Pfeil back to Coming off Psychiatric DrugsPfeil

Peter Lehmann (ed.)

Coming off Psychiatric Drugs: Successful Withdrawal from Neuroleptics, Antidepressants, Lithium, Carbamazepine and Tranquilizers

Chapters' Summaries

Peter Lehmann: Introduction

The editor refers to textbooks and information leaflets addressed to users of psychiatric drugs and their families, which take depency, withdrawal and rebound effects in neuroleptics, antidepressants, lithium and carbamazepine under tabu. He criticizes the typical withdrawal-studies, which do not distinguish between withdrawal effects and so-called true relapse. He summarizes medical literature, exploring und describing withdrawal problems since beginning of the 60s of the last century.

The decision to withdraw

Ilse Gold: After discharge
Neuroleptics: Haldol, Sigaperidol (find the active Ingredients and alternative trade names of the mentioned psychiatric drugs in the foot-notes and appendix of "Coming off Psychiatric Drugs" or online in Peter Lehmann's psychodrugs-guide)

This text deals with the difficulties of readjusting to the world after being discharged from a psychiatric ward. Ilse Gold speaks very openly about the coercion, relatives – in this case, her sister – think to be reasonable when co-operating with the psychiatric system. Permanent control, watching every step the "sick person" is taking after being allowed back into the "normal world", create an atmosphere of being jailed in again – this time even in the most private sphere of one's own living space. The eager mistrust, a reconvalescent has to put up with, stifles the inner power to come off psychiatric drugs. Ilse Gold gives a detailed description about the disastrous non-communication between ambulant psychiatrist and so-called patient, made even more humiliating when finding out that the same psychiatrist does find time to talk extensively to relatives instead of patient. Despite all this non-support, she found a way to stop taking the drugs but had to pretend, still taking Haldol as long as she was forced to see her psychiatrist regularly. The text tells the story of the exhausting steps she had to take to live drug-free in the long run.

Peter Lehmann: Relapse into life
Neuroleptics: Haldol, Imap, Orap, Semap, Taxilan, Triperidol, Truxal / Anti-Parkinson drugs: Akineton

Peter Lehmann, editor of this compendium about withdrawing from psychiatric drugs and himself a survivor of psychiatry, here describes the humiliating change of personality, neuroleptic treatment can cause. More than 20 years ago he was committed to a closed ward and forced to take neuroleptics. He speaks of the complete isolation, finally taking place when all physical and mental power subsides and it becomes impossible to do anything but lie in bed and how this creates a desperate wish to end this desolate vegetating because living a self-commanded life turns out to be impossible under the impact of the psychiatric drugs. Since the support of relatives and friends was always combined with an urgent plead to never stop taking these drugs, to find a way out of this vicious circle seemed to be more and more impossible. One day he actually forgot to take his medication – and got scared to death, awaiting all the even more catastrophic events of a relapse that everybody had predicted when he would stop taking it. But no catastrophe took place. This was the turning point where the author decided to quit these drugs without telling anybody at first but reassured by the general support in his life. And after one long year of personal struggle, he finally succeeded in overcoming all handicaps (like a paralysed hand, not being able to read or concentrate) the drugs had caused.

Withdrawal without pharmacogenic problems

Gábor Gombos: How to deny a psychiatric family history
Antidepressants: Amitriptyline, Maprotiline, Trimipramine / Carbamazepine / Tranquilizers: Chlordiazepoxide, Clonazepam, Diazepam, Nitrazepam

The author describes, how he repeatedly received different psychiatric drugs, offered to him after health-problems of his parents, which had their origin in psychiatric drugs. A good friend an love to his wife gave him the strengh to come over emotonial break-downs and panic attacks after the withdrawal of the psychiatric drugs.

