Psychiatric Language:
Perception, Reality, & Breakfast


In her introduction to a report on the use of seclusion and restraint in New Zealand psychiatric hospitals, the CEO of our National Centre of Mental Health Research, Information and Workforce Development tells the following story:

I vividly remember delivering the news of the death of a young man to a mother who thought her son was going to come home from the mental health inpatient unit. He died as a result of restraint asphyxia. Restraint asphyxia is rare, but can happen as a result of restraining someone who is highly distressed.

Restraint Asphyxia?


What a nicely sanitized term for killing someone by forcing them into a position that prevents them breathing and holding them there until they die. Note how it is characterized by the victim’s distress, not by the healthcare professional’s incompetence and negligence.

There are numerous studies showing that changing the language people use changes how they think.

A famous example is that of the differences in descriptions of a key by Spanish and German speakers (where key is feminine in Spanish and masculine in German) with the German speakers using phrases like “hard,” “jagged,” “metal,”  and “heavy,” while the Spanish speakers used phrases such as “little,” “shiny,” “golden,” “intricate,” “lovely,” and “tiny.” According to the researchers this is evidence that linguistic processes influence fundamental thought processes, unconsciously shaping the way we think and the way we see the world.

Others argue that it is the other way around and that the language we use describes and emerges out of our social reality with sexist language for example arising from, rather than causing, lack of gender equity.

Whether language shapes our perceptions or our social realities give rise to the language we use, there is an argument to be made that the use of language in psychiatry deliberately sets out to influence our perceptions of particular practices and concepts. A term like ‘restraint asphyxia’ serves to minimize the killing of people n psychiatric institutions to something less than the killing of other human beings.

Imagine a situation where a child is throwing a tantrum in a supermarket and the child’s mother wrestles the child to the ground face down, puts their weight on the child’s body so it can’t move and keeps it there until the child stops breathing and dies. How likely is it a court would find the child died from ‘restraint asphyxia’ rather than manslaughter? Why is ‘restraint asphyxia’ the appropriate term for someone who dies being restrained while distressed in a psychiatric hospital, but not for a child who is distressed and restrained by their parent?

Last week I had a long discussion with Leonie Fennell about the extent to which the term ‘antidepressant’ shapes the way we think of these drugs. How it renders the fact that they can worsen depression and cause suicidal thinking and behavior counter-intuitive, and makes people skeptical of claims they don’t work and make distressed people feel worse. We decided not to use this term anymore and Leonie came up with the simple alternative antidepressant.

There are lots of other terms in psychiatry that are designed to render violent and distressing events as benign, and normal human rights, feelings and behaviours as threatening – things I think we need to name for what they are:

Discontinuation syndrome – drug withdrawal

Paraphilic coercive disorder – rape

Sectioned – detained against your will and having your human rights removed

Medication Non-Compliance – exercising your human right to refuse treatment

PTSD – having a normal human response to traumatic events

Side effect – direct effect of a drug that doesn’t fit with the marketing plan

And all the rest.

I’m going to make a real effort not to buy into this alteration of reality by using misleading terms, and to name things for what they are. Except tea and cigarettes… despite all the above, I’m still going to refer to them collectively as breakfast.



L. Boroditsky et al. “Sex, Syntax, and Semantics,” in D. Gentner and S. Goldin-Meadow, eds., Language in Mind: Advances in the Study of Language and Cognition (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003), 61–79.

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Maria Bradshaw
DelusionNZ: Maria Bradshaw lost her only child to SSRI induced suicide in 2008. Co-founder and CEO of CASPER (Community Action on Suicide Prevention Education & Research), Maria promotes a social model of suicide prevention focused on strengthening community cohesion, addressing the social drivers of suicide and providing communities with the knowledge and tools required to reclaim suicide prevention from mental health professionals. Maria has an MBA from Auckland University and particular interests in sociological and indigenous models of suicide prevention, prescription drug induced suicide, pharmacovigilance and alternatives to psychiatric interventions for emotional distress. Maria has researched and written a number of papers challenging the medical model of suicide prevention.


