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Oliver James guest blog: drugs are not the answer to mental distress(113 Posts)
Last week, the British Psychological Society was profoundly critical of the 'medicalisation' of mental distress - the idea that psychiatric disorders are by and large treatable by doctors using drugs.
They said it was unhelpful to see mental health issues as illnesses with biological causes when "there is now overwhelming evidence that people break down as a result of a complex mix of social and psychological circumstances - bereavement and loss, poverty and discrimination, trauma and abuse."
Here psychologist and author Oliver James argues that, while the reassessment of the 'medical model' might alarm some parents, it's actually good news for them, and their children.
Tell us what you think - and if you blog on this subject, don't forget to leave your URL here on the thread.
"If your child is unmanageable or hyperactive, it can be all too reassuring to hear from a doctor that she suffers from a genetically caused brain disorder which is best treated by a pill. That model makes it not your fault and if the pill works, hey, thank god for that.
If you are a parent in that position, its also all too understandable that you might not want to hear from me that: (1) The pills usually don't work and have unknown long-term toxic effects when used for years; (2) The Human Genome Project is proving that genes play very little part in causing any mental illnesses; (3) There is no reliable scientific evidence that the brains of the mentally ill are measurably different. But don't stop reading.
The fact that these latter assertions are all now pretty much confirmed by the British Psychological Society is actually incredibly good news for parents.
It means that your child is not fixed in its abilities and potential. Massive change can occur, if what she's like is not in your child's genes. Indeed, there is strong evidence that simply by convincing children that their maths ability is malleable, for example, increases their likelihood of doing well.
It also means that the way you parent can make a huge difference, even if there is a biological cause for a problem. Whilst genes are getting ruled out, prenatal, foetal factors look as if they may be crucial for problems like autism. But even autism is turning out to be very responsive to the right kind of early intervention.
It is true that the kind of care a child receives in the first six years sets its emotional thermostat. But it is a thermostat: the setting can be changed.
For example, children's brain electro-chemistry is very sensitive to parental disharmony. Levels of Cortisol, the fight-flight hormone, are raised or become blunted if parents row a lot. But that can be good news, not bad news, if you can find a way to row less or at the least, to not do so in front of the children.
It is further known that children who had unresponsive early care are that much more easily upset by parental disharmony. This is true at two and a half - care at 3 and 9 months predicts whether cortisol will be triggered. Early care also predicts vulnerabily at later ages. But even this is much, much better news than the genes and brain disorder story - because early deficits can be corrected.
Thousands of parents have used the Love Bombing technique to reset their childs emotional thermostat. If things went badly early on - nearly always through no fault of the parents, things like depression or debt-induced anxiety - it's quite possible to give the child a very brief experience of the feeling of love and control it may have missed out on. Astonishingly brief bursts can be all it takes.
Psychological distress should never have been medicalized in the first place. Now that science is proving that what we are like is not due to genetic brain disorders, a world of hope is opening up for parents. Go into that world and feel liberated from the pseudoscience which has dominated us for too long."
Oliver James is the author of Love Bombing - Reset Your Child's Emotional Thermostat, which he discusses in this previous guest blog.
I'm very worried as my dd is going to see the dr tomorrow and I'm almost certain they will say she is depressed and prescribe medication.
Her best friend (17) was killed nearly 2 years ago. It has been a complete rollercoaster. She is devastated and despite "keeping busy"- finishing her A levels, getting into uni, working part time, planning holidays etc she is saying she never feels any joy and that she will never be happy again.
She has seen two different counsellors but my dd feels they aren't helpful, we bend over backwards to support her in every way possible, and it's not working. She is very very down. She's now saying she feels she won't cope with uni which she has always wanted to go to. She's having panic attacks on the bus, she crys an awful lot, doesn't sleep etc, she is constantly ill.
Watching her of through this is so awful
We are going to the drs because we need help, but after reading this about medication, what else can be done to help her?
Sorry about your DD excusetypos. This scenario is one of my great fears for DC, especially as I struggled with depression, at least since my 20s, possibly from early teens or earlier. I finally, at the age of 39, accepted prescription medicine - after two less successful attempts they found a fantastic medication. It makes me feel what I know is 'normal' - I can feel sad or happy, even 'depressed' in the everyday sense, or elated, but all in a manageable range of emotions and returning to something of an equilibrium - so I am not deadened emotionally, but I do not have the elated highs and (sadly far more often ) deep long lows I had for so long. In retrospect I am sorry I was so terrified by family, friends and media of medication: the vilification of all medication is also wrong: some people need it and hugely benefit from it. It might take patience, but it can be done. If you are concerned about a medication route, do ask as many questions as you need, and perhaps consider asking for a second opinion. Whatever happens, your DD can feel happy again, and with what sounds like a wonderful supportive family I'm truly confident she will. Depression often happens to people who are in many ways strong: there is a great book by (I think from memory) Cantopher, called Depression: Curse of the Strong, which you (and possibly she) might benefit from looking at.
Very good wishes.
Thank you for your post scarecrow22 and for telling me about your situation. I'm glad you have found the right medication for yourself. It's reassuring to hear that medication can make a difference.
My dd wants me to tell the dr about what is happening to her, but we have written out a list together, so it is coming from dd. I am now going to add a list of questions that I might need to ask, depending on different scenarios!
I am also going to take a look at the book you have suggested. Thank you again.
Exactly what scarecrow said. Medication of mental distress is no more inappropriate than medication of any other pain. It's palliative and there's nothing wrong with that at all. Don't feel pressured by trends in the media to reject or feel embarrassed about medication for depression. Talking cures certainly don't work for everyone.
But it doesn't treat the underlying causes, so they too need to be looked at too. In your daughter's case, there's a clear trauma about her friend dying, and it could be hard to know whether the depression is a direct result of that, or whether she may have suffered anyway, without such a specific cause.
As for Oliver James - his attitude to mental health and parental influence tells me far more about him than about others. He is deeply partisan and inexact in his arguments. He's so furious generally and with women in particular. Love bombing - what a load of tosh. If you read it - absolutely obvious stuff - spend time with your child - have fun together - listen to them, give them undivided attention from time to time. Not exactly groundbreaking.
What gets on my nerves about Oliver James is how he is deliberately provocative and extreme. Of course parenting and society in general plays a big impact on how children develop. Of course what you and others believe about your abilities is important.
