“DSM-5: Caught between Mental Illness Stigma and Anti-Psychiatry Prejudice”


Jeffrey Lieberman, incoming president of the APA, responds to criticism of the DSM and psychiatry, saying “it’s important to understand the difference between thoughtful, legitimate debate, and the inevitable outcry from a small group of critics – made louder by social media and support from dubious sources — who have relentlessly sought to undermine the credibility of psychiatric medicine and question the validity of mental illness.”

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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].


    • My original comment cleaned up in accordance with posting guidelines:

      More of the same — a very disappointing opinion piece. Very insulting to those who legitimately question psychiatry.

      Lieberman says: “Being ‘against’ psychiatry strikes me as no different than being ‘against’ cardiology or orthopedics or gynecology—which most people, I think, would find absurd. No other medical specialty is targeted by such an ‘anti’ movement.”

      Perhaps that’s because, Lieberman, that yours is the only branch of medicine that doesn’t have real science backing it up.

      Perhaps that’s because, Lieberman, that yours is the only branch of medicine that has the force of law behind it.

      Perhaps that’s because, Lieberman, that yours is the only branch of medicine where outcomes are better without your interference.

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      • The good Dr. Lieberman has forgotten to disclose his ties to the pharmaceutical industry while at one and the same time ranting about a “small but loud group of anti-psychiatry radicals”. As a proud member of the growing movement of professionals who are increasingly distressed by psychiatry’s growing dysfunction, I do happen to feel unjustly discharged by the good Ivy League Dr., and I do feel the need to clarify one particular point: I am not totally against psychiatry as he would claim (in fact some of my oldest and best friends are psychiatrists!), but I am truly against bad psychiatry.

        Here’s what the good Dr. Lieberman himself has reported about his own pharmaceutical connections: “Dr. Lieberman has served on the advisory boards for Bioline, Pierre Fabre, and PsychoGenics. He has received grant support from Allon, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly and Co., Intercellular Therapies, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, F. Hoffman-La Roche, Pepracor (Sunovion), and Targacept. He holds a patent from Repligen.” In another article: “Dr. Lieberman reports having received research funding from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutica, and Pfizer and consulting and educational fees from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Forest Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Novartis, Pfizer, and Solvay.” In addition, he has published studies where he failed to report his pharmaceutical ties. Need we say more about this man?

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  1. What a pathetic defense of psychiatry!!!

    First it’s a small group of critiques who don’t want people who are mentally distressed to get better. Then its foolish mental health care workers who are fooled to align with their enemies. And then it’s a colleague who contradicts his point: the colleague both mocks psychiatry and wants his spouse to have better mental health.

    What a different tune from yesterday when it was all bullshit about the greatness of psychiatry; this is a defense of an embattled profession. This is an encouraging sign of a brighter future for mental health care!

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  2. So aghast I was when I read this that I couldn’t help but to make an attempt at a civil but critical comment on the SA site. I invite others to chime in, with as much politeness as you can muster. They seem to publish comments immediately.

    The words of someone like him can all too easily invalidate passionate responses if they appear “irrational,” “self-promoting” or whatever other dismissive turn of phrase he might come up with to ignore addressing the content of the critique. Best, I think, to engage as coldly and directly on-the-point as possible in these settings.

    I left a great deal of his argument unaddressed so as to keep my piece short. I hope others will be motivated to offer their own point of view.

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    • Hey, I don’t see your comment. I see mine (softwarematters).
      And yes, people should post there and tell this guy how misguided he is. He was interviewed here http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201305200900 (courtesy of http://1boringoldman.com/index.php/2013/05/21/an-hour-worth-hearing/ ) and his instinctive reaction was to link valid criticisms to psychiatry to Scientology (even the host of the program shut him when he attempted to do that).

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    • Matthew,

      Thanks for your empathy and validation of our outrage at reading this mind bogglingly dishonest article as well as a pep talk to keep such outrage in check or at least manage it rationally. You are right in that vitriol just plays into the hands of such BIG PHARMA KOL shills as Jeffrey Lieberman and their cohorts, so I won’t dare to comment.

      I could not find or access your comment, but would really like to read it. Would it be possible for you to copy it and post it here to provide some consolation and inspiration for us after the horrific assault on our minds, integrity and emotions due to this ridiculously self serving article? I would appreciate it if you could post it.

      Thank you.

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    • Sure thing Donna. Here is what I submitted to the Scientific American website:

      The shocking thing about Mr. Lieberman’s apology for his profession is the fact that he ignores the pressing concerns for human rights and empowerment that come directly from survivors of lies, coercion, and other offenses in the psychiatric system. This talk of “self-promoters” and people who are “anti-mental-health-care” are strawmen that apply to perhaps 1% of those who would describe themselves as anti-psychiatry (I wouldn’t accept that label on myself, but I advocate for many people who would).

      I can only hope that Mr. Lieberman and his colleagues will take time away from profusely defending their ideology to read and listen to the many first-hand accounts of those who experienced their lives being taken away from them by psychiatry’s labels, authoritarian power structure, and so-called “medical” treatments. Last I checked very few individuals experience patterns of psychological and physical duress, dehumanization, and stark disempowerment at the hands of cardiologists or gynecologists. One obvious reason being that high-handed enforcement of normative behavior with drugs is not the purview of these respectable disciplines.

      These personal stories, offered by struggling survivors, can be found all over, including on our website: http://madinamerica.com and now in the form of hopeful video testimonials at http://openparadigmproject.com

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      • Thanks Matthew,

        You did a superb job on this comment by covering the major crimes committed by biopsychiatry briefly while practicing what you preach about remaining professional and unemotional.

