The Proliferation and Elimination of Mental Illness: Clinging to the Slopes of Everest


A month ago, I published a critique of specific terminology of DSM-5.  Like countless others, I have serious concerns about the overpathologizing of normal behaviors that appears to be occurring over the past few decades.  The potential consequences of this trend have been widely articulated in many circles, and have raised a serious question, “What is normal?”

But while this has been occurring in both psychiatric and lay arenas, another movement has been gaining significant support.  It is the idea that mental illness (or disease) is a fabrication, and as Sera Davidow quoted E. Fuller Torrey, in her recent moving article, “Mental illness does not exist, and neither does mental health.”

There is a sense that psychological experiences exist as part of a natural progression from internal or external circumstances, and in themselves, are not disordered or abnormal.  While DSM-5 has been rightly accused of overpathologizing, some may characterize this movement as underpathologizing.  Ironically, both movements are left with the same fundamental question, i.e.; “Then, what is normal?”

In the practice of physical medicine, this is not necessarily a common question.  No one questions whether a person with a punctured lung, broken leg, diabetes, lung cancer, or influenza is normal.  Why?  Because these conditions (or illnesses) cause discomfort and/or significant impairment of normal functioning.  Some are self-inflicted, some are environmentally caused, but many result from a combination of both.  If not addressed (personally or professionally), they can get worse.

If we use this analogy, many “mental illnesses” are not much different.  They cause discomfort and/or significant impairment of normal functioning.  If not addressed (personally and professionally), they can get worse.  If I have debilitating anxiety (whether or not from a traumatic experience), and it results in insomnia, headaches, weight loss, chronically being on edge, and irritability that does not resolve within a reasonable time frame, then it seems safe to say that this is a not a normal state of being.  Whether or not we choose to label it as mental illness may be up for debate.  But just like physical conditions, it is clear that most true mental conditions (illnesses) follow a natural law — in mind, body, and relationships.  When this natural law is disrupted to a significant degree, it threatens to take the normal variability of the human experience into an abnormal, unhealthy realm.

Many argue that the perceived medical model of detached, clinical identification of a diagnosis and subsequent treatment can do a disservice in addressing psychological difficulties.  In many ways, I agree.  Our psychological difficulties, whether of normal variability or of significant degree, are a complex interface of our social, psychological, biological, and spiritual dimensions.  One of the worst things that happens when the medical model is applied is that it diminishes or invalidates the truly experiential, interactive way in which we all experience our own humanity.  But this oversight, or misuse, should not overshadow the fact that we are one human being with many dimensions, who can experience a headache whether from paint fumes or screaming children or a failing marriage.  It isn’t a matter of treating emotional experiences as if they are the same as physical experiences, but it is a matter of recognizing that they rise in the same person from different triggers, and may signify that something is seriously wrong, mentally or physically, in a manner that is not desired by the person.

I have six kids.  Recently, a neighbor’s dog followed them onto our side porch.  For a few days, they were reluctant to go outside, or, at best, hung out in the dogwood tree that hugs our front stoop.  The first question we asked was “What happened to you?”  We processed the experience, validated their anxiety, and discussed ways in which we could both talk to the neighbor about making sure the dog didn’t get loose, and also what they could do if it happened again.

A few days went by after talking to the neighbor, and discussing further, and they still were reluctant to go outside.  We again processed their fears, which at this point I would not have labeled as a “mental illness,” but which were starting to cause problems with typical functioning.  Finally, after another discussion with the neighbor, and further conversations about how we have to “challenge our fears” so they don’t guide us in directions that are not desired or healthy, our kids returned to their normal play routine.

But, regrettably, millions of people live in a chronic, phobic state of another canine-like encounter, confined to their homes and limited routines, in a way that is anything but healthy or normal, especially by their own report.  My wife and I don’t want my kids to find themselves there.

For us, this was just one of thousands of experiences we have had and will have with our children, which requires us to define the parameters of human functioning on a normal and abnormal scale.  If we do not, I am not sure how they will come to know when they need to take steps to address an imbalance, of whatever kind, especially since their frontal lobes will not be fully developed until they leave our household.  If we allow them to believe that anxiety-induced insomnia or depression-induced irritability or inattention is normal, it sets them up for a really difficult life.  Ultimately, failure on our part to clearly label “healthy” versus “unhealthy” leaves them in an increasingly confusing position about how to live the rest of their life.

Let me be clear.  Both as a parent and pediatric psychologist, I take the categorization of “mental illness” very seriously.  I avoid it unless it is clearly warranted, and if in doubt, I prefer to “rule out” rather than “rule in”.  I speak to parents, patients, and my own kids in terms of “strengths and weakness”, “challenges and obstacles”, and “developmental variability” much more fervently than I do about “disorders” and “conditions.”

But I worry that just like the overpathologizing of typical variation can create huge setbacks, I feel that the normalizing of unhealthy behaviors could have serious consequences on a personal and societal scale.  It risks leaving us with no base, no framework, no reality from which to judge whether we are living a psychologically healthy life, which must occur so that we can teach our kids critical, basic skills of self-awareness and self-evaluation that lead to the steps needed to address whatever psychological issue may be occurring (illness or not).

Normalizing unhealthy behavior leaves our society with the difficult task of knowing just who needs help, and how this will happen.  Again, for my kids, and I think I speak for the population as a whole, we just want them to be able to pursue their calling — mindfully, heart-fully, soulfully aware of when they go astray.

As I have tried to understand the push to eradicate “mental illness,” I wonder if this movement is about the labeling of “mental illness” at all.  What many people seem to desire is that the unhealthy response to a label of “mental illness,” whether of an internal or external manifestation, be eliminated.  Not the actual understanding that “I” am struggling with a serious issue, however it is defined.  If I am correct – and many may argue that I am not – I worry that the proverbial baby is being thrown out with the bathwater.

In regards to internal reactions, we desire to remove shame or guilt that immobilizes a healthy response to any unhealthy situation, although at times shame and guilt are necessary for change to occur.  We despise stigma that drives people to not seek help or solace, and discrimination or unempathetic responding that is directed towards those with a mental condition.  We are infuriated when diagnoses result in treatments (often forced and undesired) that leave people in a worse state than when they started.  We are saddened when people are defined by their illnesses (e.g., “He is schizophrenic”) instead of as someone who suffers with a psychological condition.  But I really don’t think that any of us want to live in a state of disarray not knowing that there could be another way.

Honestly, it is an interesting time in the world of mental/psychological ________.  Studies are increasingly showing that psychological distress and dysfunction are on the rise over the past few generations, which can’t simply be accounted for by increased diagnoses and openness in discussing these issues. (e.g., in 2010, Twenge and colleagues published the following study in Clinical Psychology Review (30, 145-154) Birth cohort increases in psychopathology among young Americans, 1938-2007:  A cross-temporal meta-analysis of the MMPI).  Although a good case can be made that part of the cause is iatrogenic in nature, it is becoming increasingly clear that many other factors, both within our general society and those intrinsic to us, are at play.  Recently, many in the medical field have labeled “overweight” as the new normal, as upwards of ¾ of our men and elderly are overweight or obese in this country.  I worry that “debilitating anxiety” (in our highly charged society), of whatever name, may be quickly becoming the new normal just as “normal anxiety” is becoming the new abnormal.

If this is the case, it doesn’t matter what we call it.  Either way, generations to come are going to suffer the consequences as we traverse the slippery slopes of life.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. It certainly does matter what we call it. If unhealthy behaviors and/or inconvenient experiences continue be erroneously understood as the result of disordered minds or deficient brains – discrimination against people with said labels will continue to be rational.

    It is absolutely possible to address unhealthy behavior without attributing it to erroneous causality. Whether or not behavior is healthy ought to be determined and addressed contextually via relationships.

    I disagree with the way you’ve employed the word normal. I think your usage of the word normal implies that disputing the validity of mental illness – which the psych-industry repeatedly tells us is not a verified entity – invariably entails connoting health or functionality to intense or crazy experiences or behaviors. Disputing the validity of mental illness does not in and of itself connote functionality to crazy experiences or problematic behavior.

    Nor does acknowledging intense experiences or unhealthy behavior, in and of itself, connote discrete illness, disease, or disorder to an individual.

    What is normal to the human condition – based on my studies of civilization and the history of the human race – is a bit of craziness, struggle, strife, and triumph.

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    • Hi Greg,

      Appreciate your comments and those of others below on this important topic. There were a couple of very critical things that you said that speak to the heart of this post, and where it appears that our beliefs diverge. In one, You noted:

      It is absolutely possible to address unhealthy behavior without attributing it to erroneous causality. Whether or not behavior is healthy ought to be determined and addressed contextually via relationships.

      First of all, my article had little to do with “erroneous causality”. It simply stated that causality is of multiple, and interactive origins, of an external and internal nature. But more more importantly, specifically in regards to that last line, i don’t believe that determining normality in the context of relationship works, and there are thousands of examples (now and historically) that illustrate this. I will use just one. I regularly have adolescents that come into my office, who are engaging in cutting and other high risk behaviors, just like close peers of theirs are. But, and this is the key, in the context of their relationships, they perceive this behavior as normal and healthy, until potentially further discussions ensue. But, unfortunately, it is anything but, and could ultimately lead to serious consequences, including death. If this same mindset continued, and translated into a population-wide belief (e.g., we all began to believe that cutting and other high risk behaviors were normal because our friends did it), dire consequences would follow. And we as parents and society, with our primary goals to provide the best opportunities for safety, health, and happiness, would fail.

      As far as the human experience being crazy, goofy, tough, etc.. at times, no doubt you are right. You could even say people like Dali, Phil Mickelson, Peyton Manning, and CS Lewis were abnormal, because the skills that they had were way different from the average population. Does that give them a mental illness? Well, no, of course. But as I said in the article, if behaviors cause significant discomfort/pain/distress and/or are significantly impairing (and don’t resolve in a reasonable time frame) to the core areas of functioning that we all experience, then it becomes a condition/illness, or whatever preferred term is used.

      Stigma and all the other negative outcomes from labeling, as again I clearly stated in my article, are again huge issues that we need to address. But avoiding clearing defining something (based on symptoms, intensity, impairment, and distress) as what it is, whatever term is used, is I feel the worst thing we can do. In just saying that it is part of the human condition, and that nothing is wrong, my worry is that personally, and as a civilization, we will find ourselves sliding into an existence that is so relative that we don’t even know where to begin, especially when it comes to teaching our kids from the youngest age about what matters and trying to understand why we are all struggling so much

      Again, i appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

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      • James,
        I appreciate your conscientious response.

        You clarified your intent quite well but my philosophical objection to the post in question has not changed because of your response.

        I believe that you are using the word normal in a way that implies that we cannot identify and address debilitating problems in living without labelling human experiences normal and abnormal.

        I think this is an incorrect and harmful framework through which to approach building collaborative relationships with individuals who are cutting themselves – or any individuals for that matter.

        If cutting is normal within one’s peer group, the commonality of the behavior doesn’t negate that it may be harmful, dangerous, unhealthy, et cetera.

        Normal experience/behavior does not equal homogeneity of experience/behavior – I will refrain from spouting historical allusions which demonstrate tragic ramifications of doctrines, texts, or frameworks which pit the concept of diversity as at odds with normalcy.

        Agree or disagree – my main point is that within the diverse human experience of existence all sorts of vulnerability, unhealthy and destructive behavior, and inconvenient and intense experiences – are normal.

        What follows from this belief of mine is that discussing our lives with words such as hard, crippling, unhealthy, painful, destructive, inconvenient, intense, scary, crazy, et cetera – does not and should not connote abnormality.

        Conversely, celebrating our travails as well within the range of normal human diversity – in no way white washes the gravity of transient and torturous suffering.
        i.e. Acknowledging experience as destructive or debilitating does not satisfy my definition of abnormal and calling an experience normal does not prevent acknowledgment of its destructive or incapacitating nature.

        Furthermore, I believe it matters that we call these experiences the mouth fulls that they are – not mental illness or aberrations or any kind of discrete condition within individuals. I think this matters because processing life through the lens of – the individual is abnormal – diverts attention from the opportunity to treat the society or context in which people struggle.
        In processing life through the labelling of the individual instead of processing the mouthful of their experience, we also diminish opportunities for individuals to take ownership of their lives and change what they can – if they choose to change.
        If you tell someone that they are abnormal and we are going to treat your abnormality – the emphasis shifts away from them engaging and addressing their daily lives – toward addressing nebulous and erroneous causality which is misleadingly presented as an understood DSM or psychological entity.

        Thank you for writing and for giving thought to my ideas. I considered your thoughts and still adamantly disagree but am open to and look forward to contemplating your future writings.


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        • Thanks, Greg. I really appreciate your thoughtful and passionate approach to this subject, and I, too, look forward to contemplating these and future writings.

          All of this makes me think of one thing. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get beyond the semantics of language in trying to understand the reality that exists within each person and the entire human experience?

          From a spiritual sense, I believe that this what Thomas Merton was trying to say in the following quote, and why one of the biggest risks to our humanity (future article) is the gradual loss of silence and solitude. He says:

          “Words stand between silence and silence: between the silence of things and the silence of our own being. Between the silence of the world and the silence of God. When we have really met and known the world in silence, words do not separate us from the world nor from other men, nor from God, nor from ourselves because we no longer trust entirely in language to contain reality.”

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    • OK, let’s take the overpathologizing of normal emotional responses out of the equation for a second and let’s just compare two cases:
      Someone suffers from a chronic respiratory illness. He goes to the doctor and after careful interview and examination the doctors comes to conclusion that the condition was most likely caused by the environmental pollution as the patient lives and work in a contaminated area. However, he also had a history of the respiratory problems in the family but all of his family has worked in a similar environment of was smoking heavily.

      Someone suffers from “schizophrenia”. This person has a history of trauma and sexual abuse in childhood/adolescence but also a mother who had similar problems. However, her mother also has lived through a trauma in her life, possibly from a very early age.

      I don’t think that anyone disagrees that the first guy has an illness to which he may have had a predisposition or not (as the fact that his family members also had it is no proof for any genetic component more than for common environmental problem). But regardless of how you call it – the real question is: WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT IT?
      Pollution is not something that anyone can help on their own unless they are lucky enough to have money and flexibility to move to a clean area. It’s a societal problem and it needs complex societal and political solutions. The doctor can tell the patient to avoid the polluted area (not always feasible as mentioned above) to avoid further damage and allow natural healing but what if most damage was already done? In the short term he can send the patient to a sanatorium for health holidays (if he can afford it), wear a protective mask (not always feasible and not completely helpful) and of course take some action to relive this person’s suffering by medical procedures and/or medication. In our selfish, self-destructive, individualistic capitalistic society of course the last solutions are preferred.

      The same is true for “schizophrenia” (or other mental disorders). The most sensible approach would be to identify the causes of distress, eliminate them from the environment, then provide the patient with time off in a healing environment with professional support, talk therapy and teaching how to protect yourself from the negative influence of environment and how to control the symptoms. Pills should come as the last step (if they are ever helpful which scientifically seems an open question) but instead they almost always come first and usually with blaming the patient’s genetic makeup or his/her brain chemistry with close to zero actual evidence.

      Honestly, I don’t care if schizophrenia or depression are illnesses (forget for a moment about all the issues with even defining these terms – comparison to most physical ailments fails already at this step). What I care about is what is being done about them, what kind of help can people get and if this help is really worth the name.

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      • “What I care about is what is being done about them, what kind of help can people get and if this help is really worth the name.”

