Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rush Limbaugh, Nihilism, and Antipsychiatry - Where is the Off-Button?

Only in America:

Yesterday, right-wing radio blabbermouth Rush Limbaugh challenged President Obama to a debate. From the transcript of his March 4 show:

"Why doesn't President Obama come on my show? We will do a one-on-one debate of ideas and policies. ... I am offering President Obama to come on this program - without staffers, without a teleprompter, without note cards - to debate me on the issues. Let's talk about free markets versus government control. Let's talk about nationalizing health care and raising taxes on small business."

Do the words grandiose and delusional come to mind?

And didn't Limbaugh earlier say he hopes the President will fail?

How about nihilist to describe the guy?

Funny thing - call it my own internal Rorschach test - when I think nihilist I think antipsychiatrist. In his blog on Psychology Today, Nassir Ghaemi MD of Tufts University writes:

"I suggested that many critics of academic psychiatry, especially those who attack links to the pharmaceutical industry, suffer from postmodern nihilism. They do not believe in any truths; thus they see the manipulative interests of private enterprise and the greedy search for wealth behind everything."

Wait, here's the kicker: "Scientologists cannot be accused of that motivation. If anything, they are true believers ..." Say whatever you want about Scientologists, at least they stand for something.

So, is it possible to be in sync with antipsychiatry and not be an antipsychiatrist? Yes, as long as you don't let "anti" define you. Let me give you an example:

Back in 2003, I attended a two-day Non-Pharmaceutical Approaches to Mental Disorders conference in Pasadena, sponsored by Safe Harbor, which is the best source of non-meds info on the web. Founder Dan Stradford has connections with Scientology, which I'm only bringing up before someone else does in a negative guilt-by-association way. When you hear Dan speak you can't help but be moved by his story about his late father.

At the conference, I heard Lewis Mehl-Madrona, MD, PhD discus integrative psychiatry and Native American healing, Julie Ross on natural supplements, William Walsh PhD on methylation and metal poisoning, Doris Rapp MD on toxins, Kathleen Crowley on procovery, and much much more

I love Ms Crowley's advice, by the way: "Just start anywhere."

Intriguingly, a panel of parents of bipolar kids testified on the progress of their kids on natural regimens. Mind you, we didn't hear any failure stories, but in strong contrast to the antipsychiatry party line we did hear explicit recognition that bipolar in kids is horrific and real.

Naturally, I was interested in what the people who paid to attend thought of the proceedings. It's fair to say they were not exactly bullish on psychiatry, but neither did they identify themselves by what they were against. Instead, they were hopeful that people could live better lives, and to a person they wanted to be part of that process. One group of very pleasant women was interested in forming a "NAMI Natural" branch to their local NAMI.

Clearly, these people weren't antipsychiatrists. Far from it. And because they actually had something to say, not to mention showing an interest in where I was coming from, I was all ears. With antipsychiatrists, take my word for it, you wish you had a button to turn the audio off. Ah - so that's why they remind me of Rush Limbaugh.


Gianna said...

it's interesting that you call Philip anti-psychiatry for being critical of meds but not safe harbor...I was moderator on safe harbors email list for close to a year. I had to resign recently because my own personal work has become much more time consuming. But I essentially share many of their views and continue to be a member. Most of us, I know have NOTHING to do with Scientology and I don't believe Dan is one either though I think he address these issues quite openly on the web if you want to look. Whatever the connection was, it was very loose.

no one in these groups, nor Philip, denies children or adults are suffering real mental distress, but we DO (in Safe Harbor and other groups) see alternatives to traditional psychiatry and we see them working EVERY DAY. And we have personal experiences of traditional psychiatry that have deeply and permanently hurt us and some of our children.

Philip is no different. I don't understand where you're coming from. The only difference is you met these people in real life...and wow, we're not monsters!! how strange...

if you read my blog you would probably call me antipsychiatry...but that's because it seems you make conclusions based on a tiny cross-section of what you read on a one when they meet me thinks I have an agenda when it comes to individuals taking meds...I respect individuals greatly...but I do get labeled anti-psychiatry and close-minded when people read bits and pieces of my blog and don't see the real three dimensional person and make assumptions without getting a sense of the whole body of my work...

I think we need to stop calling each other names. PERIOD.

we all make different choices. I have many friends on drugs, but personally I'm hard-core anti-drug. PERSONALLY and I share my personal views on my blog... I also have many friends who choose to take drugs as well as hundreds of readers who also take meds but who can understand my deeper message is so much more than whether or not you take meds.

I just wish you'd stop labeling my friends and calling people names...Philip is an incredible journalist and not at all antipsychiatry..I am a member of safe harbor and deserve that label more, but I, neither, am anti-psychiatry...

I don't really think you understand the issues when it comes to this language and trying to fit people into camps really is not productive.

John McManamy said...

Hi, Gianna. Thanks for commenting and I hope you continue to keep commenting. A number of points:

First, you and your blog are definitely not antipsychiatry. I've been to your blog. You intelligently discuss non-meds recovery issues, and you make your blog safe for people wishing to discuss these issues. You may be critical of meds and psychiatry, but you are not defined by this attitude. You stand for something.

Second, Safe Harbor has similar positive virtues.

Third, as my blog post makes clear, antipsychiatrists do not have these virtues.

Fourth, I have met antipsychiatrists face to face. Like I said in my blog post, I would definitely like to turn off the audio. This is in strong contrast to the people I have met who promote recovery based on non-meds.

Fifth, describing someone as antipsychiatrist is not name-calling. It is an accurate description for those whose only agenda is to attack psychiatry.

Sixth, I have only challenged antipsychiatry based on the issues. I have not personally attacked anyone. Compare that to the personal insults that antipsychiatrists specialize in.

Seventh, your opinions on a certain "incredible journalist" are your own.

Finally, I welcome your comments and I welcome being challenged. Naturally, I will reply to any challenges, but never in a way that encourages attacks from my readers. Should someone attack you anyway, I can assure you their comments will not be published.

So please keep coming back, and welcome to Knowledge is Necessity. You are an important part of the conversation here.

Gianna said...

well...I'm not really interested in going on and on about this...

just one simple point. I've met people who call themselves anti-psychiatrist who attack me and I've met others who embrace me...those who embrace me tend to be very much like me...I have more in common with them I think then anyone who is pro-pharma...there are people who use the antipsychiatry label who are still loving and open to TRUE informed consent...and very much like me in how they present themselves...

I just refuse to put myself in a box so I don't use the label.

it's simply not black and white.

I appreciate that you see value in the work I've done. I've certainly recognized and taken note that you do on occasion speak to some alternatives and have a section on nutrition for example on your other site that is pretty good from what I recall (I looked at it a very long time ago! forgive me my lack of clearer memory.)

take care.

John McManamy said...

Many thanks, Gianna. You nailed it with the black and white thing. It's all about shades of gray and the uniqueness of individuals.

If you pay a return visit to mcmanweb, you will notice I've reorganized the site to give far more emphasis to recovery issues. In particular, there are two relatively new articles on mindfulness (plus two new videos on mindfulness). I referred to mindfulness in a number of articles on the old site, but I was long overdue in rounding up the info into two articles.

Plus sleep and stress-management get major play.

I have meds info (a lot of it critical) and psych treatment info there, as well. But everything is presented in the context of readers making their own choices.

As you said, no black and white ...

Please keep coming back -