Hi and Welcome.
In today’s world we are constantly bombarded with the terms depression – anxiety – post traumatic stress disorder – obsessive compulsive disorder etc.
YOU ARE NOT SICK! Life is not an Illness. Life can be harsh, unfair and unkind to the vast majority of us – but life is not an illness.
The first step in overcoming your issue(s) is to come to the realization that you are not sick, and to stop buying into the sickness model, which more often than not, is likely to see you on medication for an ‘illness’ you don’t have, and also, on medication that you are likely to be on for life.
The second thing you need to appreciate from the outset, is that the problems or issues that you believe you are ‘suffering’ from are not actually the issues or problems that you are actually ‘suffering’ from.
I would like to share with you the reasons why after a 33 year career as a Registered Clinical Psychologist, I chose to take leave from my ‘comfortable ‘profession. I would also like to share with you why I reject the concept of mental illness. Those reasons, and my assertion that mental illness is a myth are so intertwined that it is somewhat difficult to create any degree of separation in discussing the two issues. I will try my best.
My clinical background; I worked as a registered clinical/forensic psychologist for 33 years before officially leaving the profession. For the first 20 years of this tenure, I was employed at Oakley Hospital where my key forensic duties were to provide psychological and neuropsychological assessments, as requested by the Court, on people awaiting Court hearings for crimes that were generally of a very serious nature. This included mandatory assessments on all homicide cases. Additionally, while there, my clinical duties comprised individual and group therapy for the resident population of the medium and maximum security wards.
After leaving Oakley, I set up a private practice specialising in general clinical psychology, dealing with the much broader spectrum of personal issues. It was after 13 years as a private practitioner that I took permanent leave from the psychology profession, for the reasons that I outline below
My Forensic Years
During my initial intern years as a forensic psychologist I was led to believe, like everybody else, that if a person committed a very serious crime, a domestic murder for instance, and all the investigations found them to be suffering from a major illness like schizophrenia or brain damage, then the Courts were correct in saying that this person was not really responsible for what they had done and they should get treatment rather than a prison sentence. If you’re a schizophrenic, you’re a schizophrenic – you can’t help that.
On the other hand, if somebody committed a crime and were found to be suffering from no specific illness – even though anger, jealousy, depression or alcohol might be contributing factors – the conclusion generally was that this ‘sane’ person was responsible for their actions, and therefore subject to the usual laws. This is the way our legal system generally operates.
After two years of seeing genuinely nice, normal, warm, intelligent, and sometimes very caring humans doing some pretty crazy stuff like killing their own partners in front of their children or messing up their children’s or their own lives, I stopped subscribing to the notion that sanity equals responsibility.
Apart from the medical and nursing staff, I was the one who spent the most time with these people, observing them in their state of distress while they waited to appear in Court.
I stopped believing that being classified as ‘sane’ makes people responsible for the way they are or for what they have done or for what has happened to them. I hate to say it but I don’t think human beings are particularly responsible at all. I don’t mean from a moralistic point of view, rather from a psychological point of view.
Throughout our lives we acquire useful knowledge, along with plenty of useless material. Yet most of us never learn how the brain works and how it can play some dirty tricks on us.
Did you know your brain routinely distorts your perception of things? We spend a lot of time learning about puberty processes and internet safety, but very little about the complexities of relationships. Nor do we learn about anxiety ‘disorders’ or substance abuse. I know my parents never went to a marriage school to give them a chance of a role rehearsal or to learn about what it’s like to be married, or how to bring up kids or deal with teenagers, death, depression, marriage break ups or redundancy.
We are poorly schooled about real life issues and how the mind can go off track a bit when our life goes askew. More importantly we don’t understand what happens inside the brain from a purely chemical point of view when the mind does go off track. When people develop some kind of problem or condition or way of thinking or addiction, it’s no wonder they think “What’s wrong with me, what’s happening, why can’t I get on top of this?”
In addition it’s as if we have reached a point in time that when things don’t go our way some of us think the only option is to slip into some “mental illness” or psychological disorder.
Due to the fact that quite a significant proportions of the clients I see have unfortunately prior to seeing me been put on medication by their doctor or psychiatrist ( I mean, a psychiatrist in particularly, has to in some way justify their occupation), let’s begin with issue of mental illness and the chemical imbalance theory
Mental Illness – A DISEASE OF THE BRAIN – Yeah right.
We have been led to believe that mental illness i.e. depression, schizophrenia, anxiety and the like, is biologically based (such as diabetes for example), and is therefore a definite and verifiable medical condition. More specifically, that it is a direct result of a chemical imbalance or a disease of the brain. Of course, once something is depicted as an illness, or a medical condition, it becomes almost a given that this condition requires to be treated as such; in most instances of course, pharmacologically. In the case of depression, for instance, targeting the levels of neurotransmitters, in particularly, dopamine and serotonin.
With this in mind, please take time to view a two – minute video by Professor Timimi, a member of both the British College of Psychiatrists and the College of Evidence Based Psychiatry.
Before you do, please appreciate that when one consults with a doctor or a psychiatrist for personal psychological issues, these professionals are basically, only trained to prescribe. They are not skilled or trained in the research aspect, the array of issues pertaining to the validity of results, or the vast array of technical in-house issues regarding research design. As many of you may be aware, there are very powerful vested interests within the pharmaceutical industry that shape so much of what we have been lead to believe as fact.