Jasna Russo: What if I do not sleep ever again?
Neuroleptics: Moditen / Antidepressants: Flormidal, Ladiomil / Tranquilizers: Apaurin, Flurazepam

Carola Bock: "And finally I said it all"
Neuroleptics: Orap, Prothazin / Antidepressants: Amitriptylin / Lithium / Carbamazepine: Finlepsin / Anti-Parkinson drugs: Akineton

The author tells her story of finding a way out of depression and fear and the long suppressed anger that caused the nervous breakdown which got her hospitalised. She jumped out of the window of the psychiatric hospital but survived. Realising that the psychiatric drugs didn't help improve one of the original family problems that brought her to despair, yet even worsened her situation since she now was tired all the time among many other side-effects, she decided to stop taking them after she left the clinic. This article stresses the importance of talking about problems and making decisions instead of trying to keep up with unbearable circumstances. Carola Bock also succeeds in accompanying her daughter – mentally handicapped because of a birth-trauma – through withdrawal from neuroleptics. A later on occurring psychosis of her daughter she managed to live through with the help of their family doctor but no psychiatric drugs whatsoever.

Jan Kuypers: Don Quichotte and the drug-free zone or: What now, tiny jumping jack?
Neuroleptics: Etumine, Haldol, Imap, Melleril, Nozinan, Sordinol / Lithium: Maniprex / Tranquilizer: Rohypnol

Jan Kuypers worked for years as an engineer at Siemens – until he got diagnosed a manic because he insisted on his very own religious believes and did not want his children to be brought up with the catholic belief system. Living in a rural area, this can stir up a lot of trouble. He experienced the terrible torture of neuroleptic restlessness as a way of dying. In this article he describes his journey through these times. Later, with the help of friends, he composed a ritual, throwing all his neuroleptics not into the dustbin like many of his associates, but into the big oven, situated in the middle of his friends' living room. Free of all psychiatric drugs, he found a new nickname for himself: Don Quichotte.

Maths Jesperson: Between lobotomy and antidepressants

Maths Jesperson was diagnosed to suffer from a compulsive neurosis in 1980. Verdict: incurable. He was treated with neuroleptics for 20 years although they did not have any effect on his compulsiveness. Yet Maths Jesperson was lucky – 15 years earlier, in the 60's, he would have been treated with an even more cruel method of medicine: lobotomy. At least not crushed with an irreversible brain-operation, he threw away all his neuroleptics after his discharge from the madhouse and started changing his life completely, understanding that his compulsiveness could be looked at as a motor of change itself, asking him to find a new way to leave his unbearable situation.

Coming off step by step

Wilma Boevink: Monsters from the past
Antidepressants / Tranquilizer: Lexotanil, Librium, Seresta, Temesta, Valium

Receiving different psychiatric drugs to calm down her life-problems when changing from a teenager to a young women, Wilma Boevink gets more and more dependent on all kind of drugs - legal psychiatric drugs and alcohol. Finally she ends in the psychiatric hospital, where she finds help coming down step by step, nearlly getting crazy under heavy withdrawal problems. She gets encouraged to see now, what she wanted to overlap with all the drugs.

Katherine Zurcher: Second Fear
Neuroleptics / Antidepressants / Tranquilizer: Valium

The author looks back on a 20 year of history with psychiatric drugs, bringing her heavy health problems and a detoriation of her mental condition. She found help in the book "Peace from nervous suffering", written by the Australian Dr. Claire Weekes, where she found a good descripiton of her dependence from tranquilizers and support to come over panic "second" fear during and after withdrawal.

Michael Chmela: Escaped
Neuroleptics: Cisordinol, Dapotum, Haldol, Leponex, Melleril

Michael Chmela had been studying medicine for seven years when he experienced his first 'psychosis', aged 25. What began as a reaction towards a serious life-crisis turned into an odyssey throughout psychiatric hospitals for the next 8 years. After a long period of being treated with neuroleptics, he discovered that he could live with a very tiny doses of Leponex (2 mg in the evening). He talks about the various steps he took until he finally withdrew from Leponex as well. Michael Chmela understands withdrawing from psychiatric drugs as a process towards wholeness, far beyond just undergoing a chemical process alone. He also talks about the possibilities of conscious decision that can occur in the very beginning of a so-called psychosis.