        Wonderful. Wonderful. And that is what I care about. The focus on what we call it all negates the reality that an existence in either case is not healthy, pleasant or desired, and not something that we want to experience. It would be a great world if schizophrenia could be treated effectively as you said. Hopefully that is where we see things headed at some point. Interestingly, though, much of physical medicine is struggling with similar issues. No matter how many drugs a person takes for Type II diabetes, it struggles to negate poor habits and other environmental influences from having a negative impact.

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        • There is more to this comparison. For instance nobody is forcing people with obesity to change their lifestyle and nobody is forcing them to take their drugs. We all recognise that the help can only be taken willingly. That’s not true when someone is considered “mentally ill” – then they’re simply to sick to know. Well, I know some obese people and I can assure you that I could “diagnose them” with lack of insight but it’s not really my business to force them to face their problems or do something about it. Nor do I pretend that I know better than they do and that it’s easy and blah, blah, blah. And it may also not be their fault or at least not entirely that they found themselves in this position. If they don’t want to or don’t feel like they can do anything about losing weight it’s their choice even if it pains me to see that they have a lot of serious problems stemming from obesity and suffer quite a bit. I can only advice them and try to support them the best I know and can.

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  2. Damn, is this kind of thing aggravating and frustrating to read. This author clearly hasn’t the slightest understanding of why the existence of something called “mental illness” is an impossible absurdity (then compounds this by vaguely challenging the motivations of others who simply point out the obvious). I don’t know what the qualifications are for being an MIA blogger, but I think a prerequisiste (at least for anyone who expects credibilty by virtue of the letters posted after his or her name) should be to have read “The Myth of Mental Illness.” Do we really have to go back to square one and walk people who should know better through this again & again? Maybe so, but again it’s frustrating.

    To the author: If you even casually read through the article and comments posted on this site you will find many accounts by those who have been harmed as a result of their pain being labeled a “disease.”

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    • Oldhead and James,

      Oldhead, put yourself in James’ shoes. He’s a well meaning guy, and spent God knows how much money getting his PhD. And now he is trying to come to grips with the reality his entire education was based upon scientifically “lacking in validity” BS (and overcoming betrayal of a mainstream and societally accepted system you believed in is staggeringly difficult).

      And add to that, the medical evidence has come in essentially proving the ADHD drugs and antidepressants CAUSE the “bipolar” symptoms, and the “antipsychotics” CAUSE the “schizophrenia” symptoms and long run outcomes. Meaning that James has unwittingly spent his professional career “creating” fictitious “mental illnesses” in children, and harmed innocent little children – how deplorable it must be to try to mentally comprehend that. But all because he trusted in the mainstream system and “evidence based medicine.”

      It is extraordinarily difficult to mentally come to grips with the staggeringly enormous betrayal of a system many of us previously believed in and invested in. Trust me, I know, I’m still trying to comprehend the “almost unfathomable in scope” betrayal. Shame on the psycho / pharmaceutical industries.

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      • Realizing that he got is PhD in a quackery doesn’t give him any right to offend the vast majority of MIA readers who are themselves victims of people like him who believe in “behavioral normality as understood by his fellow PhDs in quackery”. And we are victims because many of us were “forced into the quackery” against our will, not because we chose to believe in the DSM garbage. I have nothing against people willingly believing in the DSM quackery; my beef is with the coercive aspect of both “official psychology” and “official psychiatry”.

        A better analogy is a professional astrologer realizing that he has been duped by his fellow astrologers insisting in seeing some truth in the notion that the position of Saturn affects people’s personalities. That’s what Jim Schroeder is doing here with the notion of “mental illness”.

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        • Trust me, cannotsay, I was misdiagnosed and saw the underbelly of the Chicagoland medical industry so my ex-pastor could cover up the abuse of my children and my ex-doctor could proactively prevent an easily ‘recognized medical error’ malpractice suit. So, I too, was victimized. However the point of MIA, from my understanding, is to foster discussion between the “quacks” and those they’ve unjustly harmed due to their greed, arrogance, ignorance, and / or complete lack of ethics.

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          • James,
            Do you think you’re fellow psychologists will ever be able to change their ways and work to put the child molesters behind bars, rather than defaming the concerned mommies or sexually abused children, with “lacking in validity” disorders, then “torturing” them with drugs?

            My ex-pastor’s high school had six stigmatized children commit violent suicides during the years my child was in high school, and I have written medical evidence of the sexual abuse of my child and that my ex-pastor’s MO for covering up child abuse was to ship people off to a psychologist to be misdiagnosed and majorly tranquilized.

            And my subsequent pastors confessed to me I’d dealt with the “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.” I’d like to see an end to the psychologists and psychiatrists covering up sexual abuse of little children with psychiatric stigmatization, and I’m quite certain this is a much larger societal problem than is being confessed, since I understand 65% of all schizophrenia patients report child sexual abuse.

            But I know with 100% certainty that the child molesters are still walking the streets, thanks to the psychiatric industry. Will your industry ever work to bring about justice, and a safer society, rather than unjustly keeping child molesters on the streets because they’re bringing in a lot of distressed children, which no doubt is profitable for psychiatrist practitioners? Please?

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          • Someone Else:
            “I’d like to see an end to the psychologists and psychiatrists covering up sexual abuse of little children with psychiatric stigmatization”
            Well, I know about a story like that: a girl in her teens trying to commit suicide. She got locked up, drugged, went through many “therapies” while her dear grandpa (who’s abused her and many other women in the family) remains a respectable member of society, praised for his functions in the local government etc.

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      • Sort of the same sort of outraged sense of betrayal I experienced towards Americal when I learned the truth about Vietnam. I appreciate your irony & am not trying to be cruel, but I can’t help wondering, if James has so much to learn about such basic stuff shouldn’t he be studying rather than professing? I had to regroup when I learned about America in general, but by now I understand capitalism, imperialism, their effect on our collective and individual psyche and feel qualified to shoot my mouth. (I was fortunate to have had an anti-psychiatry attitude & somethiing of a poitical consciousness I was locked up, probably one of the main reasons I can call myself a survivor, if that’s indeed what I am. Sometimes I wonder.)

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    • Oldhead

      Spot on. It is frustrating…..


      With regard to self harm…. their are only two kinds, socially acceptable and socially unacceptable….. what is acceptable is culturally defined.

      Most people who cut themselves do so very safely and for them the best thing you can give them is clean razor blades. This accepting approach usually has the effect of people not cutting so much…. even if thats not the point or the most important thing….

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    • Agreed. Instead you get: take this pill, it’s going to make you better. And if you refuse: take this pill or I’ll make you take it.
      I think discussing if mental disorders are illnesses is in many cases a futile endevour. One should first decide on a definition of an illness because everyone has a different one. I think what this article points out very well is that there are people who are in a state of mind which requires help (if it’s normal or not considering their life circumstances is again a futile discussion in many cases) and the most important thing is to help them. It doesn’t do anyone any good to deny that. However, one should examine what should constitute this help and I think everyone will agree here that pharmacology and other bogus “therapies” are not the answer since they don’t address the root of a problem.

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  3. You got this right,

    “In the practice of physical medicine, this is not necessarily a common question. No one questions whether a person with a punctured lung, broken leg, diabetes, lung cancer, or influenza is normal. ”

    But you got everything else wrong. I have explained the following numerous times, here it comes again. “Mental illness” is based on a wrong model.

    Let me offer you another analogy from the world of computers and that I have used at several places to attack psychiatry: hardware and software.

    I don’t know what operating system you use for your personal computer, but it is likely to be Windows or MacOS. In either case, one thing is the “software”, ie, the “instructions” that tell the computer what to do, which, with current computers, are executed at the rate of several billions per second, quite another the computer that runs those instructions. By “instructions” I do not mean just the instructions of the CPU but the general concept of a set of deterministic rules that tell the computer what to do in every interaction with users but also with peripherals (your printer, scanner, camera, etc). These “instructions” are a pure abstract concept that are usually expressed in some kind of computing language, but they remain an “idea”. But the instructions themselves and their expression in a given language are different things, just as the idea “I love chocolate” can be expressed in many different languages.

    If I give you a computer and it were possible for you to monitor the billions of switches that run “software” you are not going to “see” any of those abstractions. You will see a computer running the abstractions.

    Now, going back to your post. In computer science, and science in general, the distinction hardware vs software is perfectly understood. Nobody would call a software engineer to fix your broken hard disk, just as nobody would call a hardware engineer to fix a genuine software problem such as . Surely, adding memory to the computer can provide temporary relief, but the right way to fix it is to reprogram the computer.

    In this analogy, psychiatrists are hardware engineers trying to fix software problems. And “mental illness” is to think of “software problems” as if they were problems with the transistors that make up the computer memory instead of the software that needs that memory to be executed.

    When I say this, I am usually told that the analogy is too simplistic, which I concede but, the ways the analogy breaks make the case against psychiatry stronger, not weaker:

    – Computers do not have “free will”, we do. Whether this “free will” is real or an illusion is irrelevant. “Free will” is embedded in our laws and is a basic prerequisite for the establishment of civil society. So, while in theory it is perfectly possible to predict what a given computer will do in every case (the same inputs, no matter how large those inputs are, always result in the same result), in humans, the same inputs not only result in different results for different humans but also the same human at different times. This aspect of human nature is what makes endeavors like economics so unable to make good predictions.

    – In computers what a good “hardware” is can be perfectly defined. It’s equivalent in humans, “a good brain” can also be defined to a certain degree using only biological parameters. To a certain degree, what “good software” is can also be defined with metrics such as “how fast does the operating system boots” or “how many scientific computations does this computer do per second”. I say to a certain degree because there is no possible way to say whether the user interface of Windows is “better looking” than that of MacOS; it’s a matter of taste. In humans, because of our subjectivity, there is no real definition of “good software” (ie, “good mind”) or “normal software” (ie “normal mind”). The right way to deal with “abnormal minds” is the criminal justice system. And even then, at least in constitutional democracies that protect individual rights, there are issues the criminal system cannot criminalize, such as political speech. Again, psychiatry sells the lie that there is such a thing as a “normal mind” that can be “fixed” through biological interventions.

    So those who believe in “mental illness” really believe in “institutional bigotry by MD degree holders”. The DSM is the expression of the current bigotry of the membership of the APA. Until 1974, a majority of WASP doctors thought that homosexuality was a “mental illness”. Now the APA endorses gay marriage. Until 2013, when the DSM-IV was succeed by DSM-5, having undesirable homosexual attractions and thoughts was still a “mental illness”, now said thoughts are reflection of the homosexuality of the person that has them and the “therapy” is to make that person accept his/her sexual orientation.

    There are countless other examples with what constitutes “delusions”, “eating too much”, “eating too little”, being “too sad for too long” after the death of a loved one, etc.

    The DSM is an entertaining reading in the sense that it is an explicit statement of the twisted minds of the APA membership.

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    • I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle and for that it is important to see that the brain/mind dychotomy (or hardware/software) is not totally a dychotomy.
      All behaviours are generated by the brain however our current knowledge is nowhere near to be able to precisely manipulate them (and even if it were – that’s like the scariest thing to imagine and I don’t want to see that happen). Therefore we have to accept that certain problems with our emotions, behaviours etc. can be described as problems of the mind (like “depression”) while others can be diseases of the brain (like Alzheimer’s). More than that – one can influence the other: aneamia can lead to depressed mood, stress can lead to physical illness.
      I thing the whole debate about “is there such a thing as mental illness” cannot be done without defining first what an illness is. Secondly, depending on how you define it some or all “disorders” can be normalised while others can be understood as pathological depending on where you set the bar and on what “symptoms”. Thirdly, one has to think if the disorder is not in fact something that affect individual or maybe something that the society finds annoying or unacceptable (like homosexuality or “pathological personalities) in which case they’re not illnesses but normal human variation which should be either accepted or in cases of criminality solved with legal system. It’s all totally arbitrary and complex and I don’t think there’s a simple answer.
      That’s why I think it’s not very productive to discuss if psychiatric disorders should be called illnesses or problems of emotional well-being or what not. That is not to say that the DSM disorders have any value at all scientifically or clinically – it’s the symptoms that do. People are depressed or psychotic or anxious – that’s real. And the real question is what do we do for people who really have these symptoms and wish they could do something to be helped.

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        • Well I put “symptoms” in quotes because I don’t really know. I mean most of them as totally normal reactions or behaviours (like being sad or feelings hopeless) which you can call a symptom only if you set some arbitrary line defining: this much sad for that long. Which sounds like bullshit to me but that is what psychiatry does – tries to make some arbitrary lines after which grief is depression. And it’s not even defining these lines but rather leaving the interpretation to individual doctors. What kind of a mess that ends with we all can see.
          Then there are also things that most people never experience (? – that’s also to be questioned) like psychosis or maybe mania which you could call symptoms. If they are symptoms of an illness that’s another story, since illnesses have to affect people negatively. I have never been in a situation where I see or hear things that aren’t there and I can’t speak for others who had these experiences but at least some people are totally disabled by them.
          Honestly, I think this whole subject is more complicated than simple “mental illness” doesn’t exist or does exist. It all comes back to defining normal and the problem is that there isn’t any definition of normal psychology. There are definitions of normal heart or kidney function but there is nothing as normal grief or normal reaction to trauma. So in that sense mental illness doesn’t exist. The “symptoms” do though and they need to be addressed and that should be the problem and not how much extreme reaction to something is mental illness or not.

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          • Of course the subject is more complicated than the semantics; in a more rational culture your lack of concern for such would be a rational attitude. The problem is that the word “symptom” is a word they can manipulate to connote a medical problem rather than a cultural problem, then further abuse the medical posture by immobilizing you with chemicals euphemized as medicine.

            Mental illness is not non-existent not because of how it is “interpreted” but because the English language does not allow for concepts such as sick minds OR purple ideas (thank you very much Mr. Torrey for pointing that out prior to losing your integrity). You can not apply a physical quality (“sick”) to an abstraction (“mind”).

            What to do about the states of existence to which such terms are applied is an entirely different subject.

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          • The term mental disorder works better than mental illness for the reasons both you and Oldhead describe. A disorder (can but) need not indicate any sort of underlying pathology. So although minds can’t be ill, they certainly can be disordered.

            But the problem, as always, is figuring out how to help those suffering. Some of us are spending too much time engaging in rather fruitless linguistic debates.

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    • I’ve seen you (I presume) use this analogy before — it’s excellent, looks like you’re expanding it here. The old-school way Szasz described it in The Myth of Mental Illness is that going to a doctor for a “sick” mind is like calling a TV repairman because you don’t like the show you’re watching.

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      • I refine/expand it as I see fit :).

        At some point I guess I will write a book about it. Although it will not as ground breaking as Szasz’s “The Myth of Mental Illness” it will update the issue with the software/hardware analogy because today we have the technology that Szasz didn’t have 50 years ago to make the case against psychiatry really strong with particular examples. Computer theory will deal psychiatry the “kiss of death” that will throw it to the “ash heap” of history.

        Gee, I am sure that 100 years from now people will look back at psychiatrists with the same contempt people today look at those who believed in scientific racism in the first half of the XX-th century.

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    • I appreciate your perspective and all the time spent explaining it. It is helpful to hear you flesh it out. But I really would like to get away from the DSM on this discussion because it obviously arouses a lot of questions and negative reactions, many for good reasons. I really go back to the sense that there is a natural law that has existed for millennium, even as institutions and professional societies have changed dramatically. It is based on time-honored universal ethical principles and an equilibrium that our bodies and minds really do seek to sustain. When it is disrupted and the person becomes unhealthy (again, of whatever name), it is just important that the individual is able to recognize it and gets help.

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      • James,

        Your response is utterly unsatisfying. What you call “a natural law that has existed for millennium, even as institutions and professional societies have changed dramatically” and “It is based on time-honored universal ethical principles and an equilibrium that our bodies and minds really do seek to sustain.” is what theologians call “the moral law”.

