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Liliya Reymer Professor Lynn Taylor English 1010 29 November 2013 Who Is Truly Benefiting From The Mental Health Industry? Carl Rogers, a former President of the American Psychological Association once said, "We can choose to use our growing knowledge to enslave people in ways never dreamed of before, depersonalizing them, controlling them by means so carefully selected that they will perhaps never be aware of their loss of personhood." In other words, Rogers is saying that with the advancement of society and technology, people can be controlled without them even realizing someone other than themselves has gained power over their life. Are the words of this prominent father figure in psychology coming true today through mental disease diagnosis and psychiatric medication? I believe that psychiatrys conflicted alliances with the profit making drug companies has caused an epidemic of over-diagnosis on mental illnesses, even when no scientific evidence to support their claims exists. What brought me to question what is psychiatry exactly, and why are so many people told they are mentally ill? Like myself, you probably know of someone who has hit a rough patch in his or her life. They decide to visit a psychologist, who refers them to a psychiatrist, who then tells them they are suffering from a mental disorder. This results in the prescriptions of strong mind-altering medications. A few weeks down the road you hear from your friend that the drugs seem like they may be helping but due to side effects, they now take additional medications. Weeks turn into months, the drugs get stronger and stronger, and your friend now cannot function without them. This

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situation is far too common and it serves as a perfect example of what Rogers meant by robbing a persons self-identity and personhood. When it comes to the topic of mental health, most of us will readily agree that majority of people at one point need help dealing with emotional and psychological issues. Where this agreement usually ends however, is on the question of how this help is received. Whereas some are convinced that psychiatric medication is the key, others maintain that whats necessary is healthy relationships, support systems, and talking through the issues. To clear any misunderstanding, let us differentiate psychiatry from psychology. Psychiatry is the understanding that a mental disease comes from biological, chemical, or a genetic abnormality in the brain, which can be treated by medication. On the contrary, Psychology has the view that mental illness is not a disease but that mental distress displayed by people is caused by a person's life experiences (Ahn, Proctor and Flanagan). Benjamin Rush, the founding father of Psychiatry, originated the concept that a mental illness is a disease of the body (Szasz 24). Without further evidence or proof, Rushs idea has evolved into a multibillion dollar industry whose only goal is to raise its own profits (Kliff). This has not only contributed to the nations financial health crisis, but has also left the people seeking mental help with nothing more that dependencies on drugs, further mental instability, and the many dangerous side effects from taking these drugs. The standard way of thinking about mental disorders is that they are chemical imbalances in the brain. This assertion is unproven and has no scientific evidence to support it. The mental health industry uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to diagnosis patients with a disorder. Allen Frances, Psychiatrist and former DSM-IV Task

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Force Chairman said, While there are no objective tests in psychiatry-no X-ray, laboratory, or exam finding that says definitively that someone does or does not have a mental disorder. Its bull. I mean, you just cant define it. Although the psychiatric industry does not like this truth to be known by the public, they will admit that out of the 297 so-called mental diseases, there are no blood, urine, saliva, laboratory, or any other physical tests that could provide evidence to support their claims. (American Psychological Association). This is a fact. The mental illnesses listed in what is known as the bible of psychiatry, and by this I mean the DSM, are not legitimate medical conditions. These diseases are based on checklists of behaviors that have been grouped together by the opinions of a select few (American Psychiatric Association). One of the select few, who helped create this manual, is indeed psychiatrist Allen Frances. In regards to the fourth revision of the DSM, Frances himself undermines the credibility of this manual by saying This is the saddest moment in my 45-year career of practicing, studying and teaching psychiatry. Psychiatry has pushed for the public to believe that mental disorders are real chemical imbalances in the brain. Unfortunately, they have succeeded to the point that most people readily agree and dont stop to question the validity of the 297 possible diagnosis. It is no accident that the definitions to the growing number of mental illnesses are defined in the broadest of terms possible. To see how easily it is to be labeled with a mental disease, and be prescribed drugs, lets take a look at just a couple of these terms. Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is defined as a child age 6-10 having temper outbursts, being angry and irritable. In other words, if a child throws a tantrum at least three times a week, he now has a mental disability and based on the recommended treatment, he needs medication (American Psychological Association). Furthermore, If when youre exposed to unfamiliar

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people or are scrutinized by others, you show fear and may even do something you might look back and be embarrassed about, you have Social Anxiety Disorder and once again, you need medication (American Psychological Association). When looking into the terms of the many definitions to these illnesses, it does not take long to realize that you yourself potentially have at least one of the many listed disorders. How did it happen, that since 1987, the number of adults mentally ill rose nearly two and half times. More shockingly, mental illnesses in children have grown thirty-five-fold in the same two decades, which has made it the leading cause of disability in children under 18 (Whitaker). I believe one of the reasons to this fact is the ever expanding number of mental diseases and there broad definitions. What were once considered natural forms of emotional and mental suffering, are now deemed mental disabilities. This has caused an epidemic of over-diagnosed people who are told they are mentally handicapped and need help. In addition, when help used to be through talk therapy it is n ow primarily prescription drugs (Kliff). Through this, I cant help but see that the more mental diseases there are, the more people are diagnoses with having a mental disorder, and leads to an increase in prescribed psychiatric drugs. This pushes me to believe that the pharmaceutical companies are the ones truly benefiting from this industry. Drug companies heavily support many related mental health patient advocacy groups and educational organizations. One of the most influential groups that advocates in many state capitols is the National Alliance of Mental Illness. From 2006-2008, they received $23 million in donations from pharmaceutical companies. This amounted to approximately three-quarters of their total donations. The mental health groups push legislation to pass laws that would help the mental health industry in a way that would benefit the pharmaceutical companies. In turn,

