5 Things You’ve Taught me about Civility, Empathy, and Asking the Hard Questions


For a time this community intimidated me. I was in somewhat unfamiliar territory. Reading your impassioned cries for understanding and accurate analysis of ideas I’d never really thought about has been moving and enlightening for me. Some of you have been through things I’d rather not imagine. Your stories fiercely bring to mind the fates of some of my closest friends; they remind me of challenges faced and horrors narrowly avoided in my own efforts to “pass,” even as I worried I was completely mad.

I have spent a lot of time watching and learning from the conversations on this site, fumbling as I discovered that some elements of my previous experience in community management do not apply here — it would be an obvious injustice to apply blunt tools of moderation to this intricate arrangement of individuals. I consider myself an anti-oppression agent at heart, thusly I have been extra careful about excluding anyone from the conversation unless their comments have been unabashedly hurtful.

Today I will tell you five things I have learned, and how I would like us to be doing things differently.

1) We are an Intersectional Community. This site beautifully, in my opinion, brings together career mental health workers along with advocates, consumers, survivors, and ex-patients. We are home to a conversation with far-reaching implications about race, class, gender, sexuality, science, oppression, and human nature. As a space where multiple cultures collide, we are bound to encounter opposing beliefs and struggle to empathize with each others’ roles and experiences.

My hope is that these intersections can consistently nourish us, making us smarter and more kind through looking with an open mind at the way our beliefs clash with others’. There is only one way I know of that this can happen, which is that we really listen to one another. We must take the time to acknowledge the merits and intelligence of what others are saying and how they came to say those things, even when we completely disagree! When writing, this sometimes means taking a breath and sincerely choosing words like “I wonder…” and “What about… ?” and “Another point of view might be…” Rather than making authoritative statements about why someone else’s truth is invalid.

2) Shaming is not productive. I have never seen a conversation on this site enriched by bullying, badgering, sarcasm, character attacks, gratuitous and redundant arguments, long emotional diatribes, gang-ups, or any other form of communication that serves to diminish, exclude, disregard, disdain, attack, or humiliate another individual. I’ve had lengthy conversations about this with some of you, and I recognize that a spare few of you will vehemently disagree with this thing I’ve learned: My view is that we simply cannot in good conscience condone any form of communication which intends to emotionally satisfy one party at the expense of another. This kind of abuse feels much like the failures of communication and empathy that I see associated with the practice of biological psychiatry and the phenomena that get called “mental illness.”

While I have heard of no direct benefit ever coming to anybody due to this sort of commenting, I have heard the opposite countless times now: Very intelligent, skilled, and caring people are unwilling to participate in a conversation with us out of fear of these attacks. Most painfully for me, detractors of Bob Whitaker and this site use the aggression in our comments as a reason to disregard our mission entirely. We want to run a site that people are able to explore and participate in without fear of the fanatic jack-in-the-box, sitting on its springs, waiting to pop up and rip someone a new one the moment they offer a thought that doesn’t match the survivor-approved gold standard of word-choice and understanding.

That said…

3) Oppression is real, violent, and damaging. I believe that the actions of forced drugging, lying to patients about science, misrepresentations of data, stigmatizing use of pseudoscientific labels, and corrupt collusion between academic psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry are huge problems. People with positions of power over others have a very real, legal potential to do harm to individuals who pass under their care. These are realities that deserve to be exposed and questioned.

4) Given the reality of oppression, we have very hard questions to address. Here are several to chew on: To what degree can emotional distress be tracked and remedied through the body? Is healthy food important? Exercise? What about supplements? Why? Can science help us find better ways to support peoples’ biology? What drugs are helpful, used in what way? To what degree can emotional distress be tracked and remedied through interpersonal relationships and other environmental factors? To what degree do power imbalances contribute to and exacerbate the problems we are trying to solve, and how do we make support available without these imbalances? What are reasonable boundaries on acceptable behavior? When ought we impose them, for how long, and in what way? What are kind, effective, and practical ways of responding to physical violence and other extremely disruptive behavior when it does occur? What is the relationship between confusion, anger, trauma, drugs, and violence? What is the most helpful way to advocate for people who have been damaged from years of psychiatric maltreatment? What about those who are just getting their first diagnosis, or about to get one? In what immediate, effective ways can we reduce harm? How, in our everyday life, can we create a world better equipped to support those in emotional distress and heal all manner of interpersonal crises? How can we create a world where fewer people experience such distress in the first place?

These are only a sampling of the difficult territory we tread as a rich, intersectional community. I bring these up in particular to highlight the final point…

5) Nobody has the answers. One of the scariest things in life, in my experience, is all the uncertainty. When it comes to emotional distress and social/behavioral crises it is hard to be certain what the causes are and how to be most helpful in response. When someone disagrees with me, it’s hard to be certain whether they’ve really considered my position or not. Are they disparaging and hateful of what I represent, or has it merely not crossed their minds? It is easy to be certain that someone else is stupid, ignorant, or hostile, and then respond pretty much in kind because “that’s what they deserve.” Unfortunately, this approach — where I am certain that I am right and the other person is wrong — teaches neither of us anything new. It creates a hostile atmosphere, and the unborn fruits of our dialogue are lost. This combative, “othering” attitude is, I believe, a significant root of the very failings of psychiatry we would all like to address.

In summary, I am updating our posting guidelines so that our authors and commenters can have a clearer framework for understanding the dialogue here. We are also sending out an updated set of editorial guidelines for authors that reflect these changes and encourage awareness of the range of experiences and beliefs represented by the MIA audience. Please review the new set of values and additions to the guidelines.

The important amendments I want to highlight are these:

We are a shame-free zone. Language that primarily exists to disparage, shame, dismiss, taunt, bait, exclude, or otherwise diminish another person is not allowed on Mad In America. Comments containing such language will be removed, and people who cross this line will be put on moderation. In these cases moderation periods will last longer (at least a week) and temporary bans for repeat offenses will be swifter than before.

We are a certainty-free zone. Benefit of the doubt will be given in all cases. Commenters are asked to refrain from assuming or inferring anything about another person’s position. Errors of omission or misuse of terms are always assumed to be made in good faith. A person’s choice not to acknowledge or respond to specific arguments will not be assumed to be malicious, or a sign of a character flaw, or otherwise held against them. Under no circumstances may individuals represent and attack an argument that is not explicitly made by the person they are responding to. This “strawman attack” behavior is disruptive, unkind, and too often committed in error. When in doubt, ask the other person an open-ended question rather than declaring you know their truth.

We are an oppression-free zone. Statements that attack or assume things about a person based on a label they carry (i.e. “psychiatrist” or “schizophrenic”) are similarly not condoned.

Major changes in moderation:

1) We ask that each comment serve to advance the discussion started by the original article. Low content posts may be moderated.

2) Off-topic comments will be moved to the community forums, where I intend to participate personally in supporting an in-depth interior dialogue among the MiA community. I’ve noticed that a very small number of commenters tend to make many long posts. Sometimes these are in the context of exclusive personal exchanges, or discussion of one’s personal story and feelings unrelated to the article. These comments, while valuable, veer far from the original topic of the page. In order to welcome more on-topic discussion of individual articles, I am asking that the MIA regulars please make use of the discussion forums to carry on these conversations with each other, continue long-running arguments, and so forth. Reference links can be made back and forth between forum topics and blog posts to help guide any reader who wants to participate the “insider” conversation. I will be personally making this happen with posts I deem too gratuitous or off-topic to be a blog comment. The forums are also an appropriate place to express personal feelings about discussion happening in blog comments or MIA in general. We can use them to support each other in our growing understandings and in our efforts toward kind and effective communication.

3) Moderation will be made more clear and transparent. We will send a copy of moderated posts to the new Moderation Forum along with some information about why the action was taken. A link will be provided from the original comment. The reason for moderation will no longer be stated in the comment itself.

One final thing I want to emphasize is that we consider all conversations on the site to be “eye-level,” meaning that nobody is higher than anybody else in status or authority in this dialogue. We seek to provide a forum outside the daily power dynamics of helper and helped, professional and patient, and so forth. On our site, people from all sorts of backgrounds participate in candid, open dialogue. In this spirit, we address one another as equals, aiming to strip away the assumptions, shame, blame, and other prejudices that we might have developed in our everyday roles.

As always, these measure are imperfect attempts to realize a space where healthy, civil, intelligent conversation can occur between a wide range of individuals.

I recognize that some of you whom I have communicated with personally may feel alienated or uncomfortably limited by the new structure. Some of you would prefer that Mad In America be primarily an advocacy site. Maybe you are less interested in civil conversation and including anybody who doesn’t fundamentally agree with your position already. If any of you decide to step away that seems very understandable to me, though I’ll be sorry to see it. I believe that every voice is important to this dialogue. I hope that together we are creating a space where each voice can be at its most potent: By being heard in a conversation that generously welcomes all those who would benefit from hearing what you have to say, without sacrificing for a moment the clarity of your message.

My colleague Laura Delano had this to add:

When we attack each other here, we in fact replicate the force and harm that’s been done to people by the mental health system. Words can be weapons just as syringes and restraints can. When we attack someone else with words, we become no better than those who harm people against their will in the name of “treatment.”

My colleague Kermit Cole put it this way:

We all want to make the best of our time on earth; making sense of ourselves, others, and our world in the process. It’s a miraculous achievement when anyone pulls it off, and I guess what I hope for here on MIA is that we all do our best to help each other out in the process.

Thank you for joining us in this experimental and, we hope, paradigm-shifting community.

***Update on moderation approach after conversation with community.***


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


  1. Well it looks like I’ll be leaving. My position is that what the professionals are doing at this point is criminal and needs to be treated as such, with criminal prosecutions in the works. That being said, I don’t see how I could possibly keep from shaming them. They have absolutely no reason to be denying the science of their own profession except for their own personal gain. People have been practically screaming from the roof tops about how the drugs are ineffective and cause brain damage, while referring them to studies from their own field, and yet they put over a million children on those drugs while PROFITING in the process.