Bert Gölden: With patience
Neuroleptics: Melleril, Truxal / Antidepressants: Anafranil, Equilibrin, Ludiomil, Saroten, Sinquan, Tagonis, Tofranil / Tranquilizer: Tavor

Bert Gölden has been suffering from a compulsive neurosis for almost 24 years. He was put on Tavor (tranquilizer) and on various antidepressants when he was 18. Since the causes for his compulsiveness were never looked at seriously, he today feels like being cheated out of more than 20 years of his life. He gives a detailed description about how to reduce antidepressants without any side effects. To quit taking Tavor on the other hand took him a long time because of the frightening withdrawal symptoms of tranquilizers that do cause heavy physical addiction. Bert Gölden lives free of all psychiatric drugs for four years now. He founded a self-help group and never regretted having taken this big step towards a life without the veil of psychiatric drugs.


Una M. Parker: Talking, crying, laughing
Neuroleptics: Haloperidol, Modecate, Stelazine / Antidepressants: Protiaden

Getting crazy after a five-day workshop on group dynamics, she is treated in the psychiatric clinic as "schizophrenic" with Haldol and electroshocks. Shortly after the release she is admitted again, because of the depressive effects of that treatment. Finally she finds support in reports of (ex-)users and survivors of psychiatry, who came over their psychiatric problems, in selfhelp and anti-electroshoc activities, in bioenergetic and Gestalttherapy by a Christian psychiatrists and in particularly by co-counselling, she practiced together with her husband.

Nada Rath: Monastery instead of clinic
Neuroleptics: Impromen, Sigaperidol, Taxilan / Antidepressants: Saroten / Lithium / Carbamazepine: Tegretal

Nada Rath was diagnosed a 'paranoid psychosis' when she was 50 years old, afraid to lose her job and confronted with the death of 2 family members on top of her son being psychiatrised. Neuroleptics alienated her from herself completely so she stopped taking them and had a series of religious insights. She did not accept her doctor's verdict of a schizo-affective psychosis and went to live in a convent for a while instead of going to the recommended psychiatric hospital. Living through this changed state of mind made her more mature and brought some inner calm. The network of (ex-)users of psychiatry became her social net. The real support of listening, understanding and exchange of experience created a consistent alternative to the crippling effects of psychiatric treatment.

Katalin Gombos: From electroshock to the voice of soul
Neuroleptics: Fluanxol, Haloperidol, Imap, Piportil

A long and cruel story with repeated administrations of electroshoc and neuroleptics after heavy states of madness ends, when Katalin Gombos starts self-help, together with her husband, uses naturopath means.

Iris Marmotte: The 'Blue Caravan', on the road...
Neuroleptics: Haldol / Antidepressants: Aponal

Iris Marmotte worked at an early age already with disturbed children. Her mother, a friend and a big love – all of them were diagnosed schizophrenic and this was what happened to her at the age of 23 as well. She did feel sick herself and had had the notion of being schizophrenic for a long time. Within 2 years she mutated to a normal swinging door patient – giving herself up completely. She experienced the isolation of being left alone by old friends and wondered (coming from the east of Germany): why does this idiotic psychosis succeed in doing what the Stasi (Former East Germany's Secret Service) didn't succeed in – to alienate me from all of my friends?! Iris Marmotte gives an unusual account of the self overestimating, some patients cultivate within the asylums and of her own struggle to come to terms with her GDR-history, her sick mother who supported her nonetheless. This is a highly reflected article about the physical and psychological realms of going under and rising again after a long journey through the system of social psychiatry. This article also speaks of her adventures with the blue caravan – a "fools' ship", initiated by her psychiatrist – that encouraged her to stop taking neuroleptics. She worked for different projects, one named "Those resistant to therapy", a musicians' group. But alongside the unusual attempts of getting out of the psychiatric system, she also names a number of different every day life strategies that can help withdrawing from psychiatric drugs.

Harald Müller: 20 years after
Antidepressants / Lithium / Tranquilizer: Valium

The title of this article speaks of a 20 year anniversary of being free of all psychiatric drugs after a 30 year period of heavy 'iatrogene addiction' to these medical substances. Sleeping pills, tranquilizers, Valium and antidepressants ruined the author's body so disastrously that they had to be injected because his intestines could not take them in a normal way any more, being intoxicated so heavily. Harald Müller had to decide whether to die painfully with those drugs or whether to go for a drug free life, knowing how hard the withdrawal would be after such a long time of addiction. But the withdrawal was only the beginning of a hard fight for a new life. His psychological problems crushed down on him without any veil of oblivion to protect him any more. He went through several suicidal crisis times. He speaks of the ways of exchange with other addicts that helped him to find a way out of this personal hell.

