Winter blues can affect productivity

By PAULA BURKES ERICKSON
Monday, January 22, 2007

Scripps News

Feeling sluggish lately? Withdrawn? Eating more than usual?

Because of the shortened exposure to daylight, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or its milder form, the “winter blues.”

About 6 percent of Americans have SAD, and another 14 percent have the blues, according to Norman Rosenthal, author of “Winter Blues.” Symptoms begin in the fall and run through February.

Don’t laugh. SAD is a real physical illness with its own diagnosis. Employers should take it seriously, medical and workplace experts agree.

SAD is a subset of recurrent major depression and bipolar disease, or mood swings between depression and anger, said Jenny Boyer, a psychiatrist with Oklahoma University Physicians. Both are physical conditions, she said, that result from an access problem between the brain’s pituitary and hypothalamus glands.

About one in five Americans in their lifetime will suffer from depression, Boyer said. For two or more weeks, they’ll have fatigue, increased guilt, disinterest in their normal activities and increases, or less frequently decreases, in appetite and sleep.”I see people with SAD all the time,” Boyer said. “Patients will say ‘Doc, it’s winter. I always get this way in the winter.’ They’re kind of like bears hibernating. They’ll eat a whole bunch, sleep all the time and be super emotionally sensitive.”

Meanwhile, studies by the National Institutes of Health show depression costs the nation about $44 billion every year in lost work days, decreased productivity and other illnesses. Consequently, it’s important for employers to offer workers ways to cope _ from ample workplace lighting to employee assistance counseling programs to on-site fitness facilities.

People’s brains and behavior change with the shorter days and less daylight exposure, Boyer said. In the winter, people produce more melatonin, a depressive hormone that is made almost exclusively at night and to which SAD sufferers are more susceptible. In conjunction with behavioral counseling, SAD is treated with antidepressants, which are 45 percent effective; phototherapy, which is 70 percent effective; or electric shock therapy, which is 95 percent effective, Boyer said. Medication is the main choice for people who want a quick, convenient option and whose insurance does not pay for counseling or a $200 facial light box unit.

Robert Half International recommends employers position desks near windows or install sufficient ambient and task lighting. Office environment _ including lighting _ affects workers’ creativity, said 93 percent of executives in a recent RHI survey.

Meanwhile, winter blues sufferers might want to simply step up their exercise, said Chris DuRoy, a psychologist with the Oklahoma Heart Hospital.

“The jury is still out whether SAD results from reduced light exposure or reduced activity levels that follow the dark winter months,” DuRoy said.

Melissa Gruenewald, an accountant with Chesapeake Energy Corp., counters the winter blues by exercising 30 minutes or more, four times a week at her company’s on-site fitness center.

“I feel more tired this time of year,” Gruenewald, 31, said. “I don’t know if it’s the winter blues or working full-time and keeping up with my 18-month-old daughter. But working out makes me feel good and gives me more energy to get through the day.”

CIA brainwashing victims seek Canada court action

Monsters and Critics

Americas Features
CIA brainwashing victims seek Canada court action
By James Stairs
Jan 19, 2007

Montreal – In a case that sounds like science fiction, a Montreal court is deciding whether a class action lawsuit can be brought against the Canadian government on behalf of more than 250 psychiatric patients who were unwittingly subjected to radical experiments in the 1950s.

The so-called MK-ULTRA tests were part of a secret mind-control programme funded by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Canadian government in the 1950s.

The Cold-War-era experiments, carried out by a Scottish doctor in Montreal, included forced isolation, induced-comas, electro-shock therapy and the use of hallucinogenic drugs, including LSD and paralysis-inducing narcotics.

Lawyers for Janine Huard, a 78-year-old great-grandmother, told a Montreal court last week that their client suffered for years as a result of Dr. Ewan Cameron’s experiments at the Allan Memorial Institute, a psychiatric hospital based at Montreal’s McGill University.

The experiments were part of a controversial secret CIA programme, aimed at uncovering techniques of mind control and led by Cameron, who died in 1967.

MK-ULTRA was launched by the CIA in 1953 and headed by the American chemist Sidney Gottleib. It reportedly funded projects both at home and abroad, including the Montreal study, and hoped to be able to find ways to extract information from prisoners and influence foreign leaders through brainwashing.

The project was brought under scrutiny in 1974 when newspaper reporters uncovered that MK-ULTRA had drugged unwitting subjects in the US with hallucinogens and secretly observed their actions. The project had been disbanded a year earlier and all record of its activities were destroyed.

Cameron’s research specifically revolved around ‘psychic driving’ – a potential cure, he believed, for depression and dementia that involved erasing patients memories and then building them back up again.

Huard said that she first came under the care of Cameron, a former president of the World Psychiatric Association, when she consulted him in 1951 regarding a case of postpartum depression after the birth of the second of her four children. She was in his care another two times up to 1962.

The court heard that Huard and hundreds of others were test subjects for Cameron’s ‘de-patterning’ experiments, which included the repeated playing of recorded messages while patients lay in a drug-induced semi-comatose state.

Huard said that she underwent electro-shock treatments and was administered dozens of unknown pills a day, keeping her semi- conscious.

