totally oblivious to most unspoken social protocol. What little I was aware of seemed totally illogical, so I ignored it as well.
[Anonymous did have some friends, who were also into computers. Anonymous also had allergies but didn’t understand them at the time. Repeated courses of antibiotics in eighth grade failed to cure a sinus infection, along with stress from the social situation at school, so he was] “. . . in a funk, and a bit disoriented.
Eventually the doctor decided it must be psychosomatic, even though I was running a constant low-grade fever. I was put on Stellazine, which I remained on until college. The sinus infection vanished on its own in the spring. It was only after going off [the Stellazine, when I started college] that I realized the significant effect it had had on my academic abilities, probably costing me a shot at MIT. Even with the sleep loss, smoking a bit too much pot, and everything else that goes with freshman year of college, I was suddenly much more clear-headed and went from being a B-C student to getting almost straight A grades upon discontinuing Stellazine. Only many years later did I find out about the risk of TD [tardive dyskinesia] and other negative effects of the drug that I'd been exposed to.
Later I found out that my diagnosis had been "probable Schizophrenia" although Asperger's Syndrome had been discovered decades earlier, and I clearly exhibited the standard symptoms, conditions, gifts, etc. common to it.
Things haven't really improved for kids today. Upon an accurate diagnosis of autism or Asperger's they are often enrolled in programs which attempt to enforce “normal” behavior. As horrible as school was for me, at least the bullies there aren't given complete power over your life.
I'm now earning good money as a programmer.
Moss Bliss, Doctor of Divinity firstname.lastname@example.org
I was on some form of psychoactive drug for some diagnosis or other from the age of 12 until I took myself off them in November 2003 (just prior to my 51st birthday) in favor of some rather normal supplements (primarily fish oil, lithium orotate, B vitamins, and magnesium).
At age 31, a doctor labeled me as having "Mild Cyclothymic Disorder" and prescribed lithium. By the time I was 38, this diagnosis changed to Bipolar II, and by 45 it was Bipolar I with Anxiety Disorder. The drugs were “helping” me so much that my "disease" continued to progress. Every time I talked to my therapist about a problem I had, he informed me it was "just part of your disease", and often suggested adding another drug to my regimen to help with it.
The process [of realizing that I was not “mentally ill” and therefore shouldn’t have been psychiatrically labeled] was not really complete until I had totally recovered from the drugs. Somebody, I don't remember who, recommended the ALT-therapies4bipolar Yahoogroup. After several months, I started asking my doctor questions. I got no answers.
Everything has changed [since I took myself off of medication and switched to ordinary supplements!] The first 5 months or so off the drugs were especially difficult, as my emotions became more "real" and less a product of the drugs, and I had to deal with feeling the side-effects of the drugs going away.
With much thanks to the Recovery Inc. process and my other support group, as well as all my friends on and offline, I have managed to recover some sense of who *I* am without compromise.
At NO TIME in my therapy did any doctor, therapist, psychologist, etc., suggest that I might control any part of this "disease". I was [labeled] "sick" and therefore not in any way responsible for my behavior. Any change in behavior only indicated to them that they needed to make a change in the drugs they were treating me with.
The change in me has been monumental. I feel I am in control of myself, instead of fighting for survival. Whatever drugs the doctors had me on, I always felt like I was a foot underwater fighting for the surface.
Freedom Center, Northampton, MA
My experience with the mental health system and its treatments, many of them administered to me without my consent and offered no other options, was negative and harmful. My diagnosis became part of the problem, not the solution.
I am a founder and leading organizer with the Freedom Center, a volunteer self-help and advocacy group run by and for people with severe mental illness diagnoses. In 1992 I received a diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder Schizophrenia while in a locked psychiatric ward. “Very frightened, withdrawn and confused” was the basis for diagnosing me. Oh -- I made mistake of telling them my dad was diagnosed schizophrenic and my cousin -- so they assumed it was genetic!