  1. So if I strangle my psychiatrist, does he then suffer a “patient-related psychiatric asphyxiation event?”

    Language has great power and is used in psychiatry to avoid responsibility and cast blame on the clients they are supposedly trying to help.

    I think my favorite is “you have treatment-resistant depression.” Now, if I took my car to the mechanic, and he couldn’t make it work properly, I wonder what I’d say if he told me I had “repair-resistant fuel injectors,” but that I still had to pay him $200 and bring it back next week for another “treatment?” We’d expect him to say, “I don’t know how to fix it” and we’d take it somewhere else or live with it or do our own research and fix it ourselves.

    So how to psychiatrists get away with not knowing how to help? They blame the client. No, they blame the “DISEASE” – it is the DEPRESSION that is resisting treatment, not you personally. If only that darned depression would get it together and stop resisting, things would be peachy around here. So of course, if the depression resists, and you “have” depression, there’s nothing you can do about it except come back for another round of “treatments” and hope for the best. I hope I live to see the day when a psychiatrist says, “I really don’t know how to help with this situation. I suggest you talk to someone else who has more tools at their disposal. I’ve obviously been of no help to you.” Haven’t heard it yet, and I’m not holding my breath…

    —- Steve

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  2. The term SSRI implies that depression is low serotonin.

    Stabilize – To disable the mind with drugs

    I did this subject before on psych terminology, here is a copy:

    Post by Copy_Cat » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:12 am
    Im going to need help with this one. The finished product can be put on a new thread.

    Please scroll down to see the latest copy. The edit button will be gone soon and this needs work.

    Psychiatry- A practice which is presented as scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status. Psychiatry is often characterized by the use of vague, exaggerated or unprovable claims and an over-reliance on marketing , myths , lies and deception.

    Help- A word used to describe unwanted psychiatric treatment and abuse. Also the word most often used/cryed out by the person getting the unwanted treatment desperate to stop it. See: Judge Rottenberg Center Electric Shock Videos or anyone subject to psychiatric assault/ chemical rape in the name of treatment.

    Danger- The truth about psychiatry.

    Skin assessment- Term to decribe the Naked degrading stip search designed to humiliate and abuse the involentary psychiatic patient. Useful in the manufacture of psychiatric sypmtoms such as “rapid speech”, agression , anxiety , depression… for the psychiatric labeling process ect.

    Suicide precautions- The removal of all civil rights and dignity ,often used as humiliation technique . Useful in the manufacture of psychiatric symptoms such as real suicidal thinking or to prevent a patient from ever telling the truth about suicidal thoughts again. Also used to justify perscribing/coercing/forcing medication that is known to increase suicidial thinking and actions.

    Safety- The number one excuse for abuse of people by psychiatry.

    Anti-psychotics – Chemical lobotamy of the frontal lobe. Zombie makers. Sounds nicer than neoroleptic.

    Mood stablizer- Mood remover

    Non-addictive — term used to describe the nueroleptics and mood removers despite the fact withdrawal symptoms are well known and can be worse than “street” drugs.

    Withdrawal syndrome- Symptoms of the illness. Proof you are sick and need the drug forever.

    NAMI- A Front group funded and founded by big pharma claiming to be “grass-roots” to promote the fraud of biological psychiatry, child drugging , forced treatment and anything else that will make money for the psycho pharmaceutical industrial complex.

    Suicide- A scary word used to sell/force psychiatric drugs known to cause more suicides than they prevent . A favorite theme of mental health screening dragnets such as teenscreen
    to designed trick people as many people as possible into a life time of psychiatric drug treatment .

    Psychiatric diagnosis- A fraud label also known as a “forever label” designed to convince who ever is labelled they will never ever get better and need psych drugs forever. Not based on any test known to medical science.

    Assisted outpatient treatment – Forced neuroleptic lobotamys , better for 1,000 harmless people to be drugged against there will then have 1 person who may be dangerous go unmedicated.