‘She never knew that she was being subjected to these experiments or that she was being used by Dr. Cameron and his staff as a guinea pig,’ Alan Stein, Huard’s lawyer told the court.

The aftermath of the tests, she said, left her unable to function normally, afflicted by memory loss, depression and by migraine headaches.

‘I came out of there so sick that my mother had to live with me for ten years,’ she told reporters. ‘I couldn’t take care of my children any more.’

The CIA paid Huard and several others 67,000 US dollars each as part of a 1988 class action settlement.

In 1994, the Canadian government compensated 77 of the most severely incapacitated former patients 100,000 US dollars each for damage they suffered from the programme.

Huard and 252 others were denied compensation at the time, since the long-term affects of the testing were not deemed serious enough to warrant payment.

In 2004, a court overturned one of the decisions and awarded 100,000 Canadian dollars (85,259 US dollars) to Gail Kastner, a former patient who had undergone severe electro-shock therapy to treat her depression in 1953 at the hospital but whose claim had been previously deemed ineligible.

This decision, Huard’s lawyers argued, opens the door for the current class-action request.

Lawyers for the government did not dispute Huard’s claims but argued that the tests happened too long ago for her to make another attempt at compensation.

‘They demolished me,’ Huard told reporters as she entered the court. ‘They gave me terrible drugs, electroshocks, and made me stay in a bed with a mask over my face listening to recordings for hours a day. I was afraid.’

No timetable has been given regarding a decision from the court.

York uni expert calls for radical rethink for therapies

The Press (York)
Jan 19 2007

AN EXPERT in mental health at the University of York has called for a radical reform of psychological therapies across the country.

Professor David Richards, of the university’s Department of Health Sciences, said despite being “both effective and highly valued” by patients, no more than one per cent of people with anxiety or depression receive such therapy.

But, in a seminar to the Dr Foster Ethics Committee, he argued traditional treatments were not the answer.

Prof Richards said: “People with common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety tell us they want help which is convenient, acknowledges their own strengths and is culturally appropriate.

“We are now pioneering ways of helping people by recruiting new workers from the same culture, the same class and the same community as the people they serve. These workers operate in the community, with the community and for the community.”

In a pilot scheme in Doncaster, Prof Richards and his team have designed a new method of helping people with anxiety and depression. Within 24 hours of seeking help they are phoned by a new case manager, who organises a recovery programme based on education and self-help.

Almost all the treatment is delivered on the phone, making it quicker and more convenient for patients. More than 300 patients a month are being dealt with by the service.

He said: “In all public services, people have demanded greater visibility and higher quality. The police service and traffic management are examples where new support officers have been a resounding success. Our case managers are the community support officers of psychological therapy.

“The NHS now faces a choice between a system which will perpetuate existing inequalities versus a system which will embed psychological therapies in people’s own communities. It is a choice between investment in a system which has failed us in the past versus investment in change.”

Books prescribed to patients in UK

Wiltshire Times
Jan 15 2007

PATIENTS are being prescribed self-help books by GPs to complement more traditional treatments, thanks to an innovative new scheme in Wiltshire.

Designed to help patients cope with common psychological and emotional difficulties such as anxiety, depression and stress, it enables health professionals to prescribe highly recommended self-help books.

Books on Prescription is a partnership between Wiltshire County Council and Wiltshire Primary Care Trust.

The books have been chosen by doctors, psychologists and counsellors from those which have proved useful to patients in similar schemes across the country. The doctor issues a prescription’ for the recommended book, which the patient then takes to their local library.

All the county’s main libraries hold copies of the books, or they can be requested free of charge from any Wiltshire library.

The scheme falls within Wiltshire County Council’s goal to be the healthiest county by 2010.

Head of primary care psychology in Avon and Wilts Mental Health Partnership, Dr Liz Howells, said: “There is good evidence to support this scheme and it means GPs have more options to offer their patients.”

Tessa Cozens from Wiltshire Libraries said: “It is easy to borrow a book on prescription, even if you are not already a library member. Simply hand in your prescription and say you need to join.

“Think of your library as you would your local pharmacy – a place where you get a friendly, professional and confidential service,” she added.

For more details on any of Wiltshire County Council’s services, please visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk.

LR Frank on coercive psychiatry

Leonard Roy Frank has published an excellent commentary on a recent article by Dr. Thomas Szasz on Barely a Blog: Read it here.

UK: Landmark judgement for suicide victim

Editor’s note: This man, who committed suicide after a workplace accident, had ECT just three months before his suicide. According to an ect.org editor in the UK, the employer’s lawyers originally considered pursuing the hospital, but changed their minds.

——————-

Corr v IBC – Court of Appeal Judgment.
Date:     19 Sep 2006
Text     Corr v IBC – Court of Appeal Judgment.

