Final Lecture


On May 16, 2014, I retired from a 35-year career as a professor of clinical psychology at Miami University.  As a part of my retirement celebration, I gave a Final Lecture to my Department.  These Final Lectures give retiring faculty members the opportunity to talk about anything they think is important for their colleagues and the attending students to hear.  I focused on the changes I have witnessed in the profession of clinical psychology over my career; changes that were not for the better.

I started by contrasting present conceptualizations of psychopathology with those that were prevalent when I was in graduate school.  Currently, mental illness is seen as a brain disease, something blatantly stated as “fact” in the DSM beginning with DSM-IV.  There are many important implications of the brain pathology position.  One of the least explored implications is that brain diseases reside within an individual.  In other words, the pathology cannot reside in relationships, in families, in communities, or within cultures.  Individuals are diseased, not cultures.

In contrast, early in my career, therapists took more seriously the original meaning of psychopathology: psyche (mind, spirit, soul) + pathos (tragic suffering).  Therapists were open toward alternative ways of understanding the tragic suffering of the mind, spirit, or soul.  This openness meant that therapists had to be aware of the fact that values played a central role in deciding what is pathological.  From the many illustrations I gave in my talk, I’ll include two here.

Homosexuality is perhaps the most famous example of the role of values in deciding who or what is pathological.  When the culture (and the profession) was quite homophobic, being gay meant you were mentally ill.  It was not voted out of the DSM because people did an exhaustive review of the literature and decided that the brain lesions that caused it did not, in fact, exist.  It was voted out because the values of the profession (and the culture) changed.

Alternatively, the latest edition of the DSM assigns “mental illness” to people who are depressed two weeks after the death of a loved one.  This decision was not based upon any data; the best data we have indicates that people grieve for at least two years when a loved one dies.  I would argue that the decision to define grief as a mental illness after two weeks reflects the values of the profession.  It suggests that the profession minimizes the essential role of suffering in a well-lived life and maximizes reaping economic benefit from the distress of those who grieve.

Turning to psychotherapy, it is currently conceptualized as something that a professional does to a person in distress.  It is the intervention which is curative, just as it is the physician’s intervention (e.g., antibiotics) that is curative for a diseased patient.  Therapists need a positive relationship with their “patients” because “patients” who do not trust and value their therapists will not trust the intervention and get better.  In other words, a positive relationship is a means to an end; it is not something valued in and of itself.

The current position ignores decades of good psychotherapy research showing it is the relationship itself which is curative.  In a relationship that is life-changing, the therapist suffers with the other person and the other uses the power of the connection to heal himself or herself.  The client, more than the therapist, is the active change agent.  In my talk, I illustrated the ways good therapy works with several examples.

I concluded my lecture by discussing an often neglected key role and responsibility of a professor – speaking truth to power.  I focused on the need for professors of clinical psychology to speak truth to power about our field.  Professors have an opportunity to bring to the fore things happening in the world of clinical psychology beyond what the mainstream emphasizes.  For example, while the treatment-of-choice for “schizophrenia” in the United States is neuroleptic drugs, the National Health Service in Great Britain has decided that therapy for these individuals needs to be paid for because neuroleptic drugs only are effective in about 30% of cases.  (As an aside, this 30% figure keeps coming up if you look at medication and psychopathology. A similar percentage of people report “anti-depressants” are helpful.  If you happen to be familiar with placebo studies, you may recall that about 30% of people respond to placebos as well.)

Sadly, in this final part of my talk, I forgot to describe another truth we need to speak to power.  We know that sexual abuse is among the most under reported of events.  We also know, from survey data, that approximately 65% of the people who receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia report a history of sexual abuse.  Let me say that again:  65% of those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia ARE reporting sexual abuse and we know sexual abuse is under-reported.  This suggests a staggering number of these persons have been sexually abused, yet we do not account for this in our conceptualizations or consider it when we consider etiology.  I truly regret not making this point in my talk.

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Larry M. Leitner, PhD
Larry M. Leitner, PhD, recently retired as a professor of clinical psychology at Miami University. He has co-authored or edited four books and has over 90 book chapters and journal articles. He has won the George A. Kelly and the Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Constructivist Psychology Network and was awarded the Rollo May Award at the American Psychological Association Convention in 2008 for outstanding and independent pursuit of new frontiers in humanistic psychology. He lives with his wife, April Faidley, and daughter, Joy, on a family farm in Iowa.


