The Door to a Revolution in Psychiatry Cracks Open

This comes from an article by Robert Whitaker (author of Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill):

“Åsgård psychiatric hospital in Tromsø, Norway is a rather tired-looking facility, its squat buildings mindful of institutional architecture from the Cold War era, and in terms of its geographic location, it could hardly be located further from the centers of western psychiatry. Tromsø lies 215 miles north of the Arctic Circle, with tourists coming during the winter months to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Yet it is in this remote outpost, on a hospital floor that had been closed but was recently refurbished, that one can find a startling sign on the door to the ward: medikamentfritt behandlingstilbud.

The translation to English: medication free treatment. And this is an initiative that the Norwegian Ministry of Health ordered its four regional health authorities to create.

The title—medication free treatment—does not precisely capture the nature of the care provided here. This is a ward for psychiatric patients who do not want to take psychiatric medications, or who want help tapering from such drugs. The governing principle on this ward, which has six beds, is that patients should have the right to choose their treatment, and that care should be organized around that choice.

“It is a new way of thinking,” said Merete Astrup, director of the medication-free unit. “Before, when people wanted help, it was always on the basis of what the hospitals wanted, and not on what the patients wanted. We were used to saying to patients, ‘this is what is best for you.’ But we are now saying to them, ‘what do you really want?’ And they can say, ‘I am free; I can decide.’ …”

Read more here.

The Door to a Revolution in Psychiatry Cracks Open
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