Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published at Mad in America on June 8, 2014.
I’ve been working on a larger writing project for a while now, and am currently focusing on my ninth grade year— the year I turned fourteen, the year I began to think about suicide, the year I discovered the temporary satisfaction that comes from escaping oneself, and the year I met my first psychiatrist and said goodbye to myself. For many years, I carried great shame about all that unfolded during that year—about the things I did, the secrets I kept, the harm I caused, the darkness I was so immersed in. Today as I write, I am full of love for that lost girl I once was, for I see that I was on a universal, archetypal search—for answers to my profound emptiness, to why I yearned to die, to why I felt so utterly convinced that I didn’t fit into the world. I was searching for self-worth, for peace of mind, for a sense of safety in a world I didn’t understand. I was searching for the kinds of things that all young people search for, only I was never presented an opportunity to realize this.
Had I had a space of mutual understanding, recognition, and solidarity to enter into—one without authority figures like parents, teachers, coaches, or “mental health” practitioners—I wonder how things might have been different for me, how perhaps I might have found fuel in the power of shared experience and identification. I wonder if I might never have found myself before a shrink who’d tell me in less than an hour that I had a “serious mental illness” that I’d live with for the rest of my life, hand me a prescription sheet, tell me to come back the following week and all the weeks after, and trick me into believing that I was broken and fixable only by Psychiatry.
Though today I am completely grateful for the trajectory of life thus far—I am grateful, even, for that first shrink I was forced to see—I can’t help but think about these things. I think about these things because I am acutely aware that millions of young people might be in a place similar to the one I was once in, a place of alienation, isolation, confusion, anger, sadness, and disillusionment. I think about these things because I know that the prominent, visible “help” our young people are offered today is predominantly under the umbrella of “mental health”, and thus, oriented around diagnosis, “treatment”, “early intervention”, “prevention”, and the like. This “help”—“help” that is plastered all over the television and the internet and magazines and schools and doctors’ offices, “help” that young people see over and over every day—offers a tantalizing but false answer to the profound agony of adolescence. It is “help” that young people, themselves, are directly and indirectly promoting in organizations like Active Minds and articles like this one in the New York Times. I know how tantalizing this “help” can seem, and I know how destructive it truly can be, for I sought it desperately for thirteen years until I accidentally discovered that this “help” was actually bringing me closer to my death.
My heart envisions a future of grassroots community-based, free, accessible, welcoming, non-judgmental and safe spaces for young people in the middle of the hurricane of adolescence. They will be spaces completely free of the false and destructive dualism of “mental health” and “mental illness”, spaces in which no professionals are in sight, no illusions of quick-fix solutions offered, no top-down authority to direct the conversation. They will be spaces facilitated by those of us who’ve reclaimed what it means to be human—to suffer, to yearn, to fall into the depths of darkness, to fly high on the waves of euphoria, to think about death as a solution to life, to hear voices, to experience paranoia, to be debilitated by panic and anxiety, to feel completely helpless, hopeless, and alone. In these spaces, young people will find power and validation; they will be listened to and truly heard with no mention of the phrase “mental health”, and certainly not of psychiatric labels. They will discover that their pain and struggle are not evidence of their brokenness, but are in fact healthy responses to this difficult world in which we live, responses that have meaning and that offer the potential for growth, change, and individual and collective transformation, if only they’re listened to and explored in comradeship.
In these spaces, young people will embrace the full spectrum of their emotions—including their deepest suffering and hardship—insulated by mutual support. They will arm themselves with honest facts about what it means to be human, and they will go back out into the world with loud, courageous voices, ready to stand against the rampant pathologization of their experiences. I am envisioning our future generations equipped with all my generation hasn’t been equipped with: the power to resist society’s greedy, destructive, industry-driven urge to turn adolescence into “mental illness”; the power to resist institutions and authorities who work hard to build a profitable, controllable, silenced, psychiatrized, dehumanized mass of young people who will take their meds as prescribed, listen to their doctors’ and parents’ and schools’ demands, and in so doing, sacrifice their fire, their potential, their individuality, and their revolutionary spirit. If we are to dismantle the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex, we must reach our young people by building them spaces in which they can reconnect with themselves and what it means to be human. Generations of battle lie ahead, and I smile as I envision victory on our young people’s horizons.
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.
When Columbia University’s TeenScreen program announced last month that it was shutting down effective December 14, everyone, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
TeenScreen shuts doors suddenly after 13 years:
Services Administration (SAMHSA), was surprised. Mark Olfson, M.D., interim executive director of TeenScreen, referred interview requests to the Columbia University press office, where spokesman Doug Levy said that no interview requests would be granted.
TeenScreen’s demise shows there is hope and our efforts are working.
Indeed, the closing of TeenScreen was a really good thing, though unfortunately the “mental health” screening of young people is alive and well in America… I’ve heard stories from friends with kids who’ve had primary care doctors try to sneak in “mental health” questionnaires in appointments, and especially in the wake of all of these mass shootings, I’ve heard, as well, about schools implementing trainings for teachers to pick up on potentially “troubled” kids… So yes, while TeenScreen is gone and that is great, we must stay diligent about all the other ways that Psychiatry creeps into the lives of our young people!
“”I’ve heard stories from friends with kids who’ve had primary care doctors try to sneak in “mental health” questionnaires in appointments,””
This is also happening with adults. It is quite common to see a version of these on new patient forms. It is very frustrating.
And even if you avoid answering the questions, you can still get your diagnosis wrongly labeled under a psychiatric heading which happened to me. Needless to say, I wrote a strong letter of objection refuting this.
That is why I constantly stress on this website that psychiatry isn’t the only branch of medicine we should be concerned with as their BS has infiltrated into mainstream medicine big time.
Indeed, AA! Thanks for sharing this. I don’t know the exact statistic offhand but it’s something like 70% of psychiatric drugs are prescribed by primary care docs, and yes, undoubtedly many people are introduced to psychiatric oppression through their annual checkups. We must keep bringing this to light.
It’s both a good and bad thing. I think Teenscreen shut down only because they saw kids were searching it online and finding out it was a pharma front to get them on drugs and that’s bad for business.
Interesting! I hadn’t heard that before, but it makes sense!
“Dual diagnosis” has to go next cause its almost impossible for anyone to get help for drug and alcohol abuse without labels and drug pushing, this is due to the failure to stop one of the most dangerous drug pushers of all time: the psychiatrist. The sad irony is that he has also established himself in positions enabling him to control the drug rehab field, even though he can show no results for the billions awarded by governments and legislatures all over the world.
