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.

Chemical Imbalance 

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.

(1) No Biological Causes – “There are no biological causes for any psychiatric disorders apart from dementia.”

http://cepuk.org/.-facts/no-biological-causes/

Professor Timimi with some 30 colleagues is presently taking the British Royal College, to task, accusing the College of minimising the issue of drug withdrawal symptoms and being more interested in preserving the status of psychiatrists, rather than in the interests of the public.

(2) Professor Timimi vs Royal College

If you have any argument, or concerns with the chemical imbalance theory, I would suggest you get in touch with Professor Timimi. Maybe you might like to organise a three-way video conference between yourself, the doctor who determined that you need to be on medication, and the professor. I’d like to be a fly on the wall during that conversation.

Over the past few years, I have certainly witnessed first-hand the offence people have taken when challenging or denouncing the concept of mental illness and the need for medication. The typical response is along the lines of “how dare you tell me that I don’t have a mental illness and that I don’t need to be on medication?” I put the question to them, that if we put 10 other people through pretty much the same life events as them – events that in most cases are being presented as being responsible, or a trigger for their so-called ‘mental illness’ – are those people all going to handle these events, or be affected by them, in the same way? Moreover, are they all going to require medication as a result?

How would you feel if you did my work and had the following experience of a 50 year old female client coming to see you for some personal issues? You ask her, is she on medication, she answers “yes I am, I am on anti-depressants” You ask her how long she has been on medication and she replies. “Oh about 26 years.’’ You ask, “Why were you put on medication in the first place?” Her answer is, “Because I had a real bad relationship break up” You think to yourself, that was bloody 26 years ago, what the hell.

Recently, I had a young doctor referred to me by one of his senior colleagues. On completion of my Mindeasy program this young doctor said to me, “I now feel like such a fraud in how I have been prescribing anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds”. My reply to him was that “I don’t want you to feel that you’re a fraud, I’d just like to encourage you to become a better doctor”.

Look, it is true that medication may benefit some people in the absence of any other effective therapeutic input. However, this fact alone does not give any more credence to the chemical imbalance theory. Aspirin may help to ease the pain of a headache, but that doesn’t mean the headache is due to an aspirin deficiency. We will examine the concept of mental illness further in my next instalment.