Gerda Wozart: Adversities
Tranquilizer: Tranxilium

Gerda Wozart describes herself as being the mother of everybody, always active, always taking care of her own children and whoever else entered her realms. But then she felt "autumn crawling into my limbs", heartaches at night, she could not breathe anymore. She took tranquilizers but slowly came to realise that she had become a co-depressive to her husband who was hospitalised then. For her too it was the willingness to take a close look at her own patterns of addiction – like being needed – that helped her to get away from the tranquillised state of mind. This insight did not make her problems, fears and loneliness go away but they ceased dominating all of her life. Accepting "autumn" but most of all herself as responsible for her very own life, she did not have any trouble withdrawing from psychiatric drugs but some trouble finding herself again without the crutch of addiction. She succeeded.

Ulrich Lindner (FRG): I run for my life: how I healed my depressions
Neuroleptics: Taxilan, Truxal / Antidepressants: Anafranil, Saroten / Antidepressants-Tranquilizer-Combination: Limbatril / Lithium / Tranquilizer: Valium

Ulrich Lindner calls Christianity and the upbringing as a pietist Christian her refuge and her curse. His father killed himself when he was five years old. He was diagnosed a manic-depressive. Interestingly enough he was called manic when he managed to pass his exams in theology. He speaks in this article about the ambivalence of his religious upbringing, some mystic insights he experienced and the despair of loosing himself completely in a deep depression. Psychiatric drugs deepened this depression instead of uplifting it, like promised. Faith could not help him either and suicide seemed to be the only way out of this confusion of sense and life's worth. The answers he finally found – came from his body, not from the spiritual realm of this world. He started to literally run for his life. Jogging became the best antidepressant, he had ever taken. And, most important: it helped to keep him on his path for good. The combination of really taking care of his body and discovering its life force one jogging step after the other and the spiritual discovery of Victor Frankl's logotherapy brought together what religious fanatism in his youth had spoiled.

To withdraw with professional help

Eiko Nagano (Japan): The Nishi Therapy – A Japanese Way
Neuroleptics: Perphenazine, Chlorpromazine, Levomepromazine, Promethazine / Antidepressants: Amitriptyline / Tranquilizers: Flunitrazepam / Hypnotics: Phenobarbital

The author describes her bad youth in Japan, resulting in psychiatric treatment with different psychiatric drugs. Instead of the prescribed drug-combination she finds relief in the Nishi-therapy, a combination therapy consisting of special nutration (mmagnesium hydroxideagnesium hydroxide, fresh vegetables, fresh water, lot of ppersimmon teaersimmon tea, orthomoleculare vitamine therapy, cooking based on Yin and Yang theory), body work (naked gymnastics at the open window to receive fresh air, yoga, Kneip-therapy - hot-cold-bathing, hard bed), no alcohol, to strenghten the body and the mind and to make psychiatric drugs superfluos.

Manuela Kälin: Homevisit by the homoeopath
Neuroleptics: Fluanxol / Antidepressants / Lithium / Tranquilizers: Rohypnol, Valium

After several years of taking neuroleptics, antidepressants, lithium and tranquilizers, Manuela Kälin quit taking all these substances from day to another when she found a new job she really liked. What followed were two heavy weeks of crisis she only managed to handle with the support of an experienced homeopath who agreed to be called once a day, even at night time. This stable and consistent support of somebody who did not panic when she did, assisted by the support of friends got her over the two weeks of withdrawal symptoms. She started working again after these two weeks and found herself a good psychotherapy. She has not used any psychiatric drugs for 16 years now. Therapy helped her to find alternative ways out of threatening and unusual emotional states.

