In recent years, in what I have come to call my “Adventures with Whitaker,” I have had the privilege of communicating with people with whom I would have otherwise had little contact. Some of this has been through this website and the rich exchange of ideas I have had with those of you who comment on my blogs. I have read many posts and often followed up by reading books written by some bloggers as well as books mentioned in various posts. I have had some “off line” exchanges with people I would have only met through this site and I have ventured to meetings whose existence I only learned of through these connections.

If you read my posts, you know that I have come to identify myself as a critical psychiatrist. But I remain a psychiatrist working in a busy clinic and it is imperative for me to understand the implications of my critical stance not only for me but also for the people who end up in my office.

One of my guiding principles is to try to be authentic to my own ideas, opinions, and values no matter the setting. When one is struggling and uncertain, it is tempting to lean one way in a setting that supports a particular view and lean another way in a setting that supports an alternative. While I try to resist, it is impractical to always explain. However, from time to time, I find myself feeling the urge to articulate my views and delineate them from people with whom I may be identified. Rightly or wrongly, I feel that way with this website. Although the goal is to have wide ranging views there is nevertheless a distinct perspective represented here. Every so often, I feel the urge to articulate where I part ways with some of the opinions expressed here. I do this in the spirit of discourse. I am not certain I am correct. I may someday change my mind. I am just expressing my perspective.

Three recent posts have caught my attention in this context and what follows are the thoughts provoked by these posts.

A few weeks ago, Daniel Mackler wrote a post, “Ode to Biological Psychiatry.” At the time, I made the following comments in response to this post.

“This work feels like a shutting down of dialogue. There is little room for response. I am hoping to open up the conversation and I see no room for that with the rhetoric used here.”

A lively discussion ensued.

More recently, Philip Hickey, PhD has written a series of posts on neuroleptics and their use in nursing home residents. One of them was written in response to a physician who wrote, “All drugs can be dangerous toxic chemicals when not used appropriately.”

I am an avid reader of Dr. Hickey’s posts and I agree with much of what he writes, but I often feel a vague discomfort. I think I traced it to a comment he wrote to this last post:

“My general position is that psychiatry is spurious, destructive, disempowering, and stigmatizing. To me, it is something fundamentally rotten; something intellectually and morally bankrupt; a wrong turning in human history.”

I appreciate his honesty. At the same time, it helps me to understand our differences.

The post that helped me to clarify my own thinking was written by Bonnie Burstow, PhD, “On Fighting Institutional Psychiatry With the ‘Attrition Model’.” It – and the referenced article she has written – provide some history of the anti-psychiatry movement as well as define a strategy – the attrition model – to abolish psychiatry.

This helps me to clarify why I may have trouble having a discourse with some of you. Your goal may be the abolition of psychiatry and mine is to reform and critique. It is understandable that in this context our strategies and rhetoric might differ. I am not going to argue with any of you about this. Good luck in your efforts. But we may find ourselves talking past one another given our differing goals.

But I would highlight one concern about the abolitionist approach. Some writers here appear to consider psychiatry as an anomalous construct of a modern medicine that is otherwise doing well. Dr Hickey writes about “real medicines” in contrast to drugs used by psychiatrists. Although I have criticisms that are specific to psychiatry, I do not share his faith in the rest of the profession.

Last month, we lost one of the great figures of modern medicine, Arnold S. Relman, MD. He was a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and for 14 years in the late 70’s and 80’s, the editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, arguably the most influential medical journal in the world. In 1980, he wrote an article entitled, “The new medical industrial complex” in which he warned of the dangers of profit driven entities in altering the structure of modern medicine. He argued then, as he argued for the rest of his life, for enacting a single payer health care system and eliminating the profit motives in the practice of medicine.

That was 1980. If one looks at the evolution of modern psychiatry, this was an important year. DSM-III was published that year. In the next two decades, what had been a more open debate in the profession – how to think about the problems and personal crises psychiatrists were asked to evaluate and treat, the role of drugs vs. other interventions, the need for a technological approach vs. a humanistic one, appeared to be settled. Whatever flaws one finds in psychiatry, the ascendancy of certain ideas over others has as much to do with market driven forces as with anything else. We ignore that at our own risk.

Dr. Relman along with his wife, Marcia Angel, M.D., also a former editor of NEJM, went on to tirelessly challenge all profit-driven entities in medicine including the pharmaceutical industry. Their writing was crucial to my enlightenment and development and this is an opportunity to honor Dr. Relman’s memory and to publicly thank them for their courageous efforts.

So what is my point?

Medicine – in all senses of the word – is not going away. Drugs will continue to be developed. The human desire for psychoactive substances which long precedes the business of psychiatry – modern or otherwise – is not likely to abate. To take aim at psychiatry without looking at the larger medical/industrial complex in which it is so firmly based is not likely to achieve the goals some of you hope to achieve.

I recently finished reading a book by the psychologist, Richard Noll, entitled, “American Madness.” It details the development of the construct of schizophrenia from the late 1890’s in Germany when Kraepelin coined the term Dementia Praecox through the 1930’s when Schizophrenia became the accepted label. There is much of value in this book for anyone interested in the history of the profession. One thing that struck me is that 100 years later, we continue to have the same debates. Kraepelin was influenced by the advances in medicine at the time. He approached the problems of those who were in insane asylums with the approach of his medical colleagues – study the history, course, signs and symptoms as a way to understand an underlying pathophysiology that was presumed to be common among individuals regardless of their social context.

As this line of research was unproductive, there were others – Adolf Myer, Sigmund Freud – who rejected this and sought answers in the individual and his social or psychological experience. This was never resolved and is still not resolved. We just have more professions who have joined the fray. But an odd thing happened. The label stuck and with it the belief that it signified something essential. So today, I may have a colleague say something like, “I do not think he has schizophrenia because he is so social.”  That comment only makes sense if one adheres to an unproved 100 year old hypothesis that there is an entity that exists in nature whose constellation of symptoms we have definitively identified.

There is a lot of blame to go around. I would not discount the responsibility of the individual psychiatrist but at the same time, all of us are products of our context. If one finds oneself in medical school, one is likely to have some fundamental notion that the brain is involved in the spirit and the mind. If one is told that there is a 100 year-old profession that addresses these problems and one finds satisfaction in meeting with people who consult with psychiatrists, then one might end up training to be a psychiatrist and begin with the notion that one’s teachers have something of value to say.

On a personal level, it took me many years to evolve my critical stance. I needed to learn the profession before I could even form a cogent opinion. In that time, I guess I was fortunate to develop a critical view of all dominant paradigms – the psychoanalytic, the neo-Kraeplenian categorical approach, and the pharmaco-centric approach. I have learned that psychiatry is a broad entity. Many varying ideas are encapsulated within the profession. There are forces at play that include guild interests both within and outside of medicine, varying theoretical constructs, the needs of profit-driven entities (including non-profit hospitals!), as well as the individual actions of physicians. Maybe I am too close to have perspective but lumping it all together under the umbrella of an abolitionist approach ignores too much from my vantage point.

I continue to think we are better off criticizing specific ideas, themes, treatment approaches, even specific doctors if they have acted badly. I also think we are obligated to shine the light on all solutions. For those of you whose goal is to topple the beast, think carefully about who will come in to take its place.


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.


Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.


  1. This is a very strange coincidence, but I spent some of my time this weekend arguing this very topic to the point of having written a post that I reproduce below as to why I am an abolitionist and why I think those on my side will eventually win in the sense at that some point all forms of coercive psychiatry will be abolished in the same way slavery was even though it took 200 years to go from the 3/5ths compromise to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    Why I am an abolitionist

    My full response to this question

    It is the same reason that when slavery was legal there were two “well meaning” schools of thought about it:

    – One that fought for its abolition on moral grounds: slavery is wrong, period. Regardless of any other consideration, its abolition is a noble goal.

    – Another that slavery, when applied properly, was a force for good and thus the right approach was to improve the lives of slaves not to abolish slavery. I am not making this up

    “This theory supposes that there must be, and supposedly always has been, a lower class for the upper classes to rest upon: the metaphor of a mudsill theory being that the lowest threshold (mudsill) supports the foundation for a building. This theory was used by its composer Senator and Governor James Henry Hammond, a wealthy southern plantation owner, to justify what he saw as the willingness of the non-whites to perform menial work which enabled the higher classes to move civilization forward. With this in mind, any efforts for class or racial equality that ran counter to the theory would inevitably run counter to civilization itself.

    Southern pro-slavery theorists asserted that slavery eliminated this problem by elevating all free people to the status of “citizen”, and removing the landless poor (the “mudsill”) from the political process entirely by means of enslavement. Thus, those who would most threaten economic stability and political harmony were not allowed to undermine a democratic society, because they were not allowed to participate in it. So, in the mindset of pro-slavery men, slavery was for protecting the common good of slaves, masters, and society as a whole.”

    So while slavery and coercive psychiatry are not exactly the same, both are justified on the same principle: government paternalism on a “subclass of people”. For the pro slavery people, the “subclass” were the blacks, for the “pro coercive psychiatry folks” that subclass is those the APA labels with the DSM.

    So to me, the question is not hard to answer. Other considerations aside, we in the abolitionist movement are fighting for what we perceive as a moral cause and we will not relent until we achieve our goals. Our position might sound ridiculous or unachievable but I think that the same could have been said in 1791 since what the “we must learn to live with psychiatry” crowd sells looks strikingly similar to the Three-Fifths Compromise . Guess who had the last word even though it took the US almost 200 years until it approved the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    Report comment

  2. Thank you for your article.

    If I were a psychiatrist, I believe that my personal position would be that the institution, the organization of psychiatry so fundamentally contradicts my personal values that I would want nothing to do with any of its professional associations. As long as the American Psychiatric Association is considered to be a voice of authority speaking for Psychiatry-as-Institution, I don’t feel like I would want to be associated professionally with that institution.

    On the other hand, I also feel like I would struggle with the reality that I had very different motivations, values and beliefs toward my own individual practice of psychiatry. I would not want to stop seeing voluntary clients, and engaging in full-time employment where my job is to connect empathetically to other human beings, listen to their stories, share in their emotions both the joys and the sorrows, and become a fellow-traveler in their journey, offering whatever suggestions or supports I can along the way.

    But in order for me to do that, I don’t see how I could actually practice as a “Psychiatrist” as part of most institutions, as the institution of capital P Psychiatry has become so medicalized my primary duty would be to prescribe and manage drugs. I wouldn’t want to be a part of that. I would be ANTI-that. I don’t want to quibble about whether or not some type of drug can sometimes be helpful or not, though I tend to accept that human experiences are so diverse that certainly some drug will be helpful to some person in some context for some period of time. But I myself would not want to be a part of an institution that promotes unscientificly supported claims to legitimacy and unscientifically supported treatment approaches, such as the medication first, frequently and forever model that capital P Psychiatry subscribes to and promotes.

    If I was a psychiatrist, I think I would want to stop calling myself a psychiatrist in favor or some other name that was not associated with the institution of psychiatry that so contradicted my own beliefs and values about service to other human beings. But on the other hand, for individuals who are practicing psychiatrists, I think it is a really stupid mistake to automatically demonize them or treat them as though they are automatically the enemy. I don’t see you that way. I don’t see people like Dan Fisher and other psychiatrists that way.

