The United States of Our Minds

Steven Moffic, MD
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Anyone reading these blogs on Mad in America knows that there is reason to be mad about the past and present state of mental healthcare. This is not new, but has received new life, support, and importance with the findings reported in Robert Whitaker’s book “Anatomy of an Epidemic”.

However, it is quite unclear how much progress has been made in improving things. Dropping out of formal mental health treatment – or avoiding it completely – is one option, but how does that help someone who wants to use that option? Protest at the upcoming APA meeting is planned, but such protests have occurred on and off for years without much significant or lasting effect.

No, I would suggest that our next challenge may be how we can all work together for mutual benefit, even those who seem to be far apart in their opinions. Time is of the essence here, especially if you have concern, as I do, about the new DSM (Diagnostic Manual) that is due out from the American Psychiatric Association in about a year. Don’t believe the claim that the members of the Task Force and Work Groups are now less influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. Although more may not be getting paid by these companies as they previously were until DSM 5 comes out, their perspective is likely to be the same as it always was, and we don’t know how they may be rewarded afterwards. There are precious few, if any, master clinicians or constructive critics of psychiatry that have been involved. If not delayed or changed, this DSM will have major effects on hundreds of thousands of clinicians, millions of citizens, and scores of patients, as the number of diagnoses are set to expand, diagnoses which still usually do not have any direct correlation to organic changes in the brain.

I would tentatively suggest that those of us who want to work together, to join under a new moniker, something like The United States of Our Minds. This moniker implies that no matter our position in life, our history of mental healthcare or caring, or what we are mad about, that we have more in common and that our minds can join for solutions. Such an alliance must also include much more than the “survivors”, the public, patients, psychiatrists, and therapists. It must include representatives of all groups who have a powerful influence on our mental health: politicians, administrators, clergy, researchers, alternative caregivers, and the like.

To accomplish such a goal, we might incorporate processes that have worked outside of mental healthcare, but can easily be applied. Here are some.

– The I-Thou Relationship

This is the kind of relationship recommended in the last century by the philosopher Martin Buber. It stresses respect and dignity of the other. It stresses authenticity. It stresses openness. And it stresses the potential holiness of each interaction, which now would include on-line, whether one believes in a God or not.

– The Truth & Reconciliation Process

At the end of apartheid in South Africa, most observers were expecting a “bloodbath” as power shifted from the Afrikaners to the native South Africans. Instead, the politician and activist Nelson Mandela, newly released from a long prison sentence, developed the Truth & Reconciliation Commission under the leadership of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Afrikaners who admitted their wrongdoings under duress, who did not go beyond their orders, and who asked for forgiveness, usually received a light sentence. This showed how cultural conflict can be lessened and shifts in power accommodated. In our areas of concern, we need to apply the I-Thou relationship to cultural competence, especially for those cultural groups like Native Americans and young Black American males, who too often end up in jail or prison. Power needs to be shared more with the people want services.

– Human Rights

Human rights are usually applied only to the most severe violations, such as politically motivated rape or torture. In mental healthcare nowadays, it is most obvious in enforced, for-profit residential treatment for adolescents. However, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948 was much more basic and can easily apply to all aspects of mental healthcare, from abuse to providing basic services. The President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin stated this principle most clearly recently: “At Planned Parenthood, we treat health care as a basic right, dispensed freely and without judgment regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, class or age”. Let’s work to make sure this applies to mental healthcare also. For myself, I’m going to present on human rights at the upcoming American Psychiatric Association meeting.

Certainly, other names and other principles may be better than the ones I’ve put forth. But, as the old saying goes: united we stand, divided we fall.

38 COMMENTS

  1. I’d agree that we need to work together and facilitate some kind of mass movement but unlike others I don’t think now is a time for a reconciliation commission for psychiatry. The time for these is after the war has been won. Peace and reconciliation commissions are for when peace has been declared and are to try and maintain the peace, they clear the air once the fight is over and a new power dynamic is in place.

    Right now we need more protests like Occupy the APA, more legal challenges, more engaged service users and allies who can then develop effective strategies at local, regional and national levels, we need workers at various levels to become more active in challenging the drug based treatment model, more challenges to DSM and more public awareness about the stupidity and monitory interests behind DSM.

    The strategic questions are:

    1 How big a force do we need to win?

    2 How do we create it?

    This website has started to become a place to debate that and I maintain that it is building alliances and encouraging us to all become slightly more brave and thinking through effective campaigning strategies that will give us the power.

