Saturday, May 25, 2013

10 Years in the Making -- The American Psychiatric Association's Newest and Most Controversial Classification of Mental Disorders

The group that gets to define mental disorders and how they should be treated holds tremendous power in our understanding about what is normal and what is not, as well as in the allocation of billions of dollars annually. In the United States, and for much of the rest of the world, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has fielded this responsibility. 

The long-awaited fifth edition of the organization's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was just released this month. It will, according to the APA, be "used by clinicians and researchers to diagnose and classify mental disorders [and] is the product of more than 10 years of effort by hundreds of international experts in all aspects of mental health. Their dedication and hard work have yielded an authoritative volume that defines and classifies mental disorders in order to improve diagnoses, treatment, and research. [It] is the most comprehensive, current, and critical resource for clinical practice available to today's mental health clinicians and researchers of all orientations."

Meanwhile, for more than 40 years, the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) has been promoting safe, humane, life-enhancing approaches to helping people who are plagued with mental disorders. The APA and the ISEPP have frequently been at odds, with ISEPP often being the first major organization to identify or publicize dangers of psychiatric treatments such as electroconvulsive shock therapy, lobotomies, and various medications that ultimately prove to have disastrous long-term side effects. ISEPP's position is that pharmaceutical manufacturers are among the primary beneficiaries of the DSM, with the evolving editions having been "remarkable in expanding psychiatric labels . . . with no scientifically substantiated biological etiologies."

While our position at Innersource is to recognize the merit in both points of view -- a tremendous amount of valid research has gone into the APA's formulations -- we share ISEPP's alarm that the DSM-5 expands the number of conditions that can receive a psychiatric diagnosis and, more importantly, expands the number of conditions where psychiatric medication is considered the standard of care. For instance, $16.1 billion last year was spent on giving children anti-psychotic medication based on very questionable diagnoses, a development that our friend Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., has called "a national disaster!" 

ISEPP was joined last month by a giant, though unlikely, ally. No less than the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) took the drastic step of renouncing DSM-5 even prior to its publication. Many mental health insiders have been critical of the forthcoming version. The chair of the task force that produced the prior version summed up the problem: "Pretty soon everyone's going to have a mental disorder or two or three . . ." And for each mental disorder, of course, a drug can be invented and prescribed to treat it. Is it possible that psychiatry, which is dedicated to using science to help overcome human suffering, is being totally reshaped by non-scientific influences? Wake up and smell the coffee. Of the 137 DSM-5 panel members who have posted disclosure statements, 56% have reported ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

For the panels on "Mood Disorders" and "Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders" -- where pharmaceuticals are almost always involved in treatment -- nearly 100% had financial ties to drug companies. Meanwhile, NIMH controls much of the money the U.S. allots for research into mental illness and its treatment, and its radical move around the DSM-5 is a repudiation to the corruption that has teeth!

Also on the constructive side, we echo Dr. Christiane Northrup's prediction about health care in the future (from her foreword to Donna's Energy Medicine for Women): "... working with the patient's energy field will be the first intervention. Surgery will be a last resort. Drugs will be a last resort. They will still have their place, but shifting the energy patterns that caused the disease will be the first line of treatment. And before that, teaching people how to keep their energies in healthy patterns will be as much a part of physical hygiene as flossing or exercise."  

This holds true for mental health as well as physical conditions. Amen!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Healing the Heartbreak of Newtown

The tragedy in Newtown has received tremendous media attention and has fueled heated debate about gun control and access to mental health services. At the same time, a dedicated group has been quietly providing effective relief and healing to those directly affected by the shootings.

The Newtown Trauma Relief Collaboration Project, led by Nick Ortner and Lori Leyden, was conceived to demonstrate and implement a comprehensive response to a local disaster, involving people and organizations at every level of the Newtown community. Its primary treatment modality has been Energy Psychology tapping (EFT), so it has put the claims of EFT practitioners to a serious test. Groups that come into disaster areas to provide therapeutic help have been notorious for offering services that are ineffective or even harmful, wasting invaluable energy, trust, and goodwill while leaving disappointment and a sense of hopelessness in their wake.

So far, the Newtown Project has served more than 200 traumatized individuals. In these documented sessions, every individual treated has experienced a decrease in self-reported stress levels. In the case of more than 30 first responders, parents who lost children, and parents whose children survived, significant trauma was cleared in only one to three sessions -- including intrusive memories, overwhelm, extreme emotional pain and hyper-arousal related to being present at Sandy Hook Elementary School on the day of the event.

As fate would have it, Nick Ortner, one of the most prominent leaders in the Energy Psychology field, lives in Newtown, and his mother is a psychologist at a nearby elementary school. They joined forces with the community leadership and formed the Newtown Project, along with Lori Leyden, whose disaster relief efforts with orphaned children in Rwanda through Project Light have held up to research scrutiny. The Newtown Project has trained and carefully supervised 24 volunteers in using EFT in the aftermath of the community's trauma. Donna's Daily Energy Medicine Routine is, by the way, a core element of the training these volunteers receive.

Nick's new book introducing people to Energy Psychology, The Tapping Solution, was released earlier this month. David and Donna, who hold Nick in high esteem, commented that the book provides "crystal-clear instruction on how to change the patterns of thought and behavior that hold you back, how to improve your relationships and your success in the endeavors that matter to you, and how to live a healthier, happier, more prosperous life." David has also had the honor of serving as a consultant to the Newtown Project since its inception.