Ode to Biological Psychiatry

Daniel Mackler
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Sometimes I get so sick of the lies of biological psychiatry that I must speak out.  At these moments I find silence to be a kind of emotional death: a death of my spirit, a death of my critical faculties, a death of my courage.  I speak out because I am alive and I wish to align with life.  I speak out to express my lack of indifference.  I love the statement, “the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.”  I am not full of indifference.  I am full of difference, proudly so.  That is what makes my existence unique.  That is also what naturally pits me against biological psychiatry, a group that would love to hook its dirty claws into me.  I rail against biological psychiatry, yet cannot help but find it curious that I, who spent four years in college studying biology, know that biology is the study of life.  What did I miss?

When I self-reflect, I see that I rail against biological psychiatry because it is no more a science than is Scientology.  My years studying and expressing myself through the scientific method helped me dismantle that seeming conundrum easily enough.  Biological psychiatry is actually an art: the art of doubletalk masquerading as healing.  And in fact, its practitioners are brilliant at it.

Here, I’ll explain it to you.  When you hear many of the things said by biological psychiatry you have to remember that they mean the opposite.  For instance, when they talk about ‘biological psychiatry,’ they really mean ‘nonbiological psychiatry.’  They’re not talking about helping people get their lives back in order; they’re talking about killing them — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, sometimes physically, sometimes psychically—with nonbiological agents such as chemicals and electricity and force.

They’re not talking about respecting people, helping them make sense of their pain and confusion, listening to them, witnessing their traumas, being vulnerable with them, challenging them emotionally, relating to them.  Yes, biological psychiatry is smart enough to give these things lip service publicly and of course to put a spotlight on the people who say the chemicals and electricity and force saved their lives, because lip service and promotion of the lucky few who thrived in spite of not being offered better, cheaper, less intrusive, more empowering alternatives are good artistic flourishes that have a synergistic effect on doubletalk.  And when the consultation room door closes and you’re all alone with them, they will double the intensity of their doubletalk, as per their professional privilege.

Then they will say such things as:  “You have a chemical problem in your brain.”

And:  “It is called schizophrenia.”

And:  “You are a very ill person.”

And:  “You need this medication.”

And:  “You will need to take it for the rest of your life.”

And:  “It is like insulin for diabetes.”

And:  “All our medical insights are based on rigorous scientific study.”

And:  “There is no cure for your problem, but our medication can help.”

And:  “If our medication does not help we have other safe, effective treatments, like ECT.”

And, gently:  “But let’s not jump the gun.  First let us try our medications in combination.”

Of course, all of these statements are lies.  When it comes to telling the truth they are good at going silent.

For instance, they will not say this:  “We know it’s really hard and even dangerous for a lot of people to get off our drugs, especially after they’ve been on them a while—sometimes a very short while.”

Nor this:  “We know that although tons of people stop taking these drugs almost immediately because they feel horrible on them, we’re willing to take this risk with you.”

Nor this:  “A lot of credible research from within our own ranks has pointed out that this stuff really is poisonous.  If you eat it, and keep eating it, not only are you less likely to work through your problems and come out the other side but you are likely to live 25 years less than if you don’t eat it — and are likely to get all sorts of nasty side effects, including brain shrinkage, along the way.”

Nor this:  “And, by the way, when you do get troubling side effects we’ll give you more pills.  That’s part of how our little cycle of fun works.  That’s part of how you become a mental patient — and stay one.”

But all of this you will find out later, though the logic you will use to figure it out will not be provided by them.  Not only are they not actually oriented toward the biological, they’re not oriented toward the logical either.  Logic scares them.  It undermines them.  It disproves the hypotheses they peddle as truth.  And that annoys them.

Instead of using logic, they will say, aloud, things such as this:  “Try them.”

And:  “Don’t worry if your health insurance covers them or not—here are some samples.”

Yet if you resist, they might also add:  “And if you don’t want to try them that’s okay, because we can, if we really want to, force you to take them — by injection.”

And they might add this too, especially if you’re vulnerable, poor, and a minority:  “But it takes a lot of resources and money to keep you locked up in the hospital, so we can always let you go free and just have you brought back to us every month by the police, if you refuse to come on your own, for your mandatory monthly antipsychotic injections.  Yes, we have a program for that.  It’s called ‘Assisted Outpatient Treatment,’ and we can enroll you in it whether you like it or not.”

But what they won’t say is this:  “The people receiving this ‘Assisted Outpatient Treatment’ not infrequently call it ‘torture.’”

Nor this:  “That is why we don’t listen to those people.  They annoy us.”

But they will say this:  “Those people clearly don’t know what’s good for them.”

And then they will just look at you silently, with a kind smile, and transmit to you this message psychically:  “We have a lot of power — you don’t.”

And this too:  “The lawyers and the judges and the laws and most of the politicians are on our side.”

And this:  “You have no rights because we took them away.”

And this:  “Escape now, escape now if you can—because I want you in my insect collection.  Escape now, little bug, because it only gets harder from here.”

Though sometimes they will say this aloud:  “We have the legal responsibility of your life in our hands.”

And definitely this:  “Your life is important to us.”

And this too:  “Protecting your life is in our code of ethics.”

But not this:  “Yet as doctors we fail miserably at our oath to ‘Do no harm.’”

The blunt reality of their harmfulness will actually be difficult for them to see, because two criteria required for entering the fraternity of biological psychiatry are:  1) a limited capacity for empathy, and 2) profound unawareness of this.

As such, most can comfortably say this:  “We are ethical practitioners.”

And many can comfortably say this too:  “So are the pharmaceutical companies who supply us with medications.”

Yet no biological psychiatrist will admit this:  “We and the drug companies actually engage in a biological relationship.  It’s called ‘symbiosis.’  It’s when two organisms or in this case organizational entities engage in a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Nor this:  “We also engage in a biological relationship with our patients.  It’s called ‘parasitism.’  We benefit at a cost to them.  We also engage in a parasitic relationship with society as a whole, because society has to bear a lot of the costs of our errors and denial and self-serving behavior.  And we do benefit alright.  We get prestige, power, and money.  We are the Gods of the mental health system.”

Nor ever this:  “Yes, we know these attitudes could be conventionally defined, for diagnostic purposes, as ‘grandiose’ and even ‘psychopathic,’ but we don’t care, because when it comes to diagnosing members of our own species we’re at the top of the food chain and we make the rules and we’re exempt from them.  And we think that’s okay.  And frankly we could give a biological feces what you think about it.  We have power, we’re the bosses, and we have the ear of the important people.  You are nothing.  You are crazy.  You are mentally ill.  You are defective.  You stepped over the line of normalcy and you entered our turf.  Welcome to the jungle.  Welcome the world of tooth and claw, where we have evolved canines and you have not.  You are a guinea pig.  We will put you in a cage and study you.  We will keep you from the sun and the earth.  We will feed you what and if and when we want.  We will watch you when you sleep.  We will monitor your speech and take notes on you.  We will speak to you from behind a glass.  We will decide what of your behavior is acceptable and what is not.  We will make you docile, compliant, and numb.  We will teach you to make us happy.  Your parents failed you.  They instilled bad habits in you and now we will break you of them—or simply break you.  You exist to serve us and our unconscious feelings and our unresolved traumas and our projected fantasies and our lifetime of emotional dissatisfaction and unmet childhoods needs.  We are dying and we want to drink your psychic blood to keep ourselves alive.  Yes, we are parasites.  No, we will not admit this.  Yes, we love your passion.  No, we are not passionate.  Yes, we are similar to those who harmed you.  No, we will not defend you against them.  Yes, we are indifferent to your suffering.  No, we do not love you.  Yes, you will listen to us.  No, you will not talk.”

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182 COMMENTS

    • I just wrote this and think it is relevant to the conversation, especially Daniel’s comment about this being like a poem:
      You can choose your battles as a person but as an artist you must not. As an artist you must fight for the freedom of every particle of existence. Your artist self is uncivilized and not diplomatic. If you try to domesticate her by “choosing battles,” she will only grow more fierce, more dangerous in her cage or shell. No pills will calm her, no cliches will quiet her. She demands and deserves full range of your human body to overthrow anything that stands in her way.

      • As a fine artist, I agree. I got the business degree first, because I knew it was irrational to get a degree to pursue a career founded upon personal insights, rather than societal norms. I was, however, able to earn a decent living working within the arts, until the banking industries’ destruction of the design industry with their mortgage industry debacle. But, I personally was declared “irrelevant to reality” (prior to my ex-psychiatrist looking at my work) then he claimed “work of smart female” (after my psychiatrist finally bothered to look at my “very prolific” portfolio of fine art). Perhaps, psychiatry should stop trying to immediately defame and poison all the artists, merely because they don’t understand our inspiration personally?

  1. Thank you for this excellent article!

    Biological psychiatry is a (pseudo) medical science that is heavily vested in a medical interpretation of emotional distress, but emotional distress is the natural, normal biology of distressful experiences. The effort to support this erroneous position causes great lapses in logic and science that you articulately address. Unfortunately, biological psychiatry causes great harm to the community with their popular but erroneous paradigm of emotional distress.

    Thanks again, Steve

  2. You nailed this one right on the head Daniel! I too have a background in science, a BS in Biology like you. Psychiatry ABSOLUTELY is not rooted in any sort of science AT ALL. Those in the field of psychiatry do not know what the Scientific Method is. I asked several psychiatrists what it was (Scientific Method) and the steps executed in such a process and I received nothing but blank stares and in one instance a very angry response. There are no blood tests, no brain scans of any kind, no DNA studies, NOTHING that can detect so called “mental illness”. Psychiatry in its present incarnation is nothing short of pseudo-science. Involuntary Outpatient Commitment otherwise known as AOT (Assisted Outpatient Treatment) in NY state is a totalitarian swipe at those is severe emotional crisis. It takes advantage of those who MAY have made rash decisions in times of extreme emotional distress., sometimes not even Those same individuals, if treated like people and spoken too as adults about their situations, would not repeat the same actions. Psychiatry could be a legit field of study if it acknowledged that there are many factors in a persons life that may contribute to a crisis; economic factors, childhood trauma, racial disparities, and I even dare say spiritual and mystical factors as well.

    I use to post on this site as “AC400KICK” but I choose to no longer do so. I want the world to know who I am. I am “mentally ill” as the psychiatrists tell me I am. I am proud of who I am and what I come from. I have “Mad Pride”. And even if I ever get off the medication I’m on, I will never forget those souls I met in 5 different psych wards in New York where I live. I will never forget those in group homes who can not escape their situation. I will never forget those on AOT, like myself, who are subject to monthly injections and weekly or bi-weekly interrogations of a court ordered “therapist”. I may have revealed a lot about myself i this post, but I don’t care. I’m “Mad”, and I’m proud. Thank you for listening to these words! Rock on, Daniel!

  3. Hi Daniel,
    You are someone I admire. Your DVD’s have been enormously enlightening to me. Your voice in your writing and DVD’s is so alive that I have the illusion of knowing you and in that illusion, I have an affection for you.
    I am also someone who is often frustrated by the distortions of the prevailing views of my profession. I guess we also share a desire to use these virtual pages to speak out and by doing so stay alive and fight indifference.
    But in the sense that I am a psychiatrist and I believe that we are biological beings, I think I am a biological psychiatrist. While I respect your right to speak your mind, this piece troubles me; so in fighting my indifference towards you and this collective project of MIA, I decided to speak out to you.
    Perhaps the word dialogue is being over used to the point of becoming a cliche but it still has meaning for me. This work feels like a shutting down of dialogue. There is little room for response. I am hoping to open up the conversation and I see no room for that with the rhetoric used here. To be blunt, this seems to have the same degree of distortions that you and I both disdain from other areas. Is there room for a different kind of conversation?

    • Hi Sandra
      Just before I started to read Daniels post I had got a mail that my debate article as I have sent to a newspaper were rejected. Again! It seems impossible to publish articles which describes another “truth” than traditional psychiatry. the feeling of powelessness came over me, as often when trying to get the word out. in media but above all in relation to psychiatry in Gothenburg as in other places. I have recently been part of a discussion at the ISPS list serve and feelings of powelessness got me even there It worries me since I usually keep pretty much hope inside, but its getting harder and harder. It is as if people dont want to see the skyrocketing prsecriptions of psychofarmaca and psychiatric diagnosis. so I do think it is necessary to write the way Daniel does. I do think it is necessary to find ways to touch the reader, and people in common. My question is maybe a bit milder, but I wonder how come so many psychiatrists take part in this play? How come nearly none of the people I meet at work have been told that it is possible to live without medication? They are actually told the difference, as Daniel writes, that it is not possible. So many people I meet who have to live with sife affects and who have been told they are sick without taking into consideration either context or relationships.

      • I don’t think one can use the excuse of ignorance for psychiatrists – they have an obligation to think critically and educate themselves in their practice and at least in the Medical University I’ve finished they were lectured about the truth of these drugs (“the drugs we use today are essentially chemical lobotomisers” – quote from the dean of the medical faculty).
        I also feel extremely frustrated when I read popular press as I come across again and again articles promoting mental illness. “Promoting” because there is no better word for it, when they can diagnose pretty much everyone with a DSM label these days. Our voice is just a whisper…

    • Sandra

      I have to be blunt here. In all but one of the psychiatrists who dealt with me personally and with most of the psychiatrists that I work among in the state hospital were I was held, what Daniel describes about psychiatry is the norm. Even the few psychiatrists that I feel may be decent lie to people and tell them that they have an illness that has no cure and that they must stay on the toxic drugs for the rest of their lives. They do not give informed consent since they feel that they know what’s best for the people in their so-called care. They are into power and privilege and they do not care about peoples’ pain or trauma. They refuse to listen to people in treatment team meetings where the so-called “patients’ never get to participate in the creating of their treatment plan. They are brought into the room and told what they will do and then they must sign the paper and they leave. This is not treatment and this is not good care, no matter what the psychiatrists try to say. They are lieing to people and they do it with impunity. You seem to be made of a different mold but for the most part, Danial has pegged the psychiatrists where I work very accurately. It’s time to begin telling the truth to people, it’s way past time. I was in a group yesterday on one of the units and the “patients” sat there and told me to my face that the doctors and the staff, for the most part, do not give a flip about their pain and what they go through. Daniel got it right.

      • Hi Chrys,

        I have to respond here for lack of a reply button under your comment to me.

        Thanks for your response because you called it to my attention that what I wrote could be misconstrued to mean the opposite of what I meant.

        I have stated in a few places recently that I don’t have a great deal of knowledge about psychosis though I’ve read quite a bit about it by survivors and other sources because I’ve wanted to learn more about all the various extreme states fellow MIA members or family members might suffer since we all suffer from various emotional stressors or extreme states from time to time with the intensity depending on the stressor or trauma/crisis.

        I am well aware of the fact that studies show that those with so called schizophrenia or psychosis are not much more violent than most people except when abusing alcohol or other certain substances as is the case with other people. Rather, the statistics show that those suffering psychosis are more frequently the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators or “ax murderers” as you say.

        Thus, in my comment to Dr. Steingard I once again admitted I do not know a great deal about psychosis or what is labeled schizophrenia, but have expressed a desire to learn more since I feel an affinity with those who have suffered extreme states due to traumatic experiences and other causes. It’s also because I believe that “no man (woman) is an island and…never ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee” in that we are all on this trip together and who knows what or where a certain breaking point beyond the pale will lead any one of us? Some people are forced to endure much more than others that can lead to more extreme states.

        Anyway, as I gave Sandy the credit she deserves for trying to find the most helpful and least harmful treatments for those with psychosis she mainly serves, I acknowledged that when somebody is experiencing active psychosis, it can be scary when one has no experience of it and doesn’t know how to respond or deal with the psychotic person. Thus, without the necessary skills one can make matters worse and/or a bystander without the best motives may actually subject the psychotic person to violence themselves out of fear, anger or cruelty. Such behavior may also cause the psychotic person to act out as well, but as I said statistics show it is the psychotic person more apt to be the victim of violence, so it seems to me that when in such a state, the safest solution seems to be to have a compassionate expert like Dr. Steingard persuade the person to leave the area to minimize the possibility of harm.

        I pointed out that I am very angry about bogus stigmas especially for those falsely labeled bipolar for domestic/work/school and other abuse/violence, but also acknowledged that somebody acting psychotic in public has an obvious, probably temporary crisis condition that may require short term judicious use of tranquilizers for a calming effect that may be stigmatized due to public ignorance and fear. It seems that since it is now being seriously questioned to expect those diagnosed with schizophrenia due to psychosis to take dangerous neuroleptics for life, it seems all the more outrageous to try to force those falsely accused of having bipolar to take these toxic drugs for life. As with chemotherapy for cancer with informed consent, some people with psychosis may choose to take such drugs judiciously to cope with psychotic episodes while those with no cancer or psychosis would not wish to take the risk for something they do not have. Of course, many have been falsely stigmatized with psychosis, delusions, schizophrenia and other so called mental illnesses, so one much consider each individual case and bear in mind that all DSM stigmas are invalid per Dr. Thomas Insel of the NIMH. Thus, I am only speaking of actual psychotic symptoms that one might or might not have.

        I hope this clarifies that I am in no way trying to vilify those with psychosis since I have stated in some recent posts that I am trying to understand it better along with experts like Dr. Bertram Karon and Dr. Richard Bentall advocating psychotherapy for it rather than harmful drugs. In response, Rossa Forbes provided a great link to such experts in therapy for psychosis, so I assume she thought I was earnest in wanting to learn more as she has become somewhat of an expert trying to help her son.

        Since you yourself have said at times you had no choice but to seek care from the current psychiatry system for yourself and family despite your many reservations about it, I don’t see how you can condemn me for thinking that somebody acting out in a psychotic manner publicly may need temporary help from an expert like Dr. Steingard who is experienced in dealing with psychosis to help the person avoid being harmed until the crisis has passed.

        Again, I realize I am treading difficult territory since I am by no means an expert on psychosis or schizophrenia and welcome any wisdom you are willing to provide, but rest assured, I often find myself fighting for the rights of so called schizophrenics and against forced treatment and false claims about their so called violence as if I had it myself, so rest assured I am on your side and I in no way see those with psychosis as ax murderers. However, you lamented that women could act out in ways dangerous to themselves under the influence of toxic drugs in psychiatric wards, so I am sure that anyone suffering psychosis in public can be subject to much danger from others and be goaded to being a danger to others if provoked or made fearful enough.

        Though my pet peeve remains the bogus bipolar epidemic, I do read all the articles on schizophrenia and other extreme states to try to understand what fellow MIA members experience.

        Thanks again for your response and alerting me that I should be more careful and exact about my wording on this challenging topic. I regret it if I worded my post in a way that offended you and others since I do admire you a great deal and all you’ve done to promote the rights of those suffering from trauma and other extreme states.