    • I agree. I don’t feel I can join the United States of Our Minds to disseminate the current psychiatric paradigm to as to reach underserved populations. I want to change it so anyone who feels the need of mental health care will be able to trust doctors not to overdiagnose, overprescribe, and coerce and manipulate patients into lifelong dependence on drugs.

      Doctors providing mental health care should be applying their expertise for the well-being and safety of the patient. I do not believe this is what is currently going on. Doctors seem to be hypnotized by biopsychiatry and are somehow overlooking the actual needs of the patients right in front of them.

      Dr. Moffic, you are still making the assumption that most psychiatric care is constructive. I question that assumption, and so does Anatomy of an Epidemic.

      Whether we want to be treated with drugs or not, the current state of our minds is we cannot trust our doctors to do the right thing. It’s not a few bad apples. It is a broken social contract. I would like to see you address that.

  2. Dr. Moffic presenting on human rights inside the APA meeting, the survivors of forced psychiatry testifying outside the APA meeting. The whole insider/outsider metaphor here speaks something to me.

    Truth and reconciliation will only come to this apartheid when this apartheid is over, and those facing forced psychiatry have the right to say no.

    No means no.

    They didn’t start the reconciliation in South Africa until the oppression and violence was over.

    Psychiatry is currently practiced on two groups of people:

    – The consenting people who psychiatry cannot prove real brain disease in.

    – And the non-consenting people who psychiatry cannot prove real disease in.

    Unless psychiatry is prepared to only mess around with the brains of consenting people, I’m afraid there will always be protests out the front of the APA meeting.

    • Now that is a powerful tactic, a psychiatrist speaking on human rights inside the APA and Mind Freedom having a protest outside.

      Critical psychiatrists, survivor activists and investigative journalists such as Mr Wittaker acting in ways that support each other are how movements are built. I hope these conversations will help this one grow.

  3. Dr. Moffic, are you going to be speaking at the APA meeting about human rights for psychiatric patients?

    Like John Hoggett, I also started to read your paragraph about the Truth & Reconciliation Process as pertaining to biopsychiatry. But you wafted into some vague generalities about power-sharing with people of color?

    What about those who are treated differently by psychiatry, such as the Black American children who are disproportionately treated with antipsychotics? Or children in foster care being arbitrarily drugged up to their eyeballs?

    Or that women have been targeted by pharma for psychiatric medication in every phase of their lives?

    Yes, there’s a lot wrong with our society. But your position gives you a bully pulpit regarding psychiatry and the use of psychiatric drugs. I’d like to see more of your attention focused on that.

  4. Let’s see if I can add a little more than the blog. While it is true that the Truth & Reconciliation process only started in South Africa after apartheid ended, it was ready to go. Would we be? Secondly, it has been used elsewhere around the world for other situations, including in prisons where I work part-time.

    At the APA, I am part on a day-long (Tuesday) Symposia on Human Rights and Psychiatry, sponsored by the American Association for Social Psychiatry, for which I was a former President. We and I are also presenting a Humanitarian award to Robert Jay Lifton on Monday, he who wrote so much about brainwashing, Nazi doctors, and the like.

    My career, whether you agree with medication or not, has been devoted to those underserved and who voluntarily want services, ranging from African-American males to the transgendered (who, by the way, I don’t think should ever have a psychiatric diagnosis). Aparttime is a take-off from apartheid and relates to the racism against African-Americans in this country still. I also note not much cultural diversity of this webzine.

    • Robert Jay Lifton’s work is fascinating. Fascinating because he coined the term totalism to describe ideological movements and organizations that desire total control over human behavior and thought, yet he doesn’t seem to have realized psychiatry is such an ideology.

      He did some great historical work on the Nazi doctors, about how they were able to rationalize using brutal violence in the name of their beliefs.

      Reading about the Nazi doctors helped me to understand how the average psychiatrist working in a coercive setting, state hospital, outpatient commitment, rationalizes their own use of force and violence in the name of their own beliefs.

      Survivors of forced psychiatry can learn much from reading Lifton’s book about the Nazi doctors. Since you bring up the topic of World War 2 Nazi doctors, It is interesting that 67 years since the Nazis tried to wipe out all the mental patients, it is mental patients that still fight for their rights and picket the APA conference demanding their basic human rights. No other group that Hitler tried to exterminate is still fighting for their basic rights to be free from government violence in 2012 America as far as I know.