        Now, I have no problem if what you are trying to say is that psychiatry and psychology should be treated as religions (or belief systems if you will since unlike religions psychiatry/psychology appeal to “voting by MD degree holders” not deity to dictate their idea of what “behavioral orthodoxy” should be).

        If we agree on that, then I also hope that you agree with me that all public expenditures in so called “mental health” understood as resources destined by government to help people align themselves with that “behavioral orthodoxy” that is dictated by voting of MD degree holders is indeed a violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment of the US constitution. And so is by the way so called “forensic psychiatry/psychology” . The first amendment prevents theological testimony to be presented as material evidence to a case, but for some reason we allow psychiatric/psychological quacks have that undue influence in our system of justice, with dramatic consequences in particular areas like criminal, probate and family law.

        The only source of social control that I consider legitimate is the criminal justice system. Not because I consider it to be perfect but because it is understood that what the criminal justice system does is precisely social control. As such, there are many safeguards in place to prevent abuses like the election of lawmakers, governors and judges. Even then, American laws criminalized “being black” until 1964 and “engaging in homosexual acts” until 2003.

        The notion that a system created by self appointed, unelected and unaccountable “mind guardians” -aka psychiatry/psychology- is not going to produce abuses is preposterous. In fact, the very existence of Mad In America and the psychiatric survivors movement is a testament to the abuses that such system has produced.

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        • Let me give you another example of the “natural law”, or if you would like to call it the “moral law”. This one comes from the world of education, in working with children who come from some of the most deplorabel, traumatic situations we can imagine.

          KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public charter schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life.

          There are currently 141 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia serving 50,000 students.

          More than 86 percent of their students are from low-income families and eligible for the federal free or reduced-price meals program, and 95 percent are African American or Latino.

          Nationally, more than 90 percent of KIPP middle school students have graduated high school, and more than 80 percent of KIPP alumni have gone on to college.

          KIPP’s motto is Work Hard. Be Nice.

          The program is largely founded on character building, which focuses on 7 very predictive, highly researched traits:
           Zest
           Grit
           Self-Control
           Optimism
           Gratitude
           Social Intelligence
           Curiosity

          What KIPP educators have realized, just as well as anyone who works with those from a psychological or physical perspective, is that there are universal principles that transcend experience, culture, and time that remain so critical to positive outcomes. Not surprisingly, in dealing with psychological issues, these qualities remain paramount, and if not addressed, it is unlikely that the person will ever pursue the life they are called to pursue. When people become unhealthy, they fall away from these practices and ultimately suffer greatly.

          That is why I said that I really wanted to get away from discussion of the DSM, and ultimately psychology and psychiatry as professions, and just really want to talk about health as the most basic level.

          Thanks again for your time spent in sharing your views. It is very helpful to me.

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          • James Schroeder wrote:

            > KIPP’s motto is Work Hard. Be Nice.

            Dr Schroeder,

            I like your description of the KIPP program for young people, but it might be even more effective for children coming from deplorable and traumatic situations if it had one more piece of advice:

            Work Hard. Be Nice. Stay away from psychiatrists.

            I would add psychologists to this too, but fortunately they can’t prescribe and only do their worst damage when working for psychiatrists. And to our credit, not all of us agree with their disastrous practices.

            I hope we can count you among our number.

            Best regards,
            Mary Newton, PhD (yes, in psychology)

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          • While I am aware of the great work KIPP does, I think that talking about them here is a red herring.

            We seem to be on agreement that what psychiatry/psychology do is to define “behavioral orthodoxy” as they see fit (ie, via voting).

            However, you have not made a good case for, other than appealing to theological concepts of “moral/natural law”, why MD degree holders should have a prerogative to impose their understanding of said “moral/natural law” on the rest of society.

            The first amendment of the US constitution (which reflects European enlightenment ideas of the 18th century) was a breakthrough in the development of Western civilization.

            It reflects the notion that however well intentioned, no “mind guardians” or “moral guardians” should have a government prerogative to impose their notions of morality/behavioral orthodoxy other than by fighting for their individual ideas through the legislative process, not because government adopts their views holistically. Now, if you look at let’s day, the controversial Murphy bill,


            “(4) Individual with a serious mental illness.–The term
            “individual with a serious mental illness” means, with
            respect to the disclosure to a caregiver of protected health
            information of an individual, an individual who–
            (A) is 18 years of age or older; and
            (B) has, within one year before the date of the
            disclosure, been evaluated, diagnosed, or treated for a
            mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that–
            (i) is determined by a physician to be of
            sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria
            specified within the Diagnostic and Statistical
            Manual of Mental Disorders; and
            (ii) results in functional impairment of
            the individual that substantially interferes
            with or limits one or more major life
            activities of the individual.”

            How is that different form saying “mentally is is that person who deviates from the morality code dictated by church X”? I take the idea even further. I am pretty sure that if you were to give a group of like minded individuals to produce their own DSM, they would be very different.

            The DSM reflects the values of the APA membership, thus, the DSM they produced in the 1970s is very different from the DSM they produced last year. Still, all these DSMs were produced by people with an MD training.

            We do know what a society guided by a DSM produced by clerics looks like (look at any religious state, be it Iran today or the different European kingdoms of the Middle Ages).

            An interesting thought exercise would be to think what a DSM produced by scientists would look like (most likely unbearable for the majority of the population who do not enjoy science) . Better yet, imagine a DSM produced by celebrities or people who work in the entertainment industry. That would be fun: you don’t have 3 extramarital affairs in as many weeks, you are mentally ill 🙂 !

            My point is that we are at a point in this exchange where you seem to have acknowledged that psychiatry/psychology are in the business of doing “behavioral control” outside the criminal justice system. You haven’t make a case as to why your profession should have such power in direct violation of the establishment clause.

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          • @ cannotsay2013
            “My point is that we are at a point in this exchange where you seem to have acknowledged that psychiatry/psychology are in the business of doing “behavioral control” outside the criminal justice system.”
            Well put.

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  4. My Dear Dr. Schroeder,

    There is another condition one runs across in the practice of physical medicine that causes discomfort and/or significant impairment of normal functioning. It is a painful, frightening, sometimes dangerous condition, especially without the skilled assistance the sufferer should have.

    It is called childbirth.

    Assuming that all psychological pain is pathological is like consigning the contents of every swollen female belly to the bloody bucket under the operating table. Greg and Oldhead above are trying to tell you how wrongheaded and foolish this is. MIA is one long description of the process and its maddening results. When are you psychologists and doctors going to start listening to your patients, and consider that there might be a difference between a tumor and a fetus? That all hospitals would have to lock their doors and pass commitment laws to get patients, if the first thing they wanted to do was abort all pregnancies?

    I’m like Oldhead. I don’t really like losing my temper, but articles like yours exasperate me. Especially on MIA.

    How can we get through to you??

    Mary Newton

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    • Hi Mary,

      Great to have you weigh in, but I probably should allow my wife to respond to this one. She would have quite a contrasting view to yours, as someone who has birthed six children. She would tell you that childbirth is the epitomie of normal functioning and is one of the most beautiful things that occurs in this world, even with the pain that one experiences. I would have to agree. Now, of course, childbirth that goes wrong, and results in injury to the baby and mother, with or without professional assistance, must be a tremendously scary thing and is not desired by anyone. But if childbirth itself was an impairment of normal functioning, well, our population would be seriously in danger of not existing.

      I must admit that although I cannot be you in your exasperation, I think your anger towards me is misplaced. Not a day goes by, when at home, or in my office, or in the general public, people seek help from me because they are unhappy with where they are. Sometimes I feel ineffective, sometimes I think I might be actually helping. And as far as the shots taken at my education on these posts, which I think are rather cheap and don’t help in actually addressing the issue raised, it is important to understand the best education I have ever had, from the moment of birth until now, comes from my real, personal, raw, truthful encounters with other people. They are the ones who have taught me what I profess here, not the educational system for which you and others despise.

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      • I don’t see any “shots” being taken at your personal education, only at the educational milieu from which your career evolved, there’s no point in being defensive about institutions you are not responsible for and do not control. On a one-on-one basis I have no reason not to believe that you can be helpful to your clients. But you just said your most genuine education has come from direct day-to-day experience, not your academic “training.”

        However, you should know that your understanding of the fraud that is the medical model, and hence is psychiatry, is seriously deficient. Since you presumably are not a psychiatrist you don’t need to automatically defend psychiatry either. And to say that it doesn’t matter whether or not mental illness or some other terminology is used to describe issues of thought, feeling and behavior is just SOOO out of touch. That’s why I say your education should have included reading The Myth of Mental Illness (and it’s never too late).

        Meanwhile check out this great audio clip from the late great Dr. Szasz:

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    • Well, there is something like a pathological labour. And a line is so often blurred that many women get CC which is unnecessary and can cause complications while others die because they’re deny that right.
      How much pain is too much pain? How long a labour is too long?
      The answers to these questions are not set in stone and many women are victimised during labour by arrogant doctors and nurses who force or deny them procedures at will.

      Psychiatry is like that just 10000X worse on every aspect. Emotional distress is normal. But how much of it is so damaging to you that it can be considered requiring help? And what kind of help? Most people will recover from their depression, anxiety or even psychosis without any or only with social support from their immediate social circle. Others either don’t have this support or maybe need something more.

      That in no way means the contemporary psychiatry is right about 99% of thing they say (I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on the 1%). It just means that we should create alternative means to help these people, means that actually work, instead denying reality. I also don’t like calling it mental illness (btw, the official DSM term is mental disorder because even they recognise how little actual science stands behind their diagnosis) but there are problems of emotions/cognition and/or behaviour that need addressing. The question is how.

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      • One more thing that has occurred to me as I’m reading the comments: psychiatry tends to pathologise normal/understandable behaviour or emotions when they are not in any way damaging for the individual but rather for the loosely defined society. I think that’s the biggest problem with it – of course, the PR campaign trying to make everyone believe they’re defective and unhappy losers is in a close second place.
        An illness that exists solely because society (or particular individuals or groups who are privileged) doesn’t like who you are and considers you annoying is not an illness. In many cases it’s a disorder of society rather than an individual (a perfect example: pathologising homosexuality). It this respect of course mental illness is nothing more than a tool to control.
        However, when a person really suffers and cannot deal with their experiences we can have a conversation.

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    • Hi Mary — I hope you stay linked up for replies, while confessing that I don’t. But my schedule allows me to come back to check on things.

      I wanted to stop back at Mr. Schroeder’s blogsite pretty much to offer you appreciative feedback. Going into the comments section let me see the details of your personal story of surviving. Well, it is singularly motivational and inspiring.

      After this particular post about validating labels, I bothered to download a sample chapter from a current college introductory text in abnormal psychology. Of course, if you wanted to justify your repressive determinations and discourteous approach, you could certainly refer selectively to that typical swath of faithful and doctrinaire guidelines. Alternatively, you could read it for tailoring your methods of how to start frowning and learning to say bad about abnormal, once you saw how that could help you ease up in your professional life. For good measure, you could add on by saying abnormal about bad. Then you could go ahead and proudly take yourself home in a roundly superior frame of mind.

      But normal is bad in these professions. I’m sure these authors and editorial advisors who offer up their views on the state of the art in this case would go out of their way to deny that their book can’t also be useful for informing grassroots critiques of extreme medicalization and unwelcome pandering to patient non-advocacy groups like NAMI and MHA. But it couldn’t help really. You do have to come all the way across to Bruce Levine and Phil Hickey and Joanna Moncrieff to get facts about facts.

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    • Hello on a second try Mary (Dr. Newton)– I just visit as a survivor, here, and tried to get a reply to you that I hadn’t gotten around to articulating while this post was up. The reply button didn’t seem obviously to work, and I am duplicating the intended signal of your notice by trying again.

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  5. Whats the goal of treatments , to make you feel normal or behave normal or what ?

    ADD like I am accused of is not “normal” but neither is being high on those “meds” with the ability to sit still and do boring ass things like normal people do.

    I was also accused of bipolar along the way, that diagnosis is such a catch all these days I am not getting into it but the drug for that made it look like I was ‘doing well’ to ‘normal’ people but it was a robbery and not ‘normal’ living in that anhedonic state of zombie.

    I had anxiety but was being stoned on Xanax or Clonopin making me ‘normal’ ?

    All I wanted was a pill to sleep so I could get up early like ‘normal’ people do and was told insomnia is a symptom of depression leading to SSRIs the gateway drug and a 10 year nightmare called psychiatry with labels and pills. I thought it was medical, I never thought to question it.

    I found out early to bed early to rise aint normal tanyway.

    “In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.
    A woman tending to her husband in the middle of the night by Jan Saenredam, 1595 Roger Ekirch says this 1595 engraving by Jan Saenredam is evidence of activity at night

    His book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern – in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer’s Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria. ”

    So I was normal all along and needed a pill to sleep abnormal !

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  6. Jim,

    Take heart, and follow-up on these well-meaning suggestions. Greg took the words right out of my mouth, and Someone Else just hit the bullseye with wicked accuracy.

    Let me tackle this disconnect with some typical academic style of remonstrance…:

    I think you’ve slipped on an ideological banana peel, here! What you were up to in your previous investigations must have overwhelmed you with ambiguities–of both linguistic and practical natures.

    You were getting somewhere, but stopped short and have come up empty-handed. Why don’t you take a look at some more careful analysis and more consistently argued presentation of valid findings? I suggest this little chapter…

    (Sorry I can’t get the link to highlight, and honestly wish you the best in recovering the value of your original inquiry.)

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  7. I agree that anxiety and ‘unhealthy’ behaviors have become the norm. Our society is on edge and terribly unhealthy, by any standards. The problem is agreeing upon what is healthy vs what is unhealthy. That would be an interesting disclosure that I’m sure would vary a great deal from person to person.

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    • Hi Alex,

      Good to have you weigh in as always. I agree that in dealing with human behaviors, there is always a certain degree of subjectivity. But, I really bet that if you and I sat down, even with our differences, we could come to a consensus that many others of different philosophical persuasions would agree about what is normal/healthy vs. abnormal/unhealthy, whatever again we agree to call it. The biggest reason I think we would agree is because regardless of our differences, there is such a great universality that runs through all of us about what is important in our lives, and when something disrupts that, and we are honest about it, we come to know it.

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      • I agree with you about many things, James. Your article rings true to me, in many respects.

        I did have a reaction to how you used the word ‘normal,’ but I felt I got the spirit of what you intend to say, which is why I highlight healthy/unhealthy as my wording of choice. For me, that’s a more universally and timelessly inclined term, given my personal belief of what this means. To me, ‘normal’ is relative and flexible, and changes from culture to culture, and from time period to time period. Normalcy changes, and in fact, evolves, to my mind.

        Some strive to be against it, purposefully, because they detest what is ‘normal,’ which I think is a respectable, and often, reasonable, choice, if it works for someone.

        I’m inclined that way at present, myself, as these days, to me, what is ‘normal’ equates to what is ‘unhealthy.’ That’s how I’m putting it together. I work and live happily off the grid. I was totally part of the establishment for a long time, and believed a lot of the myths, so that was hard work to get there–in large part because of discernment about ‘normalcy’ and the STIGMA that brought with it, specifically.

        But I got through it and have landed just fine with a life and healing/teaching practice I enjoy a great deal. Separating from the mainstream normalcy, and going through that fascinating and enlightening process, led to a lot of great healing and personal growth, and it was definitely well worth the effort.

        And I do agree that there are universal truths regarding health and well-being. I also believe there would be a lot of variables, depending on many things, cultural influence and belief and value systems being among the more prominent subjective variables. This would all determine how we are educated and guided as we grow, also highly variant.