I was certainly going through a great deal of pain at that time. I was withdrawn, overstressed from very chaotic and oppressive work conditions, poor, and in an extreme state of consciousness from the stress I was under, with distorted thinking, perceptions, etc. Some of the specific factors that led to being in so much pain were poverty, the ongoing effects of trauma and violence in my life and chaotic family upbringing, the stress of living in an urban environment, and isolation from others. I should not have been forced to be in a hospital. Though I needed a break, it should have been offered voluntarily. I lost 2 jobs, and my situation was thrown into much greater disarray by the abrupt, forced hospitalization.
Being diagnosed as schizophrenic was deeply humiliating, taught me to distrust my innermost feelings and thoughts, and encouraged me to surrender my autonomy and self reliance to others. It pushed me deeper into isolation and separation from the rest of humanity. My diagnostic label promoted despair and threatened to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When they imposed a schizophrenia diagnosis on me, they prevented me from exploring my experience for myself and learning how to understand and heal myself in ways that work best for me. Diagnosis denied me the rich possibilities of seeing the creative, spiritual, and culturally-different meaning in who I am and what I go through. Diagnosis as schizophrenic denied me an understanding of the role of emotional and physical violence in my condition, let the mental health system and its mistreatment of me of the hook, and distracted me from seeing the role poverty, nutrition, and social and cultural factors played in the crisis that led me to be hospitalized. Diagnosis as schizophrenic steered me away from the complementary and holistic medicine that eventually became so central to my recovery.
[When he left the system] I stopped believing I should never have children because I have bad genes. I stopped believing I should never trust my emotions and thoughts because they are always corrupted by illness. I stopped believing that I had chemical imbalances that only medication could help. I stopped doubting my spirituality, my creativity, and my sensitivity. I stopped believing recovery was impossible. I started to respect myself and my differences and uniqueness, rather than seeing myself as a disease to be cured or a problem to be solved."
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I received the diagnosis of "schizophrenia" at the age of 26 at a hospital in Montgomery County, MD. The diagnosis was patched together from the opinions of a nurse, 3 or 4 interns, and an attending physician, each of whom saw me for about 5 minutes or less. They didn't know me from Adam, and they simply collected obvious medical information based on observation of my appearance and behavior during that 20 minutes.
As a result of this "diagnosis" I was told that I would have to be on medication FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, and would have to see a psychiatrist FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I believed this because their drug intervention had been thrust on me, and my mind was already under pharmaceutical control. Also, we (myself and my parents) didn't have any alternative or superior information to this at the time.
As a result of this "diagnosis", I, who was a college graduate with a grade point of 3.5 and who had a lot of creative talent, felt ashamed, and didn't know what to do. The drugs themselves blocked my creativity, which had been the center of my life (a painter, songwriter, poet, writer), and since my own power had been taken away from me by drugging and labeling, I became depressed, unsure of myself, and desperate. These emotional states were a direct result of being labeled and medicated, which was a direct result of being categorized by 4 or 5 medical persons in 20 minutes.
Since that time, having again and again been labeled as "schizophrenic" or "schizo-affective disorder" and now "depressive" (as I mentioned, due to the treatment), there has only been one psychiatrist who was even willing to consider that I was a spiritual being, with a dimension other than the biochemical.
Janie Lee, M.Ed. Janie.email@example.com
"What's wrong with you?"
Because of the psychiatric diagnoses I have been given, and the tests the court ordered psychiatric systems have made me take through out my life, I will always feel like there is something inherently wrong with me. This will be true no matter what I do or how profound or positive an example my life becomes.
If I could make one statement about what the diagnosis does to hurt me, I would say “It causes me to live in fear and never feel like I am good enough no matter what I do in life no matter how good it is. “ Even if no one else knows that I have these labels, I do, and I have lived my life trying to be perfect, knowing that was impossible for any one but beating myself up when I failed to be. I had to learn to hide and deny who I was as a human being and often hide certain things from different people so that they would not be used against me.
If I was different, or so called not acting "normal" by popular society's standards, then I could be forced and coerced into being psychiatrized throughout my life. This made me disabled rather then being seen as a person with different skills and abilities who had much to offer if others would work with me. These labels made me be seen as less then able and capable of making rational, intelligent choices and decisions and as being dangerous to myself, my family, and our society when I was not. They took away my personhood, human dignity, and self respect, and made me live in constant fear".