  1. Thank you Dr Leitner for what you have articulated so clearly. I really appreciate reading your suggestion that grieving last at least two years. I lost my 25 y/o beautiful first-born son 28 months ago in the most horrific way and only recently do I believe my family and I are starting to really recover and go forth with our lives in the way we always used to. My son left a “good-bye” note asking for our forgiveness and taking only responsibility for “his choices”. He wanted us to march onward and upward.

    Once I gathered myself together, I began to educate myself about just what the hell happened. I stumbled upon RW’s masterpiece “Anatomy of an Epidemic” and have soared in my knowledge base since then with the very caring MIA community helping me further my learning. When I started to truly comprehend the psychiatric bible, the DSM IV, at that time which in just 27 months took my son from the life as a whole, charismatic, bigger-than-life 6’4″ successful young man and once in “the system” using the DSM guidelines reduced him to a lifetime of MI, and his ego and incredible pride could not withstand such a heavy burden. And as I later realized the interpretation since he tested (+) for cannabis per the DSM exclusions should have guided my son to realize how recreational drugs can, and do, change some brains. Instead of the truth, as well as uncovering any traumas he was dealt, it was all about labeling him mentally ill for life. How dare “the system” do that to anyone, especially a young man who had thrived for 23 years.

    At least I learned before the adoption of the newest version, the DSM V, where I, too, would now be labeled with a MI just because I still grieve past two weeks of losing my son. The audacity of our current MH system overwhelms me. I thank you for your clarity, your honesty and for the truth you share. Please keep educating society post retirement, and let us all try to make changes, in mass, to this broken, greed-driven warped injustice against humanity in the U.S. which is called Psychiatry.

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    • ty, dr leitner. lots of truths in there.

      larmac, so, so sorry for your terrible loss. i saw the changes you describe in my husband. he went from all around superguy to a lunatic, thanks to the same greedy members of “the system” . he is still with us and i pray has seen the truth and will never go back into their claws.

      i am with you in this fight to try and make changes . i speak to those who have been played, led, bamboozled by the system and hope some of the truths reach their minds and souls. hearing your story i will fight even harder. spending time on the mia site you know you are not alone.

      may you find peace and comfort and the strength to move forward, doing what you must.


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  2. How tragic it is that diagnosing and labeling a person most times loses that person their friends and family in that they are looked at as a dysfunctional someone no longer worthy to be even listened to except by a paid therapist . I always thought a therapist was for rich movie stars . I always ended up with government social workers to talk to that were so arrogant and life threatening you would think they were angry because they weren’t psychiatrists. Dark Ages indeed.
    Larry M. Leitner ,Phd. seems like he did the best he could and gives a lucid presentation . I appreciate the video especially. What can be done about the child abuse both in homes and by “helping” authorities ? Why so much betrayal ? Too many wars ?
    Are the powerful encouraging a Dark Age to better cull and control. Is a minority educated or not speaking truth to them enough? If power corrupts who are we talking to? Are most of us at a loss and just scrambling to survive?
    Maybe Larry could go on a lecture tour and mobilize and inspire us on how to take on the powerful and incarcerate or immobilize them somehow or maybe we ‘ll each have to figure out how to do that for ourselves or bow as slaves and victims to their growing oppressions.

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  3. Thanks for a good post. I’m being a bit of a stickler here, but I think you didn’t actually mean to write the following, because it implies that homosexuality, is, indeed, caused by brain lesions and that this “fact” was ignored in favor of changing values. Or is it me who’s reading this wrong? I think we all understood what was intended, in any case.

    “It was not voted out of the DSM because people did an exhaustive review of the literature and decided that the brain lesions that caused it did not, in fact, exist. It was voted out because the values of the profession (and the culture) changed.”

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  4. Dear Dr Leitner,

    Full of truth, but I must correct you on the reality of one of your points in your penultimate paragraph:

    My son is currently a ‘captive’ of the NHS, forcibly medicated in the community against his and his family’s wishes, on the spurious basis that he will pose some kind of risk to himself if he is not. I assure you that the treatment-of-choice for “schizophrenia” in the United Kingdom is still neuroleptic drugs. NICE clinical guidelines may advocate the offer of psychological therapies, but not only are they not offered, request for their provision under the guidelines is met with ‘they are only guidelines’ and declined on the grounds of unavailability. Moreover, when the patient’s family consequently sources those services in the private sector, funding for their provision is denied. (But funding is available for two firms of solicitors and two barristers to make three attempts at Nearest Relative displacement when the NR realises the neuroleptics are completely ineffective and supports the patient’s wish to stop taking the harmful medication from which he has derived no benefit.)