        Thank you for speaking for us in such an eloquent way when some of us are too burned out to do likewise from reading/hearing so many lies and advocacy for biopsychiatry’s ongoing crimes against humanity while at the same time admitting they have been basing such crimes on total junk science and deliberate fraud at the same time. And what they haven’t admitted has been exposed by many whistleblowers and real medical experts.

        The problem is that this is crazy making as they intend, which does make it too tempting to play into their hands as you have wisely advised. Therefore, I am all too willing to let your wise words speak for me because I sure could not have done as well or better.

        Again, your understanding and empathy are greatly appreciated.

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      • I was a bit less diplomatic than you, Matthew. See below:

        Wow. Where do I begin to approach this amazingly shallow collection of ad hominem attacks and unscientific rhetoric? The author does not once even mention an actual scientific study or identify and counter a coherent argument put forward by those who oppose the new DSM and its arbitrary system of identifying any form of distress as a “brain disorder.”

        For starters, I don’t know of anyone who identifies their own group as “antipsychiatry.” This is a term that is mostly used by psychiatrists such as the author to try and undermine the credibility of their critics. Notice that the author doesn’t identify one single group that so identifies – he just broad-brush paints that “there are these people out there who oppose mental health treatment and they are bad.” A classic ad hominem attack.

        The author compares prejudice against psychiatry to racisim, sexism and homophobia, and talks about prejudice against “mental illness and its caretakers.” This is a highly offensive comparison for a couple of reasons. First off, psychiatry was part and parcel of the prejudice against gay and lesbian people – homosexuality was designated a mental illness until the 1970s by the very DSM this guy is defending! But more importantly, racism and sexism and homophobia are efforts by those in positions of POWER to undermine groups who did not have the power to defend themselves. It is especially ironic to talk about prejudice against psychiatry in this context, as psychiatrists are, in fact, the ones with the power to detain people against their will and force “treatment” on them based on the spurious diagnoses invented and voted on at the DSM conferences. And more ironically, it has been shown that the medical view of mental illness as brain disease INCREASES the negative stigma associated with mental and emotional distress. In fact, many of those opposed to the DSM and the current treatment practices of psychiatry are patients who feel victimized by the psychiatrists who treated them. To lump psychiatrists in with patients in terms of prejudice is an extremely shallow and self-serving viewpoint.

        The author also states that: “… no one can argue with one simple fact; if you or a loved one suffers from a mental illness, your ability to receive effective treatment, recover and lead a productive life is better now than ever in human history.” Actually, that is EXACTLY what the argument is about! There is plenty of evidence, starting with the WHO studies in the ’90s and continuing right on through the work of Harlow that was recently published, that psychiatric drugs are NOT associated (in the aggregate) with a more productive life – rather, people maintained on psychiatric drugs appear to be MORE likely to remain disabled and have multiple hospitalizations than those who avoid drugs or have a short-term course of medical treatment. See Robert Whitaker’s “Anatomy of an Epidemic” for more details.

        One doesn’t have to be opposed to psychiatry in principle to be concerned about the enormous rise in the use of psychiatric drugs, especially when the long-term outcome studies across the board suggest that unmedicated sufferers tend to do as well or better than their medicated counterparts over time. This is not to say that no one can or does benefit from psychicatric drugs. It is more to say that the current paradigm of care does not appear to meet the needs of many of those suffering mental/emotional distress. To label such concerns as “antipsychiatry” smacks of someone trying to avoid seeing the flaws in their own argument by attacking those who have the courage to point out those flaws.

        There are a lot of fairly mainstream psychiatrists and mental health professionals who have had concerns for years about the DSM, and who have even more concerns about the oddities and excesses of the newest version (such as labeling a person who is depressed at the loss of a loved one as mentally ill if they haven’t recovered two WEEKS after the fact!) It’s clear the author is committed to his philosophical view, but if he really wants to convince anyone, he’d do better to address the scientific facts that are aligned against the “brain disease” theory, rather than attacking those who have read the research and have legitimate concerns about the DSM and the current treatment paradigm in psychiatry. You don’t have to believe that mental illness isn’t real to believe that the DSM is of questionable validity. Ask Thomas Insel, head of the NIMH. Is he “antipsychiatry,” too?

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      • Yeah, I was less diplomatic as well.

        Mr Lieberman,

        This is what Insel said,

        “The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever.”

        Now, prior to his April 29th blog, that was dismissed as “anti psychiatry”. Now it’s part of the official NIMH record. Your travesty/joint statement didn’t change that.

        It’s not prejudice that drives what you call “anti psychiatry”, but a desire for truth. Putting legitimate criticism to psychiatry on the same ground as AIDS denialism is an insult to intelligence. We have accurate biological tests to detect presence or absence of HIV infection. We know for a fact that except for a minority of so called “long term non-progressors”, every person infected with HIV ends up dying unless he/she is put on HAART. Psychiatry has nothing like that. Where is the biological test for schizophrenia? Nowhere. Diagnosis based on “behavior” is no different than labeling somebody a “heretic” based on the consensus of theologians. That is a fact.

        In a typical psychiatric trick, you are using semantics, ie a language that sounds scientific, to put forward fallacious arguments that do not stand any logical deduction. Psychiatry is a scam and DSM-5 has been the last straw. Apparently American shrinks got too greedy and thought they could get away with labeling 50% of Americans as “mentally ill”. It has backfired and it was about time.

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        • Steve and Cannotsay2013,

          Thanks for sharing your insightful comments. You did a great job and got right to the crux of the matter.

          I think Suzanne Beachy nailed it when she says the reason we can’t access these comments is that Lieberman probably couldn’t handle the backlash and had them disabled.

