By Published On: March 6th, 201622 Comments

ReachOut Psychosis is an “educational” show touring BC schools right now that traffics in a shocking abundance of misleading misinformation and blatant lies about the alleged dangers of psychotic or schizophrenic experiences and the wonders of pharmaceutical drugs.


I recently saw ReachOut Psychosis, and haven’t been able to rest until I’ve publicly commented on it. ReachOut Psychosis is an “educational” show touring BC schools right now that traffics in a shocking abundance of misleading misinformation and blatant lies about the alleged dangers of psychotic or schizophrenic experiences and the wonders of pharmaceutical drugs. It’s truly a wonder — and horror — that any teacher or school even brings this show in at all.


ReachOut Psychosis is described by its creators as a “high-energy, interactive and entertaining presentation, which provides life-saving brain science while countering stereotypes and misinformation around mental illness.” Produced by the BC Schizophrenia Society and funded by the BC government and various other mental health nonprofits, foundations and companies, it’s basically a lecture broken up by some live music, with an accompanying website, videos and teacher’s manual. The program has been “vetted” and “endorsed” by “early psychosis clinicians,” and is reportedly being provided free of charge to some 20,000 secondary school students in British Columbia every year.


I guess it’s not entirely surprising that prominent mental health professionals would endorse public deception at this level and scale — for example, I’ve previously written about how even a child and youth mental health training program aimed at BC family physicians was riddled with similar misinformation and pharmaceutical industry propaganda. Even if you, your kids or your students haven’t been and never will be subjected to this particular show, ReachOut Psychosis is emblematic of the broader mental health “education” movement sweeping across North American schools, so it’s still instructive for analysis and discussion and important for everyone to know about. (If you’re a teacher, feel free to print out or use this post as a basis for discussion with your class.)

Here is a rundown of some of the most important misrepresentations and outright lies in the ReachOut Psychosis program:

1. A “What is psychosis?” reality check
2. Psychosis by the (made-up) numbers
3. Sure, psychosis is “able to be treated”… whatever that means…
4. What’s causing brain damage, exactly?
5. Gee, do antipsychotic medications really have no serious side effects at all?!

1. A “What is psychosis?” reality check

The performers and writers of the ReachOut Psychosis program use the terms psychosis and schizophrenia more or less interchangeably, and identify the most common warning signs of psychosis/schizophrenia as “delusions” and “hallucinations.” They give only brief examples of what these are, such as, “the person may believe that a movie star is sending him special messages or that people in his neighborhood are plotting against him” and “Ordinary faces may seem frightening, or a gentle touch may be unbearable. People may actually hear, see, smell, feel, or taste things that are not real.”

At first glance these examples may seem self-evidently “crazy,” but if we think about them seriously, they naturally raise many questions. For example, anyone who has worked in the arts knows that one of the skills many artists try to master is the ability to make people in the audience feel as if they are being communicated to intimately, or as if the art is reflecting their own personal lives in profound ways — if someone is particularly sensitized to that with a particular artist, is that necessarily “psychotic”? In some predominantly white neighbourhoods in North America, many people (though they’ll rarely admit they do it) secretly look at black children and youth with fear and suspicion and are more likely to call the police on them — so if a black youth somehow intuits those feelings in his neighbours, is he experiencing “psychosis”? Similarly, can you imagine any circumstances where you might find a face more frightening than you would ordinarily, or when you would find a particular person touching you in a certain way almost unbearable? Are feelings only acceptable if they come with rational explanations? How do you determine the difference between a flavour you taste that is “real,” and a flavour you taste that is “a hallucination”? Have you ever believed in anything that others did not believe in, or known people who believed in things that you thought were foolish, naïve or even illusory? These are the kinds of questions about the nature of reality and illusion and about conventional versus unconventional ways of perceiving that have puzzled, fueled and inspired spiritual, philosophical, artistic, social and political thinkers for centuries.