I have 2 children. One has autism and learning difficulties. He can be anxious and highly strung. The other is NT (neuro-typcial) and by all accounts very intelligent and secure. How does Oliver James account for that?
Through my, job, kids, hobbies, volunteering I know lots and lots of parents of children of both NT and kids with autism and/or behavioural issues. I won't claim I know all of them very well but I've spent time with them in their homes and in parks etc.
If I was to group them into NT and non NT families I don't see significant differences in terms of how the parents interact with their kids between the those groups. There are many difference within those groups about how people parent. But what I mean is that those differences don't seem relate to whether their kids are NT or not.
I'm far from parent of the year but Oliver James saying that if I just parented a little bit better it would make my son's problems disappear is wrong and offensive.
In fact Mr James if you are welcome to come and spend some time with my family. Take a case history, talk to the professionals involved with us and then please tell me what I'm doing wrong.
Just give me a little notice so I can take the kids out of the refrigerator and thaw them out a little (because that's what it sounds like you're saying).
Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.
You need to delete poster Tonyzre altogether - they are spamming left, right and centre.
I'm me and my brother was
finally diagnosed as ADHD when he was 13 after YEARS of ticks, family "chats" (now i realise they were therapists) literal climbing the walls and generally a horrendous experience for all concerned. My parents treated us both the same. There were the same rules, consequences, same home life and same rewards.
Ritalin helped my brother to control his behaviours, to focus and achieve. He had no idea that it was medication, we were taking "vitamins"
How does this research explain this situation?
Oliver - feel free to spend a day in the company of my eldest, unmedicated. I'd rather you didn't, though, because it wouldn't be fair on him because, without his daily 40mg of atomoxetine, he cannot even organise himself to eat a meal without help.
How dare you tell me that medication absolves me of any fault for my child with ASD and severe ADHD. How dare you insinuate that something has happened in his life to make him like this.
The good new is that talking out of your backside really is not genetic and the only cure can come from within you.
Goodness, what astounding arrogance and reductive argument.
I've never known a parent be told that ASD/ADHD and related conditions are explicitly genetic but our biology is not entirely genetic, we are still learning and have a long way to go but off the top of my head there are epigentic, microbiota and chemical factors which need further exploration as well as looking at how all these factors and others combine.
For many people medications work (albeit to varying degrees because of our complexity), we may not entirely understand how they work but to dismiss them like this is at best hurtful and at worst very harmful.
Oh, it's the old 'Refrigerator Mother' theory isn't it?
Do you really think that us parents of children with SNs have caused our children's disabilities?
MNHQ if an ordinary MNer posted guff like that they'd be deleted for disablism.
I agree 100% with Oliver James! I have read a few of his books and don't find him anti-women in the slightest. He is right about child development and he is right about medication.
Oliver James, for example....
Rofl, Mavis, I was just popping on to say exactly that.
Oliver James is an opiniated over-the-hill gentlemen with pretty much no experience of looking after children in the early years, and some extremely old fashioned notions of what constitutes good childcare, attempting to back up his rhetoric with pseudo-science.
All in an attempt to mother-blame, naturally.
This is of course just my opinion.
Well, me and about a gazillion others anyway.
I thought he was one of the loons that mn didn't bother with any more, as he was only good for a bun fight?
OK, snoopy. What have I done to give my eldest ASD and ADHD? Come to that, what have I done to give my youngest ASD, too and how on earth did I manage not to teach him to speak? Since you're such an expert, having read a few books, I expect you have some extraordinary insight.
I have to say I also have some time for Oliver James. I particularly enjoyed his 'They F* You Up' book as someone who was brought up by emotionally abusive parents and now works with parents in a professional capacity. It was the last book he wrote before becoming a parent himself and said that it was probably the last time he would be clear-thinking and unbiased about the effect of parenting on children's emotional health.
I am not blaming parents for 'causing' their child's special needs. That would be absurd. However, I do find that some parents on here are too quick to dismiss his techniques. There has been much scoffing about his 'Love Bombing' technique along the lines of - well of course parents need to spend time with their children, need to praise and affirm and validate them, any fool knows that!
Well good for you if it's something you do naturally but I have worked with many parents who most certainly do not do it ever. They treat their children as part of the furniture at best. Not all parents are as skilled as the rest - they do need to be taught how to parent, how to nurture, how to bring a child up in a loving way. I do think the name 'Love Bombing' is cringey but the technique does have merit.
'Oliver James is an opiniated over-the-hill gentlemen with pretty much no experience of looking after children in the early years'
Well he's certainly opinionated - as are well all or else we wouldn't be on MN!
He has two young children of his own so I think he does have relevant experience, not to mention decades of professional experience in this area.
Well I'm delighted to hear that while I am probably to blame for my DS's autism, that I can love bomb him back to being NT.
Thank fuck for Oliver James
Not for the first time I thank God that my ds with sn has 4 nt siblings. What a daft blog. I suggest this individual spends a little time with a child with ASD. In fact a week would be good, a nice long ASD bomb. That should reset your opinionated nonsense.
Come on MNHQ would you honestly let someone posting 1970's views on race/sexism post like this. Poor parenting as a cause of ADHD/ASD/delay FFS, EVOLVE please some of us are actually impacted by this clap trap being farted all over the place.
I don't know much about Oliver James but I was interested to read this blog. To me it makes sense that parental disharmony will affect a child's behaviour, making it worse. I have seen the effects. I don't feel this statement is anti-anything except maybe common sense.
Unless I am completely misreading or misunderstanding I don't see what could be offensive about it. I did not interpret what he says as "if you love your child he won't have autism / behavioural problems", more that the child will respond better if he is treated with care.
I don't have a child with special needs but I do have a child who is young for his year and probably a little hyperactive and I always notice that he is much happier when DH and I are united.
"Whilst genes are getting ruled out, prenatal, foetal factors look as if they may be crucial for problems like autism. But even autism is turning out to be very responsive to the right kind of early intervention."
Er ... what? You contradict yourself rather obviously in this blog. You start off talking about mental illness and mental distress, but then start spouting the above quoted, throw away comment about ASD, which is neither:
"Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder" (source: National Autistic Society UK
As for the frankly nauseating term 'love bombing', I think you'll find that the majority of parents of children who have ASD/ADHD are incredibly dedicated and go above and beyond this in terms of the amount of love, support and attention they give to their children.