    IMO, they don’t deserve civility. But instead of being a trouble maker, I’ll just leave.

    • I don’t think you should leave. I think those of us who feel strongly about this should argue for our point of view. Also, as I have pointed out in my own comment, most if not all of the mental health professionals who still write for MIA seem pretty decent, and, myself, if I disagree with them I have no problem being polite about it.

    • I remember many times of seamlessly believing in my position as regards primum nocere, that is that immediately and with every opportunity almost all psychiatrists seek to abrogate a troubled persons civil rights with involuntary and coerced “treatment”. But really I had not decided what there was for me to say while still very much in the grips of intense feelings of being wronged. Specifically, the indications that my interest was somewhat in empowerment or sharing control in decisions about my best interests seemed part of the warrant for denying me freedom and compelling my participation in “therapy” that was not at all uniquely determined by my own real needs.
      However, I could not realize all there was to consider about my impassioned beliefs amid the vast social consequences of bringing up the topic in America until, like the famous layers of the onion peeling off, I carefully admitted that mine was entirely a case of reaction to the sense of injustice and the real injustice that implicated all of my feeling and ability to respond. From there it was easier to like the idea of criminal and tort measures to counter what should unexceptionably be recgnized as illegal detention.
      Obviously, I see no systemic progress in the field scientifically available except as people who suffer seek to get help and voluntarily describe for what however often that needs to be until the need for a “diagnosis” gets transcended, if not pre-empted. Likewise, while the mental hospitals serve as alternatives to jails nothing good will happen.
      New to the site, Jeffrey C.’s posts reminded me of the incorribility of mainstreams views, how they can re-activate multiple aspects of that which disfrancises and depersonalizes and throws recovery off track altogether.

  2. This seems to be connected with a comment Bob made at the NAMI conference, when MIA was attacked as having too many writers who were “anti-psychiatry.” He pointed out that we survivors gave certain pompous and oppressive psychiatrists a hard time, and so they left. As most of you know, I was tortured by psychiatrists for many years, and they took away my entire childhood. I cannot pretend that anyone who defends this should be given an audience. There are plenty of places where people like this can find an audience, and very few where people like me can be heard.

    There are still plenty of psychiatrists and mental health professionals on this site now, and while I don’t always agree with them, I feel no need to attack them, because I think they are participating sincerely and trying to be helpful.

    But if this site starts welcoming shock doctors and people who don’t really see us survivors as full human beings, what is the point of the whole website? You might as well become Psychology Today.

    I totally agree that we should try to respect one another, and personal attacks should be strongly discouraged. But when some psychiatrist starts defending in essence what was done to me and people like me, it is HE who is making a personal attack. Even if my name is not mentioned, it is as if I were black, and the other person started talking about “niggers.” Would I be cautioned to be “objective” about that? I don’t think anyone has an obligation to be polite to such people.

    So, once again, civility is important, I agree. But it would be intolerable to me if MIA became so “objective” that it stood for nothing. If some of these oppressive shrinks want to talk about us as if we are subhuman, they should be encouraged to write for the Psychiatric Times or Psychology Today where they belong.

    • Well said. I don’t believe that psychiatrists were chased away from MIA. They chose to leave and had the freedom to do so.

      If only I had the same freedom when engaging with psychiatry when mentally distressed, grabbed and jagged, forcibly treated, along with all my family members who went through the same tortuous process of being made to conform.

      Family history of schizoaffective disorder, labels of hebephrenic schizophrenia, bipolar disorder. Bullied and intimidated as a carer for standing up for my son in a locked ward. In 2012. As they shut him in a seclusion room, no toilet or water to drink. Jagging him forcibly with haloperidol until he was compliant. Threats of higher security wards. Police accusing me of psychological harm, because I wouldn’t stand back and let the system do what they liked.

      Let’s get real. MIA is a blogging website and information resource. We can engage in discussions, sometimes they get heated, people feel hurt, others get moderated, bloggers get their punctuation altered, it passes the time of day. Then we have to get back on with the important stuff. Of everyday living in our non-virtual communities.

      I’m beginning to think that some folk could be getting too big for their boots or have delusions of grandeur.

    • Agreed Ted. I explained that to Matthew in private as well. I think it is a false moral equivalence to put us, survivors of psychiatric abuse, at the same level as those who perpetrated the abuse.

      Our society already shames criminals publicly. If we agree that the current psychiatric paradigm does more damage than good, that many, if not most, psychiatrists are fine with the abuses because they only care about their own gain, I see absolutely no problem in shaming them.

      When a psychiatrist defends forced drugging, as it was done to me, I don’t see why I should respect him/her in anyway. We do not ask victims of rape to respect their rapists. I don’t see what makes those who commit psychiatric abuses more deserving of respect than rapists, honestly.

  3. Thank you Mathew.
    I think this is an important and timely refinement. It will encourage me to stay and comment more often. My reluctance to comment on discussions I felt strongly about, such as Jill Litrell’s “Talk Therapy Can Harm Too”, is sometimes motivated from concern that I would hurt feelings.
    I strongly agreed with her(including her responses to comments), and thought her brave for declaring her position.
    I think its noteworthy to the discussion here that Jill and I would likely completely disagree about the question of causation. she is a self declared biologist, and I am a self declared, (and quite stubborn) behaviorist. Opposite ends of the”nature versus nurture” argument.
    I think an important step in our movement is to seek out more public discussion through mainstream media. A good example of this was in response to Dr Leiberman’s essay in Scientific American. The reaction was more powerful because of the number of commenters who did not agree and expressed their opinions reasonably. This spoke volumes.
    I hope that more of us will wade into the waters of public disagreement, rather then restrict ourselves only to the safety and comfort of reassurance and agreement here.

  4. Matthew I support what you’re saying and Laura’s words.
    I too felt intimidated when I first posted here, not antipsychiatry enough, too focused on social injustice for some members liking. I strongly feel we must hold onto our empathy in disagreement, I have stated that a couple of times.
    I was away for a couple of weeks and on my return found my comments to be moderated, ‘awaiting moderation’.
    I had no idea I had offended so please could you let me know what I did, I’m fine with apologising to anyone where that is the decent thing to do

  5. I’m very grateful for all the work you do for the site and the community. Thank you. I think history has proved that all successful movements are nonviolent and radically forgiving. It’s terribly hard to get there, tho. Something I do really like about Mad In America is that you seem to hold in mind exactly who you’re doing this for.

  6. I am one of those folks who have brain damage from 20 years of multiple psych drugs. At present I am over 4 years off all of it. I have a hard time understanding the real message you are giving here Matt. It’s not okay to say you were badly harmed and severely wounded by being a compliant patient? I understand that some psychiatrists who posted here have left. I am guessing that they don’t want to hear how badly they have hurt and even killed thousands of innocent people? I think that is quite common that perpetrators don’t want hear that and they certainly don’t want to take responsibility for doing so. The prisons are full of such people.

    Is there a special way to talk to your abusers that won’t make them run away and allow them to hear what you’re saying without feeling threatened? I have much respect for those who admit that their life’s work is a sham and they are very sorry that they chose that profession. I have even greater respect for those who have the honour and dignity to face that and change direction by actually helping people withdraw safely from the drugs. I like that very much. I am full of forgiveness for such people.

  7. Matthew

    I support the essence of your attempt to establish fair and appropriate standards for dialogue at MIA.

    On some of these issues there are fine lines between appropriate and inappropriate that can only be fully established over time and in the course of the actual struggle to change the world.

    You have made a good start and I appreciate your hard work and your sincere efforts to struggle with us over the best ways to wage this battle.

    I have always advocated an approach that seeks to unite “all who can be united” (both inside and outside the current mental health system) around an ideology and program to defeat Biological Psychiatry (I am anti-Biological Psychiatry, not anti-psychiatry) as part of a broader struggle for social justice and human rights for all.

    Overall I believe my postings have more than met that standard. Recently one of my comments was moderated in a posting by Jill Littrel. Matthew conducted some principled email communication with me over some of the new standards presented above. After careful reconsideration I have accepted the fact that there were some fundamental problems with how I presented some of my passionate ideas. Matthew’s criticisms were in depth, well thought out, and constructive regarding the future content of my postings.

    I would make the following observations about some of the discussion regarding the fine lines between appropriate and inappropriate postings:

    1) Oppressive ideology and practice as well as bad science in the mental health field should still be hit hard at MIA. But it should be done through the hard work of digging deep into the critical questions and wielding real science as a powerful weapon of persuasion. When this is combined with the real life stories of transformation and liberation from the current mental health system it represents an unbreakable force for positive change.

    2)Name calling, broad generalizations mischaracterizations, “straw man” arguments, shaming statements are often “lazy ass” methods of avoiding the hard work of digging deep into the questions to expose wrong ideas and practice. There is a difference between deliberately trying to shame someone using the above methods, and people ultimately feeling shame because we have made such powerful arguments convincing them that their real life practice has caused great harm to people. There is nothing wrong with the latter result.

    3) There is a difference between the top leadership of the various institutions of Biological Psychiatry and its rank and file. We should be targeting the leadership and their ideology and practice while using persuasion to split off and win over some of the rank and file.

    4) We do not have to worry about dishonest or stubborn representatives of Biological Psychiatry dominating or distorting the essential content of MIA. Using the hard hitting yet appropriate methods of struggle mentioned above, they will not be able to handle or tolerate the truth when it is presented in an unrelenting and persuasive manner.

