Saturday, March 8, 2014

Some Dangers of Modern Medicine



White roses in bloom in the author's garden


"The person who has not suffered illness has yet to be born. Only after death does illness cease. We must suffer both mental and physical pain and illness in this life."
Buddha said that we should see a doctor for physical illness, but mental illness should be treated with  dharma or right living.


In the considered and educated life long experience and study of this author, an experience that some other impartial medical authorities agree with, modern medicine has a number of excellent medicines both for internal use and external applications for a variety of ailments of the human body ranging from medicines for eyes, ear, nose, skin to antibiotics and some common pain killers such as aspirin, but when it comes to ailments to do with the human mind and emotions, the available medicines seem not just to be less than desirable but more than horrible with some being extremely dangerous and gruesome such as those that cause seizures when stopped.
In the days when the Buddha walked the earth their existed mind altering herbal agents like Dhatura that could make a person go crazy at least temporarily. In modern times man has invented chemical substances too that can do this job with far greater ease and make a person go haywire perhaps permanently, some that are passed on as a cure for profit but in fact do far more harm than good that time and a change would have done in any case. One can guess with ease what the Buddha would have said if he learned that when such mental illness or distress strikes some modern humans, that according to him strikes all at some point or other in their lives, such humans instead of right living and giving time, take a drug for relief that impairs and disables them, perhaps permanently for life, soon after. In an old post in this blog, there was a story of a sweet and brilliant girl  (here) known to this author (relationship and details withheld) who underwent a traumatic experience in her early twenties. Her concerned mother admitted her in a psychiatric facility for over a month where a drug regime was prescribed for her. Since then this lady has led a more or less impaired life for over a decade.
This author lives in a different city and has lost contact with this family over the last ten years. Recently however he received news from her sister, herself a medical practitioner that her sister’s condition has deteriorated further. Needless to say this lady in her thirties now, has been unable to marry, work or even look after herself properly.
The sister mentioned that the patient in question suffers from a genetic psychiatric defect and would need treatment forever just to be manageable. My own view differs on the matter on two counts. First, looking back into the ancestral history of this girl to which the author has access, there has been no case of such a psychiatric genetic defect on either side of the family for several generations. To be sure some of the ancestors were not the best behaved persons within the family as many humans are not, but none needed psychiatric attention and most did very well in life. Secondly this girl herself was a brilliant student in high school who went on to complete a degree in engineering that she completed in her early twenties. Therefore, it is obvious that she was not suffering from any debilitating psychiatric condition at least until the age of around twenty.
Therefore rather than a genetic or psychiatric impairment what appears to have happened is that this girl suffered a traumatic experience at around twenty and that this trauma was mishandled by her so called psychiatric treatment. The trauma was that she was left in the care of uncaring and brutally dominant relatives who spoke to her in hostile words and restricted her freedoms severely such as taking away all her money and not permitting her to access internet or emails even, this when she was not a child but someone past twenty and an engineering graduate. When taken back by her mother, she broke into fits of crying and that is when her mother took her to the psychiatric facility. Since then she has become impaired and her drugs continue.
Although not a medical practitioner, this author is highly educated professional and can see through professional neglect if evident even of professionals from other professions. His suspicion that there was mishandling of treatment began from the casual statements of the doctor who had prescribed her drug regime when this author managed to communicate with him on phone and email around a decade ago. When asked why she needed all those drugs she was consuming and how he ascertained that the girl needed them, his response was casual. He said the girl does not take a bath regularly and that she does not work even though she is an engineering graduate. But then this girl never had a chance to work because of the experience described earlier, her admittance to the facility soon after graduation etc. and the fact that she did not bathe regularly was soon after her traumatic experience. Her hot water geyser was  not functioning and soon after it was restored by this author's intervention she began regular baths. On further questioning the doctor quickly cancelled her anti depressants and some other medicines. The girl immediately bounced back and joined a job. But her mother remained insecure and continued to take her to numerous psychiatrists around Delhi, who prescribed even more medicines and with time her condition has become worse and worse as treatment has become more and more over the last ten years.
A repeated round from one doctor to another around Delhi permitted a portfolio and history of an illness to be built up that in reality existed partly in imagination, and partly in the after effects of the medicines consumed earlier, and this was placed in front of every new doctor  visited prompoting new prescriptions. On one occasion, early in the episode when the girl visited a competent and honest doctor with a family friend, one Mr. R. J., the doctor said she was perfectly fine and needed absolutely no treatment, the guardian learned of it later and quarreled with this family friend. The reason why honesty was mentioned is because without that a practitioner would not be able to overcome the greed of fees paid and admit that a person is not in need of treatment.
Therefore the personal yet carefully deliberated conclusion of this author is that this girl has neither any genetic defect nor a one developed later in life but all of her woes are related to the effects of the drugs she is taking. A doctor with a vested interest may have proposed a genetic explanation to justify long term treatment and disability. This author has the best interests of this lady at heart and would not arrive at this conclusion lightly or for any biased motive. Many humans undergo a traumatic experience in life and the majority overcomes the trauma with just plain old love and time or just a drink or two or perhaps a sleeping medicine in the worst of cases.