    Forced medication – Chemical RAPE

    Scientology- A term used to discredit the truth about psychiatry and keep it out of online mental health forums through cencorship. See and ignorant people everywhere.

    Child bipolar disorder- A fraud diagnosis invented to create a new class of chronic mental patients and make money for big pharma. See: NAMI (national alliance for mental illness) , Joseph “Rispedal” Biederman , Rebeca Riley, teenscreen , Florida foster children , nueroleptic withdrawal syndrome and tardive psychosis.

    Child psychiatry- The process labelling young children as chronic mental patients condemned to a lifetime of psychiatric drugs with no lab tests, brain scans, X-rays or chemical tests to verify the label is a physical condition requiring drugs or is a life long condition.

    “At first do no harm” – unknown phrase in psychiatry.

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  3. Schizoaffective disorder- It’s abundently clear your psychiatrist has no idea how to label your distess.

    Catatonic shizophrenia- The patient is so shit scared they can’t move.

    Electro convulsive therapy- Passing more than a few volts of electricity through your brain to induce a severe head injury.


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  4. DSM – deamonic sibilant maledictions

    DSM – Drugs Supply Money,

    DSM – Defamatory Sales-Tactical Mug-u-all

    Ratsperishedal – the chemical-in-development had a character string designation starting with the letter R. They wanted to tweek the chemical molecular so that it would have a similar Dopamine 2 receptor affinity to Haldol, Haloperidol. After achieving this it was given the Trademark Risperdal (after Haloperidol and the character string starting with R. They used such controlled information sources as The New York Times and the “Professional Journals” and popular magazines to hype this as a breakthrough wonder drug, much safer and more disease specific and effective especially for “negative symptoms.” It was such a breakthrough that it needed a new, extra name, the first “atypical.” That this was fraud would have been easily seen by any body of Doctors within the first year. Since it had been made to function like Haloperidal and Chlorpromazine (incidentally named after ‘chlorine’ and evidently ‘halogen’) by acting to clog Dopamine 2 Receptors, laypeople may not, but any body of Doctors, would have swiftly come to the consensus realization that these were not “atypical” …major breakthrough wonder drugs, rather further Me Too (patent) drugs following after Chlorpromazine the first Dopamine 2 Receptor clogger 5 decades prior. The USA lacked any body of Doctors to make this self-evident consensus realization. (Me Too is a word used by Donald F. Klein, M.D. a founding father of the fraud, see Mind, Mood and Medicine).

    Antidepressents – centrally acting drugging chemicals selected to maximize profit and sold using propaganda, press control and political leverage. The Obama Administration’s inclusion of the wordage of the heinous MOTHERS Act legislation in the middle of the Health Care Reform bill that passed; and the avoidance of the USA and presumably UK media from referring to and referencing the (by now very well-communicated)connections between SSRIs and bizarre suicidal and homicidal acts exemplifies and is part of this.

    Note that in these favored selected chemicals that SAMe, Piracetam and the French drug Tieneptine
    do not make the selected group, the chemical “medical” arsenal, that is Authority approved and Recognized… in the highly Big Pharma, Big Psychiatry targeted and manipulated USA
    thus it is not just avoidance of chemical drugs and the use of instead Psychotherapies that is suppressed,
    in their favored chemical Products selection –
    they have certain selected, favored Chemicals, “Psych Meds”
    and ones not favored, not mentioned, and propagandized against.
    Richard Brown, M.D. Depression Article

    Yes, We Can Pretend We Did It All On Our Own (The MOTHERS Act – How at least $13 to $16.4 million in pHARMa dollars buys a bill)

    Dr. Moria Dolan, Executive Director for the Medical Accountability
    Network discusses the link between antidepressants medications
    and suicide, violence and school shootings.

    Antipsychotic Medication – a centrally acting (Thomas A Ban, M.D. phrase) neurotoxin that is a dopamine 2 receptor clogging agent to block the brain reward (self reinforcement) system and thus initiative, will power, interest, motivation (motivation and initiative to take action but also just to take the action of continuing thinking about and being interested in.)