    5) I am asking MIA to consider the following change in blogging policy: I believe all bloggers who make featured postings at MIA should, as a condition of participation, be required to make an honest effort to respond (in a reasonable time period) to the major themes made by those people in the discussion section. This does not mean responding to every comment but to the essential questions raised. I believe this would raise the level of discourse and hold people to an appropriate standard of accountability and responsibility to engage with the readers. This would also avoid any bloggers just using MIA as a form of self promotion or making provocative presentations without some accountability to defend their views. It also provides readers the possibility of further elaboration and deepening of the author’s analysis, or possibly show some changes or evolution in the author’s thinking through the process of MIA’s discussion section.


    • I support Richards point 5, this would also reduce the possibility of offensive belittling comments as mine was viewed by you Matthew as when bloggers appear to not engage with critique after making some pretty out there assertions it causes frustration, and that can spill into feeling ‘bloody well answer to your views’ attitude.

  8. ‘ it would be an obvious injustice to apply blunt tools of moderation to this intricate arrangement of individuals.’

    My.. what a great thoughtful intelligent writer you are Matthew…(for a sysop!) (Joke!!) I could have chosen many other passages from your piece to illustrate this…

    Thomas Szasz is one of my heroes. Always vilified, yet always polite in his response.

    Me? I will always fall short of these standards. I am a drunk. I have passion. I say things that I regret. I am sorry.

    I am the slave that has to respect the master? No matter what he says to me? I am the patient that has to bow down to the psychiatrist? I am the Jew that has to respect Hitler? And be civil and refrain from personal attacks? Really?

    I have my failings. But Matthew. Honestly. I cannot do this. And I would prefer that others do not do this. This forum should be open. It is only words after all. Not bombs or guns that kill. Of course ideas have consequences that may end in death. But I will not be respectful to those persons that completely disrespect me. I will fight back with every avenue open to me.

    Sorry. I cannot subscribe to your request. If that means I must leave this site then so be it.

    • “Thomas Szasz is one of my heroes. Always vilified, yet always polite in his response”.

      Actually he wasn’t always polite, at an event in the UK he was incredibly rude to some european survivors and shouted them down, wouldn’t listen [they were respectful in their communications] and called one of our leading survivor researchers a “malingerer”. So even ‘hero’s’ can it get it wrong!

      • Yeh? Which event was that? Evidence…? Anyway.. so he should have. I would have. After 50 years of total insults from the psychiatry profession and he let rip? I forgive him. Perhaps he felt his suicide would make an impact. Read any of his books have you?

        • An event in the UK he was kindly invited to speak at with a predominately survivor audience, and the example of how he insulted a respected survivor researcher was not from that particular event. You’re welcome to disbelieve, I have no problem with that.
          Yes I have read one of his books [myth], and some of his articles, each to their own in their hero’s.

          • I’ve watched two of the Szasz You Tube videos and found them to be very interesting. I haven’t noticed any insults other than when a psychiatrist tried to make a point about Szasz and scientology. I know these things get edited and if you were actually there Joanna, I would defer to you.

            Besides that, Szasz is really very coherent and the questions from the audience are great! Some of my favorite quotes:
            “First you have to abolish slavery and then you work on freedom.”

            “We don’t have cancer laws!” In response to the existence of mental health laws.

            “If you don’t inform yourself, you’re a dead duck!”

            “Careful decision maker in a free society”

            “It’s word magic!”

            Welcome back Joanna!

      • Joanna, Definitely respect your feelings but don’t forget how much of a true avenger Dr. Szasz always proved to be, and that he can’t add to all the helpful work anymore…

        My hero maybe was more George Harrison. But you certainly said nothing offensive regarding Szasz at the talk–just your impression and opinion of being let down or unprepared for his trademark manner.

        Hearing your take on it counts, certainly.

  9. Hi David, yes it’s not in those video’s and even though he isn’t my personal hero because of his right wing libertarian anti-welfare state position, that doesn’t mean I write off everything he says. I appreciate some of his words, just as I appreciate the value of an intervention I didn’t helpful for myself. Good to see you!

  10. Thank you Matthew for this interesting discussion. Sometimes I feel as if the internet is a tabla rasa for me. I write things that later on I realize might not be in the best interest of the discussion. I think having the PSTD effect of a multiply hospitalized psych survivor with its resultant bad memories and realization you bought into a system that was full of bunk makes it difficult at times to always calmly and rationally discuss conversational threads. A time delay for posts with a the chance to review what was written would be helpful to all of the internet world!

    I find it a gift to be able to relay information on instances of abuse and poor medical management without falling into a blaming and or victim stance. Also some of my personal stories are fraught with stereotypes which in the telling make me look more prejudiced towards my Social Work profession and the medical professionals than I really am. The reason there are stereotypes is that they always contain some form of truth and the psych world is full of stereotypes of all kinds.
    I think we all need to be open with other’s view points. Saul Aslinsky was alway politically astute when dealing with his activism.

  11. In my humble observations of what has taken place for the past two years on MIA, the only professionals who took a “drubbing” were those who consistently insisted on being arrogant in their lack of respect for the ex-patients/survivors who are involved here. These were the professionals who seemed to feel that they were the “experts” on our experience and lives and who continued to address us as deficient people who weren’t being compliant and cooperative as we should be. It seemed like the moment that anyone took exception to their approach they became “offended” and removed themselves from the discussion. Many of them didn’t seem to understand or comprehend why their approach was so distasteful to the rest of us. It’s as if they expected us to bow down and kow tow because they were gracing and gifting us with their opinions, which some tried to prssent as fact. It was the “same old same old” that so many of us have put up with for far too long from the system.

    I believe that the people who called them on their behavior did so with more grace and tact than I am capable of responding with. What did they expect from us? The very professionals who damaged and changed so many peoples’ lives who come here did so with the same attitudes that these writers were coming to MIA with. Most of us are willing to join hands and sing Kumbaya and get warm fuzzies in our hearts as long as you respect us. You don’t have to agree with us to get a chorus of Kumbaya out of us, as long as you respect us and treat us as intelligent and capable people. We’ve even come to highly respect the professionals who took their knocks but remained and keep posting, even when we don’t all see eye to eye on something. You get what you’re willing to give. If you give us respect then this is what we who come here will give you in return, even if we don’t always agree with you.

    IMHO, professionals who come here to speak their ideas must realize in the very beginning that we are on an equal footing with them and have just as much to share with and teach them as they feel they have to teach us. It’s always a two way street here at MIA. They must be as willing to listen and learn from us as they expect us to listen and learn from them. They are not the “experts” on our lives as some of them mistakenly believe.

  12. Nathan,

    Thanks for providing the link to the comments that resulted after Dr. Moffic’s post. Which leads to a concern of mine.

    Mathew, in going back over the comments, it seems that while many commentators asked some tough questions, they did not flame Dr. Moffic. Yet, it seemed that unless people posted comments that were essentially, “rah, rah, psychiatry”, he took it that way and in my opinion contributed to the unfair reputation that people on this site are mean spirited.

    My apologies if you have addressed this already but I am concerned that MIA is going to go out of its way to welcome people like this and as a result we will have to watch every word we say. I already have to do that on a very strictly moderated forum on another topic and it is not a good feeling.

    If this has already been addressed, please point me in the right direction.



  13. Hi Matthew-
    I think the new guidelines are a good idea. If people want to discuss an issue in a way that digresses from the actual content of the post, they should use another forum. (In that forum, they should be able to exchange any and all ideas.) My hope for this website is that it will attract a board spectrum of readers including physicians and those at the CDC. I think we need to build coalitions and change the paradigm for how distressed individuals are treated in this country. I was intrigued by Bob Whitaker’s comment at NAMI to the effect that main-stream people (for example, academicians) are discouraged from contributing to or reading the website because the main-stream folks represent a contrary point of view to most contributors to the web site. Most academics (those in the mainstream) are committed to the epistemology of evidence and science for determining truth. Thus, one talks about the findings from research or one criticizes the methodology of the research to discredit the findings, but all agree that the way to know is through the research. One does not argue with a finding if the methodology was good. (Usually, the methodology offers a lot to disagree on.) Currently, biology is exploding and thus finding physiological mechanisms for all behavior is the zeitgeist. Since I’m betting they will come up with a cure for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, brain tumors, and cancer, I’m very happy to support their endeavors. However, there is enough research now to thoroughly discredit the current pharmaceutical approach, at least as a long-term strategy, to treating human distress. Whether that will be the case in the future, who knows. I think we need to build consensus since current strategies are so devastating.

    • Hi Jill,

      You said, “I was intrigued by Bob Whitaker’s comment at NAMI to the effect that main-stream people (for example, academicians) are discouraged from contributing to or reading the website because the main-stream folks represent a contrary point of view to most contributors to the web site. Most academics (those in the mainstream) are committed to the epistemology of evidence and science for determining truth.”

      Perhaps I am missing something but I find this comment perplexing. Whatever gave them the idea that we aren’t since the issue is that alot of mental health care (mainly the prescription of drugs) has been done on fraudulent science?

      As an FYI, when I have asked psychiatrists on other blogs for evidence that antidepressants work long term, the only thing they have been able to say is based on their clinical experience, they work which isn’t a satisfactory answer in my opinion.

      Thanks in advance for your help.


      • I don’t think we disagree. You may want to download the paper that Jeff Lacasse and I wrote on antidepressant efficacy. I have published a paper on depression=inflammation. I know that interpersonal interactions can cause depression. I, however, think that turbulent social interactions cause physiological events. (Stress is not just in your thoughts-it’s in your body.) I think you can reverse the physiological impact on the body with diet and exercise and compassionate meditation. (Papers can be downloaded by googling my name and digital archives at GSU.)