      I am heartened to hear that Dr. Moffic works with the underserved who voluntarily want services. That is the only moral way to practice psychiatry.

      Any psychiatrist who never coerced someone or forced someone into the ‘patient’ role against their will can be proud of themselves.

    • I’m a pinko commie queer, so I’m adding a little cultural diversity here!

      In the UK BME (Black Minority Ethnic) groups are organising against racism in psychiatry but there is not much cross cultural work amongst the mainly white survivor and critical psychiatry movement – although there is some. Adding that voice would add strength to both our struggles. It takes active work to make it happen. Recently there has been an initiative to examine and possibly ditch the schizophrenia diagnosis partly lead by black groups largely due to the large proportion of Afro-Caribbean men who get this diagnosis with it’s damaging connotations and treatments.

      I think a truth and reconciliation commission for psychiatry is relevant when the laws have been changed, the training courses are different and the commissioning policies changed too. But preparing for it is a good idea. It is also an approach to bear in mind when negotiating with service providers.

      But truth and reconciliation is only one tactic. The ANC decided to use violence against property,as did the suffragettes. Perhaps we need a discussion on tactics and strategy? Right now I think we need to have places where survivors of psychiatry can speakout in public and offer each other encouragement to confront the beast of bio-psychiatry. Whatever tactics we use I expect it to be quite a long struggle and we need to sustain each other too

          • John,

            You made reference to violence against property being used by the ANC and suffragettes. What I was trying to say is that I don’t condone this kind of violence by those of us who want to see real reform take place.

            I DID NOT mean to imply in any way that you were saying you felt any differently. I should have taken the time to clarity with the previous comment, and I sincerely apologize.

            Duane

          • Psychiatry commits more than enough violence to go around. It is up to psychiatry’s victims to show non-violence in the face of psychiatry’s violence.

            The psychiatrists and their nurses will use force against anyone, they simply do not care.

            It is for the resistance to be non-violent.

          • IN my wilder fantasies I dream of taking a hammer to an ECT machine, provoking a court case using the resulting drama to push the issue into the public arena.

            I don’t recommend harassing staff, but I;m not above supergluing locks. But I do get irritated when people quote the truth and reconciliation work in South African without looking at the wider struggle and how it was conducted simplifies the issue to the point of near meaningless. Without that huge effort using diverse tactics it becomes a pie in the sky hope (note the slight tone of bitterness here).

            I say occupy your nearest mental hospital, then talk about truth and reconciliation.

            Definitions of non-violence are open to interpretation.

            However, more relevant is getting lots of people on board with this struggle and seeing if workers will wear, “Recovery Starts With Non-compliance,” badges might be a good place to start.

  5. As you may know, Hitler and the Nazis targeted the mentally “ill” (maybe many were not) before any other group to exterminate. If we are using that comparison, it must be clear that the ultimate authority then was who was in political power; many psychiatrists (especially the Jewish ones) protested and lost their own work or lives. Now, in the USA,human rights is also a political challenge as well as a day to day clinical one. That is why I keep suggesting we need to address politicians and the payors of health care besides clinicians.

    I think Dr. Lifton did know what he learned could be applied to psychiatrists, but he was not a practicing psychiatrist because his work took him away too much. He did, indeed, lead protests against the Viet Nam war. In a book review I did on his recent memoir, and the book is definitely worth reading, I hoped that he might investigate for-profit managed care and mental healthcare in prisons. Maybe he still will.

    • I want to communicate to you that I do indeed appreciate and am thankful for your good faith discussion here.

      I feel there is no justification for the government to make believing in psychiatry’s claims compulsory. Any kind of compulsory psychiatry is unjustified. People forced into psychiatry are forced into a form of forced confession. They must ‘admit’ they are brain diseased to their captors, in America, in 2012, before they will be allowed their freedom restored. Anybody who questions the coercing psychiatrist will just lead the psychiatrist to apply for court orders to continue the psychiatrist’s ownership and control of that individual’s body.

      I don’t believe in the vast majority of the central tenets of your profession. I am happiest when your profession is not in my life. The tragedy is, the government reserves the right to insert your profession into my life at any time.