        What felt important to me in my journey was making these discoveries—who am I, unto myself (my spiritual identity)? And who am I, as part of a universal collective? Learning these was a healthy pursuit for me, and led to a lot of well-being, grounding, and expansion in awareness—not to mention, inner peace. Not sure it’s terribly normal in our culture, however.

        I believe that the universal principles about which you speak would be what connects us all as one consciousness. That’s the orientation from which I practice.

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        • Always enjoy our discussions and so much of what you say rings true to me, too. I hear what you say about healthy vs. normal, and in general, prefer the former, too. With one caveat (which you are already alluded to) and that is that healthy is not solely situationally / relationally defined (which is ever-changing), but is also based on a deeper sense of principles.

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          • Yes, indeed! And for sure, we want to align our words and actions with these principles, whatever they be. To me, practicing integrity is universally healthy and would more than likely lead to a healthy collective, were all to at least align with their beliefs. I feel everyone is going to believe what they choose to believe about anything, but I feel it’s the splitting our beliefs and behaviors/words that create unhealthy environments, through chaos, confusion, ambiguity. When we live perpetually out of alignment with our core beliefs, I feel this can lead to unhealthy situations on all levels, potentially.

            Lots to say about the relationship between how our core beliefs and principles fuel, and even create, our situations in life, too.

            Thanks, James, I always appreciate the dedicated focus in your articles and dialogue to seeking clarity around these issues of what is health, healing, and wholeness I’d like to see more of this.

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  8. I’m the first to acknowledge my ignorance about Psychiatry and “the system” until I got tangled up in it with my son’s descent, overnight, into altered reality that frightened me beyond anything I’ve ever dealt with. I’ve worked in health care (hold two degrees and professional titles) and have always lived the creed “treat every patient the way I would want my family or myself treated”. As health today in America morphs sharply, with some good and some not-so-good ramifications, I will not change how I work with patients.
    Along this line, since my son’s entry into a locked hosp, Oct ’09 I encountered the worst of health care- mental health- and the worst of professionals and staff ( I will agree some of the nurses tried but their ignorance at the time remains glaring to me). Having never been exposed to the world of mental health, how could my family and I know “the MH system” is not set up to be compassionate, caring or even truthful? I refused to accept “the system” was universal in its failure to care or to bother identifying and exploring what could cause a young brain to go so awry, until my son’s second altered reality change, overnight, once again 18 months later. This time still believing in “the system” my son with incredible reluctance (for obvious reasons after the hell he endured the first time) accepted his family persuading him to enter a different psych hosp for the drug rehab I pre-arranged the day before (with complete medical/mental history shared). How can it be that “the system” ended up coercing my son into a locked unit, where he was listed per his medical records as “voluntary” while he was forcibly drugged until he no longer recognized us and was never given a day of the rehab in spite of his insurance and the $12,500 we paid this hosp with their word he was going their drug rehab program? How is it even legal in CA to evade a person’s civil rights >72 hrs of being locked up? (by manipulating the fact my son voluntarily entered this hospital believing as we told him for drug rehab ONLY yet once coerced inside how can this be considered “voluntary”with all the attempts he made to escape?)
    I have learned so much since these atrocities happened because than I blindly, naively, ignorantly cowered to “the system” and these so-called professionals/p-doc who cared less about a young person who HAD there been a Soteria House, or Open Dialogue (or even been exposed to the kind bloggers who have shared personal stories seeing how so many young people who do recreational substances get pulled into down “the bipolar road” of no return) his treatment could have been healing and possibly- enlightening about how trauma plays a significant role and recreational drugs act as a trigger to create psychosis.
    But I don’t hold everyone in “the system” responsible? I know because I have since met others and know there are psychologists and believe it or not a few p-docs who truly care and want to work to change “the system”. My son’s psychologist (who I know my son told me was ” a good guy”) still contacts me 29 months later after my son’s suicide. He has terrible remorse (and like those closest to my son) plays that haunting game “what if” ” ” I should have” “why didn’t I”…. but my son, in his “good-bye note” took all the responsibility for “his choices”, period. It just that no one wins in this game when life ends so tragically.
    I sure wish we could all try to be a bit kinder, a bit more accepting like when MIA authors compose articles to review. (I may not relate or agree with what everyone writes or blogs, and vice versa, but I think we, as a society, can ask more of ourselves. I’m not shrinking in my desire to expose “the system” as I go forth and I stand in solidarity with all those that have been so egregiously harmed. I just want to try to make this world a better place, especially in mental health, because the ideas, the programs, the vision I read in MIA gives me so much hope. )

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    • Larmac,

      I grieve for you and your son and for his unnecessary death. Now that you know how the system works, I hope you keep telling his story and yours and maybe in this way save someone else’s life.

      I myself would have gone the way of your son had I not read something (before my experience of altered consciousness) that let me know I was NOT necessarily insane and in need of psychiatric treatment, in spite of the opinion of the psychiatrist I went to — one time only!

      Instead I went home and toughed it out by myself. Fortunately this turned out OK, but my plan was to commit suicide if it didn’t work. I had read enough to know what awaited me behind those locked doors at the hands of well meaning fools educated out of all their common sense. They remind me of the 19th century Vienna obstetricians who snickered at the hospital labor room supervisor who tried to get them to wash their hands before examining women in labor. How could respectable educated doctors have hands that spread childbed fever and killed women? But they did.

      Do you have a web site or a blog? If so, I’d be honored to be admitted to it.

      With much respect and good wishes,
      Mary Newton

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    • “But I don’t hold everyone in “the system” responsible? I know because I have since met others and know there are psychologists and believe it or not a few p-docs who truly care and want to work to change “the system”.

      “I sure wish we could all try to be a bit kinder, a bit more accepting like when MIA authors compose articles to review.”

      First of all, I want to say that I can’t imagine the pain that you have (and do) go through in regards to the death of your son. I so greatly appreciate your willingness to reach out to others in your sorrow and despair, and speak authentically about your experiences in this way so that others might benefit.

      I highlighted two of your quotes at the top of this reply because I actually think that you have nailed the two critical things that must happen on MIA for this community to truly take the next steps in changing mental health for the better. Until civility occurs, in the midst of obvious struggles that people feel, many who need to be engaged in these conversations will never engage, and therefore, significant movement cannot occur.

      Secondly, until certain bloggers/commenters refrain from blaming everyone in the system for atrocities that have been committed to them by other professionals, and assume that we are all are out for evil and greedy purposes, certain conversations that are so, so needed, will rarely or never happen. There is a sense by some that those of us with a PhD are not subject to true pain, true sorrow, true powerlessness, and of course, to some degree (as someone who has never been involuntarily drugged or admitted), they are right although we may have experienced pain of a different kind unknown to others. But to act that because we have not experienced what others have, we cannot understand the depth of human emotion is to suggest that are of a different species, a different origin all together. Again, let me be clear, I can never know the true experience of another person, but I can certainly come to be a part of the collective body that guides our universal lives.

      Apologize for the tangent, but really appreciated your thoughts on this matter, and didn’t want to just let them go.

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  9. Thanks for the post, James. In CBT for psychosis, there is a pursposeful focus on normalizing experiences like hearing voices, having unusual beliefs etc… The key questions (as you suggest) are these experiences causing significant distress and functional impairment to the person? Mental health/mental illness not being an either/or dichotomy – but how well is person getting their needs met is the way I believe PWilliams put it.
    So much of the debate revolves around who does the defining it seems.

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    • Hi Wayne, good to hear from you. It is an exciting time to see that CBT is increasingly providing an alternative for individuals experiencing these issues. And if CBT techniques are able to help people improve functionality and reduce distress even while voices, etc… remain, then this is a huge step forward. And I wholeheartedly agree with this line:

      Mental health/mental illness not being an either/or dichotomy – but how well is person getting their needs met is the way I believe PWilliams put it.

      At the end of the day, this is what matters. But, of course, the human mind and experience being as complex as it is makes defining it all a never-ending debate.

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    • I think the mainstream is waking up to the fact that this may be a better approach than just drugging people into oblivion. This is a recent article in Science (I’m not sure if it is behind a paywall though):
      Just some excerpts:
      “There is a strong possibility that psychological treatments are likely to be at least as effective as drugs, and they are certainly preferred by patients,” says Peter Tyrer, a psychiatrist at Imperial College London.”
      “Drugs have serious side effects, however, and at least 50% of patients either refuse or fail to take them, according to recent studies. More- over, the search for genes behind schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, which might lead to new drug therapies, has failed to produce any smoking guns and has led only to the discovery of a large number of genetic variants, each conferring a very small additional risk.”
      “Most advocates of psychotherapies insist they are not claiming that schizophrenia is purely a psycho- logical malady caused by a dysfunctional family background. “We’re looking for a much more nuanced form of psychiatry that doesn’t reject biology, but that is able to situate the biology within the realm of lived human experience, which is socially and culturally determined,” says psychiatrist Pat Bracken, director of mental health at Bantry General Hospital in Ireland.”
      ““There’s always a little bit of truth at the heart of the delusion,” explains Douglas Turking- ton, a CBT pioneer at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. “If someone has a funny idea we call a delusion, you have to talk about it and put it on the table,” says Ross Tappen, a psychologist at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center in New York”
      “As early as 2000, Turkington and others published a study of 90 patients in the Archives of General Psychiatry showing that while 9 months of either CBT or a sym- pathetic support technique called befriending could improve both posi- tive and negative schizo- phrenia symptoms, only the CBT group maintained its improvement 9 months after the trial had ended.”
      “Indeed, the popular notion that a schizophrenia diagnosis is a life sentence of mental illness is not borne out by the statistics: In one typical study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2004, researchers found that nearly 50% of first-episode schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder patients were symptom-free after 5 years.”

      It’s a really interesting article and I think people should read it – it seems to encompass many things that are discussed here on the daily basis and presents some positive outlook.
      Of course they have some “skeptics” mentioned in the text as well but I think if articles like this get published in Science it’s a step forward.

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  10. Normal vs abnormal, healthy vs unhealthy, pathological vs non-pathological; three distinct sets of concepts that are conflated at every turn in this article. It’s hard to know where to begin to untangle the logic.

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  11. Chemotherapy in Psychiatry was intentionally suppressed at the start of the golden age of Psychopharmacology in Psychiatry. This article is unfortunately mistakenly debating with people who are a sham. Psychiatry is propaganda based now since its take over by the drug companies before 197o.

    They crafted the 58 page, 1973, Task Force 7 Report to suppress biochemical testing and treatment in Psychiatry.

    They substituted the propaganda stock expressions such as “we are employing the Medical model,” “chemical imballences.” Now they would just say and write superficial manipulative things over and over and over as a unified front of seemingly disparate sources (NAMI, APA, NIMH, Peer Review Journals, Library Books, University Departments).

    The created the DSM-3 project where-in all Post Psychoanalytic argot would be expunged and all would be “Medical model” now, I.E. the official is empowered to objectively name people as what constitutes diagnosis (the DSM nosology) and treatment would be with (multiple) centrally acting patented drug products (the “Medical” in “Medical model” _ instant Psychology drug the brain and keep drugging it and the Psyche is changed).

    Since they were continuously suppressing biochemical Psychiatry the only concept associated with “Medical” practice was the above. What prescription drug is used, and what new drug in development is on the stock markets hopeful horizon.

    Chemical Psychiatry hereafter meant Neuropsychopharmacology and that it all it can mean according to the stultifying ubiquitous propaganda edifice build by them. (What drugs are used? Are too many drugs used? Is the Biological model too ascendant?)

    So the debate here… Psychiatrists are judges of Psychological and behavioral things, objectively judging whether people are normal. (The first part of the crafted con-man system) and …then …treatment being with lucrative Patented centrally active drugs (the second part of their superficial system in place after DSM-3) …is hardly even considered as an after thought in this “debate.”

    It isn’t an after thought. The manipulative propaganda system has that as a core motivation for all it does. (Who can say what the unspoken motivations of ruthless conmen are? Money, power, control, eugenics, murder, harm, social enslavement, social monitoring anda free hand in interference, human experimentation — money profit stands forth as easiest to speak of). Profit is the key. The atypical fraud was crafted because of all they ways they would be able to tweek billions in new profit from the atypical fraud. They do not care about their mystery “illness” the single, real “schizophrenia.” Schizophrenia is for them (the conmen leading Psychiatry now) a good sounding word. They lied about the atypical breakthrough because it dawned on them that clozapine had a novel form of action and that they could manipulate that idea into breakthrough conman operations to win billions of dollars in marketing.

    The system crafted by them wherein “DSM nosology diagnosis” consists of *naming by Authority* (as being in a descriptive category…) and “treatment” is with patented, prescription, centrally acting drug products is very lucrative business.

    Donald F. Klein, M.D. probably made substantial profit himself just from selling books on “modern” diagnostic and psychopharmacologic treatment protocols for Professionals.

    Naming by authority: selection and labeling by an official is the whole of diagnosis in APA/NIMH/Harvard conman version of Psychiatry. The DSM-3 project set this into motion once the biochemical treatment Psychiatrists were defamed and swept under the rug.

    In the 1970’s they also crafted NAMI the false front operation “independent concerned grassroots non-profit” that supports all the stock phrase ideas and all the political undertakings of Psychiatry and furthers the strategic agendas.

    NAMI’s betrayal of its constituency

    81% funded by drug companies

    We should not debate with conmen who have no honest attachment to anything that they state. Furthermore listening to and participating with debate on fine points being contested with these conmen is to be enmired in another intended layer of their machinations.

    We see in other political arenas how this is played out. Even if a very substantial person such as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. or Nome Chomsky is videoed trying to speak to prepared operatives what you get is the conman representative tries to keep their back straight, keep a superior mien, and keep to the prepared manipulations and stock talking statements – they measure their success on how well they persevere and overwhelm while they have zero interest in human communication or what is best for the community.

    Daniel Burdick, Eugene Oregon USA

    David Moyer, M.D.

    Finding the Medical Causes of Severe Mental Symptoms: The Extraordinary
    Walker Exam by Dan Stradford Founder, Safe Harbor Project

    William Walsh

    Finding Restorative Care for Mental Illness by Robert Sealey, BSc, CA
    “Why shortcut the practice guidelines of psychiatry which recommend testing and diagnosing before prescribing? Why mix meds without trying to identify the root cause(s) of brain symptoms?”

    Behavior Analysis of Psychotic Disorders: Scientific Dead End or Casualty of the Mental Health Political Economy?

    Stephen E Wong 2006


    Psychiatric diagnoses are a cornerstone in psychiatry’s network of ideological, political, and economic control over mental health services. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) holds the copyright on and publishes the official diagnostic system, now in its sixth iteration as the DSM-IV-TR (APA, 2000). DSM diagnoses affect clients’ relationship with major social institutions by determining their legal status, eligibility for services, disability benefits, and supposedly appropriate treatments. For professional classifications that hold such great social and institutional significance, DSM diagnoses are peculiar in that the reliability and validity of many of its categories are unverified.

    Validity (Pg. 158)

    In addition to problems of reliability, the validity of DSM diagnoses is questionable because there is no “gold standard” of mental disorders to which DSM diagnoses can be compared and validated. DSM diagnoses are not based on any known pathophysiology or etiology, but rather are syndromes defined by the presence or absence of an arbitrary set of symptoms (Andreasen, Flaum, & Arndt, 1992). As described earlier, groups of experts, consisting mainly of psychiatrists, determine what constellation of symptoms constitutes a syndrome. The rapidly increasing number of diagnoses in successive versions of the DSM (Blashfield & Fuller, 1996) is one reflection of how these syndromes are socially constructed.