    • Jill,
      I wish you had responded to and engaged more with posters on your therapy blog, may I ask why you didn’t?
      I appreciate pressure of time/workload issues, but were there are any other reasons as to why you didn’t engage that much [or maybe you didn’t feel able to]?
      It’s an open handed question, I’m not wishing to attack you, but maybe it would be useful if I said that for me your sparse engagement left me with a negative impression but I don’t know if my impression is accurate hence why I’m asking you.
      Did you realise that your limited engagement frustrated posters [hence some negative responses]?
      It is of course your choice as to whether you reply, I won’t enquire further if you don’t,but I ask so I can consider if/how I post in future on your blogs.

    • Hi Jill,

      You write:

      “I think the new guidelines are a good idea. If people want to discuss an issue in a way that digresses from the actual content of the post, they should use another forum. (In that forum, they should be able to exchange any and all ideas.)“

      As I`ve been trying to state on other posts here, surely this is all very subjective and surely one persons digression is another persons “on point“. Perhaps even onpoint with great acumen!!

      To me (again) such basic principles like a free and open discussion are being obscured or lost in rationalized arbitray “nonsense on stilts“ that is the “moderation guidelines“. But perhaps i`m just “lacking insight“ into “appropriate“ posting techniques…I may very well have OCMG (overly critical of moderation guidelines) and perhaps may have suffered from it for years!?

  14. Reading all this, I am feeling rather pessimistic about the usefulness of MIA to the cause of human rights in psychiatry. I was feeling very positive about the recent encouragement of psych survivors to write for this website. Now we are being told that we must respect our oppressors no matter what they say. This is just like the experiences all of us have had in the institutions we were unlucky enough to be trapped in.

    An earlier poster said this was like demanding that Jews would have to respect Hitler. I am sure if MIA staff respond to this, there will be denial that this is a valid comparison, but I think it is very appropriate.

    I don’t agree that the way to accomplish the changes that must take place in the mental “health” system is to have an intellectual discussion about “science.” While Bob’s work in exposing the fraud of psychiatric drugs is very important, I don’t see it as the basic issue. What is basic is that society has given psychiatrists the status of gods, and they are allowed to strip away the human rights of anyone they want to.

    I don’t respect the people who do this, and I don’t think anyone should. If we look at the history of the various movements for human rights in America over the last half-century, none of them made the great progress we see by having polite intellectual discussions with their oppressors. Even Martin Luther King, while being polite toward his oppressors, also confronted injustice in a very straightforward way.

    As Frederick Douglass observed, “Power concedes nothing without a struggle. It never has and it never will.” His words are just as true today as they were 150 years ago.

    Forty years after our movement began, we are facing more bigotry and more violations of our legal and human rights than I have ever seen. I don’t think pretending that the people who are doing this to us will somehow see the light if we just tell them how wonderful they are is a strategy that works.

    These issues of human rights are not some interesting intellectual question for me. I have made many sacrifices of time, energy, money, and career to fight for this cause.

    It appears that MIA doesn’t believe these issues are really important, and I am very disappointed by this.

    This comment, I point out, is (I hope) an example of the respectful disagreement you are calling for. I hope it moves the MIA leadership in the direction I’m advocating. I certainly know that all of you are very well-meaning, not at all like the arrogant doctors who mostly have left the site.

    I have a lot of respect for you. But this new direction MIA seems to be moving in is very disappointing.

    • I agree with what Ted is saying, regarding the new direction of MIA being disappointing.

      It seems to have sprung out of the NAMI conference when Bob, according to the blog Op Ed by Claire Weber, talked about the early days of the MIA web magazine when comments were unmoderated, to begin with, then overmoderated in reaction, people left, come came back.

      However Bob also said (according to this blog post) “We’ve opened our website to that voice.”, that is the voice of the user and survivor of mental health services and psychiatry.

      As an MIA blogger from the beginning, albeit a Scottish one, I’m keen to see room on this website for a range of voices, not just people who agree with everything that is said or who fear to be critical in case they are moderated. Civilised debate can be fruitful for bringing about change. In my experience.

    • Hi Ted,

      Yes, yes and yes to you fine sir! Agreed agreed and agreed! And MASSIVE respect and honour to you for all that you do, have done and have been through. To me you are IRON WILL and GOODNESS writ large! bless you in a believing, non believing and agnostic way…which ever suits you best!

      ps. I hope this has not been too “off topic“ or has not “moved the discussion forward“ sufficiently and thus rendered in need of “moderation“`…I await the ministry of truths decision on this grave matter…haha!

  15. Matt, I bit the bullet and logged on, and was happy to see your post(s). Thank you for your courage and tenacity in attempting to shift the energy here so that, perhaps, clarity and healing around these complex issues might better occur. After all, any group–whether virtual or physical–is a microcosm of our global community, at large. If we cannot set a good example of reasonable and forward-moving dialogue, then words don’t amount to much at all. We teach and learn by example.

    Personally, it’s why I feel the mental health field, as a whole, is at such a standstill, and why my healing was contingent upon methods other than ‘psychotherapy’–that is, because of the lack of, at least, reasonable dialogue skills, on the part of clinicians. Seemed to be more about ‘who is right and who is wrong,’ which I don’t feel is at all a healthy focus. Life is a subjective art, not an exact science. That’s just my personal opinion and experience, however. Different approaches work for different people, and we all seek and/or create relationship dynamics that meet our needs at any given time. Overall, we all have our personal perspectives, based on our experiences, unique to each one of us.

    But I will still claim that healing *anything* (whether we’re talking about personal or social ills) begins in the heart, not the brain. Emotional intelligence will fly a lot further than intellectual savvy. It may be more rugged, at times, but living life to the fullest does take courage, faith, and trust in our individual processes. I feel your missives here are leading MIA in the right direction, in this regard. Thank you, again, for your efforts in helping to provide a safe space for reasonable communication, regardless of whether or not we’re in agreement with each other. Indeed, differing points of view is what provides the greatest potential to know the next level of information. I think this is always the first order of business when it comes to healing and creating new levels of awareness.

  16. Matthew,

    I find the focus on survivors’ behavior in your post to be a replication of oppression. I wish you would have found a way to call for politeness more even-handedly. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn’t see any mention of the ways that non-survivors have behaved aggressively (including upper class forms of aggression), comparable to what you say about survivors:

    “We want to run a site that people are able to explore and participate in without fear of the fanatic jack-in-the-box, sitting on its springs, waiting to pop up and rip someone a new one the moment they offer a thought that doesn’t match the survivor-approved gold standard of word-choice and understanding.”

    Best wishes,

    Tina Minkowitz

  17. Of all the things we have tried to do at Mad in America, this issue has been the hardest for me personally. And it is because I personally have conflicting thoughts and feelings about “moderating” commments.

    On the one hand, I frankly would prefer to not moderate any comments. But it became clear to me some time ago that when we didn’t do that, the site lost out in two ways: some readers became fearful of posting comments, and it did end up with some bloggers feeling uncomfortable about writing here.

    But I would like to point out something important. We have created a forum for those who write about human rights, and psychiatric abuses, to make their thoughts, opinions, and experiences known to a wider audience. And why is this important? Because if you want changes in the system, and if you want issues of human rights to gain more traction, then you have to make this voice known to those with more mainstream views. Otherwise, you end up preaching to the choir, so to speak.

    So, one reason for moderating, from my perspective, was not in fact to protect “mainstream authors”. It was to preserve an audience for those who would write about human rights abuses.

    At the same time, there is much to be gained by inviting people to blog here who may start with more mainstream views, but show a willingness to grapple with ideas about how things might be different. Let us imagine, for a moment, if NAMI national got behind the idea that first episode psychosis treated in the manner of open dialogue would be a good thing. Or if NAMI national got behind the idea that people on antipsychotics deserve to be supported and helped in whatever way possible if they wanted to taper from the drugs. If NAMI national were to get behind those ideas, which I am quite confident is supported by good science, then the conventional paradigm of care re the use of psychiatric drugs WOULD CHANGE.

    And I can already see, in the responses to Kathy Brandt’s article and Claire Weber’s, the sense that there could be a dialogue emerge on this site that would help make that possible. And thus, MIA, rather than being just a site for a certain type of voice, could become a site that helps produce real change, of the sort we haven’t seen for a long, long time in this field.I read Kathy Brandt’s article very carefully, for it told of someone who is authentically thinking through things, and wondering what is true. That is a very valuable and interesting perspective to have on our site. Readers can learn from reading that post.

    So, I hope people can see this effort of ours to moderate comments, which is so very difficult, is not motivated by any desire to silence people. It is to preserve a conversation that a) we think help make sure such issues as forced treatment, or the merits of neuroleptics, can reach a larger audience, and b) we also think might lead to real change.

    This is not easy, and as I said, I wish that we didn’t feel a need to do it. But we are doing it in pursuit of a goal that I hope readers will see as worthwhile.

    • I wish I could be as optimistic as you are.

      If the history of the human condition teaches us something is that power- be it political or, as in this case, economic- is not easily surrounded. If Kathy’s search for answers is sincere and she reaches the conclusions you mention, the most likely result is that she well be expelled from NAMI for promoting something like “unscientific stuff”, ie, the views of a journalist (that would be you) vs the views accepted by the “consensus of doctors”. That is how powerful lobbies silence their critics, by appealing to “consensus”.

      The market of psychiatric drugs is 80 billion dollars a year worldwide. Big Pharma as a whole generates 500+ billion dollars a year (ie, half a trillion dollars) worldwide. To put things in perspective, the annual revenues of ultra powerful and omnipresent Google are “only” 50 billion dollars. This is huge. Most psychiatrists make a living only out of being able to prescribe the goodies that Big Pharma sells.

