Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Being Outside of the Norm

   Historically the medical field has had a variety of ways of dealing with what is commonly called mental illness.  Early on, there was a belief that such illness was caused by an imbalance in the humours 1 within the body, which could be dealt with by bleeding patients with knives or leeches. They also believed that organs like the stomach, spleen, and tonsils were the cause of mental issues, so these organs would be removed. Later it was determined that surgical procedures such as lobotomy would be successful in helping to deal with such problems; however, it was later discovered that such surgery did not work the way it was intended. 
   It is very difficult to watch a friend or a loved one slowly lose their mind.  For many years the idea that someone in a given family may have “mental issues” was something which that particular family would often try to keep hidden from their neighbors and co-workers.  People who were not consider “normal”, according to societal standards, were often locked away in a sanitarium or an insane asylum for the rest of their natural lives. 

   As a culture we do not know what to do with people who are outside the “normal range”.  A young child is enrolled in school and this child is subjected to standardized tests in order to determine their “ability to cope in a particular academic environment”.  If this child has difficulties, such as attention problems, emotional development issues, or other things, which need to dealt with it is the parents’ responsibility to see that the school district is doing what it is supposed to be doing in order to provide this child with the help that he or she needs. Regardless of the fact that the school district may have a policy in place or a given state might mandate that such assistance be offered, in most cases the parents have to fight on behalf of the children to guarantee that their children’s rights are upheld. 

   This is also true with students who do not show any sign of emotional development issues, but are simply highly intelligent.  The school districts are not designed to meet the needs of these children either.  Quite often these children become extremely bored in school and therefore a source of distraction for other students.  The average school district operates on what can best be described as a “bell curve” (a statistical analysis where the results are shown on a curve which is literally in the shape of a bell).  If a given student’s performance is somewhere in the middle of this bell curve the school has no trouble dealing with this particular student.  However, if a given student’s test results are on either end of this curve he or she could be in serious trouble unless someone intervenes on their behalf.