    • The question is if you subscribe to any of these notions and display any of these behaviour towards people you’re supposed to be helping. If not then you’re not a target of this essay. However, you can’t deny people who were harmed and traumatised by the system the right to criticise it and its members the way they see fit.
      I know I’ll get scolded for this analogy but I’ll use it anyway: it’s like the Nazi soldier complaining that people hate Nazis. Not all Nazis soldiers were bad people (one of them actually spared my grandmother’s family during the war so it’s not hyperbolic for me) but it doesn’t mean that you should not be appalled by the system and it willing participants. If anything that should give you a push to look at yourself in the mirror and think if you’re not giving a justification to these opinions in your life. It’s not pleasant but it should not be.

  4. Dear Sandy
    The whole idea of treatment is that it is designed to get the person better. It’s not supposed to be designed around the needs of the doctor at the expense of the patient. The psychiatric process as far as I can see does completely thrash the human being (most of the time). At the same time there’s plenty of evidence that a lot of people can make full recovery outside of chemical treatment, but this is not acknowledged for reasons of self interest (bar the minority of genuine doctors).

  5. Daniel,

    I am always impressed by your work and this piece was no exception. Mainly I value your no BS approach, your blunt realism and your honesty in regards to this topic. I read this and found myself saying “yes! yes! yes!”. A lot of people want to tiptoe nicely (like the MD who responsed above) around the truth. Meanwhile, people are dying and being maimed and suffering great losses at the hands of the lies of psychiatry. I think it’s fair to call it inhumane, barbaric and torture. Thank you for speaking out for those of us damaged by psychiatry and their drugs and “treatments”.

  6. I have to confess that this post raises this question for me: What is Mad in America supposed to be about? What is our mission? I speak about this on a video you can find on this site, but I think the bottom line is this: MIA is designed to be a forum for rethinking psychiatry, and as part of that mission, we of course want to make sure that we include the voice of those who have been “treated” and have felt harmed by that treatment. At the same time, I don’t think MIA can be a forum for rethinking psychiatry, or a “critical psychiatry” forum, if it demonizes psychiatrists in some broad-based way. I agree with Sandy Steingard here; I think this post does ultimately serve to shut down the discussion we are hoping to promote here.

    I also have to confess that Sandy is one of my favorite bloggers, and for this reason: You can see in her postings an openness of mind, of her struggling to make sense of science, of faulty teachings of psychiatry, and also how to best be at the service of her patients. There is a humility in her writings, and I think we can all learn from that.

    I say this even as I can understand Daniel’s frustration with biological psychiatry’s pronouncements. it reminds me of a phrase written by John Modrow, in his book How to Become a Schizophrenia. How then are we to help “schizophrenics?” he wrote. “The answer is simple. Stop the lies!” Daniel is responding to that sense of outrage.

    So this isn’t easy. But I think MIA needs to be a forum that strives, at every moment, to encourage dialogue, and to be a forum where people can come and see their own thoughts changing. That isn’t easy, but I think it is something we all need to think about: How can we best promote such a place for dialogue?

    • I don’t know your private history as far as mental health is concerned but I would say this; I find it very difficult to want to dialogue with biopsychiatrists after being on the receiving end of their so-called “treatment.”

      I mean no disrespect, but I feel that it’s a lot easiwer to want to dialogue when you haven’t been in the system. I think it’s a lot easier to want to dialogue when you don’t have to watch people go downhill every day out your office window that looks into the courtyard where people from the units are allowed to spend 20 minutes a day. It’s a lot easier to dialogue when you don’t have to watch the psychiatrists lording it over their “patients” in treatment team meetings where all the patient is told is all of the things that they didn’t get right; treatment team meetings where they have absolutely not say say in the creation of their treatment plan. It’s easy to want to dialogue when y0u don’t have to watch your roommate go into a psychotic episode because of the drugs that his new psychiatrist at the community mental health center changed him to (he’s had four different psychiatrists in six months and they all want to fiddle with his drugs). It’s so much easier to want to dialogue when you’ve never had to deal with the lies that the psychiatrist told you and continue to tell patients on the units.

      Your work has been a true godsend for us in the ex-patient/survivor movement but I mus ttell you very bluntly that it’s not easy to want to dialogue with these people when you’ve been on the receiving end of their lies, their arrogance, and their emotional and psychological trauma that they deal out so easily to people on a daily basis.

    • Bob,

      I have constantly said on this forum that 80% of all psych meds are written by non psychiatrists and that psychiatry shouldn’t be the only ones who are criticized. I have tried very hard to maintain a balanced view.

      But when their view has infiltrated most of medicine to the point where i feel I have to lie as a new patient to get good care, I have a big time problem with that. That is so unfair and it doesn’t leave much room for dialoging in my opinion.

    • You can’t have a dialogue with someone who doesn’t listen and doesn’t even see you as fit to have any conversation with. I think it should be pretty obvious that this article was not aimed at people like Sandy, the miniscule percentage of psychiatrists who actually possess both the intelligence and the ethics necessary to do their job and help people. However, in my entire life I have not met a single person like that and I’ve went through a lot of psychiatrists. All of them were at best stupid but mostly as described above. I felt like I was imprisoned by psychopaths and there is no way out.
      The question to be asked is if there is a possibility for the conscientious people to work within the system and still do a good job and hopefully help change the paradigm. It’s a legitimate one and I think that the answer is yes. I understand that it can be a difficult place to be – being criticised by your peers on one side and counted as a member of an evil organization on the other. But you can’t get all worked up about the very valid criticism of the system and people who work for it – either you know you’re not “like that” and don’t take it personally (and hopefully have the courage to protest when you see people around you acting this way) or maybe you’re just running away from guilt.

    • Btw, I just wanted to add that the value of MIA is that it really presents a wide spectrum of thought and opinion. If anything the reaction from Sandy to this article should spark an important dialogue:
      If you’re a mental health professional and you have a knee-jerk reaction to this article which is to get offended and retreat to the moral high-ground then maybe you should re-think the way you treat your patients. People in emotional distress, who enter the system, often are in situation which make them prone to express their feelings towards you and others in a blunt and emotionally charged way. It in no way means they’re not capable of understanding that there is grey between the black and white – it just means that they are not interested at sitting down and discussing all pros and cons. You have to understand that people who are traumatised, victimised, abused, neglected or whatever it is have a right to an emotional reaction, even the one that offends you. If you can’t deal with that and see through it I doubt you can have a dialogue at all. Imagine a person who was abused by the priest telling you: “all Catholics are monsters and child abusers and should be prosecuted”. Should you really start the dialogue by trying to explain the person that not all priests and Catholics are bad people (especially when you’re one yourself)? That is patronising and offensive since most people don’t really need that explained. What you should do is to ask what was done to the person and how it can be fixed. We as psychiatric abuse surviviours have a right to be angry and to lash out against the institution and its members, even if there is a minority in there who don’t deserve it. I don’t feel I have an obligation to be polite in that. The things described in the article cover almost 100% of my experience with the system and I don’t think any intelligent person needs and asterix next to it *I know there are “good” psychiatrists.

    • I try to avoid comment threads on this site, but have to chime it here. I agree with Bob Whitaker that Sandy is one of the most thoughtful, knowledgeable and nuanced writers on this site. I also find this particular piece rather unhelpful.

      I’ve lived most of my life with episodic psychosis, schizophrenia spectrum. Before that I lived with my mom who has been profoundly disabled by these issues, and yes, also by harmful practices in the system.

      I got involved in critical mental health activism more than a decade ago. I’ve gotten more and more disillusioned by this, and this blog post is a great example of what I find so frustrating.

      In addition to living with psychosis myself, I’ve experimented with many different approaches. I’m also a therapist myself, and a researcher working towards my PhD. I read the theoretical literature, the psychoanalytic literature, the CBT literature, psychological anthropology, philosophy of psychiatry…and I do so with the same critical rigor as I read the biomedical psychiatric literature.

      I’m a scientist. A social scientist. I have training in research methods, quanitative, qualitative and ethnographic. I’m obsessed with psychosis, for obvious reasons, and I’ve read everything I can find on the subject from Lacan and Perry, to Bentall and Turkington, Andreasen and Torrey and all shades between.

      As a scientist, what I see is a lot of competing ideas, lots of theories, some things that work for some and not for others…nobody can say what psychosis is, or how or whether it might be overcome in any given instance. Whether by D2 dopamine receptors or spiritual transformation. I personally thing psychosis doesn’t refer to one thing. It refers to thousands of different things, with many different eiteologies.

      Daniel, as a person who lives with psychosis, and has been through the system, and is now a researcher…I don’t personally find your opinions, or at least this way of expressing them, any less paternalistic or “unscientific” than the straw man you are setting up as “biological psychiatry.”

      As far as I know, you don’t experience psychosis yourself, and yet you seem so set on explaining to everyone how they should think of the experience? Viewing it as a transformative experience is no less culturally determined as is viewing it as “biological.” This might be helpful to some, and not others.

      I’m critical of the standard of care in psychiatry myself. The drugs have serious risks and are grossly overprescribed. But the research on their utility is far more complex and nuanced than what you describe. I wish a site like MiA could find a way to not be so black and white.

      Best,
      Timothy Kelly

      • “But the research on their utility is far more complex and nuanced than what you describe.”
        That’s all true and well but that is not the point of the article. I can assure you that anyone who’s spend like a week in reading through the articles on MIA has a better idea about psychiatry that most of the practicing psychiatrists.
        I agree that there is a lot of research there and not all of it is flawed (although it’s good fun to try to figure out which papers you can trust and which are biased or ghostwritten bullshit sponsored by pharma). But it’s completely irrelevant to this essay, which simply talks about the everyday practice and as this forum suggests it hits the nail on the head. The field is full of stupid, ignorant, sociopathic, arrogant, narcissistic (check the right terms for your “doctor”) people who lived so long in the system that have adopted this attitude even if they never meant to and they harm and maim people, both physically and psychologically. This is not a fringe minority – this is almost everyone and I can’t even read this article as an exaggeration because some parts of it are 100% identical to how people who were “treating” me behaved.
        I guess what most bothers you is the “biological psychiatry” attack. Well, I happen to be a scientist myself (a neuroscientist to be more precise) and I agree with:
        “As a scientist, what I see is a lot of competing ideas, lots of theories, some things that work for some and not for others…nobody can say what psychosis is, or how or whether it might be overcome in any given instance. Whether by D2 dopamine receptors or spiritual transformation. I personally thing psychosis doesn’t refer to one thing. It refers to thousands of different things, with many different eiteologies.”
        The problems with what Daniel calls “biological psychiatry” is a) the clinical practice as I already addressed above b) the mess that this practice introduces into the research. Why do you think the NIMH is backing out from the DSM? You can’t make any reasonable scientific studies based on the biased and unreliable basis produced by corrupt and/or dumb people. Some of the things they’ve done are straight criminal. So yes, it’s OK to attack biological psychiatry as a paradigm for clinical practice because as science is a hot steaming pile of we all know what and before we can clean it up as scientists you can’t make any claims that what is practiced now is science-based.

  7. Hi Daniel,
    I am so glad, relieved i found this site and yr article n hopeful that someday in d near future ther will be less of “psychiatric killing” – harsh as that sounds n more holistic healing and life.

    It is also v. synchronistic that few dys ago i had seen yr utube on psychotherapists n really liked wat u said..n today thru a search on ECT landed up here only to realize u r the same person there 🙂

    being a psychotherapist i find it v. frustrating to see more n more clients getting drawn into d Psychiatrist -knows-best trap. While there may be may ethical/genuine good psychiatrists, i dont undertand why what is a NORMAL human emotion – sadness, has been made into the monster its become in our world – with the big D tag- DEPRESSION and the message that it shld be immediately ‘removed/ended’ – by giving medicine..
    – If only people cld accept that we all go thru various emotions ranging from Joy, happiness to fear n depression – n when sadness enters it doesnt mean we are “crazy” or need to take psychiatric drugs for it. If only we could FEEL our sadness n let it pass, it might not be that enemy its made out to be…
    much Light n al d best in yr work
    Khursheed

    • Khursheed

      I agree. Why did we ever let the drug companies and biopsychiatry convince us that sadness is a mental illness? Why are we as a society so afraid to struggle with these things in our lives? Yes, we need to feel our sadness so that it can pass, rather than making ourselves into emotional zombies who are out of touch with everything in our lives.

      • Not only have drug companies and biopsychiatry has done that, other doctors also believe that too. As an experiment, since I really wasn’t expecting to get anything out of the visit, I decided to disclose my psych med history to a specialist. Normally, I lie because I have learned if I am honest, I get horrible care. Even though he could have focused on other issues, he zoomed right on on my psych history.

        Even though my medical condition understandably caused depression and anxiety, he deemed that as biological. No, he didn’t say that outright but it was quite obvious, what his thinking was.

        So Daniel, I hate biological psychiatry because I feel I have to lie to other doctors to get good care and I greatly resent having to do that. But my health depends on it.

        Sorry of that is offensive to people like Sandy, whom I greatly admire and respect. But I hope she she understands why I feel the the way I do.

        • I think you can only dialogue when the other party wants to talk and you have something like equal power.

          Whitaker’s book somewhat restores the power of those who want to challenge psychiatry.

          Daniel’s piece is comparatively mild in comparison to what writers in other liberation movements have written.

          Dialogue as Robert Whitiker envisions it happening on MiA is a powerful tactic to challenge psychiatry. The site also gives those who want to challenge psychiatry in other forums some useful information to do it.

          The movement to challenge psychiatry is much wider than MiA and uses a diverse range of tactics including banning psychiatric workers from events, protests, meetings, and sanctuaries, ie no dialogue because, to dialogue would be damaging and stupid.

          So overall I like Daniel’s piece as it adds a bit of spice to the website and it might encourage survivors and their honest allies to kick some a*se (as we English say).

          • Out of all the psychiatrists I’ve dealt with, and I’ve dealt with quite a few over the past few years, I’ve found only one who was willing to dialogue with me. He even shared something very personal from his own life experience that made me realize that he was a good and sincere man who truly cared about whether I lived or died. He was absolutely wonderful and extremely helpful becasue he chose to work from his own humanity and admit that he was far from perfect. He is the only one.

            Every day I watch so many of these people walk up and down the hallways of the “hospital” where I work and they are smug, arrogant, experts on everything, and they are abusive to many of the people placed in their care. They don’t have to dialogue because they know that they have the truth and all the truth.

            Like you, I believe it’s time for we ex-patients/survivors to begin kicking some behinds. We can dialogue with those who are willing but I’m not going to waste my precious time on the rest of them. They better get ready to protect their behinds!

    • I’m personally not religious but I see a great value in some ways Christianity thinks about suffering – as a way to redeem oneself, something which purifies you and makes you better. Of course, most people misunderstand this concept and bring it to the point when it’s a travesty, both on the believer and the non-believer sides but I see it as an important message about the human condition and ability to persevere. None can escape pain in life and that is something that has to be lived through, thought through and hopefully it makes you a better, wiser human being with more empathy and compassion. That is not the same as saying we shouldn’t aim at elimination the causes of suffering – it’s just that when someone has suffered they should be given help to overcome it and tools to make the best of their experiences. Psychiatry does the opposite of that – it takes the meaning and significance away and it disempowers the person.

  8. Sorry those of you who want to ‘dialogue’ but I’m with Daniel here.

    I’ve been involved in a few political groups, and I’ve found that those who ‘dialogue’ with the other side soon BECOME the other side.

    Rightgeous anger is the only way any sort of change is going to be made-I’m not advocating violence, I’m saying our anger can be channeled into action and change.

  9. I did not see your post as a shut down dialogue thing, rather something coming from anger and frustration and experience. Yes maybe a bit wild, but very sad to say the things you wrote about have many of the people I meet at work experienced. being forced with injections,being told “you have schizophrenia and will never be able to live without medication”, being told something is wrong in the brain, being told about an imbalance in brain. But NOT being told their are other “truths”. Are Not being told there are many people who are no “patients” any more…etc etc…

  10. I am not sure exactly where to go with this issue. There is clearly a lot of strong emotion expressed in this piece and many comments seem to relate strongly with the sentiments expressed. While I agree that dialog involves listening in a two-directional manner, I guess my first thought is that there is a lot being said here that psychiatrists as a whole profession absolutely need to hear, unedited and blunt and to the point as it is. I don’t think Daniel needs to make any apologies for laying this out.

    I also agree with Bob that we want to encourage dialog with sensible and rational psychiatrists such as Sandy who are trying to make changes from within the profession. She has shown tremendous courage, both by listening to these sentiments openly and by challenging her colleagues and making real changes happen in the great state of Vermont. Her commitment to exploring Open Dialog as a viable alternative to the current paradigm is particularly admirable, as I am sure she has experienced a great deal of professional resistance and criticism for trying to replicate a psychosocial approach to psychotic experiences that relies only minimally on drug-based interventions.

    I guess my bottom line is this: Psychiatrists are the ones with the power. They are the providers of the ostensible treatments and need to be open to hearing the results of their activities. I am sorry if it is hurtful to those who are working to make changes, and it is probably unfair to paint the profession with such a broad brush. But I don’t think it’s the job of the client/recipient/patient to be fair to the therapist/operator/doctor about their feedback. I think it’s the job of the professional person to be open to hearing feedback from his/her clients, even if is put in terms difficult to digest, because a true professional is interested in finding the best pathway to healing, and WANTS to know what his/her clients are experiencing.

    I believe expressive pieces like Daniels only occur because the profession AS A WHOLE has been so completely impervious to more direct dialog. It feels a bit like the profession is projecting its own anxieties onto the clients and accusing them of not listening, when in fact, it has been the psychiatric profession as a whole who has been in denial and actively working NOT to hear the loud and clear feedback from its clients, or indeed from its own research and membership. Sandy is experiencing this oppression as well, and I am sorry for it, but don’t know what else to say but “We aren’t talking about you.” If the entire field of psychiatry were half as open to feedback and observation as you are, we would not have a need for the intense emotional outpouring that Daniel’s writing and the many comments express.

    It is not the clients’ fault when the treatment they are prescribed doesn’t work or makes things worse. And it is understandable that the client is angry and disillusioned and may even make generalizations about the profession as a result. I am a mental health professional myself, and I hear loud and clear the damage that is being done, and I have no problem with people expressing their outrage. I guess my hope is that those psychiatrists and therapists and social workers who really care, rather than being offended or put off, will take a deep breath and say, “Wow! This is a really important message, and I need to figure out what it means.”

    As an old Chinese (I think) saying goes, “instead of breaking off my finger, look at where it is pointing.” There is no “anti-cardiology” or “anti-dermatology” movement out there. There is a reason why these feelings exist. I think it is time for those of us in the mental health professions to thicken up our skins and hear what is being said without criticizing the messenger for somehow not saying it in a way that makes us comfortable.

    —– Steve

  11. Do you dialogue with racists?
    Do you dialogue with homophobes?
    Do you dialogue with the military when you are against war?

    Sometimes you do: but first you have to get their attention. Robert does that by seriously challenging the science that psychiatry is supposed to be based on as a credible science journalist. The rest of us have to use other means.

    Also, dialogue is only one technique of campaigning for social change. Undermining your opponents supporters is another, that means that not a lot of dialogue with the opponent is necessary. Instead you talk to the supporters and see if you can get them to drop their support. For that a few angry diatribes can be useful.

