Peter Stastny: Dissident Psychiatrist

First Aired: 04-11-2007 -- 3 comments | Add comment
Peter Stastny

Psychiatrist Peter Stastny talks about his decades-long work as an anti-psychiatrist psychiatrist, problems with the hospital system and medications, and the international movement to create alternatives.

Peter is one of the main organizers of INTAR, the International Network of Treatment Alternatives for Recovery.

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3 comments on “Peter Stastny: Dissident Psychiatrist

  1. I am listening to your interview with Dr. Peter Stastny. I have two brothers (identical twins) who have been in and out of the hospital for psychotic episodes. Without going into all the detail, they lost their father at age 4, were homeschooled and taken out of social interaction for a few years as teens, and at age 18 witnessed the death of our mother, who had a massive heart attack.

    One brother has tried to come off meds for the 3rd time recently. Even with a good psychologist and psychiatrist who are both anti-meds, he started to feel himself heading towards another psychotic break. He decided to check himself into a hospital, even though he previously indicated he didn’t want to do this. He just felt safer there. Of course, he’s been pumped way up again on the meds and is looked at as “becoming better.”

    The problem I’ve experienced is that it is very difficult to live with a person who is undergoing a psychotic break. It’s not even a matter of not understanding it. I understand that he’s going through this because of many reasons related to his life circumstances, not because of any so-called imbalance in his brain. But, there is no place for a person in this state of mind to just go through their psychosis and get care (there’s no Soteria House). So, even as an anti-meds person, I have to wonder if my brother should get completely off the medicine when he gets out of this third hospitalization. I have a feeling he won’t want to get off. Also, I think a 4th hospitalization would just cause him to lose even more of his life (He’s 23 and barely has finished college due to all these back and forth episodes and hospitalizations).

    1. hi there, that is a difficult situation and I’m so sorry to hear your brother is suffering this way. Being around a person in an extreme state can be impossibly hard even for someone who understands and feels great compassion; the stress and burden can very quickly burn helpers out. In a situation like you are describing I encourage people to think creatively and flexibly; making hard compromises with medications and hospitals is often the best you can do with the resources that are available and not available. If anyone in the equation is too rigid in their views, such as being strictly anti-meds and anti-hospitals, that might not be best. I don’t know your brother personally and don’t offer medical advice, but I would listen closely to his own needs and priorities even if they don’t fit with your views about medications. Medications can certainly calm a person down and tranquilize wild mind states (though they can also do the opposite and have unpredictable and risky side effects, as you are aware). They do have their usefulness, especially when other options are not available. You have not said much about these crises he goes through but, for example, interrupting sleeplessness and getting rest can be key. Dealing with the trauma, such as through good therapy or family therapy, sounds key. Good luck and I wish you the best — Will

      1. I can identify with Anonymous

        I think (as far as I am concerned) a person is better to stay out of hospital (and ‘psychosis’) at all costs. The way to come off meds according to one Irish TD (member of Parliament) Sean Fleming, is S L O W L Y .

        The organisation NICE in the UK recommends aiming for the lowest possible dosage – this can eventually be nothing. British Clinical Psychologist Rufus May recommends sucessful techniques at dealing with ‘symptoms’ (Will Hall does as well).

        Its well researched (but not popular) that Psychiatric drugs have serious and confusing withdrawal syndromes – that are identical to mental illness and are chemically induced.

        I know this comment is dated – I was looking for Peter Stastny (on Google).

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