Of Course I’m Anti-Psychiatry.
Aren’t You?


One of the most bizarre statements of many made by E. Fuller Torrey on national television in the last few days was his complaint that people opposed to his totalitarian views are “anti-psychiatry.”  In the context of his rant, the implication was that anyone who opposes his plans for unchecked power for organized psychiatry is somehow either the equivalent of a Muslim terrorist or at least a homicidal “schizophrenic.”

What does it mean to be “anti-psychiatry?”  To me, it’s simply being opposed to psychiatry’s abuses.

It doesn’t mean that one thinks that all psychiatrists are evil.  Of course there are decent psychiatrists.  One of my heroes was Loren Mosher, who was a high-ranking official in the NIMH before he developed Soteria House.  Because of his decency and concern for his patients, he was driven out of his job.  And I certainly have experienced other psychiatrists who sincerely wanted to help, including some of the folks who post on Mad in America, and even one who worked at Rockland State Hospital when I was there as a child. But such doctors are a tiny endangered minority in their profession, as we know.

Being anti-psychiatry doesn’t mean either that you have to believe that there is absolutely no physical basis for some of the distress that is called “mental illness.” I personally think that some so-called mental illness may well have a neurological or metabolic cause. (Hey, friends, don’t beat up on me for this.)  But we have no way to know what the truth is when there is so little objective research. I also think that some people may benefit in the short run by taking psychiatric drugs, though I certainly wouldn’t take them myself.

Over and over on MIA and on all the various websites and blogs that I follow, people complain about the horrible experiences they have had, drugs forced on them, being completely disrespected at a time in their lives when they most need support and nurturing, being converted from a human being to a strange, discredited, and despised “mental patient.”  But then some of them say (as one group recently did) that they aren’t “anti-psychiatry,” because after one psychiatrist after another treated them like dirt, at last they found one that was decent.

So?  Who do they think was responsible for all the abuse they experienced, the tooth fairy?  (Sorry, tooth fairy, just kidding.)  Their experience, and the suffering of other millions of people, was caused by the psychiatric profession as it is now.

So of course I am anti-psychiatry.  It seems very strange to me that people can recite horror stories over and over, and then act as if somehow the profession that is creating these horrors shouldn’t be confronted and called out for their evil practices.

Some years back, the wonderful political cartoonist Jules Feiffer drew a strip making fun of the wishy-washyness of some people who were opposed to what was going on during the Vietnam war, but were unwilling to take a real stand. The main character in this strip was holding a sign that said, “A little less bombing, please.”

Is that where we’re at?  Should we carry signs that say, “A few less lobotomies, please?”  Will one of our demands be that fewer of us should be beaten up?  Come on, people.  One of the reasons we have become invisible to the general public, and the media ignore us, is we’ve become a kind of auxiliary to the mental illness system.  Yeah, if you want a job lording it over other folks trapped in the system, you better not say you’re “anti-psychiatry.”

But if we really want these abuses to stop, we have to be forceful and direct in what we say to people.  If we want to change the horrible mental illness system as it is now, we have to take risks.  If we are afraid to call this system what it is, why should people outside our little bubble pay any attention to us?

So yes, you’re damn right I’m anti-psychiatry. And you should be too.


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.

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In His Grave
Ted Chabasinski, JD
Still Crazy After All These Years: Ted Chabasinski, now a patients' rights lawyer, was taken from his parents when he was six years old, experimented on with a course of electric shock treatment, and then sent to a state hospital for the rest of his childhood. He writes about the power of psychiatry and how it is abused, especially against children.


  1. Of course I am anti psychiatry! In fact, I never understood what the beef is with the term “anti psychiatry”. It’s like being ashamed of being “anti slavery”. Psychiatry is not scientific, it is an organized system of behavioral control, so of course it has to be opposed!

    • This is exactly the analogy that occurred to me as well. Just as in the times of slavery, I’m sure there are many vocal proponents who will look for any way to discredit or intimidate those who oppose them. We have to be extremely strong and stand up to them, because if not we will just get pushed down & aside as those in power continue to get their way.

      I feel that allowing ourselves to use unequivocal terms like anti-psychiatry is one way of standing up to their intimidation and not letting them dilute our power and righteous indignation (or anger, as it is otherwise known. Let them not pathologize us out of our right to feel that natural human emotion, either).

  2. I took the ultimate risk: take the drugs or never see my kids again. It’s been over 4 years since the last time I saw them.

    Maybe Torrey is entirely unaware that psychiatry has been called the antichrist. Personally, I will never say that I’m anti-psychiatry. I will always say that psychiatry is the antichrist. And there is a big difference, in my eyes.

  3. The public needs to learn that there is something fundamentally wrong with psychiatry. It claims that “brain is mind” and gives no further consideration or respect to the integrity of the minds of patients. Their minds, identities, thoughts, beliefs –all destroyed by neuroleptics — are of no concern because they are purportedly treating a brain disease and “brain is mind” and anything a patient expresses is a symptom of sickness. Willpower, hope, striving, concentration, focus, learning, development and love — all disabled by neuroleptics — do not matter if you are designated as having a diseased brain, likely caused by “defective genes”. Laboratory mice cannot speak so those who conduct experiments on them must go by the behavior they seem to be displaying. Why would a scientist, presumably curious, inquisitive and acting in the name of furthering knowledge and understanding, discount the knowledge to be learned from a “subject” that can communicate what is happening? Psychiatry is pseudo-science; it is cruel and inhumane. It is ignorant of any understanding of the depths and wonders of the human mind, of the miracles of repair, healing and recovery, because afterall, “brain is mind”. Psychiatrists do not concern themselves with healing; they are not doctors. They claim there is no cure and dismiss all findings to the contrary. Cure and curiosity have the same root. Psychiatry is a profession of unethical human experimentation that has no curiosity to learn the philosophies and techniques of the helping professions. Be anti-psychiatry, but don’t get caught up solely in polemics against the barbaric practices — there are so many people in need of healing and care.

    • You’ve said it well, Cheryl – and about your last line, well, the thing is is that until psychiatry is dismantled (i.e. exposed as clueless pseudoscience), it will continue getting in the way of providing real understanding of and help to those in need of it. It is a (seemingly) easy target, and one in dire need of being taken down. Of course that’s not all that needs to be done, as people still need to be helped – but it’s a big and important part of what needs to be done, and seems to be the first step in truly improving “the system.” It’s like the elephant in the room making it difficult to move around, and impeding any progress, as people are so focused on “brain diseases” and think that science has the solution, that they are blind to any other explanation and approach.

  4. The word “anti-psychiatry” often has lots negative connotations to it, that’s why they use it. “They’re scientologists, they shouldn’t be taken seriously”. The word has come to have the connotations over time. Many people these days feel safer to say they’re critical of psychiatry, critical psychiatrists, etc, instead of saying they’re anti-psychiatry. But I don’t see why the same word can’t be polished and take yet again a more noble meaning in current or future generations.

  5. I like to say that I’m anti-stupidity, anti-abuse, anti-lying, anti-greed and anti-coercion. It’s not my fault that psychiatry has positioned itself to be stupid, abusive, dishonest, greedy and coercive. I’m not against psychiatry for the name – I’m against what they DO! Stop hurting people, admit you don’t know what you’re talking about most of the time, acknowledge the real scientific data, and start listening to your clients and my feelings might change.

    As a Buddhist teacher once said, “Don’t break off my finger, look at where it’s pointing.” But psychiatry as a profession is not interested in looking anywhere but at its own self-interest, and as long as that’s the case, I will be against them as a group.

    — Steve

    • I think among those making comments I may be the odd person out here, but I think it is more strategic to simply be “anti-stupidity, anti-abuse, anti-lying, anti-greed and anti-coercion” rather than specifically “anti-psychiatry.” The reason not to be “anti-psychiatry” is that people in the general population then think you are just opposed to people with medical degrees doing what they can to help people with mental or emotional problems, it sounds like you are against “psychiatry” in principle for some religious reason or maybe it’s your private obsession, or maybe one psychiatrist hurt you and now you are against them all because you overgeneralize everything.

      If on the other hand you say that you are against abuse, dishonesty, coercion etc. and the problem is that the vast majority of psychiatrists (but also a large number of other mental health workers and even politicians etc.) are currently taking part in those problems, then people can better understand what you are saying, and they see you as sticking up for values they can relate to.

    • “anti-stupidity, anti-abuse, anti-lying, anti-greed and anti-coercion.” You’ve just described the field, as a whole. When a field is this corrupt and this out of touch, it makes sense to be against it. Also, as I commented somewhere else on this post, the entire underpinnings of the profession seem to be illegitimate, from its founding. People defending the existence of the medical specialty of psychiatry, what do you see as its role? Should they become specialists in the detection and treatment of the various medical problems that can masquerade as psychological problems? That could be a valid mission for the profession, but that’s not what it was invented to do & that’s really not what it does now. I suggested elsewhere that perhaps they could become a kind of sorting department where they try to separate out medical from psychological issues, and refer accordingly. I’m not sure how well that would work. But the problem remains that a medical specialty is attempting to deal with largely psychological-emotional-spiritual-social problems, and that mismatch is going to continue causing problems unless we think about why medicine is dealing with these problems in the first place, and whether it should continue having a role, and what that role should be.