Children who have ASD/ADHD often do have psychological comorbids, which are caused, not by their parents or early care, but by their disorder/condition (which as I have already pointed out is neurodevelopmental, not psychiatric) that makes just living in our society extremely hard and in some cases nigh-on impossible. You cannot just love them more to 'cure' them and for some, medication is necessary to enable them to access appropriate therapy/support.
What strikes me most about your blog is your sheer arrogance in spouting about things you appear to have little or no experience of and your rather obvious judgement of mothers, as the root of all evil in society. Mysogynistic doesn't even begin to cover it.
I can't actually believe MN has given you webspace to spout this sort of offensive bile.
childof79 DH and I rub along pretty harmoniously. Our kids still have SN and behavioural issues, so we can scratch that one off the list.
Some families with SN are under incredible stress, but the stress is as a result of the SN and the daily reality, and not the cause of it.
I've met many many children and families over the years, personally and professionally. I work with some of the most disadvantaged members of society. So I have a little experience here with regards to the effects of poverty, family disharmony and poor parenting.
Nobody would dispute that serious and sustained neglect will have a detrimental effect on a child's behaviour and mental health. But I have yet to see any evidence (research or anecdotal) that the parents of children with behavioural and mental health problems (as described by OJ above) are in any way different to any other parent. Of course, we become different after we become parents because we have to, because having a child with SNs is bloody hard work and we have to fight for every little bit of support and inclusion.
What this type of archaic attitude does is allows the already smug parents of 'good' children to revel in their smugness that they produced such wonderful children, it gives the smug parents great satisfaction to be able to look at those of us with children who display challenging behaviour and pity us for the paucity of our parenting.
And 'professionals' like OJ here, really should know better than to suggest that well evidenced, well researched neuro-developmental conditions are the product of faulty socialisation. We face enough ignorance in real life, on the internet, from teachers, employers, friends and family, why don't you have a think about the effect of your words on us who live with this 24/7/52/365. It is insulting, offensive and hurtful.
The causes of mental disorders are complex and cannot be reduced to either just nature or just nurture. They also can't be lumped all together as a condition like schizophrenia is very different from something like dysthymia, for example.
I agree with Oliver James only to the extent that, in a child with an underlying predisposition to certain mental illnesses, early or teeneage experiences such as abuse, drug use, etc can make it more likely for those mental illnesses (such as depression, anxiety, and yes schizophrenia as well) to be expressed. In addition, help from a parent in a child's social development could do a lot to reduce the child's behaviours along the more mild regions of the autism spectrum.
However, all of at is a far cry from saying that basically mental illness is not caused by an imbalance in brain chemicals but is instead caused by lack of enough love and attention from parents, and generally mothers are blamed for this.
What James is saying represents a giant step backwards in society's perception of metal illness. It is a perhaps understandable backlash against the big pharmaceutical companies who want us to over educate our children in the name of profit. I also believe that our society is set up in a way that is conducive to mental illness because we're made to feel anxious and worthless by companies that want to sell us consumer goods that will supposedly then fulfil us. James takes these ideas to an unfortunate extreme. By his reckoning, schizophrenics just need to be loved and the voices in their heads will go away and they will settle down to lead normal lives with no further need for treatment! Autistic children would be cured if their lazy and withholding parents would simply love them enough? Depressed people should just get over it? Surely we as a society can summon more compassion than that.
Reduction ad absurdism to prove his point is shameful as James must surely u dear stand that mental illness has multiple causes. Is highly irresponsible of him to use children in metal difficulty as a tool to prove his own by now rather repetitive points rather than showing em the complex and nuanced understanding they deserve.
IT'S NOT JUST OLIVER JAMES. IT'S THE WHOLE BRITISH PSYCHOLOGICAL ESTABLISHMENT AND ANYONE WHO KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH. There is no contradiction. The argument states that drugging is not effective and can worsen. Nobody is pointing a finger of blame here. Neither is the argument even relevant to certain people. It is often a question of simply being aware that there must be an alternative solution, looking around for an alternative solution and being dedicated to finding it.
THE DRUGS DON'T WORK!
Sigh. Reductive twaddle.
And lovebombing does not CURE autism. Haven't we been asked to discuss this one before MNHQ?
Very cynical IMHO since you knew how offended the SN community was last time.
Snoopy, I don't think anyone here is talking about the medicalisation of psychiatric cases who would be better treated with talking or behavioural therapies. What people are objecting to is OJ's reference to neurodevelopmental disorders as if they were psychiatric and therefore curable with enough love and support. It's insulting to parents of children who have these conditions to even suggest such a thing, not to mention absolute twaddle (and that's putting it politely).
There was absolutely no reason for him to mention neurodevelopmental disorders/conditions, as - as you yourself state - his argument is not even relevant to them, nor they to it. Therefore it comes across as yet another opportunity for him to peddle and perpetuate the refrigerator mother theory, which is frankly beyond insulting and downright hurtful to parents like myself who would do anything for any of their children, regardless of whether or not they are neurotypical.
Also, having a child who has SNs is not mutually exclusive to 'knowing anything about mental health'. We are people, as well as parents and having a child with SNs does not preclude being educated and informed, or even - shock horror - being a mental health professional.
No one is saying that every psychiatric case should be medicalised, what we are objecting to is his attitude towards children with specific disorders/conditions and their parents, who have no place at all in his argument.
DS1's drugs work really well, Snoopy.
And outcomes for children with ADHD who take stimulant medication (which is not what DS1 takes) are far better than for those with no treatment or who receive therapies alone.
Snoopy seriously, you don't believe the drugs work? What about the children who could not function in school, or children who cannot even get into school, or the numerous adults who would not remain in employment without their medication? What about the people who don't kill themselves because they are on medication which makes them feel less anxious?
And for many conditions, if the medication works, surely the pharmaceutical and psychological researchers should concentrate on finding solutions for all those children and adults who cannot be helped by existing treatments?
Of course Big Pharma will push pharmaceutical solutions, but how exactly is that any different to psychologists pushing talking therapies! It's all about making money. It is for each individual parent, adult, practitioner to assess the evidence and make the best choice they can.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I suppose drugs don't work in that they don't CURE these conditions.