Hi again, Copy_cat,
Yes, the “dual diagnosis” phenomenon is troubling to me, as well. As someone who spent about two years very active in the twelve step world (before realizing that it was just another institution giving me a label, telling me I had a life-long “condition” [albeit a spiritual one], and instilling in me the idea that I was someone “different” from “non-alcoholic” people; I left that world and the “alcoholic” label behind about two years ago), I can’t tell you how many people I came across who self-identified as being “dually diagnosed”. It was hard to keep quiet when I’d hear people speak at one month sober about how their doctor had just diagnosed them “bipolar”, and how they’d been told they’d been “drinking to self-medicate their bipolar”; of course, they sat there loaded up on the typical cocktail like I had, and it was really difficult to watch over and over and over again. Much of the conventional medical and psychiatric profession refuses to acknowledge, at least with their patients, that psychoactive drugs like alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, etc. will have significant effects on the CNS, leading to significant alterations in personality, mood, cognition, etc… Of course they can’t acknowledge this, because there’s a tremendous opportunity to be needed by these struggling folks if they’re kept in the dark about the fact that the ups and downs they’re experiencing while excessively drinking aren’t something separate (i.e. “alcoholism” and “bipolar”) but one and the same!
The Addiction Industry– which of course emerges right out of the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex– is thriving more than ever, creating life-long dependents who are told they’ll be on disability indefinitely, can never work again, and will need to take “medications” to keep themselves “clean and sober”. I know in Massachusetts that Bain Capital recently began investing in methadone clinics… Clearly, there’s big money in this world and financial folks are realizing this. It is so tragic to see how many people get “clean” by getting hooked on “medications” that are, in fact, just as difficult to get off of as the “street drug” itself.
Anyways, I’m going off a bit here so I’ll end! Thanks for this comment, Copy_cat!
The number one complaint people in early recovery have is “nothing is fun sober”. So what does psychiatry do ? They ignore this and push their brain disabling drugs that make the problem worse !!!
These “dual diagnosis” drug treatments have their ‘therapeutic’ impact by disabling the brain. They do not improve brain function or correct biochemical imbalances, they cause brain dysfunction and biochemical imbalances. These brain-disabling interventions are then considered effective when the doctor, family, patient or society views impaired brain dysfunction in the target individuals as a desirable or beneficial effect.
” I don’t want to drink and take get high party drugs that make me feel totally awesome cause the doctor the doctor gave me bipolar medication that makes me feel apathetic and zombie like all day” How stupid is that ????
It makes the idea of party drugs more attractive !
What they do is tell clients it’s for ‘anxiety’ so they take it when in fact it’s to dumb everyone down and make them easy to manage.
I hope your vision becomes a reality. Something like what you propose would have changed everything for me when I was 15. But I didn’t get that. I didn’t get validation or understanding or witness or space to actually try to start figuring out what it meant to be my own authentic self. I got psychiatrized.
I’m sorry that you did, too. What you are doing now with that experience is inspiring. Thanks.
I am sorry, too, that you got psychiatrized at fifteen. I would love to start a discussion about how we can effectively organize to implement these kinds of opportunities for our youth so that we can break the PPIC’s vicious cycle of dehumanization that we got sucked into. Any ideas about how we can get this going?
I am so glad you’re here, uprising!
So much of this article rang true for me as well, and I think your idea is fantastic. I used to run a few different programs for children and teenagers (primarily for trauma survivors), and I definitely have a few ideas as to how something like this could get off the ground. Feel free to contact me anytime at [email protected]– I’d love to help!
Laura, I want you to know that you’re amazing, in case you ever doubt it. Your consistently passionate and articulate breakdown of the whole lie of “help” and “health” have helped to dispell my fear that the mental patients’ liberation movement had hopelessly fallen victim to the blase doublespeak of the so-called “consumers'” so-called “movement.” You are also helping to take the movement to a higher level of understanding — that psychiatric opprerssion goes far beyond the no-brainer level of forced incarceration and “treatment” to the very way our thoughts and assumptions about life are molded so as to make us view our pain not as something with an objective social/political cause, but as the result of some mysterious personal deficiency. Of course, the “help” offered is generally help in forcing ourselves into the mold of capitalist culture.
I think that young people are sophisticated enough, and cynical enough (in a good way) that they will respond in a positive way to the way you explain things. My strategyif I were you would be to promote an attitude among youth that, just as signing up lemming-like at the recruiting station to kill for america, inc. is not “cool,” neither is pressuring one’s peers to submit themselves to the orwellian machinations of what you very aptly label the “psychiatric/pharmaceutical industrial complex.” (Actually the term has really been evolving since Eisenhower first warned of the military industrial complex; in the 90’s the term “prison industrial complex” came into wide usage. Now I guess we can speak of the “military/prison/psychiatric/pharmaceutical industrial complex” — the same beast, however you look at it.)
Tangents aside, it’s good to see you back with a new piece. And whatever else you’re doing, please keep doing it!!!
Thank you *so* much for this comment. I am smiling and feeling more invigorated and inspired than ever before; hearing this kind of feedback and feeling this kind of deep solidarity (even through a computer screen!) keeps me fired up to keep fighting this fight!
Though I am still quite new to “The Movement” (which I put in quotes because I don’t believe that there is, in fact, a unified movement!) I have been observing over these past few years the divisions you articulately capture here, and they are saddening and concerning to me. It seems that the vast majority of those who would identify as a part of “The Movement” are reformists, not abolitionists, folks who are seeking to make the “mental health system” “better”, “more humane”, etc., rather than working to make it obsolete. I will and always will be an abolitionist; while I believe that reforms must happen on the path to abolition, and indeed I support them as a means to an end, a future free from the very notion of “mental health” and “mental illness” and from the idea that medical doctors have any business interfering with the affairs of the human spirit is a vision that sits at the core of my being, and of the work that I’m trying to do.
I should say here that I respect that people will be called to do different kinds of work (inside The System versus outside The System, in other words), and that I a stand in full solidarity with some of those who’ve chosen to go on the inside. The Western Mass RLC, for example, is an organization that gets government money but that, IMO, completely embraces the values I am aligned with. They are brave and refuse to be coopted or silenced by those who give them money, they are doing unbelievably important, revolutionary work, and I am proud to call myself their comrade. There are also folks like Deron Drumm and Greg Benson in Connecticut who are doing seriously radical and important work within traditional “consumer/recovery” settings, and I think they are planting some really important seeds, and making significant change happen.
