PSYCHout is a global conference being held in Toronto on May 8th and 9th, to
"... provide a forum for psychiatric survivors, mad people, activists, scholars, students, radical professionals, and artists from around the world to come together and share experiences of organizing against psychiatry."
Hosted by the University of Toronto, the key purpose for the conference is, as keynote speaker David Oaks said in a web radio broadcast Saturday
"This is MindFreedom's show to reform, not just reform. Did I say reform? No, no, no. Non-violently overthrow the mental health system. This conference is dedicated to resistance to psychiatric repression."
There are 55 presenters and four keynote speakers
. The one presenter making a splash in conventional media
is David Carmichael. Carmichael's presentation is titled "Taking our health back from big pharma controlled governments
." Carmichael is known in Canada for having murdered
his 11 year old son in 2004, while under the influence of Paxil, prescribed to him by his doctor to treat depression. Carmichael experienced psychotic breaks as a result of the drug, during one of which he had killed his son. Carmichael was found to not be criminally responsible.
Since then, Carmichael has been lobbying for a patient's right to know about the side-effects of psychiatric drugs when they are prescribed, a process he outlines in Killer Side Effects
1 in 5
Canadians will experience mental health issues at least once in their lives. Sadly our culture and medical system still marginalizes and stigmatizes the mentally ill and those who appear to be mentally ill. As reported by the American Psychiatric Association
, Canadian psychosis patients do not receive equal health care treatment.
Sometimes, to our collective horror, stigmatization results in the deaths of individuals, such as Ashely Smith
and Jeffrey James
The use of psychiatric drugs is at an all-time high in North America. Children have been described by the Organic Consumers Association
as a "psychiatric gold mine" after statistics were released showing the use of psychiatric drugs had increased by 50% in children and 73% in adults between 1996-2006 in the United States. In Canada, psychiatric drugs are the second-most prescribed, said the Montreal Gazette
In Anchorage, Alaska, a lawyer is taking on a dozen psychiatrists, claiming they were over-medicating
foster children, reported KTUU
. Gottstein characterized the foster children as having been "chemically lobotomized" by the drugs they were given. Years earlier, Gottstein had leaked documents to the New York Times
, revealing pharma giant Eli Lilly suppressed information on the side effects of its anti-psychotic drug, Zyprexa.
reported that a prominent psychiatrist, Dr. Thomas Insel recently said
"American psychiatrists need to break away from a "culture of influence" created by their financial dealings with the drug industry."
One of the major tools at the disposal of psychiatrists is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a book that provides diagnostic information for mental health disorders. Currently under revision, the next issue proposes adding over 46 new diagnoses, including Cannabis Withdrawal
, Binge Eating Disorder
, and Restless Leg Syndrome
. The updated book will be published in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association.
One controversial proposed new psychiatric disorder is infidelity, or "hypersexual disorder." Professor Christopher Lane told the Montreal Gazette
"It's an extremely alarming precedent to see psychiatrists trying to legislate what are normal sexual desires and how often we should experience them.''
More than one presentation at PSYCHout has a theme of sexuality and gender identification
, which often are diagnosed as mental illnesses. One presentation
deals with the revisions to the DSM.
The anti-psychiatry conference might not succeed in its quest to put an end to the psychiatric profession just yet. If the only result of the conference is increased awareness of the issues surrounding psychiatry, that's not a bad thing at all.