My Alternative to the Disease Model, Part 1 of 2

 

Label and Medicate: The Disease Model of Emotional Distress

The Disease Model of  emotional distress victimized and traumatized me inexcusably several times in the past.   Eighteen months ago, in the hospital, my clearly situational, trauma-based depression was inappropriately framed as a disease.

I’d previously been carelessly and crassly misdiagnosed — then, mistreated — twice. Part of my real problem was my dysfunctional family:  my parents “bullied” me, choosing a lackluster counselor, unhealed from her own family problems. I was especially angry at a seemingly negative system by the time I was labeled unfairly in the hospital.

Was

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By Hannah – “Mental Illness” Systems Subvert Personal Responsibility and Morality

Personal Responsibility

Often, we hear that some people believe “mental illness” is just an excuse for bad behavior.  Well-meaning advocates say that attitudes such as these are one reason why we need more mental health “literacy.

Mental illnesses, we are told, are biological conditions for which the “sufferer” has no moral culpability, as capricious as diabetes or heart disease.

A more enlightened attitude to those exhibiting behaviors that are disturbing is to view them as biologically ill and in need of treatment, rather than human beings making the wrong choices.

Mental Illness Excused Us from Personal Responsibility

Take, for

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By Diane Engster – The Trouble with Judgmental Mental Health Words, Part 1 of 2

Mental Health Words: "SMI"

Judgmental mental health words, like “high functioning” prejudice care givers and prevent recovery when people believe and internalize them.

Stop using mental health words like “SMI” (severely mentally ill) or “high-functioning” or “low-functioning.” Sitting in judgment of others is not part of your job description. You can hardly give hope if you hold others in such low regard.

If you’re too busy passing judgment on others, applying mental health words, you won’t have time to engage them and find out their hopes and dreams and what happened to them to shatter those hopes and dreams.

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Traumatic Admission Procedures Make Psych Hospital Patients Worse

Impersonal traumatic admission procedures

Psychiatric hospitals make their patients worse before they start making them better.  Their admission procedures re-traumatize people who are already traumatized.  Not much can be done about that because hospital managements claim these traumatic admission procedures are needed to protect staff and other patients.

This is not about whether psychiatric medicines and hospitals, and public mental health systems, produce bad long-term outcomes for many people. It’s about the vast majority of people who enter psychiatric hospitals in a crisis, and are released. stable on medication, in less than two months, often in just a few days.

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Maria Mangicaro – What Is Brief Reactive Psychosis?

Jason Russell, Diagnosed Wtih Brief Reactive Psychosis

All mental health advocates should learn from the recent hospitalization of “Kony 2012? creator Jason Russell. Jason’s behavior was filmed, and it seems clear that he was in a psychotic state, in urgent need of medical services to support the unique needs of someone in an acute, altered state of mind.  According to news reports, Jason’s preliminary diagnosis is ”brief reactive psychosis.”

Danica Russell said she feels her husband’s “irrational” behavior stemmed from exhaustion and dehydration, not drugs or alcohol.

Symptoms and Causes of Brief Reactive Disorder

The National Institutes

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David Dodd – Healing Crises Requires Understanding of Human Emotion

One way to talk to people who are comfortable with the disease model of mental illness about how limiting it is, is to point out that there are many missing links in the relationship between current psychiatric medications and science’s understanding of human emotions.   Just because a model suggests a course of treatment doesn’t mean it is a completely scientific account of what’s going on with the person who is suffering.

Incomplete Understanding of A Disease Kills People

Will some future science of human emotions ever make psych meds look as primitive as bloodletting?

The medical profession has often had

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The difference between temporary distress and permanent disease

One of the very important disctinctions to peer approaches to mental struggles is that we view problems as temporary and not permanent. It’s a repairable life situation problem, not a lifetime chemical or structural or genetic problem. This is one of the key ideas of the Open Dialogue Model that makes it effective.

Our distress versus disease model is an important paradigm shift to help promote solutions.

I know that in my own personal experience, I wasn’t that ill at the beginning. I became more ill after realizing that I might have these struggles for the rest of my life,

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Douglas Coulter: PTSD is a reaction, not an illness

Lasting Emotional Reactions to War, Rape, or Crime Are Not A Disease

A PTSD reaction is not an illness. Trauma is an event that requires adjustment of human thinking and life, moving and adapting in a survival situation. Combat, prison, rape, burns, and many other events can force us to reevaluate our boundaries and self image.

