Month: November 2010

TSA: The Government Arm of NAMBLA

Parents, I know I don’t have to convince you that government agents feeling up your children should make you uncomfortable. I especially don’t have to convince you that government agents who barely make minimum wage and have no advanced education should be the last persons who should be putting their hands in your child’s pants. That’s right, INSIDE your child’s pants.

The North American Man/Boy Love Association must be enjoying a very special Thanksgiving, courtesy of the TSA. One of their chief objectives is to break down the barriers between adults and children so that adults can enjoy sexual relations with children without incrimination. TSA is making their dreams a reality by breaking down these barriers—right in front of their parents.

One of the holiest missions we parents have is protecting our children’s innocence. From the time they can comprehend, we say, “No one should ever touch you in your privates except Mom, Dad, or your doctor when Mom or Dad is there. You say ‘no’ to anyone else.” That explicitly drawn line in the sand is now being backed up. Now parents have to say “OK, now government agents who are total strangers to you and me get to touch your privates if they say so.” This is making our job far more difficult.

I can just see NAMBLA amending their “How-to” manual: “Simply tell the child that you are a government agent and that it is for national security that I touch your privates. Say, ‘I’m part of a special agency that also requires you to touch our privates. If you don’t, you’ll have to go through the scanner, which has dangerous x-rays, which could give you cancer. So, which is it, little girl?’”

Federal agents can tell me that this is for national security, but so would anesthetizing every passenger during flights. It wouldn’t make it right or acceptable or tolerable.

Strangers feeling up your children is never OK; it’s not OK here. Parents should not tolerate it. Ever.

A special message to the TSA: bite me.

An even more special message to any government official who supports the TSA molesting my children: you’re fired.

Why Psychiatry is Irrelevant, Part IX

There is a principle in science called the law of parsimony. The law essentially states that if there are competing hypotheses to explain a phenomenon, the one that has the fewest new assumptions should be the presumptive hypothesis. The common reduction of this law is that the simplest explanation for a phenomenon is likely the correct explanation.

In the mental health field, we have had reasonable explanations for depression and anxiety for millenia. The explanations we have had have been perfectly adequate. Biological, economic, social, cognitive, and other causes are plentiful and more than enough to comprehend depression and anxiety. We do not need additional explanations, any more than we need another explanation for why it appears that the sun goes around the earth (the heliocentric explanation).

If you begin with the presupposition that depression is a normal response to the often overwhelming experiences and choices of life, then you can presume that the causes of depression are intelligible and discoverable. Then they can be comprehended and controlled.

If you begin with the presupposition that depression is a disease, you will not feel compelled to search as diligently for humanistic/existential/relational causes. This is ultimately dehumanizing. Therefore, psychiatry is dehumanizing.

We do not require a medical or even a scientific answer to why people become depressed.

Common sense is sufficient. Common sense is more than sufficient. Common sense, therefore, is where we should look when dealing with depression and anxiety. The answers aren’t in a SPECT scan or the synaptic cleft; they are in LIFE and our HUMANNESS.

Why Psychiatry is Irrelevant, Part VIII

In case you haven’t been following (or your reading comprehension is really poor), this series demolishes the idea that one even needs to look at a broken brain as a likely reason for depressive or anxious symptoms. There are far too many more sensible and universally experienced alternatives. Psychiatry really is irrelevant.

Today, we look at socioeconomic factors that could cause or exacerbate depression and/or anxiety. Some of these would be enough for even the most resilient person to slip into depression.

Socioeconomic factors:

–Poverty (both abject poverty and relative poverty)

–Oppression

–Injustice (e.g., being unjustly accused/convicted of a crime or witnessing a member of your group experience the same

–Prejudice/Bigotry

–Racism, Ageism, and Sexism (experienced or witnessed)

–Religious persecution

–Politicism (being mocked, ridiculed, devalued for one’s political affiliation or opinion)

Essentially, any social or economic forces that communicate to a person or group that they are less valuable, worthwhile, or lovable because of their social or economic status creates an emotional vulnerability that, without great resilience and sufficient health in other areas, is likely to result in depression and/or anxiety.