But the writers of the ReachOut Psychosis show (on video here) and website do not discuss any of this. Instead, they act as if every reasonable person always knows exactly what “real” delusions and hallucinations are and are not, and they further assert that delusions and hallucinations are simply symptoms of a “brain disease.” Indeed, in their 27-page teacher’s manual — developed to guide student discussions after seeing the show — the writers describe psychosis/schizophrenia as a “neurobiological disorder,” “illness” or “disease” of the “brain” 122 times. Another 11 times they write that when people experience psychosis “the brain is not working properly”, or “not functioning properly” and that this is caused by “changes in the chemistry or structure of the brain”, “chemical imbalances as well as structural and functional abnormalities in the brain”, or “severe disturbance in the brain’s functioning.” They also repeatedly describe psychosis as a “medical illness” or “medical condition” requiring “medical care” from a “physician and/or psychiatrist” and emphasize that antipsychotic medications are of “vital importance” as the “foundation of treatment” that people “need” — in 27 pages, the writers of the teacher’s manual emphasize the absolute necessity of taking antipsychotic drugs 57 times.


The teacher’s manual checks all the points where questions will be stopped.

Adding it all up, that’s 190 assertions that psychosis/schizophrenia is a biological brain disease that requires antipsychotic drug treatments. The teacher’s manual is only 8400 words long — so the writers on average do not go more than 44 words at a time without again stating that psychosis is a biological brain disease that requires psychiatric drug treatments. Notably, in one passing instance they acknowledge that the causes of schizophrenia are in fact “not known,” but they immediately follow that with the assertion, “However, it is definitely an organic (physical, biological) disease…”

They cite no scientific studies that prove these assertions. That’s because the causes of psychosis or schizophrenia are in fact not known. And there is no conclusive scientific evidence whatsoever that either psychosis or schizophrenia are physical, organic brain diseases. Further, there is no solid evidence that psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety or any so-called mental disorders are caused by genetics or consistently identifiable physical, biological processes, diseases or pathologies in the brain. In 2013 during the release of the new edition of its diagnostic manual, the American Psychiatric Association came under intense public pressure to provide clarity on this issue, which pharmaceutical advertising and mental health “education” programs like ReachOut Psychosis have done much to confuse. The American Psychiatric Association and chair of the task force leading the development of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders finally released an official public statement admitting that, “In the future, we hope to be able to identify disorders using biological and genetic markers… Yet this promise… remains disappointingly distant.”

Questions for discussion:

Since it’s not factually true, then why would the writers of the ReachOut Psychosis show and manual emphasize to teachers and students over and over and over again — within every 44 words that they wrote over 27 pages — that psychosis is a biological, organic, biochemical illness of the brain that requires treatment with medications? What do you think the writers’ motives were, and why did they have those motives?

The producer of ReachOut Psychosis, the BC Schizophrenia Society, has intervened in court cases to support treating people against their wills with psychiatric medications, and has taken money from pharmaceutical companies. Do you think that is relevant information that the BC Schizophrenia Society should have disclosed to teachers and students?

If unusual or distressed states of mind are not proven to be “mental illnesses,” what do you think they are?

2. Psychosis by the (made-up) numbers

The ReachOut Psychosis website and teacher’s manual claim that 3% of the population will develop psychosis, and at another point that 1% will develop schizophrenia. At one point the ReachOut Psychosis performers claim 3% of the population will develop psychosis. Later in the show, though, the performers claim that “six times” as many people will develop psychosis as have diabetes. Following statistics from the Canadian Diabetes Association, if the ReachOut Psychosis performers actually mean Type 1 diabetes, then they’re claiming that 5-6% of Canadians will develop psychosis, and if they mean Type 2 diabetes, then they’re claiming that 56% of the population will develop psychosis.

It’s difficult to know from where or how they got any of these claims about psychosis affecting 1% to 56% of the population, because ReachOut Psychosis simply utters all of the contradictory numbers as if they’re known, universally accepted facts. This practice is common in the mental health industry, because most of these prevalence numbers are indeed essentially made up — they can’t be proven, but they can’t be disproven, either. For example, one of the ReachOut Psychosis figures would seem to have come from studies like this one from the Archives of General Psychiatry. In 2007, these researchers found that about 3% of the population experience various mental disorders that include some kinds of psychotic symptoms — however, a main part of their research involved giving brief telephone questionnaires to random people, which is a crude approach that often “diagnoses” about 5-10 times as many people with mental disorders as get diagnosed under normal conditions. In addition, this study included many people who were having psychotic-like experiences due to substance abuse or medical conditions such as tumors, strokes, epilepsy and infections.

Question for discussion: Hey, is this show for real?

Question for discussion: Hey, is this show for real?