  12. I have tried to have an open discussion with my former doctors, but they have refused. “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s ignoring someone.” And the mainstream psychiatric industry is not repenting for the iatrogenic harm they’ve caused millions, and they are seemingly continuing on with their harm of patients as usual. So it strikes me it’s largely the psychiatric industry who is refusing to have a dialog. But I’d love it if my former doctors would address what they’re still claiming is “appropriate medical care,” but the medical evidence shows is nothing more than creating iatrogenic bipolar with forced medications.

    And I’m quite certain the reason my former doctors have refused to have an open dialog with me is because they are rightfully embarrassed by their behavior, since I can medically prove a Dr. Arsenio Atadero was the “attending physician” at a “bad fix” on a broken bone of mine. Then his paranoid of a malpractice suit wife, Dr. Jennifer Atadero, covered up her husband’s “easily recognized iatrogenic artifact” with a bad drug cocktail of Wellbutrin, Ultram, and Voltaren. Then Jennifer claimed for years that these drugs, which have known major drug interaction issues and notorious ADRs and withdrawal symptoms, couldn’t cause the common ADRs and withdrawal effects that they are known to cause in many people.

    Then, since I was not being given accurate information, I tried to get a second opinion from a medical practitioner outside my health insurance group. Unfortunately and unbeknownst to me at the time, the psychologist I ended up going to, Dr. Barbara Grace, was good friends with the people at whose home my child was sexually abused and the ELCA pastor who tried to cover his and / or his friend’s homosexual abuse of my child up by denying my daughter a baptism at the exact moment the second plane hit the second World Trade Center building on 9.11.2001. Of course such religious betrayal, and terrorizing of my country, upset me.

    According to Barb’s medical records, the adverse drug reactions were misdiagnosed based upon a written list of lies and gossip from the alleged child abusers – including gossip that at a minimum went from one six year old, to another six year old, to a mommy, to at least one more mommy, then to Barb. I’d never met psychopaths or pathological liars prior to dealing with all these people, and used to believe doctors and pastors were ethical and trustworthy people. How embarrassing for me!

    This resulted initially in coerced medication and a confessed “Foul up” with Risperdal, given by a Dr. Barry Rabin. Then a bunch of anticholinergic intoxication poisoning with numerous major drug interaction laden drug cocktails to cover up the misdiagnosis and child abuse by a Dr. Robert Kohn. And two final attempts at my life with willy-nilly egregious mismedication by Drs. Humaira Saiyed and V R Kuchipudi. Kuchipudi’s now been arrested by the FBI for having lots of patient medically unnecessarily shipped long distances to him, “snowing” patients, ordering unneeded tracheotomies, resulting in many patient deaths.

    Now, if you look up “iatrogenesis” in Wiki, it does state that covering up “easily recognized iatrogenic artifacts” with “complex iatrogenic artifacts,” then further harming patients with the “controversial iatrogenic artifacts” is a known lack of ethics problem amoungst the medical community. And my subsequent pastors were kind enough to read my chronologically typed up medical records, with my medical research neatly listed alongside. And they confessed that I’d dealt with the “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions” – in other words, the psychiatric industry has historically, and is still today, covering up easily recognized medical mistakes for the incompetent doctors and sexual abuse of children for the religions.

    I liked Lauren’s quote of Gandhi today, “man cannot be one thing in one area of his life, and another thing in another area of his life.” The psychiatric industry has bought it’s power by promising to cover up easily recognized medical mistakes and medical evidence of child abuse by creating iatrogenic bipolar in people with drugs. But they also claim they can “cure” little children by creating iatrogenic bipolar in them in the same way?

    Sandra, you strike me as one of the doctors who was deluded by an inappropriate psychiatric education, medical industry publication bias, and other forms of misinformation by the pharmaceutical industry. But I know from my research the adverse effects of the antidepressants and antipsychotics have been in the medical literature since prior to my dealings with the psychiatric industry in late 2001. But I do appreciate your being one of the few psychiatrists to earnestly and honestly try to find and speak the truth.

    And, Daniel, my experience with the psychiatric industry was as bad, if not worse, than your description. And I’m heartbroken it’s an industry wide problem. And when the mainstream psychiatric industry refuses to have open dialogs, and confess “the emperor has no clothes,” sometimes pointing out their absurdity and insane hubris, not to mention crimes, is a way to encourage dialog, and hopefully, change. Thank you for your honesty.

    • Cover up of medical error and malpractice is nothing new in medicine and it’s notoriously difficult to prove such cases but when the whole field is basically one big case of malpractice it becomes impossible – everyone is guilty so everyone will cover up. Malpractice is standard practice.
      When I complained about being mistreated in the hospital I got a letter back which basically consisted of a standard “we’re sorry you didn’t like our service” bullshit. It didn’t even address any of the raised issues. Then I went to seek legal help from the patients advocacy and first I met with a lady who supposedly represented me when I was in the hospital (I don’t remember because of drug induced amnesia) and who happily informed me that “doctors are good people” and that I should just tell them I feel hurt and they will feel bad about it. I don’t need to described how thrilled I was with this advice. So I went on to another advocate and all they did was to get my documents from a hospital and tell me that in the documents they didn’t write anything about abusing me so I was not abused. When I requested these documents myself (and had to pay for it) I saw that they didn’t even mention the drugs I was given and were filed with lies (starting from the fact that there was only one doctor there committing me when by law there were supposed to be two). Of course none of my complaints were ever answered by anyone I just got the general statement “documents are OK” and a copy of the very offensive letter from the hospital to advocacy where they also don’t refer to a single one of my complaints (not even as “it’s not true”) but simply state I’m a nutcase.
      So sorry if I have little sympathy for arguments of shutting down discussion – I tried to have one and I only got offended. These people are either psychopaths or just cowardly stupid little idiots who are afraid of everything so they abuse people out of this fear. If there is like 2 of them who are not – well, that’s like a statistical error.

  13. It’s been my experience that there’s been some rich dialogue here, for what it’s worth. I appreciate your focus on the human element here, Daniel. Empathy for the humans who find themselves in the chair opposite the psychiatrist and empathy for the psychiatrists themselves.

  14. At times as I have considered history in the past, I thought I was fortunate not to have been born in Nazi Germany whereby the eugenics of biopsychiatry caused many so called doctors to murder people they stigmatized as “mentally ill” or otherwise “useless eaters” and “human vermin to purify their race or population. Similarly, I thought myself fortunate not to have been born during the Inquisition and the times of witch hunts whereby mostly women were preyed on, tortured and destroyed due to their alleged witchcraft. Others of both sexes were tortured and burned at the stake for being heretics against the mainstream religion of the time.

    No more! Being older, I became horrified to find out that Dr. Thomas Szasz was absolutely right in that the horrific, junk science DSM voted in by mainstream psychiatry in bed with Big Pharma to redefine itself as a medical profession as Freudian analysis waned became the new Inquisition and witch hunts/state religion, “therapeutic state” of my own time with the horrific bipolar fad fraud created to include the character disordered, psychopaths/malignant narcissists, serial murderers, and rape, domestic violence and mobbing/bullying victims in homes, schools and communities at large.

    And the Ralph Torrey’s of our country keep spreading the news far and wide that anyone with such “severe mental illness” demonstrated by being stigmatized as bipolar or schizophrenic means you can be preyed on, forced into life destroying brain/body damaging “treatment,” and have all of your human, civil, democratic rights removed permanently for life thanks to this vile, evil, predatory agenda to push the latest toxic drugs on patent per Dr. David Healy in his great books like Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder. Now if children or anyone else are “irritable, angry or just have normal human emotions or reactions to toxic environments,” they can be stigmatized and destroyed with a bipolar stigma! The same is true for one and all except those in power.

    I find it appalling that the entire mental “health” system went along with this horrific charade including social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists! For those going to psychiatrists for help with their human problems and crises, this was such an egregious, despicable betrayal it boggles my mind. Many of us who either got caught up in this Kafka like nightmare ourselves or through our family members felt like we had entered hell, which we had with our abusers justified and validated when calling their victims “crazy” as they always had. See the great movie, Gaslight, about a psychopath using this horrific agenda to destroy his wife’s life to rob her after murdering her aunt to obtain some valuable jewels.

    That’s why one of the few psychiatrists known as the conscience of psychiatry, Dr. Peter Breggin, warned that the most dangerous thing one could do is visit a psychiatrist in his great book, Toxic Psychiatry, whereby he warned one would be guaranteed a life destroying stigma and a prescription for toxic drugs in mere minutes if one failed to heed his critical, life saving warnings. I am shocked that there aren’t more psychiatrists, psychologist, social workers speaking out against these crimes against humanity like Lucy Johnstone gracing the front page of MIA now:

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2013/01/time-to-abolish-psychiatric-diagnosis/

    With all due respect to Robert Whitaker and Dr. Steingard, that you don’t seem to see that giving someone a life destroying stigma known to be fraudulent and that will destroy a person’s relationships, career/job prospects, family and everything else that ever mattered to them “makes me want to holler,” which is the title of a book by a black man protesting racism. Psychiatric assault with such predatory stigmas and lethal drugging of those suffering life crises, abuse, rape and trauma is simply unconscionable and the more ethical, caring mental health experts speak out against it, the better off everyone will be with the current biopsychiatry eugenics thrown in the same dustbin of history like the Nazi eugenics that has fostered this new predatory agenda against humanity or the 99%. Biopsychiatry has continued this sordid eugenics enterprise with the never ending search for The Missing Gene and The Gene Illusion exposed by Dr. Jay Joseph to maintain that bogus DSM stigmas are genetic and/or due to bad brains in their victims in a massive, sordid coverup of social evils, injustice, oppression, sexism, racism, etc. There is simply no excuse to stigmatize a huge sector of the population with the bogus bipolar, the new “sacred symbol” biopsychiatry to prey on normal humans with impunity for greed, profit, status and power. The fact this is now routinely done to children with toxic drugging shows our country and others have lost their moral compass.

    I agree with those who point out that those who have not experienced this horrific betrayal and assault on their own humanity cannot possibly totally understand or empathize with the horror of being treated like a subhuman and subjected to psychiatric assault during a life crisis, domestic abuse, rape and other human horrors. Dr. Judith Herman, psychiatrist and abuse/trauma expert describes how it is much easier for “experts” and society to blame the victims and side with the perpetrator even by doing/saying nothing while the victims are routinely destroyed and scapegoated. But, to stigmatize the victims with borderline personality disorder, an insult for abuse trauma victims, as Dr. Herman points out and now with the horrific bipolar per psychiatrist and domestic violence expert, Dr. Carole Warshaw, is such a massive, egregious betrayal it boggles my mind. Nice to know that psychiatry stands firmly on the side of the perpetrators by subjecting such victims to such massive betrayal, human rights violations and retraumatization also described by Dr. Aphrodite Matsakis in her great trauma book, I Can’t Get Over It.

    With all the damning information about the pseudoscience of the DSM and biopsychiatry in general, there is simply no excuse to continue this life destroying paradigm promoted solely and soullessly to feather the nests of the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma cartel while justifying the increasing robbery and oppression of the 1% biopsychiatry really serves.

    I have noted that the great enlightening book, Mad Science, reviewed at MIA and exposing all the fraud behind biopsychiatry is included in the list of related posts as it well should be.

    Sadly, there are not two sides to this issue since one has the truth and ethics behind it while the other side has neither!

      • I agree, well said, Donna. Bio psychiatry, wittingly or unwittingly (and I think there are “professionals” on both sides) is today no better than the Nazi eugenesists or the witch hunters of long ago. They provide to same unjust function within society. I hope they all wake up some day.

        And in my case, the ELCA religion is, to this day, still refusing to look at the medical evidence of the abuse of my child, because Bishop Hanson didn’t want to “pay” me. But I didn’t ask for payment, I’d ask for help in finding a doctor who could medically explain how I’d been made sick. (Thank you, Robert Whitaker for writing a book about it, since the bishop refused to assist me, due to his greed. God always sends me a hero, thank you God.) And V R Kuchipudi, whose already been arrested by the FBI, is still practicing, and has yet to have his license taken away by the Department of Professional Regulations.

        The psychiatric (and medical) industries have been massively and unjustly abusing their power, is the real problem. It was highly unwise of our country to give ANY profession the right to take away other human beings civil rights – because power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely – even if given to supposedly respectable doctors … or religious leaders.

    • Donna

      This is some of the best writing I’ve seen here on MIA in months. Thank you for expressing how I feel so very eloquently. You are correct; there are not two sides to this issue. Thanks again for such beautiful and energetic writing that is filled with such valid feeling.

      • Coming from you Stephen, your comment means a lot to me. Of course, like others and as I’ve said before, I always appreciate your very wise insights that you add to the mix based on your many experiences as a teacher, a former patient dealing with very traumatic life experiences and now a counselor/peer to those subjected to some of the worst of biopsychiatry.

  15. Well said Daniel Mackler! A great rant and diatribe against biological psychiatry and the biomedical model of mental illness which has done untold damage to families and individuals. It has to be said.

    I believe we have nothing to fear from critical voices in any sphere but most especially in psychiatric settings where the force is with you, me and anyone who resists the naming, shaming and blaming. Critical voices will bring balance and shift the paradigm, take back the power from those who have misused it and abused it.

  16. Bob W, to promote dialogue as a vehicle for change is bang on. But what are we trying to change, the opinion of psychiatric survivors? Not a chance; their point of view is firmly cemented in personal experience. The opinions of psychiatrists like Dr Sandy, who do not see drug-centricity as the Holy Grail and to hell with anything else? No, they are already open minded, humane and searching for answers. We are trying to change the opinion and behaviour of the psychiatry that the majority of us have had the misfortune of being coerced by; the psychiatry that blindly and unsuccessfully attempts to medicalise human emotion and in so doing compounds the original difficulty beyond recognition. I fully support Daniel’s post: although written from an American perspective, it reads like an uncanny checklist to my son’s experience at the hands of NHS psychiatry. I have heard almost every phrase that Daniel has put in quotation marks. Some of them are word perfect.

    Against this backdrop, psychiatry-bashing of the kind Daniel has entertained us with here has another purpose besides promoting dialogue – a rallying call: I am tired, very tired, and almost broke, from looking after my son and providing his every need, whilst at the same time trying to rescue him from a blinkered, damaging system that purportedly has no funds to provide proper care or intense, non-drug treatments, but has a bottomless pit of public funds to fight you back should you challenge its coercion. Daniel’s piece is a reminder of why I must continue fighting, that others have suffered a similar experience and escaped, and encourages me to keep going against the odds.

  17. I thought about this question–of MIA’s purpose, this blog, and the comments here–more last night. I think it is worthy of thinking about in some depth, and I may write about it at greater length in a blog. But a couple of things I think are important to consider.

    a) When I wrote Mad in America, one of the things I came to understand was that histories of psychiatry are typically written from the viewpoint of the “treater” and that the voice of those who have been treated is so often absent from such histories. And thus, as a journalist writing a book, I thought it was essential to incorporate this voice–and this perspective–into Mad in America. In many ways, that book looks at history, at least in large part, through the eyes of those who have been treated, and their experiences and perceptions of such “treatment.” It is a perspective born of an experience that needs to be known and heard.

    b) One of the purposes of this website is to incorporate that voice, and that perspective, into a larger discussion, and to make it known. That is the key here, to make it known to a larger audience. That is something worth preserving, for this site to nurture a discussion that doesn’t chase a larger audience away. If the larger audience is chased away, then the site becomes a smaller place, and it becomes a place where perhaps people will “speak truth to power,” but there will not be a larger audience to hear that voice. And that is a loss.

    c) It is also important to realize that the stories told by biological psychiatry, about chemical imbalances in the brain and the such, were also told to young psychiatrists and other providers. In essence, they too were betrayed by this storytelling. And when Daniel writes, “they’re not talking about helping people get their lives back in order; they’re talking about killing them — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, sometimes physically, sometimes psychically—with nonbiological agents such as chemicals and electricity and force,” who is the “They” here? Who are these malevolent people, with evil in their heart? All providers? All psychiatrists who were trained to believe in chemical imbalances and the such? He is condemning a broad swath of people, assigning a motivation to this broad group of people that is unfair and wrong. It becomes a rhetorical device to assign evil intentions to the “other” group, and it does shut down discussion.

    d) Many of the commenters here are writing about the need to speak “truth to power.” I agree. There is always a need to speak truth to power, in all arenas of life. But in order for that speaking out to have some potential to change things, and to be heard, it has to be delivered in a manner that resonates with a sense of moral authority and clarity. Think of Martin Luther King speaking truth to power. He powerfully told of great wrongs and harm, and we all understood that he was speaking a truth. But he didn’t rely on demonizing the “other” to speak such truth.

    I understand that there are diverse opinions on this matter. But I thought it important that readers understand my thinking, and why I want to nurture a discussion on this website that can attract a larger pool of readers, and, in essence, my own thoughts on how it is best to “speak truth to power,” in a way that can be effective.

    • A shutting down of dialogue?

      Psychiatrists have been filibusting for some years now. This obstructionist tactic has resulted in the silencing of voices.

      To me, MIA is an arena where those silenced in the ‘big house’ can have their voices heard. It might not be pretty, but sometimes it needs to be said.

      I think Daniel has hit a nerve with his article, and we need to ask ourselves why. I don’t wish to alienate those on the ‘other side’, but believe that the anger and frustration that many feel needs to be voiced.

    • Robert

      So just how long are we supposed to keep trying to talk with this group of people who have no intention of listening to us and could care less about truly dialoging with us.

      I will say it once more, it is very easy to talk about wanting to dialogue with this group when you have not experienced any of the many things that they do to people with impunity. So far, our attempts to “speak truth to power” have gotten us very little and people are still having their lives ruined or they are dying or children as young as two are being put on drugs that will maim their brains and make them partakers of Disability for their entire lives. I witnessed my grandmother’s life be totally destroyed by this group of people. I continue to watch them destroy peoples’ lives on a daily basis in the hospital where I work. I continue to hear them talk about “chemical imbalances” and drugs for life with no recovery. These are all lies and yet they continue to spout them forth with impunity! When someone speaks up to challenge this rubbish they either lose their jobs or are met with stony silence and ugly looks. So much for dialogue. How long are we expected to keep trying to talk with these people? How many more thousands of peoples’ lives have to be ruined or lost before we can say that it’s time to quit talking and start doing?

      • One possibility is that you could start by accepting that the MIA community is made up all sorts, including psychiatrists. Plenty of opportunity to have open dialogue there.

        Another possibility is a lot more difficult to say out loud sometimes. But perhaps its time to talk more frequently about the fact that personal pain isn’t usually the best vantage point for reflective dialog.

        There are a lot of people who seem to be interested in dialog about the complexity of human suffering and the complexity of social service vs institutional failures. There also seem to be a lot of people who want catharsis, who are angry and hurting by abuse and not exactly well situated to tackle “nuance.” The world feels artificially black and white when you’ve been violated. That seems like an unavoidable effect of abuse.