But who is asking anyone for a cure?
Can someone please show me where the BPS refers to Autism as a mental health issue?
Yes, lotta. He has two children. I gather his wife does the childcare. And I have a feeling he has ishoos with his mother rather similar to your own, so I suppose it makes sense that you agree with his viewpoint, in much the same way that those of those who work and parent sn children can't abide the man as he has no fricking clue.
His last foray involved blaming working mothers for their child's issues, and was stuffed full of pseudo science about cortisol.
He's welcome to his fan club, but I won't be joining. It's human nature that those with similar issues pal up. I hope you aren't allowing that projection to creep into your professional responsibilities.
reading that excerpt was like listening to the cod-psychologists in the playground, or at a coffee morning, almost 'well i heard that family row a lot, no wonder miniU-C wets herself and obsessively counts the different type of dogs'
i feel sick that this man thinks that autism is caused by 'bad' parenting.
MNHQ, why are you hanging parents of children with autism out to dry. again?
I'd argue that is is very hard to parent a child with autism well, when views like this are prevelant, as you spend more time firefighting, protecting and generally safeguarding than parenting.
and for the record, family U-C are probably the least likely to row out of many
wonders if MNHQ quoted Oliver Adams' in error
Just FTR, many parents who don't have SN or autistic DC also think OJ's views are backward, poorly-researched, unsubstantiated, misogynist, creepy, deeply offensive, screwed up and ignorant.
Snoopy - sweeping statements such as 'the drugs don't work' just aren't accurate.
Thanks for letting us have your comments and concerns. We are sorry this guest blog has upset some folk.
As we hope you all know, our guest bloggers offer an opinion - which is not necessarily shared, and certainly not endorsed, by MNHQ. And we'd always encourage anyone who doesn't share that opinion to challenge it on the thread - as many of your have very robustly and articulately here.
On a couple of specific points, we do have to say that, as we read it, Oliver's post is primarily about whether psychological difficulties are biologically determined, and whether they are therefore best managed with medication, or with other forms of treatment.
As far as we can see, autism is mentioned as an example of a condition which is biologically determined, but which nevertheless might also be responsive to 'the right kind of early intervention'. He doesn't suggest, we don't think, the reverse: that autism is caused by the lack of such intervention.
That said, we acknowledge that we probably have set slightly the wrong tone with our thread title which, by mentioning 'behavioural difficulties', skews things rather.
We're sorry about that, and we're going to make an edit to fix it.
Olivia - I didn't even get past the first 2 paragraphs before my blood boiled. My "unmanageable or hyperactive" child has ADHD which actually does respond to drugs, but he has poo-pooed that in a completely Daily Mail-esque manner and gone on to imply that it's a diagnosis purely intended to keep me happy and absolve me of the blame I should be shouldering for his condition. He then, rather incoherently, in his second paragraph, refers to the content of his first paragraph as describing mental illness.
'As far as we can see, autism is mentioned as an example of a condition which is biologically determined, but which nevertheless might also be responsive to 'the right kind of early intervention'. He doesn't suggest, we don't think, the reverse: that autism is caused by the lack of such intervention.'
This was how I read it too. Autism certainly does respond to early intervention (and I'm not talking about Love Bombing) but that doesn't automatically mean that autism is caused by lack of parental love or care. How parents respond to and interact with their children is a really crucial part of developing a child's communication skills and behaviour - that is not the same as saying that a child's problem in those areas is the parents' fault, just that they are a huge part of the solution. So I agree with OJ that this is good news for parents - your child's difficulties are not set in stone, they can continue to learn and develop and progress and thrive and you are a crucial part of that process.
I'm not qualified to comment on the use of drugs to treat early developmental difficulties so I won't. I do think however that some doctors are far too quick to prescribe antidepressants for adults who present with strong/upsetting/difficult emotions. I take ADs myself but will be coming off them soon as I feel that it's psychotherapy that is helping me to manage the root cause of my anxiety and depression - the ADs are just masking the symptoms and are not helping me long term. That is not a criticism of others who take ADs successfully - I know that some adults feel that ADs have saved their lives - but a concern that some doctors are medicalising issues which are possibly best dealt with in other ways, for some people.
We are to take away that good parenting will lead to better outcomes because our children's condition has no genetic component.
So if your kid has wonky genes no ammount of therapy or input will do much 'cos those ones have a destiny ? REALLY?
So all those questions asked about anyone even remotely related who was 'quirky' or 'odd' are just to entertain the myriad of professionals who assess non-nt children? REALLY?
This the kind of nonsense that suggests to language delayed/disordered children's Mothers that they should talk to them more.
Last week a highly lucrative document called DSM V was published. It is used predominantly in the states to validate who can access medical care under insurance. It isn't used in the UK. Medication is used far less liberally in the UK. To suggest that all MH conditions respond to "talking therapy" is inaccurate, and if the gentleman had the slightest understanding of atypical development or serious MH he would be ashamed of himself.
Sweeping generalisations like, 'the drugs don't work' are completely unhelpful.
I also don't understand how the influence of genes can be written off, when research into a genetic factors in behavioural conditions and mental health problems is still ongoing.
What annoys me most about this is the lost opportunity. It could so easily have been about "we need to stop over medicalising everything just so drug companies can make massive profits and instead we have to do more for the mentally ill than just throw drugs at them and then forget about them". But I suppose that approach isn't newsworthy or provocative enough to sell books.
This article on the controversy over the dsm-v and the face-off between psychiatrists (who are of course licensed to prescribe medication) and psychologists (who aren't): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/15/dsm-5-mental-health-psychiatric-manual-_n_3281434.html
Thank you Jane Mumsnet for clarifying. It won't take the bees out of some people's bonnets though!
I did not put what I said earlier very diplomatically but in essence I am just saying that I agree with the research and what OJ says on the subject, in the same way as LottaPiano has expressed above. I am not pointing a finger at anybody at all. I have just seen so many cases of friends being convinced by psychiatrists that their distress/depression (caused by suicide of close one, rape to name a couple of instances) is caused by something genetic. 'Oh yes- an imbalance in the brain's chemicals and oh look! It's down to genes. Here you go love- these pills will set you back on track.' IT'S CLEARLY NOT DOWN TO GENES! IT'S DOWN TO STRESSFUL AND UPSETTING EVENTS IN A PERSON'S LIFE!