      • Ted, sorry if I was confusing – I was by no means suggesting you have engaged in ad hominem attacks on psychiatry. You have been very specific, detailed, and factual in your systematic attack on their pseudo-rational framework that excuses their abuses. As far from ad hominem as I can imagine.

        I was saying that we can diminish the effects of the ad hominem attacks of the pro-psych propagandists by making sure we label them for what they are, instead of getting into a discussion of what the label “anti-psychiatry” means and whether it applies to us. I don’t like to label myself anything, especially if it gives my antagonist a hand up. I am all for reclaiming terms, but I am just not sure that proclaiming myself as “antipsychiatry” doesn’t play into their hands. Makes it too easy to dismiss me when I can be made part of a group of “anti” activists. Maybe it’s too much training in pro-social communication skills, but I prefer to label their objectionable behavior rather talk about being opposed to the group per se. It just seems to get down to brass tacks, in my view. And I don’t want to pre-label myself for their convenience, either. They have to deal with my data and not dismiss me with a term.

        On the other hand, retrieving discredited terms can be very powerful in combating oppression and delineating what is really going on. I don’t think we really disagree about that. I suppose it’s more a point of tactics for me. Truth is, there is nothing to salvage in psychiatry that I can think of. It really ought to be demolished, especially their ability to define “normal” and to remove people’s civil rights based on their spurious definitions. So I am anti-psychiatry, whether I’d say it to a psychiatric apologist or not. And I am proud of it, and find it something folks should be proud of. I just like to be clear that if psychiatry made the slightest bit of sense, I wouldn’t be categorically opposed to it just because it’s called psychiatry. After all, “psychiatrist” is supposed to mean “Doctor of the Spirit.” That would sound good if they didn’t start by denying that any spiritual reality exists!

        Truth to tell, we are about this close to total agreement. Sorry if my comments were confusing. I hope the context I provided makes them make more sense to you.

        — Steve

    • I agree as we all seem to agree what we are against, being kept in the states of oppression and fear which if we aaren’t when introduced to psychiatry we soon will be. It is more important however to agree what we favour, what are the answers that can guide a response to extreme mental distress which avoid as far as possible abandoning people totally or allowing vulnerabilities to be unduely exploited.

      This article is very thoughtful in this http://ebmh.bmj.com/content/16/1/2.full It suggests not targetting psychiatry but rather it’s beliefs, particularly it’s habit of defeating thought by means of simplistic labeling of complex but understanable predicaments.

      • Dex,

        Thanks for this article, but as I read it seemed to favor business as usual without the specific DSM stigmas:


        The article pays lip service to social and other life stressors and maybe the formulation approach proposed by Lucy Johnstone. Yet, at the end it is advising it would be better to say a person suffers from hallucinations, psychosis and other gems that would immediately call up the typical schizophrenia, bipolar and other stigmas they’ve used as garbage can stigmas to capture just about anybody and make them appear part of the so called deranged, violent mentally ill. I know that in many cases, psychiatrists will actively bully, gas light and attack somebody trying to explain their pain/stress about abuse or bullying by falsely accusing their victim of being paranoid, delusional and psychotic for thinking they are abused and have trauma symptoms….leading to the evil bipolar and other stigmas. So, nobody should think that people capable of such fraud, lying, corruption, predation, greed and insatiable power needs would hesitate for a minute to say anything necessary to degrade, stigmatize and destroy a person to make them a life long permanent patient for their life destroying “treatments” of toxic drugs, ECT and even lobotomy making various comebacks.

        This article ends by pretty much saying we can do business as usual without the DSM. Joanna Moncrieff has recommended a drug centered approach in her book, The Myth of the Chemical Cure, and other sources, and has stated openly at the Vatican conference and elsewhere that “…of course, you have to use antipsychotics for psychosis” with no qualifications whatever such as alternatives like Soteria, Open Dialogue, Hearing Voices Network, etc.

        So, I hesitate to think this article represents any great change or improvement since it seems to ensure leaving the writers’ careers as toxic drug dispensers intact since that is all biopsychiatry is about now to maintain their fraudulent medical status as agents of social control and conformity. Perhaps they might not medicalize as many people as others, but it appears to be the same old, same old in another form of sheep’s clothing in my opinion.

        I think the word, “antipsychiatry” should probably be avoided since Dr. Thomas Szasz hated that term and refused to be associated it while even writing a book called, Antipsychiatry: Quackery Squared. The reason is he associated certain people and theories with it like R. D. Laing I think. Yet, I think Dr. Szasz was the greatest “antipsychiatrist” in terms of debunking such things as the medicalization of human problems and suffering and the pretense of comparing psychological distress with actual medical illnesses. He said it was like comparing scarlett fever with spring fever by twisting sementics by using such metaphors to con the public. Yet, he had no problem with people meeting with psychiatrists to try to solve their life problems when therapy was the choice treatment, but he was vehemently opposed to coercion of any kind or what he called “psychiatric slavery.”

        So, though it would be nice to use that word to define our mission, I’m afraid it has too much baggage attached to it. Also, we have to admit those like Dr. Peter Breggin, Dr. Loren Mosher, Dr. Thomas Szasz and many others are/were very decent people fighting for the best interests of their clients while fighting against coercive, fraudulent biopsychiatry. Thus, using such an umbrella term makes us look bad or requires too much qualification as many have admitted here.

        I think biopsychiatry needs to be abolished completely, but now that it’s a fascist agent of social control in pretend democracies like the USA, Great Britain and others, it seems other tactics may be necessary to expose the “therapeutic state” and its many violations of human rights pushed by the state.

  6. Looks like England has severe consequences for anti-work people.

    “The benefits clampdown comes after chancellor George Osborne on Monday announced plans to make all long-term unemployed people carry out unpaid work, report to a job centre daily or undergo treatment for mental illness in order to keep receiving benefits.”

    So, for the unemployed – either work for nothing, be detained in day prison at a government agency or be treated for mental illness.

    OH MY WORD. Is that not Hell on Earth?


    They’re using psychiatry as a PUNISHMENT.

    Apparently, the jobs simply do not exist. Why sit in an agency for 35 hours per week looking for a non-existent job? Is that mentality NOT some form of mental deficiency? Is this really how they’re handling their issues?

    psychiatry (oops, I mean the antichrist) has TOO MUCH influence and control. “mental” treatment is going to be used a punishment!! Scream!!!

    • The situation in the UK is bad, most people would not choose to live on £70 a week Jobseekers Allowance (minus some council tax/bedroom tax now), after paying for utilities that leaves a disposable income of approx £25 a week for food, clothing, travel, everything else. We don’t have the available jobs, there are often hundreds of people applying for a few vacancies and people with psych history are The most discriminated group in society and by employers. The unemployment figures are being covered up by zero hour contracts, and temp part-time work ie for a few hours for a few weeks, and Workfare which has been shown to achieve virtually no long term jobs with worse results for people defined as mentally ill or disabled.
      People with a mental illness diagnosis have the highest rates of unemployment and the least support offered.
      People on Jobseekers Allowance are being sanctioned at Jobcentres for literally no rational reason at all, the reasons are ridiculous and this plunges them into destitution. Food banks are being used by those sanctioned, those waiting for it to be processed, and those in low paid zero hours contract work.
      They are not anti-work, they are at the mercy of Jobcentres with a govnt dept which planned a week long ‘celebration’ of the conditions and sanctions which have left millions in debt, being evicted, using food banks. We have high levels of child poverty and a housing crisis causing mass evictions and debt to pay-day lenders who donate to parties. Poverty is being pimped by party donors, and big business, millions of tax payers money is being handed over to companies operating ‘back-to-work’ schemes who achieve nothing. Millions being creamed by property developers who buy up social housing cheap and rent it out to people on housing benefit getting several mortgages paid by the state.
      For people who are physically, intellectually, emotionally defined as sick or disabled they are being forced onto work programmes offering free labour to business driving down wages and taking away paid jobs. People who are terminally ill or have degenerative conditions such as Parkinsons or static impairments such as cerebral palsy are being told they will ‘recover’ and are ‘fit for work’ because ‘work is the solution’ for the ‘workshy’ and all these groups are referred to as ‘stock’.

      Does this sound historically familiar?

      The same is happening in Canada.

      People being assessed for disability benefits are having a very tough time, appealing takes a year and there can be months of no income, people have killed themselves.