        A lot of what I read on MIA mirrors my own history with religion. I was severely abused by my own experience with religion when I was a child. And for a long time afterward and I was angry and emotional toward any mention of religion in any context. People who tried to say that not all spiritual experience is the same, or not all religious communities are the same only made me more angry – because I just couldn’t hear that, it felt like it was invalidating my experience of abuse.

        I mostly felt angry, bitter and resentful and anytime someone would point out all of the situations or different ways that the subject was far more complex than my black and white thinking, I would shut them down and just be more dissmissive and upset.

        You know what changed? I continued to heal from the pain of my own experience at the hands of my religious community. I began to see other people who had very different experiences where religious community was a big positive part of their path. I began to see that once size didn’t fit all, and simply saying “Religion” as though it was all the same just wasn’t fair or accurate enough.

        So now, I have a much more nuanced critique of the dangers and pitfalls of religion as well as an ability to recognize the potential power and positives for some people in some situations some of the time.

        I see that hole journey of mine mirrored here. Different subject, same exact process.

    • This discussion brings up four things for me, which may seem to be philosophical nonsense, but which has helped me live life fully.

      The first is that reality is made up of many personal world truths that may contradict each other. For example, should people travel south or north to get to the equator? Does someone need to lose weight or gain it? Should someone feel grateful or angry at his or her father? Or at her or his mother? The more our personal stories affect the question, the less I can truly know what is best for someone else.

      The second is the source of problems in the world. I recall a self-help group where a fellow was talking about what a jerk a powerful politician was and the hardship the politician was causing. The fellow talking was cheating on his wife (again) and was avoiding his own faults by focusing on the errors of another.

      The third is the way that power over others magnifies one’s good and bad points. If the philanderer criticizing the powerful politician took power over others to change things, he might alleviate some of the wrongs he is concerned with; he would also have many more opportunities to cheat on his wife and cause heartbreak. Looking at my own faults, if I had as much power to affect people’s lives as a psychiatrist—biological or non-biological—has, would I harm fewer people and do more good? It is a frightening question to anyone who seriously faces his or her limitations.

      The final point is the mixture of good and bad in all of us. I have never met a person who did not have something really disturbing about their character. I have never met a person who did not have some positive aspects. A person with good intentions—whether a psychiatrist or an advocate against psychiatry—can do tremendous harm unless she or he looks very critically at the full effect of what he or she does.

      My personal resolution of these questions is to try to not focus on the wrongs that others do, but to try to put forward positive solutions. When the focus is positive solutions, alternatives to the wrongs I am concerned about are offered and I gain allies who appreciate the good intentions. When I focus on criticizing the wrongs of others, I have little to offer as means to help and lose allies whose good intentions and personal truths I ignore. Meanwhile, my own failings are hidden from me because I focus on the “greater wrong” of others, inviting others to focus on the wrongs in me that they see all too well.

      In the end, protest and criticism runs aground on internal infighting. Focusing on positive alternatives, though lacking fireworks and dramatic statements, endures.

      At least, this is what I have found in my own life.

      Best wishes to all.

      • Milt,

        Yes, all of us fairly normal people have good and bad points. As Abe Lincoln said, “If you look for the bad in other people, you will surely find it.

        However, after I almost got destroyed by certain people, I began to do some research on the problem of evil in humans and there are some people who have been called psychopaths, malignant narcissists or just plain evil to the core who have no conscience and can basically act like intraspecies predators on their fellow humans while using great superficial charm, manipulation, flattery, excitement, humor (at others’ expense of course) and other tactics to destroy them with impunity. Though the term, “psychopath” brings to mind serial killers like Ted Bundy, Dr. Robert Hare, world authority on psychopaths, who even consults for the FBI exposes that many can be found in positions of power that he calls subcriminal psychopaths who ply their trade in many professions while destroying countless lives in the process with the Wall Street meltdown a perfect example of their work. His books, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us and Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work describe the destruction these people can do to others with impunity with no guilt or remorse whatsoever. Dr. Martha Stout also describes these human predators in her great book, The Sociopath Next Door, as does Dr. John Clarke in his fine book, Working with Monsters and Psychopaths. Their evil, life destroying tactics are well described in these books while it is estimated that they comprise about 4% of the population.

        Dr. Stout warns us that though psychopaths would like us to believe we are as bad as them, she points out that it is our conscience that fills us with self doubt when judging others, so we tend to give psychopaths the benefit of the doubt despite our cognitive dissonance, which allows psychopaths to prey on us with impunity.

        I think if you read all of the posts here, many people have complimented Dr. Sandra Steingard who posts here though we may not agree with everything she does and says since as a practicing psychiatrist in the U.S., she must fit within the current DSM paradigm and medicalization of life to some extent. At the same time, Dr. Steingard is very honest about the shortcomings of psychiatry including the DSM labels and the far less than adequate drugs. Yet, as I said above, Dr. Steingard does have a conscience and does her best to do no harm and works hard to learn about the best care for those under her supervision.

        When this blog first started I got a wakeup call because we were thrilled and astounded when some psychiatrists were HONEST and we gave them much praise. One person pointed out that being honest should be the norm, which made me see how low our expectations of psychiatry had sunk when we marveled if one was honest based on our own many horrible experiences.

        I think you are a bit too harsh with your judgments of people in general since to put it in a Christian perspective, yes, we are all sinners who fall short of the mark or we all tend to make mistakes and do stupid things we regret that often have very negative consequences in our lives especially if any psychopaths are around since they will use it against us relentlessly as they ply their own evil trade. On the other hand, there are some people who truly are evil or rotten to the core who have no conscience, remorse or concern for their fellow humans and have no problem destroying them with impunity. Unfortunately, they are psychiatrists, lawyers, politicians, teachers and other “experts” who are very good at conning others to do their bidding as they perform smear campaigns on anyone who dares to challenge them.

        I don’t think the people here fall into this deadly category for the most part, but rather, they have been deceived and harmed a great deal by biopsychiatry thanks to the KOL’s in the APA who sold psychiatry out to Big Pharma to save their own skins at the horrific expense of those they “treated.”

    • I mentioned above the specific individuals who harmed me, and their motives. But I did also run into nice doctors and nurses, one nurse was so kind as to follow my children and I to two subsequent doctors to help protect us. And I’m very grateful to the oral surgeon whose comment, “Antipsychotics don’t cure concerns of child abuse,” was enough to embarrass my last psychiatrist into weaning me off drugs that I’d been telling him for a year were making me sick (a reality that was simply incomprehensible to him). The bottom line is, there are good doctors and nurses, but there are also unethical ones.

      And one of the problems I see regarding this is the medical Wall of Silence – the good medical professionals are often covering up for the bad. And this is now, and historically has been, a major role of the psychiatric industry (with their largely iatrogenic diseases and toxic drugs, that cause the symptoms of these iatrogenic diseases).

      And I don’t believe we need an entire faction of the medical community whose role it is to defame, discredit, torture, and sometimes kill patients to prevent malpractice suits, in a society that mandates malpractice insurance. Right now the medical community gets undeserve trust from patients, because they’ve promised to “first and formost, do no harm,” and they have malpractice insurance, supposedly for paying harmed individuals. But, instead of utilizing their malpractice insurance for what it was intended, the medical community is covering up the easily recognized iatrogenisis (“bad fixes”), with complex iatrogenesis (a toxic drug cocktail), then the controversial iatrogenesis (egregious and well known poisoning by psychiatrists).

      I truly believe this “dirty little secret,” way of covering up medical mistakes – and the psychiatric industry’s historical role in doing such – needs to be addressed by our society. I also believe our society needs to document all dealths related to iatrogenesis, especially now that medical mistakes are known to be the third largest cause of death in the US. The mainstream medical community is obviously not capable or ethical enough, as a whole, to monitor itself. But, no doubt, the pharmaceutical industry’s appalling greed inspired misinformation of the medical community is a major contributing factor to these wide spread societal problems.

    • I agree that part about psychiatrists, “talking about killing” is very demonizing. I have met many psychiatrists and almost all of them seem to have good intentions. While I don’t like their reliance on forced drugging which doesn’t seem to help a lot of people, I do wonder what alternatives the commenters here would recommend. We have been struggling for years now with our mentally ill son and listening and support seem to go only so far. He continues to have episodes of psychosis in which he yells and cries for hours. If this is not a chemical imbalance then what is it? Inflammation? Allergies? Vitamin deficiencies? Toxicity? Auto-immune disorder? I wish more research would be done on what is causing his distress. I know that many on this site claim that what is commonly called “mental illness” is not biological in origin. But if there is no biological cause than what causes a person who is sane and logical to suddenly start ranting, screaming and crying?

      • “Road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

        “I know that many on this site claim that what is commonly called “mental illness” is not biological in origin.”
        Well, mental illness is a wide term and people on this site often disagree on the definition of “biological”. Personally, I think that all human behaviours are biological in nature and generated by the brain but it is not immediately the same as saying that depression is a “biological disorder”. Basically I think that certain “mental illnesses” lie within a normal spectrum of human responses to their environment and should not be pathologised and as a consequence the response to them should not be biological but social and psychological. One can discuss if psychosis should be treated as such. There is also a number of “mental disorders” that can be traced back to nutritional problems, infections and stuff and the remedy is usually medical or life style change. Psychosis can certainly be caused by physical illness.

        Reasons for psychosis, which can’t be traced to physical factors aren’t really known. Neither in terms of a causative agent not in the underlying neurological processes. There are some genetic changes which seem to predispose to having psychotic experiences but it also seems like a lot of people have histories of trauma, which are a likely trigger for it. Some people experience psychosis as a result of chronic stress or psychoactive drugs, like pot or SSRIs.

        The problem is that there isn’t an approach that works 100% of the time, not even the Open Dialogue, which from what I know promises the highest recovery rates but I guess you don’t have access to it, as most people:(. Some people simply learn how to live with the voices and for some people spontaneous recovery occurs. Reduction of stress seems to be a recurring theme for people experiencing psychosis – it usually helps if not to recover than to reduce the problem. It could help if you identified any life events or stressors than could have triggered the problem in the first place or which correlate with each episode. Creating a safe environment may be key and use of force does the exact opposite. Maybe talking with your son when he’s “sane” enough about what he thinks is the best course of action when he feels overwhelmed is a way to go? That’s one of the parts of the Open Dialogue approach, where people are allowed to make these choices – empowering seems to be very important if only to reduce stress.
        http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/mental-health-alternatives/finland-open-dialogue

        Is your son taking meds for his problems continuously? Certain people them find it helpful to deal with episodes that are unbearable for a short time but all the research shows that keeping someone on drugs, especially high doses, is just a bad idea – they sensitize the brain to relapsing. Also every time the drugs are taken they have to be tampered off slowly and more slowly the longer they were taken.

        It is also very individual – people seem to have very different types of psychosis, very different approaches and outcomes. Do you have a Hearing Voices group anywhere near you? They are probably people most qualified to say what strategies one can try to keep the voices under control or allow for recovery.

        Unfortunately no one here can come up with a simple answer for you: do this and he’ll be fine. It’s very individual and we know nothing about your son, his environment, experiences and so on to be able to help via internet. We can only as a community suggest certain strategies which worked for us or our loved ones. However, psychiatrists don’t usually have these answers either and they often don’t even ask the relevant questions. The fact we don’t have one definite answer doesn’t mean that forced drugging is and it is definitely traumatising, for many people much more than the original problem.

        • B: Thank you for your reply. The writers on this website have helped me a great deal in understanding what is going on with my son. You make some good suggestions but since he is an adult I have very little control over what he does. He continues to smoke pot and do other things that are not helpful. On days when he is well I can talk to him and he is very reasonable. Other times he will fly into a rage about something that seems to me very trivial. Then we fear for our lives. It is certainly difficult and sometimes all I can do is hope and pray that he will get better and not worse.

          • Smoking pot while having such problems is indeed irresponsible. Unfortunately, you can’t live somebody’s life for them, you can only help them as much as they are willing to accept it and listen to your advice :(.

    • I have such great respect and gratitude for all of your work and efforts Robert Whitaker. So hopefully my comments are conveyed with that in mind. For me I see your greatest achievement as this: providing people with an “inoculation against the manufacture of conscent“ with regard to psychiatry. Of course it is your prerogative to choose your tactics with regard to optimal social change with regard to psychiatry. However I do feel compelled to point out what I see is some of the missing pieces of the puzzle with regard to your points c) and d) above:

      I think some of M.L.K`s words most definitely would have been perceived as “demonizing“ the other (although I don`t need to point out devilish actions surely bring on the demonizing all by themselves!…no demonizing required!): For example:

      King called the US government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”.

      I also agree with another posters comment that M.L.K.`s effectiveness or ineffectiveness has to be understood in relation to the powerful role and tactics of Malcom X (and of course the 1000`s of nameless freedom fighters who made these leaders possible!)

      With regard to your point d), I would quote the following for a missing piece of the puzzle:

      “So, my Quaker friends and colleagues in disrupting illegitimate authority adopt the slogan: “Speak truth to power.” I strongly disagree. The audience is entirely wrong, and the effort hardly more than a form of self-indulgence. It is a waste of time and a pointless pursuit to speak truth to Henry Kissinger, or the CEO of General Motors, or others who exercise power in coercive institutions — truths that they already know well enough, for the most part.

      Again, a qualification is in order. Insofar as such people dissociate themselves from their institutional setting and become human beings, moral agents, then they join everyone else. But in their institutional roles, as people who wield power, they are hardly worth addressing, any more than the worst tyrants and criminals, who are also human beings, however terrible their actions.

      To speak truth to power is not a particularly honorable vocation. One should seek out an audience that matters — and furthermore (another important qualification), it should not be seen as an audience, but as a community of common concern in which one hopes to participate constructively. We should not be speaking /to, but with. That is second nature to any good teacher, and should be to any writer and intellectual as well.

      Perhaps this is enough to suggest that even the question of choice of audience is not entirely trivial.“ (Noam Chomsky, Powers and Prospects)

  18. To me, it’s pretty clear that psychiatry has failed us all. I could never give power to any particular individual(s) regarding this failure, but as a branch of medicine, I fail to see the relevance of psychiatry in any way that is practical; and like others, I have seen it destroy lives, at great profit.

    If dialoguing about my issues in their office is impossible, then how could a larger scale effective dialogue occur? If in-office dialogues were satisfying, then why would we need these kinds of dialogues about the ineffectualness of that field?

    There has been so much dialogue about this over the years, and from it, I keep drawing the same conclusion, that psychiatry is doomed. From my own personal experience, I extend this beyond psychiatry, and add that the entire mental health field is sorely misguided. I say this from having been a clinician as well as having been a long time client, both of which are in the past.

    Seems to me a more fruitful discussion would be about solutions. Although those dialogues carry their challenges, as well. In the 20+ years I’ve been in associated with mental health world in any way, I have pretty much always found the dialogues to lead to muddle. This is why I feel the field is precarious at this point. Clarity about anything seems pretty much impossible to achieve in these dialogues, other than negative agreements.

    Presently, however, one thing that seems abundantly clear is that psychiatric perspective is not terribly helpful in helping to guide society into balance and well-being, and, in fact, creates further chaos. The evidence seems overwhelming. So what’s the alternative? Many people have discovered a variety of sound alternatives.

    Mainly, we are all learning how to be human, and living life and paying attention to it is the only way to learn that. Academic theories have never enriched my life.

  19. First of all, this post really creates a dialogue (whatever that difficult word means) but more than that it shows how our own experiences tend to colour what we feel and Think. I deeply agree with many of the people commenting on Daniels post that for once it is possible to get the word out and the importance of it. But I also find it important to not say that all psychiatrists are crazy and mean and “full of shit”. Of course they are not. If we end up there I am afraid we play the same game as we dont want, namely to label and diagnose each other. The psychiatric system is something different, as I think, and for me it is very hard to understand how come we still have not found a better alternative. To be honest it is also difficult for me to understand how people manage to work in such systems, but that is indeed not just psychiatrists who do, lots of other professions are involved. For me the big issue is how to create alternatives and to get the word out? My hope is that for example MIA will grow and be a very strong voice, which find ways to involve a lot of people having different backgrounds and experiences but sharing the same vision; to shut down the far too damaging psychiatric system and let something vivid and healthy grow.

  20. Hi Daniel,

    I know you said you were out of the dialogue for awhile because of a trip, but will respond now while the debate is fresh. To make it easy to see my point, I just will say that my views function so that you should group me in with the minority of those offering feedback, but as far as my feelings alone, purely and only, I most sympathise with the comment of Steve, above, who replies from the vantage point of his work in the field. (He might not think, and you might not think that I do sympathise as thoroughly as him, but I think that I do.)

    That said, Robert Whitaker is right. I emotionally understand and accept your reaction and its wording, but it should interest you morally to give each part of it a second consideration. You can certainly end up every bit as critical, or more so, every bit as demonstrative and pointed in your criticism, but will arrive at different employments of your language. Possibly, and to me it seems likely, you will pack a more powerful punch, and your lingering over the issue most central to you in all of what you said–which may be disfranchisement, or empowerment, or the problem of injustice…that’s for you to say, too–but it will show for what it’s worth to have made it clear that you do want to hear from holders of the opposing viewpoint.

    Of course, that is what is going to remain totally unlikely, for all of us. At least in proportion to the harm introduced willy-nilly and in an utterly incautious way into our lives. Just as Robert Whitaker doesn’t hear back from Dr. Torrey with sincere and frank apologies, we can forget about getting a fair shake. The naked truth of that fact is perhaps also what Dr. Sandra knows but doesn’t like to have to remind anyone that she knows good and well, while she works out her own views.

    The sum of the idea for restating your points is to move on beyond mere reaction, but avoid censoring yourself. Saying something so that people who can’t automatically meet you on your terms and your terms alone is not self-censorship, however. I get that it’s a horrible series of wrongs and misguided ideas of help, correction, and care, that readily mutates into the typical run of generally established and approved of abuses and ineptitude. But you want to offer verbal retaliation, in answer to the abuse of authority, that you would also be more glad to receive than not, if you were the perpetrator of mistreatment deserving to hear yourself blamed. No considerate person thinks that you should understand, appease, or excuse the kinds of things you list that we all realize as too common, here.

  21. My feeling is that survivors and our allies have every right to be angry, and that anger has a crucial role in any dialogue that may occur — it’s the spark or driving force, the reason the dialogue needs to occur. It can serve as a wake-up call to the power-holders, a rallying cry to the oppressed and it can be healing and transformative (or even life-saving) for those who are able to tap into and express it. But if every blog post on this site expressed blanket condemnation of biopsychiatry, as justified as that condemnation might be, the site would be much easier to ignore and dismiss and a lot of the game-changing conversations that need to happen might not because people don’t listen when they feel attacked.

