Anti-Authoritarians and Schizophrenia: Do Rebels Who Defy Treatment Do Better?

Welcome to a Cool Subculture of Anti-Authoritarians
by Bruce Levine

While many Americans are troubled by psychiatry’s over medicating of children, and they doubt the legitimacy of some psychiatric illnesses such as “oppositional defiant disorder,” few question psychiatry with respect to schizophrenia, an often frightening phenomenon characterized by hallucinations, delusions, incoherent speech, and bizarre behaviors. But a major long-term study on schizophrenia challenges psychiatry’s authority here as well, and it just may get Americans to pay attention to a group of anti-authoritarians diagnosed with schizophrenia who have recovered without medication or doctors—and have become activists.

If my sole experience of people who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia was purely a clinical one, I too would be wary of them going off their medication, and I too would have a far less hopeful view of the possibility of recovery. One of my earliest professional positions was as a psychiatric emergency room therapist where I saw many patients who were agitated and acting bizarrely and who were dragged into the hospital by police and family. These patients were diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoffective disorder, or some other psychotic disorder. Most of them would in fact calm down after being given medication, and so it is common for police, family, and mental health professionals to view being “off one’s meds” as problematic.

Many mental health professionals, myself included, have seen psychotic relapse among diagnosed schizophrenics who have been “medication noncompliant.” But professionals ordinarily don’t compare this group to those “medication compliant” patients who also relapse or remain chronically psychotic. And most importantly, in their clinical practice, mental health professionals do not routinely see diagnosed schizophrenics who have recovered without medication and without doctors.

Outside of my practice, I have come to know this group of diagnosed schizophrenics who have long-term recovery without medication. In his research, Harrow discovered them as well and states, “For most SZ [schizophrenia patients] not on medications or not in treatment this was their choice, at times against professional advice.” It is my experience that those who have rejected medication and recovered are virtually all anti-authoritarians who question the legitimacy of authorities and resist those authorities they assess to be illegitimate ones.

I had not heard about psychiatric survivors until 1994, when I was contacted by David Oaks, director of MindFreedom, a coalition of psychiatric survivor organizations from around the world. David, now a good friend, comes from a working class family in the South Side of Chicago and won scholarships to attend Harvard in the early 1970s, but he says, “I didn’t fit in at Harvard, and I was under a lot of stress. Now and again I ingested too much cannabis, to which I’m highly sensitive. I stopped sleeping.” His behavior became erratic with psychotic symptoms (e.g., “thought the CIA was making my teeth grow” and that “a UFO was appearing in my living room”). He was checked into various psychiatric facilities five different times. David recalls, “A dozen psychiatrists diagnosed me as a psychotic. I was told I would have to stay on psychiatric drugs the rest of my life, like a diabetic on insulin. I was told that I was genetically flawed and had a permanently broken brain.”

David ultimately joined the then existing Mental Patients Liberation Front where fellow psychiatric survivors shared stories, went on camping trips, and supported and encouraged each other to exercise and eat better. David graduated with honors from Harvard, and he has been free of psychiatric medication since 1977. Today, he is living in Eugene, Oregon, married, directs MindFreedom, and maintains a busy schedule of organizing and speaking around the world.

Read the whole article here : Anti-Authoritarians and Schizophrenia: Do Rebels Who Defy Treatment Do Better?

, January 19, 2017. Category: Various.

About madhatterz

Greetings fellow wanderer of the world vibed web. I am an old Geezer from desolate wastes of Norway