David Webb (Australia): "Please don't die"
Neuroleptics: Zyprexa / Antidepressants: Aropax, Aurorix, Efexor / Hypnotics: Heroin, Methadone

After apparently recovering from a suicidal episode in 1979 David Webb studied and worked as a computer software developer and university lecturer until 1994. In 1995 suicidality returned to David's life and for 4 years he struggled with this despair. This struggle included taking refuge in heroin as well as numerous efforts to recover using all the resources available to him through both private and public health services in Australia. Recovery came only after David abandoned the medical treatment he was receiving which had escalated to Methadone, antidepressants and antipsychotics, and attended to the spiritual crisis that was at the core of his despair. He has now enjoyed more than two years of drug-free recovery and has returned to part-time lecturing. He is a dedicated activist against the abuses of psychiatry and has recently commenced a PhD on suicide and spirituality.

Hannelore Reetz: Addiction or search for self
Tranquilizer: Tranxilium

Hannelore Reetz had to go back to her suppressive childhood to understand her addiction. She never learned how to talk about emotions and tranquilizers helped to keep her feelings of shame and guilt under some control. But in the long run, these drugs took away all her life power and brought her into some serious suicidal states. She writes about her 25 years of addiction and the decision to withdraw when her first grand child was on its way into this world. She wanted to become a grandmother with all her senses together and a clear brain to offer to this child. The withdrawal in a clinic turned into a journey full of panic attacks and slow steps towards a life without drugs. Now – as a grandmother – she learned what she had not been able to do all her life: to talk to other people about her emotions and problems. Meditation, the 12 steps programme of AA and confronting herself with her fear of conflicts helped her to overcome her addiction.

Better sometimes than forever

Mary Nettle: Having control again
Neuroleptics: Largactil, Modecate / Lithium: Pridal

Emotional stress led to the diagnosis "manic-depressive disorder" and lithium. After several stays in the psychiatric clinic she receives neuroleptic depot-injections, then lithium again, so she was able to arrange herself with her alcoholic husband. After getting rather fat, her G.P. adviced her to come off the psychiatric drugs, against the advice of her psychiatrist. Support in the survivors' movement in Britain the first time gave her the impression to be really understood. In case of getting too much stressed emotionally, Mary Nettle prefers to take Largactil in a small doses for a short time to diminish the risk to be admitted into the psychiatric hospital and to be treated by force with big dosis of neuroleptics.

Wolfgang Voelzke: Side by side with my psychiatrist
Neuroleptics: Haldol, Melleril / Lithium

Wolfgang Voelzke begins his article with looking back at some biographies of fellow (ex-)users of psychiatry who failed in one way or another to overcome their crisis without the support of psychiatric drugs. Everybody is different and the ways of withdrawing from psychiatric drugs are as versatile as the people who take these substances. Wolfgang Voelzke talks about his own positive experience of taking neuroleptics (high dosage) in the very beginning of a psychosis, but reducing them as soon as possible until free of all neuroleptics again. He stresses the importance of getting to know one's own alarm-signals and symptoms of strain or having reached one's own limits in dealing with every day pressure. He talks about how therapy helped him and the ongoing support of his psychiatrist, reducing his medication as soon as possible and the lucky and unfortunately still unusual support on his job, entrusting him with highly responsible duties despite of his periods of crisis. Active in the movement of (ex-)users and survivors of psychiatry he answers today, when asked why he agrees to take neuroleptics when he becomes psychotic: "I do not ever again want to walk barefoot through hell."

Lynne Setter: Return to myself
Neuroleptics: Risperdal / Antidepressants: Effexor, Ludiomil, Paxil, Prozac, Wellbutrin / Lithium / Carbamazepine: Tegretol / Tranquilizer: Ativan, Halcion, Mogadon, Valium

Having a long carier in misuse of drugs (tranquilizers, aclcohol, marijuana, nicotin), and being labelled as "hyperactive" in her childhood, she develops to a teenager and a young woman, and the treatment to antidepressants and neuroleptics. Finally, with support of her family and of friends, she reduces all these psychiatric drug step by step, uses naturopath means, changes her nutrition, cares for enough sleep, and when she faces the risk of loosing the balance, for a short time she takes the tranquilizer Ativan to find rest again.