      After the Chuck Grassley investigation that uncovered the unreported flow of money that goes from Big Pharma to psychiatrists -Grassley’s investigation was not targeted at psychiatrists but at researchers receiving NIH dollers; it just so happens that the most outrageous cases uncovered affected psychiatrists like Biederman and Nemeroff- there were promises made by the APA to deal with the situation. End result? In 2013, 5 years later, psychiatrists continue to top the list of doctors that receive the highest payments from Big Pharma http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/780835 ; even Nemeroff, despite being investigated for ethics violations, continued to cash in http://1boringoldman.com/index.php/2013/07/02/just-endure/ .

      Think about this. The reality to which Tom Insel finally admitted to in May 2013 had been argued by Thomas Szasz during the previous 50 years. Szasz was vilified by mainstream psychiatry for speaking truth to power like no other person I can think of.

      Maybe you are right, that it is possible to “reason” mainstream psychiatry out of its belief system of drugging, but I think of mainstream psychiatry more like a religion than a scientific endeavor. No religion that I am aware of can be “reasoned in” or “reasoned out”.

      • Cannotsay

        I agree with your analysis regarding the strength and power of the institutions maintaining the status quo. Those people who believe that Biological Psychiatry is a house of cards, almost ready to fall, are misjudging the strength of the enemy, and how valuable their paradigm of theory and practice is to preserving the status quo.

        It is interesting that you are saying that Bob Whitaker is overly “optimistic” about influencing NAMI and other mainstream organizations. It was just a few weeks ago that someone was saying that he was overly negative and “pessimistic” about his involvement in the event at the Vatican.

        If NAMI began to kick out people such as Kathy for rocking the boat or for writing at MIA (or if they decided to leave for having major disagreements) this would definitely shake things up by further exposing their defense of Biological Psychiatry and create new conditions to bring forward new activists.


        • I agree with your last paragraph. That is, in my view, a much realistic roadmap for change to come out a dialog with particular NAMI people. Not that NAMI is going to change, because Big Pharma has still a lot of influence in the organization, but its ranks might shrink because individual, and influential, people inside it abandon NAMI to join forces with the critics of the current paradigm.

          Those who underestimate not only the strength, but also their ability to mount an effective counter attack, of the defenders of the current paradigm -the APA, NAMI, Big Pharma, etc- do it at their own peril. At the same time, I do believe that change is possible but I do not believe it will come from Kumbaya moments with NAMI or the APA. To me the way Big Tobacco was brought to its knees is a much better model than dialog with the APA/NAMI/Big Pharma, etc. In that regard, identifying, as you have done, them as the “enemy” rather than a bunch of well meaning do-gooders gone temporarily rogue is the first step.

    • Bob (and also Matthew, as I’m amplifying on my above comment as well),

      I want to comment that I appreciate your speaking to NAMI and the opening up of dialogue. You reach people that I wouldn’t with a head-on torture argument, and that Breggin wouldn’t with his description of what the drugs do, period (e.g. his 1983 book), without any framework of looking at whether they make sense as a treatment.

      As a human rights lawyer and activist I’m interested in what will open up pathways for change and I agree that this is one of them.

      For me, the question of whether psychiatric treatment is good or bad has been a non-issue. The reality I lived was that it was torture (neuroleptic drugging in particular). I’m aware that other people experience it quite differently, so the way I make sense of this is to talk about requiring free and informed consent. I also see that this is not enough though. We need to challenge what is being offered to people who are in crisis and needing something. I’ve been educated a lot by many who take a much more unequivocal stand than I do about psychiatry as being a corrupt enterprise, all its treatments as worthless, etc. I hope that those voices will also keep continuing to be heard in the mix, and as I read your comments and Matthew’s, it is the intention that they will be.

      And I have seen the openings among people who identify with NAMI. In hearings earlier this year in Connecticut NAMI members testified against outpatient commitment and talked about the harm done to their sons and daughters by forced treatment. I trust that the site is going to invite people who want to dialogue, and not those who are coming to defend the policy positions of NAMI that have caused so much harm and that were pointed out by a commenter above.

      Best wishes,


      • Tina,

        Re: “I’ve been educated a lot by many who take a much more unequivocal stand than I do about psychiatry as being a corrupt enterprise, all its treatments as worthless, etc. I hope that those voices will also keep continuing to be heard in the mix… ”

        Thank you!

        I find it ironic that there are folks who consider themselves to be so “open-minded” they want to toss out the “narrow-minded!”… so “open to dialogue” they want to toss out those with convictions!

        Where would we be without Breggin and the few like him?!


  18. Bob I’m glad to hear you confirm that there is still room on the Mad in America website for people who write and speak out about human rights abuses in psychiatric situations.

    I say this because when I was invited by you to be an MIA blogger back in January 2012, I didn’t know that in the February I’d be having to speak out myself against human rights abuses in psychiatry, as a mother and carer. Having the freedom to write about this on MIA made all the difference to my stand.

    I do hope that the moderation of comments can become fairer and easier so that people can still speak out and not be silenced. I’ve been moderated and didn’t like it. It felt unfair. We all have feelings, they’re part of life. In psychiatric settings our feelings and emotions are sometimes harshly dealt with. By force. I didn’t like it.

  19. Mr Whittaker and Mr Cohen, this is one of the most horribly difficult topics you will ever have to deal with.

    I love sarcasm and difficult conversations. But that’s face to face, usually in moderately large groups, where you can go off and talk to an allie and then come back to the fray. In online discussions it is just horrible and often more hurtful than people realise. I know someone who was severly distressed for several weeks after taking part in a very, “Lively,” debate on a survivor based facebook page, she vowed never to post their again.

    There’s a long tale to be told about that perticular site but as Matthew is asking people to keep to the point I’ll refrain.

    Without the moderation that we usually demand from each other in face to face encounters the internet is a potential psychic minefield. You can’t give someone a dirty look and say, “Now now, that was a bit low,” when someone indulges in comments that are close to the bone. Moderators do not usually do what they do in face to face groups where they explicitly say what the rules are as they go along or point out to the group when things are getting pointlessly heated or spend a considerable lenght of time asking the group to work out thier own rules. There is just not enough social pressure on people to conform to informal rules of ettiqute to make this work in online conversations. So for the same level of civility (as Mr Cohen calls it) to occur online as in the face to face world I think a much more active form of moderation is needed.

    Also, I think there is some confusion about online bloging and engaging in comments and other forms of activism. Venting ones spleen, or even giving a heart felt, honest but brutal opinion, in a comments section is not the same as writing to the newspaper, or taking part in a protest where stong opinions heartily expressed with little interest in the oponents viewpoint might be effective, rally the troups and stir things up in a useful way. So I’m concuring with Mr Cohen’s point that this is a website and not a hospital or a concentration camp.

    I therefore think there is a discussion to be had about the purpose of the site and it’s place in the struggle for the ethical treatment of people facing mental distress.

    Mainly I see this site as having some really useful articles which can be used by activists to challange mainstream psychiatry and it’s supporters. The debates are often interesting and entertaining but I’m not sure how much they are helping inspire and foster a broader movement. That would need a different type of website, one where activists blogged and shared thier concerns and debated strategy and protests as well as having a space for Survivors and those currently oppressed by psychiatry to discuss things with each other, and bad mouthing practitioners might well be a part of that. But that doesn’t seem to be the main point of this website. It is, as I think Mr Whittaker is saying, a broad church, where people of a range of points of view can blog and perhaps influence each other.

    My knowledge of social movments indicates that we need a broad church with moderates and radicals in order to bring about change. We do need a space for the rabble rousing radicals to get together and some dicussion on how to do that might be valuable but it looks to me like it is not this site which serves a different purpose.

    The main way of wining battles like this is to undermine support of the enemy – in this case Big Pharma and mainstream psychiatry which sees mental distess as an illness and not an outcome of a rather difficult life, to understate the matter. That means convincing a large number of people and institutions to seriously question the validity of the claims of Big Pharma and psychiatry. That will take a range of tactics appropriate to each indivicual institution anyone wants to tackle. Heated internet comments under a blog somehow seems inadequate to the job, though it can be affirming to people who have been seriously harmed by psychiatry.

    My only regret about Mr Cohen’s posting policy is that he decries rambling conversations as I rather like them. So I wait to see if I get moderated for that perticular sin.

  20. Hi, I have followed the MIA site for about 1 year. I love most of the articles and the comments sections especially. Some of the readers comments are sheer brilliance (ie the posters “annonymous“ and “BeyondLabellingakaJonah“ being my favourites). I have never felt the need to comment as I felt my views have been expressed so well by so many others here. However I feel that I must now chime in due to this very latest turn of events with regard to what you are calling “moderation.“ This is so absurd and sad in my view and I don`t really know where to begin. However a few points: Do you not see what a slippery slope this is? How do you propose to be the arbiter/gatekeeper of what is acceptable speech?…and do you not see how this mirrors the societal function of bio psychiatry in terms of being the gatekeepers of what is “acceptable“, “normal“ and “civil“. Do you not see the dangers of co-optation in your quest to not scare off a more mainstream writers and readership? (surely we have ample evidence of other social movements facing this very question and the dangerous pitfalls they encountered confronting this very issue). It is my view that the latest effort to “moderate“ peoples view will lead to the dominance of more, shall we say nami-pamby type verbiage….I mean namby pamby!
    …hi ho hi ho it`s off to the moderation forum I go! (on my first ever comment no less!
    thank you

    • I should also add (to my comment above) that with regard to the pitfalls of this new form of “moderation“ I think looking of at the definition of “moderation“ is quite telling (and sadly lends a certain poetic justice to the arguments of the critics of this “moderation“). from wiki pedia I find it defined as:

      “Moderation is the process of eliminating or lessening extremes. It is used to ensure normality throughout the medium on which it is being conducted.“

      Again how sadly that this parallels the very process so many readers and writers at Mad in America have had to deal with, at the coercive hands of bio psychiatry.

