“Psychiatry Takes a Beating” in Norway


“Anders Behring Breivik is not standing trial alone in Oslo. Psychiatry is being judged as well,” says Time magazine, as the trial nears its end. “The judges will come to a conclusion about Breivik. But psychiatry is looking pretty shabby after these proceedings,” during which two teams of psychiatrists each held firm to their opposing views of whether Breivik is sane.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Psychiatry, every time it enters a courtroom, makes a mockery of itself. Which isn’t hard to do. Breivik is about as brain diseased as the millions of other people who’ve been called names by a quack psychiatrist, that is to say, not brain diseased at all.

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  2. Well, the Angels (musicians) failed to do their job – let’s see if Hollywood can help.

    Have you seen Se7en? A film about two homicide detectives’ desperate hunt for a serial killer who justifies his crimes as absolution for the world’s ignorance of the Seven Deadly Sins.


    That killer is not “insane” because his motive is based on reality. He simply takes a concept and belief, which is not his own mental creation, and he applies it. NOT insane.

    Now let’s look at Silence of The Lambs. One might automatically know the famous scene: “It rubs the lotion on it’s skin or else it gets the hose again” – ENTIRELY INSANE. What makes it insane? There is no rational basis to want to wear the skin of another human being. And, the man’s mental disease is driven by his sexuality. INSANE.


    Anders is NOT insane, but he certainly is a murderer.

    This is simple stuff.

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    • I like both these movies! They both have these elements of “madness” or sanity which you describe.

      These things are often a matter of perspective. Are the actions consistent with the individuals values, beliefs, and understanding? Likely. Regardless of how discordant those beliefs, understandings, values and behaviors are for the broader society, from the perspective of the individual…perfectly sane.

      Society has a continuum on which behaviors, beliefs, etc. can be plotted. Of course this continuum is in constant flux, but the point is once a “threshold” has been crossed the person can be said (by the broader majority/ruling culture) to be insane.

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      • “Insane” and “crazy” are mostly SLANG words and people who use those words often do NOT know the actual meanings.

        I can say that tomorrow’s weather is going to be “insane” – near 100 degrees. But that’s abuse of the term because there isn’t anything “insane” about it.

        When the word “insane” is to be used in a legal and / or medical way – it MUST be used correctly. There is a real difference between madness (which can be further defined) and insanity (which can be concretely defined – NO deviance in the term’s meaning, whatsoever).

        Insanity isn’t a questionable term. It has a *very* specific and literal meaning. It refers to vulgarity, perversion and filth – period. UNCLEAN. DEFILED.

        Let me put it this way: some people fail to grow past or above hip level – meaning, if your face is at hip level, you have only a few things on your mind: sh*t, p*ss and sexuality. The masses can be demoralized and desensitized, and even agree on what they like and don’t like.

        Sometimes, people LIKE “insanity”. They abuse the word and obscure the TRUTH. Maybe they lack insight to their mental insanities – because they were taught to love a good banana. That’s only half funny.

        Insanity = Defiled


        Hold up – WHY do we use censor for swear and curse words?

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