    “Each of the mental disorders is conceptualized as a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome.”

    Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders


    “The term “nosological classification” is often used in connection with medical classification systems, and the tendency is to equate it with “diagnosis” and “validity.” However, particularly in the case of psychiatry this is far from always being the case. ”

    Validity of nosological classification
    Petr Smolik, MD, PhD*

    “One hundred percent of the members of the panels on ‘Mood Disorders’ and ‘Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders’ had financial ties to drug companies.” Whitaker


    Loren Mosher, M.D. and Thomas Ban, M.D.’s role in creating Mainstream Psychiatry
    by crafting the bogus, 58 page, American Psychiatric Association
    1973 Task Force 7 Report. The TF7 Report is the cornerstone in replacing the new Medical Psychiatry substituting instead patent drug/PR firm con Psychiatry.

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  12. Clearly defining what “things?”

    If one makes a description of a behavioral category then that is what one will have – a well expressed description category.

    Adding at that point an impressive sounding name such as “ADHD” and “Schizophrenia” does not make them real single entities, does not transmogrify the new description into a single named entity.

    And saying “we have impressive supportive really really scientific sounding evidence supporting our hypothesis that it is a single real entity of some kind” puts us where we are – in a quagmire of decades long manipulative propaganda.

    Here is more scholarly debate: Mary Boyle explains much of the propaganda farce involved in “schizophrenia” being a “thing” calling for “Medications,” then this other fellow states that what ever one calls it surely it exists similar to the above essay here. ALl leave out the suppression of Medicine that ushered in neuropsychiopharmocology – so leaving that aspect of realty out of our world view we can play “academic writing” for a couple more decades. See also Joanna Moncrieff for more of the same “discursive of Trunbridge wells.” (Learned debate while people are given toxins for profits sake instead of modern Medicine help.)

    Daniel Burdick Springfield, Oregon USA

    Carl C. Pfeiffer, Ph.D., M.D. “The Schizophrenias”
    The Shizophrenias- Ours to Conquer
    29 Medical Causes of “Schizophrenia”

    And calling your descriptions “illnesses” with the underlying intent of selling profitable brain drugging chemicals with chlorine or fluorine in them as Meds” for these “Psychiatric” “illnesses” does not make descriptive syndromes single illnesses that somehow need Medical treatment – with Psychiatric drugs – because these are not Medical but Psychiatric diagnoses.

    If a medical cause (a Medical illness) of the observed Psychiatric “symptoms” is found this typically negates the Psychiatric diagnosis as a quote mimic was found.

    Such horrid antirational propaganda.

    This is seen in the Justina Pelletier case where the political propaganda values contained in the case have Tuft’s Medical diagnosis of mitochondrial disorder pitted against Harvard’s asserting a political-precedent-right to replace the existing Medical diagnosis with a non Medical Psychiatric diagnosis – in this case of Somatoform disorder, which actually means that no doctor opinion and no Medical test result exists that give a Medical cause for the reported physical complaints and pains – thus the diagnosis is non Medical – it is Psychiatric “Somataform.”

    Psychiatry is based on Authority. The clinician has the authority to select the person into a category and then that is the fact, the definition, the name, the diagnosis for the person who can then be “treated” however ordered. With the Justina Pelletier case the “Authority” from on high stemming from being part of “Harvard” is supposedly so exulted that they can suspend needed Medical care and seize people’s children without any repercussion.

    As Janet Wozniak said, “Criticizing the diagnosis is insulting to clinicians.”

    It hasn’t been reported what patented “Psychiatric drugs” she has been given, that I know of… Anyone have that information?

    Justina Pelletier “Somatoform” what is that supposed to be?!
    What is Somataform “Mental Illness” “diagnosis” in the USA ?

    “In this disorder a person suffers physical symptoms with no medical origin.”
    “In people who have a somatic symptom disorder, medical test results are either normal or do not explain the person’s symptoms, and history and physical examination do not indicate the presence of a medical condition that could cause them.”

    “Mental disorders are treated separately from physiological or neurological disorders.”

    Stand Up.
    Daniel Burdick, Eugene Oregon USA

    Harvard Psychiatric Professor Joseph Biederman, M.D.

    Harvard Psychiatric Professor Janet Wozniak, M.D. Psychiatrist at Cambridge Pediatrric
    Furious Seasons
    Wozniak defends the diagnosis and treatment, says the prevalence is 1 percent amongst kiddos, argues that people criticizing the diagnosis and treatment are “insulting to clinicians.”


    Parris M. Kidd, Ph.D. Rational for Integrative Management

    Nutrition by Natalie – Drugs Vs. Possible Cures

    Dr. Wilson “In my experience, ADD and ADHD are not a single disorder, but rather are symptoms with many possible causes.”

    ADHD and ADD. The Hyperactive Child
    By Dr Lendon H. Smith M.D. [1921-2001]

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  13. Thanks for this , it took a lot of work & helped me as I counted to 10 before posting my own response.

    I don’t think this guy is going to get it, he has too much personal defensiveness going on to be objective for one but he also still seems clueless; after all this discussion he still says things like “ Say what?

    Then come the little “passive-aggressive” hostilities about people taking “cheap shots” and lacking “civility,” when I see people bending over backwards to explain politely that his understanding of the medical model is lacking to the point of being dangerous, not to mention offensive to those who have been victimized by the very linguistic deceits that he claims “don’t matter.” As far as this thread is concerned, I think I’m outta here!

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    • Sorry folks, I’m sure I framed my italics right but …anyway, f the italics, the 2nd sentence should have read:

      I don’t think this guy is going to get it, he has too much personal defensiveness going on to be objective for one but he also still seems clueless: after all this discussion he says things like “The focus on what we call it all negates the reality that an existence in either case is not healthy, pleasant or desired, and not something that we want to experience…”
      Say what?

      Sure could use that edit function, I know I’m not alone. 🙂

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  14. James, I liked your compassionate, rational article. Some of these commenters attack you for even acknowledging that there’s such a thing as a mental disorder. To them I would ask how many suicidal, psychotic people they have taken under their wing. We can (and should) argue about what a mental disorder actually is but to claim that such a thing doesn’t even exist is absurd.

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        • OK if we really want to go there, what is more disrespectful than telling hundreds of victims of psychiatry (we are not all “survivors”) whose lives were destroyed by virtue of irrational “diagnoses” of “mental illness” that “what you call ‘it’ doesn’t matter”?

          I for one have avoided “attacking” anyone here. This site has for the time I’ve been here been about criticism/self-criticism, a process Mr. Schroeder should familiarize himself with rather than hiding behind a false veneer of “civility.”

          In a sense I know he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time (from his perspective) as he has made himself a lightning rod for the anger and frustration that is building here as more & more recognize the extent of the lie they have been sold about “mental illness.” This was not started by him of course, but when he then defends it and attempts to deflect criticism by challenging the motives and character of those who offer it, THAT’S disrespectful.

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          • Oldhead, even your defense to the accusation that you have engaged in attacks itself contains attacks. “Hiding behind a false veneer of civility”? You really think such statements foster dialogue? Your rage is understandable but I believe that in this case you’re blasting it at the wrong target.

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      • I think the “attacks” are within the range of acceptable discourse really. Even though I actually like the article very much myself and see nothing wrong with it. People are entitled to express their opinions, even harsh ones and that’s ok.

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        • Of course everybody’s entitled to express his or her opinion. That’s what the right to free speech is all about. However, if people want to learn from each other and intelligently debate issues with one another, they have to foster an environment where that’s possible.

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    • Francesca, of course mental disorders and psychosis don’t exist – as in ‚illness/disease‘‚ which really is absurd, how could they? They’re just man-made concepts and ideas based on the perception and most of all assessment of observed behavior as well as reported feeling and thinking, by the „patient“ or others.

      What definitely exists however, and what does not even begin to get addressed by the mental health industry as we know it, and it is an industry, is human distress. Naturally the phenomena that get labelled as ‚psychotic‘ do exist, they are part of the human experience, of being human. Is it helpful – to the individual so labeled, her/his family, friends, etc. or in order to be able to shed some light onto what constitutes the distress in a given situation, to label someone as ‚psychotic‘ and to „treat“ a so-called psychosis with so-called medications? Maybe even forcibly so?

      I think not. Psychiatry itself is the disease that it claims to treat. End of story.


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        • Francesca, as very clearly stated in my post, I believe that the existence of mental disorders can only be rationally debated since the term ‚mental disorder‘ in and of itself is an irrational man-made construct to begin with – and a highly hubristic and overbearing concept at that, to say the least, imho.

          And this, as well as its implications for individuals and (a) society as a whole, needs to be addressed in any dialog regarding psychiatry and its spin-off clinical psychology because otherwise we as discussants will forever be caught in this utterly futile „thing“ called ‚being unable to see the forest for the trees‘ – and vice versa.


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          • Actually, Britta, your position is not at all clear. If the term “mental disorder” can be improved upon, then by all means let’s come up with some better language. However, in the interim, the term “mental disorder” is not an “irrational man-made construct” unless you believe that, to use just one example, a teenager fantasizing about killing school children is not suffering from an identifiable condition that requires immediate intervention.

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          • Francesca Allan,

            “a teenager fantasizing about killing school children is not suffering from an identifiable condition that requires immediate intervention”
            Fantasizing about killing people isn’t a mental disorder. Actually killing people also isn’t always that either. We can’t have a world in which every criminal behaviour is considered to be a medical condition. It is not. If the mass shootings or other forms of violence could have been prevented if someone has intervened with these kids/young adults in some sort of way? Possibly. Maybe they needed psychological counseling, maybe they needed some help go get integrated into their families and social groups better. That doesn’t mean they had a mental disorder.
            Was Andreas Brevick “crazy”? Or the couple who killed cops lately? People’s personalities and world views don’t exist in a vacuum. None of them did these things because they were “mentally ill”. Extreme political views are not mental disorders. Social maladjustment is not a mental disorder.

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          • Francesca Allan:

            “Do I really need to provide “rational support” for the radical notion that if lives are in danger, intervention is appropriate? Isn’t it self-evident?”

            That’s not at all what you said. You said that your position on the existence of “mental disorders” cannot be rationally debated.

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        • I’m sorry but I see some logical inconsistency in what you’ve written here:
          “debate on what a mental disorder is” – on other words we don’t know what it is…
          “The existence of mental disorders, however, cannot be rationally debated.”
          …but we know it’s true.
          I’d say: the existence of “extreme states of mind” and other problems of thinking, emotions and behaviour as someone on MIA nicely summed it. And I don’t think anyone here disputes that, most of us have the first hand experience after all. The question is: which one of these if any can be called “mental disorders.” Or rather: how do we define mental disorder and what criteria do we use to say the these problems of thinking, emotions and behaviour constitute a “mental disorder”. Which is pretty much what the DSM people have done and we can see where it got us.
          I understand people’s natural need for classification – that’s the way H. sapiens thinks – we want to put the natural world into nicely labelled drawers and make everything easier to deal with this way. But if you oversimplify the complex issue that way you end up with DSM-5 (I’m of course ignoring the fact that there is a money incentive to blow it up to insanity but let’s just assume good intentions).
          Personally, I think the science is just not there nor are the tools to help people according to any labels. So we’re back to good old human judgement and treating everyone as an individual with specific problems and needs. Which should be a way to go but unfortunately it isn’t.

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          • I don’t see any inconsistency. This entity exists. I call it mental disorder. Others may refer it as an extreme state, a spiritual crisis, a psychiatric illness, a psychotic break, etc. You can call it anything that you want, but you can’t reasonably claim it doesn’t exist.

            I agree with you that classification schemes aren’t helpful. All mental disorders ultimately boil down to problems in perception. People deal with these perceptual difficulties in various ways and it is these reactions (as opposed to causes) that are classified in the DSM.

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          • My apologies, Oldhead. It wasn’t clear which post you were responding to. Anyway, as for the existence of mental disorders, examples abound. Our world has many people doing bizarre things that clearly demonstrate irrationality. Since I’m a Canadian, Vinci Li springs to mind as somebody suffering a severe mental disorder.

            I think the misunderstanding between us might relate to my terminology. I am not suggesting that all mental disorders result from brain pathology and that’s why I use the term disorder rather than illness.

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          • Oldhead, you quoted me correctly where I said: “Do I really need to provide “rational support” for the radical notion that if lives are in danger, intervention is appropriate? Isn’t it self-evident?”

            And then you responded to me with: “That’s not at all what you said.”

            You’re not making any sense. You quote me and then deny that I said the very words that you quoted.

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          • Francesca Allan:
            “if you don’t think wanting to kill school children indicates a mental disorder”
            Killing people isn’t a mental disorder. Some instances of killing people may well be an effect of some psychological disturbance but you can’t stick a “mentally ill” label on every person who commits acts of violence, even if they are horrific. That’s irresponsible and harmful for everyone involved.
            Plus it’s a well known thing that people often fantasise about acts of violence committed by them or on them which isn’t the same as wanting to do that in real life. It’s more of a venting mechanism: you imagine it so you use up your negative feelings this way instead of actually committing an act. It’s only a very small minority of people who actually go ahead an do it.

            “All mental disorders ultimately boil down to problems in perception.”
            Really? So f someone is depressed because of his partner’s death it’s his perception that is wrong? What is the right perception then? I can make an argument that being super depressed is not a problem of perception – it’s the ultimately correct perception, with the rationale that we are all born to the world we have little control over and we will all die soon so there is every reason to feel hopeless. Saying that someone’s perception of their life is wrong is extremely arrogant – that’s what most psychiatrist do.

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          • B, I didn’t say that killing people IS a mental disorder; I said it INDICATES a mental disorder. And, yes, I believe that anyone who commits such a violent act is suffering from a mental disorder (however fleeting) at the time. I don’t see the irresponsibility in that position nor do I see the harm. I agree that not all fantasies are dangerous. My dream of lining up and shooting every psychiatrist who has ever tortured me puts nobody in danger.

            And, again, you misunderstand me about the concept of problems in perception. Somebody “depressed because of his partner’s death” is not suffering a mental disorder (despite the grieving time limit imposed by the DSM). I don’t see the arrogance in believing that people can enjoy a better outlook than dwelling over their lack of control in their short lives just as it is not arrogant to believe that someone who wants to shoot school children is not receiving or processing perceptions accurately.

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          • Francesca Allan:
            “I don’t see the arrogance in believing that people can enjoy a better outlook than dwelling over their lack of control in their short live”
            Well, you say that it stems from problems in perception. So if I am, for a lack of a better term, depressed because I think that life makes no sense and is hopeless would you say I am delusional? That my perception of reality isn’t right? Well, for me that would be arrogant. Maybe you believe that I can get over my feeling of hopelessness but the truth is: I’m right to the fact that we’ll all soon going to die and life has no sense other than you create for yourself which in essence is a useful delusion.

            So no, it’s not a problem with perception. I just hate it so much when people (usually psychiatrists) tell you that you only see dark because you’re mentally disordered. I may have an unproductive attitude to life but my perception isn’t untrue.

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    • Francesa– On a newer post than this, I see that you are still holding strong to your focus on terms and the abuse of them and misplaced emphasis in discussing them at certain times versus others that you seem to think helps out survivors cause.

      By this time, you must have seen Dr. Moncrieff’s last article and the rundown on the serous limitation associated with referring to mental disorders, Francesca, haven’t you? And you also are sure that you are a Szaszian’s natural opponent. But how could we be sure? Dr. Szasz’s first degree was in some branch of then current physics, later he went to medical school. He presented very elaborate and detailed arguments for the position that he took in order to, for instance, get the most needed reforms introduced into psychiatry at first opportunity. Although he obviously gets hung up on the meanings of words in many places in his books, he nonetheless sufficiently maintained his challenge up until his death. He provoked Al Francis to reveal his own philosophical extremism, you could say, as late as the critical discussions that led up to the publication of the DSM-5. They were invited to face each other in scholar-like debate. Al Frances is not one of those, and he means to hold forth in the style of a crypto-apologist for whatever orthodox psychiatry needs to thrive.