As for autism, I am not an expert however I have seen amazing turnarounds in autistic children's behaviour and development when adequate support is found. Amazing turnarounds. No drugs. That's all. Now please find another scapegoat for this thread ;-)
Do you mean KateMN ?
Please tell us more about the "amazing turnarounds" you have seen in children with autism you have seen once their inadequate support was improved. I am intrigued.
hazeyjane - ADHD has around 70% heredity. If you have ADHD, there's a 70% chance a child will be affected. That's pretty strong.
I got Kate's name wrong, too, zzzzz
And I'd love to see evidence of these amazing turnarounds, too. And not that it happened once, but that it's a reproducible result in any child this is tried with. Then maybe DS1 won't be so dstressed about what other people eat and DS2 will not only learn to talk and become continent, but use the intelligence he has buried in his ASD to find the cure for cancer.
Why is MN giving a platform to enable this tedious fart to flog his dubious books and his misogynist ideology? Why? he has no scientific respctability. Everyone I know who does serious work in the field of child development and developmental disoreders regards him (if they've heard of him) as a joke. His true profession is media whoring, not psychology.
'Autism is turning out to be very responsive to the right kind of early intervention'
Why the actual fuck does he think parents of children with autism spend half of their lives fighting for adequate early intervention? Or indeed, any early intervention at all?
I know not one single sn parent whose first thought is 'ooh, is there a drug for that?'
He is a patronising cock, and I am deeply offended by his attitude.
Almost as offended as I was by his suggestion that I was harming my child by raising her cortisol levels by placing her in nursery because I had the temerity to work, instead of lashing myself to my offspring 24/7 like he thinks all women should, whilst the men bring home the bacon and write tedious bollocks about why women are getting it wrong. Again.
Thanks for the clarification Kate.
I think unfortunately it's quite clear from James' opening paragraph that he is taking a swing at parents who medicate for ADHD and denying ADHD has a biological base and can be cured by better parenting.
He's perfectly entitled to do so, it's a free country. MN is there to support parents and promote debate. I think that debate about the causes of ADHD is good and healthy. Telling us that if we just did a better job our kids wouldn't have problems is offensive. That's where the line is drawn and whilst I am glad MNHQ have changed the title it doesn't change the basic problem.
'zzzz' you are purposefully trying to twist what I am saying!!
Sorry Kate that I got your name wrong!
Re: autism. I happen to live in an area where there are lots of parents of autistic boys. Lots. These parents have all clubbed together and created wonderful spaces for their children to interact, learn. Great courses are provided here to inform parents about autism. There is an amazing special needs school, which all these parents rave about. The teachers in this school are doing a fantastic job and seem to be very committed and extremely proud of pupils development.
One of the sons in question that I have sometimes minded is now talking clearly, playing happily with other children, doesnt seem disruptive anymore at all and after just two years at this school will be joining a 'mainstream' school. That is all I wish to share on this subject due to the sensitive nature of the subject/ parents involved/ anonymity etc.
Re: drugs for mental distress-depression etc. which IS after all the actual subject of this thread, they are HIGHLY ADDICTIVE! Once that path is taken, it is very difficult to go back and seek other courses of action in my experience and opinion. It is very hard to come off the drugs. Very sad scenario indeed.
I was very reluctant to start ADs after I had ds, and had hit rock bottom. There is a family history of depression, bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia in my family - I have seen the effects of medication, both good and bad. But to me, I was not my family, I had hit a bad patch, and suffered a traumatic event, I did not need drugs.....except, life isn't that simple, in reality. I needed to get my children to school, look after my disabled son, stay married, keep my friendships, get out of the house, get through the day. I talked about counselling with my gp, what was available on the nhs was limited, and frankly having had counselling previously, I wasn't sure I could mentally and physically afford to have that long slow falling apart, and putting back together of my life. I was also suffering awful pmt, hitting me for 2 weeks of every month. I started on a very low dose of citalopram, and very soon was able to function again - get the girls to school, stay calm with them, rather than flying off the handle and bursting into tears, get ds to his many appointments, realise that I could face life. I started doing some exercise, seeing friends again, talking on here with people who were going through similar.The drugs helped me find the means to climb out of the hole I was in, and find ways to improve my mood and find strength to get through difficult bits. I know they don't suit or work for everyone, I know they are addictive, but sometimes and for some people they really are very helpful, it angers me to see such a complex issue reduced to a bold, inane comment like, the drugs don't work.
And snoopy, no need to keep shouting, it doesn't make what you are saying any more true or persuasive.
snoopy I'm not trying to twist what you are saying. I disagree with what you are saying. I think the blogger needs to spend some time with parents with children with additional needs.
Parenting children with sn is hard.
It's hard because it is simpley so much more work to for example potty train a non verbal child. Physical work.
It's hard because you need to do things in a different way to the norm so you are constantly searching for a method rather than doing what your Mum did or friends are doing. Mental work.
It's hard because you are isolated because people would rather have an easier child to play, and your child can't do a lot of the things their friends can do.
It hard because the hyper vigilant sleep deprived years stretch on sometimes for decades.
But one of the very hardest parts is that the behaviour looks like the behaviour of a child who has not been cherished and loved. Because you are judged and criticised everywhere you go. It's hard because of blogs like this spewing nonsense and because perfectly nice and intelligent people are sucked into it.
hazeyjane, I'm really glad that the ADs have worked for you. Psychotherapy is the best thing I have ever done for myself, but you are absolutely right that it is a long, slow, protracted, intensely painful process through which there are no short cuts. I'm in the lucky position of having no DCs, a very supportive DP and friends and enough money to pay to see a private psychotherapist. If I had even half of the responsibilities that you describe, I'm not sure how I would have functioned without ADs and I just don't think I would have had enough time or energy to devote to psychotherapy without medical help as well.
It's too black and white to say 'the drugs don't work' - they certainly do for some people. However, I do share Snoopy's concerns that they get dished out unthinkingly in some cases.
'Zzz' you were twisting what I was saying and trying to make out that I was saying that parents of sn children had been giving 'inadequate' care to their children.