Here are some comments of some highly knowledgeable persons in this direction who have spent a lifetime on the issue. Many more can be found through google search.
Dr. Breggin a Harvard-trained psychiatrist is the author of the medical book, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry (2008). Dr. Peter R. Breggin, MD, has been called "The Conscience of Psychiatry" for his many decades of successful efforts to reform the mental health field. His scientific and educational work has provided a foundation for modern criticism of psychiatric drugs. It leads the way in promoting more caring and more effective therapies. . Dr. Peter Breggin provides insights into why so many people take psychiatric drugs when the drugs are doing more harm than good. According to him;
“Often people taking psychiatric drugs claim to feel better than ever when in reality their mental life and behavior is impaired. In the extreme, medication spellbinding leads otherwise well-functioning and ethical individuals to commit criminal acts, violence or suicide.”
To quote the conclusion of two books of a health science writer named Robert Whitaker:
“Tens of millions of unsuspecting Americans have become mired deeply, to the point of permanent disability, in the American mental “health” system.---- Many of these innocents have actually been made “crazy” and often disabled by the use of – or the withdrawal from – these commonly prescribed, brain-altering and, for many, brain-damaging psychiatric drugs that have been, for many decades, cavalierly handed out like candy---Trusting and unaware patients have been treated with potentially dangerous drugs by equally unaware but well-intentioned physicians who have been likewise trusting of the slick and obscenely profitable psycho pharmaceutical drug companies.”
The tragedy is that the world follows America in many things and this malaise is no loner restricted to America but has spread across the world.
True that there are cases of human behavior that pose a grave physical risk to the person concerned or others in society if left untreated and in such cases the risks of a medical intervention may be less than no intervention at all. However there are very many other cases of improper and unpleasant behavior or a temporary episode of trauma or extreme stress, fear, tragedy etc. that not just millions and billions of humans  have undergone since the beginning of civilization but in fact nearly all go through at some point in their lives such as the loss of a near and dear one, for which time and environment is the biggest of healers. Risking  or causing a permanent disability and worse is deplorable and shocking. This author learned of a case where there was daily quarreling between a parent and child along with some physical pushing and scratching etc. where such intervention was considered but instead the problem vanished the moment the two members began to live away from each other.
To return to the lady in question the relevant question to consider is if her normal life is finished or is there some hope still left and if so what steps might be required to help. It  may not be possible that she can be taken to Peter R. Breggin, MD in New York but perhaps some other similarly minded practitioner can be located near where she lives, who may be provided a copy of this blog post too. As mentioned this author is not a medical practitioner and cannot offer definitive suggestions. However a few general ones will surely help and may be the first steps of returning this lady to life and living,
  1. Presently this girl lives alone in a balacony-less first floor compact apartment in a crowded section of Delhi. Since she does not work, does not have a car and because it is unsafe for girlas to venture out alone in Delhi, this lady hardly ever ventures out. Her younger life was spent in a greener more open home in a northern town of India. The family still owns that home. The first step should be a return to it for two reasons. First a change is  good and secondly a change to open greener surroundings and sunshine a blessing and aid to any medical patient, psychiatric or otherwise. Not changing one's living environment causes a patient to persist with routines associated with the condition and therefore the condition itself. It may also be mentioned that persons who have remained confined for long years in similar confined spaces, in near isolation, such as compact apartments or prison cells often become unbalanced even though they were perfectly fine to begin with.
  1. A doctor must be located who is conversant with the dangers of some of  modern psychiatric medicines and who can gradually wean this lady away from them.
  1. Natural medicines as suggested by this blogger in a recent post may be examined if felt necessary during this process or recovery. See the following: http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2014/03/the-good-and-bad-of-alcohol-cannabis.html
Aside from this, this author can only draw the attention of her sister to this post and pray for her, for in the end none is mightier than the Lord. May the Lord bless her.
Serious FAQS to lighten up a serious matter
Q.  It is easy to talk of others but what would you do, if you  had got trapped in a similar situation?
Ans. I would not, get trapped in such a situation. There have been cases of illness in my life where I have depended on direct wisdom from the lord rather than a doctor.
Q. Would you never visit a doctor, even in serious and urgent need?
Ans: I may, but only if it was a physical illness or emergency, but never for a psychiatric or psychological one most definitely. I believe like the Buddhists that these latter are to be cured by right living.
Q. Just for the sake of argument, let us say you did get trapped into a so called modern psychiatric drug regime for several years and then realized suddenly that they had done more harm for you than good. What would you do at that point based on your experience. Would you give up the drugs and go to a practitioner of alternative medicines?
Ans: I would most certainly not go for alternative medicine because many of these are also on shaky ground in the modern world. It is a hypothetical situation but since you ask this is what I would do instead. 
  1. I would remove myself from any non-compatible, argumentative, or hostile human interaction as a first step without giving up on my drugs and arrange for a caring attendant.
  2. Next I would change my living area if it was not an open green one with sunshine and green even if it meant shifting to a farm for three weeks still without giving up my drugs.
  3. I would learn how to make or get a traditional drink of the cannabis plant called bhang ghota (a drink of cannabis extracted in milk) from a person with expertise in its formulation. Modern versions of the drink add spices to it that I would skip except for almonds that are ground together with cannabis.
  4. I would cut down my drugs in exactly three weeks, ¾ dosages in the first week, half in the second, a quarter in the third and zero after that
  5. I would continue to stay in my new environment for at least three months and if a problem arose I would consume bhang ghota. After that I might return to my previous living but definitely not the previous human company that had caused the problem
Update: Recipe of Bhang Ghota now included here:
Q: What if you became an addict of the Bhang Ghota?
Ans: I would rather have that than lose my mind or life. In any case whenever life became good I should try and give that up by going cold turkey. Such addictions do not cause seizures etc. if given up suddenly
Q. But I thought that drink is illegal. Would you break the law?
Ans;  No I would not break the law. As far as I know it is permitted in my knowledge to adherents of a religious sect here as well as certain parts of India. I would even join that sect if necessary.
Q. What if you were not able to give up the addiction?
Ans; I shall have a strong drink of the bhang ghota, sing and dance and praise the Lord. 

