by Chuck Ruby, Ph.D.
See the Huffington Post article written by Leah Harris here. She thoroughly explains the problems of the proposed legislation H.R. 2646 and is one of a growing number of grass roots advocates, survivors of the mental health system, and professionals who are speaking up about the dangers of the "Murphy Bill".
The Murphy Bill would essentially criminalize people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Keep in mind that two former NIMH Directors and the Chair of the DSM-IV Task Force have publicly admitted that mental illness diagnoses are invalid and unreliable. Then how can this legislation adequately identify people who will be subjected to its provisions?
The bill also conflates, and continues to confuse the public, about the real causes of violence. H.R. 2646 is a descendant of earlier failed legislation that was proposed on the heals of horrific mass shootings. It was ostensibly to get at the reasons these shootings occur. But it does nothing more than seek a scapegoat to take the blame for these violent incidents, while it ignores the real issues involved in the very real problem of violence in our society.
In the process it proposes inhumane solutions that will erode personal freedom, privacy, and dignity. One of its main proposals is that of "Assisted Outpatient Treatment", or better known as forced treatment. If the bill is passed, untold thousands of people who are diagnosed with the unreliable and invalid mental illness labels will be subjected to state-ordered drugging and other forms of forced treatment. Anyone who complains or does not comply can be incarcerated involuntarily. Further, the bill threatens the right to privacy of one's most personal and sensitive information, and forces providers to share such information with family members in order to ensure "compliance". Besides its obvious threat to humane treatment, such forced treatment programs have been shown to be ineffective.
The Murphy Bill would be a scourge on humanity. Join us in fighting against it!
During the last two weeks of October, Al Galves and Joe Tarantolo (the former ISEPP Executive Director and Chairperson of the Board, respectively) visited several Congressional offices on Capitol Hill, to express ISEPP’s grave concern about HR 2646. This bill was reintroduced in June by Representative Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania) in the Energy and Commerce Committee. It is ostensibly a reaction to the spate of violent incidents that have caught the public’s eye over the past few years. A 2014 Energy and Commerce Committee investigation concluded, “…those with untreated severe (or, used interchangeably, “serious”) mental illness (SMI) are at an elevated risk of exhibiting violent behavior….” The Committee referenced only one, quite dated, study to support this contention. In addition to being 25 years old, the study also conflates labels of “mental illness” with the actual factors that increase risk of violence (Swanson, J., Holzer, C., Ganju, V., & Jono, R. (1990). Violence and Psychiatric Disorder in the Community: Evidence from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Surveys, Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 41(7), 761 -770).
Nevertheless, Al and Joe were very impressed with the members of the Energy and Commerce Committee staff. Both the Republican and Democratic staffers had spent enough time with people who oppose the bill to have a deep and comprehensive understanding of its problems. They suggested Al and Joe meet with Representative Murphy's staff and to write a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee. While they were unable to meet with Murphy's staff, they did draft a letter in record time (as is typically needed for Congressional action) and sent it to the Committee. The letter was signed by Al, Joe, Dominick Riccio (current Board Chair) and Chuck Ruby (current Executive Director).
During the Committee hearing, Ranking Member Pallone twice mentioned ISEPP by name as one of several organization, including the ACLU, who have concerns about the bill. That makes us think Al and Joe’s visit to the Hill made a difference. Let's hope we made enough of a impact to keep this bill from being passed by Congress.
A better bill to replace HR 2646 should have provisions that support and expand non-medical model approaches such as Vermont’s Soteria house, which has been recently opened in Burlington. Also, New York could expand the open dialogue approach that is now being used by the Parachute Project in New York City. The bill could even fund private non-profits like Melwood in the greater metropolitan DC area. For over a year now, Melwood (with the help of ISEPP’s Mary Vieten) has been running a unique, non-medical model, program that helps military and veterans suffering from war trauma.
The text of ISEPP’s letter reads:
Dear Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Pallone:
We write to you as practitioners in mental health, and advocates for safe, humane, and life-enhancing treatment for people diagnosed with mental disorders. Our organization, the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP), is made up of professional mental health clinicians, scholars, educators, peer-advocates, and “psychiatric survivors.” This is the term we use to designate those who have been hurt by the current, broken, mental health system. We applaud Congress’ intense interest in addressing this brokenness, and we thank Representative Tim Murphy’s efforts to bring this issue to the forefront of Congress’ attention.