      No one is taken seriously on mental health unless receiving meds, and assessors mark down anyone who; smiles, wears makeup, has brushed their hair, has a pet or child. There is the expectation to be disheveled, rock, and be incoherent to prove mental distress.
      Many of us have predicted compliance with treatment to end up being a condition of disability benefits, we’re not yet at the point of meds having to be swallowed in front of someone before money is paid but it’s not difficult to envisage it because our govnt wishes to opt out of the Human Rights Act.

      Sex offenders and people on probation sometimes have to sign-in daily so doing similar with unemployed and sick and disabled people would clearly be linking it to criminalization. The UN and Amnesty have already condemned the UK for their welfare and housing policies and treatment of sick and disabled people in relation to this.

      Be clear though – this is political which is why I keep saying psychiatry does not exist in a vacuum. Governments decide to use psychiatry for it’s own end which is why our movements must fight for social justice alongside psychiatric injustice because the two go hand in hand.
      We can’t keep imagining that all psych survivors won’t need social housing or benefits to live or work. We shouldn’t wait until pills or injections are exchanged for housing/income because that time could come.
      The conditions being attached to all social support for everyone regardless of circumstances, ability, or health are becoming crushingly punitive. Over 10,000 people have died within weeks of being declared ‘fit for work’. Anyone appealing those decisions faces being viewed as too sick to be eligible for Jobseekers Allowance, and too well for disability benefits so fall in between criteria’s – these are people already deemed to be unable to work, it’s perverse.
      It impacts heavily on psych survivors who have no chance in the job market compared to graduates with solid work histories with employers who don’t want them.
      If anything going on/off temporary endless part-time/zero hour contracts at minimum wage with JA in between can be worse because it takes weeks for benefits to be paid, and defaulting on rent means eviction proceedings within 8 weeks commence and failure to pay council tax means court-possible prison. So people turn to party donor loan sharks set up as ‘pay-day loans’ with interest rates going into double/triple figures so end up in permanent debt.

      We need living wages, to cease workfare which is stripping out paid jobs, and a more competent system with reasonable sanctions and conditions and a complete rethink on how we enable all sick/disabled/vulnerable/unable to fit traditional working patterns people to reasonably contribute without ending up going through a welfare system which means punishment or having to accept unwanted diagnoses/treatment or destitution.

      This is possible to fix, but it means political change not just psychiatric.

      • “They are not anti-work”

        I know they’re not but I “made up” the term as a lead in, to synchronize the point that needed to be made (psychiatry as a punishment / consequence) so it would fit well on this page here.

        “The UN and Amnesty have already condemned the UK for their welfare and housing policies and treatment of sick and disabled people in relation to this.”


        Thanks for the informative response, Joanna Care. Such a heartbreaking situation over there. Harrowing.

    • I’m anti-psychiatry because it’s a scientifically illegitimate (i.e. fraudulent) and abusive enterprise which has no right to exist as is. I don’t see a need to qualify that statement. There are many practitioners who work in ‘mental health’ whom I have the greatest respect for. The field of psychiatry on the other hand, not so much, unless it loses its pretensions of being a medical specialty and admits it has nothing more to offer than the field of psychology. Actually, I do have one idea. If the field really wants to exist and show that it occupies a useful place in between psychology and neurology/medicine, perhaps it could convert itself into a triage department, determining whether “symptoms” are due to a legitimate medical issue or a psychological issue, and refer accordingly. That’s where I could see some use for the quasi-medical field of psychiatry. Otherwise..?

  7. Ted

    I share the militancy of your sentiments in this blog but I’d like to offer an important amendment to your position.

    Strategically it makes much more sense to refer to our movement as being “anti-Biological Psychiatry” not anti-psychiatry; let me explain.

    Forty years ago a seizure of power began where psychiatry and the entire mental health system in the U.S. and then throughout most parts of the world was gradually taken over by the Biological Psychiatry wing of the psychiatric profession.

    Biological Psychiatry represents the wedding of genetic and biological/diseased based theories of “mental illness” with the pharmaceutical corporations colluding at the highest levels with the American Psychiatric Association and the major training institutions for modern psychiatry. They conducted a successful strategy of resurrecting their profession and expanding their power base while at the same time maximizing profits. Whitaker’s “Anatomy of an Epidemic” explains many of the details of this takeover and exposes some of the disastrous and oppressive results affecting millions of people around the world. Many here at MIA have personally lived through and been damaged by this tragic history.

    BTW, I always capitalize “Biological Psychiatry” as I would any other major reactionary and oppressive political/cultural movement or trend in the world; it needs to be highlighted as a particular entity (not just a theory) in and of itself.

    Yes, psychiatry has always had fundamental problems with both its theoretical foundations and its historical day to day practice in the world, but the Biological Psychiatry takeover represents a major transformative and all encompassing shift in power and overall backward direction of the profession.

    There is a small minority of psychiatrists today who are sickened and outraged by this takeover and the current state of their profession. IT WOULD BE WRONG AND A HUGE STRATEGIC MISTAKE to alienate radical, dissident, and other critically thinking psychiatrists such as Peter Breggin, Peter Stastny, Sandra Steingard etc, and many others (including several who write here at MIA) by saying “you and your profession no longer have a right to exist;” or that as a psychiatrist “there is no way you can play a positive role in transforming the forms of care for people in serious psychological distress.”

    This simply is not true. Radical and other dissident psychiatrists (even if only a small minority at this time) could play a very important role in our movement and we need them as much as they need us; we are all in this together.

    If a revolution were to occur tomorrow and the entire mental health system was dismantled and new radical forms of care were developed and promoted throughout the country and beyond, there would still be at least 20 years of critically important work necessary to help the millions of people on psychiatric drugs find the safest ways to taper and detox themselves, or somehow minimize the dangers if they can’t fully taper off. Knowledgeable and compassionate psychiatrists could play a positive role in this.

    Also, we need to unite with this minority of psychiatrists to help support and encourage them to wreak havoc within their profession by finding every way possible to expose the corrupt and dangerous nature of Biological Psychiatry in both its theory and practice. Imagine them inside their conferences and professional gatherings raising hell internally while survivors and other dissidents in the mental health field are on the outside shaking the walls.

    I am suggesting a winning strategy of “Uniting All Who Can Be United” around this radical approach. Labeling ourselves “anti-psychiatry” instead of “anti-Biological Psychiatry” limits our ability to build our movement broadly by winning over many potential allies, including some people who are currently standing on the side lines; some who may currently view us as operating on the fringes unable to unite the many to defeat the few.

    If we truly believe we are morally on the correct side of history and that we have a substantial number of activists and enough real science on our side for the beginnings of critical resistance, then why can’t we win over significantly more numbers of people to our movement, including more psychiatrists? How we choose to label ourselves at this time could have a decisive effect on the future success of our movement. Let’s make sure we are being strategically correct in these important decisions.

    Ted, more food for thought and discussion. I respect your experience and passion and hope you see this as an attempt to raise the level of our discourse in our movement.

    Comradely, Richard

    • The only thing that the vast majority of psychiatrists do today is write scripts for toxic drugs. Very few of them do any kind of real therapy which is helpful to people in getting their lives back together again. Very few of them even know how to do anything, other than prescribe the toxic drugs. They are not relevant nor are they valuable to the field of medicine, unless they choose to actually do more than write out scripts and do ten minute “med checks.”

      I really have no use for psychiatrists as a special group since I discovered a long time ago that a great therapist is worth their weight in gold. I’ve found great therapists in the persons of ministers, psychologists, liscensed therapists, social workers, one psychiatrist out of the four I’ve personally dealt with, friends, fellow “patients” on the unit in the hospital where I was held, etc.

      In the 1980’s many different groups were able to do therapy for less money than what psychiatrists were charging. The only way that psychiatry saved itself was by getting into bed with the drug companies and spouting the mantra of “you’ve got a broken brain and must take these ‘meds’ for life.” They knew then and know now that this is not true but they continue on with business as usual. With recovery rates around 60% prior to the advent of psychiatric drugs and present rates at 13-15% anyone with any sense at all should begin asking some really hard questions of this so-called “speciality of medicine.” Their overall “treatment” looks to be a failure and yet they continue applying it, much like bloodletting in earlier years.

      Frankly, I am anti-psychiatry and let the chips fall where they may. If this puts some psychiatrists off who are true doctors then so be it. It is really difficult for me to understand why anyone who truly wants to contribute to peoples’ healing would ever go into psychiatry in the first place. All of the facts are there as plain as the noses on everyones’ faces and yet people become psychiatrists anyway. Call me hard and cynical if you will, and unwilling to bend, but I’ve been watching this “holocaust” since they destroyed my grandmother with thorazine and ect in the early 60’s and I watch them do it each and every day where I work and they get away with calling it “best treatment.” If you’re a psychiatrist and you refuse to give up your script pad, or are unwilling to use it sparingly, then I say good riddence to you. I’m tired of watching them destroy peoples’ lives.