Other studies have found that as few as 0.8% or as many as 31.4% of ordinary people are experiencing one or more “psychotic symptoms” at any time. The percentage of people supposedly experiencing psychosis depends entirely on how specific researchers define things like “delusions” and “hallucinations” — which is also why there’s no medically reliable or valid way for any individual psychiatrist to “diagnose” schizophrenia or psychosis in any individual person even under ideal clinical conditions. So the underlying fact is, no one has any idea at all how prevalent “psychosis” or “psychotic” experiences truly are, because what these experiences are cannot be consistently, scientifically identified in the first place.

Questions for discussion:

If no one really knows exactly how to define or diagnose “psychosis,” why would some people assert that we do in fact know? What might their motives be?

If no one really knows how prevalent “psychosis” or “psychotic” experiences are, why do you think some people at times want to make it seem like psychotic experiences are relatively common? And why do you think other people at times want to make it seem like psychotic experiences are instead relatively uncommon?

3. Sure, psychosis is “able to be treated”… whatever that means…

The ReachOut Psychosis program repeatedly asserts that psychosis is “treatable” or “can be treated.” Although these statements are misleading, they are certainly true — anything, in principle, “can” be “treated”. But the important question is, does the treatment cure the disease? Or, at least, do the treatment’s potential benefits outweigh its potential harms?

The ReachOut Psychosis teacher’s manual admits that antipsychotic drugs do not “cure” psychosis. However, the manual also repeatedly suggests that antipsychotic medications will “effectively” and “successfully” treat psychosis, especially if people take medications right away at the first sign of symptoms and keep taking them indefinitely. If psychosis is not being cured, then what does “effective” and “successful” treatment for it actually achieve? The ReachOut Psychosis program does not explain.

Contrary to what ReachOut Psychosis claims, there is no solid evidence that intervening as early as possible with antipsychotic medications is especially helpful to anyone. Scientific evidence does show that, over periods of about 4-8 weeks, antipsychotics can reduce some people’s symptoms of psychosis. This is apparently because these drugs numb people to their own feelings and experiences — the antipsychotics in fact used to be called “tranquillizers.” As you can probably imagine, then, most people do not often feel all that much better when they’re permanently tranquillized, and many feel worse: In most scientific studies of schizophrenia, people taking antipsychotics on average will “improve” by only about 6 points more on a 168-point symptom rating scale than people taking placebos will improve.

Worse, evidence is mounting that over the long term of 1-10 years or more, antipsychotics are actually associated with poorer outcomes and increasing disability in people who take them compared to people who never took antipsychotics or took them for only a very brief period and then tapered off them. We’ll explore why that is shortly.

Hey kids, let's talk openly except about the facts I'm hiding from you.

Hey kids, let’s talk openly except about the facts that I’m hiding from you.

Questions for discussion:

If there is a lot of debate in the scientific literature about the relative effectiveness of antipsychotics for treating psychosis, especially beyond periods of 4-8 weeks, why would the ReachOut Psychosis program avoid mentioning that such a debate even exists, let alone not provide any risk-benefit discussions or statistics?

Why do you think pharmaceutical companies and psychiatrists changed the commonly used, public name of “neuroleptic drugs” to “tranquillizers” and later to “antipsychotics”?

4. What’s causing brain damage, exactly?

In the ReachOut Psychosis show, the performers conclusively and repeatedly state that psychosis “causes brain damage” and indeed “each episode of psychosis causes damage to the brain.” The teacher’s manual, though, isn’t so certain about that: It states that some research “indicates” that “some people” experiencing psychosis “may” suffer brain damage.

The performers also repeatedly state that “early intervention” with antipsychotic drugs “will prevent this brain damage.” The teacher’s manual, though, never says that.

When your thoughts become a brain disease.

What it’s like according to ReachOut Psychosis when your thoughts are a brain disease.

The actual scientific research has found that there is an “association”: some people who’ve experienced psychosis seem to at times also have some brain damage. No one can explain why or how this might happen. Notably, there is growing evidence that early childhood traumas may sometimes cause long-lasting impacts on brain structure and function, and can lead to a greater likelihood of having psychotic-like experiences later in life. However, this association is even stronger for people who’ve experienced trauma or psychosis and who’ve taken antipsychotic medications. There’s growing evidence that the antipsychotic drugs that some people take to treat psychotic symptoms could be causing brain changes and brain damage.

But there are many more harmful side effects of antipsychotics about which there is no debate at all — we’ll examine some of those next.

Questions for discussion:

If it’s not clear that schizophrenia or psychosis can cause brain damage at all, why do you think ReachOut Psychosis repeatedly asserts that even one experience of psychotic feelings causes brain damage?