I also want to draw attention to the fact that privilege and access, of course, play a significant role in the decisions many folks in “The Movement” make about employment. I happen to have been born into a situation that affords me the opportunity to not have to rely on a System paycheck by working as “a peer” (though I chose to for about a year and a half while still naïve and believing I could make significant change happen on the inside of a traditional “provider”; I started to get burned out and disillusioned and had to leave about a year and a half ago). I know people who work for The System because they are struggling to find other means of employment, and because they need to pay the rent and put food on the table. I respect this and am very aware of the socio-economic-political obstacles that our society throws in front of our fellows seeking to do important liberationist work, and I want to acknowledge and name this.
There are, as well, radical, dissident, liberationist practitioners out there like Bruce Levine, Richard Lewis, etc. who are politically conscious and who view their responsibility as workers to connect people to the sources of their oppression so that they may liberate themselves. (I recently read the complete series of the Radical Therapist and Rough Times, published in the early ‘70s; are you familiar with this publication? Fantastic stuff… All situated within an anti-war, anti-capitalist, anti-sexist, anti-racist framework, all highly critical of all “mental health professions” that seek to adjust individuals so that they may fit appropriately back into the society from which they came. I hope self-identified dissident practitioners connect with this literature; it is very important, IMO.)
I’m digressing a bit here because I get so excited talking about this stuff! Let me rein myself back in a bit to what you were saying in your comment. Yes, I completely agree with you on the need to bring “The Movement’s” understanding, organization, and strategy to a level deeper than force and coercion. While of course I am adamantly against both, it seems silly and completely fruitless to me to try to fight them while still allowing the medical model to continue on. FORCE AND COERCION EXIST BECAUSE OF THE MEDICAL MODEL. Plain and simple. There are plenty of folks who believe we should quiet down the fight against the pathologization of human experience because it’s polarizing or because it’s pushing away people who would otherwise be willing to “sit at the table”, and instead focus on finding common ground with mainstream, conventional voices around force. While some of these people come from totally noble and well-intentioned places, and are truly hoping to bring rights and justice to people, I have no doubt that this will go nowhere except making the “Mental Health” Industry more powerful. Force is legitimized because the experiences that scare, confuse, sadden, and concern society are perceived to be medical in nature. We *must* be attacking the medical model—albeit in skilled, articulate, calm, thoughtful ways—if we are to truly change anything. In fact, I believe it’s more important than ever before.
This is the area I’m definitely finding myself most drawn to at the moment—contesting the medical model by talking about what it means to be human, what it means to struggle, what it means to experience what gets called “mental illness”. I think because of my own profound transformation along these lines—having been the brainwashed, indoctrinated good mental patient that I was for so many years—I am feeling it very important to be putting into words just how I’ve had my existential awakening in the hopes that it might help make some kind of change in the lives of others. (I do it, as well, for myself, for every word I write helps me to feel more empowered, more free, more connected to myself, and more connected to the world.)
I think your idea about reaching youth through consciousness-raising is a great one. Bruce Levine, IMO, is doing a great job of this already. Imagine if we found ways to help young people connect to their oppression—all the various forms of oppression they’re experiencing, well beyond that of Psychiatry—and imagine if we then empowered them to actually DO something about it… Man, the world would change! And yes, making it “cool” to take a stand against the medical model is likely the way to go with young people… I like that idea. I think in order for our young people to really grasp the absurdity of the medical model, we should be positioning the message of psychiatric liberation within a broader framework of oppression, for most people end up labeled “mentally ill” because they’ve responded to some kind of oppression they’ve experienced in life, whether it be within the family system, the foster “care” system, the school system, or society more generally via racism, classism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, transphobia, etc. Really, the PPIC is the final resting stop for the oppressed… and of course, few make it out alive… literally.
My use of the term “Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex” is indeed rooted in these other industrial complexes you mention, especially the Prison Industrial Complex. I am intrigued and incredibly inspired by the prison abolition movement, and I believe we have *much* to learn from them. Just as the vast majority of people out there simply can’t grasp what society would look like without prisons (I mean literally, they just can’t comprehend it), they are also unable to do so in regards to the “Mental Health” Industry. People say, “Well where on earth would people go to when they’re struggling?” just as people say, “Well where on earth will we put these people who commit crimes?” When I read Angela Davis’ “Are Prisons Obsolete?” I was inspired (though unfortunately it seems that she—like so many leftists—has drunk the medical model koolaid, for she talks about the oppression that people of color with so-called “mental illness” experience in prisons through lack of access to “treatment”; I wonder if there’d be a way to reach her with our message, as she’d be a VERY powerful ally, and imagine how fired up she’d be if she “got it” re: the absurdity of the medical model…)
I talk about the PPIC all the time now because I think we need to name this beast what it is. It isn’t a “system”, it is an entire complex rooted in capitalism and in the exploitation and profitization of human suffering. We simply cannot ignore conversations about this. We must find ways to engage people at this level, for in truth, so much of psychiatric oppression is rooted in the drive for profit. I don’t think one has to call oneself anti-capitalist to participate in this conversation, either.
OK, I’ve gotta move on to the other comments here… I would LOVE to find ways to keep this conversation going, perhaps here in this thread so that others can see, and maybe even on email? My email is [email protected]… Would love to talk further about strategy and ways to organize those of us who refuse to participate in the “peer/recovery/consumer” realm…
Thank you, oldhead…. Here’s to liberation for all.
Wow, this comment could be a manifesto. It already is, actually… I hope this discussion continues.
Well done, Laura. You might take this comment thread and turn it into a free-standing piece. It cuts right to the heart of the matter.
Thank you, Eric! That’s a good idea. Perhaps I *will* do that, actually!
I do, as well, uprising. I know that there’s in the very least a handful of us who share values, vision, and a liberationist mission. We must find ways to come together to organize effectively so that we can make change happen and show that there’s another way forwards than simply entering into the “Peer/Recovery” Industry, and thus increasing the power of the “Mental Health” Industry.
There are few persons in the world who no longer look outside themselves for fulfillment. Most people want something from someone else. Your first psychiatrist wanted you to have serious mental illness though he probably could not have adequately defined what that was or even if it existed. It was not as though he had diagnosed you with TB or anemia. No, he was working within an imaginary realm where mental illnesses existed and needed no defining other than his pronouncements. And yet this person had attended medical school and was obviously not of low intelligence. He had done an internship. He ought to have been responsible. He could have said, You seem to be unhappy. What is your life like? Please tell me. Maybe I can help you find some happiness and joy in your life. I will try my best.