    As a clinical social worker, I often find myself feeling very defensive. Because even though my professional training was not remotely connected to a medical model, nor was I steeped in the language of “mental illness” as a literal disease, nor was I taught that psychiatric medications were the answer, my profession still frequently gets lumped in under the umbrella of “anti-psychiatry.” In fact, the MIA community is inconsistent in its definition of anti-psychiatry, which can mean anything from being against the institution of Psychiatry in the West without taking issue with individual practicing therapists all the way to being against any one engaging in any counseling or support service with anybody, anywhere.

    I feel able to stay that I oppose the institution of psychiatry and its representative leadership. I am “anti” that. On the other hand, I don’t have any opposition to individuals who desire to continue to work with people free from association with that institution. Psychiatrists who see themselves as counselors rather than “doctors” of the mind, are my brothers and sisters. Psychiatrists who do not adopt the evidence-absent model of literalizing “mental illness” and who see medications – at best – as a very last resort to be used sparingly and briefly are my comrades in arms.

    So, I am not Anti-YOU. Nor do I want to force you out of a job, if your desire is to make a living by offering compassionate, non-coercive, non-directive support and relational partnership to people who would like to receive that from you. That’s all wonderful. But the institution of western psychiatry is anything but.

    Report comment

    • Hi Andrew.

      I personally have an issue with the entire system of “mental health care”. For myself, I found it impossible to oppose psychiatry and affiliate with social work. I feel like they are all connected; and, often the practice of social work felt like an insult to my intelligence. Was I really supposed to believe that the MSW program approved by the Council on Social Work Education was designed to prepare people to provide compassionate and humane support for individuals in distress? When a whole course focuses on the DSM whatever number and the identification of “mental illness”? Really? Do we need one more social work student to be given the supposedly “creative” assignment of watching Fatal Attraction and deciding Glen Close is a borderline?

      We don’t need one more person coming out of that kind of formulaic indoctrination and pretending that they actually know how to do something besides fill time for billable hours and fill criteria for agencies that want to appear to be providing “talk therapy” along with drugging because the studies say the drugs work better than talk therapy.

      While I am here, Andrew, I will also apologize for referring to you as a “nice young man” or some such on another comment thread. My remark was obviously more of a projection on my feelings about myself as a bit of a relic than an actual criticism of your knowledge base or ability to essay and remark on issues important to MIA.

      Best regards, Sharon Cretsinger

      Report comment

      • Psychiatry, good or bad, right or wrong, exists apart from the government. By that I mean, if every penny of government money into government programs evaporated, if there was no medicaid and medicare, practicing psychiatrists would still exists.

        By talking about “pro coercive psychiatry” you’ve built up a nice straw man to knock down, because I don’t believe you can point to anyone here who is any such thing.

        Report comment

        • Opps, replied to the wrong comment. Let me try again,

          Your experience in school was completely opposite of my own. If I had had the experience that you seem to have had, I am reasonably sure I would have left as well. However my experience in school, including experience with the DSM, was drastically different.

          My experience in practicing since school has shown me both sides of the spectrum. On one end are programs and agencies that seemed to have functioned much like you describe. On the other side of the spectrum – at least for my working experience – are programs that don’t look anything like what you described.

          So I suspect that an individual social workers experience both in school and in the field can vary widely – especially since social work is a broad field that includes social justice advocacy, community organizing and development – basically anything on a micro or macro scale that has the goal of social justice and alliance with oppressed or marginalized populations.

          Report comment

        • “By talking about “pro coercive psychiatry” you’ve built up a nice straw man to knock down, because I don’t believe you can point to anyone here who is any such thing.”


          A strawman?

          I think you are wrong about that, Andrew. (And I really don’t know why you would say it).

          Please, see the the blogger’s stated position (i.e., Dr. Sandra Steingard’s position) on coercion, in her May 17, 2012 MIA blog post, that’s titled “Coercion”.

          Therein, she writes:

          “I am a psychiatrist who believes that involuntary treatment is rarely effective in the long run.

          I am also a psychiatrist who sometimes forces people into hospitals against their will. I have patients who are on court ordered outpatient treatment and this may include the requirement to take medications that I prescribe.

          I do not select or screen the people I treat. I work as a community psychiatrist and I am sometimes asked to see people who do not want to talk to me.

          I do not want to overly dramatize or assert that all people who are in extreme distress are dangerous, but I do know that there are some who are.

          Some of the people who I send to hospitals against their will would be in jail if they were not in a psychiatric hospital.”

          By reading not only that brief excerpt from her “Coercion” blog post, but also her comments on that page, it becomes entirely clear, that she practices and defends medical-coercive psychiatry.



          Report comment

          • Jonah,

            Here’s how my thinking goes so far…

            I think that talking people in this community being “pro coercive psychiatry” is similar to calling people who are pro-choice “Pro-abortion.” I don’t know anyone who is “pro-abortion” as in, let’s go out and really try to maximize the number of abortions happening in the world. Instead, I know people who believe that the right of an individual woman to make a choice on the matter takes priority over other concerns. That’s a very different thing.

            Similarly, consider our own lengthy discussion over the weekend. I talked about how, in my role at the ER, I’ve had to hospitalize someone involuntarily. But as we talked at length this weekend, it seemed to become clear that I don’t believe in forced treatment.

            So I believe the “pro” is the issue here. I have met people, I am loathed to say, who I would argue truly are “pro” coercion and I don’t think that label reasonably fits anyone I’ve met here, even those that are grappling with tough issues and may not align perfectly with my own beliefs or values.

            Report comment

          • Andrew,

            Thanks for your reply.

            In response, first, briefly, I emphasize this: That comment exchange that we had, this weekend, was very positive, imho, especially as you established (as you say here), that you “don’t believe in forced treatment.”

            That is so very key, imho…

            And, actually, you were even more specific than that, in a good way (I feel). Here is the excerpt from what I feel is the most important comment reply that you offered me (on July 26, 2014 at 4:37 pm),

            …You asked: “Are you, perhaps, inclined to defend what many “hospital” workers propose, is the supposed ‘necessity’ of so-called “emergency” forced IM (neuroleptic) drugging?”

            My answer: No. With no qualification.

            You also asked: “And, here’s one more question, if you are so inclined: Do you ever order and/or administer such drugging?”

            My answer: No. Never. As a clinical social worker, I am not able to prescribe medications, and would not do so if I was able.


            That’s a very important, heartening reply, by you, I feel — especially as it is so clearly straightforward.

            In all ways, it leads me to believe, that you are, indeed, bound to be, over all, an unusually good influence, upon those whom you encounter, in the course of working your E.R. job — especially, those who do feel that forced IM drugging is sometimes absolutely necessary; you’ll inevitably encounter such folk, in your work, at times.

            MIA blogger, Jonathan Keyes is one such individual.

            He has told me, recently in an MIA comment (on June 21, 2014 at 7:50 pm),

            “Yes, I have taken part in restraining individuals who are being given IMs when they have become violent. I have said that before. But I have never said I have done this as any form of “treatment.””

            Source: See:

            Imho, he minces words there and confuses the issue, by claiming that such forced IM drugging, which he supports and assists, is supposedly not treatment.

            (Here I’m shaking my head as I consider that statement, of his.)

            Generally speaking, I find your expressions and your values, in comparison, much more reasonable and satisfying to discuss.

            I am much happier to engage in comments with you…

            So, about your balking, when commenters (including I, myself) suggest that there are “pro coercive psychiatry” bloggers here, at MIA…

            I see what you’re saying, and your analogy (referencing the issue of abortion) is interesting, because it would seem (if I’m not mistaken) to favor those who call for “choice” …i.e., those who favor women’s rights — i.e., the perceived right to maintain and defend ones choice, including ones possible choice to end ones own pregnancy (over the objections, of what others claim, are the fetuses’ right to life).

            Well, I think it is reasonable to call that position “pro-Choice” and the opposing position “anti-Choice” (and, perhaps, there are various “limited-Choice” positions in between those two camps).

            Psychiatrists, generally speaking, are notorious for their tendency to want to dictate ‘treatment’ — if possible; they often feel that they must drastically restrict “patients'” choices, even reject “patients'” objections to treatment (e.g., by submitting them to forced psychiatric drugging).

            Medical-coercive psychiatry (which is part and parcel of most psychiatrist’s practices) is all about restricting “patient” choices, that way.

            Dr. Steingard, I will call “pro medical-coercive psychiatry” for sure.

            After all, anyone can see how, in so many ways, her “Coercion” blog post and accompanying comments suggest, that she works in a capacity that, at times, leaves her “patients” no choice but accept that they will be “medicated,” regardless of their possible objections.

            So, now, I’m reconsidering this fact, that you say (in one comment, above): “By talking about “pro coercive psychiatry” you’ve built up a nice straw man to knock down, because I don’t believe you can point to anyone here who is any such thing.”

            And, as I think about that term “pro coercive psychiatry,” I just don’t see it as you do.

            To me, it seems a very reasonable way to describe anyone who unmistakeably defends the presumed ‘right’ — and/or the legal empowerment and official ‘duty’ — of psychiatrists, to force their ‘treatments’ on any number of “patients”.

            Can we not call such psychiatrist (as, for example, Dr. Steingard) “pro medical-coercive psychiatry”?

            To me, it seems obvious, Dr. Steingard defends medical-coercive psychiatry, so she is pro medical-coercive psychiatry.

            I sincerely wonder if you’ll object to my saying that…



            Report comment

          • “I think that talking people in this community being “pro coercive psychiatry” is similar to calling people who are pro-choice “Pro-abortion.””
            No it’s the same as calling pro-lifers “anti-choice”. Somebody who is condoning and even worse practicing coercive psychiatry is by definition against choice and acts from an authoritarian position imposing his/her values and opinions on another human being by force while suffering no effects of that action. I find both despicable.

            Report comment

        • It seems this was addressed to me.

          I disagree. The biggest paying customers for psychotropic drugs worldwide, including in the US, are governments. Governments are also psychiatry’s most important evangelists through mental health laws.

          Without the transfer of public money to psychiatry and its evangelization by governments psychiatry would be about as relevant as astrology.

          Report comment

          • Well, that’s an interesting argument that I’m not discounting.

            I guess it really depends on what psychiatry is these days. I still hold this, probably naive, notion that psychiatry in its roots was something very different than it is now. But that was then, this is now. So if the institution of psychiatry is truly dependent on prescribing drugs, and the government heavily subsidizes that, then perhaps what you predict is what would happen.

            What I tend to suspect is there is always going to be enough people around who want to go to another person for consultation or support that people who want to will be able to squeek out a living doing that sort of human service.

            Report comment

          • Andrew,

            To me it is obvious. And that’s the main reason mainstream psychiatry supports coercive psychiatry. Not because they are about to commit all so called “mentally I’ll” but because the whole endorsement of mental health as understood by psychiatry by governments- to the point that this version of mental health is deemed an essential Obamacare benefit- helps assure the employment of psychiatrists for decades to come.

            Astrology also has a market funded entirely by private money but it is not nearly as big as it would be if astrology was promoted and enforced by government.

            Report comment

          • Your point about psychiatry without public funding being about as relevant as astrology has an interesting historical referent. Actually in 17th century England, astrologers were turned to to attend to “madness” and were many more popular among the every day people for addressing “madness” than doctors were(perhaps because they tended not to harm them). And as it happened it was precisely the union between the state that drove the astrologers out of business. In London, practicing physicians were allowed by the state to fine practicing astrologers.