If there is scientific debate about whether it’s psychosis, childhood trauma, or antipsychotic drugs that may be causing brain damage in some people, why would the creators of ReachOut Psychosis not even mention this?

5. Gee, antipsychotic drugs really have no serious side effects at all?!

The ReachOut Psychosis program never discusses the risks of antipsychotic medications. The teacher’s manual only briefly mentions that some people may not want to take the medications due to possible “unpleasant” side effects. To learn anything about these side effects, you actually have to leave the ReachOut Psychosis website entirely, following a reference link to a BC government website about Early Psychosis Intervention.

There, one document discussing the importance of antipsychotic medications includes a mention of a few side effects such as “dry mouth” and “feeling tired.” The document also mentions “weight gain” and “unwanted movements.” That’s about all the document says about these topics, though — along with a bit of advice on how to mitigate these few, minor-sounding side effects.

The BC Early Psychosis Intervention explanation of antipsychotic side effects.

The BC Early Psychosis Intervention explanation of antipsychotic side effects.

Antipsychotics are actually among the most powerful and dangerous drugs that physicians ever prescribe for non-life threatening conditions. Most of them are not approved by Health Canada for use in children or youth, yet doctors and psychiatrists prescribe them “off-label” even though their safety in young people has barely been studied. You can see some of the most common side effects of antipsychotics listed on pharmacology information websites. These sites also explain that antipsychotics block the functioning of key chemicals used in brain and body communication systems, and that’s why these drugs can have so many very serious side effects. For example, antipsychotic drugs disrupt the body’s natural metabolic processes so much that they can typically cause people taking them to gain 10 kilograms or 22 pounds in the first year alone. (See also here.) Other side effects of antipsychotics can include loss of bladder control, kidney damage, liver failure, memory loss, and a host of other serious problems. Antipsychotics will also cause many people taking them to develop diabetes — as high as 30% of people within five years.

The “unwanted movements” that the government document mentions refer to two other common side effects of antipsychotic drugs: Akathisia and tardive dyskinesia. Akathisia is a term to describe how an antipsychotic can make a person feel extremely uncomfortable, restless and agitated in his or her own body for long periods of time. Akathisia can sometimes become so unbearable that it can make some people become suicidal or violent trying to escape it. Some studies have found that as many as 25% of people who take an antipsychotic will experience akathisia.

Tardive dyskinesia is a motor dysfunction like Parkinson’s Disease that results from neurological damage caused by antipsychotics. This neurological damage can cause anything from legs shaking uncontrollably and continually to a tongue sticking out of the mouth at random times. Within a year, about 2-7% of people who take antipsychotics will develop tardive dyskinesia, and after 10 years nearly 100% of antipsychotic users will have it. It is often incurable.

In a percentage of people taking antipsychotics (ranging in different studies over time from about 0.01% to 3.2% of people), these drugs may even cause Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome. This is a neurological meltdown that can put people into a catatonic stupor and is fatal in about 20% of cases.

Mounting evidence also shows that antipsychotics can be very difficult to stop taking, and that users must sometimes taper down off the drugs slowly over months or even years so that their bodies and brains can slowly readjust, or else they risk experiencing emotionally disruptive and physically painful “toxic withdrawal syndrome.”

Questions for discussion:

If the potential side effects of antipsychotic drugs are so serious, why do you think the ReachOut Psychosis program, and even the BC government website on Early Psychosis Intervention, would not anywhere clearly explain the risks to young people and parents?

If a person is already experiencing extreme psychological distress, do you think it is good to give the person a drug that could likely cause extreme restlessness and agitation, permanent motor dysfunction, or rapid, massive weight gain?

Based on a recent study of antipsychotic prescribing rates in British Columbia, we can statistically estimate that every year about 500 BC children and youth are developing diabetes from antipsychotics they are being prescribed, 500 are developing tardive dyskinesia, and 1 child in BC is dying every year from Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome. Do you think young people and parents should be made more aware of this?

Every province and state in North America has laws that allow psychiatrists to force people to take psychiatric drugs against their wills. Many people assume that someone must be “dangerous” to be forcibly treated, but that is not the case in British Columbia — read the criteria for involuntary admissions in Section 22(3) of the BC Mental Health Act. Considering how harmful antipsychotics can be, do you think it’s fair that some people are being legally forced to take these drugs?