We have serious problems, however, with many of the H.R. 2646 provisions:
(1) We oppose, both as mental health practitioners and citizens vested in civil liberties, provisions that restrict civil rights. It is mandatory that criminal behavior be distinguished from eccentric behavior and bizarre speech. In a word, it is not against the law to be “crazy.” It is against the law to behave illegally. We realize, of course, that the two often are mixed, that criminals can also be mentally ill. The alleged criminal is entitled to due process. The mentally ill person, criminal or not, needs treatment.
(2) We realize as practitioners that it is very often necessary to engage family members, friends, and associates of the identified patient. As good clinicians we should always be open to listening to what they have to tell us about the patient. But it is also crucial that we respect any of the patient’s expressed instructions not to divulge very private matters. It remains clinical judgment when to seek out help or give counsel if a patient is incapacitated or in a dangerous predicament. HIPAA regulations do not need revision. There is adequate leeway now allowing appropriate interchange between therapists and family. There need be no significant change in HIPAA’s regulations. Therefore, we oppose Section 401 of H.R. 2646.
Section 401 sets a dangerous precedent by making diagnosis-specific exception to the privacy rule. In one fell swoop, the mentally ill no longer have the same privileges of any other sick person being treated by professional caregivers. Do not make treatment odious to the mental patient by depriving him of legitimate privacy.
(3) Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) laws as prescribed by H.R. 2646 are a very slippery slope. These laws are heavily geared toward forcing psychotropic medication, usually the neuroleptic (also called anti-psychotic) drugs. Although as practitioners we realize there is a place for offering these drugs to distressed individuals, they should only be prescribed with adequate informed consent. Given their profound adverse reaction profile (severe neurological damage, brain shrinkage, cognitive decline, metabolic abnormalities, decreased life expectancy, deadening of emotionality) it cannot be considered an irrational decision to reject their use. The argument that the mentally ill cannot make that decision is vastly overstated. As clinicians we have rarely had patients who can’t say, “yes, that helps” or “no, that feels terrible.” For these reasons we oppose rescinding funding from states that have not passed AOT laws.
(4) As practitioners and advocates for the mentally ill we have grave concerns about H.R. 2646 weakening standards that justify in-patient commitment.
(5) AOT programs are heavily invested in the use of drugging patients as a first line of treatment. Although drugging may be indicated in selected patients, the weight of the evidence is that drugs are at best short-term solutions. In a penetrating study published in 2007 by Martin Harrow and Thomas Jobe, they found in their 15-year follow-up “A larger percent of schizophrenic patients not on anti-psychotics showed periods of recovery and better global functioning (p< .001).” (“Factors Involved in Outcome and Recovery in Schizophrenic Patients Not on Anti-psychotic Medications: A 15-Year Follow-Up Study,” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Volume 195, page 406, 2007).
A landmark study in Michigan demonstrated that skilled therapists had substantially better long-term results using no drugs. Notably, drugs had better results only in the first few months. (see Karon, B and VandenBos, GR (1994) Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia ,Treatment of Choice. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson).
A recent study featured on the front page of the New York Times (“New Approach Advised to Treat Schizophrenia” October 20, 2015) reported an approach used in Finland and imported to the US called “Open Dialogue” which uses intensive family therapy and social interventions with minimal anti-psychotic medication. The Open Dialogue approach fared significantly better than the usual high dose drug approach. A pilot program in New York called the “Parachute Mental Health Program” offers both respite centers for the mentally ill and mobile treatment teams that go to the home of the identified patient. Preliminary data suggest these programs prevent hospitalization and therefore potentially give more bang for the mental health system buck. Hospitalizations are extremely expensive and disruptive. Investment in these alternative approaches merits Congressional support.
(6)We oppose the provisions of H.R. 2646 which constrict the work of the patient protection and advocacy agencies which protect the rights of disabled persons.
(7)As practitioners and patient advocates we oppose provisions of H.R.2646 which defund and weaken the recovery oriented approaches that have been promoted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Systems Administration (SAMHSA). There is ample evidence that these non medical approaches are not only effective but also less costly than the typical AOT’s. We believe it is important to maximize the voices of mental health consumers. And that is what SAMHSA programs provide.