            Report comment

          • If we continue in the analytical model of psychiatry as a branch of law enforcement and social control, what you say makes sense (and I agree) — without govt. support (coupled with the practice of coercion) psychiatry would have to win over a far more sophisticated poplulace than it ever had to deal with back in the day when having a medical degree settled any argument.

            Report comment

          • Governments are into control, I agree there, and they control a lot more than psychiatry. But I don’t think they wish to be in the mental health business except that the public expects them to be, so the public as a whole doesn’t have to deal with it.

            A random conversation last week at work among a bunch of 20 somethings about giving money to the homeless. Usual conversation about scam artists and them using money to buy liqueur. And then one of them says “I don’t give money to beggars; that is what I pay taxes for”.

            From experience I know that many think this way. And, it is the same with mental health; most of the public pays zero attention to the issues unless some horror story on the news grabs them. But even then, they don’t look into; just follow whatever the talking heads are saying, and then after a short time they go right back to not paying attention and thinking they are good people because that is what they pay taxes for.

            Report comment

          • “there is always going to be enough people around who want to go to another person for consultation or support”
            Yeah, that’s what’s called having friends… That is why I personally find the psychotherapy only a little bit less disgusting than psychiatry – it feels like a psychological equivalent of prostitution when a person takes money from you to do things that people who normally care for you and love you do for free.

            Report comment

      • Sharon: I had a similar experience with the counseling program that I enrolled in at the local graduate college. I entered the program hoping to get on with a university, but owing to the university’s decision to change athletic conferences in search of football glory, the subsequent stress on the budget led to a discontinuation of the college counseling specialization in the counseling department. I was told that the Mental Health specialization was very much in keeping with what I set out to do, so I enrolled in the introduction to Mental Health class. I believe that the class entailed three live meetings of three hours each. Part of the online requirement was the discussion board. Since I had direct experience as a patient in two state hospitals in 1989, a private hospital in 1990 along with a community based crisis unit followed up by group and independent living in the community, I naively felt that by detailing my experiences I could be of assistance to the group endeavor.
        Shortly into the semester, the instructor messaged me aside. Basically, by including my personal experience, I was off topic and exhibiting extremely poor judgement. I was taken a back, but I did include a few more tie ins on the message board about my personal experience. It seemed to me that the direction of the discussions begged the question, and it was the case that the inclusion of my personal experience was but one aspect in the totality of my discussion posts and the direction of my written assignments. The instructor came from a non-denominational Christian college, and that might have provoked her reaction to an interview with a Christian counselor that I conducted. By merely remarking that at one time in my life I would have found it impossible to dialogue with someone from a fundamentalist perspective, she graded my paper as unprofessional.
        Looking back, there were red flags in the first session. She allowed one student to basically dialogue with her for most of the evening. The two seemed to revel in how far the psychiatric profession had come. They were both very please with their own efforts at the De-stigmatization of the mentally ill-it was all verystigmatizing. I tried to add to the conversation by noting that I visited a psychiatric museum in Colonial Williamsburg, but that didn’t get me very far. The last straw for her came, when I simply posed the question on the discussion board as to why there are so many more people on SSI or SDI, if psychiatry was really making such headway. (I don’t pretend to exactly know the ins and outs and the why fours to answer the question, but feel like it is a valid question nonetheless. She completely blew up to every one on the discussion board. Basically saying no one denies that psychiatric hospitals were abysmal Forty years ago, but that was the bad old days. The only thing I felt like I could say, was my experience was From 21 years ago.
        This was the clincher in driving me out of the program. The university has since taken on two new psychiatric fellows. I was a budding anti-psychiatric at the time. This experience has helped to push me more firmly into the camp. I have always been open about my experience to family and friends, and of course this initial foray into the public arena did not go as well as I planned, but I am not done yet.

        Report comment

  3. I actually don’t think the typical reader of MIA is “anti-psychiatry.” I do consider myself anti-psychiatry, but everyone has his or her own definition.

    I certainly think there are a few decent psychiatrists who sincerely want to help. But they are a tiny minority. What seems obvious to me, though, is that the profession as a whole is one of the most destructive institutions in our society. The typical person with whatever problem goes into a psych ward and comes out much the worse. Particularly disturbing to me are situations where the person has undergone some trauma like rape or the death of a loved one, and is told they need to be drugged for the rest of their lives. Those of us like me are given a label that Thomas Szasz appropriately pointed out is like being called a Jew in Nazi Germany.

    These criticisms could be multiplied a hundredfold, and they are not interesting intellectual points. They are the basis of the terrible suffering of millions of people, inflicted by a profession that as a whole seems to be constituted of psychopaths, people who seem to have no ability or interest to feel empathy or understand of the suffering of other people.

    I think it would be naive for me to say I want to “abolish” psychiatry. But I think the power of psychiatry, which more and more is out of control, has to be taken away. This will I am sure take a long time. But when it is accomplished, and psychiatrists can no longer force their damaging interventions on people, psychiatry will abolish itself. Or hopefully (but very unlikely) it will change into a system that actually helps people. I will not hold my breath for that, though.

    Report comment

    • Quite – Sami Timimi is a UK member of the critical psychiatry network. He does not diagnose and does not prescribe drugs, unless people come to him with them. He works in child and adolescent psychiatry. His clinic is effective with about 75% being discharged, never to return or use adult psychiatry, and in a reasonable time too.

      But most CAMHS clinics just prescribe drugs these days and keep people on their books until they transfer to adult services. Indeed some refuse a service if the parents refuse to drug their children.

      The voice of sanity is a terrifyingly small minority among psychiatry, the majority are dangerous, drug pushing gits

      Report comment

    • Ted: in my four months of incarceration I did get to make the acquaintance of two superb individuals-for the lack of a better term, orderlies. Their assistance and humanity were invaluable. Without them I don’t know that I would have made. As for the psychiatrists, I don’t think any of them really got to know me as a person.

      Report comment


    »Zombie science is a science that is dead,
    but is artificially kept moving by a continual infusion of funding.
    From a distance Zombie science looks like the real thing, the sur-
    face features of a science are in place – white coats, laboratories,
    computer programming, Ph.D’s, papers, conferences, prizes, etc.
    But the Zombie is not interested in the pursuit of truth – its actions
    are externally-controlled and directed at non-scientific goals, and
    inside the Zombie everything is rotten.«

    Psychiatry is so rotten, that there is no way to transform it to something good. This doesn’t mean that every person who is labelled as a psychiatrists does conform to the ideology of psychiatry.

    Report comment

  5. Is the organ so riddled with cancer that it should be removed (abolitionist), or a part of it removed (forced psychiatry), or can it be treated with medicine and function properly (reformed).

    I’m for the removal of forced psychiatry, and treating the rest by having some accountability being administered. Much of the tissue appears functional, but that bit of cancer that is contained within is doing too much damage to be ignored any longer.

    Which camp do I fall into?

    Report comment

    • “I’m for the removal of forced psychiatry, and treating the rest by having some accountability being administered. Much of the tissue appears functional, but that bit of cancer that is contained within is doing too much damage to be ignored any longer.”

      Very well stated, Boans!

      Report comment

  6. i’ve looked into this question at great depth, & it is a very in depth & complex question. i’m not opposed to an in depth/comprehensive psychiatry – A bio/psyhco/social/spiritual model. Even with an ideal system, a percentage of people i feel would still be best helped with medications (as part of a comprehensive approach) – it would likely be a small percentage – but it would be there. Jung, Loren Mosher, John Weir Perry, to name a few – have pioneered more comprehensive/humane approaches to care – there exists a comprehensive understanding to the psyche & human experience. If the focus was on genuine healing, support & care, then i don’t see the issue?

    Part of the problem i see with some of the anti-psychiatry arguments is that they deny the nature/reality/experience of severe mental illness/distress, & a lot lean very much towards the more extreme end of libertarianism.

    i don’t doubt that horrendous things have gone on in the treatment of the Mad over the past 400 odd years & a lot of bad stuff does still go on. There is an insidious agenda behind the mass drugging of society – especially in America. But a more abstracted view does i feel need to be taken. Some people are at a severe/extreme end of mental health experience, & they fully deserve comprehensive & appropriate care & support. A percentage of them i expect will be best helped with a wise use of medications.

    It’s the either/or thinking from all sides that i struggle with – we need a comprehensive/integral view.

    Report comment

    • «Some people are at a severe/extreme end of mental health experience, & they fully deserve comprehensive & appropriate care & support. A percentage of them i expect will be best helped with a wise use of medications.»

      Psychiatric drugs might be helpful for some people, but it never should be seen as the only possible and especially not the first intervention.

      Report comment

      • i totally agree Liisa. i’m not condoning the current system in any way at all. i think there should be comprehensive & humane approaches given from the get go & everything done to help people resolve, heal & transform with their experiences. In an ideal system, i wouldn’t see the primary focus being on labels & drugs, rather on comprehensive healing/therapeutic approaches – but i would still see a place for a wise use of medications. i still think you’d have around 20% of people being best helped with medications longer term. Some people may also respond to some short term use of certain medications. i do see a place for psycho-pharmacology.

        i think this whole area is greatly complicated by wider society – the system is in large part a reflection of society as a whole. If we had a more humane, genuinely civilisaed World, then i’d think that everything within this area would be very different. It’s society as a whole that is at issue – the masses just as much as the system. imo.

        Report comment

      • First and foremost people should be told the truth – that these drugs are not going to “correct/cure/treat” anything but they are simply given for short term symptom control and people should decide if and when they want to take them based on their personal response to the drug, side effects etc.

        Report comment

    • I really like this post and agree with everything you’ve written. I think you might find, though, that abolitionists will either attack you or write you off. Many “activists” are only interested in the black and white: “Psychiatry is pure evil. Nobody has ever been helped by treatment. Intervening in a crisis is a human rights violation. We will stand for nothing less than complete abolition.” Such an extreme stance will never be taken seriously by either psychiatrists or the general public and it’s a mystery to me why they bother. I see that the first commenter here has already trotted out the chattel slavery comparison.

      Report comment

      • You do have a point Francesca, and it has shifted my thoughts on another issue.

        I have been a staunch advocate for the abolition of the death penalty for homosexuality in Iran. Perhaps I should be more realistic and hope to have it reduced to a jail sentence and a 100 lashes. I mean such an extreme stance is never going to be accepted by the imams and the general public, and it’s a mystery to me why I’ve bothered.

        I mean there are times when it’s justified right? It says so in the Qur’an.

        Report comment

          • Forgot who the audience was. A room full of psychiatrists I’d have gotten away with that lol.

            Maybe I can sell them some old copies of the DSM and they can chemically castrate and ECT instead. You know medicalise the problem. They might go for that.

            Report comment

          • Why so? Seems very accurate to me. Actually you can find some homosexuals who claim they were helped by conversion therapy and they are now “normal” and happy.
            I’d also not forget that homosexuality was also a mental illness.

            Report comment

          • Glad that I went through the exercise of thinking about it though.

            It seems to me that the abolitionist position is that people have human rights that should be observed at all times.

            The reformist position is one of when, and under what conditions human rights should be violated.

            And in many ways its absurd to think that Iranians would view homosexuality as a disease that needed ‘treatment’, I mean really who would be so stupid.

            Report comment

          • And I would put it to you Frasesca that whilst psychiatrist may have little to do with slavery or the death penalty, they are involved in human rights violations.

            Still, its a matter of perspective. If I were a Muslim woman suffering at the hands of a brutal husband, I’d be taking the abolitionist perspective on ayat 4:34, not arguing about under what conditions a husband should be allowed to strike his wife.