    I wasn’t aware of that jaw-dropping 65% figure in your last paragraph but could you (or anyone else??) point me in the direction of the source documents that support that figure? Not because I doubt for a second the accuracy of your information, but because from my son’s perspective you have hit a very large nail directly on the head:

    During his initial psychotic episode, my 17-year-old son made a confused attempt to report sexual abuse, which was dismissed by the attending psychiatrist as delusional. In consequence he has been given a succession of 6 neuroleptics over 3 years, during which time his initial positive symptoms have gradually worsened and been joined by new ones, he has developed significant negative symptoms where there were none, and his cognitive function has deteriorated from straight A-grades to the point where he is now barely able to relate anything at all. My insistence that his original difficulty was as a result of trauma is ignored, and my suggestion that he therefore has a form of PTSD, and not schizophrenia, is denied.

    I would like to slap the 65% source documents firmly on the desk of his current consultant, they would be yet another useful arrow in my quiver.

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    • Angry Dad,
      Just to clarify, are you assuming that there is a credible diagnosis of “schizophrenia” whose patients deserve that label, that is distinct from a spurious diagnosis of schizophrenia which is really PSTD? Many people in the MIA community would say that all “schizophrenia” stems from a reaction to a trauma or set-back of some kind. I’ve always said my son was correctly labelled (schizophrenia), it’s just that the label is meaningless to recovery and doesn’t address the question of cause. (It’s obviously meaningful when it comes to billing.) Dr. Loren Mosher likened schizophrenia to shell shock (PSTD) and said it resembles schizophrenia but in PSTD it seems obvious where the stressors came from and in schizophrenia it is not so obvious. Just something to think about when you try to tell the doctors that their diagnosis was wrong. My suggestion is to not insist the diagnosis was wrong but instead insist that the treatment be skewed toward understanding the trauma component. I don’t know what drugs are used for PSTD, but I’ll be willing to bet they are the same old antipsychotics that are used to “treat” schizophrenia and bipolar and so many other conditions where nobody bothers to find out cause.
      Best of luck. It’s almost impossible to win with these people, but slowly things are changing.

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      • Rossa

        You are absolutely correct. The very same drugs are used to treat PTSD as used to treat “schizophrenia.” When the only tools you have in your toolbox are hammers everything looks like nails! The problem is that the only thing that really helps with PTSD and trauma is a really good therapist that the person suffering can trust. All of the pills in the world do not make any of these issues go away, they only smash them down to smolder away until they can explode once again out into the open. The sexual abuse issues and trauma issues of the “patients” in the state hospital where I work are never addressed in the individuals’ treatment plans; in fact, it’s a fluke if the sexual abuse even makes it into the charts even after people talk about it in hopes of receiving help for it.

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        • Thanks, Stephen, you’ve reassured me that the eight years my son has spent with his current psychiatrist are not in vain! It has been very slow going, but he’s in such a good shape now and he is only getting stronger. It points to the value of therapy when properly done.

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          • It’s so good to hear that your son is doing better.

            I know from experience, my roommate has very severe PTSD, that it takes a long time to work through all of the abuse and trauma issues. He hasn’t found the proper therapist yet that he can trust and work with. But, we’re making progress, slow but sure, just like your son. Every tiny step forward must be treasured and and celebrated for even those tiny steps take a lot of work.

            Your son is lucky to have you as his mother.

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    • AngryDad

      Google the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study done by Dr. Vince Felitti and Dr. Micheal Anda. You can go to Y0utube and watch Dr. Felitti explain a lot of the stats of the study. It’s appalling but yes, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused in this country. Child abuse, according to the CDC, is responsible for the loss of $124 billion a year to the American economy due to the far reaching effects on the lives of people who are sexually and emotionally abused. Child sexual abuse is something that no one in this society wants to talk about because it point out just how sick our society truly is. The conservative figure is that at least 80-90% of all people held in psych units in this country are trauma survivors, usually the trauma being childhood sexual abuse. It’s appalling and no one is doing anything about it. And what’s even worse, just like the psych did to your son, the psychiatrists deny it all and call people delusional. Usually they don’t even pay any attention at all when someone tries to tell them something like this.