LANDMARK JUDGEMENT IN THE COURT OF APPEAL FOR SUICIDE VICTIM

The claimant was a Maintenance Engineer employed by IBC. He sustained injuries as a result of an accident at work on 22 June 1996. He was almost decapitated, in the event he sustained severe head injuries, underwent several operations including the reconstruction of his right ear, he suffered tinnitus, severe headaches, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and severe depression. His severe depression led to him committing suicide in May 2002. Following the suicide his employers, IBC Vehicles, alleged that there was no duty to protect against suicide and that in any event the suicide was not foreseeable. They also sought to blame the treating health trust although later discontinued their action in that regard. The case proceeded to the High Court in April 2005. The trial Judge found that an employer’s duty of care did not extend to the prevention of suicide and that the suicide was too remote. The Claimant’s widow was awarded approximately £85,500 and on our advice appealed to the Court of Appeal in December 2005 on the basis that the judgment was wrong and that the claimant’s widow should be entitled to claim for dependency representing an award for loss of her husband’s future income and pension. The claimant was represented by the TGWU who also funded the appeal. This case was of significant importance both to victims of suicide and for the law in general in that it was the first employers’ liability case heard in England since 1957 when under the old law; it was held that a defendant should only be liable for “foreseeable” damage. The Court of Appeal after hearing extensive arguments by both parties’ representatives overturned the High Court ruling by a majority decision. It held that the claimant’s suicide was symptomatic of depression and that as his “depression” was foreseeable that was sufficient. Further, given our unchallenged psychiatric evidence, namely that one in ten sufferers of severe depression go on to commit suicide, it was also held that the suicide was in any event foreseeable. The court increased the initial award to £633, 000 which is very satisfying given that Mr. Corr left a widow and two young children. This case demonstrates the real benefits of union membership which helped bring about a change in the law and justice for the victim and his family.

Gay victims of Franco era to win compensation

By Graham Keeley in Barcelona
28 December 2006
The Independent

In the dying days of General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, Antoni Ruiz found out for himself what thousands of others had already suffered for being gay.

Antoni, then just 17, from Valencia, eastern Spain, told his mother he was homosexual and his family sought advice from a nun. “She went straight to the police and I was arrested and sent for trial,” said Mr Ruiz.

“I spent three months in prison. I was raped there and in the police cells and psychologically tortured by both the guards and the prison doctor.”

Now, 31 years later, Mr Ruiz and a dwindling band of others who suffered General Franco’s ruthless repression of homosexuals, may finally be offered compensation by the state.

The Spanish government may offer money to those who were sent to mental hospitals, tortured, imprisoned or who suffered a lifetime of persecution. The Spanish Justice Minister, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, is considering granting victims a pension of €800 (£540) a month, plus a one-off €12,000 payment for what they suffered under the regime. It could be introduced in two months.

Many homosexuals were prevented from working under the Franco dictatorship because of their “criminal” records, meaning they never contributed enough money to receive more than the minimum pension.

Mr Ruiz, president of the Association of Ex-Social Prisoners, said the move would be a victory. “This is not just about economic compensation but remembering homosexuals who suffered under unjust and dictatorial laws,” he added. A few hundred survivors will see the payments – many of the thousands victimised have since died.

During Franco’s homophobic dictatorship, gays were jailed or locked up in sinister mental institutions known as “correction camps”. With echoes of the Nazi atrocities against gays, they were given electric shocks in the belief that this would rid them of their homosexual urges. Inmates were forced to watch pornographic films featuring women in an effort to show them a sex life that was deemed “natural” by the conservative authorities.

As part of their nationalist, Catholic ideals, the Franco regime and its Falangist supporters considered homosexuals a threat to the “macho” Spanish male.

General Queipo del Llano, who broadcast to the nation, once said: “Any effeminate or introvert who insults the movement will be killed like a dog.”

The most famous gay man killed by the regime was the poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, who wrote Blood Wedding and The House of Bernarda Alba. Considered a subversive, he was executed by a Nationalist firing squad in Granada in 1936.

Homosexuality was designated as an offence under the “law against delinquency and criminals” introduced in 1954. But towards the end of Franco’s regime, it was increasingly viewed as an illness rather than a crime. In 1968, the psychologist Lopez Ibor said: “Homosexuals should be seen more as sick people than as criminals. But the law should still prevent them proselytising in schools, sports clubs and army barracks.” Jail terms of up to three years were imposed under laws covering “public scandal” or “social danger”.

Homosexuals, almost all of them men, were packed off to mental hospitals, where some were given electric-shock therapy.

Lower middle class or working-class gays without powerful friends in the regime to protect them were the main victims. For others, the situation was different. The historian Pablo Fuentes said: “It is not uncommon to hear homosexuals from the upper classes and the aristocracy speak about the Franco period as a great time.”

Many gay people who suffered at the hands of the regime are reluctant to raise the issue because of the horrors it brings back or because they still fear society’s attitudes.

Even after Franco died, persecution of gays continued. They could be jailed until 1979. And although thousands of political and other prisoners were pardoned in 1976, gay people were made to serve their sentences. In 2001, Spain finally pledged to wipe clean the criminal records of gays convicted under Franco.

The present Socialist government legalised same-sex weddings and gay adoption in 2005, against opposition from the conservative opposition and the Roman Catholic Church.

Pedro Zerolo, president of Spain’s Federation of Gays and Lesbians, said: “What we want is a declaration of moral rehabilitation for those people who had part of their lives stolen by the state.”

Electroconvulsive Therapy Causes Permanent Amnesia and Cognitive Deficits

ect.org note: This article is appearing in numerous publications and websites, so to avoid repeating the same information again and again, an ongoing list of publications will be posted below.