          I find it amusing to think about the fact that Insel has recently come out as the greatest antipychiatrist by invalidating psychiatry and the DSM for a change rather than their many victims. Yet, it’s all too clear that the NIMH, APA, BIG PHARMA and their other cohorts in crime have been gearing up to create and promote new eugenics lies in the guise of mental health to keep the BIG PHARMA gravy train going since the old DSM lies have been exposed all too clearly. As 1boringold man exposes, these BIG PHARMA shills have made no secret of their real agenda.

          Thus, this is no time to get complacent.

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  3. Friends,

    When it comes to the material that most aggravates us, it is important in terms of the mission of this site that we take special care to maintain civility in our comments, as per the posting guidelines. The idea here is that we make this space more accessible to those who are “on the fence,” and also provide a more effective critique, when we avoid vitriol and disparaging others in our comments.

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  4. Here is the answer as to whether Dr. Lieberman is a shill for drug companies:


    Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD, has disclosed the following relevant financial relationships:
    Received research grants from: Allon; GlaxoSmithKline; Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, L.P. (US); Merck & Co., Inc; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; Pfizer Inc.; Sepracor Inc.; Targacept
    Served on the advisory board for: Bioline; GlaxoSmithKline; Intra-Cellular Therapies, Inc.; Eli Lilly and Company; Pierre Fabre; Psychogenics Received patents from: Repligen Corporation

    In my opinion, this is one of the most hateful articles I have ever read by a “mainstream” psychiatrist. And this is the reason for my opinion:

    They are, to my mind, misguided and misleading ideologues and self-promoters who are spreading scientific anarchy. He is referring to folks who call themselves antipsychiatry.

    Not only is that a vicious statement, it is a very dishonest argument because Dr. Lieberman is excoriating anyone who disagrees with anything about psychiatry as he does in referring to various medical and mental health professionals who have concerns about the field.

    Interestingly, even though he accuses so called “antipsychiatry folks” of stigma, he isn’t as critical of medical professionals who do this even though he acknowledges it exists. Hey Dr. Lieberman, as one who has received horrific medical care when I have disclosed my psych med history and who feel I have to hide it, what about that stigma? What about people who have gone to ERs with a medical emergency who ended up in a psych ward because of their label? Where is the concern for those folks whose lives were jeopardized because of stigma by medical professionals?

    Anyway, Dr. Lieberman, people who have legitimate concerns against the abuses of psychiatry are not going away. You can insult us all you want but you are not going to intimate us from speaking out. Peoples lives depend on that.

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  5. I’m gut-struck all week by this Lieberman. Hey, not every medical school leader treats his wife well when referring her to a psychiatrist. Who wants to falsely accuse people who know psychiatry does harm of being prejudiced? People care about protecting people’s health, which sustains life. That’s why they criticize harmful psychiatric approaches. They do it out of care, not fear.

    The DSM has been a power grab by those who want to interfere with the lives of people whom they think may impact public health and safety. If people can be perceived to match a minimum criteria, a certain behavior pattern, even over a rather short term, the right to intervene can be claimed before judges, if ever need be. Distributing the DSM involves the public in believing such perceived behavior patterns make it healthy to intervene. Yet, without solid proof that a perceived pattern indicates an actual problem originating in the person, the DSM can be used to fleece justice.

    It’s not prejudiced to notice psychiatry hasn’t been optimally using approaches that best serve patients. What, should people not feel empowered to stand up for what’s right and wrong, in the face of social authorities, lest they be prejudged as prejudiced? To protect health, people must judge or assess what’s best for it. If they’ve gathered abundant information beforehand, they aren’t judging too quickly. Claiming so arise from an out-of-control drive to over-control people’s rightful, healthy empowerment. People who deflect criticism to safeguard selfish interests may want to strip people of their empowerment to judge (assess) what health protectors should do, for goodness’ and justice’s sake.

    I mentioned on MIA’s facebook page how the DSM is more like a fictionary.

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  6. This was my comment; i hope it keeps with the dignified tone you encourage:
    I urge any adherent of scientific method to examine more closely Dr. Lieberman’s assertions in his article of May 20, 2013.
    Despite his exuberance for the new DSM 5, there remains no blood test or brain scan for any diagnosis of mood, thought, or personality disorder. There is no objective measure for severity of illness. There is no way to prove a person does not have a mental illness.
    We continue to have no “meaningful scientific understanding” of diagnosis, cause, or treatment. None of this has changed in DSM 5.. Psychiatry remains faith based medicine.
    Remember that even today, there is no general agreement on “recovery” (i.e. does recovery mean staying on the meds or learning to not need the meds anymore?) There is no definition of “Normal”.
    I find Dr. Lieberman’s dismissive and misleading remarks of DSM 5 critics alarming. How does he respond to Robert Whitakers Anatomy of an Epidemic? Has he read and fact checked the book? How does industry thinking explain the rise in disability rates for people who are in treatment?
    Thomas Insel, the Director of The National Institute of Mental Health, released a statement last month calling the DSM 5 “invalid”, and that people with mental illness “deserve better”. A week later, he and Dr. Lieberman issued a joint statement, calling DSM 5 the “Gold Standard” in modern Psychiatry.
    Possibly all of Insel’s statements are true: The Gold standard in psychiatry is invalid, and people deserve better.
    Where does Dr. Lieberman draw the line between psychiatry’s “checkered past” and this new age of enlightenment? Where is his evidence that the medications are actually safe and effective? That diagnosis (old or new) is reliable and valid, and that treatment leads to better outcomes?
    From my experience, (25 years leading group psychotherapy inside and outside the medical model) Better outcomes in mental health result from encouraging people to have faith in their strengths rather than their (entirely hypothetical) limitations. Even very sick people can recover, or become less chronically ill, when they are connected in some way to other people, (a social group) and engage in some form of structured occupation (work, school, volunteerism). These things help people find purpose and meaning in life. Any of these things can be done on or off the meds. (Although the side effects are problematic).
    Dr. Lieberman doesn’t seem to realize that the antipsychiatry movement is largely populated by former patients and their family members. In other words; people who are intimately familiar with mental illness. Their experience of “stigma” is no academic abstraction, at some point they accepted their illness and took the meds.
    The true stigma of mental illness is low expectations for recovery.