      • Love it, Stephen. Enough is enough. They’ve had plenty of time to work through and try to substantiate their hypotheses and play around at being brain doctors. Time to face the fact that they’ve been wrong all along and have totally misunderstood what they supposedly had expertise in. Grow up, face the music, realize (first, if you haven’t realized yet) and admit that your profession’s bogus – it must be tough to do, but tougher still is to get caught up in their vortex as a vulnerable, defenseless person – so they can deal with it. It’s 2013. Enough with the medieval superstitious mindsets and barbaric practices. More than marriage equality, I believe this is the biggest civil and human rights issue of our age. We just have to raise more hell about it so that anyone even notices.

      • Yup. They know that they are administering torture, that they are slowly killing. Neuroplasticity is being hailed as the latest great discovery. Apparently a key chemical component of plasticity (i.e., change and healing) is… that’s right, DOPAMINE. Why are people still being systematically deprived of dopamine. These pills don’t produce “side effects”. Everything that happens as a consequence of these pills is due to a halting of necessary dopaminergic activity for the body and mind. Chemical bludgeoning is violence all the same.

    • I don’t entirely agree with the proposal that the better term is ‘anti-Biological Psychiatry’, because although I am generally opposed to the poisons these quacks deal in, it seems to me that many so-called mental disorders may well have a biological basis. The mind, in my opinion, is largely a product of the body, after-all; albeit a body that interacts with its environment at a spiritual aswell as physical level. Psychiatrists merely over-look the fact that the functioning of the body, especially the brain itself, can be influenced by many social and spiritual factors, aswell as physical factors. ‘Anti-psychiatry’ therefore seems in this respect at least superior because it identifies the general enemy without committing oneself to a false conception of illness based on the same out-dated mind-body dualism that psychiatrists are themselves are guilty of in their own way.

      • I tend to think that “biological psychiatry” is a philosophical/religious viewpoint purporting that the ONLY cause of psychological distress is malfunctioning biology, and that social/emotional/spiritual context is more or less meaningless. Getting away from the biological psychiatry paradigm doesn’t mean eliminating biological causality as a possibility – it simply means seeing it as only ONE possible cause that should be objectively tested for and addressed appropriately when detected. This could include testing for iron deficiency in cases of hyperactive or oppositional children, checking for thyroid issues if someone is chronically depressed, and of course, considering the possibility that pharmaceuticals themselves might be causing mental/emotional/behavioral problems that might improve with a change or elimination of the offending medical treatment.

        To me, it would also mean eliminating the DSM as the standard for “diagnosis,” since the DSM is admittedly “atheoretical” and essentially ignores the question of causality and makes it possible to diagnose a disease based only on symptoms without any attention to causal factors whatsoever.

        There is no question that biological conditions CAN cause the kind of problems labeled as “mental health” diagnoses. It’s also possible that biology is only secondarily involved, and it’s further possible that the so-called disorder is entirely normal behavior for that particular person in that particular place. It is the elimination of these other possibilities that makes it “biological psychiatry” to me.

        On the other hand, there’s not a lot of other “psychiatry” being practiced these days. I agree with Richard, we really ought to support those fomenting rebellion from within, but I sure wish there were more of them around!

        — steve

      • ShrinksRoulRapists

        The term “Biological Psychiatry” was chosen by history itself to describe a certain political/scientific trend. I believe it was Peter Breggin who coined this term to describe a particular wing of the psychiatric profession that promoted genetic (biological) brain disease theories of “mental illness.” It had to named something and this was the best name he could come up with at the time.

        These “genetic theories of original sin” minimize or completely ignore environmental causes (trauma etc.) and focus peoples attention only on a person’s biology.

        There is nothing wrong with the word “biology” per se. To be critical of Biological Psychiatry is not to deny the role of biology. Yes, of course “biology” and biological processes are involved in human thought and behavior.

        Other names given to certain historical trends do not always make sense when examining each individual word separately. For example, “national socialism” has been used at times to refer to German Fascism. Any scientific evaluation of the word “socialism” would clearly show that the Nazi economy in Germany was clearly an extreme form of monopoly capitalism and had no relationship to socialist forms of economic structure.

        Also the term “Socio-biology” was the name given to a political/scientific trend in the 1960’s that was promoted in books such as the “Naked Ape” by Konrad Lorenz. These were an earlier version of genetic theories that promoted a view that human society could never rise above war and violence because we were genetically programed by our genes similar to other primates in the animal world. These theories emerged as a counter weight to the powerful movement in the 60’s against the imperialist war in Viet Nam; a movemnent that shook the status quo to its very foundations.

        Of course there is nothing wrong per se with the prefix “socio” or the word “biologist” but it just came to be that the term “Socio-biologist” was used to describe the leaders of this reactionary trend.

        We all have much work to do in educating people about these backward and oppressive historical trends and why they must be exposed and targeted.

        Knowing who our potential allies are and what our targets need to be are critical decisions in any successful political movement.


      • Even very large portion of common people who read newspapers these days are quite interested in natural sciences, physics, chemistry, biology, etc. I also think particles, molecules, cells, neurons, etc are involved in almost everything that we experience. If you think about meaning of words, I guess something like anti-biological psychiatry can also work against what many of us are trying to do. Many people who hear that these people are anti-biological psychiatry will instantly think that they’re idiots who think what happens in body or brain doesn’t matter at all. Of course what happens in body and brain matters, if you don’t sleep for several days your experience probably will be altered, maybe your body is flooding with stress hormones, etc, etc. If you take drugs that affect central nervous system, your experience often will be altered.

        What I agree is most harmful is something I’d perhaps call “biological determinism”, by which I mean explanations of people who are mentally inferior by birth, through explanations of genetics, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses as inherited cellular level brain disease, etc. Sociobiology was kind of a precursor to much of current biopsychiatry. Biological determinism is kind of like “biological explanation of natural sin” and it’s often used as a powerful tool of behaviour control.

        However, many people who think they are thinking “objectively” or in a “neutral scientific way” value a lot stuff from natural sciences. I see that ultimately natural sciences try – or should try – to study and explain parts of our common universe, without any social, psychological or political goals. Understanding of core natural sciences, such as physics, chemistry and biology, can be used when arguing for politics of different views. For instance, maybe the concept of neuroplasticity is useful for our movement. We can explain how central nervous system can change through exercises or environment, it’s not all inborn. Some people studying (epi)genetics are saying similar things about genes: environment and our experience of world (mind) can quite rapidly and radically change the expression of genes. See this nice article “The Social Life of Genes” http://www.psmag.com/health/the-social-life-of-genes-64616/.

        • So part of my point is that things such as chemistry and biology can be both used to advance the case of biological determinism and our case. We can perhaps explain how environment, meditation, exercise, etc, can change our body, brain, gene expression, etc. Biological explanations as such can be used for “good” or “bad”.

    • Richard,

      I think you are right to stress “anti-biological psychiatry” because as I said above, there are literal heroes who have fought hard against this monstrosity, but were faced with assaults on their reputations and careers by the huge force of the Big Pharma backed psychiatry industrial complex also aided and abetted by corrupt government hacks. Yet, because this horror show was created when those at the top of the APA and/or corrupt KOL’s like Robert Spitzer and Allen Frances sold out to Big Pharma to help them make billions by destroying countless lives as Bob Whitaker, Dr. Breggin and many others document all too well, you are right that this evil paradigm is what needs to be fought tooth and nail. I usually try to specify “biopsychiatry” in my critiques as well.

      Thanks for reminding us of this.

  8. I was told by an ethical Methodist pastor who was kind enough to take the time to read my chronologically typed up medical records, with my perspective written on the side, that I dealt with the “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.” What he meant was that the psychiatric industry, historically, has been used by both the medical and religious industries to cover up both medical malpractice and pastoral sins, via egregious psychiatric miss-medication.

    An industry that has bought out other “industries,” (and governments) by promising to unethically cover up their errors, is not a respectable industry. Psychiatry is not a respectable industry, and never has been.

    But I am not anti- my psychologist friends. Except I do not respect them when they dismiss children who were hospitalized with ADHD, as ADHD. Especially when in reality, you look at the medical evidence and realize these innocent children were hospitalized due to major drug interactions, and these were denied by the hospital medical staff.

    Psychiatry, and the mainstream medical industry, are now utilizing the made up, “lacking in validity” DSM disorders to cover up major psychiatric drug interactions, so they defame children, no less. Grown psychiatrists are defaming and torturing children with drugs for profit.

    My personal misdiagnosing therapist had the highest suicide rate in the nation in her local high school due to her desire to keep the alleged child molesters of my child on the streets, because keeping her child molesters friends on the streets brought her in business. It hadn’t occurred to me when I was dealing with her anyone would be so disgustingly unethical. But now I have the medical evidence.

    I’m not anti-anyone. But I am appalled by a psychiatric industry that is intentionally keeping child molesters on the streets and defaming and torturing children for profit, while pretending they promised to “first and foremost, do no harm.” And since, according to my family’s and friend’s medical records, this is what the psychiatric industry is doing. I agree, being “anti-psychiatry” is now absolutely appropriate.