    Another issue which children suffer from, but often goes unnoticed is depression.  There are ways of helping young children with depression which do not necessarily involve medication. The California Department of Mental Health Medical Evaluation Field Manual states: “Mental health professionals working within a mental health system have a professional and a legal obligation to recognize the presence of physical disease in their patients...physical diseases may cause a patient’s mental disorder [or] may worsen a mental disorder.…” 2 The Swedish Social Board cited several cases of disciplinary actions against psychiatrists, including one in which a patient was complaining of headaches, dizziness and staggering when he walked. The patient had complained of these symptoms to psychiatric personnel for five years before a medical check-up revealed that he had a brain tumor.  Thomas Dorman, M.D. says, “…please remember that the majority of people suffer from organic disease. Clinicians should first of all remember that emotional stress associated with a chronic illness or a painful condition can alter the patient’s temperament. In my practice I have run across countless people with chronic back pain who were labeled neurotic. A typical statement from these poor patients is ‘I thought I really was going crazy.’” Often, he said, the problem may have been “simply an undiagnosed ligament problem in the back.”
  Paul Runge, M.D., a German psychiatrist, says he’s helped more than 100 children without using psychiatric drugs. He has also helped reduce the dosages of drugs prescribed by other physicians. L.M.J. Pelsser, M.D. of the Research Center for Hyperactivity and ADHD in Middelburg, The Netherlands, found that 62% of children diagnosed with “ADHD” showed significant improvements in behavior as a result of a change in diet over a period of three weeks. Many medical studies show the following could be causing the child’s symptoms:
High levels of lead from the environment place children at risk of both school failure and delinquent behavior.
High mercury (chemical) levels in the body
Pesticide exposure causes nervousness, poor concentration, irritability, memory problems and depression
Too much sugar
Allergies, environmental toxins
Gases, cleaning fluids, scents and other chemicals can make a child irritable, inattentive or hyperactive
Eye or ear trouble
  Educational problems can be the result of a lack of or no phonics (understanding the sounds of letters and their combinations) in school. Creative and/or intelligent children become bored, fidget, wiggle, scratch, stretch, will not focus and start looking for ways to get into trouble.  There may be an unchallenging curriculum. Goal-oriented children have a rough time focusing unless a specific challenging goal is given to them.  A simple lack of discipline may also be the cause of behavioral issues.
  Psychiatrists commonly claim today that depression is an “illness, just like heart disease or asthma” but physicians who conduct thorough physical exams say this simply is not true.
  The late Carl C. Pheiffer, Ph.D., a researcher with a doctorate in chemistry, discovered that depression, as well as many mental and behavioral disturbances often result from either vitamin or mineral deficiencies, or possibly mineral imbalances, something prescription drugs are known to contribute to.
David W. Tanton, Ph.D., author, as well as founder and research director for the Soaring Heights Longevity Research Center, states that eating foods that create allergies or sensitivities can easily affect moods. Hypoglycemia (abnormally low level of blood sugar), hypothyroid (insufficient thyroid gland), or adrenal fatigue, as well as the use of many prescription and over-the-counter medications could easily contribute to feelings of depression.
One patient wrote: “When I was 18, I spent three weeks in a mental hospital for what I was told was ‘depression.’ I was on psychiatric drugs for ten months after that. The drugs made me feel lethargic, impatient and irritable. They also clouded my thinking [but] I was so convinced by the ‘experts’ that I had some fundamental
brain chemistry problem and that their drugs were my only hope. Years later I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as well as debilitating food allergies! This was the cause of my so-called depression.”
Antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs create feelings of “depression.”
Abnormal thyroid (gland that produces hormones that influences every organ, tissue, or cell in the body) function may dramatically effect mood and cause severe depression, fatigue and memory loss. Adrenal gland exhaustion may also be a contributing factor.
Long-term use of antibiotics alters the immune system, causing exhaustion and anxiety.
Lyme Disease (a serious bacterial infection from a tick bite that attacks the nervous system) can cause symptoms of depression and psychosis.
  Psychiatry makes “unproven claims that depression, bipolar illness, anxiety, alcoholism and a host of other disorders are in fact primarily biological and probably genetic in origin….This kind of faith in science and progress is staggering, not to mention naïve and perhaps delusional,” says psychiatrist David Kaiser, M.D..
Following years of publicity exposing the fraud of ADHD, psychiatrists suddenly claimed the diagnosis was wrong and the child really suffered from bipolar disorder. This is more fabrication. Ty Colbert, Ph.D., warns parents about psychiatrists who label children: “Children labeled ADHD, who are put on Ritalin, begin demonstrating [so-called] obsessive-compulsive and depressive symptoms (side effects of Ritalin). Then they are put on [antidepressants] and the parents are told that the real problem was the obsessive-compulsive behavior from the depression. Then due to the side effects of the [antidepressants], the child may be labeled bipolar….”
The FDA now warns that stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall and Celexa actually cause “bipolar” symptoms.
Orthomolecular (mega doses of vitamins and minerals) research has shown that B complex deficiencies commonly occur in 80 percent of individuals diagnosed with “bipolar disorder.” According to Joan Matthews Larson, Ph.D., founder of the esteemed Minnesota Health Recovery Center, anemia is also a major factor in the cause of “bipolar” symptoms.
Dr. Carl Pfeiffer discovered through scientific studies that blood histamine levels were elevated in lab tests of individuals diagnosed with the symptoms of so-called obsessive-compulsive disorders. As these patients improved, their histamine levels dropped and their symptoms disappeared.