Considering all of what you have just read, what do you think about the BC Schizophrenia Society’s ReachOut Psychosis show and the BC government’s Early Psychosis Intervention program?

If you asked the BC government, the BC Schizophrenia Society, or any of the other organizations involved in creating ReachOut Psychosis about all of these factual inaccuracies and missing information that this blog post has drawn attention to, how do you think they would they respond?


Author’s disclosure: Nobody paid me anything to write this blog post. I was driven by sheer madness.

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  1. Rick Fearn March 6, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    Sadly it is very difficult for the general public to understand the damaging effects of anti-psychotic drugs. Thanks for your efforts to expose the corruption in this powerful industry.

  2. Rob Wipond March 6, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    Thanks, Rick. I suspect that if the statistics on these side effects were more widely and commonly described, many more people would have much more concern about antipsychotics!

  3. Mia March 7, 2016 at 1:18 am

    Thanks Rob.
    I’m a teacher. I will circulate this through our district email.

  4. Rob Wipond March 7, 2016 at 1:59 am

    You have made my day, Mia! Let me know if you get any responses that I could potentially help reply to.

  5. Janis Hoffmann March 7, 2016 at 2:31 am

    There are alot of adults and children on ‘medication’ today, we should be searching for the ’cause’ and not the medicated cure.
    My daughter suffered anxiety, depression and panic attacks after moving into a condo only 300 feet from a cell tower. She was on all kinds of medication for over 10 years until her son became very sick from the Wi-Fi in her home. She removed all wireless technology from her home and discovered she was feeling much better. She is now medication free for the last two years. Our schools are filled with wireless devices emitting microwave radiation and it might be one of the reasons people are feeling this way. Please take a couple of weeks off work and turn off all wireless technology in your home, see if you feel better. Here is just one study there are many more!

  6. Diana March 7, 2016 at 2:37 am

    Thanks Rob, we know so many young people who are suffering the side effects and disability caused by these drugs. Diana & Steven

  7. Rob Wipond March 7, 2016 at 3:04 am

    Thanks for the link, Janis. So glad to hear your daughter is doing better. And all of my own devices are wired! :-)

  8. Trent Arterberry March 7, 2016 at 3:10 am

    It sounds like this show is a shill for the drug companies. But I have to tell you that my aunt was hospitalized as a teen in a mental institution for schizophrenia for three years. The advent of antipsychotic drugs enabled her to resume a relatively normal life. She has taken antipsychotics for 50+ years, and according to her, they saved her life.

  9. Rob Wipond March 7, 2016 at 3:26 am

    Hi Trent,
    Unfortunately stories like that are often being used to promote these drugs, while the studies show that she might just as likely have gotten better on a placebo pill. And what if she’d been able to be supported to explore a lot of truly alternative approaches safely without ever being medicated? If she’s never safely tapered off them over a sufficiently long enough period and tried living without them for a long enough period, of course, it is difficult to say how her life would have been without them. After a couple decades, she’d need at least 2-3 years probably to safely come off them. And it is precisely that kind of story that concerns me, because many teens are going through very highly charged physical and emotional times, and once they are through that, the vast majority usually find pathways that work for them — but instead we are now setting so many of them up for a lifetime of psychiatric drug use based on a fear of being without them.

  10. Tee Em March 7, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Thank you Rob. The culture of mental health diagnoses for human behaviour that falls near the edges of “normal” is frightening. Adolescents going through existential crises are being diagnosed as depressed, and the cycle of medication starts, often ending up with psychosis and a diagnosis of bipolar or schizophrenia. We must raise our voices and be heard. I will circulate to my daughter’s school and to the homeschooling community.

  11. Meaghie Champion March 7, 2016 at 9:41 am

    This is a great article and I thank you so much for the research and thought that went into it. One of the things I have studied in relation to this subject is the difference in outcomes for people who come from a culture that pathologizes “psychosis”-like experiences, OR from a culture where people see these episodes as being a gift or certainly a kind of extra kind of ability to are considered to be deeply spiritually admired in the community. Guess which people had a better outcome over-all? I also find it disturbing that people use psychosis and schizoprehnia interchangeably… I experienced a temporary psychosis in post-partum and so I know the sympmtom you’ve described here… What you have said is totally consistent with my own experience and with the expereinces I have had related to my by other patients who had similar temporary experiences… Have you seen the work of Dr.Peter Breggin MD? You might enjoy his work… And if I can recall where I saw it… I saw an article about how psychiatrists who actually take the time to try and relate to patients with talk-therapy generally are seeing much much better long-term outcomes for patients than those who are immediatley hospitalized and then drugged against their will. If I can find the article I will email you. Cheers

