About 1 month ago I was able to get off of medication. Truly, a triumph of the human spirit and the support and camaraderie of my friends over an over-medicalized, overly-drug focused Sanity Machine otherwise known as Psychiatry. I did this without asking for the advice of my psychiatrist, and without conferring with my parents, who have heretofore been fairly involved in my treatment. I didn't confer with them because I felt confident they would not be supportive. However, a few days ago I decided I needed to tell my family that I was no longer on medication. I had planned on telling them all along, I was just waiting for the right time, and I thought it was upon me.
Well....perhaps I was right. But it ended badly anyway.
Without getting into a lengthy explanation of the ensuing debate or some kind of undignified he-said/she-said, suffice to say that my family confirmed, with flying colors, their crippling dependence on a medical model of suffering and malady. It was kind of staggering, not so much because it was unexpected, but because of how incredibly unscientific the approach proved to be. They are convinced that I need to be on medication, because I must have some kind of chemical imbalance in my brain, with pitifully little evidence to support this theory. When I pressed this point, they cited my multiple hospital visits as evidence, and even confirmed their belief that an internal chemical imbalance is the only probable cause for such an event.
Why? Why does a self-avowed scientist cast aside all sense of inquiry, all sense of study, for such a ridiculously narrow-minded evaluation of a situation? If you ask me, Occham's Razor suggests "He was hospitalized because he was responding to stimuli" is more likely than "He was hospitalized because he had a strange, unobservable, inconfirmable anomaly in his brain." Scientists shouldn't attempt to classify something based on a cause that can't be studied, observed, predicted. It's one of the reasons why anti-seizure medicine makes more sense to me than anti-depressants - you can directly measure the electrical activity in someone's brain, and it has been repeatedly confirmed that certain electrical activity corresponds to seizures, and that certain chemical treatments can regulate that activity, thus helping the seizure (as far as I know).
And guess what? When they thought my problem might be seizure related, they took EEGs. Several. And none of them provided conclusive results; experts all just scratched their heads. So if anything, the science suggests my problem is NOT medical. Yet still a scientist insists it must be, because surely nothing else could be the cause.
How has this happened?
Some of it is undoubtedly due to personal hangups which are not really my intention to discuss, at least not in direct relation to my family. But some of it is due to the system itself, and the pervasive air of medicine and medical cause that thrums in our zeitgeist. The over-medicalization of health and distress by psychiatry and the media has gone so far as to actually undermine the scientific integrity of practitioners. This is my theory, anyway.
All advertisements for treatment for "mental illness" focus on medical treatment and medical cause; all drugs assume a chemical cause and even most therapy, although it is less often advertised, seems to assume that something is internally wrong. One virtually never sees any ads suggesting external causes for these things, except perhaps in a few rare cases such as domestic violence. And the advocacy community is not helping: the argument is about funding FOR PSYCHIATRY or insurance parity FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT, virtually never about changing the way a community behaves so as to limit the need for treatment in the first place. Even the people trying to make things better for us in the grassroots level, like the folks at NAMI, hyper-medicalize. Given all of this it is no small wonder that even doctors can forget that other things might be responsible for traumatic experiences.
Of course, the way I see it, this is fairly deliberate. After all, the more our health becomes dependent on medicine, the more the entire nation becomes dependent on a new service industry. That's good for the economy in theory, and moreover, allows the engines of our society's status quo to continue turning; because if the problems come from society, then society is a problem. And a cultural institute like psychiatry, whose heritage is the Enlightenment's project of turning the entire world into an encyclopedia, cannot tolerate the idea of society's nature itself being a problem, at least not in this advanced stage. Its office is to be the guardian of morality; the terminology has changed, but "mental illness" is basically the new state of Sin in our culture.
After all, rarely do you hear of a serious crime being committed without mental illness being dragged into the fray.
And only the priest-psychiatrists can heal you of this Sin. And oh, it's not your fault that you are a Sinner, you were guided into it by evil chemicals (or if you're lucky, other evil Sinners), and our holy chemicals can guide you out. But resist our love and our way and you are embracing the Sin, which is a blasphemy against Us and must be punished.
That's how it feels. Can anyone who has been through the experience tell me I'm wrong?
People make everything about meds. ALL THE TIME. It's like a permanent state of assumed PMS - "You were so moody today. Have you been taking your meds?" "Oh, you weren't on your meds? Well that clearly explains your behavior." It's as foolish as any other of the many baseless assumptions that fundamentalists of all creeds make, such as your homosexuality being caused by not having accepted Jesus into your heart. The only difference is that this brand of fundamentalism is endorsed by the APA, an organization that is solely responsible for endowing a university with the acreddidation necessary to confer degrees in counseling psychology. In other words, even though there are many ground-breaking programs out there that are trying to bring a humanist approach to the psychological and psychiatric field, they will never be able to produce accredited healers because the APA disagrees with their approach. So no one learns about the alternative possibilities...
So it is all about the meds.