(8) Any legislation must approach the arena of mental health treatment with great humility. There are myriad theories and ideologies. Resources supplied to the States by the Federal government must be given with strings attached, viz., “show us the evidence” that your approach(es) is/are effective, safe, humane, and life-enhancing.
Joanne Cacciatore has what many would find to be an unbearable calling: to help counsel parents through their grief after the death of a child. As a professor of social work at Arizona State University, the Sedona resident and mother of four grown kids — and one stillborn — is a top expert in the field of child loss and traumatic grief; her vast body of research ranges from maternal depression after stillbirth to fathers’ grief after infant loss and parental bereavement in Native American cultures. She’s founder of the support-giving MISS Foundation, as well as the Center for Loss and Trauma. But as a therapist, Cacciatore, 50, has a more basic if hard-to-fathom focus — to support and guide moms and dads through their darkest days. Recently, ahead of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, she sat down with Yahoo Parenting to discuss the importance of facing a topic that pretty much everyone wants to avoid.
On October 11, 2015 the ISEPP Board of Directors held elections for the following leadership positions of Executive Director, Chairperson of the Board, and new Board members.
Chuck Ruby, Ph.D., was unanimously elected to assume the position of Executive Director effective immediately. Chuck joined ISEPP (ICSPP) about 10 years ago and since 2013, had held the position of Chairperson of the Board. He is the Director and General Manager of the Pinnacle Center for Mental Health and Human Relations, a group private practice in southern Maryland. He is also a member of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, a nonprofit volunteer organization seeking to apply psychological knowledge and expertise to promote peace, social justice, and human rights.
Replacing Chuck as Chairperson of the Board is Dominick Riccio, Ph.D. Dominick held the position of Executive Director from 2002 to 2008, and from 2013 to 2015. He has been with ISEPP (ICSPP) for many years. He is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. He has been a supervisor and training analyst at various psychoanalytic institutes. He is past co-founder and clinical director of Encounter, Inc., a prototype drug rehabilitation for teenagers. He has previously served as both president and vice-president of the Association for Modern Psychoanalysis, as well as founder and executive director of the Institute for the Treatment and Research of Psychosomatic Disorder.
Three new Board members were also elected.
Joan Cacciatore, Ph.D., has worked with people who are affected by traumatic death, particularly the death of a child, for nearly 20 years. She uses non-traditional, mindfulness-based approaches such as trauma focused psychoeducation, fully present narration, emotion-focused imaginal dialogue, symbols-metaphor-and-rituals, bibliotherapy, ecotherapy, meditation, yoga, and shinrin-yoku. She is also a professor & researcher at Arizona State University and the founder of the MISS Foundation, an international nonprofit organization with 75 chapters around the world aiding parents whose children have died or are dying.
Mary Vieten, Ph.D., ABPP, is a psychologist and U.S. Navy Commander with the Select Reserves. She has a private practice in southern Maryland where she serves clients who are military, paramilitary, veterans, and civilians who are exposed to high risk environments like police work and combat situations. She encourages clients to pursue trauma recovery work outside the medical model and educates them on the dangers and ineffectiveness of psychiatric drug treatment. Mary is ISEPP's Director of Operation Speak Up, an effort to critique and challenge the government's medical model treatment of those who suffer from traumatic experiences. In furtherance of this, she recently partnered with Melwood, a non-profit organization devoted to assisting people with disabilities, to develop and run a free week-long retreat for veterans and active duty military using this non-medical model.
Noel Hunter, M.A., M.S., is a clinical psychology doctoral candidate set to graduate in May 2016. She has over 40 publications and presentations on the topic of trauma and psychosis, barriers to humanistic approaches to suffering, and the need for major systemic change in all areas of mental health. Recently, she completed her dissertation of first-person perspectives on what is helpful and harmful in the treatment of severe dissociative states. Noel is also on the Board of Directors for Hearing Voices Network-USA, was previously the "experts-by-experience" Chair for ISPS, and is a blogger at madinamerica.com. Her own personal experiences and her passion for social justice fuel her outspoken nature and drive for change. To keep it real, however, she spends much of her time performing improv comedy in NYC.