———–

Forbes
Electroconvulsive Therapy Causes Permanent Amnesia and Cognitive Deficits, Prominent Researcher Admits
12.21.06, 3:38 PM ET

NEW YORK, Dec. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In a stunning reversal, an article in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology in January 2007 by prominent researcher Harold Sackeim of Columbia University reveals that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) causes permanent amnesia and permanent deficits in cognitive abilities, which affect individuals’ ability to function.

“[T]his study provides the first evidence in a large, prospective sample that adverse cognitive effects can persist for an extended period, and that they characterize routine treatment with ECT in community settings,” the study notes.

For the past 25 years, ECT patients were told by Sackeim, the nation’s top ECT researcher, that the controversial treatment doesn’t cause permanent amnesia and, in fact, improves memory and increases intelligence. Psychologist Sackeim also taught a generation of ECT practitioners that permanent amnesia from ECT is so rare that it could not be studied. He asserted that most people who said the treatment erased years of memory were mentally ill and thus not credible.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that more than 3 million people have received ECT over the past generation. “Those patients who reported permanent adverse effects on cognition have now had their experiences validated,” said Linda Andre, head of the Committee for Truth in Psychiatry, a national organization of ECT recipients.

Since the mid-1980s, Sackeim worked as a consultant to the ECT device manufacturer Mecta Corp. He never revealed his financial interest in ECT to NIMH, as required by federal law, and, until 2002, did not reveal it to New York officials as required by state law. Neuropsychopharmacology has endured negative publicity over its failure to disclose financial conflicts of journal authors, resulting in the editor’s resignation and a promise to disclose such conflicts in the future; yet there is no disclosure of Sackeim’s long-term relationship with Mecta, nor did Sackeim disclose his financial conflict when his NIMH grant was renewed to 2009 at approximately $500,000 per year.

The six-month study followed about 250 patients in New York City hospitals, an unusually large number; most ECT studies are based on 20 to 30 patients. Sackeim’s previously published studies were short term, making it impossible to assess long-term effects. “However, in other contexts over the years — court depositions, communications with mental health officials, and grant protocols — Sackeim has claimed to follow up patients for as long as five years. This raises serious questions as to how long he has actually known of the existence and prevalence of permanent amnesia and why it wasn’t revealed until now,” Andre said.

Besides finding that ECT routinely causes substantial and permanent amnesia, the study contradicts Sackeim’s oft-published statements that ECT increases intelligence and that patients who report permanent adverse effects are mentally ill.

“The study is a stunning self-repudiation of a 25-year career,” Andre said.

———————————————————-

Other publications that have picked up the story:

Dec 22 2006:

Forbes
Medical News Today
Brietbart
Dallas News
Kron.com
MedicalDevices.org
TXCN.com – Healthcare & Hospitals
WFAA
Philadelphia Weekly
Genetic Engineering News
Pharma-Lexicon

Electroconvulsive Therapy Causes Permanent Amnesia And Cognitive Deficits, Prominent Researcher Admits

Electroconvulsive Therapy Causes Permanent Amnesia And Cognitive Deficits, Prominent Researcher Admits

Medical News Today
Dec 22 2006

In a stunning reversal, an article in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology in January 2007 by prominent researcher Harold Sackeim of Columbia University reveals that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) causes permanent amnesia and permanent deficits in cognitive abilities, which affect individuals’ ability to function.

“This study provides the first evidence in a large, prospective sample that adverse cognitive effects can persist for an extended period, and that they characterize routine treatment with ECT in community settings,” the study notes.

For the past 25 years, ECT patients were told by Sackeim, the nation’s top ECT researcher, that the controversial treatment doesn’t cause permanent amnesia and, in fact, improves memory and increases intelligence. Psychologist Sackeim also taught a generation of ECT practitioners that permanent amnesia from ECT is so rare that it could not be studied. He asserted that most people who said the treatment erased years of memory were mentally ill and thus not credible.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that more than 3 million people have received ECT over the past generation. “Those patients who reported permanent adverse effects on cognition have now had their experiences validated,” said Linda Andre, head of the Committee for Truth in Psychiatry, a national organization of ECT recipients.

Since the mid-1980s, Sackeim worked as a consultant to the ECT device manufacturer Mecta Corp. He never revealed his financial interest in ECT to NIMH, as required by federal law, and, until 2002, did not reveal it to New York officials as required by state law. Neuropsychopharmacology has endured negative publicity over its failure to disclose financial conflicts of journal authors, resulting in the editor’s resignation and a promise to disclose such conflicts in the future; yet there is no disclosure of Sackeim’s long-term relationship with Mecta, nor did Sackeim disclose his financial conflict when his NIMH grant was renewed to 2009 at approximately $500,000 per year.

The six-month study followed about 250 patients in New York City hospitals, an unusually large number; most ECT studies are based on 20 to 30 patients. Sackeim’s previously published studies were short term, making it impossible to assess long-term effects. “However, in other contexts over the years — court depositions, communications with mental health officials, and grant protocols — Sackeim has claimed to follow up patients for as long as five years. This raises serious questions as to how long he has actually known of the existence and prevalence of permanent amnesia and why it wasn’t revealed until now,” Andre said.