Just another set of human beings for whom the psychiatric model is not only irrelevant, but demeaning, dehumanizing, and worth ridicule.

Why Psychiatry is Irrelevant, Part VII

Are you a worthwhile, valuable, lovable person? No matter what you answer, the next question should be, “Says who?” Do we determine our own worth, value, or does someone else? The answer to this question determines a great deal of our emotional well-being.

What do we use as the standard for worth and lovability? Popularity? Skill level? Beauty? Money? Success? Or is it something else–something that has little to do with what you are or do? Is there something inherent in us that has value? Or does value have to be infused in us from an outside source?

Persons who are confused about their value or who misperceive their value have a difficult time experiencing joy and peace. Yet another cause or contributor to depression and anxiety.

I loathe the term “self esteem”. In its place, I use self worth. Here are some threats to one’s sense of self worth:

  • Focus on personal qualities rather than inherent value
  • Focus on looks
  • Focus on ability
  • Focus on money
  • Focus on status
  • Focus on achievement or success
  • A reliance on others for view of self (e.g., friends, family, co-workers, the public)
  • Allowing hurtful or ignorant people to be authorities or arbiters of your value

If one has to possess certain traits or abilities or things in order to have real value or be lovable, then life becomes a neverending treadmill of working for worthiness. This cannot bring real peace or joy, no matter how talented or wealthy or beauty one possesses.

Equally fleeting is putting ones value or worth in the hands of other people. People are fickle and sometimes self-serving–even downright evil sometimes. Why would one trust deeply flawed human being for their ultimate sense of value and worth? That’s pretty scary for many.

Rather, when a person recognizes that his or her value comes from the Almighty–the only perfectly loving Creator who made each human being in His image. In that way, He infused each person with a value that is infinite, a worth that is hardly communicable, and a lovability that endures. Those who put their reliance on that as their worth–and remain conscious of it–can rest.

Why Psychiatry is Irrelevant, Part VI

Thoughts. Cognitions. Ideas. Beliefs. Fantasy. Perceptions. If there is one lesson I teach my clients most often, it is that thoughts precede emotions. That is, your thoughts, which include perception, belief, and imagination, are what cause your brain to determine whether emotion will occur.

Take, for example, thinking that occurs when one is rejected for a job. One could say, “I’m never going to get a job. I’m useless; I’m going to be unemployed and undesirable forever.” This depressive thinking will result in depressed feelings, then depressive behavior. And the cycle will perpetuate. Contrast that thinking with something more positive: “This job didn’t work out. It clearly wasn’t a good fit. I’m sure there will be something else for which I am a good fit.” That kind of thinking won’t prevent disappointment, but it will soothe the ego and prevent more depressive feelings.

So, as promised, here are some of the thought errors that can cause or worsen depression and anxiety:

–“Woe is me” (generalization)

–Internalizing

–Catastrophizing

–Personalization

–Black-and-white thinking

–Should thinking

–Believing one’s emotional and relational suffering are due to a broken brain—not a broken life—and that one is mentally ill, biologically inferior, or disabled, and therefore powerless to effect meaningful change.

We all are guilty of silly thinking; some more than others. It is easy to see how almost all depressed persons and those who struggle with anxiety are encumbered by inappropriate thinking. Yet another cause for depressive and anxious symptoms that do not require a broken brain.

Tomorrow, more.

Why Psychiatry is Irrelevant, Part V

There are so many potential causes for depression and anxiety that every time I look at the lists, I add one or more new ones I hadn’t thought of before.

As promised, the next batch of sufferogenic causes of depression that have nothing to do with a genetic predisposition or a mythical chemical imbalance.