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      • Hi, again, Stephen,
        I have problems with the reported high percentage of people with mental health problems who are reported to be trauma survivors, and most likely trauma due to sexual abuse. Anybody who is alive has experienced some form of trauma. To be born is to be traumatized. When someone is experiencing first episode psychosis, let’s say in the adolescent years, I am guessing that the “word salad” of an adolescent male, in particular, has lots of sexual inuendo. Certainly it did at times with my own son. IMO, a lot of the sexual references may be more related to feelings of sexual inadequacy and frustration, that may be mistaken as a case of sexual abuse. All I’m trying to say is that I think these numbers are overblown or over-interpreted. How about coming at it from a different perspective – that the person is sensitive and afraid of what lies ahead in life, or of changes, independence, etc. Or perhaps, a prophet or a healer?

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        • I’m willing to look at all of this in as many ways as possible; anything that helps is worth using. It’s true that all of us experience trauma in our lives. It’s also true that not every person who has been labeled as “mentally ill” is a trauma survivor. But, a significant number of them are and that number is positively staggering.

          In the group of residents that I deal with as a peer worker in the state hospital where I was once held, the stats, according to the self-reporting of the residents themselves, goes along with the ACE Study. The numbers of people who’ve been sexually, psychologically, and emotionally abused, as well as neglected, as children, is appalling.

          The thing that amazes me is how the so-called “professionals,” the psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers ignore the abuse or they claim that the people are lying and just making things up. They say it’s part of the person’s delusional thinking.

          Unfortunately, I know from personal experience that this is true. As a small child I witnessed things done to my mother by my first stepfather and his four friends. She was married to him for one week but that was the week from hell. She sent me back home to my her parents and then tried to take her own life and ended up in the state hospital in the state where I was born.

          I shoved the images and the memories down as far as I could shove them into my unconscious, where they stayed for almost fifty years. But they manifested suddenly during the year that my mother died and my sister was murdered. The memories were overpowering and disabling and extremely traumatic to remember. Of the three psychiatrists that I shared these experiences with, only one took them seriously and tried to work with me to bring me some relief. The other two just sat and looked at me and then totally ignored what I’d shared, and went on with their agenda. They didn’t even say one word in response. This in itself was kind of traumatic, I would call it psychological and emotional abuse on their part. Incidentally, the one psychiatrist who tried to help me was an intern doing his psychiatric round in the unit where I was held as a “patient.” Go figure. He wasn’t a psychiatirst!

          The trauma statistics expose the underbelly of our society, where all of this stuff is hidden by the people doing terrible things to children. No one wants to look into this underbelly and try to do anything about it because it’s too “icky.” Look at what happened at Penn State. Look what’s happened in the Roman Catholic Church with the pedophile priests that were hidden and moved from parish to parish. It’s going on all the time to our children and very few people want to attack the problem. People just don’t want to believe and accept that this happens to our kids.

          Thanks for letting me vent.

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          • Hi Stephen,

            Your comment about how psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers ignore the abuse or claim that people are lying and just making things up, and is just part of their delusional thinking is a very convenient method of reducing workloads, and enabling serial abusers.

            It’s funny how selective their hearing can be though. I was just reading about a Swedish man called Thomas Quick who was convicted of 8 murders he didn’t commit based on confessions that he made whilst detained a psychiatric facility, and drugged to the eyeballs.

            Danger, cherrypickers at work lol.

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          • To boans: I remember the case of Anders Brevick , when the first thing that the “professionals” did was to try diagnosing him with schizophrenia. They ultimately changed their minds or some other “specialists” got appointed because they got laughed off a park. This guy had a clear political agenda and as much as you can call him crazy for a given definition of the word he was very rational and aware of his actions and their consequences. I hate it so fucking much when psychiatrists want to turn everything, especially criminal behaviour to mental illness and then use it to justify their expansion and use of coercive measures.

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          • Yes B, they could not possibly have maintained the position that Brevik was insane, as it would have resulted in psychiatry being put to the test, and exposed to the public as a sham.

            I don’t know that people are aware of how easy it is to create mental illness. I went from being a violent paranoid drug abusing wife beater according to one mental health professional, to being a rational victim of domestic violence in a period of 7 hours.

            The first professional simply removed the context, and described my behaviour as a result of threats as if the threats were non existent, and hey presto a mentally ill person appears, who requires detention and drugging.