But rather, he said, You have a serious mental illness. Don’t you think that strange coming form a well educated and intelligent man/woman? I do. I think this was not just arrogance. He was a part of a system and a society of many such persons who gave and were expected to give diagnoses and get paid handsomely. So in a way he was not well educated and not using his intelligence. He was behaving almost like a robot. How did he get that way? What happened to him when he was in the 9th grade and later on? It is not easy to become a doctor. Lots of work. And not a lot of fun. Why would someone go through that to end up making this frightening pronouncements to some one too young and sensitive to grasp the significance of what he said. It was in some respects like a sexual assault though one authorized by society. Honored even.
14 years of age is very young to be confronted by a subtle form of intellectual dishonesty which had become habitual with this psychiatrist. He or she had learned it from professors here and there and in medical school. Perhaps also at home from a parent. Once lying becomes a practice it goes on without one even knowing it.
In essence you were lied to at 14 by someone who ought not to have been telling lies but was. Out of fear perhaps. He or she had a family. Bills, a mortgage, etc.
A lie told by an authority has a lot of power in it. No wonder lies have always been considered dangerous and evil. Look what they can do to others. Well, I imagine your parents and insurance companies ended up paying a lot of money to that profession and the pharmacies. And you were lucky to have escaped their clutches.
But on the whole this is what one should expect in a nation like America where money is king and a god to boot. And finding a new and better king to take its place may be the hardest task a nation ever had.
Such a great comment—thank you. Indeed, psychiatrists go through an intense indoctrination of their own, one in which they’ve invested tremendous time, money, energy, etc. While I believe that the vast majority of people who go into this work have the best of intentions—they want to help people, to resolve suffering, to get people back to their lives, etc.—the entire educational and professional infrastructure into which they immerse themselves is rooted in dehumanization (via psychiatric label), physical disabling/silencing/impairing/injuring (via psychiatric “treatment” like drugs, shock, etc.), and disempowerment. I should say that some of my closest friends, and some of the people I have most respect for, are psychiatrists, so I do believe that there are individuals who do not lose themselves to this indoctrination, but on the whole, yes, this is the case, I believe.
Yes, the psychiatrist I saw at age fourteen had absolutely NO idea the impact that her labeling of me had on my identity, my relationship to my family/friends/society, and my future. Honestly, I don’t know if she would have done it differently had she had the foresight to see where my life would head as the result of “becoming Bipolar”… I think she really, truly believed that she was helping me by reducing my experiences to a label and offering two bottles of pills as my solution. And yes—as you say, her safety, security, professional identity, etc. all depended on me being “mentally ill”. This is a really, really important point because it speaks to a broader issue that we psychiatric liberationists face in the future. If we are going to dismantle the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex, how can we possibly bring these professionals (of which there are many, many thousands if you take into account all the various professional arteries running off of Psychiatry) on board who rely on the medical model, the “treatment”, etc. in order to pay the bills, their children’s college tuitions, etc.?
I do think psychiatrists have a role to play in the revolution. If properly trained (likely by those of us who’ve done it themselves), they can be helpful in tapering people off of psychiatric drugs. They can engage in truth and reconciliation processes with those they’ve harmed (many inadvertently of course). They can be a kind of bridge for people to get back to their humanity, provided the foundations are rooted in a newly learned humility. Perhaps I’m being way too idealistic here… I know that this will take many, many generations of work. I know I won’t see abolition in my lifetime. But I believe it’s possible. I have to believe it’s possible.
I’ll close by mentioning your really profound question about my first psychiatrist—what happened to her when she was in ninth grade? What unfolded in her life that led her to want to reduce human beings to psychiatric labels and pill receptacles? We need to keep those embedded within the PPIC as human beings in our mind—and as human beings who suffer, themselves!—as we do this work. In my opinion, we must come from a place of love—this is what I try to practice every day, even when I’m speaking most strongly against psychiatric oppression. Those who oppressed me are human beings who (mostly) were trying to help me. How can we hold this truth while also holding the vision of abolition? And how can this actually make our work more effective?
Thanks again for the thought-provoking comment, AgniYoga.
Laura, you are an incredible inspiration and I admire you deeply and stand with you in this struggle. But I want to make a comment for thought. When you write that you dream of a place “with no professional” in sight, I understand the reason you write this. Yet, it makes me sad, because it excludes me, and says that my desire to serve and a compassionate, gentle, affirming and (hopefully) empowering way isn’t welcome. It makes me sad because I was never looking to be labeled a “professional” though these days I am. I am also a peer, with my own direct lived experiences and interactions with the system. I devoted my life to what I see to be a duty to serve, going head over heels in debt in the process, because I believed that understanding the human processes of emotions, responses to trauma, and processes by which meaningful relationships can be rediscovered were the kinds of things I wanted to know, and know as fully and as “professionally” as I possibly could.
I am not a psychiatrist. I am a social worker, engaged most often in individual counseling directed by the individual, not by my agenda. I’m not able to write and say that my education was a waste, because it wasn’t. Never in school was I indoctrinated in a medical model. In fact there was little at odds with the very passions and missions that drive the community here at MIA. Maybe “social work” is vastly different that psychiatry or psychology in its education or professionalism. But I feel left out when I am written off by my label as a “professional.” I need you and every other member of this community and the consumer movement as partners and allies. But I also think you need professionals like me. I don’t believe in coercive, or directive, or authoritarian structures of interactions with other people, and I carry those values out in the small agency I work for, celebrating the ways in which the agency upholds those values and challenging and pushing the agency in the instances where it does not.
I could not agree more with the vision of a total transformation in how we provide positive, relational community to all persons experiencing deep emotional struggles (not illness.) But I hope that there can be room not only for peer experiences, such as yours and mine and others, but also for hearts that burn for social justice for those branded as “mentally ill” and castigated to the fringe of society who also happen to be “professionals.”
Dude, get over it. You need to understand that whatever you are doing as a “professional” may well be valuable but in the end the goal is to eliminate the need for your profession, and the alienation which makes human support a “professional” specialty.
You might be right. It might not be an important distinction. Perhaps it is just semantics.
But what I see from my vantage point are front line “professionals” working with individuals because the individuals voluntarily come and seek that kind of partnership. Of the approximately 80 people that work in our agency, a grand total of zero are psychiatrists. Clinical Social Workers, LPCs, Marriage and Family Therapists are the people working with people who feel they need that kind of support.
This is a huge percentage of the “mental health system” and my experiences has been that a significant number of “professionals” from these disciplines are not adversaries, but allies to the cause of responsible science and social justice for persons with lived experiences.
I don’t believe there will ever be a point in human history in which human beings won’t benefit from reaching out and accessing support from other people, and people who decide to try and devote their working time to understanding human experiences, emotions and training in how to relational possible in helpful ways, unlikely to ever go away. The place for persons who choose to make that duty of service their lifes work will also probably not go away.