      I would be very wary of anyone taking on the role of “ensuring normality“ and “lessening extremes“ however good their intentions. new boss same as the old boss, deja vu all over again! I would like to coin the oxymoronic term excessive moderation! down with excessive moderation!! haha!

      • Abbot

        I consider myself quite radical when it come to fighting Biological Psychiatry and changing the current economic and political system we live under.

        I also recently had one of my comments “moderated” for the first time. Yes, I was initially angry and shocked by this. However, Matthew took the time to email me with the justification for its removal. I accepted his criticism and believe it will improve my future contributions.

        I also stated earlier in the comments that I believe we can and should contribute “hard hitting” and penetrating critiques of both the theory and practice of Biological Psychiatry. This can be done in a “civil” way (Malcolm X was quite “civil” with his speaking and writing style but no one would ever call him “namby pamby” or compromising) without resorting to some of the poor (and sometimes “lazy ass”) writing methods that are being “moderated.”

        I am keeping an open mind about this process and will carefully review comments that are moderated (this can be done by clicking on the word “moderated” and reviewing the reasons for the removal of a posting.) I will be the first one to complain if I think any strong, powerful, insightful, emotional etc. postings are removed for the wrong reasons.


        • Hi Richard,

          thanks for your comments. oh yes I have enjoyed many of your excellent comments on the blogs for sure. My feelings are summarized on a comment I just made to Matthew. I do not think we will have any agreement on this. To me censoring comments like Jonahs and Chrys is just fundamentally wrong on so many counts, which I have outlined on my posts. My opinion is that this seems to be an overreaction to the ruffling of feathers of some mainstream writers/readers (or the perceived, potential ruffling of feathers, in the quest to court more mainstream writers and readers). My opinion is one does not compromise basic free discussion principles in this quest. In fact that road is fraught with pitfalls: co-optation etc.

  21. At least on the internet, Plato is cited as saying, “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.” I don’t know how trustworthy the sources are for internet quotes, but I do include this in my film because I think it’s a very simple and brilliant statement. Everyone, including those whom we perceive as our enemies in power, is here on the planet trying to make sense of things, and having a devil of a time doing it.

    When we fight our ‘enemies’ with the same fire they have thrown at us, everyone gets burned and no one prospers. There may be some temporary relief and feelings of empowerment from making hurtful and malicious comments (whether blatantly aggressive, or cleverly passive-aggressive–which is what I find to be most disturbing in the mental health and academic worlds, both of which I have been a member in the past), but in the end, the battlefield is nothing but dead bodies, or, at the very least, lifeless souls.

    Having been myself the victim of the middle class establishment academic world to which I once belonged (because I spoke my truth in it, which they really didn’t care for and power abuse became the order of the day), I then became a card-carrying member of the survivor group, matching well in my experience of sexual, emotional, family, and social trauma—not to mention being once poisoned, for a couple of decades, by myriad medications, myself (from which I have since tapered and cleaned up completely). In this survivors group, speaking my truth was well-received and applauded, as long as I was angry, like them. But that anger only served me for a time, to find my power and voice, and eventually it came time to heal this anger, resentment and victimization. That was for my health. And the survivor group did not like that one bit, so I became the target of *their* rage. Can’t win, go figure.

    Certain groups consider me to be ‘too mainstream,’ while others consider me to be ‘overly radical.’ Whichever community they are angry at, is the one they project onto me as being a member. It’s not about me, it’s about their anger, rage and resentment, I know this. Still, when trying to achieve clarity about vital issues such as the ones raised on this website, it’s really most helpful and beneficial to the collective consciousness to remember that we are all fighting the good fight, here, as are our enemies.

    We are not separate beings. We are one. I thought this was pretty common knowledge by now, at least in an enlightened and educated group such as this. When you are angry with others, you are angry with yourself. I’d love to see people heal from this, without others sabotaging the healing. That’s MY trigger, sabotaging the healing of others.

    Is it at all possible to carve out a space in the mental health world where people are respected for their process, and can actually reach a state of peace of mind? It’s got to start somewhere, but this mental health thing is the biggest toxic mess I’ve ever seen, in every corner of that world, and I’ve been in it all, hard-core, on all sides of the fence—from clinician to client to social worker to vocational rehabilitation counselor to legal plaintiff to advocate, public speaker, and filmmaker. To my mind, the biggest source of ‘craziness’ is because of sabotage on both sides of the fence—misguided clinicians, and wounded survivors. Indeed, it is madness at its finest. Is this the place to heal this, or to perpetuate it? This is what I’m looking to find out as I read along…

  22. Hi Matthew,
    thanks for your comments. I looked at the links you shared with me.

    well again I don`t know quite where to begin. To me as soon as we enter this subjective topsy turvey (Orwellian?!) world of someone having the power to determine the “truth“ with regard to “civility“ and “misrepresenting of arguments“ of others dialogue we have granted arbitrary power which is ripe for pitfalls. Again in my view this would be the case for the thus far “moderated“ comments of Chrys Muirhead and Jonah. For someone to have that kind of power over “authoritatively“ deciding when someones words are labeled “uncivil“ “offtopic“ “emotional“ is in some respects analogous to the powers of bio psychiatry (albeit with a exponentially less harmful effect as I stated!). That was the sense in which I was trying to make the analogy, along with pointing out the problematic definition with the word “moderation“: again what parallels to the function of bio psychiatry and what poetic justice for critics of your “moderation“ policy: Moderation: “Moderation is the process of eliminating or lessening extremes. It is used to ensure normality throughout the medium on which it is being conducted.“
    Very parallel in that sense to bio psychiatry and not bogus at all in that sense: trying to eliminate “extremes“ and ensure “normality“. That was the respect in which I was trying to make the analogy. By your moderation system I could now say that you were deliberately trying to “misrepresent“ my argument and using a “strawman“. Now I don`t think you were: my point is again how problematic this slippery slope of censorship is.

    As for some of your other points: yes it is on madinamerica`s dime that the site is run and it is your prerogative to set the guidelines. I was just operating under the assumption that one is welcome to question the change in “moderation“ polices…especially since this was not originally the policy of this very site where a free for all so to speak was allowed.

    I also find it ironic that one of the aims in the quoted guidelines is to:

    “…. further discussion, and if comments distract from that goal, and instead serve to stifle discussion, then they are not helpful.“ (Robert Whitaker)

    I would argue that the discussion was stifled when you censored Chrys and Jonah above. See it depends on who is defining the situation…and yes as the site owners you have the power to define that…i`m not questioning that…just the rightness of that decision!!and the imbalance of power in the defining process…much like bio psychiatry!! haha!

    Needless to say I`m extremely grateful for all brilliant work Robert Whitaker has done. I just don`t like your “moderation“ policy for the above reasons.

    • Abbot

      Thanks for your compliments about my writing.

      In your comments above about Chrys and Jonah being “censored” you do not state if you believe their ESSENTIAL message was in any way being stifled or if you thought somehow the standards for moderation were wrong in and of themselves.

      I used the term “lazy ass” methods of writing earlier only to point out that some times it’s easier to dismiss or criticize someone’s comments by using “generalizations”, “straw man” arguments, name calling, sarcasm etc. rather than doing the hard work of digging deeper into the analysis and wielding real science as a tool (and sometimes as a weapon) for persuasion on the road to liberation.

      Is it asking too much of people (while participating at MIA) to make a few modifications in how we present our thoughts and ideas? At this time I do not think so, and besides it might just improve our forms of communication through the written word.

      Believe me I do not plan on being soft on Biological Psychiatry, nor do I think anyone else should be either. And actually, nor do I think that is the intentions of the leaders of MIA. It is more a question of form over content.

      Do we need other forms of organizations to wage this battle? As I have said before, we have enough theory, science, and numbers of people to BEGIN significant political activism that could start making a difference in the battle against Biological Psychiatry. What we lack is the collective will to develop the right program and organization to make it happen at this time.

      Another activist website could turn into an interesting exchange of ideas but I am afraid that it might just channel valuable energy into the realm of ideas and not lead to direct political action. It requires enormous allocation of people’s time and resources to run a good website. If this developed out of radical organization I might think differently about it.

      And Abbot I hope to read more of your views at MIA in the future.


      • Hi Richard,
        thank you. and I really respect your stressing of the paramount importance of action in the world!…no dispute with that here….Pressed for time so my comments are sort of directed to you and I guess to Matthew as well in case he cares to read this as well.

        You wrote:
        “In your comments above about Chrys and Jonah being “censored” you do not state if you believe their ESSENTIAL message was in any way being stifled or if you thought somehow the standards for moderation were wrong in and of themselves“

        respectfully I would frame it in what I see as a much simpler formulation (however heretical it apparently seems to many peoples needs/desires for “guidelines“ and “decorum“): there is no need to censor anyone (I suppose other than when the law impinges…one can imagine a scenario where someone was making threats or something…). So what i`m trying to say and in answer to you question yes their essential message was stifled in the sense that they were censored!…and as to do I think there is something wrong with the standards of moderation…heck YES!..I think it is quite frankly much ado about nothing..in some respects…it seems the ruffling of feathers and the fear of ruffling feathers of potential readers/writers has trumped a free and open discussion. I think this is a colossal waste of time and energy, a colossal overreaction: for a moderator to have to go through each comment and be a mini polit-bureau and determine the “`truth“, “tone“ and measure the reading on the “character attack meter“ is absurd in my view and very troubling to me (for many reasons which I have already touched on in other posts) ….which is why I bothered to write..as I said I didn`t really feel the need to even come on here for over a year as I felt my views were mostly represented by others.

        To even have to argue the merits of a free and open discussion (regardless of how offensive some writers, readers comments may be) seems rather redundant. I believe it is self evident and a well understood principle of productive, thoughtful discussion…

      • Again, I think it is really important to talk about strategy. I’ve heard it talked about that a website like MIA, but just focused on the human rights fight around psychiatry, might be possible. Bur MIA is more than just a website, it’s an online magazine, and starting another site like MIA would be a big undertaking.