            The second professional puts the behaviours back into context and hey presto the mentally ill person disappears, and your out on the street.

            It’s just so easily done and means that the community has absolutely no protection from these people. If they want you locked up and drugged, your gone.

            It’s analogous to a police officer carrying a bag of drugs with him to plant on anyone he wishes to arrest.

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          • This type of three card Monte is going to come in very handy now that they have Community Treatment Orders available.

            There is no longer the restriction of infrastructure on the number of people who can be forcefully drugged. If you will not take the medication willingly, an order will be made and you will be drugged in your own home.

            Problems at work, relationships, bereavement? Just ignore the situational variables and you got reasonable grounds to drug em.

            I should have bought shares in pfizer before they introduced CTOs lol

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          • I don’t know about the US, but here in Australia there has been an explosion in the use of CTOs.

            So big in fact that our government has tried to change the law so that a psychiatrist is not a psychiatrist. Anyone with a medical qualification could work as a psychiatrist, no training required.

            They simply can not keep up with the amount of CTOs being written. I’m sure that if and when the damage to the community is noticed, it will have been an ‘unintended consequence’. Just don’t look at any psychiatrist share portfolios.

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          • Stephen

            I just want to validate your personal and professional experience regarding the rates of childhood abuse of all forms, especially sexual abuse.

            Having worked 21 years in community mental health as a therapist, your own experience and observations match what I have witnessed as well.

            Your candid and deeply personal comments at MIA are very much appreciated.


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          • Stephan,

            According to my medical records, I was misdiagnosed and force medicated, based upon a list of lies and gossip from the people who abused my children (including a pastor). And my subsequent pastors (in a different religion) were kind enough to read through my chronologically typed up medical records and explain I dealt with the “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.” Apparently, covering up child abuse is, and historically has always been, one of the functions of the psychiatric industry. I hope exposing these psychiatric crimes against victims will help to end this problem some day.

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  5. Rossa, you are right. It was worded poorly. The intent was to say that, when they had it as a mental illness, the assumption/philosophy behind a disease model is that, to have an illness, you must have a biological lesion. So, implicitly, they were assuming a lesion (leading to many shocking treatments). And, when they dropped it, they did not say, “Well, those lesions do not exist.” They just dropped it.

    Angry Dad: Thanks for the clarification on things in the UK. SOrry they are not as good as I hoped. There are a variety of surveys that have been done in erms of the percentage. Ones from Australia show about 65%. The report from Scandinavia tends to be a bit lower (50%). Here is one reference for you:

    Read, J., van Os, J., Morrison, A. P., & Ross, C. A. (2005). Childhood trauma, psychosis, and schizophrenia: A literature review with theoretical and clinical implications. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 112, 330–350. LML

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  6. I love the self deprecating humor, honesty, and insight of Miami University professors. You remind me a little of my favorite Miami U economics professor, a Professor Brock, who is also retiring soon, or just did. He was a fabulously insightful, if not almost prophetic, professor.

    I remember pouring through my psych books as an undergraduate student at Miami, I found psychiatry fascinating. But, alas, I was insightful enough to realize it’d get pretty depressing listening to others’ problems all day long, every day, so I stayed in the business school. But the psychiatrists did come up with a creative way to avoid listening to patients’ problems with their DSM check lists, didn’t they?

    Of course, when a medical profession chooses not to show respect and listen to their patients, they end up making some pretty egregious mistakes. Do you know, according to my medical records, a neurologist named Dr. Kohn has declared Miami University a “credible fictional” university? Kohn spent three and a half years creating “bipolar” (actually anticholinergic intoxication poisoning) so he could cover up the abuse of my child for a psychologist friend and her pastor. And my entire life became a “credible fictional story” when I pointed Kohn’s mistakes in his medical records to him.

    Guess it was meant to be that I end up studying psychiatry, after all, however. And, my oh my, “what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” I do agree with others here that it would be beneficial to society if you’d continue to use your credentials to help educate the public about the sham that psychiatry actually is. Happy retirement, thank you for your honesty, and I’m glad my “fictional” alma mater is not teaching psychiatric lies.

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  7. Thanks for all the kudos. Angry Dad, here is another reference with a MUCH HIGHER percentage than the Read study. LML

    Mullen, P. E., Martin, J. L., Anderson, J. C., Romans, S. E., & Herbison, G. P. (1993).
    Childhood sexual abuse and mental health in adult life. British Journal of Psychiatry, 163,821-732.