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  7. If you want to send Lieberman your comments,


    [email protected]

    I sent him the note below (I got an “out of the office” reply) so the email address seems good.

    Dear Professor Lieberman,

    We are trying to have a conversation with you regarding your Scientific American piece,


    However, we cannot see comments by other people (each of us see only our own at the Scientific American website). Not sure why. In any case, there is an open thread in MIA that you are welcome to join,


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    • I am still following comments on the Novella blog. I used to be able to comment as ‘Dirk Steele’ buut was banned when I started to return the insults. I realise that some people cannot grasp the concepts you are proposing let alone be able to argue against. Anyway keep up the good work!. Msg [email protected] if you need support!

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      • Thanks for your support! As you can see, even though I cannot claim “full conversion”, I have been able to create doubt among a few of them :D.

        Those who insist with untenable positions such as “ADHD is demonstrably a brain disorder and fits well into our current models of brain function, specifically the role of executive function in guiding our attention and behavior” are just too invested in their own worldview. My hypothesis is that they see admitting to what Insel said kind of a capitulation of what they have been repeating for years. So it’s unlikely I’ll be able to convince people like steve12 (although he sounds less extreme now than previously).

        One thing that I found interesting is that Novella has not officially addressed Tom Insel in one of his entries. In fact, if it weren’t because I brought the issue, Novella would not have even mentioned the NIMH earthquake. He has limited himself to repeating, in the comments section, his old arguments that do not hold any ground in the post April 29th world.

        Thanks again!

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      • :D. I think that the biggest problem these people have now is that Tom Insel has made his these very same “Szaszian” views. I haven’t been banned yet, but Novella threatened to ban me in the past. If I am banned from there, I wonder what the excuse will be because I am, for the most part, quoting Tom Insel :D.

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      • Nick,

        Your comment motivated me to check out the comments of Cannotsay.

        I totally agree with you that Cannotsay did a fantastic job alone and unsupported by debunking the bogus claims made by psychiatry on this blog while being criticized/attacked on all sides.

        Once again, you know it’s a bogus site or article when you see neuro this and neuro that to give the fraud a supposed neurological spin when it is not neuro or logical by any stretch of the imagination.

        Cannotsay completely and calmly held his own while making many excellent points.

        The fact that all the frauds on the site finally felt they had to resort to accusing Cannotsay of being “crazy” validated his claims all the more that psychiatry stigmatizes mere behaviors they don’t like and that he was making very astute and valid criticisms of their total junk science. They also validated his claim that they use their bogus subjective judgments of others’ behavior to falsely accuse others of being crazy and then abuse their power by forcing horrific torture treatments of commitment to abusive psychiatric prisons and being subjected to brain damaging/disabling drugs/ECT and other lobotomy type assaults in the guise of medicine to punish anyone who fails to bow down to their mighty greatness and power grabs. I recommend this to everyone who has a strong stomach or can remain calm while reading the usual lies of biopsychiatry. Cannotsay passed that with flying colors while continuing to make excellent points to debunk the increasing usual false claims, pity ploys and excuses by the biopsychiatrists.

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      • “I believe reports of the death of psychiatry are exaggerated”

        Didn’t he know that Steve Jobs said “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” in 2008. I don’t believe Psychiatry will be dead within three years, but I’m not sure it was a wise decision to use this phrase.

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  8. For those of us who have experienced depression or other mental health challenges, there can be no doubt that something very real and different from the norm has happened to you – to your body, mind, emotions, and thinking. I have full faith that most people who enter mental health professions do so as dedicated individuals who truly want to help other people. The problem is that the DSM and those who use it to treat mental illness have become reliant on a very limited set of tools for diagnosis – self-reports and, in some ways, arbitrary categorizations of symptoms. While considering self-reports of symptoms is a legitimate and important approach, it is very partial. While it does not make sense to throw out the body of research that led the science of mental health to where it is today, it is very important to develop new tools that can look at these issues in a wholistic way. Diagnosis for depression should not be based (as it is now) on a limited set of questions about how you feel, but should include a more balanced set of tools that still need to be developed. Current science has shown differences in thinking habits, brain activity, hormones, gene alleles, and more in those of us who have experienced depression. But diagnostic tools have not been developed based on these findings. A good outcome from this healthy debate would be funding to develop more rigorous and balanced diagnostic tests that could include fMRIS of brain activity, blood tests for hormone levels, DNA tests, more targeted questionnaires about thoughts and emotions, or other creative and evidence-based approaches.

    Mend – My Journey Through Science to Fix Depression

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    • The Department of Defense commissioned the development of a robot to assess depression based on micro-movements in people’s speech, expressions and body language:

      Last I checked, NPR receives much funding from drug companies. Their report may leave many readers unsettled, as it’s typically healthier to focus on technologies that can actually correct, rather than just diagnose, disorders — like http://www.brainstatetech.com/category/depression — I’m not paid to share it.

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    • “A good outcome from this healthy debate would be funding to develop more rigorous and balanced diagnostic tests that could include fMRIS of brain activity, blood tests for hormone levels, DNA tests, more targeted questionnaires about thoughts and emotions, or other creative and evidence-based approaches.”