Professional support

Marc Rufer: Making fear taking fear: when you want to withdraw, the doctors' opinion becomes dangerous
Neuroleptics / Antidepressants / Lithium / Carbamazepine / Tranquilizers

Marc Rufer, a doctor and a psychotherapist, writes in this article about the biological and the psychological events taking place when people withdraw from psychiatric drugs. The build up of a biological level of tolerance creates cerebral changes that are responsible for the withdrawal symptoms. Interestingly enough, psychiatrists rarely speak of tolerance phenomenon when referring to neuroleptics but indirectly acknowledge them when talking about supersensitivity psychosis. On the psychological side of the coin, the professional system frightens patients with self fulfilling prophecies about relapse, new periods of craziness etc. when daring to withdraw. This method of systematically feeding fright hooks into the basic fears underlying almost every mental suffering. Fear is a main symptom with many people in the mental health system and Marc Rufer observed in his long years of practice that most withdrawal symptoms resemble those symptoms that people present in an intense state of fear. In the second part of this article, Rufer investigates the different placebo effects (active, negative), medication can have. He gives some detailed advise for withdrawing safely and stresses the importance to face very clearly the situation, whatever it was, that led to a hospitalisation.

Josef Zehentbauer: Who is afraid of withdrawal? Medical advice and psychotherapeutic counselling during withdrawal from sedatives
Neuroleptics / Antidepressants / Lithium / Carbamazepine / Tranquilizers

Josef Zehentbauer has accompanied many clients who wanted to withdraw from psychiatric drugs. In this article he explains the various biological changes, psychiatric drugs cause within the brain tissue and the nervous system. He recommends a careful look at the fears somebody develops, regarding the success of withdrawal. There are some safe ways of slowly reducing the medication, i.e. a cut down on the substance by 10% steps every two weeks (10% formula). Zehentbauer also recommends to choose a psychosomatic clinic with a critical view of psychiatric drugs – when mentally stable and centred. This clinic can then be a safe place to reduce medication when the fears turn out to be too strong to face on one's own. Self-reliance and taking on the responsibility for one self are the basic lessons somebody has to be willing to take before withdrawing. There are many things that can support the process of withdrawing: vitamins of the B-complex, relaxation methods that feel comfortable, changing the personal diet, tapping into the natural 'drugs', human bodies can produce in physical exercise. Zehentbauer ends his article with a description of a very client-based therapy that does not paternalise and trusts the self-help energy everybody can develop. This understanding of supportive psychotherapy distinguishes Zehentbauer from most traditional therapists who tend to send clients with a psychiatric case history back to where they came from, when crisis times surface during a withdrawal.

Martin Urban: "Am I really still disabled?" Psychotherapeutic accompanying during withdrawal of psychiatric drugs – a case report
Neuroleptics: Fluanxol

Martin Urban presents the case history of a 38 year old woman who had taken neuroleptics for 14 years when she decided to come off them with the help of counselling and group therapy. She proof read this article of her therapist, a final symbol of their partner work in this process of becoming a self-defined human being again instead of a disabled sick person, having to use the crutches of chemistry for the rest of her life just because she behaved curiously when she turned 21. Anorexia, abortion, psychosis, feelings of guilt and shame, the swinging-door principle of traditional psychiatry – all these ingredients of a chronic history of neuroleptic treatment show up in this case. Separating from a destructive relationship, taking the wish to have her own child and creating her own family seriously and slowly facing the fears of the past – this marks some of the periods, psychotherapy focused on. This article documents, how much patience and strength it takes, to liberate one self from the paternalising assumptions, doctors plant inside of their patients: once psychotic – always psychotic. Take this medicine until the end of your days will come – without it, you will be lost. This is the case history of somebody "who made it" – after 14 years of Fluanxol.

Roland A. Richter: To support withdrawal by Orthomolecular medicine
Neuroleptics / Antidepressants / Lithium / Carbamazepine / Tranquilizers

On his job as a social worker for clients with state custody imposed on them, Roland Richter got alarmed by the immense psychological problems that stayed with his clients although they were heavily treated with psychiatric drugs. He decided to support their wish to withdraw and discovered the positive effects, orthomolecular medicine can have to prevent further excesses of getting out of balance. Linus Pauling, an American chemist, won the Nobel prize for chemistry and founded the orthomolecular medicine. This method of medicine believes the right combination of natural substances (like vitamins, minerals etc.) within the human body to be crucial for a balanced state of mind as well. Although proven to have very positive effects and being approximately half as expensive as the traditional treatment with psychiatric drugs, this method is not paid for by health insurance, which means that people who are short of money (which a lot of psychiatric patients are) can not afford this alternative medical treatment. Roland Richter gives some insight into experience, literature and procedures of orthomolecular medicine.