    Medicine needs to be about science, and medical proof. Unfortunately, the mainstream medical community is, as a whole, not ethical enough to stand up against “The Wall of Silence,” because the psychiatric industry has made it way too easy to cover up all medical mistakes with psychiatric defamation of character.

    I guess I am anti- unethical people. And it is now my understanding that is what psychiatry is now, and perhaps always has been. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. My experience is now that the psychiatric industry’s power has corrupted them absolutely. I pray for an end to psychiatric stigmatization of innocent children, and all the psycho / pharmaceutical industries’ crimes against humanity.

  9. Ted,

    I understand your point about reclaiming a word, it is a difficult task I think as the general public may well equate “antipsychiatry” with anti-scientific.

    I have just started reading Thomas Szasz’s book “Anitpsychiatry: quackery squared”, and from it I learned that “antipsychiatrie” was first coined in 1908 by a German psychiatrist Bernard Beyer, who invented the term “antipsychiatry as a label with which to stigmatize psychiatric criticism .” (Szasz)

    Well we can’t accuse E Fuller Torrey of original thought.

    Torrey stigmatizes any criticism of forced treatment by labelling this valid criticism as “antipsychiatry” and thus prevents scrutiny of the facts. Critics of Torrey are often critical of forced treatment and brutality that he promotes. The evidence is that forced treatment is ineffective, harmful and just plain wrong, and yet criticism is seemingly ignored by the mainstream media.

    Would it help to just ignore Torrey?

    • I love reading Szasz, I’m reading “Myth of Mental Illness”, right now. I love how he talks about using Aristotelian language.
      The best anti-psychiatry book I’ve ever read is “Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology (Scotton, Chinen, Battista).” The Textbook, based on my observations, really dials in on the intersection of Science and Spirituality. Really cool book imo, whether in Graduate level or in recovery!
      If truth really is the meeting of opposites, than both books combined lay at the heart of the intersections of Psychiatry, antiPsychiatry, Spirituality, and Science.

  10. This whole discussion is about language and reclaiming it. I am strongly reminded of the lengths that other disenfranchised groups have gone to in reclaiming the language that is used to describe them. Classic examples are: gay, queer, disability, n-word, etc. See Wikipedia for more examples:
    We should follow this venerable tradition and reclaim some of the language used to describe us.

    So the question might be: strategically speaking which words are the best/easiest/most impactful to reclaim? Ted suggests that we reclaim ‘anti-psychiatry’ while others here suggest other words/phrases. I’ll make my own list of my favorite words to subvert:

    mad — see MindFreedom’s MadPride effort

    It seems difficult, but perhaps necessary, to subvert words that are used as slurs against us, even the words that are ‘medicalized’


    Fortunately, these words are widely over-used and their over-use could facilitate their subversion. For example, nobody seems to know what psychosis actually is, rather it is just used by psychiatrists to label any behavior they do not understand or agree with.

    ‘Anti-psychiatry’ is also used as a slur, and is a prime target for reclamation, just as Ted suggests. Strategically speaking, which words do we think are worth the effort to reclaim? Which ones best describe us? Which ones are so powerful as slurs that they must be reclaimed to prevent harm?

    • Personally, I generally refuse to use a lot of their invented words to describe states that they don’t understand. I think using the “sick” language – including words like:

      mental illness
      DSM acronyms
      medication (and definitely not “medicine”)

      and even words like “mental health,” “recovery,” and “cure,” sometimes

      only add to the power of the biomedical model and obscure the real nature of the problems.

      What usually ends up happening is that I use a lot of quotations and “so-called”s.

      When I was going through emotional difficulties, I think I could have been easily “diagnosed” by this sham profession, but none of the sick language ever made sense, ever seemed to fit my situation. I didn’t feel sick, I felt distraught. I felt worried. I felt scared, sad, hopeless – but never “sick.” I think the “sick” language is a major impediment in our society’s attempts to understand so-called “mental illness,” it’s inaccurate, misleading, and it needs to go.

      • Exactly.

        As a peer worker I try very hard to use words that do not conform with psychiatry’s stupidity. When I speak to groups I watch the psychs squirm and twitch because I refuse to use their language. Some say that I should use it so that everyone is “on the same page” and so “we can all understand one another.” My response is: “Why am I the one who is expected to conform to your language every single time???? When are you going to use my language so that ‘we can all be on the same page’?” Of course I never get an answer to that.

        • We should most certainly not conform to their language. Either their language should be redefined to match our meanings not theirs, or we should not use their language.

          When I first got diagnosed, I asked a lot of people what they meant when the used the words paranoia, psychosis, mania, etc. I never got satisfying answers. Unfortunately, I did use their words for a while, only to discover that they meant something totally different than I did. I have since stopped using their words, because nobody knows what they mean anyway.

          The crazy docs don’t even use the DSM definitions for things. No, they redefine the language on an ad hoc basis using the current patient as the new definition. If they say you have paranoia, mania, depression, etc, then you do by (re)definition, and if you argue they just pile on more terms like “lack of insight”.

          • Or they give you another supposed “diagnosis” or two, like Oppositional Defience Disorder. You get stuck with that one any time you don’t agree with their pontifical statements about you and your life. Women used to get stuck with some strange label with Hysteria in the name if they wore too much jewelry. Guess who gets to decide what “too much” happens to be? Of course, this completely ignores many cultural things where women are required to wear their family’s fortune to remain a proper person in that culture. Of course, who gives a damn about being culturally competent? They wear the white coats and have the diplommas on the wall so of course, they don’t have to pay attention to a damned thing that they don’t want to pay attention to or be proficient or competent in! They’re the “experts” on everything!

        • Right on, brother. So that “we can all understand one another”? How about, so we can all continue to misunderstand and fail to understand one another? That’s all that that language gets us. I have really had it up to here with this ignorant, arrogant paradigm and its undeserved power. We in this movement really need to strategize because this nonsense needs to go the way of bloodletting and alchemy, stat.

          • But all too much of the time our movement quibbles about semantics and not offending the good doctors.

            Well, there aren’t very many “good doctors” in psychiatry. Most of them decided that their pocketbooks and bank accounts and large homes and their pretige were much more important than “walking” with people suffering emotional and psychological distress.

            They sold out to the drug companies and parrot the mantra of “you’re ill for life and must take your meds forever.” They make more money doing four “med checks” an hour than sitting and listening to one person per hour.

            There are a few good ones, like the majority of the psychiatrists who post here, but you would expect that because we don’t hanker to put up with anyone who wants to flaunt themselves as the supposed “expert” about our lives.

            I’m with Ted, we need to form a better, stronger strategy and get out there and start kicking some metaphorical butts instead of hunkering down and quibbling about making sure that we’re understood. I think we will be very well understood once we get busy and start really doing something. I think that they already understand but they rely on our continuing to talk more than we do. They continue to divide and conquer us.

            I’m not sure how to go about getting a better plan and this is one of the reasons that I come here to see what’s going on. Ted is one of the strongest voices for actually doing something. He’s also one of the original survivors who helpted form our movement originally. I respect him greatly for that. I’m for doing something in the forums where this is discussed in depth.

      • ssenerch,

        I totally agree. I prefer the method of those helping Jews in the very similar Nazi Holocaust whereby supportive non-Jews wore the yellow stars, so the evil people committing their crimes against humanity couldn’t single people out based on biopsychiatry’s evil eugenics claims they continue today with so called biological psychiatry and the neverending search for the nonexistent genes, chemical imbalances and other fraud claims of their bogus, voted in “mental illnesses” used to destroy countless lives by driving them to suicide or early death with their toxic “treatments.”

        I’ve noted how much our language has been corrupted by this evil fraud and one of the most vile terms these fiends devised is the bogus, “behavioral health.” Dr. Szasz exposed that behaviors could not be assumed to be a matter of mental illness or health since this was more a matter of a moral judgment for social control and conformity.

        Thus, I try to watch my language and call a spade a spade in that biopsychiatry is evil and not just “sick” and the only treatment is to abolish it forever.

  11. Like you Ted, I come from the “old movement” – you certainly even way before I got involved in 1978. We used “anti-psychiatry” in the way you do, which I always see as a short hand for anti-psychiatric oppression. The psychiatric profession has been in every country the strongest force behind the creation of mental health laws that allow incarceration and forced treatment. They were responsible for the final form of the UN’s “Principles on the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness” – a nonbinding 1991 declaration that approved of incarceration and forced treatment and has been superseded now by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Psychiatry as a profession is not simply a discipline that someone can be trained in, it is organized and consistently acts against us politically and legally, as well as economically and by its systemic perpetuation of torture, negligence and other abuses.