Besides finding that ECT routinely causes substantial and permanent amnesia, the study contradicts Sackeim’s oft-published statements that ECT increases intelligence and that patients who report permanent adverse effects are mentally ill.

“The study is a stunning self-repudiation of a 25-year career,” Andre said.

New Zealand: First Report of Director of Mental Health

29 November 2006
Scoop Independent News

First Annual Report of the Office of the Director of Mental Health released
The first annual report by the Office of the Director of Mental Health has been released today by the Ministry of Health.

The publication provides a record of the work the office does and reports on some of the activities of District Inspectors of Mental Health and the Mental Health Review Tribunal. It is part of the office’s accountability to the sector and will be of significant interest to many people, including mental health service users and their families, those who work in the sector, and advocacy groups. It will also contribute to improved standards of care and treatment for people with a mental illness.

“We are proud of this work and believe it is an enormous achievement. The report reflects the importance we place on transparency and accountability to the sector and the wider public. We hope to build on this information in subsequent reports and include trend data,” says Dr David Chaplow, Director of Mental Health and Chief Advisor Mental Health.

The report is divided into three sections. The first section looks at how the office operates and the legislation it is guided by. The second section describes the work carried out by the office in 2005 and the third section provides information on the use of the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, electroconvulsive therapy treatments and deaths of people subject to the Act. An appendix provides historical background on compulsory treatment in New Zealand.

For the first time raw data on the use of compulsory treatment is being published. It shows marked variations between district health boards.The data has not been analysed and the differences could be due to a range of reasons, such as the differences in the nature of their populations, service coverage or clinical practice.

Information on the numbers and outcomes of Special and Restricted-Patient’s leave and change of legal status applications considered by the Health Minister are also included.

“We have not captured all the data we would like, for example statistics on the use of force, serious adverse incidents and seclusion are not included because the earlier data is not reliable enough,” Dr Chaplow says.

” However, District Health Boards now have more robust reporting procedures in place and as a result we expect to be able to include trend data in future annual reports.”

The report also includes research looking at the outcomes for Special Patients found not guilty of a crime, by reason of insanity, over the last three decades. The work followed an indication by the Law Commission that it intended to review section 23 of the Crimes Act 1961, which relates to insanity.

“Our research found that following discharge in to the community, people acquitted on the grounds of insanity are reconvicted of violent crimes at a very low rate, although readmission to hospital is more common,” Dr Chaplow says.

During 2005 there were 23 deaths recorded for people subject to the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, of which six were suspected suicides.

Full report

Depressed OAP died after electric shock treatment

Dec 7 2006

By Gemma Collins
Berkshire Co UK

A FRAIL pensioner who battled with manic depression for 60 years, died after undergoing electric shock therapy at Reading’s Prospect Park Hospital.

Violet Dixon, 81, who suffered from Bipolar affective disorder was given Electroconvulsive Therapy after becoming so depressed and run down that staff feared she would die.

Mrs Dixon who lived with husband Victor in Compton near Newbury had been suffering from anxiety and depression since the 1940s and in the last three years had received several ECT treatments – which involves passing an electric charge through electrodes on her head to provoke a fit or a seizure.

A Reading inquest heard that in February, while sectioned under the Mental Health Act, Prospect Park staff felt she needed electric shock treatment because she was not responding to medication.

But after a second treatment, Mrs Dixon started vomiting, despite being anaesthetised and not having eaten for 24 hours.

She was rushed to the Royal Berkshire Hospital with Aspiration Pneumonia – caused by inhaling vomit – but died there the next day.

The post-mortem revealed that, unknown to her doctor at Prospect Park Hospital, Mrs Dixon had been suffering from an inflamed gall bladder.

Royal Berks anaesthetist Dr Gillian Harrison, who put Mrs Dixon under before her ECT, said: “These patients are mentally ill and often have other medical problems which are very difficult to tell when they won’t give you any history because they are so ill, and they won’t be compliant to medical tests.

“Mrs Dixon had been carefully examined, it was totally unexpected that she had bowel obstruction.”

Berkshire coroner Peter Bedford, recording a ‘narrative verdict’, said Mrs Dixon had undergone many previous ECT treatments without adverse effects.

He said gall stones had caused an undiagnosed gall bladder infection, and added: “This had caused an obstruction which led to severe gastric delay and in turn led to the sequence of events causing her death.”

Al Siebert on MindFreedom Radio Wednesday

MindFreedom UPDATE — 21 November 2006
Nonviolent Revolution in Mental Health Care
http://www.MindFreedom.org – please forward

*Tomorrow* Wednesday, 22 November 2006 – MindFreedom News Hour Free Internet Radio

Guest is Al Siebert, psychiatric-survivor psychologist-author

To listen live click on http://www.theprn.org at 4 pm EST, 1 pm PST tomorrow Wednesday, 22 Nov. 2006, or listen to the archive later. Yes, the archives now work!

You may phone in to the show live toll free with your questions or comments, or e-mail them to radio@mindfreedom.org.

Host of the show — which begins and ends with news and resources about changing the mental health system — is David Oaks, psychiatric survivor, human rights activist for 30 years, and director of MindFreedom International.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Al Siebert short bio:

Al Siebert received his M.A. and PhD. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. Al is a psychiatric survivor and calls his story the “Marvelous Menninger Adventure.” He has been a strong advocate for the human rights of people who considered to be “mental patients” for many years.