The first full week of October (October 4th – 10th) is “Mental Illness Awareness Week” (MIAW). The primary purposes of MIAW are to fight stigma, provide educational material to the public, and to push for better mental health care. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has energetically promoted MIAW. This isn’t surprising since NAMI’s goals are to fight stigma, raise awareness, and provide education about “mental illness” to mental health patients, the public, and policy makers (NAMI, 2015a). But NAMI’s efforts may, in fact, be making the matter worse.
No doubt the stated NAMI goals are important. Millions of individuals suffer from significant emotional and mental distress (often called mental illness or psychological disorders – terminology I dislike but will use for clarity in what follows). Lack of awareness, as well as stigma surrounding psychological disorders, contribute to these individuals not seeking the assistance of mental health professionals (Bharadwaj, Pai, & Suziedeltye, 2015). This is unfortunate because many forms of psychological disorders can be significantly diminished through treatment. For example, Khan, Faucett, Lichtenberg, Kirsch, and Brown (2012) conducted a meta-analysis of hundreds of studies. Their meta-analysis found that the depressive symptoms of patients who participated in psychotherapy decreased by about 50%. On the other hand, the depressive symptoms of patients on a waiting list only decreased by about 10%. This finding led Khan et al. (2012) to argue “engaging in treatment is critical to improvement” (p. 9).
Since treatment is important, and reducing stigma is thought to increase treatment seeking, it’s not surprising that for some time mental health advocacy organizations have done their best to try to reduce stigma. But NAMI's misstep is to promote a biological etiology of psychological disorders (Corrigan & Watson, 2004). The underlying idea behind this approach is that there will be less blame associated with psychological disorders if patients and the public conceptualize psychological disorders as biological illnesses (Corrigan et al., 2000). For example, if biological etiologies of depression were embraced, the public may view someone experiencing depression as chemically-imbalanced or genetically predisposed instead of weak willed or lazy. It’s thought that stigma can be diminished by decreasing or removing the element of moral blame associated with being weak willed or lazy.
NAMI has a long history of ostensibly fighting stigma by claiming that psychological disorders are a biological, medical illness like cancer or diabetes (Angermeyer, Holzinger, Carta, & Schomerus, 2011; Deacon, 2013; Kvaale, Haslam, & Gottdiener, 2013; Lebowitz & Ahn, 2012). For example, a study by University of Michigan researchers found that NAMI’s web site information about depression emphasized biological etiologies (Hansell et al., 2011). While depression treatment centers, universities, and government websites generally provided approximately proportional descriptions of biological and psychosocial causes of depression, NAMI’s website – like pharmaceutical company websites -- focused much more on biological causes. While treatment centers, universities, and governments provided balanced explanations or even explanations that emphasized psychosocial causes, “The NAMI Website, for example, showed a 9:1 ratio in biological to psychosocial content about depression” (Hansell et al., 2011, p. 387). This sort of finding probably goes a far way of explaining why the first treatment option listed for the majority of the mental health conditions on NAMI’s “Fact Sheet Library” is medication (NAMI, 2015b) – though Hansell et al. (2011) suggested that the emphasis on biological etiologies “may in part reflect NAMI’s close relationship with pharmaceutical companies” (p. 387).
If an accurate reflection of reality, NAMIs approach seems coherent. That is, if emphasizing biological etiologies can diminish stigma and diminishing stigma can lead to improved treatment outcomes, then NAMI’s approach seems to have some plausibility.
However, NAMI’s perspective on psychological disorders is troublesome for at least three reasons:
First, biological etiologies of psychological disorders do not necessarily decrease stigma. In fact, a large body of evidence suggests that biological etiologies of mental illness can increase stigma associated with many psychological disorders (Schomerus, Matschinger, & Angermeyer, 2014; Speerforck, Schomerus, Pruess, & Angermeyer, 2014). One prominent explanation for this finding is that although biological etiologies may diminish moral blame, they increase the perceived dangerousness and difference of those experiencing mental illness.