When I said 'the drugs don't work' I was talking about my own personal experience of choosing the route of psychotherapy with no drugs in the face of considerable personal hurdles, very small support network etc. and of my own personal experience of watching certain friends and family completely ignore the issues that led them to where they were and use high dosages of drugs such as prozac as a coping mechanism. And I am pretty sure that these people will ALWAYS need these drugs now. Of course that was and is their personal choice and we all have to do what's best for us but I just feel that they were badly informed by their GPs and psychiatrists at the outset. I'm not judging anyone for their choices. And I'm not shouting. I'm using capitals because it's something I feel very strongly about and I'm entitled to my opinion too.
You said "As for autism, I am not an expert however I have seen amazing turnarounds in autistic children's behaviour and development when adequate support is found."
I said "Please tell us more about the "amazing turnarounds" you have seen in children with autism you have seen once their inadequate support was improved."
In what way is that twisted?
The "once adequate support is found" implies the support before was inadequate.
No it does not imply that. As you are well aware, children with autism usually need additional support. I did not once imply that the parents were inadequate.
Snoopy you don't know for certain that the people you know on prozac will always need it. That's a ridiculous statement.
I'm on antidepressants, hoping to come off them shortly. I've had a variety of shitty life circumstances that have predisposed me to depression. I have had counselling, pyschotherapy and CBT and have worked as hard as I could at 'not being depressed'. IIRC, depression in particular is best treated with a combination of meds (where appropriate) and talking therapies. But the NHS doesn't have infinite resources wrt talking therapies.
I didn't say that EVERYONE who takes Prozac will always need it. The ppl I know who take it are ppl that I know very well and I can say with some authority therefore that they will be taking it for the rest of their lives.
Nb. My initial comment was that I am 'pretty sure' they'll always need it
My main point, however, is that I agree with the Psychological Society's research that genes are not at the root of mental distress and that the factors are very complicated. Dishing out drugs as GPs do for the slightest hint of depression is NOT the answer. Therapy is very very difficult but it can work very well in my experience. That's all.
I think it does imply that support was inadequate before. Otherwise surely the improved support didn't prompt the "turnaround"?
Your posts are utterly confusing.
Look I know you want to 'read into' what I said and you're determined that I think that parents of sn children are to blame for their children having these needs. You're deliberately misinterpreting my posts and making me overexplain my point. Children with sn need adequate support. They have special needs that require adequate support. See my post above for an example of great support for autistic children. And that is all. Do you understand now what I'm saying? Surely this is a commonly acknowledged statement and does not imply that parental care is 'inadequate??'
I have no clue who Oliver James is, and I'm not going to comment on parenting special needs children as I have no clue.
I do think that AD's are dished out far too easily though and although for many they do work, but for me they were like papering over the cracks, you still have to address the underlying issues, and once you go down the AD route it's bloody hard to come back and get off them, I've spent years trying to come off and failing because of debilitating withdrawals, and there is no help or information with withdrawing from AD's, my blog:
My main point, however, is that I agree with the Psychological Society's research that genes are not at the root of mental distress and that the factors are very complicated.
Sorry, when you say, 'mental distress', are you referring to something specific - or is that an umbrella term for depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia etc - because as far as I know the influence of genetic factors in these and other disorders, are still being researched.
Therapy is very very difficult but it can work very well in my experience. That's all.
No-one is saying therapy doesn't work well, it can and does. And sometimes it does in combination with drugs, and sometimes it is not appropriate for the circumstances in a person's life, and will not help in the way that drugs would.
snoopy I think possibley we should just disengage. I was merely responding to what you wrote. Of course I don't know how you feel about the parents with children with sn that you know.
Most parents of children with ASD, though by no means all, agree that there is a strong genetic predisposition in their family. Though I'm not sure any of them would describe ASD as a MH issue, certainly it can lead to MH problems.
I'm sure schizophrenia is highly inheritable too???.
I personally think drugs do have an important part to play in the treatment of MH. I don't think they should be prescribed willy nilly, but they are another weapon in the battle.
I was really interested to read your blog. I was aware that these drugs were addictive but I had no idea of the horrible nightmare that they can sometimes induce. Helps me understand a little bit better why they just can't keep off them. Thank you so much for posting this blog. I hope that you're ok! Sounds like you've been through the wars. I'm glad you've got a sweet husband and your sons to help you through it all.
Sorry I edited my last message and realise now that it doesn't read very well. When I say 'they' I was just referring to some friends and family who have been, like you, on Prozac or similar drugs for a very long time.
snoopy, I'm a depressive. I come from a long line of depressives. I respond really, really well to low dose SSRIs. But as I don't know what makes me depressed, I don't find talking therapies helpful. So in my case, the drugs do work and thank fuck for them. Yes, probably on them for the rest of my life, but so what? Without them my life would probably be shorter...
I should add... like ubermumsy the drugs work for me.
Perhaps James need to define which areas of mental illness/distress he is actually talking about?
My brother is Schizophrenic. He is absolutely lovely. No amount of loving/listing/caring/love bombing can reduce or alter his psychosis - we couldn't 'love and listen' the schizophrenia away from him when he was a young teen (or now he is middle aged) - anymore than we could love and listen cancer away. God knows itd be great if we could. Without medication he would be dead. His condition might not be in his 'genes' but its in his body.
The way I see it is there is an actual problem finding the right diagnosis in the first place, it takes years - and the path to mental distress is not clearly signposted - its a journey - and the whole family go on the journey with the patient.
this article by Oliver James from the guardian, is about his views on schizophrenia wrt families(mothers in particular), genetics and drugs.
sheez, I really didn't know he was THAT stupid.
Snoopy the withdrawals are very confusing for most people and feel like the original depression/anxiety but worse, hence so many people struggling to come off them or thinking they "need" to be on them for life. It's very confusing, I'm going to be on a very low dose of Prozac probably for the rest of my life now, I don't want to be, but I don't see how I can untangle myself from the drug without making myself really ill. I have a very supportive husband and sons and friends.
Astonishing how this chap is a psychologist, not a 'doctor.' - but he speaks with arrogance as if he has it all sewn up. I can imagine his words will be hugely distressing for any parent of a child with mental issues. Just what parents need - more bloody guilt.
Also his 'buy my book' in his article is twattish.
Unimpressed and irritated.
Love Bombing. How particularly patronising.