    I think the balance in the mix is what makes MIA effective. I see Robert’s goals for this site as pragmatic and strategic ones and I respect that strategy. In a sense it’s the art of war… and with all the bodies and minds at stake, we need to win. So when Robert asks “what is our mission?” I don’t hear him making any moral judgments, I hear him thinking about strategy and tactics, how we can use our voices and this platform most effectively and to what purposes. Some of the dialogue that needs to happen may not even directly involve psychiatric survivors. It may be between Sandra and her co-workers, people in the industry who have access and power to change things that most of us do not, people who may not be willing/able to hear us but will listen to each other. In Finland, psychiatry revolutionized itself from within. That may seem impossible for the US, but personally I believe that we should try to make inroads on every front.

    That said, I think it bears mentioning that righteous rage against biopsychiatry is most often found in the comments on MIA, not in blog posts. Daniel’s ode is an exception to the general rule. I thought his post was fierce and on-point and I’m glad it was included, I’m glad it’s staying up and generating such worthwhile discussion, and I’m also glad that the majority of MIA blogs take a more modulated tone because more ears are open to that. There’s something to be learned from both Martin Luther King and from Malcolm X, and from the ways their different approaches actually complemented each other in the struggle.

    • If you believe Chomsky and others having a Malcolm X is the only way to get those in power to listen to MLKs of the world. In other words: if they fear you enough then they’re more likely to reform in order to avoid a bloody revolution.

      • B that sounds about right (following the conversations by Email).

        If they can’t respect us then they’ll have to fear us. However it doesn’t have to mean actual physical force but a willingness to take a stand, is how I see it. To resist, whatever it takes. If they have more to lose than us then we are in a strong position. Reputations are at stake. Those of us who’ve been labelled and stigmatised have nothing much to lose. We can turn the tables by naming, shaming and blaming. Taking back the power.

        • Perspective is all important in this dialogue.

          From experience i was telling a psychiatrist about how my life had been destroyed by being subjected to forced detention etc, and he had problem with the brandy at the yacht club only being 350 years old, and not 400.

          I really should have taken the time to understand his problems too.

          • Boans

            LOL! You made my day with your comment. How very true it often is though; so many of these psychiatrists care more about how they’re going to get the big house in the gated community, or send their kids to private schools, or get that latest SUV or power boat for the weekends, than they are about the people who travel through their offices on a daily basis.

            Out of all the psychiatrists my roommate has dealt with at the community mental health center in the past five years there was one and only one who he really likes. I asked him why he liked this particular psychiatrist and he said he liked him because he treated him like a real person who has a brain. My roommate is a consummate artist and he would take his art with him for his appointment and the two of them would spend the hour talking about it and about philosophy and many other things. It wasn’t just a ten minute drug check; it was the interaction of two very intelligent and talented individuals who learned something from one another. Unfortunately, this particular psychiatrist is not the average and there should be so many more like him. Instead, we have these cold, emotionless automatons who do nothing but dispense drugs so that they can put more money in their bank accounts. Call me cynical and negative if you want but for me this is what I see on a daily basis in the hospital where I work.

          • Well said Stephen. In Scotland it’s less about the money, more about the power and control, keeping drugs and biopsychiatry to the fore. They can name, shame and blame with a label/diagnosis, keep us all in our place, those of us who express our pain and won’t keep quiet.

  22. I just read an article that talks about this particular conflict in a historical context. Apparently, it is an inherent conflict that takes place in most social movements, the conflict between working with the system to make a change and working to create a new system parallel to the old and oppressive one. It seemed very relevant to this conversation. Link is below:

    http://www.nationofchange.org/should-we-fight-system-or-be-change-1401978457

    —- Steve

  23. In David Oaks blog on MIA May 4, 2014 an excerpt :” Mild reform has been used for centuries to build the mental health system.” “There is one peaceful solution : Revolution ! Revolution ! ” ” (Repeat twice at least ! )”

    Even if there were even better more humble psychiatrists like Sandra unable to throw their “profession” overboard, unable to sign on to a peaceful revolution, they would just naively or otherwise continue to help build the “mental health system” through , playing both sides against the middle , combined with a lack of enough creative maladjustment to put a pie in Torry’s face ,until we all found ourselves in a cocoon like vat much like the character Neo, in the movie “The Matrix.”
    Daniel an honest and excellent blog, speaking truth to power that does not hear, and just plain truth to others ,and to some that just that can’t handle it, and to the wounded that have lived and know where you are coming from and the accuracy of your words .What a great post and so many thoughtful comments still continuing in, I couldn’t stop reading everything, so aimed to chart a productive direction free of lies and coercion into a creative freedom of health for all , jump started by strategies honed in the fires of pysch-survivors battles for freedom and retrieved as a residue part, of lived experience for the benefit of our fellow human being.
    There has been a dialog ,books written, and a clear reply : forced home medicating ; neuroleptics for ever younger toddlers and babies. They have created new facts on the ground. And they are not done. Can you imagine dialoging with the gold miners in the 1800’s during the gold rush trying to talk to them about the damage they may cause in their quest for gold, to life and property that wasn’t their’s ? That’s the same as trying to talk to psychiatrist’s and pharmaceutical company people . They see riches and power and are mining human beings to get it. Backed by Rockefeller and Carnegie foundation interests and other robber barons in an on going barely disguised eugenic population control and cull.
    My favorite is Carina Hakansson’s reply :” My hope is that for example MIA will grow and be a very strong voice, which find ways to involve a lot of people having different backgrounds and experiences but sharing the same vision; to shut down the far too damaging psychiatric system and let something vivid and healthy grow.”
    Thank You

  24. That what’s wrong with Psychiatry. People get abused, their lives destroyed, sometimes killed by psychiatry (which is run by psychiatrists). If the victims talking about what’s happening, psychiatrist get offended and blaming (and shaming) the victims for choosing the wrong words, preventing dialogue, not being constructive.

    At the same time psychiatry and most psychiatrist aren’t interested in dialogue. If they were, they would have all the opportunities to start or join dialogue.

    But keep in mind, dialogue is not possible without talking about coercion, abuse, trauma and psychiatric drugs that kill.

  25. I agree that survivors have to subvert the intent of psychiatry in full public view. But those on whom to rely are very much a close-knit group, it seems to me. Everybody I knew was Left, and none of them knew to or tried to serve as my ally once I got labelled. I’m sure that’s not happened just to me.

    Obviously, it’s the power of the myth of mental illness and the satisfying myth of progress in the advertised triumphs in the field. Then we have to bust on the myth and sometimes the believers, too, and not just the the inventors of the myth. And it is immoral for the wider community of behavioral healthcare to sit out this war.

    But also moral judgment is the name of the game. Since this isn’t medicine for all intents and purposes, there is no way around this glaring fact. So we know that we can attempt and succeed or fail to be right in thought, word, and deed. But we can show our disrespect for those who haven’t thought to try respecting our equality with certain very telling criticisms, and of course talk to them with angry feelings at work, especially for the patently unnecessary tragedies the system creates constantly.

    I hope but don’t know what to believe about most care-providers who look at survivor stories that point out that the cure was worse than the disease, and that the person who they were–inside and out–was left out entirely. Surely, they hear some things. Still, there they are in their offices and wards now, misinforming each other and intending to represent the doctor’s power and not the patient’s needs and rights.

  26. Steve– That is a great article for gaining perspective on what works and how. The internal link to the article on building structure in feminist politics is also good, old as it is.

    I really appreciate when things get structured in a movement group, and strategy types join in and delegation of responsibility starts. Developing a presence and aspects of alternative methods to the going type of thing comes naturally, but it’s impossible not to like good-with-details strategist who are committed to the process and take the heat.

  27. Daniel et al,

    WOW is right. This is intense. For me the most intense moment was when the psychiatrist walked into the room…..and the ripples of power set in. Must not upset a psychiatrist…..we all know what happens when the psychiatrist is not happy.

    Bob Whitaker popped in with a full salute. OMG, what if Sandra Steingard decided she didn’t want to give this site her magic seal of approval? What if she takes her ball and goes home??? What will we do then??? We can’t have that!!

    So let’s not talk about what makes us uncomfortable, after all isn’t that what all this is about? Everyone wants to be comfortable….SO, let’s repackage the truth. Use language in such a way so as not to ruffle feathers.

    It was Okay for the doctor (Sandy Steingard, in this case) to suggest to Daniel Mackler that he might not be using his voice appropriately. After all, that is her job right? She gets to be the ultimate expert on what is appropriate, right? The elite condescend, patronize, and infantilize………and no one even says a word. Even in this group.

    I’m going to defer to the imagination on how I personally would suggest to Dr. Steingard how she might use her voice in a more appropriate way. People are dying.

    Last Saturday week, four thousand people turned out to protest psychiatry in Boston. The case of Justina Pelletier has hit a nerve. The fifty thousand people who have been facebook Justina advocates, from all over , are looking at other Justina’s to help. They are asking naive questions like, “Why is it everywhere I look, Psychiatry is the handmaiden of injustice? CPS, Family Court, Divorce proceedings, schools, hospitals….How could this happen in our country??”

    And this really was inevitable. You keep creating victims long enough, and you wind up facing the mob.

    So while we sit here and engage in a “civilized discussion” about the genocide that is taking place in front of our eyes, people who are willing to do something about it are the ones making the changes. Texas Congressman Steve Stockman from West Texas has a Bill on the House floor that aims to give parents the power to say no. Lou Pelletier and his legal team have been spending a good deal of time on the Hill, and Lou mentions several people in Congress who have themselves experienced psychiatric coercion during hospitalizations of their children for medical problems.

    There is a powerful spark of populism gaining friction in America and the web of fraud, corruption, and murder that the psychiatric profession has perpetrated is hiding in plain sight.

    I agree with Chaya Grossberg about what it means to be an artist. I was a recording artist before psychiatrists in Concord, New Hampshire ripped my heart out. Maybe someday I can get back to songwriting, but I have a duty to do for my country, my children, and myself. I have to use my voice and express the people who tell me their stories of torture and of resilience.

    Freedom of speech is the fundamental cornerstone of all of our civil liberties . It is a precious, precious right of every human being to express themselves. Any chipping away of it, or rationalization for not protecting it is a gift to darker forces.

    I mean no disrespect for Sandra Steingard. I feel sympathy towards her and cannot imagine the pressure of being in her position. I also cannot blame her for my own heightened sense of power dynamics, or at least not her directly.

    It heartens me to see that Bob Whitaker is asking important questions about what MIA is doing and what it hopes to accomplish, but in the meantime, I feel such enormous gratitude for the voice that has been given me here, and so many of the other voices here who have become important sources of inspiration, Daniel Macker would be one shining example.

      • Chrys,

        I was concerned about a misunderstanding with regard to one of my posts above and posted a response to your response to my original post to clarify what I meant.

        Since there were no reply buttons beyond several posts I am reposting my response her with a reply button right under your latest post with the hope you will see it since you raise critical issues that are very important to me and other MIA members as well.

        Here’s the post I wrote in response to yours about a seeming misunderstanding about psychosis:

        Donna on June 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm said:

        Hi Chrys,

        I have to respond here for lack of a reply button under your comment to me.

        Thanks for your response because you called it to my attention that what I wrote could be misconstrued to mean the opposite of what I meant.

        I have stated in a few places recently that I don’t have a great deal of knowledge about psychosis though I’ve read quite a bit about it by survivors and other sources because I’ve wanted to learn more about all the various extreme states fellow MIA members or family members might suffer since we all suffer from various emotional stressors or extreme states from time to time with the intensity depending on the stressor or trauma/crisis.

        I am well aware of the fact that studies show that those with so called schizophrenia or psychosis are not much more violent than most people except when abusing alcohol or other certain substances as is the case with other people. Rather, the statistics show that those suffering psychosis are more frequently the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators or “ax murderers” as you say.

        Thus, in my comment to Dr. Steingard I once again admitted I do not know a great deal about psychosis or what is labeled schizophrenia, but have expressed a desire to learn more since I feel an affinity with those who have suffered extreme states due to traumatic experiences and other causes. It’s also because I believe that “no man (woman) is an island and…never ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee” in that we are all on this trip together and who knows what or where a certain breaking point beyond the pale will lead any one of us? Some people are forced to endure much more than others that can lead to more extreme states.

        Anyway, as I gave Sandy the credit she deserves for trying to find the most helpful and least harmful treatments for those with psychosis she mainly serves, I acknowledged that when somebody is experiencing active psychosis, it can be scary when one has no experience of it and doesn’t know how to respond or deal with the psychotic person. Thus, without the necessary skills one can make matters worse and/or a bystander without the best motives may actually subject the psychotic person to violence themselves out of fear, anger or cruelty. Such behavior may also cause the psychotic person to act out as well, but as I said statistics show it is the psychotic person more apt to be the victim of violence, so it seems to me that when in such a state, the safest solution seems to be to have a compassionate expert like Dr. Steingard persuade the person to leave the area to minimize the possibility of harm.

        I pointed out that I am very angry about bogus stigmas especially for those falsely labeled bipolar for domestic/work/school and other abuse/violence, but also acknowledged that somebody acting psychotic in public has an obvious, probably temporary crisis condition that may require short term judicious use of tranquilizers for a calming effect that may be stigmatized due to public ignorance and fear. It seems that since it is now being seriously questioned to expect those diagnosed with schizophrenia due to psychosis to take dangerous neuroleptics for life, it seems all the more outrageous to try to force those falsely accused of having bipolar to take these toxic drugs for life. As with chemotherapy for cancer with informed consent, some people with psychosis may choose to take such drugs judiciously to cope with psychotic episodes while those with no cancer or psychosis would not wish to take the risk for something they do not have. Of course, many have been falsely stigmatized with psychosis, delusions, schizophrenia and other so called mental illnesses, so one much consider each individual case and bear in mind that all DSM stigmas are invalid per Dr. Thomas Insel of the NIMH. Thus, I am only speaking of actual psychotic symptoms that one might or might not have.

        I hope this clarifies that I am in no way trying to vilify those with psychosis since I have stated in some recent posts that I am trying to understand it better along with experts like Dr. Bertram Karon and Dr. Richard Bentall advocating psychotherapy for it rather than harmful drugs. In response, Rossa Forbes provided a great link to such experts in therapy for psychosis, so I assume she thought I was earnest in wanting to learn more as she has become somewhat of an expert trying to help her son.

        Since you yourself have said at times you had no choice but to seek care from the current psychiatry system for yourself and family despite your many reservations about it, I don’t see how you can condemn me for thinking that somebody acting out in a psychotic manner publicly may need temporary help from an expert like Dr. Steingard who is experienced in dealing with psychosis to help the person avoid being harmed until the crisis has passed.

        Again, I realize I am treading difficult territory since I am by no means an expert on psychosis or schizophrenia and welcome any wisdom you are willing to provide, but rest assured, I often find myself fighting for the rights of so called schizophrenics and against forced treatment and false claims about their so called violence as if I had it myself, so rest assured I am on your side and I in no way see those with psychosis as ax murderers. However, you lamented that women could act out in ways dangerous to themselves under the influence of toxic drugs in psychiatric wards, so I am sure that anyone suffering psychosis in public can be subject to much danger from others and be goaded to being a danger to others if provoked or made fearful enough.

        Though my pet peeve remains the bogus bipolar epidemic, I do read all the articles on schizophrenia and other extreme states to try to understand what fellow MIA members experience.

        Thanks again for your response and alerting me that I should be more careful and exact about my wording on this challenging topic. I regret it if I worded my post in a way that offended you and others since I do admire you a great deal and all you’ve done to promote the rights of those suffering from trauma and other extreme states.

        • Hi Donna,

          I was interested your earlier post where you mentioned sociopaths, and Dr Martha Stout.

          I don’t know about others here (but i suspect for very good reasons) that the process of being drawn into the system is one of “gaslighting”.

          People are told that their reality of traumatic events is not valid, and they are subjected to further abuses in the name of treatment.

          If you weren’t ill when this process started, by “gaslighting” you, you will be when they have finished.

          Well worth looking into if one wanted to understand how more damage is done by the process than by the actual “illness”. Of course any damage that is done is so easily covered. The drugs will repair any damage that is done in the process of intervention. And round and round the mulberry bush we go lol.

  28. Richard,

    To your very thoughtful replying comment, above (on June 5, 2014 at 11:17 pm), I offer you the following loooong comment (maybe too long); it’s long because I know it’s exactly twenty-five years since I broke free, of the chains of psychiatry. And, I’ll not have time to spend on commenting much, in coming days and weeks, as I have a number of obligations here at home that require my full attention; and, as it is long, I begin with the ending – offering my main point here and now, in a nutshell. That is: Richard, I think you define “biological psychiatry” in a rather narrow way, which not everyone (not even some of your closest friends and allies, here on this web site) will always find agreeable. After all, you’re apparently insisting that “biological psychiatrists” are those who depend on theories of genetics…

    Speaking only for myself, I think your definition, though well reflecting broad historical trends in psychiatry, may be unrealistic; for, times are changing, and some will buy into that definition of “biological psychiatry” (or, you say it was, first of all, Peter Breggin’s way of defining it); yet, some psychiatrist do not put much stake in such theories, and they wouldn’t define “biological psychiatry” that way. Nor do all survivors of psychiatry struggle with such theories…

    Probably nothing could make this point of mine more entirely clear, than my offering you the following suggested, simple exercise: Go to the top of this page, and carefully review Daniel Mackler’s wonderful blog post, “Ode to Biological Psychiatry,” which has spawned this great thread of comments; as you read it, count his references to genetics… 🙂

    Do that, and note, at last: Nowhere does Daniel mention ‘genetics’ at all! – not anywhere, in the entirety of his beautiful rant (or prose-poem or whatever we care to call it).

    Daniel makes not one mention of genetics, in any way shape or form, yet your definition (or, is it first Peter Breggin’s defintion?) of “biological psychiatry” is apparently fully contingent on the notion that “biological psychiatrists” rely on genetic theories…

    Richard, perhaps, most psychiatrists do come to work with certain fixed suppositions about supposed genetic origins of so-called “mental illness”; but, aren’t there many psychiatrists who share the very same ‘medical’ practices, who are really not especially enamored of such theories? And, are they not worthy of your critiques?

    I guess it’s possible, that Daniel simply forgot to add discussion of genetic theories, to his blog post? But, can you not appreciate, that his blog post, as it stands, naturally suggests, that, actually, a lot of psychiatrists who are full of B.S. are not necessarily promoting genetic theories, as a major factor, in their practices? (Note: I think it’s very reasonably to suggest, that not all ‘biological psychiatrists’ are into the genetic theories, and/or Daniel is not referring to the same ‘biological psychiatrists’ whom you refer to, Richard…)

    And, from what you say, I, frankly, wonder: Are you wholeheartedly opposed to any and all suggestions, that there may be genetic pre-dispositions, to developing some phenomena that are called “mental illnesses,” or are you (as I am) mainly opposed to theories of genetic determinism?

    (Personally, I think it is the reductionist, genetic determinism that is most foolish; I’m guessing you’d agree; and, it should go without saying, such theories always foster evil ‘social’ policies — e.g., yes, they’ve driven the darkest trends in psychiatry, historically.)