Second, emphasizing biological etiologies implies that biological interventions (e.g., medications) are the preferred treatment (Deacon, 2013; Kemp, J. J., Lickel, J. J., & Deacon, 2014; Read, Cartwright, Gibson, Shiels, & Magliano, 2015). This is concerning because substantial evidence suggests that very often medications do not provide significantly superior treatment benefits for psychological disorders when compared to psychotherapy (Cuijpers, Sijbrandij, Koole, Andersson, Beekman, & Reynolds, 2013; Harrow, Jobe, & Faull, 2012; Khan et al., 2012) and medications have a long list of negative effects, some of them very serious (Andrews, Thomson, Amstadter, & Neale, 2012; Kirsch, 2014; Moncrieff, 2009; Moncrieff 2013).
Third, emphasizing biological etiologies can have significant clinical impacts. Individuals who endorse a primarily or exclusively biological etiology of psychological disorders have increased prognostic pessimism, probably because they’ve accepted an essentialist account of their identity which leads them to believe they have little ability to modify their subjective experience (Lebowitz, 2014; Schultz, 2016). Increased prognostic pessimism is an important clinical factor because individuals’ expectancies for improvement is a significant contributor to their actual improvement. Individuals who expect to do better, do better (Constantino, 2012).
To sum up, MIAW has a great chance to educate the public about the prevalence, causes, and treatment options for psychological disorders. I hope this short piece shows that the perspective adopted by NAMI is not comprehensive and probably harmful to clients.
But what about stigma? Well, as I wrote previously: “… a biological understanding of psychological disorders is not the only way to combat stigma. We can adopt a compassionate attitude toward those struggling with [psychological disorders] even if we don’t also accept the view that their [psychological disorders are] biologically determined. For example, individuals [with psychological disorders] may simply not know other ways to manage their emotions or they may be dealing with a variety of stressors which overwhelm their ability to cope in a more adaptive way. Neither of these views suggests that the proper attitude is to judge and chastise individuals…as being weak willed” (Schultz, 2015).
Andrews, P. W., Thomson Jr, J. A., Amstadter, A., & Neale, M. C. (2012). Primum Non Nocere: An Evolutionary Analysis of Whether Antidepressants Do More Harm than Good. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 117.
Angermeyer, M. C., Holzinger, A., Carta, M. G., & Schomerus, G. (2011). Biogenetic explanations and public acceptance of mental illness: systematic review of population studies. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 199(5), 367-372.
Bharadwaj, P., Pai, M. M., & Suziedelyte, A. (2015). Mental Health Stigma (No. w21240). National Bureau of Economic Research.
Constantino, M. J. (2012). Believing is seeing: an evolving research program on patients' psychotherapy expectations. Psychotherapy Research, 22(2), 127-138.
Corrigan, P. W., River, L. P., Lundin, R. K., Wasowski, K. U., Campion, J., Mathisen, J., Goldstein, H., Bergman, M., Gagnon, C., & Kubiak, M. A. (2000). Stigmatizing attributions about mental illness. Journal of Community Psychology, 28(1), 91-102.
Corrigan, P. W., & Watson, A. C. (2004). At issue: Stop the stigma: call mental illness a brain disease. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 30(3), 477-479.
Cuijpers, P., Sijbrandij, M., Koole, S. L., Andersson, G., Beekman, A. T., & Reynolds, C. F. (2013). The efficacy of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy in treating depressive and anxiety disorders: a meta‐analysis of direct comparisons. World Psychiatry, 12(2), 137-148.
Deacon, B. J. (2013). The biomedical model of mental disorder: A critical analysis of its validity, utility, and effects on psychotherapy research. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(7), 846-861.
Hansell, J., Bailin, A. P., Franke, K. A., Kraft, J. M., Wu, H. Y., Dolsen, M. R., Harley, V. S., & Kazi, N. F. (2011). Conceptually sound thinking about depression: An Internet survey and its implications. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 42(5), 382-390.
Harrow, M., Jobe, T. H., & Faull, R. N. (2012). Do all schizophrenia patients need antipsychotic treatment continuously throughout their lifetime? A 20-year longitudinal study. Psychological Medicine, 42(10), 2145-2155.
Kemp, J. J., Lickel, J. J., & Deacon, B. J. (2014). Effects of a chemical imbalance causal explanation on individuals' perceptions of their depressive symptoms. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 56, 47-52.