            Report comment

          • Boans, I do agree with you that forced psychiatry necessarily involves human rights violations. The question is when is it justifiable? We might agree that a 14 year old should be prevented from cutting herself in response to bullying at school.

            This gets back to the arguments I have had with other posters: What do you suggest instead? On a different thread on a different topic, I was describing a situation I was in several years ago. Long story short, I was in agony and was incapable of either consenting to or refusing treatment. Anyway, when I described my circumstances as a counter-example to the “all force is evil” camp, one poster in particular gave a smiley face and talked about my responsibility for my own distress. It actually chilled me to the bone that someone could read what I had described and say the equivalent “Oh, well ….” In fact, every time I think of it, I ‘m thinking antisocial personality disorder.

            Report comment

          • Had a long discussion with a psychologist about this today.

            He started by explaining that his position on a man being given the right by God to strike his wife was abolitionist. I gave him the very argument and justification provided by psychiatrists for coercion in mental health. It is amazing how the arguments mirror one another. Its not that I want to strike my wife, but its for her own good, it was a last resort, and nobody is abusing the power etc.

            Anyway, long and short of it is, he now supports the right of men to strike their wives, but takes a reformist position on the matter.

            So next week we are going to discuss the difficulties involved with restricting under what conditions wives can be beaten, and how badly. See coz the courts tend to side with men on this issue, and if a man does abuse this power he can not be punished.

            So I guess we will just have to trust them with this absolute power eh?

            Truth is my psychologist was amazed at his own hypocrisy on this issue, and has promised to think deeply about his feeling on forced psychiatry.

            I am an abolitionist on both issues because of how I feel about an individuals rights to bodily itegrity. Striking ones wife for her own good, or incarcerating and drugging someone for their own good are both violations of ones human rights to me.

            Try arguing abolition of 4:34 with a Muslim and listen to how much the arguments are the same. It really is amazing.

            Report comment

          • Nope. Slavery and death penalty are means of controlling and using a pre-defined group of people by people in power. In case of slavery that is defined by race, in case of psychiatry by “mental illness”. Btw, if you go to a recent news from MIA on pictures from abandoned asylums and go through the description of photographs you may find out that mentally ill were used for free labour in these institutions. And it is still not uncommon today with incentives to provide employment for the poor crazies whom you “pay” with the joy of doing work for you.
            Slavery was also done for the benefit of the poor slaves who would not manage to live without their masters telling them what to do. The same abuse and paternalisation.

            Report comment

          • “We might agree that a 14 year old should be prevented from cutting herself in response to bullying at school.”
            Well – no we won’t. a 14 yr old has a right to do to her body what she pleases. And if you want to stop her from cutting herself you ask her politely why is she doing it and stop the abuse at school. And for sure she should not be prevented from harming herself by being harmed by others. the first is kind of bad the other is horrific, life-altering trauma from which a lot of people don’t recover for the rest of their lives and which causes suicide. And I speak from experience here.
            So please stop blaming and re-victimising the freaking victim!!!

            Report comment

          • “I was in agony and was incapable of either consenting to or refusing treatment. ”
            That’s a bit different from refusing “treatment” and being “treated” anyway. Like say a difference between someone being brought to hospital in a coma and being operated on and someone refusing to be operated on, being kidnapped, brought to a hospital and operated on anyway.

            Report comment

      • Francesca, as I have said before in other forums, it has not been my experience that the average person, upon hearing the phrase “anti-psychiatry,” is turned off. Usually their response is to ask what it means, and this gives me an opening for discussion. As for the response of psychiatrists, of course they don’t like it. But who cares?

        Thinking that psychiatrists are the main people who can be relied on to change the oppressive nature of psychiatry is exactly the same as thinking fighting the evils of slavery should be done by appealing to slaveowners.

        Report comment

        • Importantly, we should make a concerted effort to say that “anti”, in “anti psychiatry” means the same thing as in “anti slavery” not “anti science” which is one of the things that might put off some people.

          One of the things I like most about the anti psychiatry point of view (mine) is that it is exquisitely scientific. It boils down to this: if you claim that whatever the APA defines as “mental illness” is a putative brain disease, please shown me the scientific evidence with the same rigorous standard we demand of oncology to show that cancer is an actual bodily disease.

          Report comment

          • A demand for scientific rigor would likely result in abolition of the majority of the “diagnoses” in the DSM-5.

            I have written at other sites that even a minimal standard of accepted practice should demand that a “disorder” be identifiable by signs and symptoms, consistently distinguishable from other “disorders”, and have at least one recognized protocol for treatment that has been demonstrated to be both reliably effective and safe. Failing any of these three criteria, what we have is a person in distress whose treatment should be limited to the minimum needed to keep them from harming themselves or others — or otherwise limited to that which they request or to which they explicitly consent.

            This isn’t a trivial process of winnowing down. And it isn’t issue-free. But it might represent a major positive sea change for psychiatry as it is now practiced.

            Report comment

          • No, it would mean that migraine headaches aren’t a disease, not that they don’t exist. Migraine headaches are, in actual point of fact, a syndrome – a set of symptoms that occur together but don’t have a known cause and may or may not have a variety of causes. Pretty much every psychiatric diagnosis is either a syndrome or a redefinition of normal behavior that some people find annoying or difficult to deal with. For instance, “Intermittent Explosive Disorder” is a description of people who lose their temper a lot. This really does exist – there are such people and we have all experienced them at times. But does the fact that someone has a temper mean they are medically ill? Or that they have a different personality? Or that they were poorly raised and never taught emotional self-control? Or that they were abused and traumatized and react violently to certain stimuli? Or that they were put on antidepressants recently and are having an adverse reaction? It could mean any one or more than one or none of the above things. A real disease state would have a coherent explanation and the treatment would follow rationally from the cause. We can use pain relievers to make the migraine less painful, but that doesn’t mean we understand what caused it, or what would make it so that you stopped having migraines altogether. We’re treating signs and symptoms, not diseases.

            We don’t have to deny the existence of the person with temper control problems to refuse to agree that temper control is a disease state per se. It is, at best, a syndrome, something observed to occur that doesn’t necessarily have a coherent explanation. Calling it “Intermittent Explosive Disorder” makes it sound more “clinical,” but I could diagnose “Excessive digital-nasal intrusion disorder” to describe someone picking his nose and have about as much scientific validity. Yes, people pick their noses. No, it’s not a disease state, just because it makes people uncomfortable due to social rules being violated, or just because I made up a semi-scientific-sounding name and set out some “criteria” in an official guide book.

            —- Steve

            Report comment

        • Well, we can argue all day about who the “average person” is. Let’s just say our experiences differ and leave it at that.

          I certainly never said that psychiatrists are going to be the driver of psychiatric reform.

          And, again with the slavery analogy!

          Report comment

          • Steve, you make an excellent point about migraine headaches. Would you allow me to try again with fibromyalgia? I believe that’s considered a disease, rather than just a cluster of symptoms.

            Anyway, my point is that lacking an objective test isn’t what kills the endeavour. It’s far more useful to argue that outcomes are generally worse with treatment or that the diagnostic criteria are too fluid to be meaningful.

            I would argue that mental disorders certainly exist but they are rarely diseases. Many go much further and claim mental disorders are never diseases and some go further still and claim there’s no such thing as a mental disorder.

            Report comment

          • Actually, I believe migraine is the disease and migraine headache is one symptom of that disease. I therefore correct and resubmit my analogy accordingly.

            The point is that migraine headaches exist and respond to treatment, even without objective diagnostics.

            Report comment

          • Fibromyalgia is a good example:

            “Its exact cause is unknown but is believed to involve psychological, genetic, neurobiological and environmental factors.”

            “Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety and stress-related disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder”

            “Health Canada and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved pregabalin and duloxetine, for the management of fibromyalgia. The FDA also approves milnacipran,” (SNRIs and anticonvulsants).

            Another one:
            “Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS, or spastic colon) is a symptom-based diagnosis”

            “Although there is no cure for IBS, there are treatments that attempt to relieve symptoms, including dietary adjustments, medication and psychological interventions.”

            Report comment

          • “Pretty much every psychiatric diagnosis is either a syndrome or a redefinition of normal behavior that some people find annoying or difficult to deal with.” – Steve

            Isn’t that overly simplistic? Absence of proof isn’t proof of absence. We don’t know exactly what is going on with everything at physiological/neurological levels, nor so at more psychological/emotional, social/environmental & transpersonal/spiritual levels.

            Just because a lot of biomedical psychiatry is overly narrow & simplistic, doesn’t mean to say that some people don’t have very real conditions/experiences, some of which can be rightfully considered to be pathological.

            You could probably make an argument that cancer doesn’t exist in the way that biomedicine says it does – But no one is going to argue that cancer doesn’t exist. i think it’s silly to try & argue that mental illness doesn’t exist.

            Report comment

          • CPU, that’s actually not conflicting with what I said. A syndrome is something that is not understood. There MAY be a biological injury/illness underpinning for a syndrome, or for some part of the people with the syndrome, or it may just be a normal variant of behavior that some people find difficult to deal with. I am not saying that there are no mental conditions that occur due to biological factors – side effects of medication is a perfect example of a biologically-caused mental/emotional condition where we do understand at least the rudiments of the cause and can intervene medically to resolve the situation. Parkinsons is clearly biological, and Alzheimers appears to be largely biological (though its expression is highly variable, possibly depending on psychological variables).

            The problem is when we take a syndrome (like severe depression) and assume that ALL people who exhibit this syndrome have something biologically wrong with them, and therefore ALL people with the syndrome require a particular “treatment.” To go back to migraines, there is a wide variety of approaches that people have to dealing with a migraine. Some find massage incredibly helpful, others feel it makes things incalculably worse, while some find it has little to no effect. Without really understanding the cause, we can’t prescribe a treatment. Sure, we can prescribe pain relievers to deal with the symptoms, but that is not the same as treating a known disease state that reliably responds to a known remedy. At that point, people just do whatever works to make it better, but we all know we’re dealing with effects rather than causes.

            It’s even worse when you get into behavioral issues like “ADHD” or “Oppositional Defiant Disorder.” Here, we are merely identifying behavior that we find objectionable or annoying or inconvenient and giving it a label. I’m absolutely sure that there are some kids who are biologically wired to be more active and less willing to sit in a seat for extended periods. So freakin’ what? Who gets to declare impatience with tedium a disease? And when 10% or more of our population is afflicted with this particular set of characteristics, it’s pretty obvious that this personality type has high survival value for our species and that far from being a disease state, it’s more likely an essential genetic variant that improves our society’s functioning if allowed appropriate expression.

            I am probably preaching to the choir here, but I wanted to make myself clear. Creating psychiatric labels out of syndromes actually obscures the search for actual psychic or physical injuries or malfunctions that may be causing a small or large proportion of a particular behavioral or emotional syndrome. Neurologists understand this well. The fact that someone can’t move their right arm isn’t a disease – it’s an indication that something is going on, and you don’t get a diagnosis until you find out the cause. Saying someone has “immobile left arm disorder” and leaving it at that is not only not informative, it actually deters anyone interested in seeking the variety of possible reasons why someone’s arm may be immobilized.

            Hope that makes things a bit clearer.

            —– Steve

            Report comment

          • “Absence of proof isn’t proof of absence.”
            But when you’re talking about science if you can’t prove something you assume the null hypothesis at least until new evidence arrives. Or do we still believe in tooth fairies as an medical explanation to changing teeth?