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the pharmaceutical companies donate excessively, fund the groups public service campaigns, fundraising dinners, and give the groups direct advice on how to advocate forcefully for issues that affect the industrys profits (Harris). Does the close relationship between the two parties not pose a chilling conflict of interest? If this type of conflict of interest were to happen in a courthouse, for example, if a defense lawyer went to dinner with the prosecution team, who not only paid for the dinner but also gave him pointers on how to defend his client, would this not be scrutinized almost immediately? This is happening, but on a much larger scale; with peoples lives at stake. Instead of making the public aware of the close ties between the mental health industry and the pharmaceutical companies, this information is guarded closely and only under close inspection will one find out exactly how close the two parties are. Conflict of interests should not be swept under the rug, they cause corruption and are forbidden in most aspects of life. Why should this multibillion-dollar industry be any different (Kliff)? It should not. In order to stop the ever-growing corruption, the public needs to be made aware of what is truly going on behind the scenes of this industry. At this point, I would like to raise some objections that have been inspired by the skeptic in me. She feels that I have been ignoring the claims that psychiatric drugs benefit and improve the patients lives. She says to me They help, they really do. However, I think she is mistaken because she overlooks the manner in which these drugs help the patient. There is no proof that psychiatric drugs improve mental behavior, self-awareness, or human interactions. Any drug that affects the mental process does so by impairing it. Studies show that antipsychotic drugs affect the highest mental center in the brain, the frontal lobe. The most common effect is to make people emotionally indifferent (Breggin). They not only start to care less about what they

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initially were prescribe the medication for, but about people, values, opinion, and themselves. Thats how the drugs seem to work by causing apathy. However, some will claim that causing a person to be emotionally indifferent can be a benefit in itself. Im of two minds about this claim. On the one hand, I believe short-term apathy to a situation or dilemma can be a good thing. Nevertheless, when the side effects and long-term use of these drugs have been shown to be dangerous, the bad outweighs the good by far. According to the FDAs MedWatch data, between 2004 and 2012, psychiatric drugs reported to the agency had more than 400,000 adverse reactions. These adverse reactions include heart problems, anxiety, violence, suicide, and the list goes on and on. Moreover, the FDA estimates that less than 1 percent of all serious adverse events are even reported to them (Citizens Commission on Human Rights). Of course, some readers will say a patient has free will in their decision to take these drugs. Though I concede that this is a valid point, I still insist that the mental health industry does not disclose all that is occurring behind the scenes of diagnosing the patient and prescribing the medication. Therefore, the patient is not given the opportunity to make a fair, conscious, and informed decision. We begin to see an unsettling picture emerge. The world of mental health wants people to believe that it stand on solid ground with factual and reliable claims that can be proven. With peoples perception that the ground this industry stands on is solid, they are able to convince them that mental and emotional suffering is not normal, and can be fixed with their help. The people then accept this help, which turns out to be psychiatric medication, and hope that what is being offered was made with their best interest in mind. Without the knowledge that the entire field of mental health is riddled with conflict of interest, people are persuaded with

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false hopes that if the first medication didnt help... the next one will. Let us fast forward to the future, keeping in mind the rapid growth of this industry. In 1955, one in every 468 had a mental disorder; in 1987, this was one in every 184. In 2007, this numbered jumped to one in every 76, and we now stand at one in every 17 (Whitaker). Based on these numbers, I believe it is not a far reach to say that in twenty years one if every two people will have a mentally disability. Furthermore, who can say that medication will still be the most profitable treatment? Americas diagnosis is clear. We have been persuaded by the drug funded psychiatric industry that we are disturbed and sick people; allowing the profits of the pharmaceutical companies to skyrocket. We have bought into lies and fed harmful, emotionally disabling medication that blinds us to understand what is truly at stake here. To stop my prediction of the future generation from becoming reality, the first step is to truly understand that the ground of the mental health industry is not solid, but indeed built on lies, conflict of interests, and the nonbenefiting party is us, the people.

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Works Cited
Ahn, Woo-kyoung, Caroline Proctor and Elizabeth Flanagan. "Mental Health Clinicians Beliefs About the Biological, Psychological, and Environmental Bases of Mental Disorders." Cognitive Science 33.2 (2009): 147-182. Web. American Psychiatric Association. American Psychiatric Association DSM-5 Development. n.d. Web. 16 November 2013. American Psychological Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2013. Print. Breggin, Peter R. "Psychiatric Drug Facts." Savage Nation. Michael Savage. Cumulus Media Networks, 6 July 2009. Radio. Citizens Commission on Human Rights. Psychiatric Drug Side Effects Database. 2013. Web. 17 November 2013. Harris, Gardiner. "Drug Makers Are Advocacy Groups Biggest Donors." The New York Times (2009): A23. Newspaper. Kliff, Sarah. "Seven facts about Americas mental health-care system." The Washington Post (2012). Web. 16 November 2013. Szasz, Thomas. "Mental Illness as Brain Disease: A Brief History Lesson." The Freeman 56 (2006): 24-25. Print. Whitaker, Robert. Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2010.