Dr. Siebert:

** is author of professional journal articles about the ways that psychiatry misrepresents what is known about “schizophrenia.”

** is project director of the “Weller Than Well” research project searching for people made stronger by their so-called “psychotic” experiences.

** serves on Advisory Council for International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, founded by Peter Breggin.

** hosts the popular Successful Schizophrenia website.

** is author of A SCHIZOPHRENIA BREAKTHROUGH: Progress Toward Freeing Our Minds from Our Minds. A textbook for graduate students with “Issues for Critical Thinking and Research.” Foreword by William Glasser, M.D.

In addition to the above, Dr. Siebert is internationally recognized for his research into the inner nature of highly resilient survivors. His most recent book, The Resiliency Advantage, is winner of the “2006 Best Self-Help Book” award.

More info on Al’s projects and books see http://www.resiliencycenter.com/ http://www.thrivenet.com/ http://www.successfulschizophrenia.org/

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More info on MindFreedom see http://www.MindFreedom.org

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Next week, Wed. 29 November 2006 — Leah Harris, psychiatric survivor activist and on the board of National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy. Leah calls for greater involvement of youth, and dedication to youth issues.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Announcing: MindFreedom totally redesigned web site is now up at http://www.MindFreedom.org. We are finishing a few last minute touches but feel free to drop by for a preview and spread the word.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Join MindFreedom International, donate, or renew your membership.

Do you want to…

* Win human rights campaigns in mental health?

* End abuse by the psychiatric drug industry?

* Support the self-determination of psychiatric survivors?

* Promote safe, humane and effective options in mental health?

You are not alone! MindFreedom is a nonprofit human rights group that unites 100 sponsor and affiliate groups with individual members, and is accredited by the United Nations as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with Consultative Roster Status. Join or donate today!

MindFreedom is one of the very few totally independent groups in the mental health field with no funding from governments, drug companies, religions, corporations, or the mental health system. While most of MindFreedom’s members are psychiatric survivors, *all* who support human rights are invited to join and become active leaders.

JOIN, RENEW, DONATE, or give GIFT MEMBERSHIPS to MindFreedom International today:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/join-donate

For a MAD MARKET of books and other products to support human rights campaigns in mental health:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/mad-market

MindFreedom International Office: 454 Willamette, Suite 216 – POB 11284; Eugene, OR 97440-3484 USA

web site: http://www.mindfreedom.org
e-mail: office@mindfreedom.org
office phone: (541) 345-9106
toll free: 1-877-MAD-PRIDe or 1-877-623-7743
fax: (541) 345-3737

Please forward.

“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

_______________________________________________

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William Styron, Unlikely Bard of Depression

William Styron, 1925-2006
Unlikely bard of depression.
By Nell Casey
Slate
Nov. 7, 2006

When I first met William Styron, in the summer of 2001, he was frail, barely back on his feet after a brutal bout with depression. I met him and his wife, Rose, at a bookstore where we read from Unholy Ghost, a collection of essays on depression I’d edited, and to which both Styrons had contributed. I was taken aback by Styron’s vulnerability. It was his ravaging sorrow that had brought us there, but still somehow his reputation as Famous Writer (and the few brusque phone conversations that preceded our meeting) had trumped his reputation as Depressed Person in my mind. As we talked, his hands gently trembled, and he spoke with a far-off quietness, as if his words were traveling from a great distance.

When Styron died last week of pneumonia at the age of 81, obituary writers scrambled to assess his literary achievements. But, while he was undoubtedly a brilliant and adventurous novelist, Darkness Visible, his concise, 84-page memoir of his own emotional descent, transformed him into a contemporary translator of the illness and, subsequently, an ardent mental-health advocate.

Styron disliked the term depression, calling it “a true wimp of a word for such a major illness.” Nonetheless, it was this word—and illness—that came to define the last third of his life. Darkness Visible began as a talk Styron gave in 1989 at a symposium on affective disorders sponsored by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Later the same year, at the urging of Tina Brown, then the editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, he published a longer version of the story in her magazine. In 1990, Random House published an expanded version of the essay as a book, and it became a national best seller.

Thus began Styron’s second act as a depressed person, for which he became, in his words, “reluctantly famous.” He eventually became a crusader as well, someone who faced up to the responsibility, once the course had been set, to continue the good work his book had begun. “Almost every day, Bill is in contact with fellow depression sufferers by mail or by phone,” Rose Styron wrote in 2001; she cited several instances when her husband, a person who cherished his privacy and solitude, skillfully counseled people who contacted him in the midst of their emotional crises.

Styron spoke at readings and on panels about his struggles—an experience that can feel like torture, describing your personal life with such frequency that it starts to taste like cardboard in your mouth. And yet he was consistently genuine and patient, devoting a good deal of his time to the many who approached him for help. It is little wonder Styron never published another novel after Darkness Visible came out.