  12. Clyde Dee March 7, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    I am grateful for your work. The idea of educating the public sigmatizing material does so much damage. I wrote a book about my experience with Madness and the amount of self stigma I put myself through was based on early education, work in the field, and the fact that psychosis is so misunderstood. The title of the book is Fighting for Freedom in America : Memoir of a ” Schizophrenia ” and Mainstream Cultural Delusions. I am now a licensed practicioner who runs groups to redefine psychosis in a more meaningful way. You can check out my website at:

  13. Rob Wipond March 7, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    Yes, Meaghie, I am familiar with some of that research, too, and it makes so much sense. We need to create a culture that truly rallies around and supports people through these sometimes very difficult but often very important experiences or non-ordinary states. Breggin’s “Toxic Psychiatry” was one of the first books I ever read in this field. And China Mills and Ethan Watters have both done some interesting research and critical writing on the attempts to export “our” mental health industry into Africa, Asia and elsewhere. Do you know David Edward Walker? He’s a psychologist who is doing some important work exposing how the mental health system is involved with indigenous peoples in North America:

  14. Rob Wipond March 7, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks, Tee Em — and yes, there does need to be more organizing and raising of voices. Right now it’s largely a monologue in our culture from the mainstream mental health industry.

  15. Rob Wipond March 7, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Thanks, Clyde — that sounds like a really interesting book. I am very intrigued by the ways in which people come to believe in and trust the system in the way that you describe. I see that you’ve been interviewed on Madness Radio — I will give it a listen!

  16. Edward Dantes March 8, 2016 at 1:42 am

    I recommend you to get this published as a front-page article on Mad In America, not just a new item way down the page. This deserves more readership.

  17. margaret woodlock March 8, 2016 at 7:43 am

    Great research as always Rob! Mental health and Schizophrenia have been of interest to me for many years. I learned from a presentation by an endocrinologist years ago that there was a connection to Vitamin D deficiency to Schizophrenia and being born in the winter months.

    Vitamin D deficiency and psychiatric illness – see website below

    ….”Several epidemiologic studies have linked low vitamin D levels to schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. Researchers in Norway who used a structured clinical interview to identify psychosis consistently found low levels of 25(OH)D among immigrants and native Norwegians with psychotic symptoms.20 A study of 8,411 Swedish women found low vitamin D levels were associated with psychotic symptoms.21 The Finnish birth cohort study found that use of vitamin D supplementation during the first year of life reduced the incidence of schizophrenia.22 In another pilot study, researchers measured third-trimester serum 25(OH)D levels and found that low levels of maternal vitamin D may be associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia.23 These studies suggest that low prenatal vitamin D levels may adversely impact the developing brain, increasing the risk for adult-onset schizophrenia.”….

    Hope this gives incite into the importance of nutrition and healthy organic//local food along with supplements like Vitamin D for mental health.Sadly, Vitamin D testing was discontinued in British Columbia for those with gut disorders and bone loss. I understand specialists can order testing which is esential for prevention of a number of medical conditions.

  18. Rob Wipond March 8, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Thanks Margaret, yes, apart from Vitamin D (of which much of the general population suffers deficiency, and also magnesium deficiency is extremely common), there is a lot of compelling evidence that better nutrition and more physical activities/exercise in particular can help some people with a variety of psychological difficulties — generally, in fact, the evidence is more robust in support of them than for psychiatric drugs almost right across the board!

  19. Bruce March 9, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    Recently cannabis prohibition has been given a boost by associating the use of cannabis with onset schizophrenia and the term “cannabis psychosis”. Could ReachOut Psychosis be an attempt by the pharmaceutical industry to cash-in on on the concept that our schools are full of teenage potheads who already have or will develop schizophrenia/psychosis? Is ReachOut Psychosis positioning pharmaceuticals as the eventual solution to so-called “cannabis use disorder” by playing on parents fears of cannabis induced mental illness?

  20. Rob Wipond March 10, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Hi Bruce, what you describe is definitely going on out there more and more. ReachOut Psychosis, for its part, does a little of both — at some points it emphasizes that using recreational drugs does not cause psychosis or schizophrenia, but at other times it is mentioned as a risk factor.