      Considering that nobody knows what(if any) biological malfunction causes depression, this would be a ridiculous waste of money. There are already unscrupulous psychiatrists out there doing brain scans to sucker patients into trusting them, effectively heightening the FAITH-BASED response to the drugs.

      Instead of wasting another 20 billion dollars a year in protecting the status quo with new science imagery, I would argue that any more money spent on mental health in this country should be spent on helping people become healthy and independent. That would include treatment and services that work on getting and keeping most patients off drugs and off disability.

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      • Well said. And following off your points here, it would make entirely too much sense [sarcasm intended] to direct funding towards the factors that we already know are significantly correlated with mental distress, such as:

        …collaborative methods of psychosocial support for individuals, children, family, couples and general relationships and social systems (we already know how to do this, and we know that it really helps for most people, so why does most of the health care and research funding go towards drugs, drugs, and more drugs?)

        …eliminating poverty (enough already with unbridled capitalism–does anyone really need millions of dollars to meet their needs while others have to live lives that are little more than socially sanctioned slavery?)

        …general social empowerment (e.g., taking the power back from corporations and the elite and working towards a true non-hierarchical democracy)

        …supporting people in moving towards meaningful, fulfilling lives (e.g., an education system for both children and adults that builds on the innate curiosity and ambition that exists within all of us when our basic needs are getting met–a system that emphasizes choice and diversity rather than control and conformity, and which is fully subsidized for all)

        …physical health, including healthy environments and easy access to natural and thriving ecosystems (e.g., a farm bill that subsidizes organic, sustainable local farmers rather the junk spit out by mega-corporations, and a renewed dedication to parks and wildlands)

        …peace (e.g., it’s well established that simply imprisoning ‘criminals’ and continuing to bomb the heck out of other countries in the name of ‘war on terror’ simply makes more ‘criminals’ and more ‘terrorists’–how about trying some meaningful dialogue and working towards strategies that allow everyone’s needs to be met?)

        Imagine that. A “health care system” that acknowledges that living organisms naturally thrive when certain basic conditions are met, and then simply working to cultivate these basic conditions?

        Or we could just continue with business as usual, allowing every aspect of our lives to become increasingly toxic and simply developing ever more powerful drugs to try to keep us numb to it all. Maybe those apocalyptic movies depicting a futuristic world inhabited by zombies aren’t all that far off the mark…


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        • As I re-read that persons comment, I was reminded of how a psychiatrist would measure my skull (phrenology! In the early 1990’s!) when I was 6-7 years old and use all this technical sounding jargon to try to convince my parents that he was a real doctor. The use of brain scans is absolutely no different, except that it’s a whole lot more expensive. They don’t have the science to warrant using any such technologies for any purpose, either diagnostic or research. At this point, the only reason to do so is DECEIT. Which, as I’ve said a lot already, I don’t believe they should be legally allowed to do.

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          • Jeffrey,

            Excellent point considering Dr. Amen! No wonder other psychiatrists are livid because he’s been making a bundle pushing this bogus fraud! They are furious because they didn’t think of it first!

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          • Actually, harmless brainwave monitoring has found that depressive symptoms are correlated with brainwaves that are greater in amplitude on the left side of the brain than the right. This indicates a freeze response. A fight-or-flight response correlates with right-side dominance. This is discussed around minute 27-29 of the Webinar, “Ask Lee: A Conversation with Lee…”
            http://www.brainstatetech.com/webinars (I’m not paid to share this!)

            That company takes the position that brain imbalances generally result from trauma. Once the brain becomes harmonized, people interact harmoniously, and thus more successfully. So, they don’t need disability. It can be great for victims who want justice, as the technology can tell how predators’ brainwaves are patterned: http://www.brainstatetech.com/blog/penn-state-and-pedophilia-lee-gerdes-explains-how-brain-drives-behavior

            Hey, plenty of people can tell us people are great! It’s great when people relate harmoniously. However, many people have been through severe traumas – involving people! Afterwards, they’ve talked with lots of people (many highly qualified and gifted). Yet, still people can’t relieve their symptoms as quickly and effectively as this technology can. If more people stood up within local organizations and asked for technologies that work even better than people(!), much suffering would be relieved for good! As of now, many people are suffering! This is not a faith-based deceit, it’s really happening. It’s a tragedy! Just like giving people psychiatric drugs etc. that harm them is a tragedy!

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      • I definitely agree that the best use of depression research money is for solutions. But in order to find solutions, research also needs to find better evidence about causes. There actually is good research about brain activity and depression – see the work of Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin or Yvette Sheline at Washington University. My recent blog post describes both.


        Mend – My Journey Through Science to Fix Depression

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  9. What a joy it was for me to see the long list of evocative, articulate comments thoroughly debunking Dr. Lieberman’s arguments (not that he gave himself anything particularly solid to stand on). I intended to respond myself but found it difficult to come up with anything more substantial than what others had already said.

    Thanks, everyone. You really made my day!


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  10. I felt a need to comment so have posted the following which may or may not see the light of day

    As chair of the Danish Hearing Voices Network, I presume I am probably one of them placed under the banner of anti-psychiatry by Jeffrey A. Lieberman. Personally, I prefer to define myself, and the Hearing Voices Network, as post-psychiatry.