    P.S. Someone Else: Do you know Garrison Keiler once quipped that, if the world was going to end, he wanted to be in Oxford, OH as, given how far we were behind the times, he figured he’d have another decade!

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  8. I wish you all the very best in your retirement Professor Leitner.

    I hope that those who heard your lecture take up the challenge to speak truth to power.

    I feel like I’ve been telling the Emperor for some time now that he has no clothes, but he just keeps “mooning” me in response.melts hope for a cold spell eh lol.


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  9. Dr Leitner, many thanks for the info.

    Stephen, also thanks for the pointer, and what a shocking story – you really are a survivor.

    Rossa, no I don’t accept any diagnosis as credible that relies on a list of symptoms in preference to determining a cause. Only when you have established a cause can you have a credible diagnosis. My son demonstrates ‘the protective response of a distressed or desperate psyche’, and I would posit that this is the case in nearly everyone with a mental health issue. Emotional response is not ‘illness’ but reaction to event or circumstance: distress following a trauma or series of traumas. My son has clearly demonstrated he does not have some mystery chemical imbalance, although I worry that he does now as a result of the drugs: the small, small print of his present drug manufacturers’ own literature disguises the fact that it admits ‘The mechanism of action is unknown’. But by claiming schizophrenia, and therefore chemical imbalance, psychiatry is able to claim ‘illness’, and by claiming identified illness, it can claim to provide treatment which is active, causal, conservative, curative, empiric, palliative, prophylactic and rational. We discover to our horror that psychiatry actually provides none of the above, but confines itself to providing an entirely drug-centric symptomatic treatment that at best is expectant, at worst iatrogenic, and in all cases compounds the distress and desperation that lead to the protective response in the first place.

    I also believe nearly all mental health issues are a manifestation of post traumatic stress. And you are right, that particular diagnosis seems to be reserved for when the cause of the trauma is obvious. The importance of substituting the less ridiculous ‘diagnosis’ of PTSD in my son’s case is that the recommended treatment regime for PTSD in the UK is not a pile of ineffective and damaging neuroleptics, but a pile of psychological therapies, focusing on helping the mind rather than focusing on crippling the brain.

    Good news on your son, keep going !

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    • Dear Dad,
      Much more than angry, reading your post, I am impressed about the clearly well informed support you give to your son. It still is a rarity that parents, at first, belief their kid vs the experts and, second, do so much alternative research to see through the neuropathology myth underpinning the drug-pushing and CTO business that psychiatry has become over the last 30 years.
      How is your son doing? Can your son get alternative diagnostic assessments by English psychiatrists who know more about abuse and trauma and would support him in getting access to psychological or trauma-informed talk therapies?
      Has your son contacted advocates or the Hearing Voices Network (open to other mental and emotional struggles following abuse, neglect, rejection, betrayal, oppression, etc) for exchange, exploration of possibilities to proceed?
      As you are not to be deceived by psychiatry turned normalcry-fiction-based control, psychiatric ‘treatment’, based on ignorance and silencing of difficult/shattering experiences, therefore at high risk of harming highly distressed people, you may find support from enligtened people, experts by experience/peer specialists as well as critical of psyciatry professionals. The latter being especially active in the UK with trauma-and-abuse clinicians and researchers beyond them, critical psychiatrists.
      If you were German it would be a pleasure to invite you to join our Experienced Involvement movement with relatives working in and for peer support and humane and respectful therapeutic relationships.
      Chapeau for your well informed actions to support your son in getting more humane and relevant suport. Tell him there are peer support groups with many others who shared the real difficult stories outside of psyciatry, and found mutual understanding and authentic voices, rebuild courage and love of life through the many facets of our stories, there are many more than the dark and confusing ones which dominate in crises, in peer support groups we can be-come whole again, find self-respect and a much broader shared knowledge of the difficulties and beauties of life.
      We survivors say that we belief in healing, recovery and growth through sharing lived stories and tons of humanity. I send these ideas as guiding stars to your son.
      Best wishes to your son and to you Dad (and family).

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      • “If you were German it would be a pleasure to invite you to join our Experienced Involvement movement with relatives working in and for peer support and humane and respectful therapeutic relationships.”

        Ute, I would like to know more about it. Do you have a website or a contact address?