    Schizophrenia – shifting measages about what this is supposed to be, still decade after decade the sacred symbol of Psychiatry justifying its existence and its sanctions and its actions (abuse). Fear and force are needed because of the forever irrational and dangerous “Scizophrenic!” even though there is no chemical actual Medical test, the APA NIMH or their counterparts in the EU have, to confirm one “has” this “single” “brain disease” “mental illness.” Only the Orthomolecular Psychiatrists have reasonably valid biochemical tests and therapy and they were roundly drummed out of visibility by the NIMH APA back in 1967 through 1973 (right when the DSM-3 “Medical model” (ersatz) diagnostic book project was started (where-in for decades the Authority Male Doctor would be able to pseudo-“diagnose” people based on their Authoritative Judgment and Psychological Word-Tests and then Prescribe Patented Brain-Drugging Pills as the Medical Treatment. Diagnose Psychologically, Treat Medically. Nice Racket – if people don’t have the where-with-all to cut though the fraud and oppose it.

    Schizophrenia, split headed ness, as it were, comes from Carl Jung and company. The person has a complex that is split away – and unapproachable to affect – reintegrate – cure by either Authority Psychoanalyst… nor the patient.

    This is a wonderfully Scientific Sounding term and it is a great defamory swear word too (such as the male Doctor Autority’s female secretary, assistent person who can snear and say Do You Know what YOUR Diagnosis IS — You’re a SCHIZOPHRENIC!! – Abusive sadistic fun all around and plenty of Money to go galfing with the Boys).

    Scientic Sounding whether used by the current DSM flimsey Fraud APA NAMI NIMH little clinical Psychiatrists across the USA with their Authority Doctor positions to Select People into DSM Categories of Psychological Deviance from Normalcy (or are they Mental Illness Brain Disease DSM Nosology categories – Answer who cares? And shut up if you know what’s good for You!!) and the EU Nations, the E. Fuller Torrey, MD, Judith Rapoport, M.D., Timothy Wilens, M.D., Donald Klein, M.D.Fraudsters…

    or Scientific Sounding by the Jungian, Adlerian and Post Freudians (and Bertram Karon of INTAR and the Michigan Psychoanalytic Council – “We know what hurts and we know what helps people. It is our goal to let everyone
    else know as well.” )

    post-Freudian’s…up till circa 1970… that is… when the DSM was rewrote with a deletion of post Freaudian idiom
    (no more complexes and neuroses now all the sudden after decades of Journals now they were Medical!!)

    So the suppression of Orthomolecular (treatment of biochemical imbalances with typically non-Patented non-Prescription biochemicals and with detox and dietary improvement); the DSM-3 project; and the start of the NAMI front operation happened in the same time frame.

    Note the similarity of the name NAMI later in the 70’s decade to earlier in the 70’s – NAPA (Network Against Psychiatric Assault and NAMP, National Alliance of Mental Patients)

    ___________ _______________

    The Medical Establishment and pHARMa will gladly give children a neurotoxin that clogs Dopamine receptors: “Risperidone in children with autism and serious behavioral problems” N Engl J Med. 2002 Aug 1 (Google autism risperidone drooling NEJM )
    Discover Magazine Autism: It’s Not Just in the Head by Jill Neimark April 2007
    Heavy Metal Detoxification and Metallothionein Promotion Written by Amy S. Holmes, M.D.
    What I Would Do If I Were a Parent of An Autistic Child Stephen M. Edelson, Ph.D.

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  5. I really liked this article when I first read it. “Restraint asphyxia” indeed. Psychiatry warps ordinary language all the time. Notice how being against the practices of the profession is called being “anti-psychiatry,” delivered with a sneer, as if anyone who would dare to criticize the Church of Psychiatry is the next thing to a terrorist.

    Hey, I’m anti-psychiatry and proud.

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