      • Anonymous,

        Sounds like Communist China with similar brainwashing techniques to “rededucate” people. Sadly, as POW’s found out, such brainwashing can work at least temporarily and anyone can be “broken” with enough abuse, isolation and invalidation, so it is vital to have other survivors to help unbrainwash each other as is happening here!! Thank God for noble, brave heroes like Dr. Peter Breggin exposing the truth since the nightmare medical model of psychiatry came out to save psychiatry at the expense of its so called patients who were sold out to BIG PHARMA!

    • I am sad to point out that thanks to the eugenics theories promulgated by American and German psychiatrists, PSYCHIATRISTS advocated for forced commitmment, sterilization, making marriage illegal and other human rights violations for those they stigmatized as mentally ill long before Hitler and the Nazis came to power. Psychiatrists in Germany were the ones who initiated euthanasia for those they stigmatized as mentally ill using gas chambers disguised as showers to exterminate these people in mental hospitals.

      This whole sordid history is described by Dr. Peter Breggin, Psychiatrist, in the article below. He shows how the same psychiatrists who gassed their patients in mental hospitals set up this apparatus in the concentration camps once eugenics theories were used to justify targeting and killing the Jews and anyone else deemed genetically unfit as biological history continues to do today. Bob Whitaker laments the increased focus on eugenics in biological psychiatry by our government currently in spite of all the wasted billions on this dangerous endeavor so far with no results since most experts know the causes of social or emotional distress and trauma are environmental.

      Per Dr. Breggin, many experts believe that if it weren’t for psychiatry, the Holocaust against the “mentally ill” and the Jews along with others targeted would never have happened. Sadly, the Jews managed to escape along with most of the promoters of fraudulent, but deadly eugenics theories in psychiatry still used to target certain people with emotional distress with the pretense of genetically deficient brains to be used as guinea pigs for the worst kind of human experiments and to be robbed of all civil and human rights with involuntary commitment with forced toxic drugging, ECT and other brain damaging “treatments” resulting in destroyed lives and early death by about 25 years.

      Since you brought this up, I feel obliged to set the record straight. Dr. Breggin points out that the same totalitarian practices of psychiatrists in Nazi Germany are the mainstay of psychiatry today resulting in the same human rights violations and harm to emotional and physical health and safety based on the same fraudulent eugenics theories of genetically deficient brains to justify the worst kinds of human atrocities and modern ethnic cleansings.

      “Those who fail to remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana

      https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:fKJyiuk9OnoJ:breggin.com/index.php?option%3Dcom_docman%26task%3Ddoc_download%26gid%3D157+peter+breggin+on+psychiatry's+role+in+Nazi+holocaust&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShjsB0RQa5cqGArs6_jWiOrSzrSMtxamFlJQ82M6532kOSQ4j4akBHvkPs7_uzG4AA8pFiUpHMXcaVYX8rxdj_9ssBShEzyatcf1-C6e6gLpwAjlTBoQDSXCUMDCdJ2jMuUYvXd&sig=AHIEtbRztozMVA7qcHEyFra8iOeHys6aAg

      • Thank you Donna. I feel your frustration.

        “the Holocaust against the “mentally ill” and the Jews along with others targeted would never have happened. Sadly, the Jews managed to escape along with most of the promoters of fraudulent,”

        Can I suggest that was a typo, and may have meant to write ‘Sadly, the psychiatrists managed to escape’?

        Stay strong Donna. You’re a good writer, I wish you would write an essay about this yourself, or a book or your own website? Don’t let your message be buried in the comments. Your message is important.

      • Donna,

        Comparisons and references to NAZI Germany and the Holocaust are over-used. IMO, nothing compares to the Holocuast. It stands alone in our human history.

        Which is precisely why it needs to be addressed whenever the topic of biological and genetic psychiatry.

        In the late 1930’s, 6 killing centers were established in Germany, serving as training centers for the Reich. Here, “medical, scientific” places for “special treatment” experimented and killed the “mentally ill.”

        While these programs continued, in 1941, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), discussed the exermination of the “severely mentally retarded” here in the United States. The role of psychiatrists would be to “help parents get over the guilt.”

        And this carried on through more recent times, with the Violence Initiative in the 1960s and 1970s, where young black men in the inner-cities were targeted.

        These are facts.
        Historic facts, as Dr. Peter Breggin explains (scroll down to see the video on this link) –

        http://breggin.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=288

        There is NO WAY psychiatry can possibly overcome its dark and horrific past, without first addressing it publicly, and without a committment that these progams will never happen again.