    But, Richard, I believe there may come a time, not far off, in the future, when science shall fairly well prove, that: In some instances, genetic components are significantly contributing to some (perhaps, a relatively small proportion of) cases, of what comes to be called ‘psychosis’. (I presume many MIA readers and bloggers doubt that; but, I think unique genetic factors must play a role, at times, in the genesis of some cases of what’s called psychosis…) Here I am talking about ‘epigenetic’ effects – ‘triggered’ by environmental stressors of various kinds.

    Along these same lines, I presume some individuals are genetically more inclined than others, to develop certain ‘addictive’ tendencies. (Do you disagree, I wonder?)

    However, I fully believe, that severe, enduring personal isolation and/or ‘suffocating’ familial relationships, as well as significant exposure to chemical toxins (including, of course, ‘heavy meds’ –poorly chosen psychopharmacology) and/or trauma and/or effects of certain, ultimately confusing provincial beliefs and other cultural influences… are altogether, more often than not, the most prominent/weighty factors leading to development of what become the most apparently crippling ‘psychoses.’ (Oh, and, of course, sleep deprivation is a frequent cause of much apparent ‘psychosis’.)

    You may or may not agree with me, on some of these points, above (of course, I expect you’ll tell me if you vehemently disagree); but, in any event, in my being someone who does his best to shed nebulous and/or misleading labels, I will say, upon reading through this comment thread, that I’ve actually come to sympathize with Dr Steingard, to this extent, that, in one of her comments, above, she calls “biological psychiatry” a “construct that has no meaning for me.”

    …Yes, I’m starting to feel that way, myself, the more I consider…

    Especially, as I consider your definition, Richard, I think to myself, that the question of which psychiatrists are or are not ‘biological psychiatrists’ becomes somewhat pointless — as I don’t know how you (or anyone else) could hope to reasonably deny, that, depending upon any number of external factors, someone’s unique genetics may, indeed, tip the odds (albeit minimally) in favor of developing a seeming ‘psychosis’ at some point, in his/her life. (I suspect some readers will balk at such a thought – maybe even condemn me for saying that; oh, well…)

    You and I have disagreed on ‘spiritual’ matters, in the past; and, I don’t wish to raise that debate again, with you. But, to me, it seems (based mainly upon my own personal experiences, in my early twenties) there may, in many instances, be certain benefits gained, in the experience of some forms of seeming ‘psychosis.’ I believe there are ‘curative psychoses’ (and wouldn’t wish to see them eliminated nor hope to breed a tendency to develop such ‘curative psychoses’ out of the human race).

    Along those lines, like many others who have recounted their own personal experiences and who have contributed their views, to this web site, I don’t think of my so-called ‘psychosis’ experiences (all which occurred in my early twenties) as having been regrettable experiences – except, perhaps, to the extent that they’d draw the attention of concerned family, friends, and, ultimately, psychiatrists, who would, therein, find their ‘justifications’ for heaping their so-called “antipsychotic” drugs into my veins…

    So, I come to my own bottom-line ‘agenda’ – as pertains to matters of psychiatry (I have explained to you, in my above comment — and also previously, in MIA comments, a year or more back): Mainly, I’d like to see an end to medical-coercive psychiatry. (That’s the form of psychiatry which I most surely oppose – and which Dr Steingard and most other psychiatrists online continue to defend.)

    I view Dr Steingard and most other psychiatrists as ‘medical-coercive psychiatrists’ – because they practice and/or support and defend the forced ‘medical treatment’ of some “patients” of psychiatry.

    By the way, something you said in your thoughtful comment has led me to reading all of the blog posts, by Dr Steingard, which I’d missed, as I’d been taking an extended break from visiting this MIA website. (The last time I was reading MIA blog posts regularly was back in February.) Now, catching up, I’m reminded, beyond any shadow of a doubt: Dr Steingard is actually a deeply thoughtful person, who has every intention of doing the right thing.

    So, truly, regardless of how you or Daniel or anyone else describes a “biological psychiatrist,” you are both correct (as are the other commenters on this thread who seem to mainly agree), on this point: Daniel’s blog post, above, does not refer to Dr Steingard’s way of plying her trade…

    No way is Dr Steingard the kind of psychiatrist whom Daniel refers to, in his blog post – not by any means. From studying her latest blogging, it becomes more than obvious to me, that, she is not the type of psychiatrist Daniel is characterizing, above; but, then again, she’s no Loren Mosher (who I believe was quite admirable for his having never ‘committed’ any of his patients), and neither is she any Peter Breggin (who I believe is admirable for his complete rejection of psychiatric drugs, ECT and labeling). And, of course, she’s no Thomas Szasz either…

    🙂

    Did I say “finally” somewhere, a few paragraphs back? Well, here I add just this much more…

    I take Szasz to have been a very impressive man, in many ways – maybe even my favorite psychiatrist (of which there have been very few). This has come to me just recently…

    At age 21.5 – when in personal crisis…, had anyone suggested to me, that I could go meet with a bonafide ‘Szaszian’ psychiatrist, I would have done so, in all likelihood, without no resistance or fuss. And, certainly, I would have been eager to see Szasz himself — as I sensed that that it would have been good to have had some professional ‘mental health’ guidance and already well knew (even back then) that, there was this psychiatrist, made famous by his book, “The Myth of Mental Illness,” who was completely opposed any and all unwanted impositions of psychiatric ‘treatment’ on his fellow human beings.

    I’m not quite sure why I never tried to contact Szasz (not even by email), as many psychiatric survivors did. But, now I imagine, had he lived a bit longer, I might, perhaps, have come to do so, if just to thank him for his positive influence in my life. (Note: Through online social media, I was able to send such grateful greetings to Peter Breggin, through his wife.) Had a meeting with Szasz come to pass, I feel certain, I could have approached him fairly confidently, as I would have felt quite safe in his presence – knowing he would not, under any circumstance, attack me (nor would he ever, under any circumstance, suggest that any psychiatrist should ever have attacked me) with so-called “antipsychotic” drugs…

    (I make that last point, because I have a sense, that I’d not feel perfectly safe in the presence of Dr Steingard – nor in the presence of anyone else who is, likewise, authorized and inclined to practice the forcing of psychiatric drugs on “patients.” Which reminds me…)

    You’ve referred to MIA blogger, Jonathan Keyes. I agree, he contradicts himself. I think he does so terribly. He makes a complete and total mockery of the great, principled concept, of informed consent – by his repeatedly calling for it, in his comments and blog posts, while defending the practice of forcibly drugging people (who are ostensibly “violent” in so-called “hospitals” such as the one where he works part-time).

    Of course, many people in “hospitals” share his inclination to support such forced drugging; but, I am more put off by his writings, than the writings of any other blogger on this web site, as he is constantly straddling both sides of the fence… (Imho, he’s full of contradictions, but here I’m moving on…)

    Richard, finally, as you know (I know you know, from my reading of your responses to some of my early comments, on this website), from day-one of my encounters with medical-coercive psychiatry, I screamed “NO!” to the psych-techs’ needle. Yet, they strapped me to their gurney and plunged that weapon deep into my flesh. Up to that point, I had come to cooperating completely, with their interrogations. So, I was not posing any kind of threat whatsoever. But, the psychiatrist knew I would not want to be “hospitalized,” so he made me into a “patient” that way.

    As his ‘justification’ for such, there was along battery of question, which formed his ‘assessment’ of my supposed condition. He took one answer that I’d given, and he twisted my meaning, so that he could declare me “a danger” to myself.

    Such was my personal intro to the realm of medical-coercive Psychiatry; and, it would not be the last time that that sort of thing happened to me. (Another psychiatrist wound up twisting the truth, no less, to claim I was “a danger” to myself.)

    Those experiences were so incredibly formative! My words can never make clear, to anyone who has not experienced such ‘treatment,’ exactly how wrong such practices are – such professional deceits, supposedly for the good of the “patient” because his/her family believes s/he is “mentally ill” and must be “treated” with drugs… for his/her own good.

    My family was not to blame; they didn’t know any better; the psychiatrists could have known better…

    In all ways, such deceits are antithetical to the promotion of mental health and well-being. And, the resultant forcing of mind-altering drugs into that innocent human being’s veins, against his or her clear objections, is nothing but an abomination, which must not ever be appeased.

    Of course, there are some few individuals who claim to have been “helped” by such ‘treatment,’ but they are relatively few and far between; and, I believe they are defending what is ultimately indefensible… (Perhaps, they are suffering Stockholm syndrome…)

    And, of course, no psychiatrist has ever examined anyone’s brain, to conclude that such invasive ‘treatment’ is called for… They are just (most of them) fully inclined to drug anyone and everyone who, in the ER, could, perhaps, be described as experiencing a “psychosis” of some kind…

    I think to myself: ‘Anyone who has ever ordered and/or administered such clearly unwanted brain-invasive procedures should really have his/her own head examined (or, at the very least, should be strongly and persistently encouraged to abandon and renounce such practices)!’

    That’s all already… Whew… this long/rambling comment has gotten out of hand! — except, again (as in my brief comment to you and Chrys, above), I offer thanks to you, Richard, for noticing my absence and offering such a kind “Welcome back,” and… oh, yes, about your saying “I would feel honored to know that it was my comments that inspired you to come back from your recent leave of absence. I am not sure that is true, but I am glad to hear from you,” …Richard, actually, that’s only partially the case. I do see you as genuine leader here, amongst leaders, in the fight for human dignity – even as I do not always agree with you, so I find you a pleasure to ‘speak’ with, via these MIA comments…

    But, honestly, there was a combination of factors leading me to wish to comment, on this thread — none so powerful as a couple of brief emails from a fellow psychiatric survivor, suggesting I check out this latest blog post by Daniel Mackler. (Of course, I’m glad I did. It is one of the best posts I’ve ever read on this site.)

    If, perhaps, Daniel Mackler reads this comment, of mine, here I say to him, Daniel, please know: I agree with the other commenters, who’ve already said, that far from having created a post that shuts down dialogue, with this blogging, you’ve offered an unusually great impetus for honest, open discussion, on psychiatry. Your post should be an assigned reading in high school health and psychology classes.

    Thank you for posting it (and, thanks to Bob Whitaker for allowing it to remain posted); reading and re-reading it has lent me much joy and personal satisfaction, in the course of my private celebrations, this week — of being now gratefully twenty-five years free from psychiatry…

    Respectfully,

    Jonah

    • Jonah well said, you’ve written a blog post of your own which has given me much to think on. Thank you.

      I feel the same as you do about being forcibly injected, it was like a rape of my being, to make me conform by filling me with their drugs. a mother not long after childbirth. The second time it happened a week after having my 3rd son, that they held me down, stuck the needle in, separated me from my baby, my children, my family. I eventually swallowed the pills to get out of the madhouse and back to my house, suitably chastened, depressed, no hope. greyness. To recover I had to defy psychiatry, taper the drugs then tell them after the event. Only once did I have a sympathetic psychiatrist in 1984. The rest have been drug centred, into control.

      In 2002/3 I told them I was tapering before the event and resisted their lifelong mental illness labelling, getting off the lithium latterly and proving them wrong. Rubbing their noses in it now with every chance I get. Unrepentantly. For if they make mistakes then they have to pay for it.

      I agree that biological psychiatry never figured large in any of my engagements with the system. Chemical imbalance was never mentioned. But they wrote “family history of” in my sons’ psych notes, to justify forcing them too. Forcing the lot of us from my mother to my 3 sons. How very dare they. A step too far. I will never believe in the genetic stuff, being a mother. Because it points the finger at me who gave birth to them. As if I’m faulty. I wouldn’t give it the time of day, as a matter of principle. I will not accept the naming, shaming and blaming, turning the tables on the ones who try to do it to me. Take that if you will.

      The issue of force is at the root of the problem. If you can force one person then you can force us all. Justify it in the notes and using the legislation against us. I voluntarily went into psychiatric wards on every occasion and then was forced. There was little negotiation or patience or anything civilised. Bend over or we will sit on you. In 2002 I swallowed the drugs when they detained me, knowing I’d get the needle otherwise. I resent the coercion and will always resent it. Psychiatry treats everyone like women, it’s a patriarchal system.

      • ” I voluntarily went into psychiatric wards on every occasion and then was forced. There was little negotiation or patience or anything civilised.”
        The same with me. They don’t listen to you when you come to them to ask for help, they just force into something that they consider “standard procedure”. It’s not help, it’s abuse.

      • “I resent the coercion and will always resent it. Psychiatry treats everyone like women, it’s a patriarchal system.”

        Chrys,

        I experienced two periods of “hospitalization” — two years apart; both periods began with my conceding to pressure, from family and friends, to go meet with a psychiatrist, in the ER. Those two periods that were two years apart produced fairly similar experiences, in this sense, that: I’d wind up “involuntarily hospitalized” twice in both periods… and repeatedly experience being forcibly drugged.

        I.e., in both of those two separate periods, I’d wind up pressured into the ER, where I would be ‘assessed’ as a supposed “danger” to myself and would thus be “hospitalized” on a psychiatric ‘mandatory hold’ of roughly more than a week — only to be pumped with a combination of ‘heavy meds’ and then be released… and would, very soon thereafter, be pressured into going right back in to the ER, only to wind up “re-hospitalized” on yet another ‘hold’ (again, based on an ER psychiatrist’s claim that I was supposedly “a danger” to myself), etc..

        The more I consider those times, in retrospect, the more strongly I feel that no one (none of my family members nor friends nor any of the ‘mental health’ professionals who were being made responsible for my ‘care’) were demonstrating even the least bit good sense, in how they were treating me.

        In fact, there was a certain insanity gripping all of them.

        And, for a couple of years, I had no knowledge of anyone who’d ever extracted himself or herself from such a mess. So, I had to figure out everything on my own, by trial and error.

        No one was really connecting with me (not family, friends, therapists) in any way deeply — largely because I could hardly connect with myself, being so “medicated”; I felt as though I was living constantly behind a ‘screen door’ that was keeping me from my deepest feelings. This was a completely different way of living for me (I had previously been a very deeply feeling person.)

        I felt little connection to the world around me (this was also completely different for me), and there was this overwhelming sense of being perceived as ‘The Other’ by those I knew — and an sense of having been processed through a totally impersonal system, best defined by its periodically locked ‘revolving doors’ wherein the ‘helping’ professionals (who were, of course, always free to come and go) were certainly no more sane than the supposedly ‘mad’ inmates (who were called “patients”).

        The in-and-out aspect, of how that operation worked, was incredibly dispiriting (as was all the purely systematized repetition, in my experiences with psychiatry itself).

        At the very end of that first period of “hospitalization” (during the last days of my second ‘hold’), I was informed that I was supposedly suffering from a “mental illness” that was incurable; I have no idea how that ‘assessment’ was made; I’m almost certain it was a psychiatric nurse who was basically ‘de-briefing’ me before signing me out; she was describing my supposed ‘condition’ to me.

        There was this ‘diagnosis’ (a “serious mental illness”) that she said could be managed with “medications”; seemingly, that ‘diagnosis’ she was tagging me with, was coming from the system itself — seemingly.

        After all, quite honestly, I had (and have) no recollection of speaking with any psychiatrist, in that place. (Of course, I probably had spoken with one, there, at some point — almost certainly, I must have — and, yet had forgotten doing so, as I was being so very heavily drugged there.)

        I was ‘held’ in that place for more than a month; you’d think that it would have been a psychiatrist who would have discussed that ‘diagnosis’ with me, but it wasn’t… So, OK, you’d think I would have some recollection of speaking with a psychiatrist there, yet I just don’t recall such a meeting.

        To this day, I don’t know how I received that first psychiatric ‘diagnosis’ — which really stuck… as I quickly came to be known for it, amongst all my family, friends and associates.

        Suddenly, my entire ‘social circle’ knew me as a ‘sufferer’ of that “serious mental illness.”

        That ‘diagnosis’ would lead me to nothing but misery; it would become a profound source of shame — and was responsible, I feel, for many personal rejections, over the course of many years…

        But, most of all, it would become the ‘justification’ for everyone around me insisting that I must remain “medicated” come hell or high water…

        Two years later, as I showed ‘resistance’ to that ‘diagnosis’ and ‘treatment’ I would lose all my friends; and, later, after my second period of “hospitalization” (which had been all about getting me ‘re-medicated’), I found that most new friends would distance themselves from me, once they learned of that ‘diagnosis’.

        So, I was left only with friends from a group of similarly ‘diagnosed’ people.

        Of course, as soon as I was, again, no longer identify with that ‘diagnosis,’ those friends would back away…

        Hence, I learned, it can be incredibly lonely, to be a survivor, of Psychiatry.

        Thank goodness for the eventual advent of the Internet, which allows survivors to connect; and, thanks for sharing your experiences.

        Respectfully,

        Jonah

      • Chrys,

        In a response to one of my posts above on psychosis, you accused me of something I didn’t think I did, but out of concern for you and others, I wrote a response to ensure that I clarified my position in that contrary to what you claimed, I in no way see those suffering psychosis as being equivalent to ax murderers. In fact, as I explain from much reading I know the opposite is true based on statistics and studies about the supposed dangerousness of those having psychotic episodes.

        I have now reposted my response to you twice with no acknowledgement from you. Yet, I have noticed that you have continued to post with others up until now, so I am wondering if you are holding some grudge for something not done or intended by me or are simply ignoring me in general to punish me for my perceived crime. Perhaps you have not seen my hard efforts to communicate with you by posting my response to you twice despite notifications of new comments by email, so I will try to make one final attempt to get your attention to at least read my response after accusing me of equating psychosis with ax murderers!

        Since you claim to spend much time fighting injustice, when you accuse others of being unjust, it seems you should at least be open to the possibility you misunderstood them and jumped to conclusions, which resulted in being unjust yourself in your assessments of others. This is especially true if you refuse to consider their attempts to clear up possible misconceptions and misunderstandings as I think is true in my case.

        As I said, because I have a great respect for all of your hard efforts for psych rights, I was concerned when you seemed to interpret what I said in ways I sure didn’t intend. Since I believe I am equally concerned about psych rights, I hope you will give me the benefit of the doubt and read one of the two responses I posted in response to your “ax murderer” charge against me, which I don’t take lightly and doubt most here at MIA would.

        Thanks for your hoped for consideration,

        Donna

        • Donna there are a big number of comments on this blog post, 152 and counting, so I haven’t been keeping up with them all for it’s not my blog post.

          As for my comment about psychosis, wherever it might be, the reason I made it was to raise awareness of what psychosis was like for me and mine. To bring it alongside other mental health difficulties and psychiatric labels. Level the playing fields so that psychosis wouldn’t be seen as a thing apart but as something that could happen to anyone. So I wrote my comment for this reason.

    • I must admit the term “biological psychiatry” is also not my favourite one and I personally wouldn’t use it. Everything is biological when you’re talking about biological beings so without defining this term precisely most people will think you’re denying reality when bashing it.
      When it comes to genetic however, you won’t call obesity a genetic disease in most cases, will you (save maybe for some rare cases of leptin pathway deficiencies when it can be traced to a single gene)? Sure, a lot of people can have a predisposition for it, but in the end it goes down to how much you eat and how much energy you spend. And by no means having obese parents means you’re going to be obese even if you happen to inherit the predisposition. Therefore it’s called a disease of civilisation by most people and mental disorders fall into the same category, at least by some classifications.
      Treatment of mental disorders with pills is just as “successful” as treatment of obesity with pills (ADHD drugs were used for that purpose not so long ago). It doesn’t solve any problem at all and it likely creates more. You need life style changes, you need healthier food, you need social support and sound policies to tackle the obesity epidemic. You need the same for “mental illness”.