        If someone wanted to do that, I would certainly be willing to help out. Right now, given the relatively few people who are interested in strategy, something smaller would, I think, be more practical.

        Would anyone reading this be interested in participating in such a website? Or just a Google Group?

        • I’m interested in a group or sub-group of MIA with a human rights focus Ted but not sure if you are meaning only US folk?

          As a mental health activist and campaigner in Scotland it often feels like I’m a lone voice although many are in agreement with me but wouldn’t want to be sticking their head above the parapet, if you like. There are only 5.2 million folk here, compared to ten times the number in England.

          • Still, I am not sure about the future. In my comment I referred to Iron Law of Oligarchy. That law asserts that sooner or later any association concludes to a division between oligarchs who rule and plebs who remain silent and ruled. I am not that much pessimist, yet, as I still believe that MIA is a very decent attractive work. I am in the UK and have some basic grasp of publication and web. I could be a hand. Regretfully, I have seen many works have started but not maintained. It is difficult for me to promote radicalisation before I witness that “they actually are standing on feet and toasting with them.” I came here through email subscription I receive from Jim Gottstein. Google group is linear in format and obsolete in attraction and is not readable. It is part of the history. I have tested it. Running a website is cheap and I can handle it. But we should try to join the branches to one mighty flood, instead of further division. Perhaps mainstream psychiatry has been cornered that shows interest and is knocking at the door of MIA. The best is to be patient for a while and watch the trend.

          • Re Chrys’s question, I’m not sure how it would work for someone outside the US, since conditions are so different in each country. I must say that my impression, though, is that in a smaller country, a small group of dedicated people can accomplish more. I was in Ireland a couple of years ago (a country about the population of Scotland), and I was amazed at the access to the media and public discussion our movement has there, thanks to the very dedicated Irish activists. I am thinking of starting SOME kind of group of activists just to focus on strategy, though, and starting out trying to develop some kind of basic statement we can all agree on. If you like, I can send you a draft of that statement once there is one, and I am sure your comments and suggestions would be very valuable. Sometime later, I hope to have a small national conference just for people who are in agreement on the general direction we should take. I agree with Richard that something like this shouldn’t be to develop abstract ideas, but guidelines for action.

        • I am also interested. Starting a Google group or something similar seems like a great starting point to me.

          Honestly, I am past the point where I think that there is anything to argue with mainstream psychiatry other than when are psychiatrists going to give up their legal prerogative to impose psychiatry onto innocent victims.

  23. Sir,
    I can’t be more agreeing with what you said. Few years ago I was looking for sites with similar content. Most were in a disorganised state, not inviting, not maintained, not having a touch of a professional hand involved. It is natural that for people in situations like me they could add to my hopelessness, helplessness and a feeling that “these people, like me, never will get a way out of the misery of suppression by mainstream coercive psychiatry, repeating few paragraphs from some pioneer works such as R. D. Laing, and Thomas Szasz with news always two three years old. Most of the time there was no way of contact and if there was you never would receive a response. A good idea is that to search for such sites and invite them to join their efforts to this place and actively participate and share their experiences with this site and mutually take news and views from this place to theirs.

    It has been a bad experience on the Internet that good sites with similar “structure” gradually fall in the process of “Iron Law of Oligarchy.” If you pass a certain level of attractiveness and daily visits, forces of darkness start to attack to engage you in self defeating policies and procedures through the vandalism, sock puppets and trolls. Please keep on the idea you termed as “eye-level.” I always have a pet phrase I advertise: “School is for teaching children not for employing teachers.” Mainstream coercive psychiatry believes psychiatry is for their employment and passing the years towards retirement not for treating people. Hence, keep on the good work you are doing. History has reserved countless empty places at its pinnacles waiting to be filled.

  24. As someone who has just been moderated for the first time (for objecting to someone else’s comment being moderated) and who started his MIA’s commenting life with a bit of a spat with another commentator (which was luckily allowed to resolve itself without moderation), I have to say that while I understand the need to keep standards and make the website welcoming, I do think there’s some confusion here between the “moderation” of the posts (posted by the bloggers), which is the editor’s job, and the actual moderation of comments to those posts.
    The new standards of moderation which seem to be taking shape in MIA are, I think, a bit too “editorial”. All the more so in a website which is precisely trying to give a platform to people who have had their voices ignored and denied for a long time. Other than the most obvious personal attacks I think the comments section should be left to thrive as a wild and somewhat dangerous jungle; an “enter at your own peril” sort of place where people can scream and shout if that’s all they can do at that point in time. If it is going to turn into a safe and pleasant park with waste bins and “keep off the grass” signs, it will lose -for me at least- that which makes it a place worth visiting.

    And the fact that all this has come up because of NAMI’s overtures is the most worrying thing of all – an organization which is positioning itself to switch masters from the sinking APA to the more profitable biomarker industry…

    (Bob, please make sure they don’t change you faster than you can change them; it’s just so easy to not notice what’s happening until it is too late, the rewards so big, the compromises so seemingly small.

    • You make some pertinent points Morias in my opinion.

      Your suggestion that the comments sections be “left to thrive as a wild and somewhat dangerous jungle” I think is worthy of consideration. I’ve often looked through the comments, some of them as you say, ones that were a bit scary, but I could skim over or take the safer bits at will. I couldn’t do that if they weren’t allowed to remain. Something valuable could be lost, as you infer.

      I had wondered about the NAMI influence re the changes but can’t really grasp the power of NAMI as we don’t have anything like it in Scotland or the UK. The switching of masters that you mention, to biomarkers, is very concerning, like setting the biomedical model of mental illness into stone. Brain surgery for mental illness comes to mind.

      • NAMI has a lot of lobbying power when it comes to public policy. Its recommendations have a lot of weight, especially at the state level, which is where most of the issues relating to the intersection of mental health and the law are decided. NAMI has lobbied US wide so that states adopt laws that make it easier to put people on forced drugging regimes (the equivalent, with some minor differences, to the UK’s CTOs). They call it outpatient commitment. Only 5 US states are now free of this type of laws; that’s largely the result of the work that NAMI has done at the state level.

        They also lobby for the lowering of the civil commitment standard from “dangerousness” to “need for treatment” (ie, whenever some psychiatrist thinks it to be necessary). They say that judges should not make “medical decisions”. The majority of NAMI’s money continues to come from Big Pharma.

        Now, whether individual NAMI volunteers are well meaning do-gooders who are unaware of the policies that NAMI publicly advocates for is, from my point of view, irrelevant. NAMI is the third leg of the psychopharmacological industrial complex in the US, the other two being Big Pharma and the APA.

        The current appalling status of psychiatry is due to Big Pharma, mainstream psychiatrists (these are represented by the APA) and those family members/patients who blindly believe in biopsychiatry. The latter are represented by NAMI.

    • Hi Morias,

      You wrote:

      “And the fact that all this has come up because of NAMI’s overtures is the most worrying thing of all…“

      Yes I agree and I think a number have people have pointed out (and I think it has been stated by the “moderation“ initiaters if you will) that this new “moderation“ policy is at least in part due to this need to appeal to the mainstream. That is very disturbing and quite possibly a forshadowing of future dire overtures/practises at MIA. Not to overstate: I think MIA is fantastic but this is so very very disturbing to me: i`m squeamish when I look at some of the recent “moderated“ comments and the rationale for “moderating“them: to me very UNcompelling arguments: sort of rationalized “nonsense on stilts“ or more bluntly nonsense dressed up in a three piece suit: censorship is censorship is censorship…no matter how nice of suit is dressed up in. And as I keep repeating how closely the parallels with the central modes of bio psychiatry in its subjective (masquerading as objective) methods of defining matters dealing with “appropriate“ conduct and “civility“, “character attack“ barometers and “misrepresenting“ and well having a monopoly on “truth“. Of course in this context the consequences aren`t even in the same ballpark as dealing with bio psychiatry! Of course not, it`s just that it is so absurd to be adopting these very methods of the oppressive institution of bio psychiatry on a site that welcomes and supports the very people injured by that very institution!?

      Yes almost feels (in some respect) analagous to when cities get all juiced up in their Olympic bids and then go about “cleaning up“ the streets by hiding the homeless and the rest of the “great unwashed“. How patronizing (among other things). One wonders if the proper “moderation“ policy with be able to make us more palatable to the good people at NAMI. (I hope that hasn`t veered to far into the red on the “vague“ character attack meter…I shall send it to the ministry of truth for analysis! haha!!)

          • Here’s to more comments appearing from the undergrowth and underbelly, wherever that might be.

            An old Scottish rhyme:

            Here’s tae us
            Wha’s like us
            Damn few,
            And they’re a’ deid
            Mair’s the pity!

            May those who live truly be always believed,
            And those who deceive us be always deceived.
            Here’s to the men of all classes,
            Who through lasses and glasses
            Will make themselves asses!

            I drink to the health of another,
            And the other I drink to is he
            In the hope that he drinks to another,
            And the other he drinks to is me.

            Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
            Each man a glass in hand
            And may his great prosperity
            Ne’er fail in old Scotland!

          • Where have you been all this time?!! I for one am glad that you decided to weigh in on this discussion about “moderation” of comments.

            I agree with you that all of this makes me very uncomfortable.

  25. Does anyone else not see the absurdity in this whole thing? This site has been up for about 1.5 years, produced a litany of great articles while also bringing together a collection of very smart people from all walks of life who want to make a change. But instead of talking about demands, actions, program and other things to that effect, we are in an uproar about MODERATING COMMENTS. My frustration has turned to laughter at this point. It is still sad though because at one point this site had so much potential. But, in fairness, Bob has said from the outset he just wants to change the conversation. Given what i have experienced, researched, and on behalf of all those who i know personally that have been damaged by psychiatry, simply changing the conversation isn’t good enough. Maybe i projected my ambitions on this site and i am sorry for that. I just can’t in good conscience for myself and my family sit back and hope things change for the better. So best of luck MIA.