        One of the reasons Peter Breggin has such passion in this are is that he is Jewish. And for those who know have not read his work, it should be pointed out that he is a former Harvard teaching professor, a consultant to the NIMH, in many ways a very conservative man.

        Reconciliation will not be possible without addressing these issues. The past must be overcome, and committment must be made – that these things will not be part of psychiatry’s future.

        IMO, a “human rights” speech would best be done by addressing these issues, and with an open invitation to the protestors outside the upcoming convention…. To come inside, to hear the words, and to hold the field accountable to reform.

        Dialogue.
        Inclusion.
        Committment.

        And it needs to be heard and SEEN!

        Duane

        • The timeline for harm did not start in the 1930s; and it did not stop in the 1960s and 1970s, as Robert Whitaker points out in his research –

          https://www.madinamerica.com/2011/11/%ef%bb%bftimeline/

          Dr. Moffic,

          Rather than address “human rights” in your speech, I hope you will specifically address these rights as they pertain to transgressions in psychiatry.

          And I hope you might consider allowing the protesters at the upcoming APA meeting to be allowed to hear the speech, to be allowed to come into the conference hall to hear it…to be included in diaglogue of the need for reform.

          Your work in South Africa with post-apartheid reconciliation sounds honorablbe. There is also work to be done within the field of psychiatry that simply cannot be ignored any longer.

          Duane

        • I don’t think the fact that Dr. Peter Breggin is Jewish has anything to do with the sordid FACTS he reveals about human extinction by using totalitarian laws and terror tactics in the article I cited above. Dr. Moffic appears to be Jewish and his views are just about opposite of Dr. Breggin’s. Also, psychiatry has instigated many holocausts since Nazi Germany’s against blacks as you say exposed by Dr. Breggin, ethnic “cleansings” in Bosnia, Africa and other countries and as usual, against those they stigmatize as mentally ill for some of the worst human rights violations. The vile eugenics theories used to target certain people as mentally ill for the worst kind of abuses has destroyed far more people than the Nazi Holocaust. Therefore, I beg to differ with you that the Nazi Holocaust was unique. See experiments done by Dr. Stanley Milgram in OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY or Dr. Philip Zimbardo’s THE LUCIFER EFFECT with regard to the famous or infamous shocking “learning” experiments and Stanford Prison experiments respectively on how humans can be instigated to do great evil by submitting to seeming authorities or having too much or too little power as with prisoners and guards or psychiatrists and patients over whom one has absolute power and control over another which corrupts them absolutely.

  6. I am happiest, too, when people don’t want to or need to see me, or are done seeing me. I always thought the goal of our profession was to put ourselves out of business, either with better prevention or other options for wellness. Just think there is a ways to go before we get there.

    • I thank you again for your sincere and good faith discussion.

      This is nothing against you personally, but I thought it might be interesting to the readers.

      When I hear a psychiatrist use the word ‘need to see (a psychiatrist)’ I feel afraid. Not of you, Dr. Moffic, at all don’t misunderstand me. I am trying to communicate that I live in a world where it is not me who has the power to decide when there is a ‘need’ for a psychiatrist. It is my government that has this power, and that terrifies me to my core, it really does.

      I have a solemn preference for any alternative to psychiatry, including nothing at all. It terrifies me that psychiatry reserves the right to force its way into my life. It truly does.

      What can we do about this problem Dr. Moffic? can you get behind in theory the idea of a living will that I could sign? so I could feel safe?

      What do you think of that idea? A legal firewall between your profession and those who are opposed to any psychiatric intervention in their own lives in the future?

      We can sign Do Not Resuscitate orders. Do you think we should have a right to lay down our deeply felt wishes to never ingest psychiatric drugs? or have those drugs forced on us? in ANY circumstance?

      If I had such a legal protection I could feel a litter safer from psychiatry. Psychiatry is a threat that I need legal protection from as I see it.

  7. I think legal safeguards are worth looking into, by all means. However, I don’t think society or psychiatry will allow possible harm to others or oneself if that can be prevented. Of course, there is much uncertainty here in how to assess danger and risk. Working in a prison you see where intervention and help was not present early enough.

    Have to sign off on my comments for a few days, as I will be away, but would love to come back to read more. Thanks to all who will comment in an “I-Thou” way.

    • If harm is coming to others, that is a crime. As I said, we have the police and the courts for that. As I see it, society is allowing much harm to come to others as it is, people being coerced by psychiatry is harm to these people in itself.