Sorry punkatheart but in mental health issues my opinion is that psychologists know a lot more than doctors!
the correct administration and monitotng of medication aids recovery,saves lives
I really need to emphasise this.why is. it ok to suggest denial of medication in mh?
would one deny beta lookers for cardiac issues?mh has a biochemical and social basis.medication is appropriate treatment
("It's too distressing darling because whether you believe in environment or heredity, either way we are boiled, shut up here with this old subhuman of a father.")
I don't know, really. My husband has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. I have certainly felt that I would not have made some of the decisions on his upbringing that his parents made, but the reasons I would not have chosen them include the fact that he had already demonstrated far greater than average levels of sensitivity and lower levels of resilience, long before those decisions were made. His upbringing, also, was very different from that of his sister, who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia. And from that of his brother, who has periods of depression. I have seen him off 'the drugs' and I have seen him shortly after he has started on something again. The drugs have an effect. It is pointless to say 'they don't work', life is not a pop song. dH has been told by a consultant psychologist that therapy is likely to make things worse for him, and my experience of living with him during a gruelling period of group therapy would rather suggest she is right. I don't know; maybe given about ten years, therapy would indeed help and that would be amazing, but what is supposed to happen during those ten years? How am I supposed to carry on working and earning the money to keep the show on the road? How is ds supposed to have a childhood?
I can't help feeling that optimum mental health, optimum functioning, is as much of an illusion as optimum parenting, or optimum anything in fact. So if drugs are being used as a way of achieving optimum mental health, yes, they won't work. But neither will therapy. Or love-bombing. As a way of getting out of the door and doing some of the things you would like to do with the one life you have, yes, both drugs and therapy can be incredibly useful.
I think therapy is very effective! And other people have also shared its effectiveness in CURING the mental health problem. I find counselling along with other therapies and group support to be fantastic FOR MY PARTICULAR ISSUES. Not for everyone but to say that therapy doesn't work is ridiculous!
Yeah the drugs help people 'function day to day' but maybe a bit of 'falling apart and slow painful piecing back together' is preferable in the long run. And if it sometimes means making huge sacrifices in order to do this, maybe it's worth it?
I used to work in a large public ally funded mental institution in the US before it was shut down in government cutbacks. Time and time again, schizophrenics would be picked up off the streets after causing a public disturbance of some sort. These people would be brought in, put on antipsychotic drugs and stabilised, told to keep taking their medications and released again. Then they would e feeling better, would reason they didn't need their medication anymore, stop taking it again, and be brought back in yet again, having done all manner of things to themselves and others because the voices told them to.
Snoopy, your talk of "a slow painful piecing back together" is naive in the extreme at best, and at worst highly offensive to those without the resources of the rich and middle classes. In a time of massive funding cutbacks, who is going to pay for this "piecing together" of the poor and vulnerable members of society? Please tell me who is going to make the "huge sacrifices" to help them because I really want to know.
I am so glad for you that therapy has helped you for your particular issues. You were very fortunate that it helped you and that you had the luxury of being able to go. But the fact that you then feel somehow knowledgeable enough to generalise your very limited experience with yourself and your neighbours children to being the solution to everyone's problems is laughable.
The drugs don't work perfectly. The drugs do help. Sometimes they help enormously. Sometimes they're the only hope people have for being able to function in society at all
Rich and middle classes? I and my friends are NOT rich or middle class. Just because I can spell doesn't mean I am rich and middle class.
Noone is going to help. That's why us poor and vulnerable people need to help ourselves.
I do not claim to have the solution to everyone's problems. In fact I said that it was not for everyone in my post so the fact that you are accusing me of claiming all-knowingness is laughable
It's not the fact that you can spell (where did that come from?), it's the fact that you can afford to fall apart completely and then go to therapy to slowly put yourself together again that makes me think you're more privileged than many with mental health issues.
Please tell me how that whole falling apart thing you advocate would work out for the homeless prostitute schizophrenics who are picked up turning tricks outside a cheap motel to get enough money to self-medicate using crack cocaine? Yes there were many clients in this and very similar situations at the mental hospital where I worked.
Your posts have been filled with the notion of people getting loads of support and therapy but then you turn around and say the poor need to just help themselves as no one else will do it. You are contradicting yourself all over the place and seem quite confused.
Who will pay for a nanny and housekeeper whilst I attend 'therapy' for years and whilst I fall apart and rebuild my life that was destroyed by supposed 'caring' professionals who are paid to be the experts on young families with disabilities but in fact shafted us in the most barbaric and cruel way imaginable?
Drugs have never done that to me.
psychiatrists don't just prescribe medication,they talk,do consultations,work with other staff
medication can maintain an individual and get them to a level were talking therapies initiated
the majority of mh is managed in community by gp,ot,mh nurse,sw.using a range of treatments
The Wooly Wafflers ruined my life and CAUSED any MH issues I now have. Give me the hard evidence-based stuff any day and keep bloody Nurse Ratched the hell away from me.
I get free therapy.
There is no contradiction 'Whosiwhatsit'
Where I live anyway there is excellent free counselling available. It's quite possible to 'fall apart' in ones free time when one isn't working/minding kids etc. Is it ideal- no but at least that way, you're working through things and not just 'papering over the cracks' as the earlier person who shared her blog described taking drugs.
I was referring to disadvantaged people helping themselves to support, therapy... All the free services on the NHS. When I said no one else is going to get us proper help (I am an economically disadvantaged person myself.)
It was me who said about the falling apart and long slow process of piecing back together. By that I didn't mean not having the time, I meant the emotional fallout.
I have 3 small children, one of whom has, as yet only ever been left with me or my dh. At the time of going on ads, ds was being tested for a degenerative condition that would have meant him not surviving into adulthood. He was suffering horrendous acid reflux, causing him to scream constantly. He was unable to sit or hold his own body weight, so I was carrying him around most of the time. Dh and I were averaging about 4 hours sleep a night.
I still had to keep life going, get ds to therapies and appointments, get my 4 and 5 year old girls to school, make tea, have their friends round, keep the house clean etc etc - all the little stuff of day to day life. In the middle of this I was having a crisis, huge anxiety, fear for ds, worry about what was happening to me, having grown up in a family living in the shadow of severe mental health issues. I know that if I had embarked on counselling at that time, a light would have been turned on in the murkier corners of my mind, and I just couldn't face that, not at that time. Frankly I also needed to get on with stuff, and at the time it was like being stuck in a patch of tar, I felt like I couldn't move. Drugs helped me get on with stuff that needed to be done, and (and this surprised me) helped me start enjoying being with my children and dh.