    Lieberman appears to find that being against psychiatry is no different to being against cardiology, orthopaedics or gynaecology I beg to differ. A fundamental difference between these medical specialities and psychiatry is that there is solid physical evidence such as heart disease, broken bones and pregnancy to support them. Psychiatry has no such evidence but it is only now that this lack of evidence is seeing the light of day on a large scale, a fact that psychiatry including Lieberman himself is being forced to acknowledge. Another profound difference is that psychiatry has been given the socially condoned authority to force people into treatment despite having no evidence that what they are treating actually exists. This equates to human rights abuse something The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E Méndez (2013) agrees with, stating

    “It is important that States review the anti-torture framework in relation to persons with disabilities in line with the CRPD. States should impose an absolute ban on all forced and non-consensual medical interventions against persons with disabilities, including the non-consensual administration of psychosurgery, electroshock and mind-altering drugs, for both long- and short- term application”.

    Lieberman refers quite rightly to psychiatry’s chequered history however, he fails to mention the even darker history, that of psychiatry’s role in the eugenics era with forced sterilizations and in Germany actually killing those defined as a burden to society. Today psychiatry uses psychotropic drugs and I suspect that just like we look back now to the times when people were put in straitjackets and exposed to insulin shock therapy and lobotomy with horror, we too will be looking back on this period of time, the chemical era, with shame. For Lieberman fails to acknowledge the lived evidence that the people whom I represent, myself included, epitomize. The fact is those who are labelled schizophrenic and placed on powerful antipsychotics can expect to live on average 25 years shorter than those in the normal population. Tragically, those labeled schizophrenic are not alone in these statistics. A recent article published by a prominent Danish Professor of psychiatry showed, that for every one young woman in the age group 18 to 30 who died in the normal population 14.4 young women of the same age were dying in Danish psychiatric group homes while the number in treatment psychiatry was 13.9. Nowhere else do we see a medical specialty that actually shortens people’s lives such as we see in psychiatry.

    Knowledge is power, however the knowledge that psychiatry has based its medical model upon is being exposed as fraudulent and is I believe being clearly expressed here when the President-elect feels compelled to resort to name-calling rather than simply producing the evidence for the ‘scientific evidence’ upon which they base their profession and ultimately damage so many people.

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    • These are disturbing numbers. Is there any statistics that shows the causes of death? How many accidents? How many suicides? How many deaths due to the non-psychological side effects of the medication?

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      • Unfortunately no, the causes of death were not listed but they wrote
        “The treatment of some of the patients in supported psychiatric housing facilities is very complicated, and lack of treatment response, use of psychiatric poly-pharmacy, and sudden unexpected deaths are common problems.”
        Which says a lot right there. At a later date I saw that professor Nordentoft was surprised that suicide played such a small role but I have been unable to find the article where she said that right now so I won’t say more on that. However this study with these shocking numbers is based on a very large sample http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21947476
        I had heard a rumor of some research showing high death rates and found the article which had had a quiet existence. The focus of the article was not so much about mortality but hidden in there were the numbers. As part of our campaign exposing the dangers of psychiatric drugs and that people are dying the numbers were ‘outed’ http://www.information.dk/312127
        I am sure if other countries start to investigate deaths shocking numbers will be found too. In fact doing a campaign just focusing on that is very, very powerful. When we started we were seen as extremely provoking and condemned but when we ended it with among other things a concert we had so many bands wanting to play for free for us! Our campaign which lasted 2 years has had a big effect, we chose to focus on the general public rather than trying to change psychiatry and when we ended the media (coincidently) took over focusing on over medication, wrong medication deaths etc. So right now psychiatry is struggling. Just this month the family organization “Better Psychiatry” did a survey that showed that nearly 50% were worried that their loved one was in danger of dying due to their psychiatric drug treatment.

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  11. I know it is unwise to say this but I AM anti-psychiatry. Not anti-psychology or anti-therapy or anti-neurology or anti-biology or anti-pharmacology, I am not even anti-animal-testing. I am just anti-psychiatry. Someone should tell Dr. Lieberman (what an ironic name for such a nasty piece of work to have) that it is not all the same; actually, I’m sure he already knows that very well.

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    • yeah, why are people so scared to say this? I am anti-psychiatry, both in practice and in theory. I am of course not against bringing help and support to those in emotional crisis, but that is NOT synonymous with psychiatry at all. Psychiatry as we now contend with it– biological/medical model– is clearly complete bunk, but it was also failing people in many ways before that was the dominant model. Anyone who has read Jonathan Metzl’s fascinating books can recognize how it is that the same goals and conceptual approaches were actually transmitted across psychiatry, from the psychotherapy era to the drugs-aid-psychotherapy era, to the present brains-and-drugs-are-the-end-all-be-all era. I am anti-psychiatry; I’m not sure why most people on this website shy away from saying that. If it is because of the cult of $cientology, I think we need to worry about them far less than that.

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  12. I suddenly remembered that Bob Whitaker wrote a fantastic article on THE TAINT OF EUGENICS IN NIMH FUNDED RESEARCH TODAY on the MIA web site, so I found it:


    Bob does an excellent job demonstrating psychiatry’s stubborn ideological sole focus on eugenics in so called mental health treatment that has contributed greatly to increased stigma and the increasing disabilty from so called treatment and horrible rights abuses of the so called “mentally ill.”

    Anyway, I thought it would be good to post this so that we do not lose sight of Dr. Insel’s real agenda for the NIMH. As Bob Whitaker exposes in this superb article, it is the same barren landscape of the past several decades of ongoing stubborn insistence of seeking the holy grail of “mental illness” genes and/or biological causes within the victims that has created the horrific consequences Bob exposes in his all too enlightening books, MAD IN AMERICA and ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC and in this essay.

    Many “experts” that had strong beliefs of finding such genes or biological evidence in the brain for mental illness have admitted that is highly unlikely. Others on this site claim that such modern researchers admit secretly there is not much to be found in this empty gene pool for mental illness. Dr. Jay Joseph like others has debunked the GENE ILLUSION while exposing THE MISSING GENE in his great books and articles.