Styron was certainly not the first celebrated writer to produce a personal account of his own emotional plunge. In 1936, for example, F. Scott Fitzgerald published three piercing essays about his spiritual depletion in Esquire, later collected in a book called The Crack-Up. But Styron described his illness with a distinct lyrical clarity. He offered up the secrets of his despair but also maintained a degree of formality—occasionally trading the word I for one, as in “one does not abandon, even briefly, one’s bed of nails but is attached wherever one goes.” This choice gave his words a sense of restraint but not withholding—an elegant high-wire act. In addition, he nimbly placed depression in historical and cultural context throughout, drawing from the work and lives of Albert Camus, Abbie Hoffman, and Ingmar Bergman, among others.

Styron also wrote with unusual gratitude about being hospitalized, sidestepping the stigma so often associated with spending time in an institution. “The hospital offers the mild, oddly gratifying trauma of sudden stabilization—” he wrote, “a transfer out of the too familiar surroundings of home, where all is anxiety and discord, into an orderly and benign detention where one’s only duty is to try to get well.”

And Styron’s timing was right. He shared his experience at a moment when a sizable audience was ready to receive it. In 1990, the public awareness of and tolerance for the illness was higher; Prozac had just begun to enter our minds—literally and figuratively—two years earlier. Darkness Visible ushered in an abundant era of depression writing. It’s funny to think that Styron paved the way for Marie Osmond (to choose one of the many who have recently offered their own accounts of depression), but perhaps his point in attending those many mental-health conferences was not just to demythologize the illness but also himself: The formidable writer was simply another sufferer in that setting.

Still, no good deed goes unpunished, and even Styron’s work had its critics. In 1997, the literary journal American Scholar published an essay called Depression: Darker Than Darkness by Joel P. Smith, a former vice president of Stanford University. He described his stay at a psychiatric hospital and the friendship he struck up with a fellow resident—who later committed suicide—named Clare. In it, Smith asks Clare to read Darkness Visible.

“She called it a ‘crock,’ ” wrote Smith. “She pointed out that Styron was depressed for a few months, not many years like us. What she actually said is that he had a ‘candy-ass’ depression. … [H]e did not have to rely on anti-depressant medication, much less rely on a radical remedy such as electroconvulsive therapy; his hospital stay was at a place which is as comfortable as they come; and, crucially, he was never alone. It rankles us, no matter what the virtues of Styron’s book may be, to feel he speaks for us.” (It is worth noting: Smith and I had a brief correspondence about the possibility of reprinting his essay—which I admire for its candor and style, if not its message here—in Unholy Ghost.)

This was a short piece in a small-circulation magazine; it was hardly a public lashing for Styron. Still, the sentiment was there—you haven’t suffered enough—and it is, to a larger degree, a problem with which many depressives must grapple. The illness is not always measurable by traditional medical standards; only the sufferer truly knows the severity of his own sadness, and therefore it can be hard to validate. Ironically, it is sometimes harder to prove the legitimacy of the illness to fellow depressives, some of whom resort to measuring their own pain in numbers of hospitalizations and electric shock treatments. It is disheartening, this jockeying for position as the most downtrodden. As one reader of Smith’s essay pointed out in a letter to the editor, “We don’t have to start pushing each other out of the nest.”

In the fall of 2002, I saw Styron once more at a mental-health conference. I was taken aback again, this time by his strength. He was a different man. Or maybe he was just the man he used to be. Either way, he was there: He had returned physically and emotionally.

In the closing of Darkness Visible, Styron worries that the more optimistic message of Dante’s Inferno has been lost with so much focus on the melancholy lines, “In the middle of the journey of our life/ I found myself in a dark wood,/ For I had lost the right path.” He then resurrects the forgotten part of that passage, “And so we came forth, and once again beheld the stars.” Perhaps now we should do the same for Styron—and also remember him for his courage in the face of terrifying affliction.

William Styron dies

Author William C. Styron Dies at 81

By JULIA WELLS

William Styron, the acclaimed novelist and leading literary figure of his generation whose summer home on the Vineyard Haven harbor has long been the hub of the area known colloquially as writer’s row, died Wednesday at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. He was 81.

The cause of death was pneumonia. Mr. Styron had been in failing health for a number of years.

Often called the heir to William Faulkner (although he rejected the characterization), Mr. Styron was originally from the South, and he won critical acclaim early on for his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness. A brooding meditation on a young girl’s suicide, the book was published in 1951 when Mr. Styron was 26. In 1955 he published The Long March, originally a novella about his experiences in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1954, after a year in Italy, he published his second novel, Set This House on Fire, a portrait of a group of Americans in Italy.

The Confessions of Nat Turner followed in 1967, a fictional account of a real rebellion led by the slave Nat Turner in 1831. The violent rebellion took place near where Mr. Styron had grown up in Virginia. In 1968 it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and in 1970 it captured the William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His other works that earned acclaim included Sophie’s Choice (1979), the story of a fictional Polish Catholic woman who survives internment at Auschwitz, later made into a major motion picture, and Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (1990), a chronicle of his depression in 1985.

Unconventional in routine, tall and handsome with a piercing gaze, relaxed in his family and social life, Mr. Styron was one of the rare authors who was both a literary and commercial success. He had lived on the Vineyard seasonally since 1959, and his contributions to the Island were also largely literary. He spoke at library lecture series and wrote graceful book reviews, including a review that was published in the Gazette in 1991 of the memoir Deadline, by New York Times columnist James Reston.