      Most apparently, to know whether you did or did not reject Szasz in reality, you have to consider your engagement with his analyses, and many things besides vested interest affect your take on such critiques, right Francesca? But the vested interest that rules the day is what makes for the most trouble with the abuse of terms and statements that works to the detriment of survivors and self-identified patients for life. Obviously. So someone can get their understanding squared away and be for, against, or neither for nor against a stated position, and they could certainly waffle and change their mind. But in addition, announcing their decision could result from their lack of knowledge, simple error or lack of correct guidance for interpreting arguments, or from judging their beliefs at a basically premature stage.

      It is hard to see that you come in nowhere closer to the mark on the problem with langauge by just wanting the inauthentic character of Dr. Schoeder’s assertions in replies, here. Should we just expect you to keep missing the essential problem of non-patient acvocates pretending to take both sides?

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      • Hi, T-V. I don’t understand your comment. I certainly don’t think I “focus on terms,” nor do I “naturally” oppose Szasz. I salute Szasz for the work that he did but that’s not to say that I have to agree 100% with everything he said. As for terminology, I use the term mental “disorder” in an effort to make a distinction from mental “illness.” Could you clarify what the “essential problem” is that you feel that I am missing? I don’t think we have any evidence that Dr. Schroeder is “pretending” anything.

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        • Francesca, True–my criticism is perhaps not everyone’s idea of constructive, but I can’t see it as impolite as stated. I think that you don’t understand that I can perfectly well see myself in Dr. Schroeder’s shoes. It’s important that I was moderated. I do feel, however that I was taking side someone acquainted and respectful of Rebecca from Sunnybrook Farm, if it came to that in explaining why I thought I had a right to speak up to that point. I sometimes experience delays in comprehension, whether due to my condition or psych drugs, is questionable. The sort that I mean, though, isn’t about IQ or how persons should be and relate. It’s that my cognition reflects functional brain deficits from maladjustment due to trauma, iatrogenic complications, my own constitutional make-up. No one has told me a thing like this, they have insisted that I express insight into the mental illness I have.
          Since I made an example from children’s literature above, please let me say again how much I respect and enjoy your Alice Munro, winner of the Nobel prize for (adult) literature. One thing you can say for the blog that Dr. S. posted is that everybody who read it had to think. Am I right?

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          • That should say, and I can’t edit:

            that someone acquainted with and respectful of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm would understand

            There is no hidden innuendo in the reference, I promise, it is my first thought for what would not be polite and nice, going against the moral lessons of youth in spirit, negatively. It is slightly humorous, but it might matter if you got the royalties, huh? Sorry for my haste! Take it easy, F. A.

            American life has got lots and lots of simple remarks like that to show. Yours likewise count to me.

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        • Francesca – Again, have you tried to see Dr. Moncrieff’s explanation that there just cannot be some type of discrete entity that can be separated off from the person whose mind could be said to be disordered? You might find it liberating to understand how this argument proceeds and how it getting stated what it does means what matters for counter-arguing against it. I could see that the person could be responsible for confusion, but not afflicted with something besides confusion, since something mental can’t be something sick, except figuratively. Like homesick, lovesick, etc. You can feel awfully bad, but still have to take responsibility for your actions. You can want a new life, but still have to win you battles and gain some friends in order to protect your rights.

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          • Francesca – Sorry now “how it’s getting stated as it is stated means what it does mean about what it would take to counter-argue the point effectively” to spell it all out. I don’t see how some words can get to be sick, except in metaphorical ways, and your thoughts depend on words and never not, even your feelings and perceptions somehow ultimately do. The mentality of language users just is hugely determinate of their powers and limitations, but the person who has to acknowledge a labelled disorder to keep from getting denied services, like counselling, or to get recognized as having the right to defend themselves, as in court, is every bit as discriminated against as any other way of saying “lack of insight”. You can try and try, but the system is set up to promote and strengthen non-patient advocacy ahead of patient-first advocacy, because of self-satisfied and self-important feeling people in positions of authority for claiming expertise about who is sane and who is too unlikely to satisfy the prevailing opinion of how we should all generally behave and think to keep life good.

            The battles faced involve acrimonious and hypocritical attacks on persons, as clearly as it does equivocating about whether someone is or is not responsible for their actions. People just are responsible, period. They therefore can be irresponsible, but they cannot be unresponsible.

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  15. James, the problem with labeling people’s behaviors normal vs. abnormal is it can cause them to get subpar care from a physician who makes premature judgments without looking at the whole picture. Unfortunately, this is the result of psychiatry seeping into mainstream medicine. Anyway, it causes people to not be given the benefit of the doubt and put into a stereotypical diagnosis box if god forbid, they don’t fit society’s definition of normal.

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    • Agreed. A psychiatric label can poison the viewpoint of every other professional you consult. I slowly developed epilepsy in 2012 (in my opinion, due to ECT) and until I had full blown grand mal seizures, my frightening and disorienting severe dizzy spells were chalked up to “panic attacks.” In fact, they turned out to be frontal lobe seizures. Had I been given the proper neurological care I was entitled to, ECT would have been stopped immediately and I would have been prescribed an anticonvulsant.

      By the way, when ECT patients require anticonvulsants, the psychiatric protocol is just to increase the voltage. I am in the midst of a complaint against my former psychiatrist and in his defence he provided a meta-analysis alleging that ECT does not cause epilepsy. There are, however, glaring flaws in that analysis and I note that it comes from India, a country so enthusiastic about ECT that they routinely do it without anaesthesia. Sorry, this is rather off topic but I wanted to get it off my chest.

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  16. Yeah, let’s take that further and question this unspoken supposition that because something is “normal” it is good. Lots of “normal” people have been committing mass murder overseas for over a decade now, for example…

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  17. James, I think you are using the term “normalize” in a very different way than I would use it in practice. There is a difference between oldhead’s previous example of saying it’s “normal” to commit atrocities because it’s been done before by lots of people, and communicating that someone’s anxiety is, for instance, a normal reaction to being raped or beaten up by parents or a spouse/partner. The latter does not assert that it’s OK to beat people up or rape them, nor does it deny the suffering of the person reporting the assault, but it puts the responsibility for the distress where it belongs: on the distressing events that generated it. I’ve heard way too many disingenuous arguments that “not everyone reacts that way” as proof that there’s something wrong with the person who experiences intense anxiety following trauma, and I frankly don’t buy it for a moment. There is no “right way” to respond and it makes no sense to pathologize someone for having a challenge in dealing with human atrocities being committed.

    The biggest problem with diagnosis is that it puts the blame for the person’s emotional experience entirely on them, and, in fact, normalizes the external conditions they have to contend with. My experience as a therapist tells me that this is the exact opposite of what really promotes healing. Much of my work with trauma survivors centers around helping victims see that they did NOT cause their own victimization, that their reaction IS a reasonable reaction to a very unreasonable set of circumstances, and that it is OK for them to feel anxious, angry, or whatever they feel and it’s not OK for anyone else or society as a whole to minimize their experience or tell them not to feel as they do. Diagnosis, by contrast, creates the impression in many if not most recipients that I SHOULD NOT be feeling the way I do, that my depression/anxiety/delusional thoughts are THE PROBLEM, rather than clues to a problem of an entirely different nature. I work a lot with foster youth, and many have shared with me how tremendously insulting it is when they report being depressed about their dire situations or histories, and the system responds by telling them they have a “mental disorder” and that they need to “rebalance their brain chemistry” with psychiatric drugs. As one kid once sagely said, “Maybe it’s OK for different people to have different brain chemistries!”

    Additionally, this process of diagnosing without verifiable underlying causal factors creates great problems with research. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that 20% of kids with “ADHD” diagnoses have low iron, 15% suffer from sleep apnea, 12 % have vitamin B deficiencies, 22% are suffering from PTSD, and 26% are bored to death because they are unchallenged in school. Any research done on any of these areas will show that interventions are “ineffective” against “ADHD”, because they don’t affect a large enough percentage. If we measure iron supplementation vs. stimulant drugs, stimulants will “win” because they’ll improve symptoms on 70% of the cohort, while iron will only help 15%. But those 15% will actually be cured of a real condition!!!! The other 85% will need more work to establish a real and meaningful diagnosis, but it’s clear that the “ADHD” label will prevent this kind of genuine differential diagnosis work ever happening. And we will spend billions of dollars researching the wrong things and paying for the wrong treatments, and projecting hostility toward the people who are rightly pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes on.

    It is a lot more than semantics. Choosing diagnostic labels has profound social and psychological and practical effects on both the clients and the professions trying to help them. I don’t think anyone is arguing that people suffering emotional distress should be ignored or should not be helped. What I am saying is that “diagnosing” them based solely on subjective measurements of distress, without actually identifying a real cause, is extremely destructive. It mostly serves the interests of the professionals who are having a hard time admitting that they don’t really understand what is happening. But admitting to not understanding is essential to improving one’s knowledge. Eliminating spurious “diagnoses” based on social convention and subjective assessments can only help improve the treatment of mental distress, whatever the cause.

    — Steve

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    • That’s a very thoughtful comment, I couldn’t agree more.
      As one kid once sagely said, “Maybe it’s OK for different people to have different brain chemistries!” kudos to that kid:).

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    • “The biggest problem with diagnosis is that it puts the blame for the person’s emotional experience entirely on them, and, in fact, normalizes the external conditions they have to contend with.”

      Yes, YES. This might be the crux of what I am trying to get across in my posting here, more than just fighting individual atrocities (which is also necessary).

      This is WAY more than an interesting insight. If and when this knowledge is internalized as part of the mass consciousness it spells doom for this entire bloodthirsty system, which is held together not primarily by the guns constantly pointed at our heads, but by the reluctance of the people to draw the line and say “enough!” And this in turn is largely because so many people have been convinced that their pain is a “personal” problem to be ashamed of and see as a personal weakness rather than as part of the mass oppression of all of us under capitalism. Can you imagine the threat to the existence of this system posed by the prospect of people defining IT as their problem rather than themselves and their “illnesses”?

      All else aside, I think the consciousness-raising taking place here is remarkable; it may well prove to be historic.

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  18. “Many argue that the perceived medical model of detached, clinical identification of a diagnosis and subsequent treatment can do a disservice in addressing psychological difficulties.”

    Psychiatrists are licensed to be the detached, clinical identifiers. They take a stance. a mien of aloof objective professionalism. They act as selectors.

    This is the pretense of the Western Scientist – to be the objective aloof rational Newtonian observer of the natural phenomenon.

    And the DSM-3 through DSM-5 is presented as a Linnaean type Taxonomy – lacking exact material science it uses objectively considered observed “symptoms” and builds classification names from clusters of symptoms.

    Then the material treatment with centrally acting profitable drugs or material concrete intervention with a 130 volt one fifth second electric shock right across the head – these are supposed to be seen as Western Scientific n nature. Newtonian Science- instead of dealing with individuals and their supposed interal Psyches, their minds – here with modern Psychiatry everyone is labeled objectively by the aloof, detached Professional by the same exterior signs – all receive the same repeatable selection process based on the observed “symptoms.” The concrete treatment interventions of drugging, shocking or psychosurgery are the independent variable- the concrete, repeatable action taken on the subject.

    Thus the impression is given over and over of being Western Scientific.

    Because they suppress all biochemical treatments so they can sell neuropsychopharmacology patented products all they have is image. Image is the science in mainstream Psychiatry – it is expert at Propaganda.

    The psychostimulent drugs for “AADHD” were found in the 1930s. The “antipsychotic” “Medications” in the 1950s – this is not modern Medicne. This is ruse.

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  19. Francesca – “B, if you don’t think wanting to kill school children indicates a mental disorder, then I see no point in engaging in further dialogue with you.”

    Hi Francesca,

    As one who agrees with alot of your comments, I am perplexed by this statement. In my opinion, we have evolved into a society in which mental illness is wrongly blamed for every crime. I know this will sound outrageous to some people but I swear if Hitler was around, his atrocities would be blamed on untreated mental illness. Many times, people are simply evil and there isn’t a reason for what they do.

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    • Hi, AA. I just want to clarify that I do not consider the terms illness and disorder synonymous. And I completely agree with you that we blame mental illness for far too many crimes. Just as we blame mental illness for children’s inattention or adults’ maladjustment to our artificial, isolating society. People aren’t born evil; they learn to be evil and there is always a reason (no matter how ugly and twisted) for someone’s actions.

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    • AA: „but I swear if Hitler was around, his atrocities would be blamed on untreated mental illness. Many times, people are simply evil and there isn’t a reason for what they do.“

      AA, I absolutely agree. This sort of framing/re-framing of what Hannah Arendt from a philosophical perspective described as the „Banality of Evil“ as a mental illness/disorder exclusively attributed and attributable to any given individual conveniently deludes the fact that evil – as we see, think, and feel it – is always systemic.

      Hitler, and any other dictator-like figures for that matter, had helpers, many many helpers, in thought, in action, otherwise the unspeakable atrocities – e.g. in the so-called ‚Third Reich‘ – would have never ever happened if we as human beings were able to confront as well as deal with our own little mean evil streaks on a day-to-day basis – and really and clearly see what these little mean evil streaks in everyone of us could amount to, if combined and „organized“ in a so-called system.

      It seems to me, though, that there are no systems to speak of any longer, globally, because what we begin to recognize is that anything that we call a ‚system‘ is, always was, and always will be a self-organizing sort of conglomerate that everyone and anyone contributes to, one way or the other, and in the form of every shade of gray in between…

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  20. James,

    Based on the great divide on this post, I highly recommend you read the following current MIA posts if you haven’t already to get a calmer, professional take on what survivors here are trying to convey to you:

    I have been researching biopsychiatry for many years due to its threat to my own loved ones I was able to save thanks to much research and the noble Dr. Peter Breggin with his books like Toxic Psychiatry and Your Drug May be Your Problem, 2nd ed. and many others along with his web sites. I especially recommend that you read Reclaiming Our Children by Dr. Breggin that explores our nation’s horrific assault on our children along with their psychiatriation, neglect and being used as scapegoats for massive family and social problems. I also have a Christian background and am a great promoter of ethical, humane treatment of our fellow humans.

