David Healy is a prof of psychiatry in North Wales. ... He compared outcomes of the mentally ill in North Wales a century ago with outcomes today. The population of the region hasn't changed in this period [so numerical comparisons are valid.] The common belief, Healy notes, is that the old asylums were bulging with lunatics. Yet from 1894 to 1896, there were only 45 people per year admitted to the North Wales Asylum. Furthermore, as long as the patients didn't succumb to TB or some other physical disease, they regularly got better over the course of three months to a year and went home. In addition, the overwhelming majority of patients admitted for a first episode were discharged as "recovered" and never again re-hospitalized.
Today, the assumption is that patients fare much better than they used to, thanks to psychiatric medications. However, in 1996 there were 522 people admitted to the psych ward at the District General Hospital - nearly twelve times the number admitted to the Denbigh asylum a century earlier. Seventy-six percent of the 522 had been there before, part of a large group of "recyclers". Though patients spent a shorter time on each visit than in 1896, only 36 percent were discharged as recovered. Patients today are clearly more chronically ill than a century ago, with modern treatments setting up a "revolving door".
For the last 25 years the psych establishment has told us a false story. It told us that schizophrenia, depression and bipolar illness are known to be brain diseases, even though it can't direct us to any scientific studies that document this claim. It told us that psychiatric medications fix chemical imbalances in the brain, even though decades of research failed to find this true. It told us that Prozac and the other 2nd-generation psychotropics are safer and better than the 1st-generation drugs, even though the clinical studies had shown no such thing. Most important of all, the psychiatric establishment failed to tell us that the drugs worsen long-term outcomes.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.