Constanze Meyer: "Withdrawal from dependence on medication..." Thoughts about withdrawal from benzodiazepines and analgesics in women
Tranquilizer / Analgesics

1,4 Million people are addicted to medicaments in Germany and that is only the tip of the iceberg – and two thirds of these people are female. Gender specific socialisation, the upbringing of women still furthering addiction to people, substances and men in general explain the high percentage of women in the statistics of substance abuse. Trauma and violence add another perspective on the relief, women are looking for in 'forgetting' and 'sleeping through' life. Lots of attempts to withdraw fail and Constanze Meyer takes a close look at some of the reasons why. To be prepared for the heavy symptoms of withdrawal, causing a high level of uncomfortableness and pain, is one prerequisite of getting over the weeks of physical and mental 'coming apart'. On her background of many years of counselling experience, Constanze Meyer analyses the biographical events that shape certain case histories; she also gives some detailed advise what to arrange for this process of withdrawal and what to be careful of, concerning the mechanisms of addiction. This is a very profound essay on the trouble, women had to face before they chose addiction as a way out and on the trouble, they have to go through when they choose another clean way out, leaving life patterns of addictive behaviour behind them if they succeed.

Klaus John: Withdrawal and detoxification from psychiatric drugs from the naturopath view
Neuroleptics / Antidepressants / Lithium / Carbamazepine / Tranquilizers

Klaus John states very simply, that people who do ask for help are definitely not asking anybody to destroy their nervous system. He gives a short summary of the main principles, guiding nature cure and healing as practised in the western world. Phytotherapie (using the healing extracts of plants and herbs) and acupuncture can help easing some of the strain of withdrawal. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) is practising and schooling people world-wide with good success. Laser technique can help to treat people with acupuncture who are very sensitive to any kind of body stimulation. Klaus John presents a combination of different therapy methods that could be helpful in the process of withdrawal: Colour therapy combined with (electro)acupuncture, holotropic breathwork, experimented with by Stanislav and Christina Grof. This therapy should only be done with very experienced group leaders (!) since it is a very confronting method which brings up a lot of energy – but all the pain of the past as well! This should never be done on a weekend- workshop base. But it can be helpful as a long term therapy process with a safe group back up. Detoxification supported by the acupuncture meridians can turn out to be of great help – but it does depend on the experience and trustworthiness of the therapist who is offering it and on a high level of self responsibility, the client has to be willing to take on.

Kerstin Kempker: Coming off in the Runaway-House
Neuroleptics / Antidepressants / Lithium / Carbamazepine / Tranquilizers

The author describes the unic experiences in a sheltered house (in Berlin), where half of the staff are survivors of psychiatry, and the organisation which runs the project is user-controlled. Instead of thinking all the time in categories of psychiatric drugs human support, communication and different experiences to cope with psychic problems make the administration of psychiatric drugs superfluous in principle.

Elke Laskowski: Biodynamic body and aura work with Bach-blooms, minerals and colours
Antidepressants / Tranquilizers

Elke Laskowski presents two case histories of people who came to her nature cure practice, on the look out for some alternative to psychiatric drugs. In the first case she treated a woman who suffered from the side effects of antidepressants with Bach-Blooms therapy, originally developed by the English doctor, Edward Bach, who experimented with extracts from 38 different blossoms, who proved to have some effect on 'negative' states of emotion. Laskowski combined this Bach-Blooms therapy with biodynamic work (Gerda Boyesen), the clear and not at all mystical support of her relatives and aura work. The client could call her any time she needed to and psychotherapy once a week with many talks on her biographical history was offered as well. This woman got over her deep depression within half a year and started her own business. Case Number Two suffered from severe fears concerning her exams as a veterinary surgeon. Tranquilizers and antidepressants made it impossible for her to concentrate and study for her exams. Laskowski offered her to call her whenever necessary and worked with relaxation methods, Bach-Blooms and other nature cure methods as mentioned above. Laskowski did not push down the symptoms of fear and stress but offered a network of different methods to face the underlying problems. This woman passed her exams and now works in an animal clinic.