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  10. Boans, CTOs are a marvellous invention:

    ‘You must now leave hospital because you are costing us a fortune and if you stay here any longer you will also make us look bad for not making you better, and anyway we need the bed for our next victim. But as you will be a danger to yourself or others, despite never having been so before, you can only go home if you agree to this CTO. The terms of which are that we will drug you to within an inch of your life for as long as we can afford it, or until you manage to get the CTO removed. But by the time you try to get it removed you will be so drugged up you will be worse than you are now and will have lost the clarity of thought required to challenge the CTO.’

    ‘Stay in hospital and be drugged, or go home and be drugged, the choice is yours, and it’s all about patient choice isn’t it ?’

    Ever try to get a CTO removed ? It appears judges are so far out of their depth they don’t have the cahunas to do anything at all.

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  11. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful, final lecture with us. The debunked “biological brain disease” theory has to go. I grew up in an extremely abusive family, which has, basically, concluded that all the struggling teens and young adults in the family “just have a chemical imbalance in their brains,” and that “taking medications to correct this imbalance is just like taking insulin for diabetes.” I suppose that was an easier explanation for the adults in my family than considering that the supposed “mental illness” epidemic plaguing my entire generation of this family might lead one to think that physically, sexually and emotionally abusing one’s children throughout their entire childhoods and encouraging others to do the same does not, often, help them grow into happy, well-adjusted adults. When I ended up in a psych hospital, my complaints about my family were completely ignored, and the “doctor” seemed to find it appropriate to talk to my mom behind my back to encourage her to “tell me to take my meds.” He also thought that returning me to my parents’ house was a more appropriate “discharge plan” than encouraging me to return to my own home. It seems that the “biological brain disease” psychiatrists don’t find themselves in the best of company…

    If anyone’s interested, I wrote quite a bit more about the massive problem of pathologizing reactions to abuse:

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    • I’ve been through a similar thing, just not with my family, who are loving and caring, but my ex, who abused me emotionally and at times physically and then tried to turn me into a “mental case” to cover it up. I also found myself in a situation when he was discussing me with psychiatrists and that often behind my back and against my will.
      Somehow I was the sick one but he was a perfectly normal, well adjusted individual. In fact he was a classical case of a psychopath, which everyone noticed except for the “professionals” who instead were trying to diagnose me with depression, anxiety, panic disorder, borderline and had pills for everything because clearly the problem was my brain. In other words: abuse victim=mental case, abusive psycho=well adjusted individual with normal emotionality.

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  12. The 2 week grief thing just demonstrates what a hocus Pocus pile of horsecrap the DSMV actually is. I defy anyone to get over grief in two weeks for a start. Secondly the expression of grief is so culturally constructed that as a diagnostic enity it has little purchase outside of the boardroom where the psychopaths who wrote the DSMV reside. In Sicilly for example after the death of her husbund a woman must where black for the rest of her life. Will this be giving Italian psychiatrist a headache, “where some colour for godsake or It’ll be the prozac for you!”. Do yourself a favour, through it out the window.

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    • Jeremy, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve never lost someone closer to me than a grandparent or roommate I knew for only a month, but I have good friends who have lost people who were very close to them and, in some cases, it took years for them to put their lives back together, if they were able to at all. That’s not pathological- it’s human nature. What bothers me more, though, is that the DSM not only allows for no comparable “grace period” for someone who’s just been traumatized, but has two separate sections which only apply to trauma survivors (not to mention that I doubt there’s a single diagnostic category that doesn’t apply primarily to trauma survivors). I wrote at length about this in my own article, “According to Psychiatrist, Trauma Survivors Are Mentally Ill,” at

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  13. Larry, thank you for this moving and courageous message. Speaking truth to power is, it seems, a lost art. The desire to “fit in” and to be sure everyone “likes” you may be the greatest sin of our time. As a professor of psychology who is also retired, I share your concerns about the way our profession has changed. I would underscore one of your examples: the idea in DSM that human beings should grieve for only two weeks after the loss of a loved one reveals a deep misunderstanding of the nature of human beings — by a profession that is supposed to be “expert” in that area. Fortunately, there are some in psychology who have a better sense of what it means to be human and just how life-giving and life-sustaining genuine love and friendship are. It takes me more than two weeks to get over a stumped toe. The idea that I should get over the death of a loved one in two weeks and that, if I haven’t, then I must be mentally ill — goodness, goodness, goodness! What have we come to???

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