    “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

    • Hi Scott,

      please see Ted`s comment below and mine…and you can tell them apart at a glance as his is the well written one…haha! Actually the absurdity I see is the whole thrust of “moderation guidelines“. Chopping the very principles of a free and open discussion off at it`s knees with subjective/paternalistic (and yes more P`s!..please) patronizing “moderation guidelines“ was the most glaring absurdity that I saw..and felt: incidentally did you see some of the comments that were “moderated“ and the reasons why?…I would kind of rest my case with that in terms of absurdity and a real harbinger of what going down that road can lead to….so I kind of agree with you in one sense: having a foreigner (Canadian) argue the elementary merits of a free and open discussion to a largely American? site is very absurd in my view…in fact if I get any more trite and banal in my arguments i`m going to vomit…haha

      • I’m not trying trivialize moderating comments. What i am saying is absurd is that this is the most righteous indignation i’ve seen on this site. We are confronting an institution of death that kills and maims with impunity and people are all up in arms about comments being moderated. Why can’t people be this militant when it involves killing children? That’s all i’m saying.

        • Hi Scott,
          You write:
          “I`m not trying trivialize moderating comments“
          Ok. Glad to hear that.

          You also write:

          “What i am saying is absurd is that this is the most righteous indignation i’ve seen on this site. “

          ok. that is your perogative and i have no insight into your “righteous indignation“ hierarchiacal barometer so to speak.
          You go onto write:
          “We are confronting an institution of death that kills and maims with impunity and people are all up in arms about comments being moderated“

          to that i would again reply see Ted`s comment (july 16, 2013, 1:42am)…I would also add that I certainly agree that yours it the more important focus, so no need for any false dischord. However it just strikes me as a bit of convoluted argumentation?!: the eqivalent of me criticising someone who is arguing the travesty that is the erosion of habeus corpus in the U.S.A by saying something like: “ Why the outrage over habeus corpus, don`t you realize the U.S. has killed millions in its imperialist wars.“…i mean they are both outrageous (one on an extremely more lethal level) but in some sense related. Talking of one doesn`t peclude talking about the other…although they may not always be done simultaneously…and one may also even pet their dog in the moments between talking of the different events

        • MadInAmerica website commenter, Scott Miller, on July 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm said:

          “I’m not trying trivialize moderating comments. What i am saying is absurd is that this is the most righteous indignation i’ve seen on this site. We are confronting an institution of death that kills and maims with impunity and people are all up in arms about comments being moderated. Why can’t people be this militant when it involves killing children? That’s all i’m saying.”


          ProPublica website commenter, Scott Miller, on March 13, 12:15 pm said:

          “Whatta know? Half these “docs” are quack psychiatrist. Anyone who drugs kids should be hung.”


          Maybe MadInAmerica’s commenter, Scott Miller, is not that same Scott Miller who’s commenting on ProPublica?

          If these two Scott Millers are one and the same person, does his ProPublica comment present an example of the kind of “righteous indignation” he’s wanting from commenters on this MadInAmerica website?

          Only MadInAmerica’s Scott Miller can answer these questions.

          • Yep. That is me. Am i looking for that righteous indignation from everyone? No. I just think there’s a time where you have to get away from the computer and take action i.e. go in front of a mental health clinic that drugs children and hand out a pamphlet of what these drugs really do. I talked to a director of one by me and you know what he said? “Our kids are doing really well on Prozac”. And when i say kids i mean 9-10 year olds. Nor am i scared to comments with some pseudonym FYI.

          • “Nor am i scared to comments with some pseudonym FYI.”

            Fine, Scott, I guess you are braver than me, but maybe that’s because you are someone who’s willing to kill people?

            You say “Anyone who drugs kids should be hung.”

            I don’t think anyone should be killed for any reason, I don’t think killing people is ever a good idea.

            People who are willing to kill people should be approached with caution, I think.

            But it’s nice that you hand out fliers.

          • “All this passive aggressive tough talk does’t get us anywhere.”

            Scott, who’s offering passive aggressive tough talk?

            And what about active aggressive tough talk?

            Where does that get us?

            “Anyone who drugs kids should be hung.”

            Where do you think that talk (your kind of tough talk) will get us?

            Maybe you’re unaware, in the past couple of decades, tough talk like that has been directed at doctors who perform abortions, leading to numerous murders, attempted murders and countless threats of murder.

            I’ll just leave you with this. Pz.


  26. Oh, I don’t think this one discussion about moderation means that nothing else is happening. I also think it’s a healthy discussion, and to be expected in a group focused on an institution (psychiatry) that is exceptionally authoritarian. Those of us who have been on the receiving end of that institution are a very anti-authoritarian bunch in general. So of course, any policy that even vaguely resembles a limitation of our freedom gets resisted.

    I do agree, as I wrote earlier, that we need to talk more about action along with the discussion of ideas. But I don’t see any contradiction between this and what MIA is doing now. I urge the last poster not to walk away, but to stick with it and try to move things on this website in whatever direction he thinks it should go. I’ve seen changes all along, and I know that the folks who run MIA are people I respect and want to be associated with.

    • Thanks Ted,
      My sentiments exactly..and quite honestly I anticipated Scott`s argument above with respect to the laughable aspect to the “uproar about MODERATING COMMENTS“: I tried to point out numerous times that yes being “moderated“ is not even remotely like being on the receiving end of bio psychiatry in terms of the harmful consequences. However it is remarkably parallel to being on the receiving end of bio psychiatry in some respects…which I outlined: eg. the subjective masquerading as objective, having an arbitrary gatekeeper on “truth“, the patronizing paternalistic slippery slope of others “authoritatively“ telling you what is “right“ and “out of line“ and proper “decorum“ etc etc ad nauseum!

      AS you say: “So of course, any policy that even vaguely resembles a limitation of our freedom gets resisted.“

  27. Is it too late?

    Is it to late for a more democratic process?

    Is there any way to have a dialogue that includes input from readership on this topic – which would include ideas on what the guidelines ought to be for this group?

    In other words, a more democratic approach, so voices are heard regarding what should be allowed, what should be moderated?

    Matthew, you have called “straw man” arguments a form of “violence.” Yet, Chrys makes the point that what may appear to be such an argument might be a misunderstanding. Jill, in a recent post insisted words do not hurt, unless we allow them to.

    This seems like such a strong-armed tactic – especially for folks who have undergone unmistakable violence and marginalization.

    I’ve been silently reading the comments. It’s as if many of the readers are trying to say they do not feel heard. And the topic is communication. Ironic.

    As someone who recently re-invited to come back to MIA, I don’t want to jeopardize my standing. On the same token, it’s hard to sit quietly by and say nothing.


  28. It’s hardly surprising for MIA to face that internal regulation issue, as it happens to almost all forums. And the talk doesn’t have to be about borderline or heated subjects to bring about insults, slights and every other thinkable form of e-bullying. I once had to fight back when confronted with e-assaults on a forum dealing with addiction, on a forum talking about depression and on a forum dealing with bodybuilding.

    It happens all the time and everywhere. Given that mental distress generates so much pain and abuse makes it even more likely for such arguments and hatred to pop up here, on a website who’s mission is partly to unveil the suffering of those who are blighted with severe mental and emotional distress. There is no easy answer, and moderation very often seems unfair; and sometimes it is.
    We’ll have to carry on doing what we’ve been doing since we were born : put up with the imperfection of this world and try to live nonetheless.


  29. After rereading my post, I think I’ve got to add a few words. Basically, I understand very well how much legitimate anger, how much resentment can come from the sorrow of having been inflicted a lot of pain by people who should have known better or -worse- who knew perhaps quite well what they were doing. It does feel unfair not to be able to unleash one’s rage on any symbol of that obnoxious psychiatric system.

    Still as much as ire and grudges are still rankling, as much as I’m still fuming over the ignorance, bad care,neglect and outright bad faith I faced, I personaly feel I need to calm down and try to refocus my life on more positive things. It doesn’t mean I can’t act and show my disagreement with a system which is unmeasurably stronger than I am. But I wish to disentangle myself emotionally as much as possible from the harm that happened to me within that system and from the people who directly or indirectly harmed me.

    I do appreciate your website.


  30. Abbot “..the “fragile“…they made need to look at their “triggers“and immerse themselves more in their “resilency“ literature..haha…”

    Is this directed at me given I raised the issue of ‘triggers’ [not the best word I know] earlier and Matthew also referred to it?

    If it is then it’s not clear whether you are being tongue in cheek or sarcastic – if it’s the latter then please DO laugh at me directly so I can respond directly.

    • Hi Joanna,

      No I was not directing my comment to you. sorry you may feel that way. In this particular blog: Any thing that could perhaps be called tongue in cheek, laughter or sarcasm I am able to muster would be directed to patronizing mental health professionals…and to much of the arguments in favour of the moderation guidelines(and a good deal of the actual guidelines and reasonsing themselves)…while still respecting the goodness and intelligence of the person who put the guidelines forth…if I didn`t think they were intelligent and cared I wouldn`t bother posting…as I noted I never bothered to post here before…and i`m kind of done with it already…i`m taking my ball and going home…I will be missed…haha…i`m starting another site called “mad at america“…

      …oh and I guess another way of expanding on my intent of the specific comments you are referring to…actually I won`t do that…I find i`m sitting here explaining humour…a decidedly unfunny thing in my view…which indicates many things…not the least of which…I may not be funny to everyone one!?..or anyone?…my humour coping strategy has failed..i`m going home now…haha!