    As we all know, not finding the evidence for their reductionist agenda does not stop psychiatry/BIG PHARMA from providing all the necessary lies that evidence has been found with bogus research and ghost written articles to “prove” it as they have done with the junk science DSM for all too many years. Unfortunately, we can expect more of the same from the psychiatry/BIG PHARMA/GOVERNMENT cartel in the future because psychiatry exists as an arm of police states pretending to be democracies so social control, fascism/totalitarianism and all civil, human, democratic and constitutional rights can be robbed from anyone falsely accused of being “mentally ill” with no regard for their circumstances or environmental stressors. Such victims also lose all due process as Jim Gottstein exposes in his great articles due to predetermined kangaroo courts where judges and psychiatrists collude to also deny the “mentally ill” of any justice or fair hearing and bow to the whim of the psychiatrist.

    Our entire country, government, all citizens and any decent, real medical expert should be totally ashamed that such an institution as forced biopsychiatry exists in a supposed democratic country ruled by the U.S. Constitution. The NIMH and other so called government “health” agencies should be even more ashamed for pushing the horrific eugenics agenda that caused the murder of the so called “mentally ill” by psychiatry in NAZI Germany as practice for the ultimate Holocaust they incited that included all other scapegoats for a defeated country struggling with a poor economy.

    I have posted Dr. Peter Breggin’s excellent article elsewhere several times about psychiatry’s huge contribution to the German Holocaust. Those who presided over the Nuremburg Trials admitted that without psychiatry, the Holocaust would probably have never happened.

    Yet, Dr. Lieberman talks about his great pride in all the recent advances of psychiatry while calling for any heretics to be “burned at the stake” at least in a metaphorical sense. Such a fascist view is in keeping with Dr. Szasz’s comparison of THE THERAPEUTIC STATE or psychiatry exerting government social control with the latest witch hunts, inquisitions and torture treatments in the guise of medicine and “mental health”as the Church did in the name of their religion. Psychiatry is the new state religion forced on one and all since it is based only on faith and not science.

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

    George Santayanna

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  13. This is damage control by Lieberman as the incoming President of the APA. In Sept 26, 2003 after David Oaks and the MindFreedom hunger strikers and the panel of dissidents had forced the APA to admit they did not have proof that emotional problems were correlated with, let alone caused by, anomalies in the brain, the APA counter-attacked the strikers as anti-Science. Psychiatry has been wrapping itself in that mantle since it first became custodians of those mad it captured and locked up in “humane” custodial asylums–to use Lieberman’s term.

    Although Thomas Szasz opposed the term “anti-psychiatry” I think it is arguably accurate enough. However I think the term “post-psychiatry”–used here by Dr Runciman and the title of a book by Bradly Lewis– has advantages from a PR standpoint. That is: We have nothing AGAINST Psychiatry. It is just completely irrelevant. Its time has come and gone. This has nothing to do with science per se.

    Note how the APA invoked Science in 2003. They sought to define Oaks et al (including scientific researchers) as radical(this time they invoke “anarchy”) impatient neo-Luddites in effect who seek to impede Scientific Progress.

    The APA wrote,”It is unfortunate that in the face of this remarkable scientific and clinical progress,
    a small number of individuals and groups persist in questioning the reality
    and clinical legitimacy of disorders that affect the mind, brain, and behavior.
    One recent challenge contended that the lack of a diagnostic laboratory test
    capable of confirming the presence of a mental disorder constituted evidence
    that these disorders are not medically valid conditions.
    While the membership of the American Psychiatric Association (APA)
    respects the right of individuals to express their impatience with the pace of
    science, we note that the human brain is the most complex and challenging object of study…”
    Note that it is alleged that the protesters challenged the “CLINICAL legitimacy” of certain mental disorders and denied that these disorders were “MEDICALLY valid” conditions. The transparent wording reveals that the APA is asserting its ownership rights. Thus, who are the protesters to deny that e.g., unhappiness is a “clinically legitimate”and “medically valid” condition, i.e. a depressive disorder? The APA rhetoric implies that the protesters are in a battle to deny the existential WORTH of “mental illnesses” protected by psychiatrists.

    But the APA will not take this lying down.

    “In the months and years ahead, the APA, along with the National Alliance
    for the Mentally Ill {little did they know within a decade they be on other sides], the Nation’s mental health research and clinical communities,
    and the public at large will strive to achieve the President’s New Freedom
    Mental Health vision, and will not be distracted by those who would deny that
    serious mental disorders are real medical conditions that can be diagnosed
    accurately and treated effectively.” Ell haha the NIMH now says
    the APA is failing.
    The APA is continuing the same battle as in the 19th century: They assert that psychiatrists are as “legitimate” and
    “valid” as any other medical specialists and thus the disorders they treat are as clinically valid and medically legitimate as real illneses. This is really about THEM. They are bogus doctors, pseudo-scientists attempting to define problems in living as real medical conditions, so they can justify their use of brain-damaging drugs. Any ethical medical student would be well advised to steer clear of Psychiatry–or its allied partners in the other “mental health” professions.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.,http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Gift-Madness-Psychiatry-ebook/dp/B0082CXELU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369482567&sr=1-1&keywords=farber+gift

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    • but, it seems to me that we have plenty against psychiatry. We are against the mass drugging, the forced drugging/treatment, the labeling, the stigmatizing, the lying, them taking advantage of power differentials to control and overpower people, them taking advantage of our emotional distress to make money, them giving people brain damage and diabetes (and then selling the drugs to treat it, natch!)– etc. How can you say that we have nothing against psychiatry?!

