The primary focus of madCAPS is public education about the ethical, legal and  treatment issues affecting citizens of British Columbia who have been diagnosed and labeled with mental illnesses.  Of particular concern is the widespread use of forced treatment which causes trauma and harm not only to the individuals inflicted but to our society as a whole.

MADCAPS - Liane McLaren Varnam
MADCAPS – Liane McLaren Varnam

“VPD data show that in the instances of violent crime, persons suffering from mental illnesses are 23 times more likely to be victims than the general public.” The vast majority of mass media stories skew this data. (Vancouver Police Department, “Vancouver’s Mental Health Crisis …” Sept. 2013)

Recent News


Operation: Tohidu is a program run by Mary Vieten to help US Vets suffering from PSTD.  Here’s a very short documentary on CNN

The phenomenon of hearing voices is usually viewed as a symptom of mental illness to be suppressed with medication. The Hearing Voices movement, which began  during the 1980s in Europe and is now gaining traction in North America, is taking a different therapeutic approach.
Marcie Good / UBC Trek Magazine / June 2015

The Star Online Newspaper, Bill would require doctor cautions, complaints to be public
Conservative MPP Steve Clark tabled a bill that would make public all complaints against doctors and cautions issued to them.

VANDU’s open letter on the mental health emergency in Vancouver
By Editors On September 19, 2014

Atypical Antipsychotics Linked to Acute Kidney Injury in Elders.
By Amy Orciari Herman.  Edited by Jaye Elizabeth Hefner, MD

Older adults who begin taking atypical antipsychotics face increased risk for acute kidney injury in the first few months of use, according to a retrospective study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives and Patient Safety: A Comparative Prospective Study of Information Quality in Canada, France and the United States

Serious adverse events are rarely mentioned by pharmaceutical sales representatives, though in this study they provided some vs. no information on harm more often in Toulouse than in Montreal and Vancouver. Nevertheless, physicians judged the quality of scientific information to be good or excellent in 901 (54 %) of promotions, and indicated readiness to prescribe 64 % of the time.“Minimally adequate safety information” did not differ in the US and Canadian sites, despite regulatory differences. In Toulouse, consistent with stricter standards, more harm information was provided. However, in all sites, physicians were rarely informed about serious adverse events, raising questions about whether current approaches to regulation of sales representatives adequately protect patient health. Journal of General Internal Medicine, October 2013, Volume 28, Issue 10, pp 1368-1375

This is a published paper that Therapeutics Initiative, located at University of BC, was involved with before Christy Clark eliminated their research funding.


Psychogenic Pain and Iatrogenic Suicide

See interview with Richard Lawhern, August 6, 2014

This article and interview refer to a U.S. Veterans’ study that shows that the diagnosis of psychogenic pain can lead to suicide.  When doctors don’t know how to treat your chronic pain, they may refer you for  psychiatric treatment for “psychogenic pain.”  Advocate, Richard Lawhern claims that this diagnoses kills patients.  Applying psychiatric diagnosis to chronic pain from medical disorders that are complex, relatively rare and difficult to diagnose, and resistant to treatment can lead to your medical doctor to send you for psychiatric evaluation.  Diagnosed with psychogenic pain, your reports of symptoms tend to be interpreted as unreliable, which may result in patients suffering undertreated pain, greater despair and stigma and suicide. The suicide rate among chronic pain patients referred by a medical doctor for mental health diagnosis and treatment, often over their own objection, is 250% higher than those pain patients not diagnosed with the additional psychiatric label.  In other words, Dr. Richard Lawhern underlines that the psychogenic pain label causes iatrogenic (doctor caused) suicide at an alarming rate.

Physicians may be ill-trained, overly busy, or predisposed to a negative attitude toward women who report chronic pain.  “The latter observation aligns with many literature reports that pain symptoms in women are frequently dismissed by medical doctors as “hysterical.”


The second annual “Creative Revolution Conference: Developing and Expanding Alternatives,” sponsored by the Choices in Mental Health Committee of MindFreedom International, was held in Litchfield, Connecticut, July 24-27. Report on the conference by Diana Girdansky

Article in The Guardian, 9 August 2014
Researchers investigate what it means to ‘hear voices’
Hearing the Voice project draws on scientists, writers and readers for survey of ‘wrongly stigmatised phenomenon’


Dangers of off-label drug use kept secret

Star investigation finds Health Canada knows but does not publicly reveal serious side-effects suspected to have been caused by off-label prescriptions.
By: David Bruser News Reporter, Jesse McLean Investigative News reporter, Andrew Bailey Data Analyst, Published in The Star on Thu Jun 26 2014


The Province, April 28, 2014
Lives ‘left in ruin’ by rising tide of depression drugs
More and more people are being put on the pills but some experts are now warning they do more harm than good


“It’s fairly well known that SSRI antidepressants negatively impact erectile function and ejaculation. This study goes one step further, demonstrating that they can cause a major increase in genetic damage to sperm,” says Dr. Peter Schlegel, the study’s senior author. “Although this study doesn’t look directly at fertility, we can infer that as many as half of men taking SSRIs have a reduced ability to conceive.”

