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New Guide: A Sane Approach to Psychiatric Drugs

Millions of people believe that psychiatric medications have saved their lives, while millions of others report that their psychiatric medications were unhelpful or made things worse. All this can result in mutual disrespect for different choices. I can think of no better antidote for this polarization than the recently revised, second edition Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs. This 52-page guide, published by the Icarus Project and Freedom Center, is now available free online in English as well as in Spanish, German, and Greek. Harm reduction is pragmatic and recognizes that there is no single solution for every person. Instead, as the guide states, “Harm reduction accepts where people are at and educates them to make informed choices and calculated trade-offs that reduce risk and increase wellness.” Harm reduction is about providing information, options, resources and support so that people can make choices that fit their situation and who they are. I wish the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs had been in existence for my entire career as a clinical psychologist. It would have been especially helpful for one particular couple whom I saw several years ago for marital counseling. Cathy and Jim (not their real names) met during their psychiatric hospitalization, both having been diagnosed with serious psychiatric illnesses. After their hospitalization, they dated, moved in together, and married. Cathy told me, “Jim is an intellectual, smarter than anyone I have ever met in my life,” to which Jim blushed and responded, “Bruce, sometimes it’s good to have a wife who is a little delusional.” Jim then told me that “Cathy is the most beautiful woman in the world,” to which Cathy laughed and said, “Sometimes I worry that Jim is hallucinating about another woman.” After a year of marriage, their marital bliss began to erode over the issue of psychiatric medications. One day, Jim quit taking his antipsychotic Zyprexa. Cathy, who continued to take her antipsychotic Risperdal, was worried that Jim, without Zyprexa, would become agitated, do something “crazy,” and would be forced to return to the hospital. Jim said, “Even if Cathy is right that I am increasing my chances of going nuts again — and I don’t know that she is right here — the reality is that with Zyprexa I can’t take a decent crap and I can’t concentrate when I read, and books — besides Cathy — are the most important thing in the world to me.” And then Jim added that he was worried about the short-term and long-term adverse effects of Risperdal on Cathy, and that he wished she would stop taking it. Ultimately, and quite beautifully, both Cathy and Jim came to see that risk in life was unavoidable, and they learned to respect each other’s choices and risks with respect to psychiatric medications. Both would have appreciated the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, which is all about informed choice that allows one to take the risks that make most sense given one’s situation. Read the rest in Bruce’s latest Huffington Post entry…
getupstandup Bruce E. Levine is the author of Get Up, Stand Up

Voting: Transcending the Wedge Issue That Divides Democracy Activists

I don’t vote. On Election Day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, ‘If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,’ but where’s the logic in that? … You voted them in. You caused […] Read More..

Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is Deemed a Mental Health Problem

Originally published by AlterNet We are increasingly marketing drugs that essentially “cure” anti-authoritarians. In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by 1) how many of those […] Read More..

Battle for Brooklyn Makes Oscar Short List, Thanks to Occupy Movement

The 2011 Oscar documentaries short list is in, and the good news is that Battle for Brooklyn — snubbed earlier this year by many major film festivals — is on that list. The Occupy movement has made Battle for Brooklyn impossible to ignore. Battle for Brooklyn asks: Do we really accept that Big Money — […] Read More..

How Can We Rouse Police and Other Protectors of the Corporatocracy — “Guards” of the Status Quo — to Join the OWS Rebellion?

Police, teachers, the corporate press, mental health professionals — the guards of the system — are given small rewards to pacify and control the population. October 20, 2011 | “In a highly developed society, the Establishment cannot survive without the obedience and loyalty of millions of people who are given small rewards to keep the […] Read More..

The Missing Piece in the Battle for U.S. Democracy

Activists routinely become frustrated when truths about lies and oppression don’t set people free to take action. But as a clinical psychologist who has worked with abused people for more than 25 years, it does not surprise me to see that when we as individuals or as a society eat crap for too long, we […] Read More..