Exploring the limits of biological psychiatry with Daniel Bergner is the focus of this fascinating episode. From questioning our understanding of psychosis to biological treatment modalities, and from exploring the differences between brain and mind to how biological psychiatry has contributed real harm to millions of people, this is one.big.episode.
Daniel Bergner is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and the author of five previous books of award-winning nonfiction. His writing has also appeared in the Atlantic, Granta, Harper’s Magazine, Mother Jones, Talk, and the New York Times Book Review.
His newest book, the most personal, is “The Mind and The Moon: My Brother’s Story, the Science of Our Brains, and the Search for Our Psyches.”
Meticulously researched, Daniel’s latest book lends weight to the growing national conversation questioning the medicalization of mental illness, which is closely correlated to what we even know about defining mental illness.
- “The more drugs [antipsychotics] you’ve been given, the more brain tissue you lose.”
- “Psychiatry has lacked a ground truth. It’s a house of cards built on serendipitously discovered drugs. How people could think that mediocre — important but mediocre — drugs like the SSRIs could give us any comprehension is beyond me.” Steven Hyman
- “The big picture is that we really know very little about psychosis and what is going wrong in the brain. It’s remarkable why we don’t know.” Donald C. Goff
Exploring the Limits of Biological Psychiatry
Daniel asked a lot of questions in the psychiatric and scientific communities as he researched the limits of biological psychiatry.
Questions such as what happens to your psyche (translated from ancient Greek as “soul”) when your brain works differently from the norm, and is too medicated to function? And you, as a human being, have been marginalized, and left in a little diagnostic box that doesn’t have much to do with who you are?
What’s the result when mental illness has been medicalized based on faulty or non-existent science?
As Daniel writes:
… Maybe the way biological psychiatry most stigmatizes and isolates is by alienating us from ourselves, by defining and circumscribing and sometimes damning and imprisoning us in our own eyes. It is interesting that the profession may do to its patients precisely what we are advised not to do in raising our children.
One of the fascinating people Daniel met as he wrote the book was Caroline, who has intimate, in-depth, personal experience with mental illness and psychiatric interventions. Caroline is a leader in the Hearing Voices Network and the creator of a groundbreaking suicide prevention program.
She calls the current mental health system, especially treatment for severe mental illness and psychosis, a “system of oppression. … . People have been in need of support, and what they’ve received is risk management.”
The evidence that the way psychiatry has dealt with medicating mental illness is quickly accumulating. In fact, the idea that medicating our brains will lead us to mental health has been criticized by the World Health Organization. As Daniel writes,
Last June , the World Health Organization published a 300-page directive on the human rights of mental-health clients — and despite the mammoth bureaucracy from which it emerged, it is a revolutionary manifesto on the subject of severe psychiatric disorders. It challenges biological psychiatry’s authority, its expertise and insight about the psyche.
Inspired in part by his brother’s lifelong struggle with mental health, Bergner follows three individuals, who variously experience overwhelming depression, anxiety and other kinds of distress, including symptoms of psychosis. He explores the history of drug development, modes of treatment and the marketing of psycho-pharmaceuticals. He poses questions about the ethical challenges, complex social issues and other problems of modern biological psychiatry, and he makes a strong case that radical examination and change are urgently required.
This is an incredible episode of Living From Happiness with Dr. Melanie Harth, The Santa Fe Therapist and brilliant thought leader Daniel Bergner about matters that affect so many of us. Won’t you listen in, share, and send us your thoughts? email@example.com.
The Santa Fe Therapist Approach to Emotional Heath & Wellbeing
One of the compelling questions that Daniel Bergner asks is, “Can we hold the pain instead of pushing it away?” If you’re having trouble holding the pain of your suffering, whether on behalf of yourself or a loved one, please reach out.
I’m Melanie, the Santa Fe Therapist. Part of how I work with mental wellness is to use a framework of emotional health and wellbeing. Emotional health and wellbeing can be thought of as learning how to love yourself into wholeness. Some people feel that it’s also spiritual healing.
In my experience, learning to love yourself can be a lifelong journey. Emotional and spiritual healing and wellbeing happen when you deepen into your true self, uncovering, processing, and releasing layer after layer of learned self-doubt, even self-hatred.
Then, you can begin replacing those unhealthy layers with what’s good and true and authentic for you.
It also includes learning and practicing the skillsets you need in order to live life on your terms, whether that’s CBT, DBT, emotional regulation, mindfulness, contemplative practices, etc.
It’s really about understanding how to feel emotionally safe in a dangerous world. You can experience inner freedom when you know how to recognize being connected with something grander (and more important) than your tiny, ego-based monkey-mind thinking. And that connection can be as simple and beautiful as loving and caring for your doggo.
The Santa Fe Therapist Offers Online Counseling in Santa Fe, NM
Online therapy helps stressed and struggling women find the time away from day-to-day pressures to settle into their deep internal wisdom, access their inner knowing and intuition, cope with challenges, and learn new techniques to help them heal and move forward with confidence and joy.
I strongly believe in the power of online counseling. Along with the research that proves its effectiveness, I see the positive benefits for my clients every week. If you’ve got questions about online therapy, please click here.
Online counseling from anywhere in New Mexico, including Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos, Los Alamos, Pecos, Las Vegas, Tesuque and El Dorado.
What to do Now to Begin Emotional Healing
You don’t have to suffer alone anymore. Please, send me an email, and let’s schedule a free, 15-minute phone consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Services From The Santa Fe Therapist
The Santa Fe Therapist specializes in several areas of health, wellbeing, healing and recovery. I know that one size never fits all. My services are individualized to each client, and are based on your values, your needs and desires, and your goals.
I offer individual adult counseling and guidance in Santa Fe NM for:
- dealing with overwhelming angst and despair
- anxiety help
- depression help
- emotional and spiritual healing
- processing grief
- overcoming low self-esteem
- learning how to make peace with the present
- PTSD and CPTSD/trauma
- helping you manage stress
- online therapy