            Report comment

      • “…abolitionists will either attack you or write you off. Many “activists” are only interested in the black and white: “Psychiatry is pure evil. Nobody has ever been helped by treatment. Intervening in a crisis is a human rights violation. We will stand for nothing less than complete abolition.” Such an extreme stance will never be taken seriously by either psychiatrists or the general public and it’s a mystery to me why they bother.”

        i don’t think that there will be a genuinely humane & civilised mental health system, until there is a genuinely humane & civilised society. i’ve lost a lot of sympathy with a lot of the ‘anti-psychiatry’ positions, because the majority of it all offers nothing in the way of any alternative, & that is a problem. Granted the the current system causes a lot of harm, & a lot, i’d say 80% or more of people under the psychiatric umbrella, especially in America, don’t need to be. But the fact is, for want of a better term, some people are stark raving mad – they are insane, some dangerously so, & society needs protection from them, & they need proper help (not all shoving in prison) – But it’s unethical to simply do nothing with a certain percentage of the mad. Yes, stop the mass drugging & medicalisation of everything, have a comprehensive approach to care – But it has to be acknowledged that some people need comprehensive care & support.

        i think that there is a lot of stupidity from all sides. If people end up drugged & there is little to nothing wrong with them to begin with, what foolishness! i read a popular Blog about a woman who has successfully come off all medication – But the issue i take is that i can’t see what was wrong with her to begin with?

        Maybe psychiatry needs to stop treating people who have nothing wrong with them?

        Report comment

        • In your own context, you take my point. Criticism is easy, but real change is disruptive and hard. But the question remains: HOW can this issue be moved off dead center? How can the distressed consciousness be helped or healed — or more realistically, how can we suppress entrenched interests for long enough to learn how? What’s the program? Where are the specifics?

          Lead, Follow, or Get Out Of the Way!

          Report comment

          • “In your own context, you take my point. Criticism is easy, but real change is disruptive and hard. But the question remains: HOW can this issue be moved off dead center? How can the distressed consciousness be helped or healed — or more realistically, how can we suppress entrenched interests for long enough to learn how? What’s the program? Where are the specifics?”

            To my understanding there exists the viable/comprehensive alternatives (& always have done, we did OK with Shamanism for some 70,000 years). More recently, Jung, Soteria, Diabasis, Open Dialogue, Windhorse, i-ward, CooperRiis, etc (many others) – Lots of people have pioneered more humane alternatives. i would think an integral bio/psycho/social/spiritual view could be adopted that took into account each case on an individual basis, & that offered the most appropriate care/support. i don’t think this would be difficult, but it does require social/political will – it requires people being interested in it all. i have written on it all, but it may be a bit too much material to start pasting it here? & other have already written it –
            Jung – Symbols of Transformation (Collected works 5).
            Anton T Boisen – The Exploration of the Inner World.
            John Weir Perry – The far side of madness & trials of the visionary mind.
            John Watkins – Unshrinking Psychosis.

            Largely all ignored/denied, & if you press the issue you get attacked/slandered – How do you get through to people the truth that there exists viable & effective alternatives? i have no idea?

            “Although out reach and crisis services are needed, without a 24/7 front end system sanctuary like Soteria, CooperRiis, Diabasis House, the Open Dialogue or the sanctuary – folks don’t have a chance to avoid having their potentially transformative psychosis being aborted with medications and a Schizophrenic diagnosis being laid on them for the rest of their lives. Loren Mosher on alternative approaches to psychosis, was agreed that all the sanctuaries like Laing’s Kingsley Hall, John Weir Perry’s Diabasis House, Soteria, Burch House, Windhorse, the Agnews Project. And the med free, no restraints, no diagnosis, open door Ward sanctuary; plus the Euorpean and Scandanavian Open Dialogue places- well they ALL basically do the same thing. They provide the necessary and sufficient conditions for a person to go through a psychotic process and come out the other side-‘Weller than well’- as Karl Menninger famously said. By being held in the healing crucible of a caring, open hearted setting, the psyche naturally sets it’s own course and heals from the early wounds that made a dramatic psychosis renewal necessary in the first place. If instead, a person is labelled as having a diseased brain and medicated into emotional numbness and submission, then the energy and power and symbolic expression of the purposive psychosis simply falls back into the unconscious. Then whenever a loss or trauma happens, the person de-compensates into an ever more amorphous emotional and fragmented daze of so-called chronic psychosis where renewal and healing is far more difficult.”

            The life conclusion of the greatest psychiatrist/psychologist that has ever lived & probably the greatest humanitarian of the last Century –

            “I have now, after long practical experience, come to hold the view that the psychogenic causation of the disease is more probable than the toxic [physico-chemical] causation. There are a number of mild and ephemeral but manifestly schizophrenic illnesses – quite apart from the even more common latent psychoses – which begin purely psychogenically, run an equally psychological course (aside from certain presumably toxic nuances) and can be completely cured by a purely psychotherapeutic procedure. I have seen this even in severe cases”.

            – Carl Jung

            Report comment

        • Absolutely. Psychiatry is way, way too quick to medicalize human emotion. At the same time, we do need to acknowledge that in rare and extraordinary circumstances some people require support, up to and including treatment they may not want. The issue for me is short vs. long term treatment. There is far more justification for emergency intervention than outpatient commitment. In my view, reform should focus on the latter. Abolition, however, is a non-starter.

          I completely agree with you as far as losing sympathy with the “anti psychiatry” position. Listening to some of these “activists” exactly proves psychiatry’s point.

          Report comment

          • Thanks Francesca. i don’t think that anyone is going to win the polemics – & this argument has been going on at least 300 years – it’s the same issues as it always was. i think it’ll go on another 200 years at least – until there is a comprehensive & humane system & society in the care treatment of the ‘mad’.

            Across planes of consciousness, we have to live with the paradox that opposite things can be simultaneously true. – Ram Dass

            Report comment

          • “some people require support, up to and including treatment they may not want.”
            And who’s going to decide who are these people and what type of treatment? Because that is the system we have now – well meaning, good professionals taking difficult decisions on rare occasions when someone is very aggressive and danger to self and others. Well, if you read MIA you should know how that looks in practice.
            And if you’re trying to make an argument that it’s worth to abuse people because you occasionally save someone – well, why don’t we lock up every man on a planet to prevent rape?

            Report comment

    • boans, you present some strange analogies that I could draw illogical conclusions from. From your train of thought, I shouldn’t grab a child about to run out into the road lest I put my hands on them.

      I think your argument can stand on its own merits without resorting to convoluted debate tactics that solve for as much as arguing over how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

      I don’t agree with forced treatment on moral grounds. But I also find asking others to participate in your demise morally indefensible as well. If there is someone too anxious to leave their home will you be picking outside of it to prevent others from interceding on their behalf while they quietly starve to death. Or will you take upon yourself to feed them for years or until whenever they get better.

      Report comment

      • Anon, I guess my comments are about my own development than about trying to convince anyone of any particular view.

        However I will say that the argument and justification for forced treatment is mirrored by the argument and justification of striking ones wife in Islam. Infantilization. Mental health workers are in charge of patients, and men are in charge of women.

        On the issue of dealing with a child in danger, they are infants who may require intervention to stop them from doing harm to themselves. This leads to a number of issues worthy of examination about ‘good parenting’ but others have dealt with this better than I ever will.

        One of the biggest complaints I have heard from patients who have been involuntarily admitted is that they are treated like children. Infantilized.

        This was a major problem for me personally. I am a 50+ year old man and dragging me from my bed by police with tazers, and locking me in a mental institution because I made a choice to leave my home, and didn’t know what was good for me seemed a little more than extreme. I am used to making these decisions for myself as an adult, though on this occasion I needed to get the permission of a psychiatrist to think in this manner.

        My insistence that I had rights was listed as symptoms of mental illness, “I have rights” = grandiose, “I am going to do something about your assault on me” = litigious. Of course when I was examined by a psychiatrist eventually he did realise that there was nothing wrong with my decision and released me, stating that the detention was only making matters worse. Oh how right he was, three years later and I’m still suicidal over the matter. But a little bit of trauma never hurt anyone eh?

        On the issue of the person too anxious to leave their home, I would do everything within my power to convince them that they needed help. If that took a week of support then so be it. Giving me the power to drag them away in chains and locking them in a cage, and forcing pills down their throat is certainly going to change how I go about ‘helping’ that person. Save me a weeks work, but have I really helped them now? Not in my opinion, I’ve merely added to their trauma, and had better hope that the medication helps them recover from that trauma on top of their other issues. I become part of their problem rather than helping them.

        The psychiatrist who I mentioned above, who gave me permission to leave my home, became one of the people I admire most in the world when I was hospitalised after my suicide attempt because of the original ‘involuntary admission’. He explained to me that mental health workers become desensitised to the trauma suffered by those involuntarily detained. It should be done in only the most extreme of circumstances, and yet it is done because the mental health worker has a busy day ahead of them and doesn’t have time to deal with this ‘child’. It is my belief that they are not worthy of being given this power, and it should be removed immediately.

        Anyhow, I would invite you to examine the similarities between the justification for forced psychiatry and the issue of coercion of a wife in Islam under 4:34. Because the arguments are strikingly similar.

        Report comment

        • And what if this hypothetical person adamantly refuses support? Are you prepared to ignore him or her? If your answer is “yes,” you’ve solved the riddle of why anti-psychiatrists aren’t taken seriously.

          I’m sorry you went through such trauma at the hands of the psychiatric system. I must say though that you seem to be leaving out a few details here. There must have been some context to the police coming to your home. I’m not saying that the context necessarily justified the actions, just that the police do not generally show up at peaceful, law-abiding citizens’ houses and Tazer them.

          BTW, the comparisons to slavery and Sharia law are very offensive and add nothing to the discussion.

          Report comment

          • Why on earth is my reference to Sharia law offensive?

            The details that I have left out is that I was being subjected to domestic violence by my wife and her family, and when I expressed my wish to leave my home, she attempted to stab me in the chest with a large carving knife, and then called mental health services and said I was insane for wanting to leave the situation.

            I have posted some details in the forums rather than trying to fit it all in here. A thread called “communication breakdown”.

            But please Francesca explain why my comments about Sharia law are offensive.

            Report comment

          • What about obese people? What if they don’t want to exercise and keep eating? We should just lock them up in a hospital and put them on a diet, right? Or people who don’t manage their diabetes well or other illness? Or maybe people who engage in dangerous activities – extreme sport fans surely are danger to self, right?
            If an adult person refuses support it’s his/her right. That is the price for freedom and autonomy. It is extremely arrogant (and in most cases counterproductive) to go around telling people that you know better what is good for them.

            “I’m not saying that the context necessarily justified the actions, just that the police do not generally show up at peaceful, law-abiding citizens’ houses and Tazer them.”
            Sure;y there must have been some reason why:
            -she got raped – did she drink, did she wear a short dress?
            -the unarmed black guy got shot by police – was he mouthing them off, was he wearing a hoodie?
            Blaming the victim all over again. If the context does not justify the actions then it’s irrelevant and there’s no point bringing it up.

            Report comment

        • I understand. Who could support what was done to you. It is because very few are paying attention that this type of thing goes on and on.

          Part of the reason I was so blunt with you was because I’ve seen many comments which present that abolishing coercive psychiatry or psychiatry as a whole is the real issue, and once it is gone then the fight is done. I respect people having this viewpoint and even more so for honestly stating that they do; it just doesn’t happen to be a viewpoint that I respect as it is a dangerous one. Nature abhors a vacuum, and society does too. Unless something else is born that will provide a place for that anxious person to go to get help and not abuse, well , I have no faith in society as a whole to do the right thing in its absence.