  12. Psychiatry as it always has been practiced by the overwhelming majority of people thinks it knows what is best for everyone it thinks needs its help whether they like it or not. It is the tyranny of good will. It thinks it has the right to force its way on everyone for their own good. It is not scientific. It intimidates its costumers. It mostly does not believe or listen to what anyone says and then it forces them to do what it thinks is right. The fact that some psychiatrists believe in informed consent and may help people does not change the fact that the vast majority do not.(Probably 99% versus 1%!) Psychiatry causes much more harm than good. Therefore it should be abolished. Any professional practice that believes to violate someone, chemically engineer them and leave them without most of what makes them truly human should be scrapped. I am non psychiatry.
    Imagine no psychiatry Its easy if you try!!!

    • Mary,

      I think you give biopsychiatry much too much credit. The sole soulless purpose of psychiatry selling out to Big Pharma and adopting a pretense of practicing medicine was because psychiatry was an ailing profession when Freudian analysis was waning and there was too much competition in therapy from social workers and psychologists.

      So, some of the more psychopathic/narcissistic members of the profession decided to push their unique ability to prescribe drugs by making a pact with the devil, Big Pharma, corrupt government hacks and other players that had them soaking in tons of wealth for the APA and individually in no time at the cost of countless lives. That’s why many like Lieberman and Insel are whining about the empty pipeline of drugs since drug companies are leaving psychiatry in droves after billions in fines for fraud and patient harm they hid and reputations destroyed by its own sordid alliance with biopsychiatry. Nobody is immune from its toxic influence because now “everybody is doing it” in the entire corrupt medical profession with GP’s and pediatricians doling out these poisons.

      Thus, this despicable, deliberate, corrupt act had nothing whatever to do with good will, wanting to help people or any other goals. It was first and foremost for the benefit of what became biopsychiatry only while doing all in its vast ill gotten power to defame and destroy anyone who protested or refused to go along. Dr. Loren Mosher with his famous Soteria project much like Open Dialogue that actually helped people with psychosis with as few drugs as possible was forced out of his position at the NIMH to make way for this evil monstrosity. Psychiatrists actually wanting to help people with life problems admit they can’t survive or work in the field if they don’t push life destroying DSM stigmas and toxic drugs for the most part. Dr. Breggin is somewhat unique in that he made money publishing books and winning law suits that greatly benefited all the victims of this sordid enterprise.

      Allen Frances showed his narcissism when he had the gall to claim after admitting that defining mental disorders is “bullshit,” “The collective fantasy of science behind the DSM was good for psychiatry and patients.” Such a statement is truly horrific to those like Dr. Paula Caplan exposing the huge harm done by the DSM IV and the gross expansion of the bipolar fad fraud started by Robert Spitzer, another known narcissist, in DSM III. See her web site and article she wrote on MIA.

      Gary Greenberg exposed Frances and his pals in his enlightening book, The Book of Woe, with the above quotations and many more from biopsychiatry.

  13. Love it, Ted! I am totally anti-psychiatry because I realize the profession was built on and continues to rest on a fraudulent house of cards! I am anti-psychiatry because I know that those going through horrible, distressing situations need REAL help and REAL respect, which is not easy to find in psychiatry nor in much of the mental health system as a whole. I am anti-psychiatry because I can’t stomach the ignorance and arrogance endemic in the field, and because human beings deserve something much better and more sensible. The corruption, the sheer blindness, and the abuses are just inexcusable. Thank you for your straight talk, as always Ted. I, like you, think we need to be much more clear, coherent, and forceful in our advocacy or we will never be heard.

  14. I’m sort of schocked that these things still seem to be need to be said. That the errors, uses and abuse of the mental health still need to be highlighted by declaring pride in being anti-psychiatry, it is not a term I use much as it is loaded with emtions but it should be pointed out how it is used as a term of abuse so dissolving its power to silence might make it appropriate to adopt the term pridefully rather than allowing the use of it to intimidate.
    The more important task is That we are best encouraging the development of spaces which allow people to ‘cure’ their pain, gain calarity about their lives, minds and histories and find the support needed for life. Saying we are anti-psychiatry in accusatory tones has silenced debate, as being deemed ill in a blase fashion just avoids the reality of dealing with, trauma, loss and isolation and the simple reality that with the right supports and an ongoing effort we can break the dependence on services which sustain people in avoidable predicaments.
    This is somewhat of my veiw on what wrong with how society approaches mental distress http://wormwoodgate.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/sanity-society-and-psychiatry/

  15. I remember my friend who called her psyche treatment “abuse”. She died early because of the extreme poly drugging.

    Reading the comments I have to agree that I am anti-psychiatry. If only I’d known what I do now I’d never had taken one psyche pill. To be labeled by what a doctor thinks he hears and then to read his office notes of gibberish in no way reflecting what I said. If we can in some way educate and help others not go down the path we did and with compassion offer genuine support most of us would had never been psychiatrized.

    My psychiatrist asking as he read a letter a consulting neurologist wrote about me, “What does he mean you have Akathsia,” as my whole body trembled and jerked. So much for the prescribing doc actually looking at me each visit and not noticing severe and dangerous drug indued side effects.

    • Go figure. So many of them can’t or won’t even take the time to look us in the eye, let alone actually talk with us. It’s like it’s beneath them to make that human connection and yet it’s that human connection that begins the process of healing for so many of us. I often wonder what trauma many of the psychiatrists suffer from when they have such terrible or nonexistent people skills. Why did they ever decide to go into medicine in the first place. Of course, look at the specialy that they chose to practice!

  16. Thank you! I never understand how this can be defended. Not to sound simplistic, but I am not fond of psychiatry based on a rather limited experience with it. I was put on an SSRI (disastrously) for a chronic pain issue. After moving, my doctors insisted that since it was a psych med, I needed to have it overseen by a psychiatrist. At which point this psychiatrist began diagnosing my side effects to the med as mental disorders (not severe ones, but the guy wouldn’t stop!). The side effects got worse; I went to a different psychiatrist. My stomach finally gave out and I couldn’t keep the SSRI down. The new doc then started diagnosing my SSRI withdrawal as a psychotic break, telling my husband that I would never not be able to live without being institutionalized–then promptly tried talking him into committing me. Luckily, no one believed him and I found help for my STOMACH, which was the issue. And went off the meds, which returned me back to completely normal.

    But seriously, who on earth let these doctors have the amount of power they have? To try to talk a husband into committing his wife over vomiting?!? I still am terrified over that sort of thing, though it’s not necessary since I don’t go to a psychiatrist. If they actually diagnose side effects as mental illness, how on earth do they DX actual mental illness? What happens when someone with a psych dx reacts horribly to these drugs? I guess I know, having read “Anatomy of an Epidemic”, but still? These two docs were simply bored, annoyed that someone was being sent to them basically by insurance who wasn’t seeking mental health care. If they’d been chiropractors, no one would ever have given them the time of day–much less let them manage dangerous medications. (I say that not to denigrate chiropractors, I trust most of them more than psychiatrists, if only because they cannot prescribe meds, affect one’s medical chart, etc.)

    • It is indefensible to diagnose side-effects of drugs as mental illness. One of the drugs I took made me puke. The doc I was seeing, who is probably the best, kindest doc I have seen, couldn’t grasp the idea that the puking was due to the drug. Fortunately he believed that I actually was puking (unlike some doctors who call everything they don’t like a delusion), but he kept trying to ascribe the puking to me or anything besides the drug. But I know it was the drug; the puking started soon after starting the drug and vanished (reliably) when I quit the drug.

      It is pernicious that the judgement of people diagnosed with mental illness is questioned. It’s not just the doctors doing this; it is everyone in our society. If people know that you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, few people will trust what you say, even if you are an expert or are speaking about your own experience.

      • You point out what I think is one of the most important problems. Just because we’ve been diagnosed as being supposedly “mentally ill” we are stripped of integrity and reliability. Staff in many psych wards and hospitals say that you can’t believe anything that a “patient” says because everyone knows that mental patients are notorious for lying.

        I had an interesting experience that confirms this attitude. I am a retired hospital and nursing home chaplain. I was trained in Clinical Pastoral Education in both medical and psychiatric hospitals. When I was brought to the unit of the hospital were I spent two and a half months as a “patient” I was immediately told what kind of behavior was expected of me while I lived on the unit. I informed the staff that evening that as a former chaplain who’d been trained in a large psych hospital I knew what was expected of me, no problem.

        It just so happens that a very dear and old friend is a social worker in this same hospital. We’d been out of touch for a number of years. There wasn’t a social worker available on that unit the next morning so they asked my social worker friend to do my social history intake. She was standing outside the conference room where I was meeting with the two psychiatrists assigned to my case. While she was waiting she overhead the nurses behind the nurses station talking about what a big liar I was by saying that I was a chaplain and that I had training in a psychiatric hospital. Once they got through she stepped up and informed them that I was everything tht I’d claimed and that if she heard any more such nonesense from them that she would be sure to see that they would find themselves in deep trouble for unprofessional behavior and talk. I asked her what happened then and she laughed and said that they all got up and ran off into the conference room where they shut the door and hid!