The time after

Regina Bellion: After the withdrawal, then the difficulties
Neuroleptics: Haldol

Regina Bellion writes about her own experience of going through acute psychosis without any psychiatric drugs, doctors and clinics. She came to a point in her life, where life behind the "neuroleptic wall" became unbearable; she decided to kill herself but to give life a last chance before – without Haldol. She managed to withdraw and find her life energy again. The real challenge turned up four months later: another psychotic crisis, she wanted to go through without psychiatry. In this article, Regina Bellion gives a very authentic and helpful insight into the world of so-called psychosis and the needs to be met in these crisis times. There are always "islands of reality", even in the strangest, most crazy times. The different sense of time that changes perception, answers and reactions inside the psychotic "flood", asks for helpers who know how to establish contact when those islands of reality become visible again. To accept somebody fully on this journey of the mind, takes a lot of calmness and inner equilibrium on the side of helpers. For the psychotic person, the work starts after the acute phase: when did it begin? what warning signs were there, which were not recognised in time? what methods of relaxation, what kind of support helped to enlarge these islands of reality? Regina Bellion lived through her psychosis without the numbing suppression of emotions that psychiatric drugs create. The support of her friends got her through, but the reflection and consistent work on herself made it possible to live without psychosis and without psychiatric drugs for 6 years now.

Erwin Redig: How I stopped the use of psychiatric drugs. A mental struggle

After the author has learned, that neuroleptics do not heal any suffering, but only calm down, he develops the strength to do without psychiatric drugs. Creativity and phantasy are deadened by psychiatric drugs, but in particularly creativity and phantasy Erwin Redig need to create his own world.

Leo P. Koehne: "Now I give you Imap (fluspirilene), this is for the social integration too!"
Neuroleptics: Imap, Fluanxol, Melleril, Truxal / Antidepressants: Anafranil, Equilibrin / Tranquilizer: Diazepam

Leo Koehne writes from an experience, an ever growing number of people share involuntarily: because of a diffuse, not medically to pin down suffering, both physical and mental, doctors handed him over to a psychiatrist. He was diagnosed a "reactive depression with panic attacks". The weekly injection of Imap ("...that serves the social contact as well!") changed his life quality for the worse. He took tranquilizers to compensate the withdrawal symptoms when he finally decided to quit this Imap injection. Fortunately he found a doctor who was willing to leave the decision with him, whether to take any more psychiatric drugs or not. This newly found freedom helped him to free himself mentally from the addiction patterns created. The panic attacks he confronted step by step, giving himself time instead of psychiatric drugs.

Closing words

Karl Bach Jensen

Refering to the Norwegian anthropologist and philosph Jens-Ivar Nergård, who sees in a psychotic person a signpost in the Western culture, Karl Bach Jensen pleads for fundamental alternative mental health services, which would help people to cope with their problems and to recover by use of mutual learning processes, advocacy, alternative medicine, proper nutrition, natural healing, spiritual practice, etc. An integrated part of building a future ecological and humanistic oriented society system is the renunciation of toxic synthetic substances in the nature, the living area, nutrition and medicine. The renunciation of the deployment of chemical toxins in the psycho-social field could be developed under the following aspects: Raise awareness in the public, amongst professionals and consumers about the inhuman, dangerous and negative cost-benefit outcome of long term administration of synthetic psychiatric drugs.

Peter Lehmann

The editor summarizes the experiences of (ex-)users and survivors of psychiatry and professionals who are helping in the withdrawal process. In his afterthoughts he warns of ideological charlatans, who could create or aggravate psychological problems. In his repeated warming of primitive, about common one-fits-for-all-receipts concludingly Peter Lehmann cites David Webb, his mental brother from down under (Australia).

"During times of struggle, one of the most annoying things was all those people who believe that what had worked for them could also work for me. The path to peace and freedom is unique for each individual and very personal."

Pfeil back to Coming off Psychiatric DrugsPfeil