          Call me naive, but I’m one that looks for a third way, not the two sides generally found in this debate. I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer most likely lies in those closest to the situation taking care of their own.

          For an example from medicine, a couple of days ago I read that there is an effort to crowd-source research into CFS/ME. It burns me that people have to pay for it, in effect, twice. Once by supporting Corp Med and taxes to government (both of which are too incompetent, insensitive and corrupt to pursue real research into CFS/ME) and again with our donations. But, I am really happy that people are not wringing their hands waiting for them to do the right thing anymore and are just going ahead and funding the research themselves.

          But, I don’t expect miracles out of anyone though. Maybe just a little more talk of what works to help those who need it and where they can go to find it.

          Report comment

        • Reasons for my traumatisation:
          “I don’t have time to deal with you, I have a lot of patients”.
          In the documents: “Danger to self and others”.
          And yeah, I also tried to kill myself over the hospital trauma and I still suffer from it but the head of the hospital told me that it’s impossible to get PTSD from forced treatment. Because she knows better.

          Report comment

      • I think Boans might counter that children aren’t entitled to their full rights yet but your example certainly also applies to removing an adult out of harm’s way. You’re quite right that the notion of abolition involves morally indefensible positions. That’s why it’s going nowhere.

        Report comment

        • Your right. That would be my counter.

          I would add that here in Western Australia if a person rings mental health services with concerns about anyone, they are a ‘patient’ before the mental health worker even leaves the hospital. I have documented proof of this.

          You are infantilized before they even speak to you. So you either do as they say or be subjected to the brutality that is the system.

          Our Chief Psychiatrist by using this type of language that the people in the community are ALL patients, avoids having to observe the laws designed to protect the community from ‘bad faith referrals’. You have no rights.

          The doctor is in charge, and the whole community are children that don’t know what is in their best interest.

          As an adult my attitude to this is

          Report comment

          • Here in BC, one could certainly be paid a visit from the police for a “wellness check” on the say so of a 3rd party but that by itself wouldn’t be grounds for a mental health apprehension. I’ve never heard of any such 3rd party being either sued or charged for a bad faith report. I’d be interested to see how that would play out.

            Report comment

        • Abolition doesn’t dismiss alternatives and the use of force in some situations. When my uncle showed up on the steps of my childhood home with an ice pick then, when let in, proceeded to scream “Ladybug, ladybug, your house is on fire, your children are going to burn,” while tearing up the house; my very strong mother and stepfather and two very big neighbors took him to the hospital and helped to hold him down while the staff gave him a shot of thorazine. He had been labeled as schizophrenic and fit the description well and was on PCP when he showed up at our house with the ice pick.

          There are times when it’s irresponsible not to restrain someone on behalf of everyone involved. Abolition doesn’t have to forbid that. It’s when mental ward staffs hold someone down and administer neuroleptics anytime they feel nervous or inconvenienced that coercion and force becomes pathological, controlling, and dehumanizing.

          Report comment

          • Abolitionists would forbid such practices even when completely warranted as in the situation you describe here. Their rule seems to be that the only grounds for intervention are AFTER a criminal act has been committed. It’s an untenable position and will never be taken seriously.

            Report comment

          • “There are times when it’s irresponsible not to restrain someone on behalf of everyone involved. Abolition doesn’t have to forbid that.”

            @ wileywitch,

            I quite agree with you.

            And, thank you for sharing that personal experience, which your family had with your uncle.

            It must have been a terrifying experience for all involved, but I guess it could have been worse…

            Of course, your uncle’s behavior (as you’ve briefly described it) fully warranted his apprehension (of course, it did); and, the outcome which you detail just briefly (“my very strong mother and stepfather and two very big neighbors took him to the hospital and helped to hold him down while the staff gave him a shot of thorazine”) may have been unavoidable.

            After all, your uncle was, at that point (when he arrived, at your childhood home), quite extremely deranged and threatening. (One can’t read your comment without coming to that conclusion, imho.)

            So, your mom and step-dad and neighbors forcibly restrained him and took him to the “hospital” where he was further forcibly restrained and forcibly drugged into submission.

            What troubles me, about your story, is that your uncle was forcibly drugged.

            I say that largely because, in my early twenties, I was forcibly drugged, and that led to my being seemingly quite ‘mentally ill’ (i.e., the forced drugging was terribly debilitating, in many ways); I was not allowed to ‘just’ be myself, in safe setting. (That would have been ideal.) I was made into a seemingly ‘seriously ill’ person, beginning with forced druggings… and was soon officially labeled, by psychiatrists, in ways to suggest I was supposedly “seriously mentally ill” — and supposedly always will be that.

            (I successfully got away from psychiatry — and put all of its ‘meds’ out of my life — forever.)

            Now, it has been more than twenty-five years since the last time I had any psych ‘meds’ in my body; and, never have I felt any need for such ‘meds’.

            The forced drugging was horrifying and created horrible effects.

            As far as I know, our society offers families no other way (no ‘alternatives treatment’) for tending to one of their own, who has come to express such completely addled, drug-induced, violent behaviors, such as your uncle displayed.

            My behaviors which led to my being forcibly drugged seemed scarey to my family and friends, but I could be reasoned with, I did go peacefully, with them, to the “hospital,” and, by the time we got there, I was nervous; but, I was fully capable of being social and was in no way whatsoever threatening anyone. (I would be called “a danger to himself,” by the psychiatrist, in order for him to ‘justify’ a “involuntary hospitalization” and forced drugging.)

            My family and friends didn’t know any better.

            Likewise, from what you’re saying, I’m led to believe that your mom and step-father and neighbors did the very best that they could for one and all, in that situation, which you’ve described, in your comment — especially, because, most likely, had they instead involved the police, the police may have serious harmed (and maybe even would have killed) your uncle.

            In fact, from what you’re saying, the situation was probably so dire, so totally urgent, there was no time to call the police nor time to wait for the police had they been called.

            But, had the police been called and had they quickly arrived, even if they could have successfully apprehended your uncle before anyone was seriously injured, all things considered, they would have done with him precisely what your mom and step-dad and neighbors did with him. They would have brought him to a an E.R. or psychiatric “hospital,” where he would have been physically restrained to be forcibly injected with neuroleptics (whether Thorazine or some other so-called “antipsychotic medication”).

            The commenter who has already replied to your comment, explains her view, that “Abolitionists would forbid such practices even when completely warranted as in the situation you describe here. Their rule seems to be that the only grounds for intervention are AFTER a criminal act has been committed. It’s an untenable position and will never be taken seriously.”

            Actually, a criminal act had been committed; maybe a number of criminal acts had been committed; from your description of your uncle’s behavior (specifically, that he was “tearing up the house”), of course, he could well have been charge with a crime.

            He was destroying your parents’ property. That’s a crime.

            In fact, his mere presence in their house could be considered a crime, had he ‘only’ refused your parents’ requests to leave their property. (I.e., hypothetically speaking, even had he not seemed threatening, he could have been apprehended by the police and charged with the crime, of trespassing.)

            But, in any case, as regards the blogger’s blog post (on “Anti-psychiatry”) and the commenter’s view of abolitionists:

            I know a number of people who consider themselves ‘abolitionists’ (including myself).

            Some self-described psychiatric abolitionists call for the abolition of psychiatry itself (I don’t do that). Some call only for the abolition of unwanted psychiatric interventions (that describes my position).

            I don’t know anyone who holds such a view, as the commenter is describing (on July 30, 2014 at 12:20 am).

            Our justice system has means for preventing crimes before they’d occur (e.g., judges can issue ‘restraining orders’ against individuals who have come to threaten their family members or others), and self-described psychiatric abolitionists understand this.

            Truly threatening expressions can, of course, be considered criminal behavior.

            You say, of your uncle, “He had been labeled as schizophrenic and fit the description well and was on PCP when he showed up at our house with the ice pick.”

            Clearly, he was threatening.

            Especially, as you detail, that, when he was let in to the house he “proceeded to scream “Ladybug, ladybug, your house is on fire, your children are going to burn,” while tearing up the house,” I really think your family and neighbor’s did their best with him, at the time; really, I do.

            Only, I wonder, what impact had that “schizophrenia” label created, in his mind? I wonder, how long prior to that time had been labeled that way. How had been ‘treated’ as a result. And, did that ‘treatment’ and that label not contribute to his, ultimate, all too evident, derangement, which he displayed that day?

            (Of course, I am not expecting you to answer my questions; I am just putting them out there…)

            Finally, I wonder why aren’t there alternatives to forced drugging, when such an emergency arises?

            Though your uncle was apparently experiencing a PCP-induced condition, what if your uncle’s worst miseries were, indeed, mainly derived from the effects that neuroleptic drugs had upon him?

            I strongly believe society should offer alternatives to forced psychotropic drugging — even and especially when an individual family member is really undeniably deranged and threatening.

            It seems to me, from what you’ve shared, there was a terrible tragedy that occurred, in your family — a terrible trauma (at the very least) — even though, from what what you’re saying, I gather that your family and neighbors did their best.

            Again, thank you for sharing that personal story…



            Report comment

      • “If there is someone too anxious to leave their home will you be picking outside of it to prevent others from interceding on their behalf while they quietly starve to death. Or will you take upon yourself to feed them for years or until whenever they get better.”
        Ask the person if they want to be fed and how (should the food be delivered by the person or left at the doorstep?) and attend to that person’s wishes while offering other types of support to help them get out of this situation. What I’d not do is to drag that person out of the house and publically humiliate in front of everyone and then put them in an open place so that they can suffer. Which is an equivalent of what forced psychiatry does.
        I’ve recently talked to the woman who runs the hospital I was imprisoned in and to my complaints she said “but I have many people thanking me for help, many more than people like you”. I just asked her back: “and how many of these people did you lock up against their will?” The answer was silence.

        Report comment

    • I know of no one in the antipsychiatry movement who would deny that people end up in extreme states and extreme difficulty with themselves and others. The issue rather is whether these are rightly called “diseases”. More than just an issue of semantics given that doctors treat these and indeed as if they were physical “disorders”.

      Report comment

      • “I know of no one in the antipsychiatry movement who would deny that people end up in extreme states and extreme difficulty with themselves and others. The issue rather is whether these are rightly called “diseases”. More than just an issue of semantics given that doctors treat these and indeed as if they were physical “disorders”.”

        i think that’s a very in depth & complex question. We simply don’t know enough about the brain, CNS, consciousness & how it all interacts, to know exactly what is going on? There are some very in depth theories concerning the physiology of ‘mental health’. i wouldn’t deny the biologic elements to what people experience, nor do i deny the social/environmental, psychological/emotional, & spiritual/transpersonal. Very much i lean to more in depth psychosocial & more holistic, humane & caring approaches to the understanding & treatment of ‘madness’, but even within an ideal system, i’d still see some people as probably having, at least in part, some kind of physiological disorder & needing some kind of medication to be best helped, as part of an ideal comprehensive approach to care.

        i’ll play a bit the Devils Advocate – If the alternatives worked so well, then where is the bona fide proof? Why are all the alternatives not being Universally applied? i’ve tried 7 therapists – all of them were largely rubbish. i’ve tried all kinds of alternative healers. i’m still left with being dependent on medication i need to function, with having had 24 years of severe mental health difficulties. Even if there had been more comprehensive help & support – would it all have been much different? Maybe – But where is all that help & support? & is ‘anti-psychiatry’ offering it? As far as i can tell i’d get even less help & support with the anti-psychiatry agendas.

