SURVIVING PSYCHIATRY: A User’s Manual


SURVIVING PSYCHIATRY:  A User’s Manual by Anne C Woodlen

This 60-page collection of 23 essays recently sold out at Dr. Peter Breggin’s Empathic Therapy Conference and now is available for sale to you.

“The great jazz bassist Ron Carter once described good jazz as a delicate balance of the predictable and the unpredictable.  Too predictable and it bores the listener, too unpredictable and it leaves the listener bewildered.  Anne C. Woodlen has produced in these pages that delicate balance.  She applies a superb intellect, well-articulated insight, and decades of experience that instruct us about the world of psychiatric services.”

Richard F. Gottlieb, LMSW, LMFT
Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work

“Anne Woodlen spent a total of three years incarcerated in various mental hospitals and has since then devoted herself to psychiatric reform. She’s a vivid, cogent and uplifting critic of psychiatric power and its terrible effects upon herself and others.”

Peter R. Breggin, M.D., Director
Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy

PREFACE

SURVIVING PSYCHIATRY:  A User’s Manual contains essays about me, my observations as I journeyed through the psychiatric system, and some of my conclusions about what went wrong and what should happen next.  The purpose is (a) to inform naïve patients about what happens when you enter the psychiatric system, (b) to continue the education of those who would help them, and (c) to tell their family and friends what happens after a person is diagnosed with a mental illness.

I became depressed after the death of my fiancé in 1974; thereafter, I was put on antidepressants, which I took every day for twenty-six years.  Unbeknownst to me, the antidepressants were causing the suicidal feelings that I was having, as well as causing physical damage.  Because I was so often suicidal, I was hospitalized about fifty times; we never suspected that the antidepressants were the cause.  I spent about three years of my life locked down on inpatient psychiatry.  I also was one of the patients in the NIMH study that lead to the deceitful theory that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance.

In 2001, I stopped taking antidepressants, got my brain to function again, discovered that the cure for depression is action, and became an activist in transportation, housing and medical care for people who are old, sick and/or poor.  My last hospitalization was in 2004.  I no longer see a psychiatrist.  Testing reveals no sign of psychopathology.  I’m fine, thank you—except for the hospital bed, breathing machine, wheelchair and indwelling catheter that have been made necessary by “psychiatric medications,” i.e., drug damage.

Anne C Woodlen

iTABLE OF CONTENTS

About the Author:  I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed . . .

Hospitals

Hutchings Psychiatric Center:  I’m fairly militant on the subject of mental illness. I make no bones about the fact that I have a mental disorder and am, like a good gravesite . . .

Benjamin Rush Center:  In 1966 my father came to Syracuse for several months to work on a proposal for a major federal educational grant. He stayed at the Mayfair Motel . . .

CPEP:  Syracuse’s Gitmo:  There was an old lady who was taken to CPEP after being raped. CPEP is the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program that is . . .

St. Joseph’s Hospital Psychiatric Services

About Michael:  Michael is ten years old and has freckles. He was a skinny kid wearing a tank top and too-big shorts on June 16, Father’s Day, when he came to . . .

The Perverse Pathology of Mary Corbliss:  Mary Corbliss is a mental health counselor on Unit 3-6. She is small, in her mid-thirties, and has long, brown hair . . .

Fire and Freedom:  Around 1970, I was employed as a mental health therapy aide on SUNY Upstate’s inpatient psychiatric unit, which had just opened. A patient pulled . . .

A Choice, of Sorts:  “Voluntary” Hospitalization:  This morning’s Facebook has brought a paper by Dr. Rachel Bingham about “voluntary” psychiatric hospital. She . . .

Recovery and/or Healing
            Speaking of Healing:  I was inpatient at Benjamin Rush Center, the kinder, gentler            private psychiatric hospital where nothing bad every happened to me, however something . . .

After I Stopped Taking Antidepressants, 2001-2008:  In 2001, I stopped taking all drugs. Instead of drugging myself into insensitivity, I had to deal with the real, raw emotions . . .

The “Chemical Imbalance” Lie:  So there I am at Peter Breggin’s Empathic Therapy Conference, in the workshop on SSRI Antidepressants Adverse Effects, and an . . .