This is a new day, but having these labels hanging off my back like a red flag means that they can be used against me any time.
Powerful words with much and little meaning. They help to classify, but not understand. They act as excuses, but not answers. They make it easy to describe, but not really explain. They separate us from ourselves and others. So do you fear me or trust me, do you help me or punish me, do you believe me or call me a liar if I am diagnosed with one of these labels? Do you not think it hurts me to be labeled like this? Do you not think it takes away my dignity, hope, and initiative to do better or be better in life? We have to hide now to keep the system from forcing one of these diagnoses on us or using it in such a way that it hurts and stigmatizes us for the rest of our lives.
[Janie used writing to help her heal herself. Poetry gave her a way to express herself, and letter writing provided her access to much needed information and "real help".]
My writing has been a safe place, my way to survive. My writing never talked back to me, never put me down or hurt me, it didn't run away or want to fight, it was always there to listen no matter what I had to say. I chose it freely based on what I needed at that time.
Clover Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
Clover Smith, C C P S. http:// www.escapefrompsychiatry.org
Author, Escape from Psychiatry, the Autobiography
Founder and Director of Welcome World, The Psychiatric Survivors' Psychological Laws Education Center
I was born a highly intelligent, passionate, creative, idealistic, strong-willed, gentle pacifist the superior brain, the high at-risk hereditary factors for "mental illness." In dispassionate surroundings, I remained in the awareness of my subconscious, a child looking out, fearing. Full-blown fear closed off the outside world and created my “autistic” fantasy of animal and flower friends in a joyous world of love and beauty. I quit vomiting. In stoic growing grief, I stood within myself, looking out, the Voice increasingly condemning, waiting for someone to love me out into the world.
I was twenty when, collapsing from the traumatic stress of loveless isolation, my own resources exhausted, I was committed to psychiatry; I was not treated as a worthy person, nor told I had the disease of fear. I was helpless; psychiatry enforces the hopeless; I was labeled an unhuman “Schizophrenic” and taken to the Violent Ward, a guard at the front door 24/7. The dehumanized lobotomies stood slumped around on one side of the day room; I was one of the current electric shocks sitting slumped in the other. The electricity knocked me out, left me lying in a coma and reeling from the brain damage after I came to, each time progressively befuddled. I escaped out the front door after four near-death electrocutions. “They're not going to do any more violence to me!”
Now untrusting, I was labeled a “Paranoid Schizophrenic.” Drugs were forced until I became addicted to them. The drugs the psychiatrists touted as good for me were phenothiazines. I hated myself. I cut myself up, stabbed myself, overdosed on drugs, walked through traffic, and got into a car with a stranger and asked him to kill me.
Sometimes, to hurt myself a little so I would not need to hurt me a lot, I put my cigarettes out on the back of my left hand. Sometimes the burns and scabs extended halfway up my arm. Judged a danger to myself and others, I was committed to a mental nursing home, a guard at the front door 24/7.
One day, a male nurse in an emergency room said, “Go to Alcoholics Anonymous! They teach people how to get well there!” So I went.
“You can get well, we will help you! Alcohol and drugs are but a symptom of the disease of fear! The basic step to wellness is quitting the brain-drugging!” Unity with people of truth and love made all the difference in the world. I was no longer suicidal or homicidal after my first meeting, for they gave me hope and would help me.
It took me six months to work through the terror, internalize love and transcend to the psychological adult’s, child of God’s spiritual way of choosing to love and serve God and myself by loving and serving others... I married the boy from the merry-go-round ... and lived happily ever after.
I've met an adult with a Schizophrenia diagnosis, whose symptoms were much more consistent with Asperger's Syndrome. He was shy, sensitive, eccentric, and obsessed with certain subjects. Although there is no way to be certain, what I can say for sure was that he wasn't actively psychotic when I talked to him. He was at that point, however, being pressured to take SZ [Schizophrenia] medication before he could get any social service help.
