I’ve always been a bit dubious about pharmaceuticals, and I’ve written about feeling like I dodged a bullet when I was able to refuse antipsyhotics during a spiritual emergency. There’s an interesting documentary called The Marketing of Madness: Are we all insane? about the history of drug (ab)use in psychiatry. And I’ve just found Peter R. Breggin, MD, talking about how, as I was referring to in my page about Psychosis or Spiritual Awakening,

all of these [atypical or second-generation antipsychotic drugs] are nonspecific lobotomising agents that disrupt biochemical neurotransmission to the frontal lobes.

Yep, “nonspecific lobotomising agents”.

He says it again at Mad in America:

In my decades of clinical experience, many if not most victims of involuntary treatment experience it as torture. They know it aims at breaking their will and they physically and mentally resist, resulting in even more dire consequences. Involuntary treatment humiliates and demoralizes people, reinforcing their feelings of being worthless, powerless, and helpless. It leads to outrage, which is then crushed by psychiatric drugs. The neuroleptic drugs cause a confusing combination of emotional numbing and apathy along with feelings of acute physical discomfort and agonizing akathisia and agitation; but they inevitably produce docility with a chemically lobotomizing disruption of the brain.

We used to talk in school about how we’d prefer to have “a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy”, and I’m sure Ginsberg was alluding to this at the beginning of ‘Howl’ when he said, “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness”: was it the LSD they subjected themselves to, or the psychiatric drugs they were subjected to?

lobotomy77 (2)That people are subjected to nonspecific lobotomising agents at all is an idea I am now investigating ~ it has to do with questions of personal authority / autonomy and the right to self-governance, the right to be free from the psychologically violent coercion I experienced in the psych ward.