    That said, it is obvious that the entire DSM paradigm is an evil scam invented by those in power or KOL’s of the APA when they chose to sell out to Big Pharma with the pretense that biopsychiatry was/is medical when it is merely an agent of Orwellian doublespeak and pernicious social control created by the wealthy and powerful to prey on the rest of humanity as many experts within the profession have exposed. The fact that this vile agenda resulted in multibillions for the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma cartel while destroying countless lives based on total fraud is what has given these atrocities against humanity their ability to thrive and survive. It also shows that psychopaths have hijacked the globe per the book and web site, Political Ponerology, and the work of Dr. Robert Hare, world authority on psychopathy. Actually, I’m not big on such labels, but biopsychiatry has robbed us of our ability or power to name something EVIL with their junk science medicalise and pretense that all evil is “mental illness.” So, to me such terms as psychopathy and malignant narcissism are just alternative terms for evil with their lists of behaviors all included in the Bible and other sources. Psychiatrist, Dr. M. Scott Peck, does a great job discussing human evil in his best selling books, The People of the Lie and The Road Less Travelled as others are doing now. So, if you are really trying to say that we must determine/distinguish what is moral, ethical behavior and what constitutes good and evil behavior I agree that is a worthy, crucial goal. However, biopsychiatry and its perpetrators have relinquished any claim or justication to determine such issues given their greed, corruption, gross dishonesty and fraud and the fact that most should be jailed as were those committing similar crimes like the psychiatrists at the Nuremburg Trials. Dr. Peter Breggin has written a great article that ends with the claim that those at such trials at the time acknowledged that without psychiatry the Holocaust based on psychiatry’s previous gassing to death of those they stigmatized as mentally ill and their evil, bogus eugenics theories, such human Holocausts would probably have never happened and the same predatory agenda continues today. Thus, the last ones who should determine our ethics and morality are biopsychiatrists given their sordid history that Bob Whitaker details in Mad in America and Anatomy of An Epidemic. Bob has also stated that it is clear that the current biopsychiatry paradigm has been proven to be a total failure. This vile house of cards can’t fall down fast enough in my opinion. And these are supposed to be the models of virtue for our children. If you read the many articles at the web site, 1boringoldman, by Dr. Mickey Nardo, psychiatrist, he has made it a goal to expose much of the corruption and lies perpetrated by the biopsychiatry/ Big Pharma cartel throughout its sordid history.

    I believe that this latest predatory, psychopathic agenda to stigmatize our children with bogus DSM stigmas to push the latest lethal drugs on patent shows that our country and others have lost their moral compass if they ever had one. I simply cannot see how anyone could justify such intrapecies predation on one’s fellow humans and especially the most vulnerable children.

    I realize that it is very hard for individuals in your profession to speak out against this sordid, grossly dishonest, evil paradigm, but perhaps more groups of reformers in social work, psychology and psychiatry could increasingly join together with those like the “conscience of psychiatry,” Dr. Peter Breggin, Psychiatrist and heroes like Dr. Fred Baughman, Neurologist to fight against this latest eugenics agenda of the KOL’s of biopsychiatry on behalf of the current robber barons like those of the Nazi Germany paradigm that started in the U.S. in the 1930’s with gross human rights violations that became the law of the land.

    I know you are trying your best despite this evil paradigm, but I think experts need to speak out against it more and more as the noble Dr. Claudia Gold is doing when challenging the psychiatrization and drugging agenda of increasing numbers of children (See link to one of her current articles below). Blaming the victims is the main purpose of biopsychiatry, so I think when trying to help children it is more fruitful to consider the idea that the “identified patient” is probably the only or most healthy human in many families with the dysfunctional scapegoater narcissists blaming their children for all the family’s problems or all are in the same boat with growing gross human inequality, oppression and predation by the 1% on the 99%. Murray Bowen and other family systems therapists were well aware of these dynamics that seem to be ignored now thanks to the monstrous biopsychiatry stigmatizing for lucrative forced drugging of one and all agenda.

    Finally, though I realize that upcoding or updiagnosing with the bogus, life destroying bipolar stigma with the pretense it is biological, genetic and other lies to justify more expensive, longer insurance coverage is all too common, perhaps you could minimize the harm as much as possible with less destructive “diagnoses” if you must give them to the children you encounter.

    Since I am older than you, I lived before the monstrous DSM paradigm came about and before childhood and adulthood became a supposed disease or risk to be stigmatized and used to ostracize, punish, bully, mob and scapegoat those who challenged the powerful or those like abuse victims seeking justice who needed to be discredited by those in power for their ongoing predation on society. Now, instead of abusers gas lighting their female victims by accusing them of “being crazy,” they could sound more justified by getting a psychiatrist to stigmatize his victim as bipolar to destroy her all the more per Dr. Carole Warshaw, Psychiatrist and Domestic Violence expert. Thus, going for help when not being aware of this horrific paradigm change of the DSM III became the worst type of monsterous betrayal as Dr. Peter Breggin has continued to expose since the early 1990’s. You may have been brainwashed by this nefarious agenda pervading our society given your own age and times, which may need to be challenged as well.

    I hope you don’t find this too offensive in that I have good intentions like you do despite our obvious differences.

    Soren Kierkegaard says, “Once you label me, you negate me.”

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    • Donna: “that those at such trials at the time acknowledged that without psychiatry the Holocaust based on psychiatry’s previous gassing to death of those they stigmatized as mentally ill and their evil, bogus eugenics theories, such human Holocausts would probably have never happened and the same predatory agenda continues today.”

      Spot-on, Donna.

      Action T4 (
      “In addition, technology that was developed under Action T4, particularly the use of lethal gas to effect large scale murder, was transferred to the medical division of the Reich Interior Ministry, along with transfers of personnel who had participated in the development of the technology.[10]”

      “The policy and research agenda in racial hygiene and eugenics were actively promoted by Emil Kraepelin, a convinced social-Darwinist.[14] The eugenic sterilization of persons diagnosed with (and viewed as predisposed to) schizophrenia was advocated by Eugene Bleuler[15] who presumed racial deterioration because of mental and physical cripples in his Textbook of Psychiatry:[16]

      The more severely burdened should not propagate themselves… If we do nothing but make mental and physical cripples capable of propagating themselves, and the healthy stocks have to limit the number of their children because so much has to be done for the maintenance of others, if natural selection is generally suppressed, then unless we will get new measures our race must rapidly deteriorate.”

      Unfortunately, as far as I know, the brilliant analysis “Kontinuitäten der (Zwangs-)Psychiatrie. Eine kritische Betrachtung” (Continuities/Continuousness in (coercive) psychiatry. A critical reflection) by Alice Halmi is only available in German:


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      • Addendum:

        Dr. Robert Jay Lifton – in the introduction ‘This World Is Not This World’ to his book ‘The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide’ – writes:

        “What my survivor friend was struggling with — what I have struggled with throughout this study — is the disturbing psychological truth that participation in mass murder need not require emotions as extreme or demonic as would seem appropriate for such a malignant project. Or to put the matter, another way, ordinary people can commit demonic acts.

        But that did not mean that Nazi doctors were faceless bureaucratic cogs or automatons. As human beings, they were actors and participants who manifested certain kinds of behavior for which they were responsible, and which we can begin to identify.

        There are several dimensions, then, to the work. At its heart is the transformation of the physician — of the medical enterprise itself — from healer to killer. That transformation requires us to examine the interaction of Nazi political ideology and biomedical ideology in their effects on individual and collective behavior.”

        The complete text is available online:


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        • “demonic possession model”
          I actually like that one – I’d rather be possessed by a demon than “mentally ill”. I mean, how cool is that?

          However, there are words which don’t have clear definitions. “Mental disorder” is kind of one – not only it’s commonly used to mean pretty much anything but even the “official definitions” suck. Take one from Wikipedia:
          “a mental or behavioral pattern or anomaly that causes either suffering or an impaired ability to function in ordinary life (disability), and which is not developmentally or socially normative.”
          Please define to me what is developmentally or better socially normative? These “norms” are not established in any way shape or form and hence the definition means whatever the person using it wants it to mean.

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  21. James, Thanks for contributing this piece.

    I think we can easily get caught up in the semantics of language such as the difference between normal and abnormal, health and illness, disease and wellbeing. The language that is used to discuss mental health is often political. When psychiatry describes symptoms of distress as a “mental illness”, it implies that there is a permanent underlying condition rooted in biology, and that therefore lifelong medication is often warranted.

    And I agree that we throw the baby out with the bathwater when we react by saying…there is no mental illness. Of course there are symptoms of distress that are deeply challenging to millions. Anxiety, depression, hearing torturous voices, bizarre delusions, etc. I think it is important to use different terms, such as “emotional distress”, or the exact symptoms a person is experiencing, because they do not imply a permanent condition.

    By shifting the conversation, and the “languaging”, to suggest that a condition is likely temporary and not permanent, the conversation changes completely. It implies that “treatment” does not need to be lifelong, that recovery is possible, that given enough care and attention, distress is more likely to be episodic than permanent.

    Bu at the core, I think our role as dissenters is to spend less time examining the exact etiology of emotional distress (I think there are many causes personally), and spend more time examining the ways we can help people heal when they are experiencing intense distress.

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    • “But at the core, I think our role as dissenters is to spend less time examining the exact etiology of emotional distress (I think there are many causes personally), and spend more time examining the ways we can help people heal when they are experiencing intense distress.”

      Really? You don’t feel that bringing to light the root cause of distress is a worthwhile goal? I consider it to be vital in the healing process. Otherwise, the ‘healing’ done is superficial, like a Band-Aid, and the distress will continue to fester until triggered again.

      Whereas, if we take the time to examine the origins of specific distress, then something core can be shifted, and the problem alleviates altogether, permanently. That is a core shift. Without this, any condition of imbalance can, indeed, become chronic and degenerative.

      I think it’s good to take the time to learn the specific causes of distress. Each one can be shifted, which brings profound healing and personal growth. Otherwise, people can get stuck, which is what I believe happens in the system, precisely because those within it don’t look for root causes, but only applies superficial remedies intended to ‘calm people down’ in the moment. I don’t see how this is ‘healing.’

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      • There is a tremendous amount of debate around the exact etiology of emotional distress. Is biology involved? Is it due to environmental stressors? Diet? Family of origin issues? Socio-economics? A combination of some or all of those factors? While these issues are deeply important to examine, I believe the most important aspect to examine and critique is how we treat emotional distress…no matter what the cause.

        And right now, psychiatry has the monopoly on how we treat distress…with psychiatric drugs. That is the giant elephant in the room. Even if we learned that all emotional distress is 100 percent biological and genetic (laughable)…it still doesn’t mean that we should always use strong neuroleptic drugs to “heal” this distress.

        I think pro-psychiatry folks use this debate as a wedge issue to make us appear fringe and anti-scientific. “You don’t believe in mental illness?”…implying that we are kooks. I would prefer to switch the argument to “Do you really believe that strong neuroleptic drugs heal “mental illness”?

        Its about language. And right now the languaging of these issues are being used against us. We need to be smarter.

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        • So it’s more important “what people think” than what we know? I was always told the opposite growing up. Adopting the perspectives and terminology of the enemy to get along is “smart”? We always used to refer to that as a**-kissing.

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        • We already know that psychiatry, psychiatric treatment, and certain methods and practices of psychotherapy have caused great distress in people, causing trauma and recurrence of trauma, at the very least. Overwhelming testimonials. Causes of distress have been plenty examined and are really a matter of common sense. The chaotic and violent way the planet is today is plenty distressful for just about everyone.

          Also the way we communicate to ourselves and to others causes great distress these days. A simple conversation can easily turn traumatic for people! What’s the remedy for that, stay away from group discussions? Maybe…

          Personally, I do believe in mental illness. I believe it is a real and tangible phenomenon. I believe it’s epidemic, especially in the United States. I think it’s so common that we don’t always even recognize it, it’s kind of the norm these days.

          I also believe that any form of illness-mental or otherwise–can heal, if we allow it to, and don’t make it worse by our common errors in practice.

          Most of us here agree that meds cause mental illness–or some kind of imbalance, whatever you want to call it (I don’t have an aversion to the term ‘mental illness,’ I owned it when I experienced it, I didn’t have self-stigma about it).

          Maybe in the mainstream mentality and academic circles psychiatry has some kind of corner on the distress market, but that is not the greater world any longer. There are myriad alternatives–as you know, being an alternative practitioner–which are used daily to alleviate subtle and profound distress, and they work long term, they are practical and don’t create dependency, and are without heinous side effects.

          Post traumatic stress can heal and one can move on from these issues. However, this would not occur with current mental health treatment and practices. That alone is cause for distress.

          The idea that psychiatry has a corner on that market is merely an illusion. Don’t fall for it. Common sense can heal, whereas meds and the wrong clinician can cause way more harm than good.

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          • Do you understand what is meant by the “Myth of Mental Illness”?
            Not that emotional suffering doesn’t exist, but that the mind itself doesn’t exist in the way you describe it, as a material thing that can be “diseased.” To glean from Torrey before he turned to the dark side — if a mind can be “sick,” can you explain why an idea cannot be “purple” or a space cannot be “wise”?

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          • Oldhead, this doesn’t make any sense: “The mind is not a physical entity period, Cartesian dualism notwithstanding.”

            Descartes never said the mind was a separate physical entity so I really don’t know how you’re using the word “notwithstanding” here.

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          • I was checking a reference on this blog and saw this question posed to me that I hadn’t seen before, regarding the mind. A little late now, but fwiw, the mind is energy.

            Energy can be dense or it can be light. That’s physics. When energy is dense, it creates dis-ease. I wouldn’t argue about what to call it; I think it’s more fruitful and relevant to find clarity about how to heal the density by breaking up energy blocks.

            When you know how energy works and how we direct and navigate it with our thoughts and beliefs, healing is not so complicated. Only by understanding energy can one get clarity about why the mind can go out of balance, causing us to turn on ourselves and each other.

            Everyone experiences this from time to time. Some, unfortunately, get stuck in density until they know their own self-healing abilities. We all have them, many just don’t know how to access this part of ourselves. Certainly, exorbitantly paid doctors of any kind will never acknowledge that we can heal and shift anything within ourselves, and in fact, will ridicule this notion, because it would cut into their business and disempower them.

            But some people and certain communities are starting to catch on, thank God. That’s what will make this industry obsolete, as this information ripples outward, and into the world at large. Stay tuned, you’ll be hearing more about this as time goes on. It’s the essence of the paradigm shift.

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  22. OMG

    “And I agree that we throw the baby out with the bathwater when we react by saying…there is no mental illness”

    OK so what is the “baby” in this jaded metaphor that I’ve heard in this debate endlessly for at least 30 years? And what is the bathwater?

    You seem like a good guy (though is everyone here so insecure that I have to repeat this every time I challenge someone?) But c’mon.

    If there’s one intelligent statement I’ve heard from the mouth of Rush Limbaugh (even a broken clock is right twice a day) it’s this: WORDS MEAN THINGS. If it doesn’t matter what words we use, I propose we return to the “demonic possession model” rather than the medical model; it’s just words, right?

    The debate over the “existence of mental illness” is not even a medical or psychol;ogical debate, it’s an argument properly conducted by experts in linguistics, i.e. people who understand the rules of language, and who realize, as even Mr. Torrey knows, that there can no more be a sick mind than there can be a purple idea. People who understand what a metaphor is.

    Ever get a psych exam where they ask you the meaning of different metaphorical proverbs such as
    “a new broom sweeps clean”? According to my college abnormal psych 101 text, if a person answers, “No it doesn’t because the bristles are stiff” they are concretizing a metaphor — taking it literally — which is a symptom of schizophrenia. But prescribing drugs for a “sick” mind is as absurd linguistically and semantically as prescribing drugs for a “sick” economy, both of which would also be examples of concrete thinking. So by its own standards would not the psychiatric industry itself be “schizophrenic”?

    Seriously, when the misuse of language is the pretext for the mass administration of brain-damaging poisons, which are deliberately and cynically misrepresented to the public as “medicines” for “diseases” how can you guys sit back and say, essentially, “it’s just words, it’s all good”?

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    • oldhead,

      The “baby”, of course, are the careers and salaries of those who make a living of so called “mental health”, be them psychologists, psychiatrists, drug manufacturers, nurses, social workers, etc. That’s the “baby” they are talking about here, nothing really intellectually profound.

      So what all these people are trying to say is something like, “hey we know we make a living out of a quackery, but we need to make a living out the quackery because that’s what we were trained to do and we cannot be retrained”.

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    • Dear Oldhead and Others,

      Thank you so much for all the time spent in your continued responses to this topic. One of the great things about my personal and professional life is that each day brings an ongoing education of the human experience. I appreciate all the information, now and in the future. I would love to respond to each of you independently, but as mentioned before, having 6 children under the age of 8 always makes me consciously aware of making sure that my writing does not interfere with the more important roles of my life, that of course being a spouse and a father. Thanks for your understanding.