In 1982 he told a reporter for the Gazette that he found the Vineyard a good place to work, a place where he liked to walk for miles and think. Asked how he got anything done in the summer, he showed a brief glimpse of his characteristic macabre humor.

“I hear the bump of the tennis balls,” he said. “I hear the sails luffing in the harbor and I take a perverse delight in eschewing all those wonderful pleasures and hunkering down in my damp little mildewed studio in Vineyard Haven and saying, ‘I’m doing my work while they’re playing.’”

He wrote in longhand on yellow legal pads, never kept a notebook and read voraciously. He liked to sleep until noon, putter at errands and daydream before settling down to work each day. On the Vineyard he wrote on an old school desk that he bought in Vineyard Haven for $15 in 1965, soon after buying his summer home. He drank heavily and smoked cigars until the summer of his 60th birthday in 1985, when he decided that alcohol no longer agreed with him and gave it up. But the abstinence triggered mood disorders which required medication, and the drugs in turn brought on a deep, enduring and suicidal depression that required him to be hospitalized for more than two months.

The experience prompted him to write Darkness Visible: a Memoir of Madness, after he had recovered.

The book earned Mr. Styron a whole new set of followers. “I think it causes people to realize two things,” he told the Gazette in an interview in 2001. “That this is a pain that afflicts a lot of people; it’s universal and if I could describe it in this way and people could relate to it, it meant they weren’t alone; and the second thing – almost as important or more important – is stressing the truth that people can get well, and that it’s not by any means fatal.”

Depression continued to stalk him for the remainder of his life.

William Clark Styron Jr. was born on June 11, 1925 in Newport News, Va.; his father was a marine engineer. He had a happy childhood, was an early reader and was socially outgoing. His mother, Pauline Margaret (Abraham) Styron, died when he was 13. He later acknowledged her death as a cause of the depression that gripped him for more than two decades.

In 1940 his father sent him to Christchurch, a small Episcopal preparatory school in West Point, Va., for his last two years of high school. He graduated in 1942. Following high school he joined the reserve officer training program for the United States Marine Corps, and enrolled at Davidson College. He was unhappy there and through the Marines transferred to Duke University in June of 1943. In October of 1944 he was called to active duty and in late July 1945 was commissioned a second lieutenant. He was assigned to participate in the invasion of Japan; a month later the atomic bomb attacks forced the surrender of Japan and he was discharged.

He returned to Duke University where he was influenced and guided by his friend and writing mentor Prof. William Blackburn. Mr. Styron graduated in 1947, determined to become a novelist.

He moved to New York city, and after finishing Lie Down in Darkness, did another three-month stint in the Marines. Then Lie Down in Darkness won the Prix de Rome, which meant a year’s paid expenses at the American Academy in Rome. During his year in Rome he became reacquainted with Rose Burgunder, whom he had met in Baltimore the year before and who was enrolled at the American Academy.

They were married in Rome in May of 1953, and had three daughters and one son.

The Styrons raised their family in a farmhouse in Roxbury, Conn., and spent their summers on the Vineyard, where their many friends included the Buchwalds, the Herseys, the Wallaces, the Hackneys, Lillian Hellman, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Katharine Graham and the Clintons. The Styron home became a well-known setting for social gatherings large and small, with cocktails and fried chicken on the porch overlooking the outer harbor in the Island’s main port town. At one such gathering in 1959, Mr. Styron told a Gazette reporter that he had given up television and also The New Yorker. “It seems to me that J.D. Salinger is about the only writer The New Yorker has who is allowed to write just as he wants to,” he said.

Mr. Styron was an active Democrat and was involved in many political causes over the years. He felt it was a natural outgrowth for a writer and commented more than once on the power of art and writing as forces for political change. “Corrupt governments are terrified of the artist’s power to expose what’s wrong in society,” he told the Martha’s Vineyard Magazine in a 1989 interview. He also said: “Men of power in the United States have almost never given a shake for writing. I think it is accurate to say that George Bush has probably never read a book in the last four or five years.”

He is survived by his wife Rose and daughters Alexandra Styron of Brooklyn, N.Y., Susanna Styron of Nyak, N.Y., and Paola Styron of Sherman, Conn; a son, Thomas Styron of New Haven, Conn., and eight grandchildren.

The funeral service is private, and memorial services will be held on the Island and in New York at a later date.

Donations may be made in his memory to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Building Fund, P.O. Box 1477, Oak Bluffs, MA, 02557. Arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs.

It’s a CARDINALS NATION BABY!

Pardon me while I break from ECT stuff and scream: WORLD CHAMPIONS ST. LOUIS CARDINALS!!!!

I’ve waited 24 years for this – the last time Cards won the series, I happened to be living in the former Soviet Union and had no TV, no news. My only link to the west was VOICE OF AMERICA and that’s where I learned it.

Cardinals baseball: I LIVE FOR THIS!!!

YADI YADI YADI! (And I’ll always love Jim Edmonds…woo hoo!)
Congrats to my beautiful Cardinals. Detroit – be proud of what you’ve done…you’ll be back. Detroit rocks!

I AM CRAZY HAPPY. I LOVE THE CARDINALS TIL THE END OF TIME!

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