Think of all the allies right here at MIA – frequent authors who are clinical psychologists, social workers, family therapists. I sort of feel like when you speak of “your profession” it really comes without clarity about what that “profession” even means. My world doesn’t look anything like the simple stereotype world where there are all good guys on one side in the consumer movement and all bad guys the moment they make helping and service their life’s work.
Instead, I suspect that we need to continue oppose institutions that have made it clear they are anti-science, anti-justice filled with bigotry toward persons with lived experience. But I think we also need to spend a little less time drawing arbitrary lines in the sand based on someone’s credentials or lack thereof and instead start looking for people who hold certain values.
Do our values align? Then we’re all allies. And each of us can probably contribute in powerful ways, including those of us who made a choice to pretty much spend our lives studying human experience and matching that up with compassionate practice and social activism.
“No professionals” shouldn’t even be a goal. The goal should be no bigotry, no oppression, no coercion, no dehumanization. Anyone can participate in those goals, and we probably need everyone. Including the social workers, professional counselors, family therapists and others already living these values out, as direct feedback from the people voluntarily choosing to see them attests.
A few more thoughts:
When I referred to “your profession” I took it from your comment; you clearly have a better idea of what you do than I.
That aside, no one is saying that professionals are bad people. It is indeed the institutions that are the issue.
However, whenever there is a line drawn between professional and client, a power relationship has been created, which leads to all sorts of
contradictions if it is not recognized. Recognizing and attempting to resolve contradiction is necessary to progress, and people who are in solidarity with one another can also have contradictions with each other.
For example, though many men may support the concept of women’s equality, this doesn’t mean that they are necessarily non-sexist in all their attitudes and actions. This doesn’t mean that they should be trashed, but the contradictions need to be explored, not denied. It’s the same thing here. So I have no personal antagonism towards you or what you do, I’m sure we’re on the same side of many issues. But I was reacting to what seemed sort of like a guilt trip on Laura for her analysis that professionalism needs to basically fade away. (If it did it wouldn’t mean that you would have no role to play btw.) Such conclusions need to be based on analysis, not on being afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. That’s all.
It sounds like you’ve accepted the status quo as a given Truth that has always been and will always be the way it is. I’d be curious to tease that out a bit with you, because I’m not sure I agree!
While I do fully agree—as I’ve already shared in earlier comments—that there are fantastic, loving, caring, humble people who work as “mental health professionals”, to me, this doesn’t change the fact that the institutions within which they work aren’t inherently oppressive and dehumanizing. This is one point where I disagree with you, I think—you say, “The place for persons who choose to make that duty of service their life’s work will also probably not go away.” What makes you think this is so? In truth, social work, “mental health” counseling, psychology, and psychiatry are all socially constructed entities that have taken shape in the way they have because of social transactions of power and authority. How we define so-called abnormality, dysfunction, pathology, problems, etc. is all determined by who is in a position of social power to shape the language, the values, the ideals, and the spoken and unspoken rules about how to be a member of society. This also means that the institutions that have evolved as responses to those who are so-called abnormal, dysfunctional, pathological, problematic, etc. are also shaped by power. They didn’t arise in a vacuum—they evolved slowly and surely alongside the evolution of our increasingly dehumanizing and reductionistic and individualistic American society.
Just because the “Mental Health” Industry is today a massive beast, why does this mean it always has to stay this way, and that folks who offer paid support always have to work from within it? It’ll take generations of work… But I have to believe it’s possible to topple this vast institution of social and behavioral control, just as the institution of slavery—which of course created an entire infrastructure of jobs, income, resources, personal and professional identities, etc., benefitting many millions of white Americans—toppled in a relatively short period of time (side bar: racism is, of course, alive and well in our society today, but that’s a topic for another time.)
Another point I’d like to contest: do you truly believe that individuals are “voluntarily” coming to your organization? Or are they coming because they’ve been socialized to believe that this is what they must do when they suffer and struggle, and because there’s no other option visible in sight (or if there is, it’s been totally delegitimized by our psychiatrically and medically indoctrinated social discourse)? Imagine if there were free, reliable, safe, community-based (by community-based I mean in the hands of The People, not professionals) options… Do you think as many people would come to your org if this were the case?
This is not in any way to delegitimize the work that you and your fellows are doing—honestly, when I remember that you and my other “provider” comrades with whom I feel aligned are out there, my heart is filled with hope. You are doing incredibly important reform work on the path to what I believe will one day be the abolition of the “Mental Health” and “Mental Illness” Industries. It’s really more to emphasize the importance of stepping back to look at the institution within which you work—how it evolved, how it maintains power (and how you as an individual within this institution have power because of your degrees and professional status), what that power is and where it comes from, etc. I do believe that in the future—unfortunately, not a future I’ll be alive to see, for this work will take many many years—the power to support someone through a crisis, to get through struggle oneself, to educate and inform others about the nature of human experience, etc., will be in the hands of The People, free from “health care” institutions that reduce people into patients/clients to be observed, written about in charts, talked about in meetings, and seen as entities on which to enact power through “care” and “treatment”.
I am grateful for our friendship and for your important, humanizing contributions on the inside of this dehumanizing beast we call the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex.
I think what I’m really trying to get at is this: what should unify the movement is agreement in VALUES. If there is agreement in values, then everyone is welcome – from psychiatric survivor to psychiatrist and everyone in between.
When we envision a better world, my dream is one in which people with shared values come together from all backgrounds and professions and build healing, empowering community services in which people who are hurting can come and participate in a community of compassion and wisdom.
It’ the values that are the litmus test, not the titles, or someones background, educational, professional or otherwise. Individual’s aren’t institutions. Institutional analysis is important. In fact its critical. But individuals still have educational background and practical expertise that they can and will contribute to the greater community in powerful and positive ways.
My “professional” education and practice are voluntary partnerships with individuals who desire to meet together with me, who are not required, forced or obligated to do anything, who choose to continue returning to the relationship because it has value to them. That’s not slavery. Thats human interaction at its finest.
So that’s the individual professional. But you and I stand in agreement, that there is this “institution” called “mental health” that primarily impacts poor people, but occasionally ensnares those from other social classes. The main institution however, is the one that is providing State funded “services” to the “undesirable class” i.e. poor people. In part because of attitudes about so-called mental illness, and in part because of attitudes toward class, that system is authoritarian, coercive at its best and involuntary at its worst.