Khan, A., Faucett, J., Lichtenberg, P., Kirsch, I., & Brown, W. A. (2012). A systematic review of comparative efficacy of treatments and controls for depression. PloS one, 7(7), e41778.
Kvaale, E. P., Haslam, N., & Gottdiener, W. H. (2013). The ‘side effects’ of medicalization: A meta-analytic review of how biogenetic explanations affect stigma. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(6), 782-794.
Lebowitz, M. S. (2014). Biological conceptualizations of mental disorders among affected individuals: A review of correlates and consequences. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 21(1), 67-83.
Lebowitz, M. S., & Ahn, W. K. (2012). Combining biomedical accounts of mental disorders with treatability information to reduce mental illness stigma. Psychiatric Services, 63(5), 496-499.
Moncrieff, J. (2008). The myth of the chemical cure: A critique of psychiatric drug treatment. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Moncrieff, J. (2013). The bitterest pills: The troubling story of antipsychotic drugs. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2015a). About NAMI. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/About-NAMI
National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2015b). Fact sheet library. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Fact-Sheet-Library
Read, J., Cartwright, C., Gibson, K., Shiels, C., & Magliano, L. (2015). Beliefs of people taking antidepressants about the causes of their own depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 174, 150-156.
Schomerus, G., Matschinger, H., & Angermeyer, M. C. (2014). Causal beliefs of the public and social acceptance of persons with mental illness: a comparative analysis of schizophrenia, depression and alcohol dependence. Psychological Medicine, 44(02), 303-314.
Schultz, W. E. R. (2015) Binge eating and genetics. Retrieved from https://www.madinamerica.com/2015/08/binge-eating-and-genetics/
Schultz, W. E. R. (2016). Neuroessentialism: Theoretical and clinical considerations. The Journal of Humanistic Psychology. Accepted for publication.
Speerforck, S., Schomerus, G., Pruess, S., & Angermeyer, M. C. (2014). Different biogenetic causal explanations and attitudes towards persons with major depression, schizophrenia and alcohol dependence: Is the concept of a chemical imbalance beneficial?. Journal of Affective Disorders, 168, 224-228.
We received word here at ISEPP that one of our favorite members had passed. Ben Hansen, alias Dr. Bonkers, ended his struggle with bladder cancer on September 14th. He was 60 years old and fought the good fight until the end, refusing any medication and dying pain free and peacefully at home with the help of Hospice of Michigan.
We all know that psychiatry is a joke. We know that scientifically, they don’t have a leg to stand on. It was Ben Hansen and his Bonkers Institute for Nearly Genuine Research that really helped put this in focus for us. He used past ads for medications from psychiatric journals to point out the absurdity of psychiatry's past. He used current ads and articles to show that nothing has really changed in the past 100 years…..old wine in new bottles or as they say in the military, “SSDD.”
I have been a student and critic of psychiatry for over twenty years and thought I knew a lot. Then along comes Dr. Bonkers. I found myself marveling at some of the stuff he dug up and thinking to myself “Wow! These guys have a history of this that is even crazier than I thought.”
Thorazine for Hiccups? With Partnership for a Drug Free America getting psychiatrists to look for drug abuse in their patients and help stop America’s drug problem? Drugs for deviant sexual behavior? Dr. Bonkers found all of this.
Noam Chomsky defined Anarchism as “A tendency in the history of human thought and action which seeks to identify coercive, authoritarian and hierarchic structures of all kinds and to challenge their legitimacy – and if they cannot justify their legitimacy, which is quite commonly the case, to work to undermine them and expand the scope of freedom.”
Using this definition, Ben was one of my all-time favorite anarchists. I would refer doubters to the Dr. Bonker’s web site and their response was usually one of “These ads and articles can’t be real!” …..and another hole was poked in the psychiatric Zeppelin. He did not live long enough to see the Zeppelin crash and burn but he most assuredly poked some major holes in it. I was informed that the site will stay up in the future. Let’s keep sending the doubters there.
Let’s do it for Ben!