Vermont first state to propose bill to screen for ACEs in health care
When Vermont State Legislator and physician Dr. George Till heard Dr. Vincent Felitti present the findings of the CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study at a conference in Vermont last October, he had an epiphany that resulted in a seismic shift in how he saw the world. H. 762, The Adverse Childhood Experience Questionnaire the first bill in any state in the nation that calls for integrating screening for adverse childhood experiences in health services, and for integrating the science of adverse childhood experiences into medical and health school curricula and continuing education.

In the past four years, the psychiatry establishment has pivoted from first ignoring Whitaker to then debating him and attempting to discredit him to currently agreeing with many of his conclusions.

Alternative Approach in NYC – The Parachute Project

This need adapted treatment model is based on responding to people in emotional crisis or “psychosis” using “do no harm” principles and practices that are very similar to those used by the Open Dialogue approach in Western Lapland: immediate response; including a person’s social network; flexible choice of meetings at person’s home; responsibility and continuity of people involved in care/support; tolerance of uncertainty and possibility of daily meetings if desired; dialogue between all parties.

A society celebrates or suppresses parts of the human psyche according to the demands of its own demons. We act now with the utmost faith that we have science and morality on our side, appalled at the way those who deviate from the norm have been treated by the barbarisms of the past. But who is to say that when we are studied from afar we shall not be similarly judged?  Baijayanta Mukhopadhyay (a rural family doctor in northern Ontario and an organizer with the Canadian chapter of the People’s Health Movement and a co-representative for the North America region on its global steering council.)


ON the DSM

“The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure …. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever.” 69 percent of the authors have ties to the pharmaceutical industry – that is a higher proportion than the 57 percent in the previous version of the book.

Cognitive therapy for people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders not taking antipsychotic drugs:  A study published in the Lancet, Feb.6, 2014.

In “the first randomised trial of cognitive therapy for people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders not taking antipsychotic drugs”, researchers from the U.K. found “cognitive therapy without medication was both safe and effective in reducing symptoms.” “Additionally, cognitive therapy significantly improved personal and social functioning.”

Following her efforts for her son, Maria and others formed CASPER, a New Zealand based organization aimed at raising awareness of suicide and the role that treatments like the antidepressants can play in provoking this. It is now spreading to other countries and its profile is rising steadily. – David Healy, MD

We’re worried about each other’s “mental health” a lot more than we used to be. But calling 911 for someone can be a disastrous approach, say victims of our good—or not so good—intentions. – Rob Wipond, BC investigative journalist

Some people find that the voices have a significant meaning for them and that communicating with them is what is most important. Some people can learn to talk themselves down from delusional thoughts. And some people might choose hearing voices over being 30 pounds overweight and tired all of the time. The point is that this is not a choice I should be making for my patients; it is a choice I need to make with them. – Sandy Steingard, Vermont M.D.

This is one of several articles and studies about the failures of the CTO program in England to deliver what it promised.   The recently expanded Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) program in BC is based on this problematic model.

Peter Gotzsche http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/11/peter-gotzsche-2/

At the Nordic Cochrane Centre, we have researched antidepressants for several years and I have long wondered why leading professors of psychiatry base their practice on a number of erroneous myths. These myths are harmful to patients. Many psychiatrists are well aware that the myths do not hold and have told me so, but they don’t dare deviate from the official positions because of career concerns. – Peter Gøtzsche, MD

Mary Olsen underlines the evidence-based history of success to the Open Dialogue response to psychosis.  “I can attest that Open Dialogue is not antipsychiatry.  A psychiatrist, Dr. Brigitte Alakare, is a prominent member of each team, and a developer of the approach. I myself, working as a psychiatrist, have used this approach in my clinical practice. I find that Open Dialogue actually allows the psychiatrist to participate as a team member in a way that standard clinical practice in the US does not allow.“- Daniel Fisher, MD

 Iatrogenesis or iatrogenic effect, (/aɪˌætroʊˈdʒɛnɪk/; “originating from a physician”) is preventable harm resulting from medical treatment or advice to patients.

In the United States an estimated 225,000 deaths per year have iatrogenic causes, with only heart disease and cancer causing more deaths.

Some iatrogenic effects are clearly defined and easily recognized, such as a complication following a surgical procedure. Less obvious ones require significant investigation to identify, such as complex drug interactions.

from Wikipedia

One thought on “Home

  1. Love it. You guys are doing awesome things!!

    I wish I had known about you all when I lived in Vancouver. I felt so alone as I had to walk away from several truly awful psychiatrists and deal with my GP sending my inaccurate records to everyone without my permission. (Being American, I had never had the latter experience.)

    Good luck! Keep thinking big! Kick some butt!

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