        Report comment

  7. I am reproducing here the same essay I added to the comment section of Phillip Hickey’s article, referenced above…it has relevance to this discussion also. I practiced as a a clinical person for many years and found the type of corruption I represent here to be the norm rather than the exception. The question of whether or not the general practice of medicine is as corrupt as the specific practice of psychiatry is not an area where I feel qualified to comment. I promise to stop posting this essay and write something new possibly in this same decade. Who knows what I might or might not accomplish without the help of a comprehensive treatment plan.

    Rather than writing about my frustration with the c/s/x survivor movement today, I have decided on a short piece about drugging, diagnosis and profit in the pharmaceutical and medical industries. Toward the end of my clinical practice, a part of what I did was seeing people in long term care facilities who also had psychiatric diagnoses. In each case, as was my habit, I conducted my own diagnostic interview without having read any of the previous diagnostic interviews, case notes or other background information. I found a variety of diagnoses, from those considered by the mainstream to be SMIs to those that fit the category of “adjustment disorders”–which really means that the person is feeling distress about something external that is going on. Because all of the people I saw in this context were Medicaid patients in long term care facilities, they had very little of their own power and very little to no control over external events. There was a LOT of adjustment disorder. When comparing my conclusions to those of facility psychiatrists, however, I noticed an almost invariable pattern of disagreement. Schizoaffective Disorder. Schizoaffective Disorder. Time after time. Case after case. I asked myself, why? Within a couple of months, the very disturbing answer became apparent. These individuals were being drugged for the convenience of the care facility and the staff. The diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder effectively justifies the use of any type of antidepressant, anti anxiety, or anti psychotic medication. And, the change in medication does not require a time consuming diagnostic revision when the primary diagnosis is Schizoaffective Disorder. This label covers both “psychotic” symptoms and “mood” symptoms such as “depression” or “mania”. This dynamic was easily observable to any person with clinical training who had access to the individuals and their records of behavior and medications changes. I recall meeting a facility psychiatrist who refused to talk to me and dismissed me from his presence with the statement, “I have over 3,000 patients.” At that time, I wondered how he could possibly have over 3,000 patients. Now, I know. Through the magic of a wastebasket diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder. No paperwork, no face to face contact, no conscience. Just drugs and money, money and drugs. Long term care facilities, psychiatry and drugs–all huge profit industries. Medicaid funded residents of these facilities–no power, no way to change what is happening, no way to even know how they are diagnosed, let alone how it is making other people rich from their suffering. My words, today.


    Report comment

    • “Toward the end of my clinical practice, a part of what I did was seeing people in long term care facilities who also had psychiatric diagnoses. ”

      Yikes. That’s sounds exactly like the position I was in for a year. I walked out of that job, without having any idea how I was going to keep a roof over my head, because it was so completely at odds with my own values. I could easily see how, at a different time or stage in my career, I would have simply retired altogether.

      But social work as a profession is so, so much broader than that. In fact, most of the social workers I know from cohort have gone on to work in community development and grass roots organizing around social justice issues. It’s the minority who, like me, went seeking the opportunity to meet people one on one and become fellow travelers with them.

      Report comment

      • Part of why I quit social work was that I had trouble with the notion of social work as a distinct profession. Our national organizations and schools insisted that both social workers be professionalized and at the same time defined the profession so broadly as to lack any meaning. Because of that desire to be recognized as professional but also lacking coherency, it was easy for social workers, particularly clinical social workers, to be tacked on to the mental health professional family, where psychiatrists run the show. I didn’t see how I can work in any clinical context and not be “mid-level” therapist where my very existence supported the labeling/drugging/oppressing forces that shape the entire field. Lots of social workers are ok with this situation, our representing organizations certainly are, and I refuse to buttress it.

        The social workers who make a career out of organizing or advocacy or community development or evaluation often do not carry the professional identity of a social worker. They went to social work school. There are lots of ways to be active in justice work, we do a disservice to folks who want to do that work, even at micro-levels, by trying to professionalize that work under the umbrella of “social work.” I found I was a much better, resilient, and flexible at working for justice without having the label of social worker over my head and the problems of being a particular kind of professional, licensed by the state and co-opted by psychiatry, brought. I’m still trying to relearn what I used to know and forget when I was taught in school.

        Report comment

        • “Part of why I quit social work was that I had trouble with the notion of social work as a distinct profession. Our national organizations and schools insisted that both social workers be professionalized and at the same time defined the profession so broadly as to lack any meaning. Because of that desire to be recognized as professional but also lacking coherency, it was easy for social workers, particularly clinical social workers, to be tacked on to the mental health professional family, where psychiatrists run the show. ”

          Wow, a very compelling reflection! I appreciate your perspective. I have to be very careful not to generalize my own individual experience, and I don’t get that right all the time. I work in a small town, deeply grassroots community agency that sits in the rural part of the country really away from a lot of the “machine” of the system. That’s just not the normal experience. Two years ago, I was stuck in the thick of the very worst of the system and was utterly miserable, and I quit. I have to keep in mind that my former experience is likely to be far more representative while my current experience is less likely to be.

          As I was writing in this thread this morning, after my first post I had the uneasy feeling inside and thought to myself, “ugg, I really don’t want to be the position of defending the institution of social work.” I don’t care about what I’m labeled, I care about whether or not I’m able to engage in meaningful human service that is consistent with my values. Your comments helped me regain my center, and remember that the institution of social work, whatever its roots, has faced the same forces of managerialism and “professionalization.” In fact, there are some wonderful radicals out there strongly criticizing social work for more and more becoming an instrument for reinforcing untennable social “norms” rather than challenging these things.

          Good, refreshing comments. The last thing I want is to become attached to a professional identity for its own sake. That said, my own unique experience in a small graduate program was a really beautiful one. I would characterize it as “radical and critical” rather than conventionalist. Many of the ideas I try to express at MIA have their roots in the time I spent in grad school, and prior to that, the time I spent in undergrad studying philosophy. These were good experiences for me. I can accept that I might be the exception to the rule, though. I combine those experiences with my personal encounter with serious emotional distress and my lived experiences engaging with other people.

          Report comment

    • Hi Sharon, I didn’t get a chance to respond to your initial post so I will do it now. Spot on brilliant. I had seen postings for that type of SW job and couldn’t understand where the SMI population was coming from. So many of the community mental health center clients were not doings things versus having problematic behaviors that it just didn’t make sense. You figured it out!

      I was told specifically not to go to the Social Work school in my area. And I am glad I did. But yes I agree I also found my profession not to be that intellectually aware.
      However in graduate school I found some of the child psychiatrists to be kind and intellectually challenging folks. I loved reading Fritz Redl, Clark Moutsakas (sp?)
      and Selma Fraiberg. They were not afraid of a child’s anger – in fact they expected it. They did not use drug treatment. Fritz Redl developed a time /space/life interview for the adolescents in his treatment facility Peter Blos Jr had great work on the adolescent. Virginia Satir did great work on self esteem.. There seemed to be a sense of a person coming for help to be seen as an individual and there was a watermark for treating that adult or child with respect and dignity – at least that was what I was aware of at that time. I found to my great dismay this was not what actually happened in the real world. But at least it was there floating in the waters. And then again the whole child sexual abuse issue raised it ugly head. I have stories about that as well.
      This is not talking about the state institutions for the Developmentally Disabled and those of us with severe Mental Health issues. That is a totally different story line.
      I went into the Mental Health field to learn. I found my previous Social Work job to be mind numbing and I did find a few psychiatrists who did try and did care. They actually went against the grain. My own personal experience twenty years later was with those who pushed meds and were terrible at any good clinical diagnosing. To my sorrow I was to embarrassed to go the the good psychiatrists I worked with when I was told by friends they thought I was BiPolar. My very bad mistake. They would have known me as a professional and knew my history. The other psychiatrists never ever bothered to see me other than as middle aged female hysterical patient.
      Since my hosptializations I have become radicalized but not enough to go public yet. I am glad Dr. Steingard is willing to take the time and effort to dialogue. I still think MH professionals and others need to experience what is like to be on an inpatient psych unit these days. They need to try the meds. Listen, listen, and listen some more. It seems she is trying

      Report comment

    • By the standards of the day, every native of New York City is manic because they all have “pressured speech”.

      What you’re describing should extremely difficult for a psychiatrist to get away with, but it’s not; and that is the state of corruption in the field of psychiatry today.

      It’s corrupt and dehumanizing.

      Report comment

  8. Hi Sandy-

    Thanks for the post. I agree. Vitriol never helps anything. You probably read the article by Arnold Relman in New York Review of Books. I agree with him. We need to get the money out of medicine. All of medicine has been corrupted. For a profession that views itself as evidenced-based, what do you do when they cheat on the evidence.

    I do wonder how psychiatry is going to dig itself out of a hole. I’m pretty convinced by the story that psychosis reflects deficit fast-spiking GABA interneurons and hypo-function of NMDA receptors. The Australians are saying that Bipolar I is also about NMDA receptors. For Kraepelin, the difference between schizophrenia and Bipolar was that one got better and the other did not. My guess is that in the future, the categories will be drastically revamped.

    On the issue of NMDA receptors, I just finished Susannah Calahan’s Brain on Fire: My month of Madness. Terrific book. Susannah describes her development of mania, psychosis, and catatonia. Turns out she had developed antibodies to her NMDA receptors subsequent to melanoma. Of course, her pricy neurologists never figured it out. The neurologist who eventually figured it out first did a brain biopsy. Such overkill. Did he not know about sandwich ELISAS?

    For the future, I hope we will see more chapters of pharmed out across medical schools in this country. Perhaps when medical students learn they can’t trust their teachers things might improve.

    Report comment

    • “I’m pretty convinced by the story that psychosis reflects deficit fast-spiking GABA interneurons and hypo-function of NMDA receptors. The Australians are saying that Bipolar I is also about NMDA receptors.”


      Thanks for proving to me that I am still capable of being perfectly surprised (even shocked), by just how unalterably consistent and doggedly persistent some ‘mental health’ theoreticians can be, in forwarding their purely chemical (a.k.a. ‘biological’) views of everything loosely called “psychosis”.

      When speaking of that truly unutterably broad range of phenomena that are vaguely referred to and configured all, together, under that umbrella term, “psychosis,” are there no other causes than those which you’ve mentioned, above.

      (Note: that such chemicals may be, in some instances, causative factors, I cannot reasonably deny. But…)

      Have you no sense that prolonged sleep-deprivation can be also be a major causative factor, of what is sometimes called “psychosis”?

      Have you no sense that some of what is called “psychosis” is actually quite revelatory in nature?

      And, what shall we make of the fact, that so much seeming ‘psychosis’ — and so much of the content of ones personal thoughts and feelings related to ones own experience of a seeming ‘psychosis’ — is often precipitated by and related to some kind of more or less severe personal trauma?

      I ask you: What is the point of your focusing so fixedly on a few chemicals that seem to be more evident, in some instances, when some people are viewed as experiencing ‘psychosis’?

      Frankly, if you are hoping for the discovery or development of a chemical ‘antidote’ for ‘psychosis,’ I think you are barking up the wrong tree.

      And, really, I find it a jaw-dropping experience, to read your latest comment, here.

