OK, here it is! What everyone who ever hoped psychiatry could help them is looking for, believing in, and praying for....
Today's Chicago Tribune (Thursday, Dec. 12) contains a supplementary section called Triblocal, aimed at the northern Chicago suburbs of Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, Northfield and Glencoe, and described on its masthead as "A weekly journal written by residents of your community."
On page 14 under a column titled Healthbeat an article appears with no reporter's byline, headlined "Mental illiness is not hopeless". This is an extremely interesting piece, very worthy of close notice, and I'd like to explain why.
The article is ostensibly the wonderful success story of a 20-year-old from Boise, Idaho named Eric Buckner. Mr. Buckner was diagnosed from the time he was a child with various psychiatric ills including ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Schizophrenia. But apparently thanks to modern psychiatric medicine, he's quite well now. This is no small thing, because he really was a basket case for a long time. He was kicked out of seven schools, violent, suicidal, hopeless. Then he spent seven months in a psychiatric hospital, and he was cured.
At least, that's what whoever put this article together seems to want us to believe. That's the obvious synopsis. And so many people want so desperately to believe that this is possible, that it happens every now and then with modern best-practiced psychiatry, that if only there were enough tax money devoted to more research into the brain, this kind of result would be the rule, and mental illnesses would be as curable as tuberculosis.
Well, I think it's a fairytale. I'll bet my reputation it's a fairytale.
Find Eric Buckner. Ask him if he's cured. Ask him what those good medications are, how they helped him, and what else really helped him to become a normal, hopeful, productive and sociable young man. (There are hints in the article, actually: "good coping skills", education and "positivity" are all mentioned.) Then, follow Eric's progress for a few years.
In fact, find a hundred "Eric Buckners" (cases of severe mental illness which appear at any particular moment to have been treated with great success), and take a careful survey about the effectiveness of psychiatry. One or both of two possible facts will almost certainly become evident. Neither one is at all consistent with the slant of the story in today's Triblocal section....
The first possible fact is that the Eric Buckners of the world are not cured of any medical illness, and they know this perfectly well. They'll more correctly attribute their improved conditions in life to personal learning and personal discipline, if asked. They'll say they want to get off all the medications if and when they ever can. They'll say they kind of hate the drugs, the drugs do bad things to them. Their only real hope is to learn more -- about themselves as whole people, not about fine-tuning their brains. They'll say it's all about becoming more able -- in a psychological or spiritual sense, not as a neurological mechanism.
The second possible fact is that the Eric Buckners of the world only look good for a short time, then they go back to the nuthouse or they go out and shoot people.
Either way this article, "Mental illness is not hopeless", is a fairytale and a hoax if it means to promote, or even if it merely tolerates the current, insaity-as-brain-disease orthodoxy. It's terrible journalism, completely contrary to the public interest.
Will anyone prove me wrong?
And while I'm asking, who wrote this tripe? The only byline on the article is "McClatchy-Tribune News Service". Listed Triblocal staff include: Jane Jansen, General Manager; Kyle Leonard, Editor; Kelli Murray, Ass't Editor; Kimberley Reishus, Community Manager; Nona Willis Aronowitz, Reporter; Blair Chavis, Reporter. One of these people must know where this thing came from, what the motive was, whether Eric Buckner is even a real person.
Who wants to work on this? Let's investigate!