      But as I reflected on all the opinions expressed, I can’t help but me moved by the similarities that seem to exist among our differences. We all (to be best of my summation abilities, and I apologize for those who still disagree),

      1) Are passionate in helping those struggling with psychological difficulties
      2) Feel that much growth and change needs to happen in the current system
      3) Feel that words and categorizations both can fail to capture human struggles adequately and can result in stigma and other negative outcomes
      4) Recognize that millions of individuals experience daily psychological challenges that cause problems for themselves and others that need to be best understood
      5) Understand that the human experience is infinite and vast in many ways (and in essence, makes up everything that has occurred since the beginning of time)
      6) We are all interconnected in more ways than we know and have a responsibility to do right not just by ourselves, but by those around us

      Again, there is nothing profound about this reflection, but just a sense that these commonalities bind us in a singular mission even if our ideas about how this should occur differ in many ways. Along this line, I have a great heart for some of the most unpopular, controversial, outdated, and counterculture topics of our day (both by MIA standards and general society). I do so for one reason – I feel they are often the unspoken and unseen entities that affect our daily lives to a dramatic degree, but the ones that either don’t capture the attention of the masses (due to their mundane nature) or arouse so much fear, that people simply don’t want to discuss them. But I do, and I think this is one of the reasons that through my endurance training, I seek out the harshest, most isolative conditions possible to strengthen my heart and soul for this call. If you allow me, these are the topics that I desire to continue to post on MIA in hopes that the ensuing discussion will lead to a groundswell that will change peoples lives, including my own and that of my children, for the better. And although all of you don’t know me, from beyond what you have read here, I hope to convey that through all of this, I have no desire (although temptations seep in at time) for power, wealth, and fame. I write and speak and work with families because it is a calling, and I am perfectly content living out the rest of my life riding my bike to work and owning one junky, outdated car.

      I look forward to future discussions. Hope all have had a good weekend.

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      • James,

        I don’t think anyone is comparing you to the KOL’s at the top of the APA who sold out the entire mental health profession to Big Pharma with the creation of its junk science DSM in collusion with drug companies and corrupt professional literature exposed by Dr. Nardo at 1boringoldman to stigmatize and blame the victims for their very normal, typical suffering or distress in most cases given their toxic environments and/or the growing inequality, poverty, oppression faced by an increasing number of Americans thanks to the greed and evil of the 1% the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma cartel really serves.

        Unfortunately, those like you who may truly wish to help children and others are forced to work under the bogus DSM paradigm deliberately created to ignore all context and environmental causes of the symptoms or stress reactions psychiatry demonizes as abnormal to blame the victims for social and other oppression to create convenient excuses for those in power to do nothing to address those social and other abuses and inequities. This is in keeping with psychiatry’s horrific eugenics agenda that caused the Nazi Holocaust as I said elsewhere when no genes have been found for any DSM label that even Dr. Thomas Insel, Head of the NIMH, has admitted to be invalid. Thus, I think your profession has much ammunition to challenge this deadly agenda of poisoning our children for greed and profit while stigmatizing and disabling them for life.

        This is systemic evil and the sooner those who aren’t making a literal killing from it join together to fight against it based on their own credentials, the better for all of society and children in particular.

        You may have seen that the British Psychological Association and other professional groups protested the absurd DSM V with such fraud as making grief over the death of a loved one a mental illness of depression to be drugged into oblivion and others.

        So, the best I can say is if you want to maintain your own moral compass and feel you must remain in the system, you may want to check out those like Dr. Claudia Gold of Child in Mind at and others challenging the excesses of biopsychiatry’s one size fits all toxic drugging of our children for social/family problems and stressors that Dr. Peter Breggin covers in his great book, Reclaiming Our Children. I cited other sources lamenting the horrors of this forced drugging paradigm on our nation’s children as well as adult with shortened lives of 25 years on average for adults. Just think what will happen to children’s life span due to these poisons!

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  23. There are purple bananas that can get you put into trucks of some kind… at least in the year 1999 – let’s go crazy – according to Prince.

    ‚Abilify‘ (aripriprazole) is a neologism – and also a so-called symptom (!) of so-called schizophrenia if someone engages in the use of neologisms in the presence of a psychiatrist – are the marketing people over at Bristol-Myers Squibb schizophrenic, or just immensely clever in their efforts to sell an antipsychotic, eh, a neuroleptic, eh wait, a major tranquilizer? Cute little tablets, in ever so much enabling shades of yellow, red and blue.

    Ariprizazole, for instance, as a neuroleptic can even cause what is called ‚psychosis‘ as a so-called side-effect, by inducing changes on a neurophysiological level throughout the central nervous system – a process which is then in turn labeled by some a pharmacogenic ‚hyper- or supersensitivity psychosis‘. These neuroleptic-induced changes throughout the whole of the CNS are the reasons for needing to slowly but surely reduce the dosage of these drugs over time, to allow for an individual’s capacity for neuroplasticity.

    So what exactly does ‚Abilify’ as a major tranquilizer ‚enable‘ one to do, then? Increase the dosage for any given „patient“ because s/he is experiencing a „schizophrenic/manic (positive symptoms)/depressive (negative symptoms) relapse“? I think we’re going bananas, here, big time…

    B: „Was Andreas Brevick “crazy”?“

    I do not think that Anders Breivik was or is „crazy“.

    He killed 70+ people, which was proven beyond any reasonable doubt before a Norwegian court of law – epistemic considerations aside re the ‚proven beyond any reasonable doubt‘ aspect. Therefore, he was convicted of first-degree murder in 70+ cases, as it would be phrased in the U.S. End of story, proper…

    the judges had to go through the motions of calling in so-called psychiatric experts to „testify“ on the defendant’s ‚sanity‘, of course, because that’s what a court of law in these of our days is required to do when confronted with a crime, the ‚true‘ dimension and nature of which is forever ungraspable… and naturally, these „experts“ came up with highly contradictory assessments/judgments re the defendant’s ‚sanity‘ – criminally insane/schizophrenic vs. in full capacity so to speak – all of which the court eventually chose to right out ignore.


    I am very well aware that in the eyes of some of you I might have pulled a ‚Godwin‘ here in this thread – I did not mean to do so, by all and any means… Let me also assure you that I would rather be caught dead-living selling purple bananas out of a truck than, say, joining the Church of Scientology, OK? And please do note the loosening of associations here on my part, would you be ever so kind? 🙂

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  24. “the judges had to go through the motions of calling in so-called psychiatric experts to „testify“ on the defendant’s ‚sanity‘, of course, because that’s what a court of law in these of our days is required to do when confronted with a crime, the ‚true‘ dimension and nature of which is forever ungraspable… and naturally, these „experts“ came up with highly contradictory assessments/judgments re the defendant’s ‚sanity‘ – criminally insane/schizophrenic vs. in full capacity so to speak”
    that was exactly my point 🙂
    “all of which the court eventually chose to right out ignore”
    Which it should do every time. I think courts are better qualified to make such decisions that the so-called “experts on mental illness”.

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  25. Uh oh, loose associations, watch out! 🙂

    Totally agree with you both that psychiatry has no place in a courtroom. Even if mental illness were a real thing I wouldn’t really care what a mass murderer’s motivations were or if he was crazy; the point is to protect society by keepng him locked up until he no longer poses such a threat; maybe when he turns 80 the whole situation could be reevaluated and some sort of supervised release might be possible. But this is not a judgement for psychiatrists to make.

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    • Well, there is a little “but” to this argument. I think if someone is psychotic and that changes his/her perception of reality aka delusions then they cannot be treated like someone who committed a crime in a “normal” state of mind. Then of course you have to help the person get over the crisis in a safe place rather than lock them up in a prison – problem is that this help equals drugging. However, judges (at least good ones, this profession is also not safe from dangerous idiots etc.) are usually perfectly able to make rational decisions on what kind of sentence to impose, if someone was acting in a rational and premeditated way etc. without the need of “mental health experts”. In fact I know some judges avoid calling the “experts” in because they think it will only make the situation worse. In my opinion any person with a bit of intellect and life experience can make assessments like that, they don’t need the “professionals” with their DSM.

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      • Yeah. But the way this would logically worked is that the person’s state of mind would be taken into consideration as one of the extenuating circumstances to be taken into consideration when imposing sentence.

        Mind you this is theoretically what could be done in a just society. Anyone who still thinks we actually live in one of those is certainly delusional and probably hallucinating, btw…..

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      • B, I do not consider the ‚but‘ to be so small as it reintroduces the psychiatric shenanigans back into an already complex and complicated equation.

        Legal terms such as ‚intent‘ (which I forgot to mention re Anders Breivik as in killing ‚voluntarily‘ or ‚deliberately‘ 70+ people) for example are only clear as a bell as long as one does not begin to really think about them. How does one prove intent once and for all, then?

        Having said that, I think that for your scenario, it is perfectly possible to frame it in established legal terms, albeit just in an ideal of worlds. Let’s say the individual suffering from so-called delusions you mentioned killed another person. At least everyone involved in the initial indictment and trial is bound to recognize that something or other is not „right“ with that individual, or could at least not have been „right“ at the time of the crime.

        How about involuntary manslaughter, self-defense, or something along those lines, depending on the specifics of the crime, its situational precursors so to speak, etc.? I really do not see how psychiatric „experts“ could be of any „help“ whatsoever in debating these kinds of issues, really; they’d probably end up further confounding everyone else involved as well as the already immensely complex matter at hand.

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        • And in fact that’s exactly what they do today.

          You must have mentioned somewhere that the guy in question is an avowed fascist. At least he’s honest. But this is in fact a political crime against the people, which should be judged and dealt with with added severity. And as we know, the psychiatric

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        • Well, that also depends a bit on the type of justice system you have. In my country for instance a judge in the criminal court has to establish the facts of the case (that is what happened, why it happened etc.) not just adjudicate between the evidence presented by prosecution and defence before he makes a judgement. It functions a bit different than in US courts.
          There are ways to establish if there was intent (things like planning) and there is usually also evidence if someone is delusional – witnesses, sometimes person’s own writings etc.
          Sure, judiciary is also not perfect, but that is at least a real due process in contrast to the sham offered by psychiatry. There has to be real evidence of a crime (not “he may potentially in future commit crimes because, you know, he’s dangerous”) and the person can provide real legal defence (not sham patient’s advocates who usually do nothing) and there is an appeal process.

          “I really do not see how psychiatric „experts“ could be of any „help“ whatsoever in debating these kinds of issues”
          Agree, that was my point exactly.

          Then there is a question what to do with a person who indeed is dangerous because of their psychosis. But that’s a completely different problem.

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  26. What happened to ‘Clinging to the Slopes of Everest’ and what was it’s role in inviting us to reflect on More or Less or No more ‘Mental Illness’?

    Clinging to the Slopes of Mount Everest seems pretty non-normal to me. It implies a huge shift from dominating western ‘middle class citizens’ ideas and habits of normal, like grow up close with animals and living/working in nature. People living ‘more farmer style’ may have had a gut fealing of ’emotionally unhealthy up-bringing of kids if they react fearful to the neighbors big dog’.

    It may have allowed to question why framing ‘normal mental health’ vs ‘mental illness’ with the nice acceptance of western world’s well-off’s shared ignorance of inherent ‘imeprialism’ and ‘superiority turned into normality’ should be ‘genrerally’ accredited and for what purpose.

    To put it simply, I feel suppressed and ridiculed as having experienced qualitatively widened, intensified, shining and visionary, as well as visionary and bodily disruptive relatedness, sensing, peceiving, being called by and haunted by dimensions and agents in a reality which got simply called a non-reality by psychiatry (doctors and their reductionist doctrines). Non of my experiences are attributable to causal strands neither to mental or emotional dysfunctioning – but to a different way to be alive in this reality as a qualitatively changed on. It has been very stressful to leave behind the constant persecution by psychiatry – solution: hide, hide even in seclusion, pretend, ly, don’t share anything – and over the years to find ways to live myself with extremely different sensations, visions, ideas/missions without blaming and punishing me for accepting these as messages and scenarios of ‘hidden and unspoken parts of the wider realities’, haunting ones’ from wars, oppressionsof values and beliefs , transgenerational and other traumata, and lived mission-visions of more illuminated, multi-fold nuanced and interwoven dimensions in the wider realities’. I know how psychiatrically ‘educated’ doctors persecute and discredit people with ‘extreme experiences’ which they seem to have no emotional, sensual, perceptive, mental, spiritual, historical and cultural connection with/to. This witch hunt has to end.

    People have done all sorts of things being in qualitatively changed modes of experiencing a widened, spectrified and intensified reality, some give all their belongings, others follow tongues, others may attempt clinging to the slopes of Everest, others have murdered, most have wandered in this newly widened realities. Nearly none has ever been respected or supported with cultural knowledge in making sense of these intense experiences as an extra-ordinary human being, learning to build relations with these intense and widened experiences and visions which are less in danger to make one prone to persecution, forced drugging and being labeled mentally diseased and ill.

    It’s time to end the persecution. People with these experiences seem more capable to join and listen and explore em without the need to see everybody as irrational, out-of control, potentially in danger to self and others. Learning intense and mind and emotion transforming experiences is only overwhelming and out-of-control at the beginning… but then how often did I rage with joy or cry with anger or fear learning to walk or to ride my first tiny bike? How often was I afraid of the monsters living in the patterns of the carpet in my bedroom or in illuminated moods being an indian princess listen to whispering souls of natures ghost? I guess my later widened intensified experiences were more transparent to the thousands of dead, the milliards of ghosts, as the endless nuances of lights, beings,visions of possible ennatured cultured beings shining in every corner of reality and being in things turned symbols and messages. I have gone far away from psychiatry to give myself time for historical, cultural exporation and ‘teaming’ the no-longer beastly ‘visionary and haunting sensually illuminated or shattering deadening experiences’. I could do this cause I had always loved literature and had studied anthropology, thus I could actually travel with human companions and no longer be afraid of ‘my brain undergoing a degenerative process if I NOT take neuroleptics’. I do not and my mind is doing fine, my body has learned pain and suffering, my heart can now re-feel moments of love from my childhood, I am grateful for my visions and hauntings as related to human’s terrible history and mostly terrifying industry destruction and corrupted perverse politics, grateful for sensuous visions of care with light, plants, animal, and I live an ordinary-extraordinary life.

    Obviously for myself I find psychiatric concepts of mental disorder not better than witch-haunt or the dehumanizing and ignorant branding of imperialist colonizers of indegeneous people’s cultures and their persecution, disowning, exploitation, punishment, emprisonment and psychiatrization. Don’t read the last lines as some past history.

    And stop diagnosing as mentally disordered and mentally ill experiences and people whom the ‘doctors’ ignore near all about and won’t acknowledge their ‘ecological, social, cultural lived/haunted history and contexts’.

    ‘Normal’ should be historically outdated in a socially diverse and culturally rich democracy rooted in mutual accountablility for people, cratures and nature. No, the western model is one build on aggressive expansiveness and ownership of the well-offs, nicely turned into ‘normal’ on Sunday afternoons or when playing with the kids, that is not what my hauntings and visions allude to. It is demanding to accept and nuance the haunting of human brutality and murder or resurrection and illumination in altered mental experiences. But I resist their dehumanization and abjection as ‘mental disorders/illnesses’.

    “The anonymous current of being invades, submerges every subject, person or thing. The subject-object distinction by which we approach existents is not the starting point for a meditation which broaches being in general.”
    Levinas, Emmanuel. There is: Existence without Existents. 1946.

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