        Yes, we all lie, no matter what we’re talking about and are to never, ever be paid any attention to.

      • Yes, it is utterly indefensible! In my case, my stomach just became too sensitive to handle a med I’d been on for some time, or any other meds (none of which were psych).

        One thing I’d like to add though, it doesn’t matter if the patient is diagnosed with a mental illness or not, it seems. I was prescribed an SSRI by a specialist who was in no way connected to mental health. After a few moves, I was told it had to be overseen by a psychiatrist. My insurance agreed, as it was an SSRI. If I ever mentioned any problems with the med to my PCP or specialist, I was referred immediately back to a psychiatrist, all because of the class of drug. It was like getting diagnosed with a mental illness by the simple fact that I was on a psych med, even though that particular med was being prescribed to people for almost every medical condition known to humanity, including cancer! It was absurd. You see this in the media as well, if someone is on any psych med it is a sign of them being somehow not trustworthy. I note such shoddy sources only because I’ve not had occasion to research this subject until now, but if someone with little knowledge of this subject can call up examples, that’s not a very good sign.

        It was also worse that the referring to a psychiatrist was due to the “fact” that they are the supposed experts on those medications. Admittedly, my experience with psychiatrists isn’t that extensive, but I’ve never met two docs LESS knowledgable about medications.

    • I had numerous psych drug induced said effects like nausea, vomiting, profuse sweating, gaining over 100 pd, couldn’t sit still from the Akathsia (urge to move), naturally the Akathisa kept me from sleeping so I was up all night pacing which got me diagnosed as manic, not sleeping for days got me diagnosed again as manic and something else, rambling slurred speech got me diagnosed with Disorganized Thought Disorder, horrid Tardive Dyskinsea muscle spasms that got diagnosed as fibromyalgia and so on.

      I had drug induced behavior that wasn’t me but my prescribing psychiatrist had ceased to think I was ever a person and kept on adding more drugs.I’ve had several physicians later tell me I’d never been mentally ill and they couldn’t fathom how I’d been diagnosed as bananas.

      Here I am drug free for some years looking back thinking what happened?? What happened was I walked into psychiatrist’s office not knowing the future ramifications.

      I can sit quietly all day, read, relax, enjoy food without nausea, etc and yes, I can sleep drug free.

      • Aria, me too. I mean, the akthisia and the like. I lost years to these side effects and doctors’ inability to evaluate them. These doctors shouldn’t be allowed to prescribe these dangerous drugs unless they can prove a comprehensive knowledge of all of the effects, the permanent problems they can cause, the withdrawal symptoms, etc. It’s not the patients’ responsibility to handle learning about it all themselves while paying these people quite a large amount of money to just sit back and call you crazy.

  17. Hello! I was lurking on MIA for a long time, and now I decided to participate. I think the discussion of the term “antipsychiatry” give me a good opportunity to explain by basic views on the topics discussed here.

    While I’m a critic of psychiatry, I cannot describe myself as “antipsychiatrist”. I am, first and foremost, anti-coercion; and, to a slightly lesser extent, anti-biological psychiatry. For me, the main goal of people who understand the horrible state of the modern mental health system is to deprive it of the right to coerce. And to achieve such deprivation, we have to explain both academia and public that biopsychiatry has a very weak scientific foundation… well, you know it!

    However, I would not say that psychiatry is absolutely evil – we do have a few psychiatists who fully understand the sad state of their discipline, and try to reform it, and to present alternatives; for example, consider Loren Mosher’s Soteria network, Peter Breggin’s empathic therapy approach, holistic/integrative therapies etc.. If we want to be “antpsychiatrists” in the strict literal sense, we’ll have to be anti-Soteria and anti-empathic therapy as well: these are also psychiatric practices, after all! But, I think, people here are not against them (as well as me).

    So, I decide to call myself the critic of coercive biological psychiatry and the proponent of non-coercive (bio)psychosocial psychiatry, not “antipsychiatrist”. I do not want psychiatry to be eliminated. I want it to change, and to change radically.

  18. Of course the term “anti-psychiatry” is denigrating. I have nothing against people creating a new meaning for the word “anti-psychiatry” in our current or future culture, but in the mean time, perhaps from at least strategical point of view, it’s often more useful to say something like you’re not anti-psychiatry, you’re something else. Maybe you’re critical of psychiatry, etc.

  19. Ted and Hermes

    Ted, I agree (as you said above) we should decide to carry on this discussion in a different format (hopefully someday soon in person or on the phone); it is very difficult to do this in these short bursts of written responses. I hope you were able to read all three of my responses above to get a better picture of where I am coming from on this question.

    I have worked in community mental health since 1993 and I have been reading Peter Breggin and others since 1991. I have worked around more than two dozen psychiatrists in those years and have seen first hand the devastation of the Biological Psychiatry paradigm of so-called treatment.

    I have also been carefully reading the stories of psychiatric survivors at MIA for several years, and currently socialize on a regular basis with several militant activists/survivors in my area. If we had hateometer that could measure my level of hatred and disgust for how people are being treated by modern psychiatry (dominated and controlled by the Biological Psychiatry wing of the profession) I believe I would register very high on that meter, perhaps in the same range as yourself. But of course, sincerity, anger, and even hatred must be translated into organized, constructive, and focused resistance to make a real difference in the world.

    One question we are confronting is how do we build a movement that can unite the many and defeat the few; how can we create the political and social conditions for the total dismantling of the current mental health system in this country and around the world. We need to have activists working both inside and outside the system. We need an organization with the right program and set of demands that can inspire and join together people with many different firsthand experiences within the system as survivors and those who have tried to provide compassionate help actually working within a now broken and corrupt system.

    How we define ourselves and attempt to build alliances around common causes will make an enormous difference in how our movement grows and how effective we can be in the political and scientific arena.

    Most psychiatrists basically know what the difference is between Biological Psychiatry and old school psychiatry. There is a minority of psychiatrists that see the Big Pharma dominated genetic/disease based model as destroying their profession and harmful to patients. They are sympathetic to us activists but at the same time they are also fearful that we are also targeting them with psychiatric horror stories and anti-psychiatry rhetoric, and potentially threatening their ability to carry out their life’s work; many of them truly want to help people in pain.

    I don’t believe we should hold back the psychiatric horror stories; in fact we need more. However we should change the rhetoric directed at ALL psychiatrists including when we say we are “anti-psychiatry.” We CAN say the following to all psychiatrists with great confidence: “WE ARE ANTI-BIOLOGICAL PSYCHIATRY AND YOU SHOULD BE TO” and “HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.”

    We need to inspire and support them (and shame may even have some role here) to raise hell and revolt within their profession by targeting the leaders of Biological Psychiatry and all their corrupt and unjust practices. In the 60’s, backward people would say to protesters “Love it or Leave it!” We would shout back at them “Change it or Lose it.”

    In essence we are saying a version of this to all the open minded psychiatrists. If you don’t act now (including more than just talking about what’s wrong) you will be complicit in your profession’s crimes, and the profession will no longer have historical relevance; and may die out or be torn asunder.

    As I stated several times above, dissident psychiatrists have an important role to play in all this and we can and must unite with them. Why paralyze them, make them defensive or even drive them back into the camp of the enemy with “anti-psychiatry” rhetoric?

    Targeting Biological Psychiatry is actually a more radical strategy (than a more ultra left approach of declaring all psychiatry as evil) because it requires the hard work of building alliances and finding common ground with people who do deep down want to reach for a higher purpose and meaning with their life, including with their own career work. And it is a more truly radical strategy because it actually has a better chance of winning in the final analysis.

    Hermes, all historical labels defining certain trends are never completely accurate when examining the individual terms. But they have to be given some name or label. Biological Psychiatry was the best that Peter Breggin could come up with at the time. As I stated above, most psychiatrists know exactly what is meant by the term “Biological Psychiatry.” Some love it because they completely believe in the both the theory and practice. Others are growing to hate it (as we do) because they can agree it harms people and is destroying their profession. We can help them more clearly see a united target for our movement and work together on similar goals.

    We can educate the masses exactly what this Biological Psychiatry model represents in the real world. We did the same in the 60’s when we called ourselves “anti-imperialist” and tried to educate people about what was happening in Viet Nam. I must point out, I was a proud member of the “anti-war movement” in the 60’s even though I was not, and still am not, against all wars. There are just wars of liberation and revolution that forward the march of history.

    I sense you were also a critic of “Sociobiology.” The specific label does not itself convey the backward content of the theory, but once we explain it to people they can understand its meaning and why they need to oppose it; the same is true of “Biological Psychiatry.”