State-run Mental Health is a disastrous mess of injustice and abuse. But that kind of definition of “professional” is not the same as simply anyone who went to school and studied human behavior, development, perspectives on healing counseling and therapeutic relationships, etc.
(And if you are a social worker, also studied class conflict, poverty and inequality, social justice advocacy and public policy and the like.)
We need to talk about unity in values, and not get bogged down in false divides about who has what professional background. Having an MSW and a couple different professional certs after my name does not make me either more OR less a part of a movement for transformation and change in how we approach mental “health.” The values that I hold are what make me either a part of a powerful community movement or apart from it.
That’s the litmus test. Not whether or not I have CSWA, QMHP after my name.
In solidarity Andrew…I am also a peer professional.
I don’t want to put words in Laura’s mouth but on the matter of the role of so called “mental health” professionals, every liberation movement has had a dream, an ideal to aspire to no matter how implausible it looked like in its beginnings.
Take the anti slavery movement. There were opponents of slavery ever since America was founded. It took them 90 years to officially ban slave owners and another 100 (1964 Civil Rights Act) to officially ban bigotry because of race in our laws. During all that time, the “dream of a world without slave owners and racist laws” is what kept many activists going.
Similarly, I have a dream in which there will be no “mind guardians” with the prerogative of imposing their worldview on their fellow citizens.
What this means is not that there will not be psychiatrists or similarly fraudulent professionals (psychologists, social workers, you name it) but that their legal ability mess up the life of non criminal, unwilling participants with their chicanery will be non existent. So in that regard, rather than dreaming with the unemployment of “mental health professionals” my dream is that the total tax expenditures on so called “mental health” will be exactly zero and that courts abolish the usage of “mental health professionals” testimony in legal proceedings because these “mental health professionals” would be given the same deference as professional astrologers, ie, none whatsoever. People would be able to spend as much of their money as they want on counselors, just as they are able to spend money today on astrologers, but that would be seen as people donating money to churches today.
That’s my dream.
In the future I envision, I am in agreement with you in that individuals should have the right to offer paid services as counselors/social workers/etc., and other individuals should have all the right to *choose* to pay them for these services (choice, of course, is only truly choice if there are other options in the mix, so that people don’t feel like this is their only option; and it goes without saying that there should never be force or coercion). I also agree about the total abolition of legal authority of all “mental health” professionals—a very important point. However, I’d like to add that I do believe, as well, in the total removal of these services from the medical/health care realm. In the future I envision, these services can be offered as human/social/community services of some kind, but IMO as long as they retain the ability to call themselves “health care providers”, and as long as they are trained in medical schools and inside hospitals and health care clinics, we will be oppressed. At the end of the day, there is great power transmitted through biological/medical/scientific discourse. I am reminded of Foucault here, and of his concept of biopower—basically the capture and subjugation of human beings through their reduction into biological entities that can be monitored, controlled, measured, and made subordinate. As long as we allow ourselves to be reduced to biology, there will be “professionals” who enslave us through the guise of science and medical expertise. As long as “professionals” work inside an industry that defines itself as rooted in biology/science/medicine—even if they are trained in humanistic, non-labeling, non-biologically oriented ways—they will be infused with this kind of oppressive power that is keeping us disconnected from our humanity.
Of course, today, because of the power of the Managed “Care” Industry, it is nearly impossible to obtain “help”/counsel/support/etc. without reducing yourself to a biological entity via DSM diagnosis. Only those with access to resources and privilege can avoid this trap, which of course is a huge dilemma that many of my comrades are faced with—they are stuck with their labels and with “taking their meds as prescribed” because their health “care” and their government assistance depends on them being good, obedient patients. Thus, we must entirely reconfigure the way we think of health insurance and government assistance. While I agree with you that tax-payer dollars should no longer go towards anything “mental health”, I do believe (and this is where our politics diverge, which of course is totally OK, as I respect your position completely) that We the People need to offer support to those who don’t have access to resources and opportunities, and to those who struggle and experience altered states of consciousness. That support just won’t be under the oppressive umbrella of “mental health” in this future I envision!
Lastly, I should add that we *must* be building true community-based alternatives like the mutual support vision I laid out here in this post that do not rely on paid professionals so that people are really, truly making choices when they do decide to go pay a counselor/social worker/etc. Right now, paid support is, for most, the only visible option in sight. This, to me, is not choice.
Thanks for the comment here, cannotsay2013—great stuff!
Additionally, of course you need clients so you need “us,” But why do you assume that “we” need you if we don’t feel that need? And if you are truly a peer, why are you the “professional” and someone else the “client”?
I understand your frustration and I’m glad you spoke up. I intentionally kept the word “professional” broad to encompass more than just psychiatrists because I do, in fact, believe that the answers lie entirely outside the “Mental Health” Industry and in the minds and hearts of The People in true, grassroots community. This vision I have is one of mutual support and self-help—where young people (adults, too) sit as equals with each other and without people who’ve gone to school to study “about” them (even with the best of intentions, as you and some of my closest friends and comrades whom I love and hold dearly to my heart have done!!).
I simply don’t believe we have to exist in a society in which human-to-human support must be professionalized. I realize how ridiculous this might sound because of how vast and massive and deeply rooted the phrase “mental health” is in our social fabric… But it simply doesn’t have to be this way. And the fact that it sounds ridiculous shows how far we’ve fallen from true community. It will take many generations of work to bring ourselves as a collective human family to the point at which we can turn to each other without having to exchange money and support each other through difficult times. I mean, jeez, it’ll take total social revolution, well beyond just the realm of psychiatry and “mental health”. And indeed, it will take generations of hard work by folks like you who are trying to help people in non-pathologizing ways. I really want to acknowledge this—I believe the work you’re doing is so very important, and I am so very grateful to know that you and my fellow comrades who self-identify as “mental health” professionals are out there doing what you do. But I see your work as important reform on the path towards an abolitionist end. And I also have to name that no matter how much humility, deep respect, and human connection a “mental health professional” may have, that person inevitably has *tremendous* power—in the transfer of money, of “expertise”, and of course because of all the social and political meaning that is embedded within the doctor/therapist/counselor–patient/client relationship. That is the power that I believe needs to be reclaimed by The People.
