I voted neutral because I need more information. I'm worried about dangerous people not taking meds, but I also totally agree that big Pharma is pushing drugs as the solution to every problem, which I also find disturbing. It gets into a real gray area when you start talking about ADHD and the other "lesser" disorders. I'm 100% positive that it is being overdiagnosed by a very significant factor. Even when it's a proper diagnosis... are drugs really the answer? Maybe they are. It's a tough call. Then the rabbit hole goes deeper when you start talking about depression and anxiety, etc. Both sides make really good arguments.
My brother was held with a knife at his throat by schizophrenic who decided he didn't need his meds. It was by the grace of God, the guy just decided not to push the knife on through. Just this past winter an elderly gentleman in Ontario was walking the rounds in his neighbourhood for his annual Christmas greetings. A non-medication-taking schizophrenic stabbed him to death. Then there is Virginia Tech, etc.
I for one am all for the freedom in question. Here in Canada yet another case was dismissed (no real punishment) on the basis that the criminal "forgot" to take his meds and even, I kid you not, he was high on marijuana. I'll be pleased if not taking meds will no longer be a defence.
If you want the rights and the freedoms then there is the responsibility that goes along with that. So, are we doing away with the insanity defence in this case. I'm guessing no. Both the right and the dismissal of the associated responsibilities will be simultaneously sought. I will not at all be surprised if and when one of the Canadian human rights councils upholds a mentally ill patient's right not to take meds while a Canadian court dismisses a crime because the patient was not on meds. .
It's bad in the short term because a lot of people who need to be on meds to be stable are going to find an extra reason not to take their meds. I have a friend right now who is doing this and she's a mess with no where to go but hit bottom and hopefully survive.
It's likely good in the long term because it will probably help develop wider ranging treatments for people to cope with the difficulties of having a severe mental illness.
I've spent around the last two decades working with populations that have mental illness as one of the hurdles in their life. Meds do work, however we're still too much in the dark about how to systematically use them for the best effect. Our knowledge is improving, and the meds being given out today are superior to earlier versions, having a much more focused effect and reducing side effects.
Bipolar, schizophrenia and depression are awful conditions to have. Life can easily be miserable and dangerous for these people, and can make their relationships with others miserable also.
I'm somewhat conflicted on the issue, because I do think that the line between "sanity" and "madness" is not clearcut and that medical intervention for insanity has been inappropriate, heavy-handed and just flat-out wrong at times, especially for vulnerable groups. (I also have a real issue with the trend that seems to be morphing all personality traits into "pathologies", but that's mostly a separate issue.)
However, my reading of the article was that the people in the Icarus (Icarian?) group had relatively clear-cut psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. For people in this category, I absolutely think that it's a bad thing, overall, for them to eschew medication and to advocate that others in their situations do the same.
My feelings stem almost completely from my personal experiences with people with these conditions . . . it's a small sample size, to state the obvious, so I'm even more likely to be wrong than usual.
Still, my experience has been unequivocally pro-medication for serious psychiatric conditions. For most people I know, medication and treatment has been more liberator than tyrant. My grandmother, for instance, led an incredibly productive life with bipolar disorder.
Even for people I've known who experienced medication as more a burden than a blessing, my view from the outside looking in was that they shifted their burden onto others by failing to take their meds.
For instance, I served as guardian ad litem for a number of children in the local family court system. (For those unfamiliar with this kind of thing, I was appointed to represent the child's interest, as opposed to the parent's or the state's.)
In one family, the mother had been diagnosed with, among other things, schizophrenia with psychotic tendencies. She had, at the time, a 7 year old and a 3 year old. There was no father in the picture. By all accounts, she functioned when medicated but hated the feeling of it -- she felt dull and zombified.
Every year or so, she would stop taking her medication, and drama would ensue. In the leadup to the situation where I became involved, she had become convinced that she was the bride of Christ and had taken to reclining in the middle of the road in front of their house. Her 7 year old was left to try to get her mother out of the middle of the street and to try to comfort and feed the 3 year old (which became even more challenging once the electricity and water had been cut off). They fell into the system that time because the mother had stopped bringing the 7 year old to school -- she signed the truancy form, when presented to her, "Queen Jesus".
When people with severe mental illness go off the rails, it doesn't only affect them -- it affects everyone around them, notably including children entrusted to their care.
An additional issue I have with "mad pride" is that I fear it will further something that is already a huge problem -- the societal view that needing medication for psychological/psychiatric conditions is a weakness. I think that people tend to avoid or forgo treatment (therapeutic or pharmacological) out of pride as it is.
I can see a lot of room for improvement in mental health, but I don't see lauding unrestrained mental illness or demonizing intervention as a good thing.
As far as I understand it Mad Pride is not simply about not taking meds; it's about accepting the illness as part of one's identity and not necessarily medicating away every last trace of it.
At the moment I am trying to settle on the amount of a prophylactic medication with my psych at the moment; too much makes me too sedated to work (and play) effectively, too little and my hypomania symptoms come back. Psychiatrists often take the view that you have to take the amount that prevents all symptoms, and if the end result is that your life gets buggered up with side effects, well, that's tough. An approach that says, well, I'll live with being a bit high or a bit low for the sake of not being a zombie, (and besides it is sometimes fun to be a bit high) strikes me as entirely rational. But there are plenty of other drugs that I do take daily, or that I take when I actually get ill.
Astoundingly few mentally ill people are dangerous. If you want a discussion about public safety you have to start with the accessibility of alcohol...
I read recently that we used to have characteristics; now we have symptoms. The standards set regarding disability and mental illness are frequently set by those who by constructing the definitions of disability, by contrast construct the definition of normal - usually one that suits those in power. There is a great deal of oppression and abuse of power that goes along with the deployment of terms like disabled and mentally ill.
I'm glad to see people standing up and demanding we respect their differences.
Just a generation or so ago, homosexuality was considered madness. And, that's not even to mention all the stuff that was considered madness in earlier times.
The entire concept of madness is, more often than not, a means by which the powerful can enforce their view of "normalcy" on everyone else, thereby compelling conformity ... of behavior AND thought. In fact, what's really interesting is that we've seen a rise in diagnoses of madness. If you think this doesn't happen today, here is a portion of Adam Curtis's BBC documentary series The Trap.
for this discussion ... see from the beginning through ~7 minutes in
Except of course when the person is fucking crazy and theres a substantial risk they will hurt themselves or others when they stop taking the meds. You mean that right?