  21. sarah September 17, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    Rob, I work for Reach Out Psychosis and live with Bipolar Disorder and am currently living on anti-psychotics. This post breaks my heart and if I was working with big pharma I would probably have a lot more money than I have right now. I am a musician living with a disability and I work when I can telling kids about different ways they can treat their mental illnesses: through exercise, healthy eating, medication, talk therapy (especially DBT and CBT) and many other ways. We all have very different brains, so what might work for some one could be HORRIBLE for other people. I have lived through terrible side effects and I now have found dosages that work for me. Bipolar runs in both sides of my family and it definitely is a genetic disorder. I know that when you saw this show I wasn’t in the cast, but if you have any questions please let me know. we are currently updating our website to include more evidence based science for those who are looking for more information. We weren’t able to do this until now due to lack of funds. Maybe you misunderstood why we mention medication, but we just mention it because people like me are often made fun of or judged for our decision to take medication to lead healthy lives. I also exercise a couple hours every day, have a mood lamp and take lots of vitamin D, go to group and individual therapy, and I think all of those things are equally important. I am alive today because of my psychiatrist, though I have had many bad psychiatrists and been on many drugs that were horrible and didn’t work for me. Things are not black and white. There is no evil big pharma, but there also isn’t a perfect cure for mental illness. There are just human beings trying to figure all this out. Some better than others.

  22. Rob Wipond September 21, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for sharing your perspectives! I understand and appreciate that you have a personal connection to these issues. I don’t think anyone should be personally “made fun of” for their personal struggles and choices.

    However, Reach Out Psychosis is a public and very political presentation, and that puts it in a different context for discussion and critique.

    I agree with you that these issues are not “black and white”, and my main concern with the show is that it presents them as very black and white. I’ve identified some of the problems with the Reach Out Psychosis show and program materials in detail in my post, so if you are working on updating the content, I sincerely hope you and your co-workers will review the post, feel free to contact me if you have any questions, and remove the large amount of medically false and extremely misleading information in the program.

    You could also incorporate more honesty and nuance into the program. For example, instead of minimizing the adverse effects of psychotropic drugs as the program currently does, you could use words like “terrible” and “HORRIBLE” to describe these effects, and describe how difficult it often is to find drug types and dosages that “work” or help at all, as you do in your comments here. Instead of emphasizing over and over and over again that these are brain conditions that people must take drugs for, you could do exactly as you’re doing here in your comments to me, which is talk more about the wide range of ways of understanding, exploring and dealing with difficult emotional states that don’t involve tranquillizing drugs.

    Sadly, though, in light of who the program funders are, I do not believe they will permit this kind of honesty and nuance; but I hope that you and your co-workers will prove me wrong on that point.

    Just a couple of other points apart from the program:

    You write that, “Bipolar… definitely is a genetic disorder.” This is an example of where you yourself are crossing a line. You may “believe” this statement to be true. Okay. However, by saying “definitely”, you are presenting it as if it is scientifically established fact. It is not. In fact, scientists have been seeking a gene or genes that cause bipolar or manic depression for a century, and have failed. In fact, scientists cannot very reliably diagnose what bipolar even looks like. Indeed, even worse, Dr. Allen Frances has publicly confessed and expressed deep regret that his work as chair of the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders resulted in the definition of bipolar disorder being greatly broadened. As a direct result, Frances has written, a “false epidemic” of diagnoses of bipolar in young people has been occurring. You can read about that in these articles:

    Dr. Frances’ dubious collaborations with drug companies in the diagnosing and treatment of schizophrenia are also public knowledge:

    You also write, “I am alive today because of my psychiatrist”. There’s no strong scientific evidence that over the long term antipsychotics save any lives, so you can only rely on your own analysis of your own situation here. And are you sure that this statement of yours is actually correct? Did your psychiatrist save you in the way a surgeon saves a person after a car crash? Did the psychiatrist save you again yesterday, and again today? Why do you want to disengage from your own agency in your own life and from your own creative powers in this way? Based on what else you’ve said, I suspect you are alive today in part because you are a thoughtful, self-questioning and curious person who enjoys making art and engaging with others, and you are interested in living a life as fully and passionately as you can. That’s a beautiful thing and, I think, much more important than any psychiatrist or psychotropic drug.

    Anyway, even if we still disagree on some things, I want to thank you again, sincerely, for taking the time to read my post and share your perspectives.

    all the best,
    Rob Wipond

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