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TAKE HEART: Five Beautiful Things from 2012 12/24/2012

Posted by ALT in Activism.
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Have courage, my friends – take heart. Our non-violent revolution in mental health care is moving forward! Here are five beautiful signs of progress from the past year:

5. GlaxoSmithKline was held publicly accountable for fraudulent marketing practices, paying a $3 billion fine for illegal promotion of Paxil, Wellbutrin, and several other drugs.

(That’s the biggest fine yet for pharma, though there have been many others…)

Also in 2012, Abbot Pharmaceuticals paid out $1.6 billion for illegal promotion of Depakote, and Johnson found themselves in a bit of hot water, too, over their aggressive off-label marketing of Risperdal. CEO Alex Gorsky was forced to give a deposition – it’s rather enlightening.

The fine itself is not the point (it’s still just a drop in the bucket compared to the profits from these drugs — for all intents and purposes a fine is just another “cost of doing business.”) The important thing is that the pharmaceutical industry’s practices – including deliberately trying to create customers-for-life for psychotropic medications (see Gorsky’s testimony) by aggressively marketing to children – are officially going on the record, and they’re encroaching on the public awareness, too.

People are starting to think twice before they reach for the pill bottle, and that’s a good thing.

4. The 14th annual Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run/Walk took place: one fabulous example of a community healing project done RIGHT.

Spiritual healing walkers' and runners' triumphal entry into Denver last year. (photo by: Leah Millis, Denver Post)

Spiritual healing walkers’ and runners’ triumphal entry into Denver last year. (photo by: Leah Millis, Denver Post)

Cheyenne and Arapaho from the Boulder, CO area have been staging this Spiritual Healing event every year for well over a decade, using principles of Restorative Justice to address the hurt that exists both for their people, descendants of the perpetrators of the original Sand Creek Massacre (one of the most horrendous examples of the US Government’s devotion to exterminating native cultures in this land), and all others affected by this tragedy.

This is some seriously inspiring stuff. More information here.

3.The Mad In America bloggers produced some excellent content, getting downright feisty on occasion.

Yes, MIA has been around for awhile, but 2012 was the year that the place came alive. Here are some of the standout moments to me:

-Mary Ellen Copeland shared the story of her mother, Kate, in a piece called (simply) “Remembering Kate.” She tells us how someone diagnosed with “severe and incurable manic depression,” abandoned to the back wards of a hospital for 8 long years, came back and lived an extraordinary life. I can’t recall the last time I read something so inspirational.

– Michael Cornwall detailed at great length his own unmedicated process through madness, his experiences helping others make a similar, unmedicated journey, and then posted some advice (Responding to Madness With Loving Receptivity: a Practical Guide) on how anybody can help another human being in emotional distress.

Here’s what it all boils down to: showing love, support, and empathy to your fellow human.

– On several occasions, Robert Whitaker took the opportunity to teach E. Fuller Torrey a lesson or two. (Torrey is the leading proponent of forced outpatient commitment, where your friendly social worker/law enforcement official visits you in-home and provides you with an injection of antipsychotics, er… I mean “intramuscular medication.” By court order. It’s time released — so you have anywhere from 3-6 weeks to recuperate before your next visitation.

Torrey has been caught time and time again using junk science [ie, falsehoods] to promote more drastic implementations of these sorts of civil liberties violations.)

This particular schooling, delivered by Whitaker in response to a fanciful critique of Anatomy of an Epidemic by Torrey [I say “fanciful” because it was, in fact, filled with lies], was especially lovely.

I think Torrey still needs to do a few hundred more.

A few hundred more ought to do it, eh, Torrey?

There are so many more writers worth reading at MIA: Laura Delano, Corinna West, Alice Keys, Matt Samet… to name only a few. Go there, read, and GET INSPIRED!

2. The fact that antidepressants are no more effective at treating depression than placebo HIT THE MAINSTREAM.

It hit the mainstream HARD. Old news to us, I know – the study that demonstrates this came out in 2002, after all.

But this vital information was on NPR, it was on 60 Minutes, it was everywhere! And it just might have inserted itself into some small corner of the public’s consciousness.

(No reason we shouldn’t take the time to remind folks of this important fact whenever we have half a chance, however).

1. 200+ protestors OCCUPIED THE APA’s annual convention in Philadelphia.

They carried signs, and they raised their voices loud, calling for alternatives to drugging, forced treatment, and dehumanization. They staged a dramatic “label rip” at the doors of the convention center, ripping pieces of paper bearing the diagnoses and labels given them by the psychiatric profession.

Pretty damn inspiring.

The paradigm is shifting.

Minds are changing, ever-so-slowly. We are making progress.

Here’s what I say… don’t stop. Not for a moment.

Don’t stop spreading the word in whatever way you can. Because the time is now! People need to hear our very simple message: that we’re ALL humans, and we ALL have the right to experience the world in whatever way we please.

Merry Christmas, all you humans out there!



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1. Nelson Borelli, MD - 12/24/2012

The civil actions against the drug companies, however impressive the monetary fines, fail to prove possible criminal behavior by the drug companies. Clinical observations suggest that use of some psychotropic drugs is associated with death of the recipient.

2. Marie - 12/24/2012

Thank you for this 2012 summary ! MCW – 12-24-2012

3. Anonymous - 12/24/2012

I like end of year summaries.

4. Becky - 12/25/2012

Thank for sharing some of the hightlights of 2012. A special thanks to you Nelson, I appreciate you putting GSK’s fine into context. As impressive as a 3 billion dollar fine may sound, the reality is is it is a drop in the bucket in comparison to what GSK and those who aided and abetted their crimes defrauded from the American people. The fine will do absolutely nothing for their primary victims who paid with their health and their abilities for the medical and corporate malfeasance. It also will do nothing for those who paid with their lives and their loved ones who mourn their loss. The fate of the primary victims must not be forgotten, by those of us who made it through the year alive and intact.

5. Lady Quixote - 12/25/2012

Inspirational. I’m looking forward to more victories in the new year, and doing my part to help make that happen.

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