Mad in America's Weekly Newsletter, Tuesday,
February 23rd, 2016
Dear Susan,
This week on Mad In America we featured several high-profile open letters critiquing narrow biomedical discussions of mental health and "mental illness" in the mainstream press. 
First, in "All in the Brain?" Richard Bentall pens a letter in response to Stephen Fry's exploration of manic depression in the BBC documentary on mental health, "In the Mind." "Why is all this important?" Bentall asks. "Well, for one thing, many psychiatric patients in Britain feel that services too often ignore their life stories, treating them more like surgical or neurological patients than people whose difficulties have arisen in response to challenging circumstances." 

Following Bentall's letter, a group of mental health experts and service workers (including MIA contributors Anne Cooke, Peter Kinderman, and Rai Waddingham) wrote a parallel open letter to the BBC and other media outlets about their one-sided coverage of mental health issues. 

From Australia, psychologist John Read writes about "one of the most extreme examples of psychiatric brutality." He presents the case of a young man who has been subjected to over 50 hits of shock therapy without his consent. Read suggests that media attention and public outcry are making an impact on this case. In the US, we feature an update on the opposition to the FDA's efforts to down-classify the device used in shock treatment. 

As always, we welcome you to follow and join in on these critical conversations, and many others, through our news features and blogs.  

Until next week,

Justin Karter

Mad in America Continuing Education offers courses taught by leading thinkers and researchers for those seeking alternatives to current psychiatric practice. CEUs and CMEs available.


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Anne Cooke"Open Letter about BBC Coverage of Mental Health"

by Anne Cooke, Peter Kinderman & Rai Waddingham

Richard Bentall, PhD"All in the Brain? An Open Letter Re: Stephen Fry’s Assumptions About Mental Illness"

by Richard Bentall, PhD


"The Future of Mental Health Interview Series: Eleanor Longden"

by Eric Maisel, PhD
Alec Grant, PhD
"Troubling Mental Health Nurse Education"

by Alec Grant, PhD


Sarah Knutson
'Einstein, Social Justice and The New Relativity"

by Sarah Knutson


by Jay Watts, DClinPsy
Benzodiazepine Use Linked to Dementia and Memory Loss

A recent review of the research found that benzodiazepine use may have long-term effects on memory and increase the risk for dementia. The study, published in CNS Drugs, calls for greater awareness of these potential risks among prescribers and more research on the mechanisms involved.

Omega-3 Screening for Psychiatric Symptoms?

There is a substantial body of evidence suggesting that not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet may be connected to a diverse array of psychiatric symptoms. In a new study published this month, psychiatrist Robert McNamara and Erik Messamore provide an overview of the evidence and call for screening of omega-3 deficiency in people experiencing symptoms associated with ADHD, depression, mood disorders, and psychosis.

Family Oriented, Home-Based Treatment Best for Youth with Symptoms of Psychosis

A pathbreaking new study out of Finland suggests that early intervention programs for youth experiencing psychotic-like symptoms may see the greatest improvement when treatment works within the home rather than in a hospital setting. The research, to be published in next month’s issue of Psychiatry Research, found greater improvement in functioning, depression, and hopelessness among teens in a new need-adapted Family and Community oriented Integrative Treatment Model (FCTM) program.

Minority Discrimination Linked to Psychosis

A study published in this month’s issue of the Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology found that perceived discrimination related to minority status may precede the emergence of psychosis. These findings support social defeat theory, which explains that chronic feelings of outsider status or subordination may lead to a sensitization of the dopamine system and the experience of psychotic symptoms.
CNN: “Benzodiazepine Overdose Deaths Soared in Recent Years”

“The use of benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium, is on the rise, and the number of overdose deaths related to them soared in recent years,” CNN reports.  "Much attention has been paid to the explosion of prescription opioid prescribing and the associated morbidity and mortality. Much less attention has been paid to the shadow epidemic of benzodiazepine prescribing and its consequences.”
“Early Behavior Therapy Found to Aid Children With A.D.H.D.”

“Children with attention-deficit problems improve faster when the first treatment they receive is behavioral therapy — like instruction in basic social skills — than when they start immediately on medication,” the New York Times reports.
Breitbart reports that dozens of NHS officials with the power to decide which drugs the agency uses are also being paid by Big Pharma. “The practice is so lucrative that the drugs companies are spending a massive £30m a year on consultancy fees paid out to doctors and officials, plus a further £10m a year flying them to events around the world.”

“Drug Trials Not Reported in Line with Ethical and Legal Demands”

“Decisions about the effectiveness of drugs are being made with incomplete information because results of almost three-quarters of clinical trials are still not published within two years of completion, researchers have found. Some of the leading academic centres in the United States have been criticised for turning their backs on ethical obligations – and sometimes legal requirements - to publish findings and report results in a timely manner, a study in The British Medical Journal says.”
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