I am a working attorney. As I am not currently on disability and am seeking work, I have become concerned about having my name used in a public forum short of actual hearings at this time, although I would be willing to have others contact me. I have professional training and am concerned that if my name were googled, it might keep me from getting employment.
[Anonymous describes how her actual problems ? which she lists as Asperger's Syndrome or Nonverbal Learning Disabilities were overlooked because she] was wrongly diagnosed as "Borderline" and "Schizoid" 25 yrs ago.
[Among the adverse consequences of being given these labels were:
• Her actual, cognitive problems, were undiagnosed, and as a result, she lost a great deal of self-confidence
• Some physical injuries were untreated as a result of being ignored
• She missed work and had to go on welfare
• She was arrested and jailed for assault, when in fact her therapist had assaulted her
• Her therapist’s sexual abuse of her went unpunished.]
Throughout my childhood and young adulthood, I had significant difficulty socially, was clumsy, had problems with math and similar subjects, and was constantly told I was lazy and simply not applying myself. This did not do good things for my self-esteem.
Initially, no one told me I had been given any psychiatric diagnosis. A psychiatrist who was abusive to me had treated me as though I was just neurotic (i.e., female). I had a therapist who was sexually abusive to me; he had enough contacts that nobody would believe he would do such a thing.
[The abuse was traumatic to her.] During that time I was attending college and was taking a number of courses requiring math. I had extreme anxiety in those courses, which the therapist wrote off. When my insurance limit was reached, this therapist terminated my "therapy." When I returned to ask why and try to get a referral, he shoved me at the wall, and I fought back.
Predictably, I was arrested for assault, though he outweighed me by close to 100 pounds. The therapist's assault was not considered in court; I was treated as "guilty as charged."
I was put in jail and then on a locked ward. Testing showed that my verbal and performance IQs were extremely discrepant, and that I could not do timed mazes with any degree of accuracy. [Those should have been recognized as signs that she had serious learning disabilities.] I was also showing clear signs of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder [from the sexual abuse]. All of this was ignored. [The PTSD] was exacerbated by the system's treatment of me when I tried to get [the therapist] held accountable. [She was diagnosed as Schizoid and Borderline as a result of the events after the therapist assaulted her and had her arrested.]
I was also called "dangerously impulsive" for my inability to do timed mazes).
Sometime after being misdiagnosed, I was in a car accident in which my car was totaled as I sat in it. MDs (including neurologists) assumed that because of my psych labels that I was malingering and prescribed no [physical] therapies for the severe pain in my back and neck. I was only able to get appropriate treatment over a year later when I was referred by a friend to a physician at the student health service.
After I got out, having had to go on welfare to be able to eat, because I had missed 6 weeks of work, I finally began to get a proper learning disability diagnosis, which included dysgraphia, auditory processing dysfunction, short- term to long-term memory transfer problems and several others. This enabled me to get accommodations as I finished my education.
However, only in the past year or so, after having 5 kids, all of whom had "autistic features" and a variety of motor and speech/language delays, have I begun to be properly diagnosed with what is either Nonverbal Learning Disabilities or Asperger?s Syndrome.
When my two eldest children showed developmental delays in motor and speech, and one was labeled with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota refused to cover our family at all as they would not permit more than two exclusions in a family group. They were of course going to exclude mental health and any and all treatment of the back or spine for any illness or injury forever, in my case.
My friend was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder when she was thirteen. Despite the fact that Wellbutrin was specifically not supposed to be prescribed for people under eighteen, her psychiatrist gave it to her.
She began to hallucinate. She could no longer see her reflection in the mirror and began to think that she did not have any blood in her veins, and became scared that she was going to die. She began to cut herself on a regular basis in order to check that she had blood. Her parents hospitalized her. While at the hospital, the doctors told her that she was showing signs of Schizophrenia (due to the hallucinations).
No one bothered to connect her hallucinations to a possible effect of a drug that she should have never been taking, and her medical records now say that she was once considered to be Schizophrenic.