Over the past decade, there have been numerous allegations of inappropriate collusion between the American Psychological Association (APA), CIA, and the Department of Defense (DoD) with the intent of molding APA ethics guidelines to allow psychologists’ continued involvement in enhanced interrogations, considered torture under international law. Still, APA leadership stood firm in the face of the mounting evidence against them.
The ISEPP Board of Directors has followed this issue, releasing two public statements (here and here) and joining with Physicians for Human Rights, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, and the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology in public petition to the APA. Last November, the APA finally commissioned David Hoffman of Sidley Austin, LLP, to conduct an independent investigation.This past July, Hoffman’s report was released. It was a bombshell, revealing many deceptive deeds committed by senior representatives of APA, to include the Ethics Director, in order to curry favor with the DoD and the Bush administration. Since its release, some of the senior APA representatives involved have been fired, resigned, or retired early.
With the Hoffman report in hand, the APA Council of Representatives surprised many in August at the annual APA Convention in Toronto when it overwhelmingly passed a resolution that finally banned all psychologists’ participation in any national security interrogations that violate international law regarding cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. The only dissenting vote came from the Society of Military Psychology Division representative and former military psychologist at Guantanamo who was one of the DoD representatives colluding with the APA. We wait with cautious optimism for this resolution to be implemented (the caution is because a member-driven referendum with the same ban in 2008 was never enforced by the APA).
In addition to our public statements and petitions to the APA, ISEPP has also been involved in the development of new ethical guidelines intended to supplement APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, and to prevent the kind of nightmare revealed by the Hoffman report. In particular, the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology invited ISEPP’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Chuck Ruby, Ph.D., to represent ISEPP at a workshop on the ethics of operational psychology in Brookline, MA, that took place September 18-20. As a retired military counterintelligence officer and psychologist, Dr. Ruby had been consulted earlier by the Coalition in the development of ideas about the ethics of operational psychology (see Arrigo, J.; Eidelson, R; & Bennett, R (2012). Psychology Under Fire: Adversarial Operational Psychology and Psychological Ethics. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology. 18:4, 384-400.). At the workshop, Dr. Ruby joined with experts from several professions to develop principles and guidelines for operational psychologists. The formal report entitled “The Brookline Principles on the Ethical Practice of Operational Psychology”, was released today to the press, professional organizations, and distributed widely within the APA.
ISEPP remains committed to continue this fight of bringing psychology back in line with the basic values of do no harm and respect for human dignity.
In these early hours after Chris Mercer’s mass shooting at the Oregon community college, it would be easy to blame the rampage on “mental illness”. As has happened all too often in the past, news reports zero in on whether the shooter suffered from this fictitious disease (for example, see http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mass-shootings-and-the-mental-health-connection/). Such unjustified analyses and reactions to these terrible events serves as nothing more than a distraction from the actual factors associated with violent behavior and prevents the development of viable policies to make our society safer (See ISEPP Public Statement: The Role of Mental Illness in Violent Behavior). But perhaps more problematic, it also sets up a false dichotomy that certain kinds of people commit these acts and the rest of us are not prone to such violence. It sends us on a crusade to find these defective souls, to brand them with mental illness diagnoses, and then to provide them with “treatment” to rid them of their infection. Screening tools used to identify these people are notoriously in error and result in huge false alarm predictions, meaning that the great majority of those identified would never have committed a violent act. So, thousands and thousands of people, including children, would be subjected to this flawed assessment and then herded into the traditional psychiatric corral and subjected to all its demeaning, dehumanizing, and debilitating harms. Ironically, it is this very process that can actually increase the chances that violent behavior will occur (See ISEPP White Paper: Psychiatric Drugs and Violence). In short, we continue to look for the demon within, rather than the actual causes of violence.
ISEPP's Mary Vieten, Ph.D., ABPP, is expanding her attempts to change the landscape of PTSD treatment. She recently was asked to talk at the Massena, NY Operation Grateful Nation where veterans attended the Greater Massena Ministerial Association. See here for the details.
Mary has been leading the effort of ISEPP's Operation Speak Up in turning the tide toward a humane response to military and veterans who have witnessed the horrors of war. One of her projects is TOHIDU, which is an America Indian word that means peace, mind, body, and spirit. TOHIDU is a week-long retreat that offers non-medical support to our country's warriors. See what's happening at TOHIDU here.