Several recent studies point out that these symptoms were typically triggered by throat infections at a very early age. One study in particular showed that among 50 children, 45 (31%) had suffered documented throat infection, 60 (42%) showed symptoms of pharyngitis (throat infection) or upper respiratory infection. The studies suggest that in some susceptible individuals, obsessive-compulsive disorder may be caused by an autoimmune response to streptococcal infections.
  “Charlie” was a 10-year-old who suffered violent mood swings, yelled obscenities, kicked his sister and could not control his temper. His mother was told, “You have two choices: give him Ritalin, or let him suffer.” Charlie was put on Ritalin, but a second medical opinion—based on physical examination and thorough testing—discovered he had high blood sugar and low insulin. “Either condition, if uncontrolled, can lead to mood swings, erratic behavior, and violent outbursts—the very symptoms ‘hyperactive’ Charlie had exhibited,” Dr. Sydney Walker III stated. After proper medical treatment, his “behaviors cleared, his aggression and tantrums stopped….”
  In September 2005, the British National Health Service Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence released a clinical guideline for treatment of “Depression in Children and Young People.” It advised that because “all antidepressant drugs have significant risks when given to children and young people,” children should be “offered advice on the benefits of regular exercise,” “sleep hygiene,” “nutrition and the benefits of a balanced diet.”
  The December 2005 issue of The Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport & Exercise reported that exercising rather than antidepressants relieves symptoms of “depression.” The subjects who exercised also experienced positive effects such as “vigor” and “wellbeing.” Citing a 2000 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, Dr. John B. Bartholomew, an associate professor at the University of Texas, at Austin, said, “[R]egular exercise has been shown to protect against relapse” in “depressed” patients.
  Overall, medical facilities must be established to replace coercive psychiatric institutions. These must have medical doctors on staff, medical diagnostic equipment, which non-psychiatric medical doctors can use to thoroughly examine and test for all underlying physical problems that may be manifesting as disturbed behavior.  Government and private funds should be channeled into such programs and cut from abusive psychiatric institutions and programs that have proven not to work.
   There is no denying the fact that certain people do suffer from one or more mental health issues either at one point in their life or throughout their entire life. However, there are alternatives to psychotropic medications even for those who have suffered their entire lives with mental illness.  Putting highly toxic chemicals into your body in order to “manage” your condition when the method of action listed in the information provided by the manufacturer is “unknown” is, at the very least, dangerous.       
   There is no reason to have to fall into the trap of taking psychotropic drugs, if you do not have to.  As I have shown, these medications are highly addictive and are much more difficult to withdraw from than cocaine or heroin.  It is essential when you speak to your doctor about the possibility of taking one of these medications that you receive all of the facts, including all of the adverse side effects and the risk of dependency and addiction.  This is your right as a patient and it is the physician’s obligation to provide this information to you.
    How a society deals with those who need their help the most is a good indication of the future of that society.  What should be done with someone whose mind has slowly “drifted away”.  This person is not a threat to themselves or others, but they are delusional.  
    One of the challenges with all these psychiatric medications and idea that people should exist within the center of the “bell curve” is that it gives the impression that everyone must be the same.  Individuality and uniqueness are considered to be “problems” which must be dealt with.  This does not mean that certain people do not genuinely suffer from some form of mental illness, but what it does not mean is that anyone who is unique or different is automatically mentally ill.
    In 1835, Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) wrote a short story entitled “Diary of a Madman” which deals with this issue.  This story deals with the life of Poprishchin, a low-ranking civil servant who yearns to be noticed by a beautiful woman, the daughter of a senior official, with whom he has fallen in love. His diary records his gradual slide into insanity. As his madness deepens, he begins to suspect two dogs of having a love affair and believes he has discovered letters sent between them. Finally, he begins to believe himself to be the heir to the throne of Spain. When he is hauled off and maltreated in the asylum, the madman believes he is taking part in a strange coronation to the Spanish throne. Only in his madness does this lowly anti-hero attain greatness. As he said in his first sight of her, just after being a beast of a civil servant himself, “A footman opened the carriage door and out she fluttered, just like a little bird.” 3
    The 1830s was a very difficult period of history in the lives of the average person in Russia.  The idea of maintaining a sense of individuality in an increasingly cold and impersonal urban environment was very important.  This is still true, even today.  
    Being unique is not an illness.  While it is true that not everyone believes he is the new King of Spain, expressing one’s individuality is extremely important. There is no shame in this.  How do you express your own uniqueness?

                                                        End Notes

1)    The theory of the four humours is quite ancient.  It is based upon the belief that the body has four states (phlegmatic, sanguine, choleric, and melancholy) which need to be in balance in order to function properly.  These states are related to the blood and one way that they were kept in balance was through the use of various herbs which we meant to impact each humour individually.

2)    “The Truth about Mental Illness”

3)    “The Diary of a Madman”

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