At the end of the day, the abandonment of the very phrase “mental health” is my vision, because truly, it is just as oppressive as the phrase “mental illness”. I recently delivered a talk on sanism in Vancouver and spoke about this false and oppressive dualism, because the two go hand in hand and if we are to leave behind the concept of “mental illness” we must also do so with “mental health”. It is a phrase that is medical in nature (i.e. “health”) and that places the locus of intervention on the mind (i.e. “mental”), thus completely disregarding the social context in which the so-called “mental health issue” arose and focusing on the individual. It is misleading and destructive and rooted in neoliberal notions of individualism, productivity, “functionality”, etc., and IMO, it is only leading to more suffering and disconnection and disillusionment and hopelessness. Unfortunately—and please correct me if I’m wrong—all of psychology, social work, and counseling uses this phrase today, and anchor their practices in it. Indeed, it is put on a pedestal as the final destination for counseling/therapy. If we are going to insist on using the word “health” (which I don’t agree with), we should be talking about community health. Social health. Not “mental health”. Because while suffering is experienced within an individual, its source is from beyond, in society.
I’m curious to ask what issues you might have with my vision beyond the noticeable absence of professionals you’ve drawn attention to? Do you not believe in the power of mutual support and self-help? I’d love to hear more of your thoughts about this.
With gratitude for our friendship and for your work, and in solidarity,
I just wanted to say thanks for all of your brilliant writings! I usually don`t comment on this site much but after reading your article and then your comments I really wanted to say how great your writing is! I particularly love your little bit on the use of the word “mental health“…agreed ìts gotta go!
I`m also very pleased when you and others like Bruce Levine link psychiatric oppression to the broader framework of societal oppression:
“ think in order for our young people to really grasp the absurdity of the medical model, we should be positioning the message of psychiatric liberation within a broader framework of oppression, for most people end up labeled “mentally ill” because they’ve responded to some kind of oppression they’ve experienced in life, whether it be within the family system, the foster “care” system, the school system, or society more generally via racism, classism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, transphobia, etc. Really, the PPIC is the final resting stop for the oppressed… and of course, few make it out alive… literally.“
Surely the “ruling ideas in any epoch are the ideas of rulers“ (sorry if this quote offends the delicate sensitivities of patriots or psychiatrists) and if one falls afoul of the rulers in any way…well we always have psychiatry (and it`s related disciplines) to straighten then out…or kill them.
May your (brilliant) words and deeds continue to act `like rust to cruel social machinery“ (KV)
Thank you for this comment! Yes, indeed, the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex, with all its many varied tentacles of “mental health” has grown to serve those who maintain power well. What a great way to silence dissidence, resistance, revolution… Pathologize that inner human fire and numb, silence, and disable it through psychopharmaceutical intervention.
We’re on the revolutionary path, my friend… While there are huge obstacles before us– including obstacles within “The Movement”– we will get there.
Thank you for sharing your story of struggle and your search for peace and meaning…yes, we need something much different than what we have. My thought is that we need to overturn Citizen’s United and keep private monied interests…ie drug companies…out of our government, science and democracy. Otherwise we will not have a democracy…only a big marketing machine in place of a democratically elected government.
Thank you for your vision…
“A dream we dream alone is only a dream
But a dream we dream together is reality.”
— Yoko Ono
Love this quote, oldhead!
Dear Truth in Psychiatry,
Thanks for your comment! Indeed, we do not live in a true democracy, but a corporatocracy today. I share your vision and stand in solidarity with you!
Onwards to true freedom,
Laura–Your unique language fulfills the requirements of stating your position about as well as langauge can, I think. I wonder if you have read Tina M.’s latest post and her follow-up comments in the thread?
The reason that I say this has to do with what show up here in the comments for your post. What you mention with lots of sensitivity indicated about the lives of teens reminds me of somewhat old-fashioned talk of “needing to find ourselves”–and no one feels this need more than adolescents.
What the quasi-polarized comments remind me of is the tension between subtle and not so subtle pressures to conform, to accept and push other into accepting the desirability of, in fact, re-creating the existing social order, endorsing a reformed version of it “working right”, on the one hand, and on the other hand understanding the inviolable spirit of search for self-understanding uninfected by the charms of how the system could work right with like-mindedness and “teamwork”.
Tina Minkowski’s vision seems pretty uncorrupted by doublethink, and I think that the life energy of yours has to be accomodated within that kind of approach to extending empowerment for us.
Thank you for this comment. I did read Tina’s piece and found it to be one of her best; in fact, one of the best I’ve read at MIA. I’ve been meaning to write her, actually, to take her up on the offer she mentions at the end to talk further with people interested in what she has to say, but I haven’t yet!
I think she’s spot on in politicizing healing; I, too, cringe when I hear words like “wellness” used, for they primarily mean within an individual. When I talk about “recovering” from Psychiatry (the only way I’ll use the word “recovery”), I’m talking about it in a political way—I have come to realize that I was sucked into a vortex of power that stripped me of many things and that turned me into a silenced, degraded, absent, powerless shell of a person. In cultivating political consciousness of this—and in coming to see the role that gender, class, race, sexuality, etc. play in Psychiatric Power, and how I am a part of this interplay—I’ve reclaimed my identity, my agency, and my power. Recovering from Psychiatry, for me, has nothing to do with “feeling well” or “fitting back in” or “being stable”; it has to do with becoming alive again, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and using that aliveness to fight oppression. This, to me, is healing.
Just as you said, individualized “healing” and “recovery” have come to mean adjusting oneself back to the status quo. Politicized “healing” and “recovery” is, in fact, the opposite—it’s about transformation, awakening, revolution. It has nothing to do with “balance”, “stability”, “wellness”, and the like.
Those of us who understand this distinction must come together to strategize. We are a part of a “Movement” that in large part is trapped within this individualized framework, and it is unfortunately giving the “Mental Health” Industry more power than ever before.
We at Rutgers Integral Spiritual Nexus House are also visioning such a place here in New Brunswick, NJ. We discovered recently that another group is opening a Respite home in New Brunswick and thought we could collaborate. The only problem is that the new Respite home is for those over 21. I assume (and perhaps I am wrong) that this has to do with seeking parental consent and the other issues that the New York Times piece articulated.
Wow, I am very interested to learn more about both your house and this new respite you mention in New Brunswick! Would you be willing to share more information here, or email me at [email protected]?
As always I very much like to read your post, and the issue this time is often in my mind, How to do as little harm as possible as a professional helper and instead find ways to connect with young people beyond the therapeutic wordings and by labelling and diagnosing. As it is by now it seems as if society and those being in charge pay far too much attention to find out “what is wrong” instead of realizing that it is a part of growing to be a bit “crazy” at times. And for sure there are a lot of reasons for young people, and for us not that young any more to feel dispair and sadness and “furiosity”. So if instead of focusing on “the missing gen” or “the imbalance in brain”, as we now know does not even exist except as a metaphor, try to make changes in society on a political level and dare to show in words as in action how crazy it has been when a society label their kids and young people instead of changing what needs to be changed. My vision is that far more people, both so called ordinary ones as those defined professional helpers would refuse to take part in that play.