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  14. I support your wishes Paris

    I am anti behavioural therapies when they are used to modify people’s behaviour through coercion, reward & punishment, implied ‘faulty’ cognitions and people are told this is the only psychological therapy available to them. I am anti psychology when it uses similar diagnostic codes and assumptions as psychiatry. I am anti therapy when it head fucks people denying experience as an intellectual exercise and refuses to accept different belief systems. I am anti psychiatry when it forces physical treatments. I am anti recovery when it prescribes what that is in no less prescriptive terms than psychiatric diagnoses. I am anti divide & rule being reflected in survivor movements. I am anti governments using psychiatry to further their social policies. I am anti capitalism which helps to deliver many people to psychiatry’s doorstep. I am anti corporations and the powerful making money out of people’s misery alongside psychiatry.
    Describing myself purely as ‘anti-psychiatry’ wouldn’t really encompass my position.

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    • point taken– and very eloquently put. but why is there a special feeling for you about (not) saying “anti-x” when the “x” in question is “psychiatry”? After all, in the above comment you seem quite happy to fold into a description your position “anti-psychology,” “anti-recovery,” “anti-capitalist,” etc. No one thinks (at least no one I know, but correct me if this is rampant where you are) that one can only be “anti-” one thing at a time and therefore any description of one’s position must strive to capture every facet of one’s overall analysis at once. In that case, yes, to describe your (or my) position as “anti-psychiatry” would be leaving out too much. But I don’t think that is the context in which the term comes up 99% of the time.

      I really think that the fear of/retreating from / preference to move away from the term “anti-psychiatry” has much, much more to do with historical factors than that it is a theoretically inadequate term. I would guess that people who don’t want to use it basically do not want to be associated with Szasz, Laing, or maybe the 1960’s in general, or $cientology. All understandable reasons. But I just wish people would be more up front about why this term has fallen out of favor for them. If it has more to do with the fact that people who use an appellation with “anti” in it are too threatening and/or frightening to “normal” people, that in my opinion is something that needs to be considered carefully. Do we want to grind down our point in order not to prick such people? maybe we do, maybe we don’t. (related questions: who do we want to reach? who is it most necessary to reach? what are we willing to compromise on? What do we confront that others on the anti-capitalist left, say, don’t? etc.) It’s a debate and discussion worth having but it can’t be had if no one owns up to why we are all constantly denying that anyone is “anti-psychiatry.”

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      • meremortal,

        I’m against psychiatry as practiced in the past and as practiced today – namely, by deception and with coercion.

        But the term “anti-psychiatry” says very little about my views. The term may be accurate, but says nothing about what I’m *for*.

        I get to define myself (as we all do).
        And I consider myself to be:

        Pro-freedom, pro-wellness, pro-recovery, pro-thriving.


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        • Of course you get to define yourself, Duane. I wasn’t suggesting that “anti-psychiatry” is how you “should” identify yourself, or that you need my thoughts to know how to “properly” identify yourself. I’m not trying to instruct you, in other words, and am sorry if I came off that way. I was merely trying to explore why it is that people shy away from that term and, since you were conveniently here and doing that, I asked you.

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    • also, I don’t actually think that it is insignificant whether one thinks that psychiatry is simply being done “badly” right now or if one believes that it is a fundamentally flawed approach to human emotional distress that cannot and should not be salvaged. Those are very different positions.

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  15. I have no fear in stating my position meremortal and know full well which of my views are likely to be caricatured, reviled, or dismissed – doesn’t stop me from saying it. I don’t solely define myself as ‘anti psychiatry’ because for me that word does not adequately convey my thoughts regarding psychiatry, and that has nothing to do with fearing what others think of me. I don’t identify with Szasz and Scientology, but I do think Laing had a few things to say which I’d support, but my decision on how to define myself is not predicated on what that might be associated with. If I wanted to define myself solely as anti psychiatry then I would do so.
    Every model has its flaws, not only psychiatry, difference is it’s backed by legislation and it’s all mental health services offer so it’s not a choice.

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    • Fair enough. The question for me remains the “why” question. I don’t dispute anyone may not want to identify as anti-psychiatry– I don’t even have a “set” thing I identify as in conversations about radical views on mental health, certainly not “anti-psychiatry” every time. i’m just asking questions.

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  16. The reason I don’t use the term “antipsychiatry” is solely because that term has been corrupted by the psychiatric profession into a derogatory term that implies a knee-jerk reaction against anything any psychiatrist thinks of. It suggests irrationality and a lack of supporting data, neither of which is true from my perspective. In actual point of fact, it is mainstream psychiatry itself that is irrational and lacks supporting data. This general movement could be called pro-empowerment or anti-enforced treatment or pro-choice or pro-client or a number of things, but anti-psychiatry is now a polluted term that can too easily be used to make us into caricatures and marginalize our views. I get that individuals may want to re-claim that title, much as the word “mad” is being reclaimed, or “gay” or “queer” have been reclaimed by the gay rights movement. I have no issue with individuals taking this stand, but my point in my response was that Dr. Lieberman was using it as a pejorative term to broad-brush any opposition as being irrational and irrelevant.

    I posted a response to Dr. Pies’ comment which just showed up today. I doubt he’ll have the courage or decency to reply.

    — Steve

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    • Steve,

      I agree.

      Psychiatry’s definition of “anti-psychiatry” is anti-science, anti-patient, anti-research, anti-evidenced based medicine… all kinds of nonsense.

      The term is used to mock, ridicule, marginalize.

      I’m not afraid to admit that I oppose the conventional model as practiced today – with deception and coercion. But I choose not to call myself “anti-psychiatry” any longer.

      I prefer to focus on building the case for options, community, wellness, thriving. Simply put, I’m pro-hope and all the things that bring hope.



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