  20. I won’t beat you up for thinking some so-called mental illness may well have a neurological or metabolic cause. However, I do suggest you listen (I believe it is only available as an audio book) to The Body is the Subconscious Mind, by Candice Pert. Ms Pert was on the team that proved the existence of neurotransmitters in the brain. She also demonstrates that they exist in the body as well. It really opens up pathways for exciting new remedies (which are actually enjoyable to receive). For more on that I suggest reading Vibrational Medicine for the 21st Century by Richard Gerber, M.D. – Oh, by the way I do believe a few individuals with a mental health diagnosis could have a neurological or metabolic cause, but that all the other possibilities should be ruled out first – and not treat for that alone and ignore all the other factors, like Torrey would like to force on everyone.

  21. I have thought long and hard about this issue and this blog entry about a pscychiatrist preventing someone from wrongly being diagnosed with schizophrenia that was a hematoma that could have been fatal helped me clarify why I am uncomfortable with the term antipsychiatry.


    As you seen from reading the article, it was a neurology resident who wanted to quickly label this person as a psych nut without wanting to do further testing. This supports my view that the problem with being stereotyped and marginalized transcends psychiatry.

    Yes, I know psychiatrists like the one portrayed in the blog entry are rare but in my opinion, they do exist more than you think. I know of a case where someone was fired by a primary care doctor due to a complex medical case and was referred to a psychiatrist who sent this person to a good doctor who gave a damm. And no meds were ever prescribed.

    I am not sure what to call our movement but because of the examples I alluded to, anti psychiatry doesn’t feel right to me.

    • AA,

      I think we should bear in mind that neurology like most of medicine has sold out to biopsychiatry’s lucrative, but dangerous agenda for the most part.

      I must say this is a very unique situation because the truth is that the vast majority of encounters with biopsychiatrists is based on a very short interview to match some symptoms with the bogus DSM to justify prescribing the latest lethal drugs on patent without any medical or other exams whatsoever to assess possible physical problems or any consideration of any environmental, social and other stressors/trauma in the person’s life.

      The problem is that a majority of the entire medical system has become very corrupt and with Big Pharma and so called managed care while the focus on profits are far greater than care for the humans in the system.

      Since biopsychiatry isn’t really about medicine, but rather social control and robbery of human rights in the guise of medicine in league with the Stalinist therapeutic state, I think overall, it does far more harm than good and should be abolished.

    • I was in Clinical Pastoral Education training in a university medical center when I ran into a 21 year old man who’d been put through hell by a number of psychiatrists. This was in 1989. He had a terrible pain in his right hip and when he went to a medical doctor he was told that “it was all in his mind.” He went to a number of doctors and got the same answer. Then he was sent to psychiatrists to take care of his “problem.” They tried to make mincemeat out of him but he was strong and stood up against all of them. Eventually, he went to a specialist who stated that the man had a huge begnine tumor right smack dab in the middle of his hip joint! By this time the young man was unable to walk but the psychiatrists were still telling him that it was “all in his head.”

      I met him the evening before the surgery that was going to remove the tumor that had been there all the time. But of course, it was “all in his head.” He was one angry young man the next day after the surgery. He was facing months of physical therapy that would get him up and walking again.

      So, here we have an example of how numerous doctors in different specialties were responsible for this man experiencing a lot of physical and emotional pain. The specialist who found it stated that the earlier doctors should have sent him to a specialist in the very beginning, but of course all the earlier doctors were convinced, after cursory examinations, that it “was all in the young mann’s head!”

      How did the field of medicine get so far off in left field?

      • When on the psych poly drugs I had numerous horrendous side effects that kept my city’s medical specialists busy testing me for “issues”. I lost count of the invasive procedures and additional medications prescribed when the culprit WAS the psychiatric drugs. I became drug free and the problems disappeared.

        On the other hand once my psychiatric diagnosis got out I was denied treatment and referral for a progressive demyelination disease. Every time I went to a doctor they saw in my chart “crazy” and told me I had to see a psychiatrist. I ended up on 2 crutches dragging my legs before a neurologist diagnosed me. Being mistreated like this is by no means unusual and it’s still happening. Who knows what shape I’d be in today?

  22. Hi Donna,

    We definitely agree about the modern medicine being totally corrupt. And even if they aren’t beholden to drug companies, many of them have become so trained to think like biopsychiatrists.

    A perfect example is my first sleep doctor who demanded I see a psychiatrist. I am not joking.

    When I said I would see a counselor to shut her up, she insisted it had to be a “medical doctor” And then had the nerve to say this didn’t necessarily mean I would be prescribed meds.

    And of course, she never did things like review my home study report or respond to my concerns about my pressure. I should have complained to her boss but didn’t for various reasons.

    Unfortunately, abolishing biopsychiatry is simply not going to happen just like banning drugs will never occur. We have to use other strategies to prevent people from even entering the system.

  23. Hi again Donna,

    I can’t find the other post that you wrote in response to my post disagreeing with what what you said about Ted. I have it in Outlook but I really need to see it on screen to effectively response.

    I am sorry if I took it the wrong way which you have mentioned I did which is a valid point.

    Anyway, I didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you.

  24. According to the word ” Anti-psychiatry ” I came to this page . I do not know English . I have to all read and write through a translator. It’s uncomfortable , translates poorly and takes time.
    I believe that coercive psychiatry is criminal in its essence . The task of the doctor to help the patient. That is to act solely in solidarity with the person who applied for assistance. But it looks wildly task of the doctor not to help the patient, but to help someone or get rid of the harm the patient. What kind of doctor that neutralizes the patient ? Why fight with someone’s hazard or nuisance physicians should? Really without doctors executioners not enough?!

  25. We should be against Psychiatry, when Psychiatry stands against human rights and the Psychological well being of their patients and when their top priority is to act as a unstoppable legal dispenser for the Pharmaceutical companies.

    We have to rid the misconception that all Psychiatrists are trying to help people because if you have been a victim of psychiatrist’s over diagnosing, you would understand this comment. I believe that one Psychiatrists over diagnosis can lead to several of professions around them taking the same view without re evaluating themselves. This also leads to the patients family being brainwashed into thinking that their loved ones are being cared for by a well established scientific establishment, which is simply incorrect.

    Once the patient is labelled as being mentally ill of some description they are treated as so by everyone around them, this isolates the patient and combined with the psychiatric drugs that make you more compliant, forces you to question whether they are correct in there diagnosis. Even though they provided no evidence for their initial diagnosis and the symptoms they use to meet the requirements of being mentally ill are so vague that anyone can fit their description.

    I think the key to tackling this problem of Psychiatrists abusing their power is to gain acknowledgement by the government and the wider community that there is a huge amount of people suffering from being a victim of over diagnosis and this is solely due to the abusive way Psychiatrists treat their patients and not because they were suffering from a mental illness in the first place.

    I believe the way of achieving this is to give a voice to those who have been victimized. By making public what happens in Psychiatric wards, the side affects experienced from taking psychiatric drugs and the tactics used by Psychiatrists and Pharmaceutical companies in order to commit these acts of crime.
    On Monday, November 4, 2013 The Department of Justice released the case findings that Johnson & Johnson to Pay More Than $2.2 Billion to Resolve Criminal and Civil Investigations Allegations Include Off-label Marketing and Kickbacks to Doctors and Pharmacists. Global health care giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and its subsidiaries will pay more than $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from allegations relating to the prescription drugs Risperdal, Invega and Natrecor, including promotion for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and payment of kickbacks to physicians and to the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy provider. The global resolution is one of the largest health care fraud settlements in U.S. history, including criminal fines and forfeiture totaling $485 million and civil settlements with the federal government and states totaling $1.72 billion.

    I think websites like these definitely achieve some closure for victims to share their experiences but we must make these issues more widely known by addressing them on TV so the public can be on the victims side and not on the perpetrators (Psychiatrists and Pharmaceutical companies).

    As the climate stands now amongst Psychiatrists, not only are they able to ruin peoples lives and waste billions of dollars in taxpayers money in drugs that have an opposite affect and often loose what patients have to offer to society but they are being congratulated by the wider community and the government. We must change this attitude if we stand any hope of stopping the Pharmaceutical companies having what they want, which is to make it seem normal to be on these drugs.

    Feel free to copy this and post it all over the internet.

  26. Hello there Mr Chabasinski, I agree with what you have stated above; just wondering if you could help me a little Im writing my dissertation on anti-psychiatry and I’ve titled my document “With the death of Szasz has Anti-Psychiatry died alongside”? I just wanted to know if you agree with this statement and if so why?

    thank you so very much, have a great christmas and enjoy the new year ahead.

  27. Of course I’m anti-psychiatry, I was sterilised as being ‘mentally ill’ with psychoactive drugs for life as a little 9 year old boy. Every waking moment my sexuality is supressed and controlled by psychiatrists as well as they give me weird pain all the time too.

    I found people believing in their drug religion EXTREMELY offensive to the genocide that is inflicted on me. Is it wrong to be ant-nazi when the mums generally accepted the sterilization of their children as good medicine and good mental health?

    If you want to take drugs take drugs, but don’t coerce us officially into calling them ‘medications’