As anyone can attest, we are highly relational creatures. Students of Introduction to Psychology might recall the Harlow experiments, where baby monkeys were removed from their mothers, then given various replacements with varying degrees of similarity to the mother. The monkeys were generally quite disturbed after the long separation.

We know that humans are even more susceptible to deep pain and pathology when devoid of human contact. The symptoms it produces are nothing short of depression and anxiety. All relational crises, then, can stimulate or exacerbate depression or anxiety.

Relational Crises:

  • Divorce/break-up and resulting loss of relationship (e.g., parent losing custody of a child)
  • Rejection by loved ones or someone desired
  • Discovering one is socially undesirable or lacks skills to make friends
  • Loneliness
  • Family schism
  • Relational strain/broken alliances in relationships
  • Rejection/ridicule/lack of respect from co-workers or superiors

Any reader who says they haven’t experienced one of these is lying. We all experience them. We all hurt deeply from them.

Why Psychiatry is Irrelevant, Part IV

Yesterday I listed several of the existential questions and crises that have crippled people with anxiety or depression throughout history. Many of my readers can already see enough evidence that depression and anxiety are expected consequences of being a deeply imperfect human in a deeply imperfect world.

But wait, there’s more!

Today, I will list some of the traumas that trample on the souls of human beings. When I say trauma, I am not referring to skinned knees or watching the Cubs fail. I’m talking about the kind of events that overwhelm the mind’s ability to absorb information, to make sense of the evil in this world. As you can see, traumas stimulate existential crises.

Traumas:

  • Abuse and/or neglect, by parents or other relatives, teachers, or other trusted adults
  • Sexual (rape, incest, molestation, sexual slavery)
  • Physical
  • Slavery
  • Emotional misuse (severe control)
  • Witnessing the abuse of others, especially family members
  • War (witnessing atrocities, being forced to commit atrocities)
  • Natural disasters
  • Victim of violence or torture (e.g., severe bullying)
  • Abduction
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Accidents (killing/injuring someone else)

Does anyone really think that a person who is reduced to depression or significant anxiety who has experienced any of these becomes so because of a broken brain? That is exactly what the medical model of psychiatry teaches.

Tomorrow, more causes for depression and anxiety.

Why Psychiatry is Irrelevant, Part III

Yesterday, I listed many biological causes for depression and anxiety. Almost all people have struggled with one or more biological weakness; many struggle with multiple biological causes, enough to cause significant depressive symptoms. For some, the body fights the mind and even the soul.

Today, I will be listing several existential causes of depression. These are almost utterly ignored by psychiatry (and, to my dismay, even many psychologists), although they have been the cause of many of the deepest depressions throughout the millennia.

Existential or psycho-spiritual crises/questions:

• “Meaning of Life” questions: searching for a reason for being or existing without resolution
• The question of the existence of God
• If God exists, is He good?
• How do we explain evil? If I do evil, does that mean I am evil?
• Boredom (nothing meaningful to do/experience)
• Guilt/shame: inadequacy
• Human Mortality versus Immortality
• Am I finite or infinite?

• Is life pointless if death is the end of existence?

• Why must we die?

• Is there an afterlife?

• If there is a Heaven and Hell, will I go to Hell?

• Can I have assurance that I will go to Heaven?

There are those who seem to go throughout life unaware of existential questions and crises or appear comfortable without resolving these questions. But to the existentially sensitive, the answers to these questions are more precious than air. Even one unanswered existential question can reduce even the stoutest soul to a dark puddle and shrivel even the hardiest mind into a bundle of frayed nerves.

Tomorrow, another sphere sufficient to produce deep depression or anxiety.

Why Psychiatry is Irrelevant, Part II

As promised, I will now begin listing the near infinite number of reasons why a person could become depressed–reasons that not only do not require a medical view of depression, but make the whole “broken brain” model defunct and irrelevant.

I will begin with biological problems. Note that most of these problems are not genetically based, but are environmentally caused. Often, these biological “insults” create a biochemical or structural problem in the brain, but this is qualitatively different than what psychiatry says is the foundational cause of most depression.