What a beautiful comment and vision– yes, I wholeheartedly agree! I think the role of professionals can be, in large part, to help people connect with their oppression– whatever that may be, great or small, visible or invisible, acute or long-lasting– so that they find their own path to liberation, not to just readjusting back to the society that harmed them in the first place. I am so grateful for your work and I can’t wait to meet you this fall at Mad in America’s International Film Festival!
Love and solidarity,
Here is how the child drugging industry trolls for costumers http://www.psychsearch.net/teenscreen.html Psychiatry looks at behavior, then fraudulently calls the behavior a medical disease but they use no medical, lab, blood, or urine tests, brains scans, etc. to prove that’s the cause of the feelings and behaviors.
I have spoken to hundreds of people who have been subjected to child psychiatry , no one is grateful and most have resentments about a drugged childhood. What is sad is most of them still believe all the broken brain psychiatric lies told to their parents to push the drugs on them in the first place.
Goto any 12 step meeting where treatment center vans show up and bring up the topic of psychiatry , MOST of the young people will join in and tell a story of a drugged childhood.
Childhood psychiatry leads to adult drug addiction no matter how much they try and deny it and refuse to track it.
Thanks for the link, Copy_cat!
Yes, indeed, the horrendous odds are that if you’re put on psychiatric drugs as a child, you will likely be led into a lifetime of physical disease, brain injury, emotional impairment, cognitive dysfunction, social disconnection, and early death.
We are in dark times.
Laura–Thanks for the terrific and informative feedback, certainly something greater than I expected, and something that continues my fantastic, unintended career as a scholar of psychiatric “knowledge”.
In the meantime I had visited your website and looked around, and also read your story and a couple of speeches and the two-part Marcia Angell review feature that I hadn’t looked at before via the link you provide.
You were a very productive and hardworking(!) wild woman, not just self-destructive and seduced by psychiatry. How you got so much done on the “medicine” is forever going to be a guess. (By the way, I hate using quote marks so routinely, but what choice is there with this phoney group of services hiding out as “care” under the umbrella of systems of hospital-prisons? I understand what people have come to think they see when they point up the well-intentioned majority of the clumsy clinical efforts to do some mixed-up person some good–of course, for their own good–no doubt, in the good way to do it. But I feel sorry for them, too. These are hollow gestures in most every sense: if a clinical worker doesn’t tell someone in person that they disagree with their loss of civil rights and recognize that things are medicalized but not really medically happening, that there isn’t any actual measure being implemented therapeutically for their CNS, then there isn’t the lasting effect to the “therapeutic contact” or “supportive exchange” that they blithely think is there. There’s temporary difference, and added consequences for the sufferer of all the other worse consequences, thereby, as he tries or she attempts to put into perspective the wholy unacceptable “therapy ideas” with the merely unimaginitive or else helpfully kind pepperings of attiudes and expressions in the mileu. The truly helpful work happens mainly via minutae, taking effect accidentally in affording people hope about humanity as a whole.)
And so you’re smart and not entirely uncultured. For sure, these were strikes against you. Your actual intelligence was not allowed. Yes, in hospital settings the staff are the doctors’ roadies, groupies, bodyguards, publicists, agents, entourage, and there is no end to the mental game of enforcing the label. And well-intentioned kindnesses hardly counter that misanthropic device.
I will take your word for it that you were a true believer, but I only played that role. Still, most of your story contained analogues to mine, and likewise, in not finding salvation for my soul in the proffered dimensions of treatment and admonition, my diagnosis was expanded. At this point in my career, finally having gotten used to intense derealisation and unpredictable ranges of both that and depersonalization, and having seen definitvely that no attention would ever get paid by anyone not wholly skeptical of mainstream behavioral healthcare protocols to my extensive history of traumas–that the bipolar diagnosis, and much more lately a schizoaffective decree– ruled my life… because of well-intentioned jerks– I now manage all symptoms according to what they indicate about actual events and happenings, and in terms of what they mean about my relationship to my feelings and interactions with other people.
What is modern mental health service? Unimpressive.
Sincerely, I hope you can pull off your trick for some, for many, kids’ sakes, and wish that your fellowship with the Rutgers Integral Spiritual Nexus House, among all else, works for the cause.
I think it all shows just how much human beings need to have what’s on the inside, be able to show up on the outside. Seems like this is a survival thing, built into us, so we can, together, meet the environment successfully. For children, if the adults know all about them, keeping track of them, they are more likely to survive. We are, by nature, kind of mismatched to our organized society.
Please allow me to join the chorus of those praising this article as a valuable community service; “the message” is important and you are an articulate spokesperson.
My criticism of psychiatry focuses on medical schools who legitimize its harmful “medical model” narrative as medical science; a (harmful) philosophy of “mind” is not a biological, medical science. The “medical model” is actually the “disease model” since it has no medical legitimacy.
Pathologizing natural emotional suffering is a crime against humanity!
You’ve come a long way since the 2014 blog, so imagine what more you will contribute in the future. No need to remind YOU what I sometimes say, for your fire burns too brightly. Oh well, I’ll say it anyway, to everyone:
Keep on keepin’ on…..
I was in heartland fighting. There weren’t many of us here or if they were they did a stent.
Few years now I’m just still that’s all I can do here alone.
Still though they punch me kick me and punch me again. Not hassling around though the picture gets more evident due to my vigilant prayer life.
These dudes getting even more punked be their malediction. Even the reverent and the insestous hats guys get’n more pitifulied.
I mean I don’t want to come across as too oddball though I in a way feel I’m living in Scooby-Doo world. A lot of mean peoples. Them mean people.
These guys at Church give me the uncomfortable. I’m white and my favorite people men and women that I feel aren’t there because it hurt them too.
Those really warm peoples and the friendliest or # 1 people are there and I feel nice with them generally speaking. It either be pretty good though if people who are of Christian background re-join us at Protestant side. Dudes get them out of there.
Beautiful post Laura. And I think your idea for a community-based free space children can come to for support and, well…”community,” is a long overdue idea! It’s kind of-to my mind-something of a counter-psych ward, maybe an anti-psych ward! Not that it needs that moniker of course. All of those states you mentioned struggling with when you were young are nothing short of human feelings, feelings children have to juggle while “learning to fit into a very complex and not a little sick world. Subjecting children to a psychiatrist (and, in my opinion, most mental health experts) who struggle with these states is nothing short of criminal. I sure wish something like your community idea existed for me 40 years ago! Best of luck with all your work in these areas moving forward!