Fixing the System
            How to Complain

About CPEP:  Today’s mail brought this message from Ms R: “I would like to learn how to complain. My child and I had a three-day ordeal with . . .

PAIMI and the MHLS:  The CPEP director says that they can relocate an incompetent person a hundred miles away without telling anyone who might . . .

Blame the Physician, Dammit!  Drugs don’t damage people; physicians who prescribe them do. Yesterday I read several messages that focused my . . .

Eleven Good Ideas for Inpatient Psychiatry:  Inpatient psychiatry is dreadful, so here are some of my recommendations for changing it.  Medicate the staff first. . .

Lessons Learned
            Ativan, Sleep Apnea and Bad CrazinessDO NOT TAKE ATIVAN IF YOU HAVE SLEEP APNEA. It could kill you.  Ativan, also known as Lorazepam and Temesta, is . . .

Sex, Drugs, and Pheromones:  What’s wrong with your Love Life?  What would you do if the drugs you are taking are the cause of your lousy love life?  I was socially and . . .

Exercise or Naps for Depression?  What good did hospitalization do me? What it did for me was give me rest. It wasn’t supposed to. I was supposed to get up and get dressed . . .

Cause of Death:  Physician Prejudice:  Physicians are so blinded by psychiatric diagnoses that they cease to be able to function as competent diagnosticians. In the eyes of . . .

Psyche:  Mind/Spirit/Soul

The Spirit without Drugs:  I took drugs every day for twenty-six years. They were all prescribed by physicians, but I make no distinction between the drugs you prescribe . . .

After the Anger, Peace:  For three decades on inpatient psychiatry I was treated with disrespect, callous indifference, and physical danger. It was the kind of “treatment” . . .

A Survivor’s Birthday/Christmas:  On Thursday, December 15, 2011, I asked my therapist, “What am I doing here?” She replied, “Life review.” On Friday, a friend . . .

Soul Murder:  March 12, 2012:  I just woke up in a nightmare. I was hospitalized in Hutchings Psychiatric Center. I had done nothing wrong, nor did I have any . . .

To purchase SURVIVING PSYCHIATRY:  A User’s Manual, send your name, address and a check for $15.00 to Anne C Woodlen at 501 S. Crouse Ave., Apt. 823, Syracuse, N.Y. 13210.  Thank you.

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About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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4 Responses to SURVIVING PSYCHIATRY: A User’s Manual

  1. Brian says:

    Peter Breggin has made some very terrible remarks of those living with schizophrenia. He has blamed them for their schizophrenia calling them weak and having no will. I had a very brief email interaction with his wife and provided her with direct links to his statements. Her response was basically that he regrets those comments and has been trying to get them off the internet, he doesn’t think that way anymore and a bunch of other lame excuses for this spineless coward of man. I lost a family member to schizophrenia. He was not a coward. He was not weak. He was in the militar. A college graduate with a BS and was anything but weak. You need to do some serious research on Peter Breggin before you praise him. He isn’t the man he portrays himself to be.

    • annecwoodlen says:

      Do you believe in the ability to change? Do you permit the idea that even psychiatrists can change? Are we not working to change psychiatrists? Please provide the dates of Dr. Breggin’s writings in which he made “terrible remarks.”

      Dr. Breggin has been publishing since 1964. How many things did you believe 49 years ago that you no longer believe? (Were you even born 49 years ago?) What is your problem that you can’t accept that Dr. Breggin “doesn’t think that way anymore?” Have you read anything he’s written in the past two decades about his frustration and anger about how the system is still treating people with schizophrenia?

      Your problem is that your relative acquired schizophrenia and nobody helped him through it. I’m sorry. So is Dr. Breggin, but you’re going after the wrong man. Deal with your own grief, then go to work to (a) educate yourself about healthy treatments for schizophrenia, (b) educate others, (c) get the system changed.

      The last time I saw Dr. Breggin, he was talking about his research that shows that people subjected to long-term use of antipsychotics lose brain mass. They don’t just lose their minds–they actually lose their brains. Would he be doing that kind of research to get people off antipsychotics if he believed that people with schizophrenia were weak and without will power?

  2. Pingback: Surviving Psychiatry « Cathi Carol

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