Biological causes of depression:

  • Alcohol use/abuse
  • Illicit drug use (e.g., cocaine, opiates, MDMA, hallucinogenics)
  • Prescription medication (opiates, drugs prescribed for chemotherapy)
  • Drugs marketed as “antidepressants”, such as SSRI’s (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, etc.), often from direct use of the drug but also from withdrawing from the drug
  • Stimulants, such as Concerta, Vyvanse, Adderall, Strattera (yes, Strattera is a stimulant)
  • Neuroleptics (especially from their common horrific side effects)
  • Countless treatments for neurological disorders (e.g., ECT)
  • Environmental Toxins (household chemical agents, toxins in water, air, fertilizers)
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Poor diet (not only imbalanced diet, but preservatives and fake ingredients)
  • Food allergies/sensitivities
  • Poor sleep (one of the most underappreciated factors for emotional/cognitive dysfunction)
  • Brain injury
  • Chronic and/or debilitating disease
  • Chronic and/or debilitating pain
  • Physical disability
  • Bad weather or insufficient sunlight
  • Lack of fresh, clean air

I realize that this list is nowhere near exhaustive. I am certain that scientists will discover many other environmental toxins that mess up our emotional systems. But for now, ask yourself if you have escaped all of these. Almost no one has. Is each of these enough to trigger depression? For some people, yes.

I can’t tell you how many children have been cured of phony-baloney disorders by correcting one or more of these biological problems. One adolescent I recently treated was diagnosed with ADHD and depression by a local expert psychiatrist. His parents refused to put the child on medication; they had a hunch that something was wrong with the diagnosis. They brought their son to me for a second opinion. I discovered in about 15 seconds that his sleep was woefully insufficient. We made improving his sleep the number one priority. In three weeks, his sleep had improved. Within days, his ADHD symptoms were gone, his depression lifted, and he described being a new person. All because one sphere of biological functioning was awry. That is how sensitive we are to disregulation.

Tomorrow, I will unleash the second list of reasons why people become depressed and anxious. I’m just getting started.

Until then, sleep well, eat well, and don’t eat paint chips.

Why Psychiatry is Irrelevant

Modern psychiatry’s greatest weakness is not its particulars. It isn’t that it has failed thus far to find the Holy Grail: the perfect pill or surgery that can fix human suffering without doing great harm to the human person or its systems. No, the greatest weakness of medicine’s weakest specialty is in its foundational principles and presuppositions.

Psychiatry is a hopeless profession because its philosophy is fatally flawed. Because its foundation is antithetical to good science and its naturalistic worldview precludes a supernatural (i.e., spiritual) view of the human person, it has become increasingly irrelevant. The emperor is naked, and fewer and fewer people are bothering to notice.

The primary debate is between psychiatry’s medical model and a humane, psycho-spiritual model of mental illness. What this debate boils down to is the question, “Why do people suffer problems such as depression (the most common ‘ailment’ treated by psychiatrists)?” Is the depressed person doomed to suffer the consequences of a broken brain unless and until psychiatry corrects whatever biological, chemical, or electrical error exists? Or, is it possible to tell every person what they desperately want to hear: “After understanding your life, your history, your beliefs, your struggles, your environment, and your world, I can understand why you would be depressed.” I have never met a person in my professional or personal life, where, after having gotten to know them well enough, I have not been able to validate their misery as comprehensible, meaningful, purposeful, and redeemable.

There is no shortage of reasons for a person being depressed or anxious. One need not look to psychiatry’s biochemical bogeyman for an answer.

Beginning tomorrow, I will begin unleashing a torrent of alternative causes of depression. By the time I am done, it will be clear that psychiatry’s view of depression—that one is born with a biological predisposition to an illness that causes the symptoms of depression—will seem hopelessly irrelevant and, frankly, silly.