      If you are looking to prevent self harm, as I said, I fail to see why forced psychiatry involving forced somatic interventions is what should be forced on everyone in that situation.

      I don’t believe psychiatry belongs in the prison system if it is forced psychiatry in the prison system. If these convicts wish to see a psychiatrist than yes, if it is forced on them, no. I do not hold any faith that psychiatry meddling in the lives of these now criminals would have prevented them becoming criminals. Labels and drugs don’t prevent crime.

    • Moral Contradiction Police Alert: Warning, Warning, This is a warning!

      If, you don’t think “society or psychiatry will allow possible harm to others or oneself if that can be prevented”. Then can society use force (restraint, forcible drugging, breaking into homes, or in this case facilities) to stop psychiatry harming people?

      It may seem a facetious comment but in UK law (and maybe USA law) it is acceptable to commit a crime to prevent a greater crime being committed. Ploughshare anti-war activists have used this defence. They have taken hammers to nuclear warhead and other instruments of war, called the police, got arrested, gone to court and sometimes got off due to this defence.

      There is a fine line between using force to get revenge on a system or to create havoc and the well thought out use of force to bring an injustice to a wider audience.

      I do agree however that some people need restraining (my father tired to strangle my step-mother and I helped stop him, so it is not just in psychiatry that this happens) but straight afterwards you need to ask people what is wrong and why they are doing this? In other words, you need to try and sort the problem out and not treat it as a medical problem.

      Sometimes I find myself with people who are a serious danger to themselves, either by serious neglect or by being suicidal and I do intervene, sometimes quite forcible. I had a friend who had all the symptoms of untreated diabetes and refused to get help. There was a danger of him slipping into a coma and dyeing. I told him I would get the police to break down his door if he did not answer it for any period of time. He did eventually get help and got a diagnosis and is now fine. I sometime tell people who are attempting suicide to please do it where I can’t see them (although I don’t tell them how they might do this!), because if I think they are about to do something I will try to stop them, but I will also put in a lot of time to try and help them to the degree that they no longer want to kill themselves. But anything less than serious life threatening situations or serious threats to others I will not stop. I leave it up to the distressed person to make their own decision and try, when I want to take this on, to help by building a trusting relationship – an often gruelling and difficult activity, but there you go, that’s how it goes in my little old life.

  8. I think we can find forgiveness, but reconciliation is a more difficult challenge.

    I think it’s possible, but I think it will take some steps on the part of psychiatry:

    1) To ask for forgiveness to the people it harmed
    2) To stop the harm
    3) To reform what it practices – to begin to “do no harm”

    Front-and-center is an end to the use of force without due process; followed by the need for informed consent and providing options; and he need to help in the area of providing psych drug withdrawal (which for many psychiatrists will involve learning about how to do this slowly and safely).

    We can all forgive.
    And I think we can all continue to have dialogue.
    But reconciliation must be built on trust, and it will involve pscyhiatry’s willingness to change – to make amends, to reform.

    I think a lot of us want to see that take place.
    Not simply to hear it.
    But to see it.

    “If you want peace, search for justice.” – Pope Paul VI

    I’m ready for both.
    And more than willing to listen.
    But also to watch.

    Duane

  9. Dr. Moffic, I believe there is already an organization in the US fulfilling the purpose of The United States of Our Minds. It’s called the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=About_NAMI

    You say: “Such an alliance must also include much more than the “survivors”, the public, patients, psychiatrists, and therapists. It must include representatives of all groups who have a powerful influence on our mental health: politicians, administrators, clergy, researchers, alternative caregivers, and the like.”

    NAMI goes even farther, it includes pharmaceutical manufacturers, undeniably stakeholders in the treatment of mental illness.

    It’s issued position papers advocating for mental health services for underserved populations.

    What improvements would you propose on the NAMI model?

    • I’d propose going to NAMI and giving a talk on a proposed Truth And Reconciliation Committee for Psychiatry. But then I’m a stirring it up kind of guy.

      Does anyone know the Yes Men? They organise spoof PR sessions where big companies apologise for their wrongs. How about a spoof website from a drug company where they say they are sorry for all the lies they have told and saying they will set up a truth and reconciliation committee and pay all the people they have harmed their due compensation?

      I know, I am just flying my ideas in the sky, possibly for my own amusement!