      • B,

        Again, I must say, I agree with you entirely!

        Never would I describe the phenomena, of any so-called “mental disorders” (or any so-called “mental illnesses”) as “genetic diseases.”

        I would not ever do that…

        Though, here I add and emphasize (based on my contemplations of your comment), that: Indisputably, some folk are born with a genetic endowment that lends them a tendency to be much more adversely affected by certain ingested substances…

        In some instances, depending upon the particular sensitivity, these may be ultimately mind-altering effects…

        And, let’s think about your example: Some people are genetically more inclined to have a particularly ‘slow metabolism’ — significantly raising the possibility they’ll develop a degree of obesity (that is, if and when they develop a habit of overeating). Obesity is associated with a higher incidence of ‘depression’ (a supposed “mental illness”).

        Of course, correlations do not determine causes, so it may often be hard to know which led to which… (I mean, it may be difficult to know, does the ‘depression’ lead to the over-eating, which leads to the obesity? Or, is it the other way round?) I don’t know if there are ever easy answers to such questions, but I believe most instances of enduring ‘depression’ can wind up basically ‘converted’ into various sorts of so-called ‘mental health’ issues — i.e., can devolve into sufferings that eventually may garner other so-called “mental illness” or “mental disorder” labels.

        So, really, those genetic tendencies, which you have alluded to (i.e., tendencies making one more potentially susceptible to developing obesity), could possibly be associated with a higher propensity for developing a variety of seemingly different sufferings, that are all oft-called “mental illness” and “mental disorder” (generally speaking).

        I suppose these seem as though very unpleasant facts — in the eyes of many people — especially, those who may struggle to keep their weight in check.

        But, I completely agree with you, as you suggest that pharmaceuticals are not the ideal solution (and, of course, being individuals who are drawn to MIA discussions, we well know that pharmaceuticals can make matters far worse, in many ways). I second your conclusion, that it’s best to ‘just’ create “life style changes, [eat] healthier food” and get good “social support.”

        And, I’m certain there can also be appreciable benefits of being endowed with such genes, as compared with some genes that would, otherwise, lend one a very fast metabolism…

        There are ‘trade-offs’ associated with various genetic propensities…

        Now, hopefully, what I’m going to say here won’t embarrass you:

        I’ve decided you are my new favorite commenter on this website! (Maybe you aren’t new, I just never noticed your comments previously? Who knows? But, anyway…) Yes, based only on my reading of your posts, to now, on this particular string of comments, you’ve won this humble distinction, of becoming my ‘new favorite’ commenter here — which is, I guess, thanks largely to Daniel Mackler’s contribution of his great blog, above, which has stimulated much excellent commentary from others, as well.

        I look forward to reading more of your comments…

        Respectfully,

        Jonah

  29. I appreciate the richness of this discussion and wanted to add a few more comments.
    I am glad that Timothy Kelly has jumpted in. His writings and perspective have been enormusly helpful to me and I hope others consider taking the time to read more of what he has to say.
    Jonah (and others) – thank you for your thoughtful comments. You have given to me what I think everyone hopes for and most needs when in a crisis – to be seen as a human being. If I could change one thing about our “system”, it would be that – that when a person experiences this thing we call psychosis that we first and foremost respond to a human being and try to listen to the person, see the person, and try to understand the experience. Although I may have uttered these words before, I have to say they have a meaning for me that is different now in that I consider this notion to be healing in and of itself. I have learned that from many sources but much of it comes from hearing the voices of “survivors”. And while I always thought I did hear their voices (after all I spend my days talking with people in my office) there is something different that I have heard here.
    From so many kinds of sources, it seems clear to me that there are many people who go through these crises at an young adult stage but then come out of them. Psychiatry’s approach – lifelong drugs- is not needed in these instances and appears, at least for some, to hinder recovery. Forcing people to take these drugs can be deeply traumatizing. We do not know what is best for any particular individual and we need to be attuned and open to this fundamental uncertainty. Even when it seems that drugs confer some benefit (and I think it may for some), we need to be cautious in how we use them – dose matters and the appraoch of just adding on drugs when things are not going well, is deeply troulbing to me.
    Yes, this has turned into a rich discussion. But when I responded initially, it was not to defend myself or to increase the dialogue with me. I am priviledged to blog here! I was wondering about whether this post would shut out people who may be curious and, although not convinced of everything written here, open to exploring.
    Philip Hinckley has posted an interesting blog on the “chemical imbalance” and he gets to a key issue whihc is how psychiatrists are taught to fundamentally characterize these experiences. We want to bring people into these discussions so that they can examine some deeply held beliefs. Demonzing those inviduals will not be helpful to that goal.

    • “We want to bring people into these discussions so that they can examine some deeply held beliefs. Demonzing those inviduals will not be helpful to that goal.”

      Dr Steingard,

      When power-hungry and malevolent people find their way to positions of power and authority, I think that ‘demonizing’ them could be a good thing to do. It could save a lot of innocent people from falling under their spell and becoming victims of their treachery. And, I think the field of psychiatry has long been a magnet for power-hungry and malevolent people — as well as for naive people…

      My sense about you, is that you are a bit naive in ways — but that is certainly not a crime nor any kind of condemnable attribute.

      And, about ‘demonizing’ people: As it happens, actually, I don’t believe any individual is being demonized here (not in Daniels blog post nor either in any of the comments that have been inspired by it). Though, I do get that some people could read Daniels post the wrong way. They could presume that Daniel is completely demonizing everyone in your entire profession; however, I don’t read his words that way, at all, and I find most of the comments on this page are very clarifying after all…

      That includes your comments. You’re determined to stick it out, here at MIA, sincerely listening to psychiatric survivors share their stories of having been harmed by psychiatry — and overcoming the inherent limits of your professional conditioning, as a psychiatrist. That’s great, and it’s also great that you hope others, in your field, do likewise — because I see, in deed, you have come a long way.

      But, please, excuse me, as I offer a bit of criticism:

      Reading your recent blog post wherein you relay the commencement address, that you recently gave at Goddard College, I found myself simultaneously impressed by your sincere humility and taken aback by very brief anecdote you offered.

      You spoke fondly of a long-time client who’d referred to you as a friend. (You referred to him as a “patient” who was in your waiting room.) I was taken aback by that reference for a myriad of reasons — all connected to my sense that a medical-coercive psychiatrist cannot be a real friend to his/her clients…

      (At least, such a psychiatrist cannot be a true friend to his/her clients, in my opinion.)

      A real/true friend is someone who takes you as you are. (Perhaps, you know, that’s a paraphrase, of a famous line, from the writings of Henry David Thoreau.)

      I believe, that, in so many ways, the average “patient” of a medical-coercive psychiatrist cannot reasonably afford to risk being fully himself or herself, with that ‘mental health’ professional, the psychiatrist; for, if s/he were to say the ‘wrong’ thing in the psychiatrist’s presence, s/he would not be accepted; on the contrary, s/he would, quite possibly, be violated with forced drugging…

      That was my repeated experience, with various psychiatrists…

      (Note: Of course, not all psychiatrists are as cynical and/or bad at their work, as those who twisted my words, to place me on “holds” and “medicate” me against my will; but, the risks of discussing ones inner life with a psychiatrist are legion…)

      So, I think that is actually not a good message that you were sending, at that point in your address; I would want a psychiatrist, rather, to lend a graduating class in psychology and counseling a very clear sense, that: The average psychiatrist must be approached with caution, always — as psychiatrists can be quite dangerous.

      [Suddenly, as I’m writing this comment, I think of a psychiatrist who is not dangerous at all; he’s a wonderful guy, as far as I can tell, from reading his work. I am speaking of Dr William Glasser. I find myself now wondering whether you have ever heard of him — and, perhaps, even read his little book titled, Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health.]

      Anyway, Dr Steingard, from reading your blog posts, I get that you are not a bad psychiatrists. You’re clearly a ‘much better than average psychiatrist,’ from what I can tell of your practices, via your blogging…

      And, I even see you have come a long way, toward being someone who I could one day view as a friend. Indeed, I hope that I can call you that (“my friend”) one day, but it would not happen before you’ve fully renounced that part of your duties, which has you (to now) at times, supporting the forced drugging of “patients”.

      I think it’s actually possible, you could come to that point, in your professional evolution, but I am not holding my breath, expecting it to happen.

      And, I hope many in your field shall follow your lead, as you are already relatively evolved, in how you approach your work; but, again, I am not holding my breath…

      I am not waiting for psychiatrists to fall in line, behind you, in droves.

      Realistically speaking, I know most psychiatrists are more or less completely entrenched in their current ways of working. Sad but true, imo…

      In closing, I’ll add this honest ‘confession’ of sorts: As always, in addressing you via comments, I am feeling a bit at odds with myself, as I write…

      Always, I am wishing I could ‘get through to you completely’ — so you could fully see the light…

      Well, maybe one day you will…

      Respectfully,

      Jonah

  30. Sandy – “We want to bring people into these discussions so that they can examine some deeply held beliefs. Demonzing those inviduals will not be helpful to that goal.”

    I am curious as to whom you have in mind since most of your colleagues insist on hanging on to their erroneous beliefs. Stephen Gilbert gives great examples regarding the psych hospital that he works at as he says they have no interest in dialoging no matter how respectful he is.

    AA

    • Sandy, I really appreciate your openness and your honesty. You are right, being wrong doesn’t equal being Evil. I think about where I was five years ago as well. Without question, some of my positions have softened as I meet people and listen to their stories. Being wrong doesn’t necessarily mean evil, but those who know they are wrong, and continue to abuse power…..well, that fairly meets my criteria for evil. You mentioned earlier that “society has given psychiatry vast power”. I suppose that is true in a macrocosmic way, but really that power has been cultivated mostly behind closed doors. Through carefully crafted legislation introduced and supported by private lobbies. The corporate medical coup goes back to the late forties. It was not enough for the Rockefellers to buy medical schools for the purpose of selling chemicals and radiation etc………every other alternative had to be made illegal. And it was. And still is.

    • Sandy,

      I remember reading a bit about your history, and it suggested to me that you’ve always been open minded and willing to challenge “sacred cows” from the start. Don’t remember why I thought that, but I remember thinking it. I am sure there are any number of folks like you out there who are people with whom a productive dialog is possible – I have met a few in my years as a mental health worker and children’s advocate. The problem is that even such people (myself included) appear to be in the minority, and are under tremendous pressure from the larger culture to accept these “truths” that aren’t true. I’m interested to know how that can be changed from the inside out?

      I have had my successes over the years, including helping get a law passed in Oregon to increase administrative oversight of psychiatric drugs for foster youth, which has had a definite impact in the number of kids drugged or overdrugged, and made it easier for advocates to speak up when they have concerns. But the law did not change the fundamental reality – kids who have been traumatized, sometimes brutally, often repeatedly, both before and after entering foster care, continue to be treated as if their brains are malfunctioning when they object in some way to the process, or try to adapt to the insanity of their lives.

      It took a lot of work to get the small changes we did get into law. What will it take to convince an entire community that abused kids acting angry or depressed is NORMAL? That it’s hard to concentrate in school when you’re wondering if your homeless mother has attempted suicide again this week? That it is normal to be highly anxious when you don’t know if the next time your carefully-repressed anger at your parents surfaces, you may lose your foster home, school, counselor, friends, and almost everyone you know?

      Or to take another issue: why is it not obvious that when you give someone a drug to make them better, and they don’t get better or get worse, you should discontinue it? I make this observation all the time, as a professional, and 8 times out of 10 (0r worse), my input is ignored or denigrated. How can I have a dialog with people who don’t want to listen?

      I really do hear what you’re saying, but I don’t know the answer. It is safe now for the “powers that be” to ignore anything that’s inconvenient. The normal reaction of most people to being ignored is to shout louder or make a scene. Which, of course, is regarded as more proof that they are “mentally ill” and should not be listened to.

      It’s a real dilemma. I’m interested to hear what you think will work. ‘Cause I’m kinda getting burned out being the “light in the wilderness” these days.

      Thanks for any thoughts you may have about this. I hope you take time to read the link I attached above, because I think it reflects that no one is really wrong in this equation – both perspectives are really needed.

      —– Steve

  31. Jonah

    Thankyou for your heartfelt response and positive feedback about my participation at MIA.

    Many people here at MIA are having some problems with name “Biological Psychiatry” and with its definition. I will soon be posting a blog that I hope will clarify this confusion. I will just say, as an initial tease for this coming blog, that history has already chosen this name for this particulat institution and historical trend; it is really done deal at this point. Even if we think there could be a better name or description; it’s really too late now. Biological Psychiatry is VERY confortable with the name and they know exactly what they mean by it. And I have been reading MIA since its inception and the terms Biological Psychiatry or biopsychiatry have been used thousands of times to describe the perpetrators of psychiatric oppression.

    Jonah, you are correct to say that there is much more to Biological Psychiatry than its genetic based theories of “mental illness.” And I should add that to be opposed to Biological Psychiatry does not mean one has to deny the role of genetics. What follows is a quote from my very first blog at MIA on this wery question:

    “There is no definitive evidence of genetics being a CAUSAL factor in addiction. Just as with so called “mental illness,” their billions of dollars in research for the “Holy Grail” have come up empty. Their temporary hits and near misses receive tons of publicity, but their failures are hidden on the back pages.

    All human beings are genetically predisposed to develop addictions and the symptoms that get labeled as “mental illness.” Nobody stands above or is immune from potentially developing these problems. In the right combination of circumstances ANY human being can develop an addiction and/or a state of extreme psychological distress. This will occur if any particular person is exposed to enough stress or trauma and/or if they use certain substances for a long enough period of time in a certain set of environmental conditions.

    While there is probably something called a “genetic predisposition” for these two types of problems, we must question how this concept can ever be very useful. For example, in the case of psychotic like symptoms, if we take two people and subject them to a certain number of hours of torture and one person starts to show signs of psychosis after 18 hours and the other at 21 hours, should we spend millions of dollars to determine why there was a 3 hour difference between the two people? Shouldn’t our society be more concerned with why there was torture going on in the first place and what gave rise to those conditions and how to eradicate the material basis for such conditions?”

    Jonah, just as Sandra Steingard’s view have evolved here at MIA, so have mine as well. I want to thank you and people like Anonymous who wrote so passionately and decisively on the issue of forced “treatment.” If you had spoken with me 3-4 years ago I might have presented a similar view as Jonathan Keyes who clearly upholds forced “treatment” in certain situations. Your narratives and political analysis sharply clarified the issues of harm done and denial of human rights so that I was able to be more consistent with my overall perspective on the oppressive nature of Biological Psychiatry.

    I hope to continue this discussion at a future time and I hope you will read and respond to my future blog on this subject.

    Comradely, Richard

    • “…I have been reading MIA since its inception and the terms Biological Psychiatry or biopsychiatry have been used thousands of times to describe the perpetrators of psychiatric oppression.”

      Richard, that may well be perfectly true; but, still, I’m extremely doubtful about anyone’s claimed ability to convince me that any psychiatric terms have permanently fixed (unchanging) definitions.

      Even in the hard sciences, terms are forever evolving; also, scientific terms are used differently by different specialists within various fields…

      E.g., a ‘wave’ is not at all exactly the same thing to today’s physicist — as compared to physicists of a hundred years ago or more.

      And, a ‘wave’ is not the same thing to a meteorologist, as it is to a physicist.

      In fact, because psychiatry is not a ‘hard science’ but rather a field based on much pseudo-science, I wouldn’t attempt to find (and then speak) of would supposedly be hard and fast ‘eternal truths’ in the realm of Psychiatry.

      Virtually all remarks about what terms supposedly refer to which precise phenomena, in the realm, of psychiatry, are to be taken with a grain of salt, I think — beginning with that most infamous term “mental illness.” (Szasz rightly discouraged his readers from their attempts to define it; he called it a hopelessly “plastic” term.)

      That said, nonetheless, I do look forward to reading that blog post you’re aiming to write.

      And, about your explaining how your views have, in recent years, evolved: Thank you for offering that; it is very heartening for me to read, really…

      Respectfully,

      Jonah

      • If there’s no dialogue, then what is left? I have trouble seeing how things will ever change if people are just talking at each other. I think we have to be careful to avoid the absolute “Othering” of any group – be it those who are opposed to the psychiatric system (long the victims of such action), or, conversely, those seen as involved in any way with that system. I find it discouraging to see so much black and white, absolutist thinking here, which erodes the meaningful discussion of ideas.

        • Jonathan Dosick,

          ???

          I am totally baffled by your comment.

          I don’t see how it applies to my comment — at all. (In fact, upon first reading it, I was wondering if maybe you’d used the wrong reply button? …but then I thought, ‘No, if he had done that, he would have offered a quick clarifying post afterward.’)

          Sir, you seem as though offering some serious criticisms, of my contributions to this conversation; yet, you offer no specifics…

          So, with all due respect, why did you choose to reply to my comment, by lamenting that people are “just talking at each other,” I wonder? That people wind up “talking at each other” happens occasionally , in these MIA comment threads, it’s par for the course, I think. However, whenever I’m commenting here, on this website, I do so with a very sincere intent to dialogue, and I feel my exchanges (e.g., with Richard, above) demonstrate that intent of mine, rather well. (Truly, I can’t see any way that I’ve engaged in a process of “talking at” anyone, in any of my comments.)

          Also, you caution against “the absolute “Othering” of any group – be it those who are opposed to the psychiatric system (long the victims of such action), or, conversely, those seen as involved in any way with that system.” Imho, that’s great advice, to offer… But, I’m very curious to know, how did my ways of commenting elicit such advice?

          Have I been “Othering” any group, in my comments?

          (Note prominently: The way I read my own expressions, they are anything but “Othering”; in fact, in one of my comments, I spoke of how it felt to be “Othered”; I know how that feels; and, so I am totally against “Othering” people…; so, for instance, in various comments, on this page, I have offered my positive sense, of a number of psychiatrists.)

          You conclude by saying “I find it discouraging to see so much black and white, absolutist thinking here, which erodes the meaningful discussion of ideas.” Jonathan, for the life of me, quite honestly, I don’t know why you say that to me. In my view, I’ve not contributed any ‘black and white, absolutist thinking’ to any MIA conversations (not on this page, nor anywhere else on this site).

          Your brief criticisms provide not one example of what you’re referring to; so, please, be clear, offer me examples (even one example) of what I’ve said, which, in your mind represents the shutting down of dialogue and/or ‘black and white, absolutist thinking.’

          Thanks in advance for your response… (which I know will come and will be thoughtful, as I know you are interested in dialoguing, and I am, too).