UPDATE JUNE 29, 2015: Good News: With new just received, it seems the lady in question in this story followed up on the suggestions of this note, with slight modifications to suit her circumstances, has recovered fully enough to do well in an entrance exam for postgraduate studies, secured admission with scholarship to pursue a masters degree in an excellent modern university near New Delhi in quieter greener suburban region. Her new masters program is to begin a few days and the best wishes of this bloggers and many of its readers are with her as they are with others around the world facing similar issues. This lady may have lost 10-12 years of her life but it may not be regarded as a loss since all life is an experience and most important is not what happened in the past but the now and what hope there is for the future. Do share this post with others you know and in similar need.
Jai Bhole Nath ki



10 comments:

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

Because this post gives a little more story, it's easier to follow your ideas. I see what your concern is.

"The tragedy is that the world follows America in many things and this malaise is no loner restricted to America but has spread across the world."

Because of what happened to Elvis Presley and other Hollywood celebrities, I have a similar image also. We need to change this trend.

I agree with you on choosing the healthier environment to live on. Trees and other greenery surely help us to feel human. But not all of us can afford it for one reason or another. I hope for best to the woman and her family. I'm sure her family appreciate your deep concern.

ashok said...

Thanks a lot Keiko Amano. Today I would be adding a brief paragraph to the post to include a few ,ore ideas.Whereas it is true that affordability may be a issue in some cases in others it may be just a matter of making an improper choice o r not the best one. Eventually as this post suggests more natural interventions as compared to medical and medical ones it saves money since modern medical intervention is expensive

ashok said...

Yes regarding the living in an environment open to greenery and outdoors, that is in smaller towns and villages too is cheaper than in cities that lack this and are more expensive and one only has to live in the latter if compelled by reasons of employment.

ashok said...

your statement,

"Because of what happened to Elvis Presley and other Hollywood celebrities, I have a similar image also. We need to change this trend."

you have very correctly stated this. But aside from these famous personalities that get discussed in the media, there are numerous others who suffer across the world and hardly anyone notices.

ashok said...

Keiko Amano, you mentioned the problem of affordability but this problem is mostly a problem of the rich who resort to such treatment that is expensive. The poor cannot afford such treatment and as a result are saved from this horrible evil.

ashok said...

Even though humans work so hard and sacrifice so much to acquire money, it is funny how much of the suffering in the world is reserved for those with surplus money and most joy for those with only a little.

keiko amano said...

About "it is funny how much of the suffering in the world is reserved for those with surplus money and most joy for those with only a little," yes, that's true.

My children are already adults, so I try not to worry about them, but I know they work very hard because they have all the responsibilities, raising a child, mortgage payment and so on. I went through it, but I don't wish anyone to go through what I went through. I didn't complain because I chose the road, but if I knew beforehand, I wouldn't have.

Ashok said...

Keiko Amano, there is good news. The patient described in this article and her family followed up on the suggestions in this article with minor modifications to suit their circumstances and the girl has recovered. She prepared for a masters degree after a gap of more than ten years and has now got admission in a masters program with financial id in an excellent university near Delhi for the July 2015 session beginning now. Your good wishes and mine are with the family and hope the future opens up well for this lady. 10-12 years lost is not important, the important thing is that the now should be good and there must be meaning and hope for future.

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

Thank you for letting me know of this great news.I'm happy to hear about her recovery. I agree with you that the delay does not matter for learning. Each has his or her way and right now is most important.  

Ashok said...

Keiko,

Thanks. Your words are appreciated.