  10. People who already are targeted by the drug companies for exploitation as consumers, such a black males and transgendered, are already targeted by the drug companies. The psychiatric industry, in it’s diagnosis criteria for a mental illness, uses the same sociological constructs that define minority status, poverty and other forms of trauma to target these people. To offer these drugs and say “I don’t think you should have a diagnosis,” can be a double insult. To offer these drugs and say you are helping with a diagnosis (when the diagnosis doesn’t have the political status of trans-gender) can also be an insult to people who are oppressed. This still accomplishes the enslavement to the addiction the drugs cause, and promotes fear of the minds response to trauma, and is disabling to work through all of this.
    If Dr. Moffic wants us all to work together, he needs to start working with himself rather than making such contradictory statements such as:
    “My career, whether you agree with medication or not, has been devoted to those underserved and who voluntarily want services, ranging from African-American males to the transgendered (who, by the way, I don’t think should ever have a psychiatric diagnosis). “
    and
    “However, I don’t think society or psychiatry will allow possible harm to others or oneself if that can be prevented.”

    Condoning these medications he feels he can dismiss as something you can agree with or not, when scientifically there is no basis for them, statistically they have caused a whole epidemic, have caused violence, have caused disability, have caused death, have become an integral part of a corrupt economy, have caused dangerous addiction and have prevented healing that could have happened; this is in complete contrast to a society or a profession that is concerned about harm to others or oneself. Just because someone who is already in dire straights, anxious, oppressed and who wants to find relief at all costs comes for help voluntarily; this does not excuse passing these controlled substances labeled medications as something you can agree with or not. In this manner you could start handing out alcohol, street drugs and junk food as “medications” you can agree with or not. And call it professional behavior. And make a career out of it. And call it “service.”
    All this is so contradictory that it of course has to be dressed up with various decorative political and philosophical ideas.
    Just one of them:
    If the I thou relationship stresses respect and dignity of others, this has already been already completely shattered by contradictions. Furthering a person’s alienation and trauma by saying you respect them and calling it dignity, but not looking at what your “help” does ISN’T respect nor is it dignified. Focusing the “Truth and Reconcilation” process on the people targeted by psychiatry, rather than the danger to humanity inflicted by psychiatric drugs, is again a complete turn around. And no, offering these people drugs is as little an act of bypassing victim status as it would be to excuse all psychiatrists who prescribed dangerous mind controlling drugs by putting them on these drugs themselves because they only prescribed the drugs because they had a chemical imbalance which caused them to prescribe drugs causing chemical imbalances saying they were treating them, which is why they need to be “treated” by them.
    And all of the insisting that you’re helping because it fits some pre-fabricated model of what help is said to be doesn’t change the content of what you are doing. Nor does it make it help when it ISN’T! And these kind of deceptions are human rights abuses same as the rest. And because it’s more covert it might be worse…
    And, I have better things to do…
    Where this infuriating refusal to look at one’s own logic becomes anything to do with mental health, is the beginning of something?.

  11. The latest New Yorker has an article set in the context of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission:

    “….all the parties to the long years of bloodshed and terror were called together to remember them before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The surviving victims testified about — and frequently relived — their traumas, and the people responsible for those traumas….were invited to account for their conduct, and to ask the T.R.C. for amnesty….”

  12. Dr. Moffic, this is what we mean by a “broken paradigm of care”: http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/an-open-letter-to-doctors/

    Do you see any ethical issues for psychiatry in this woman’s story? Do you think she was treated by a succession of bad apples, or rank-and-file psychiatrists?

    Can you understand why commenters on your article might be reluctant to extend this type of care to underserved populations?

    Please understand those patients who participate here do not think this woman’s story is an isolated case — because in one way or another, it’s our story, too.

  13. Thanks for all the comments and sorry I could not respond quicker as I have been away and will be away. I always learn from the comments, as critical as they may be.

    A few responses:
    -the key to ending apartheid was economic sanctions, not violence. Should that be applied in mental health?

    -the native South Africans have made peace with the Afrikaners. Does that have relevance for us?

    -my talk at the APA was requested long before I even knew about a protest. I don’t have control as to who comes in to speak, but I am discussing the managed care industry’s detrimental influence on us all as far as human rights.

    -I’m surprised someone mentioned NAMI as an existing alternative. They are so, so biological and so, so for medication and lots of it. I was a board member once, but have stayed away since.

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