Douglas Coulter rode this rig halfway across the country to Alternatives 2011, the national mental health recovery conference. Here is his story of a PTSD reaction.

Here is my story:

“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted…” Matthew 5:4.

I think

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Anonymous – My epiphany on DBT, Trauma, and Undiagnosing Emotional Distress

Undiagnosing Emotional Distress as an alternative approach for mental illness seems to be the issue.

I attended a presention by the DBT guru at my local community mental health center. DBT stands for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, a type of mental health talk therapy treatment that focuses on mindfulness or being in the moment, tolerating distress, and developing people skills. The founder of DBT, Marsha Linehan, is a person who is herself in recovery from mental health diagnoses. She recently shared her story for the first time in the New York Times.

The pillowcase project from Fulton State Hospital in Missouri where

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Windmill Tilter – Being a gay teenager is not a mental illness!

Or …how gay teenagers might fare in our modern mental health era.

I help moderate a Facebook discussion group called UnDiagnosing Emotional Distress where we are working on formulating language and solutions to mental suffering. It turns out that labels and medications may help some people, but often harm many others. Often people get mental health labels for normal human emotional distress to normal human situations like grief, trauma, bad relationship with parents or significant others, poor job fits, or poor exercise or nutrition, or messed up sleep patterns.  We’d love for everyone possible to join our discussion on Twitter

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We are not anti-medication critics – we are pro-informed choice

Many mental health advocates are for careful and judicious use of medications, not the anti medication critics we are assumed to be. 

Many times when people in the recovery movement criticize medications, people accuse us of being anti-medication. Recently, our UnDiagnosing Emotional Distress Facebook discussion group decided to recreate our mission. We now focus on social messaging around sharing complete recovery based on knowing that emotional suffering is a normal response to abnormal events.  This is part of our move to solution based advocacy, where instead of critcizing the current paradigm, we are creating a new conceptualization of emotional distress with completely differnet treatment options.

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Medication for teens needs to be one option among many

Medication For Teens Needs to Be one Option among many Medication for Teens Helped Nick

Troubled Teen (Not Nick)

Nick, the middle child of a friend, had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) so bad that the school district paid to send him to a special residential school out of town.  He went through medication for ADHD, anxiety, and mood swings.

At 17, Nick is off all meds, and is in the mainstream school. He still has trouble learning, but he has friends and a girlfriend, and is not a behavior problem.

Nick Had Medication for Teens PLUS

Medication for

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Solving emotional distress in children and teens

My daughter is really struggling, how can I help her?

Many, many parents find their children having emotional stuggles. They might have a story like CeeJai on the SAMHSA Stakeholder input forum:

I have a daughter [labeled with] paranoid schizophrenia who refuses to go to a hospital or take medication, because according to her— there is nothing wrong with her. My daughter has been homeless, without food and too afraid to let anyone know where she was located. She walked out of her apartment in the middle of December —-because she believed the people who were living in the apartment above

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How I Manage Severe Traumatic Distress

Traumatic distress has many faces

Naming the Trigger Shortens Traumatic Distress Episodes

Someone once asked what I find helpful when someone triggers severe traumatic distress — my post-traumatic feelings and behavior.  “Your ideas might help someone else who got triggered today,” she said.

What helps me get through these tough times I learned from experience. An essential element of dealing with traumatic distress is finding what helps YOU.  It’s different for each person.

When Traumatic Distress Feelings and Behavior Are Triggered

The ideal trigger plan would enable me to stop the cascade of traumatic distress feelings and behavior before I

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Edward Duff: How truama changes the brain and behavior templates

Edward Duff talks about how trauma changes the brain. This is a response to an essay to be posted soon on Corinna’s personal site about “What Winning the Olympic Trials Taught me about Trauma-informed care.”

This post is an email conversation between Wellness Wordworks creative director Corinna West and Edward Duff  about how trauma changes the brain. It’s reprinted with small edits and permission. Edward Duff is a policy analyst in Missouri. This means a lobbyist. We’ll post soon about what lobbyists really do and some ways around this. Edward is a survivor of many psychiatric diagnoses, incarceration, brain injury,

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