When I discussed counselling with my gp, there were 6 free sessions available. The private counsellor, she recommended was £60 an hour.
Snoopy are you listening to what others say?
People who use medication are not just 'papering over the cracks'. Some of us have rather a lot of 'cracks' to deal with, and need the meds to get to the point where recovery is possible.
It's great that you have been able to recover using therapy, but it's rather irritating to hear you dismiss other ways of getting help.
Our local NHS offers telephone-based CBT. Thereafter, it's all about finding a private counsellor or pyschotherapist.
And when I had depression brought on by work stress my NHS doctor told me the waiting list for therapy was three years! So I went on antidepressants instead which helped me to the point where I was able to go for and get a promotion into another department at work which was much less stressful not to mention better paid. I then got off the antidepressants by tapering off them gradually with no ill effects.
On the other hand, therapy seems to have been available to you Snoopy and seems to have done you good. I'm glad for you BUT your experience does not in the least negate my experience either personally or with the schizophrenic clients I talked about in my earlier post for whom getting on and staying on antipsychotic drugs was their only realistic hope.
What is infuriating here and with Oliver James is the statement that "the drugs don't work" is so absolute it blames people for whom drugs are a reasonable option for not doing things the best way ie therapy. I would never say someone was unreasonable to go into therapy and I expect the same respect from others about other treatment choices.
And I don't mean to imply that therapy is "the best way", only that Oliver James and others state that it is. In fact the success rates of traditional therapies (with the possible exception of cbt) are actually statistically pretty woeful.
I haven't been able to 'recover' using therapy. I am in the middle of it all at the moment. It has been ongoing for 2 years (thats right. Free counselling now for 2 years) and the issues will continue for the rest of my life. The learning process is slow and difficult but I have made lots of progress and on the whole am making and finding more and more things that are positive in my life like my children, my friendships, my work. I am learning tools to cope with all the issues and I need to work at these tools in my very small amount of free time. Do I jump out of bed in the morning with a big grin on my face? No.
I am listening to what everyone on this thread is saying thanks.
Please show me where I have 'dismissed' other ways of getting help!!!
Oh god this is so silly it is almost funny.
Snoopy, darling, if you think that some of us have time between working/minding kids you are sadly mistaken.
I currently spend 24 hours a day with my eldest son, who is too ill to attend school. I'm homeschooling him. When he is in bed I am planning the next days' lessons and doing the housework I missed out on during the day. When precisely do you suggest I plan my time for falling apart, in the toilet breaks?
Also I think your
laughably ignorant somewhat naive belief that counselling is the cure to everything shows how little you know. I had psychotherapy as a twenty-five year old - wonderful. Counselling as a thirty-one year old dealing with career isshooes: wonderful.
Counselling now, dealing with life with three disabled children, one with a chronic illness on top - fucking useless, and I've tried three times. Every single counsellor (one of whom veyr highly qualified) has just muttered at me that my situation is extreme, that I am amazing, that this is all really hard for me. I've tended to leave feeling worse not better.
I haven't tried ADs yet but only because I don't think I need them yet. I might do tomorrow though, and then I shall take them without a shadow of remorse. Because sometimes counselling ISN'T what people need. People dealing with real life ongoing crisis of the kind that I and hazeyjane know.
These are your own words from up thread:
Yeah the drugs help people 'function day to day' but maybe a bit of 'falling apart and slow painful piecing back together' is preferable in the long run. And if it sometimes means making huge sacrifices in order to do this, maybe it's worth it?
Yes, you are dismissing other ways of getting help.
When I wrote earlier that the 'drugs don't work' earlier, I then explained what I meant by that. I fully appreciate that for some, they help with getting on with the business of life. In fact earlier I pointed out that I would never judge someone's personal choices f.y.i.
So yeah, wanna leave me alone now?
Haha! Just because I say MAYBE this is better in the long run, doesn't mean I am dismissing other routes. As I have just said, I would never judge someone for choosing to go on antidepressants. Everyone has their own life to lead. Different strokes for different folks and all that!
I'm sorry Snoopy, I will leave you alone. We will agree to disagree and I wish you the best of luck with your recovery. I do respect that you took the time to debate this subject and again I'm sorry if I was harsh with you. We clearly both feel strongly about these issues.
If that idiot Oliver James had the balls to come in here and argue his point of view himself instead of leaving Snoopy to try to do it for him then I'd at least have a tiny bit of respect for him. He started this whole thing, after all!
As I also said earlier, everyone's circumstances are different and we all have to do what we feel is best, sometimes in difficult circumstances.
P.S Support groups are often good as well as or instead of counselling. There are support groups for everything now.
Thanks Frazzled. I think I know the type of ongoing 'real life crisis' that you and your buddy HazeyJane are in because I am in one too. This isn't a competition you know. I won't take offense at your insulting comments either!
Well OJ would probably just refer us all to his books wouldn't he?
Now where do I buy his latest one ;-)
I hope he's going to pay me for this precious time I've spent sticking up for him on Mumsnet and sowing the seed of his teachings far and wide... ;-) Oliver? Are you there?
I always think it's really sad that discussion around AD's gets so polarised, I speak to SO many people from all walks of life through my blog/FB page and I know that many people feel AD's help them to function, hell they did for me 14 years ago, got me out of a massive black hole, I get that. I wish though, that there was more honesty and transparency about the use of these drugs, the potential side effects (libido), and how bloody difficult they are for some people to get off when they want to. Doctors have their heads well and truly stuck in the sand on this one and don't want to know. It's scary as well that they're being prescribed to younger and younger people/children especially in the US. I help admin on a site called Surviving Antidepressants where we help people to taper off properly.
And yes, where is this Oliver James person?
well given you moderate on site about surviving AD I don't think you're impartial
you're quick to assert drs have no clue,but minimal comment about your agenda?
AD can aid and maintain recovery they need close monitoring like all prescription meds.
Scottishmummy you're right, I try to be impartial but I feel quite angry about my own experience, I should just nail my colours to the mast and be done with it. I've never yet found a doctor or psychiatrist who knew how to get me off sertraline or Prozac when it's my personal choice not to be on either of these drugs for the rest of my life.
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