          Looking forward to your response…

          Respectfully,

          Jonah

          • Hi Jonah,

            I must apologize, I should have posted this comment as a general comment on the article itself. I wish to clarify that my comment was not intended to be directed at you personally. Rather, it was intended as a general expression of what I see in the comments and the blog as a whole.

            Again, apologies for my error.

          • “I should have posted this comment as a general comment on the article itself. I wish to clarify that my comment was not intended to be directed at you personally.”

            Jonathan Dosick, thank you for that clarification.
            And, by the way, I do appreciate your sincere desire to dialogue. Hence, I’m eager to see your answer to uprising’s response, to you — re your having raised this issue, of what you apparently consider to be (in Daniel Mackler’s blog post?) an excess of “black and white, absolutist thinking.”
            Respectfully, ~J

        • Can you provide any examples of what you consider “black and white, absolutist thinking”? I am asking because I happen to generally agree with many of the other comments here that resonate with the blog post, and I have also become very sensitive to characterizations like the ones I’ve quoted, due to my experience as a mental patient. It is not the first time I have read language like this in response to criticisms of psychiatric abuse, and it is somewhat triggering for me to read, as it feels invalidating, so I’d like to understand the rationale for its use. I want to believe that this is not a slur. Thanks.

          • I also had a bad reaction from Jonathan’s comment. I see lots of dialogue here, a lot of things that apparently, need to be said. The ‘othering’ happens as soon as we get a psych diagnosis, in my opinion.

          • My apologies if my remarks feel invalidating. They were intended only as a general commentary to Daniel’s post and the ensuing discussion, and not intended as a slur of any kind. They do reflect (I think) some of Bob W. and Sandy’s points.

            What I’m trying to say is that I see a good deal of criticism of views that are seen as having anything to do with the established ‘mental health’ system, but I am concerned that some of the people who are seen as trying to change the system ‘from within’ are sometimes targets for a kind of hostility that I think is unfortunate. I am in NO way trying to discourage people from voicing their opinions, nor advocating against free speech!

            As someone who has ‘been there’ (i.e., experienced ‘the system’ firsthand for many years), I understand that many who are active here have experienced the horrors and injustices of the ‘status quo.’ And I have tremendous and enduring respect for EVERYONE who has been harmed by a system that has failed us in so many ways. Daniel’s films in particular have been real eye-openers about the types of progress we desperately need today.

            I fully recognize, from my own and others’ experiences, that SO many people have been “othered” by a system that is badly broken. I have felt profoundly disempowered and written off in the past.

            As a peer support worker, I am always fighting the patronizing attitudes, profound disempowerment, and tragic effects of long-term learned helplessness, not to mention the damage wrought by chronic medication and an overreliance on the orthodoxy of the medical model.

            I’ve spoken up, loudly, against human rights violations and the oppressive call for forced treatment.

            Yet I also respect the fact that there are people working, to some extent, ‘within’ the ‘system,’ such as Sandra and Jonathan Keyes, for example, who are sincerely open to the fact that change is needed. I do find it unfortunate that both of them have been accused (by some) of being inherently part of a sinister agenda of force and oppression. I myself have been attacked for my opinions and my choice to be a peer support worker in a “traditional” setting as well, called a turncoat, fascist, etc. I don’t wish to offer many specific examples as I don’t want to start wars of words with individuals!

            I just think it is wrong to write off anyone who has any connection with ‘the system’ as inherently corrupt or evil.

            And I have seen an increasing amount of vitriol that paints many ‘in the system’ that way. There is a basic feel of “f–k psychiatry” which, while very understandable through the lens of its victims, doesn’t seem to advance mutual understanding. When I hear people decrying the value of dialogue (i.e., talking with others with basic respect and exchanging ideas), I wonder, how else will lasting change occur? If people don’t talk to each other, they talk at each other, and anger and mistrust mount – which, I think, will turn away the people who are honestly seeking to listen to us. Plus, reading such incendiary language, and being attacked at times, can be triggering as well. I think Bob’s landmark work shouldn’t become overshadowed by name-calling.

            Again, without a doubt, we’ve been seriously “othered” by the system. But I also believe that in any group where there’s a majority of opinion on one side, othering can still happen to those who don’t necessarily agree with what the majority thinks. Although we’re a smallish community, I think we need to be vigilant not to be dismissive of dissent, albeit dissent of a differing kind.

            Thank you for your honest and heartfelt comments!

          • @Jonathan Dosick
            I think most people here are open to discussing things like drugs, various treatments, if “mental illnesses” can be considered to be pathologies or normal experiences and if they’re more social or biological and so on.
            But personally, I and as I can see a lot of people here draw a line on coercion. This is not a medical issue, it’s a human rights issue. It’s not debatable. For me discussing coercion and if it is permissible and when is like discussing if it’s OK to have slaves if you treat them well. It’s not OK, ever. I can’t treat seriously anyone who’s working within the system AND endorses coercion. There are people who work in the system and don’t do that and I’m fine with it but I am not fine with human rights abuses. There are some things you don’t compromise on. If people like Sandy feel that they’re not doing anything wrong then they should be open to criticism from us who are at the receiving end. Saying that “oh, this vilifies me and closes down discussion” is as good as putting fingers in your ears and singing lalala very loud. If she really stands by what she’s doing – well that’s the price you pay for abusing people’s rights and she should face it. It’s a small prices considering what you’re doing.

          • @Jonathan Dosick
            One more think: when it comes to Sandy I did go to her article on MIA titles “Coercion” which has sparked quite a debate if you like and I’ve noticed that she hardly ever responds to comments by people like me, who were seriously traumatised by the presumably “well-meaning, know-better-than-you” psychiatrists. She’s the one who’s avoiding discussion because she simply chooses to ignore everyone who points out to her that what she’s participating in is harmful, degrading and torturous. Which isn’t really surprising because how can you really defend that. So instead of getting all offended/teary about all the harsh words maybe re-thinking of one’s behaviour would be in order because I simply don’t buy the story that “other psychiatrists abuse it but I always do it after careful consideration and when it’s necessary” blah blah blah – sorry, I’ve seen these excuses in real life and I don’t buy them.

          • Well said, B.

            It is not a personal attack to point out that, while a less abusive “mental health” professional is always preferable to a more abusive “mental health” professional, abuse is abuse and it is always wrong – and forced “treatment” IS abuse. Nor is it a personal attack to plainly say that the most well-intentioned individual can be part of an abusive system.

          • Jonathan D,

            Thanks for taking the time to explain. I agree with what I perceive to be the basic spirit of your comment, which is “two wrongs don’t make a right,” the first wrong being the psychiatric abuse that has been witnessed and/or experienced by the author and many of the commenters. However, I’m not sure that any second wrong has been committed here. I rather don’t think so.

            I don’t see anyone being treated disrespectfully. I don’t see anyone being shut out of dialogue. What I see is people rightly expressing their feelings about psychiatry as an institution.

            So perhaps I must respectfully disagree with you on the details, or perhaps we differ somewhat in perspective.

            I’m not sure that you answered my question, re: any examples of “black and white, absolutist” thinking, though I do take your word that it wasn’t a slur. I suppose one of the problems I have with phrases like that is, to me, they scream “axis II,” among other things, and signify that the person or persons at whom they are directed should not be taken seriously.

            Anyway, thanks again for the reply.

  32. “The blunt reality of their harmfulness will actually be difficult for them to see, because two criteria required for entering the fraternity of biological psychiatry are: 1) a limited capacity for empathy, and 2) profound unawareness of this.”

    Sounds like “anasognosia” to me. Can we replace forced neuroleptic injections with forced truth injections for the “doctors” who order or administer them? It’s the humane thing to do- they lack awareness and don’t know what’s good for them.

  33. Sorry to do an end run past a lot of carefully constructed arguments, I don’t know if this is still an active thread, but I heard someone somewhere comment about the hate-filled unreasonable article by Dan Mackler and had to read it for myself. If this is it, I find your ‘hatred” invigorating and empowering.

    As for the thing about “biological” psychiatry being the villain vs. whatever other kind of psychiatry one might have in mind, all we’re talking about is two or more versions of the same lie. Remember that The Myth of Mental Illness was written in 1961, before the term “biological psychiatry” was coined. All versions of psychiatry postulate the existence of mental illness, by definition.

  34. We need to steer away from “purity tests” and not worry so much about what background people have.

    There are plenty of psychiatrists right in this community. There are plenty of individual psychiatrists challenging the institution of Psychiatry. In fact I keep a binder for of journal articles and editorials from psychiatrists challenging and criticizing the institution of Psychiatry and demanding change.

    There are also Psychiatrists who are peers.

    And there are survivors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers and everything in between standing up to challenge the Mental Health System’s anti-science, profit & power driven, bigoted and classist institution every day.

    What if we spent less time creating false divides by demonizing all individual psychiatrists or treating it as though stereotypes and generalizations are appropriate or applicable to individuals. What if we didn’t care what motivates someone who is a critic of the institution of psychiatry to remain a psychiatrist. What if it was none of our business, actually?

    What if…… what if it were SHARED VALUES that united us rather than purity tests? What if it does not actually matter if you are a psychiatrist or a peer or a psychiatrist & peer or something else or nothing else. What if all the matters is whether or not you share some core values?

    What are the core values of the MIA community?

    Because I’ll be honest with you, I’m getting pretty tired of the “us vs. them” back and forth and feel like it dissevers the power this community could actually have. While he can be very cathartic to speak in all or nothing absolutes about utterly complicated and nuanced realities, it is every bit as irrational as anti-science psychiatrists are. And while the community is very well versed in criticizing the dogmas that are pervasive at an institutional level in Psychiatry, I believe we are far too comfortable in making our own dogmatic, blanket statements that are no more responsible or rationally defensible.

    Values. We need to be talking about the values that make us a community? What are the essential values that bind us together? If anyone – no matter what their profession, or background, or disposition, shares those values, then they are one of US. They are not “those people,” the term I so often hear used here that makes me cringe.

    • while the community is very well versed in criticizing the dogmas that are pervasive at an institutional level in Psychiatry, I believe we are far too comfortable in making our own dogmatic, blanket statements that are no more responsible or rationally defensible.

      Not necessarily disputing this but could you give some examples?

  35. Daniel, I just was looking back here to see what my come next for this aspect of moderation and expectation of univocality. Because Robert Whitaker is not getting involved in each discussion, and since he’s like a nuts and bolts guy about getting a panoply of activities in working order, we have the moderation here.

    That means censorship and certain prevalence of preconceptions about what fits in and works to serve given well-intended purposes right. I was not interested in what was nasty or nice but what use you had put your gut reaction to. Was it final product enough to persuade or stimulate the unexpected. I thought its power kind of dried up that way. People of all sorts have to be drawn out and fully led to novel considerations of social standards, because lack of political awareness prevails in daily life here. I haven’t yet, but look forward to seeing how you tried to do that in your film.

  36. Daniel Mackler this is fabulous. It gladdens my heart to read how outspoken and bold you are. You say it how it is and I praise you for it. Bravo!

    I would like to add a bit more, to give you my opinions. From what I see the evil of psychiatry / biological psychiatry is only the half of it. You write “I know that biology is the study of life. What did I miss?” The body/ the biology is purpose driven! This is denied and instead there is the biomedical model, a model designed for profit. And how profitable it is. The medical industry is the biggest industry in the world. It is a multi-trillion dollar industry. The idea of the human being (and animals/plants) are machines enable the whole of medicine to become the industry that it is. But that is not enough for them. They want to dominate the world, as a government above all governments. It is about world rule by a hegemony, which not only includes corrupt doctors and pharmaceutical giants but corrupt people in every walk of life, from corrupt politicians right down to the bottom ranks of society.

    Psychiatry leads the way. Only a handful of them are decent. The rest, from what one reads and hears, see a psychopath every day, every time they look in a mirror! Using psychiatrists as the henchmen does two things. First it puts corrupt doctors in the position of being judge, jury, disciplinarians and/or executioners. And not only psychiatrists. I have seen cases where doctors wanting to give a child with cancer chemotherapy (what they wouldn’t have themselves or for their children) and if the parent refuse they tell the parents if you refuse we can have your child taken from you and we’ll give it the chemo anyway.The fact that the child most likely dies of the treatment is not of concern to them .

    Secondly they brutally blugeoning down anyone who points to something more than that disease is about “the machine malfunctions”. People with so-called “mental illness” are not sick at all. They are people who are being savagely maltreated by others and for three main reasons. One is narcissistic supply and the another is for power and influence and the third is revenge. The means not only uses underhanded threats but also hateful suggestions, mostly made through direct mental perception, which arises strongly only through relationship.This is discarded in the trash as magical thinking. And if the person voices their suspicions that someone wants to do them harm then they are called paranoid.

    In my blogs I have put forth what is done in the simplest case of anxiety that it has nothing to do with chemical imbalances and everything to do with the body trying to function in two opposing ways. Anxiety is not merely fear or anticipation as it is being portrayed. Anxiety is the mix of two metabolically conflicting emotions, mainly fear and worry or anger and worry. Fear /anger raises the metabolism, while worry tries to bring the body to rest, to give the brain an advantage over the musculature for fuel materials, eg glucose. I have explained it here: http://kyrani99book1.wordpress.com/ where I talk about the cheats. I would never have guessed what is done, but in the end my late husband, who was toxic/ psychopathic when he showed his true colors in the end, told me about them. These are what he called “his people” but he betrayed them in the end.

    He also told me that people who are being labelled as personality disorders of particular group, narcissistic, psychopathic etc., or what he called “evil” or toxic, form a sizeable minority of the world population (10% or more) and while they look benign, they are seriously harmful. Furthermore toxic people are networked in small loose networks. There are no leaders. It is a headless beast with people continually fighting each other for power. For the sake of narcissistic supply and/or power and influence or revenge, they play dirty games with other people’s lives. Those are always people with whom they are in relationship, eg., spouses, siblings, friends, work associates etc. A person with long term anxiety or depression (fear and sadness -again conflicting emotions wrt metabolism) can develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes or they can develop a whole variety of heart problems, cancer etc., etc., etc. As you can read in my main blog at http://www.kyrani99.wordpress.com/ and here at http://kyrani99godnscience.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/the-big-c-cancer-explained/ where I discuss cancer . And now we are talking mega big bucks.

    To help protect their profits and to help gain political power over and above governments they use the “art of doubletalk masquerading as healing”. The symbiosis and the parasitism goes a long way further than psychiatry. And they use corrupt politicians and corrupt people in the beaurocracy including corrupt police “with the special power that are supposed to fight terrorism” to try to terrorise and/or destroy anyone and everyone who seriously threaten to expose them, or people who might start thinking for themselves and are in a position to arrive at the truth. Look how many good doctors have addictions (self medicating) or serious medical problems! Is it a coincidence?

    The problem is that the person or personal self is made up of both ideas/ beliefs and the corresponding bodily reactivity, much of which is emotional or ways of coping. The problem is not fixed with drugs and /or surgery. And it not simply seen by looking at the brain but the whole body as well. It can only be treated with the truth. Once a person understands what they are up against, it is a whole different ball game. A therapist can be of immense help but only when they are willing to support the person in understanding and overcoming the reality. And when a person realizes that they do have power over oppressors they can win hands down because it is all about their reaction to ideas, so they are in the driver’s seat. They only need to realize it.
    kyrani eade

  37. I had a chance to read Judi Chamberlin’s Confessions of a Non-Compliant Patient. http://www.narpa.org/Judi/confessions.htm It was a personal acccount of how she had to make a choice upon which her survival and chances of getting out of the system depended. While in the state institution, she made a survival based decision to consciously split herself into two modes of being. One more external and social interacting person lied and faked through the compliance which the system demanded and based their assessment of her mental health status. The other mode of being was authentic and in alignment with her moral beliefs and what she knew to be true. Judi Chamberlin’s life is a testimony to making the journey from survival-lying to her work in civil rights and choice to take on social responsibility.

    Not everyone gets to talk directly to someone who can listen and validate the trauma of “treatment,” or be supported to take out whatever survival splits have had to put in place to survive an ordeal, make sure we don’t leave ourselves continually emotional and psychic energy fractured. As we can see from current proposed legislation, the mh industry and the mainstream’s story is that which lacks integrity and is nonhealing and oppressive is all being done for our own good and we have a hell of nerve to want to keep “our rights on.” Supported personal clearing in this type of social and political climate can be hard to come by.

    Posts like Ode to Biological Psychiatry, which cut through the the crap, may be the next best thing to being heard and validated by another human being and healing from survival-lying and splitting off –Here are the lies, look at them, calling them lies is not a symptom of your DSM label. It’s safe enough now to talk openly and drop the dissimulation and the crap. Yes, people get sick of lies and might be true to say that people get sick from lies and lying, but in extreme survival situations, we do extreme things to survive. No one likes to have that kind of ordeal trivialized and be forced to keep silent about it indefinitely. People have a right and to choose healing from mh “treatment” inflicted and other trauma and move on to better things.

    When the tools for change are good, they can be very good.

  38. Daniel, Hi. So, anyway, I keep rereading this since opening my big mouth and saying the big word “moral”. Well, with stress levels coming down I can express myself much better and still have the same gut reaction as the first time, and want to clarify my unintentionally cryptic “messages” from before. Hope you will have time to see the point, as it is meant not only for doing myself the favor….

    To cut to the chase, my original reaction was not more or less than “Some people may not find this as humorous as he thinks…” and that judgment was not isolated from the awareness that you were only trying to be just so funny anyway, and were taking the deathly problems psychiatry faces us with as real and ongoing, and usually unexplicated, nightmares. I mentioned the word “moral” as it might matter to you on account of your education both in psychiatry and psychology as that is also a very real criteria of how diagnoses and interventions are motivated, and also in terms of what seems obvious about normative judgment all around: whether it regards values, aeshtetics, or social norms, that if you want to make an honest judgment call about anything, a second consideration of your first conclusions is what is required.

    You didn’t lose me in this particular delineation of problems that psychiatry introduces, above and beyond any of their patients’ presenting problems in living. I can’t see in your remarks what isn’t true of practices with which my acquaintance is first or secondhand. But as far as your essay represents the voice of frustration–created in tandem by the spirit of your advocacy and the tenacity of the established mindset in favor of no critique for psychiatrists to heed at all– I still believe that what you put on offer is the raw material and that many works to come will articulate the motives behind it and the meanings that endow it.

    In saying thise, my vocabulary and grammar come out so schoolboy rotten, I’m pretty sure, because my first reactions just were intuitions and not dramatically edgy or emotionally filled out narrative thinking throughs. There is probably enough here about your whole perspective to keep me re-visiting to make sure that I have accounted for all the many things I saw done wrong in handling cases, since psychiatry done well is something very rare in my personal experience with it.

  39. Interesting. Mackler has written the truth. He has spoken plainly so as not be mistaken. The tension between truth telling and persuasion is resolved by using both, as Whitaker mentioned, in the style of Martin Luther King Jr. (generating more light than heat.) The truth is persuasive, but it needs to be written and spoken without apology. When it is sugar coated, even for other audiences, it dilutes the message and is less persuasive.