      That you have been blogging on this MIA website now more than two and a half years (since January 22, 2012) and are still forwarding such amazingly reductionist chemical explanations for ‘psychosis’ is really almost beyond belief…



      Report comment

      • P.S. — On my comment, above…

        (Regarding this statement by Jill Litrell, Ph.D.: “I’m pretty convinced by the story that psychosis reflects deficit fast-spiking GABA interneurons and hypo-function of NMDA receptors. The Australians are saying that Bipolar I is also about NMDA receptors.”)

        …about my having stated this parenthetically: “Note: that such chemicals may be, in some instances, causative factors, I cannot reasonably deny. But…”

        Upon further reflection, I will re-state myself, as follows: …that such neuro-chemical phenomena may be, in some instances, causative factors for some limited number of aspects of some of what is sometimes called “psychosis,” I cannot reasonably deny. But, there are so many interrelated aspects of what may be called “psychosis” — and so many of those phenomena are clearly life-supporting in nature…

        Hence, I hope that someday soon, bio-psych professors can begin to come to a consensus, in which they agree to respect the intrinsic wisdom that’s inherent in human emotions — even in seemingly ‘extreme’ emotions.

        Seemingly ‘extreme’ emotions can be difficult to endure, and they can be associated with confused thinking, but they can be very positively informative; and, in my experience, they are most easy to interpret and do pass best when they are not treated as a form of pathology…

        Therefore, I would suggest, to any student of biology whose focus could become ‘mental health’: Please, do not fail to take into account, this much, about what is oft-called “psychosis”:

        These phenomena are quite often directly associated with ‘fight/flight’ responses; and, yes, those are nervous system functions, which can become a cause of personal distress and/or distress to others; but, there can be very good reasons that those responses have come into play, in a person’s life.

        So, though we have, in modern pharmacies, all kinds of pills (and liquids) for reversing and preventing ‘fight/flight’ responses, bear in mind: Such responses are, of course, triggered by fear.

        Fear is the underlying factor…

        One could reasonably call fear itself a mere chemical response, in the brain.

        But, let’s ask ourselves: What good reason can anyone have for attempting to define fear itself as an effect that’s caused neuro-chemically?

        To me, it seems, there are all sorts of ‘political’ reasons for doing that — all sorts of reasons that are essentially working in the service of individuals who may be, indeed, responsible for causing the fearful person to be fearful…

        The idea that fear is a mere chemical response, in the brain, serves institutions that profit from fear-mongering and which aim to deny that their so-called ‘care’ actually causes much or most of the fear that it’s aiming to ‘treat’ after all.

        Of course, I’m not suggesting we should deny the reality of any chemical processes, that exist in the human brain.

        But, those processes are all guided by the context of ones human experience, by human perceptions, by learned human behaviors.

        Unless someone has become so very extremely scared — so fearful — that his or her actions seem to completely belie any sense that some sort of compassionate person or persons (who can, perhaps, eventually offer a bit of EMDR instruction or CBT or ‘just’ offer the consolation that understanding helpers bring naturally, when they have been there themselves, in fear, at one time, and are now fully confident, their worst fears are behind them) could help… if one cannot possibly be consoled by compassionate listening, by careful attention, by deeply considered human caring… if s/he’s become so overwhelmed with fear, seemingly to a ‘point of no return’ from it… if, despite all genuine efforts to offer that person real protection from harm, s/he literally cannot get to sleep, at all… or else, she’s become literally paralyzed with fear… unless one comes to that sort of (really quite rare and desperate) point, with truly overwhelming fear and is, indeed, literally pleading for a pill (or a liquid) to gain momentary relief from the strain of such fear, then where is the humanity, in responding with drugs?

        Probably, from what I’m saying there, someone could think I’d be one to deny people their right to ‘medicate’ their fears away, but I’m not…

        Only, I do believe that there are countless excellent natural remedies for seemingly ‘excessive’ fear; and, I do believe that fear underlies much of what’s deemed “psychosis”; and, I really do wonder: Are there not enough drugs for remedying fear, in pharmacies, already?



        Report comment

        • Jonah, can you understand that if neurochemical state Y is found to be responsible for what we term mental state Z, that does not preclude a causal relationship between environmental factor X and mental state Z via neurochemical state Y?

          The scientific fact that the brain creates our sensations and perceptions seems to threaten an awful lot of people.

          Report comment

          • Francesca,

            I am guessing (from how you are responding to my comments to Jill Littrell) that, once again, you’re critiquing my stated views without actually having read them full through (or without reading them carefully).

            Or, perhaps, you read only my ‘P.S.’ — skipping over my first comment, which I’d attached it to?

            My comments regarded Jill’s proclamation regarding “psychosis”.

            She stated “I’m pretty convinced by the story that psychosis reflects deficit fast-spiking GABA interneurons and hypo-function of NMDA receptors. The Australians are saying that Bipolar I is also about NMDA receptors.”

            You use the phrase “neurochemical state Y is found to be responsible for what we term mental state Z.”

            It’s my opinion (which is, I believe, an opinion shared by many folk here, at MIA, who likewise contribute their thoughts regarding what they call “psychosis” …and who also speak of ‘lived experiences’ of “psychosis”), that “psychosis” is an ‘umbrella term’ referring to literally countless phenomena; hence, ‘psychosis’ could not possibly fit into your seemingly logical model.

            I.e., reasonably speaking, ‘psychosis’ cannot be defined as a “mental state Z”; and, furthermore, ‘psychosis’ cannot be proven to be caused by a “neurochemical state Y.”

            In fact, I am flabbergasted to find Jill proposing that she knows otherwise.

            Simply put, the concept of ‘psychosis’ is not at all easily contained. The variety of phenomena associated with that concept is potentially boundless. (That is essentially what I pointed out, to begin — in so many words — in that first comment, which I posted, to Jill… on July 28, 2014 at 10:25 am.)

            To find Jill explaining “I’m pretty convinced by the story that psychosis reflects deficit fast-spiking GABA interneurons and hypo-function of NMDA receptors” leaves me shaking my head, in wonder, even now.

            According to my sense of what ‘psychosis’ can be (which is such an incredibly vast array of experiences, that no combination of words could ever fully describe them), my way of reading that statement of Jill’s winds up ultimately boggling my mind. (Really, each time I come back to it and reread it, it has that effect.)

            Now, about your stating “The scientific fact that the brain creates our sensations and perceptions seems to threaten an awful lot of people,” I feel I must ask you: Is that a fact?

            The brain creates our sensations and perceptions, really?

            I ask you that; and, then, I must admit, I’m being rhetorical — because, in truth, I know what you are calling a fact, there, is not a fact.

            What you offering, there, is not a fact at all — but rather the basis of an ideology (indeed, a rather incredibly popular ideology, these days).

            In fact, the brain processes our sensations and perceptions. (That’s saying something really quite different from what you’re saying.)

            When one changes the verb in a sentence, the entire meaning of that sentence can be revolutionized — as can be our way of thinking, about reality…

            Imho, Francesca, you inserted the verb “create” in sentence where it should not be placed, unless you wish to confuse your readers, as to the nature of reality. (And, certainly, you don’t want to do that…)

            You say the brain creates our sensations and perceptions; that is to effectively negate these following facts:

            We are all individuals who are, to varying degrees, more or less deeply affected, all throughout our lives, by the activities of others; and, each of us possesses (whether or not we are are aware of it) a significant amount of free will, which can allow us to choose what we shall believe and to choose how much (or what) we will or will not allow ourselves to see, feel, taste, smell and hear…

            I could go on, in this vein, but I won’t — as you have previously suggested that I can be overly verbose (and I can be, at times, that’s true).

            Thank you for your expressed interest in my views. I have very much appreciated this opportunity to respond.



            Report comment

          • Jonah, this is really getting tedious. Without the neurochemical state XYZ, one wouldn’t have the sensations/perceptions. If you want to argue mind vs. brain, I’m too bored to continue.

            Your assumption that if I don’t agree with you then I don’t understand you is both amusing and reminiscent of the psychiatric approach. Have you considered the possibility that you’re just not that interesting?

            Report comment

          • “Without the neurochemical state XYZ, one wouldn’t have the sensations/perceptions. If you want to argue mind vs. brain, I’m too bored to continue.”


            You had asked me a question, I gave you my best possible answer, and your reply to me begins, “Jonah, this is really getting tedious.” What? Are you serious? I don’t get that, at all. It’s as though I have been keeping you from an important engagement. And, yet, you had asked me a question.

            I was merely responding to your question, that you posed, for me…

            In my view, nothing in my reply can be considered mean-spirited, it is merely a philosophical point of dispute — yes, regarding “mind vs. brain”; so, you don’t care to have that conversation, fine; but, you could have offered a somewhat gracious reply, no?

            I mean, I was kind enough to answer you, while taking care to avoid being less than thoughtful; I stayed on point, offering nothing but my best response, in reasoned terms, without resort to characterizations of you; and, I have never been demeaning to you; I have only remarked on how rude you are to me.

            Frankly, I’ve gotten to the point, with you, that I do my best to ignore your comments — because you seem incapable of engaging with me, in a civil way. You initiate dialogue, again and again, in the aim of attacking me, my views and/or my writing style.

            Here, this time, as you’d asked me a question, I figured: ‘Well, maybe she can be kind this time, in her reply.’

            What would kindness look like, coming from you? I don’t even know.

            But, e.g., I think it could have been nice, had you, at least, begun with some gesture of graciousness, like “Thanks for the reply.”

            But, you didn’t.

            Of course, you didn’t — you never do.

            And, in fact, you end your reply by asking me, “Have you considered the possibility that you’re just not that interesting?”


            Did I somehow deserve such a slam?

            (I wonder, Francesca, really…)

            Do you, Francesca, have any idea how many times you have engaged me in comments, and then, as I’ve replied quite reasonably/rationally, you’ve just plain slammed me, deliberately insulting me and my commenting?

            Really, I wonder, why you do that and why you attempt to engage me, at all?

            I am guessing this is not really about me. (Of whom do I remind you, I wonder? You say, “Your assumption that if I don’t agree with you then I don’t understand you is both amusing and reminiscent of the psychiatric approach.” Do I remind you of one of your psychiatrists, maybe?)

            Wouldn’t you like to just refrain from reading my comments, as you repeatedly tell me, in so many ways, that my comments are boring to you?

            As you’ve previously suggested I am “verbose,” and now you suggest I am uninteresting and boring, I recommend to you, Francesca: just don’t read my comments anymore. (Really, I mean that.) In fact, I strongly suggest, if you can’t apologize for having been rude, to me, this time, then just ignore me, and I’ll ignore you — from now on.

            And, if you can’t ignore me, please, just cease attempting to engage me in conversation. Don’t ask me any more questions — because, I feel, by now, convinced, that you are bound and determined to do your best to make me look ‘bad’ (honestly, I know not why); so, I figure, if you’re attempting to engage me, in comment conversations while knowing I am just ignoring you, that will be you doing your best to make me appear as though less than civil.

            So… I’d quite appreciate if you could just ignore my comments, from this point forward if you cannot apologize — because, honestly, Francesca, I find your habit of deliberately shaming me is getting old.

            Take Good Care, Francesca, in any event…

            I Wish You Well (quite sincerely).



            P.S. — Francesca,

            Regarding your statement, that “Without the neurochemical state XYZ, one wouldn’t have the sensations/perceptions”:

            Of course, in any given instance, that may or may not be demonstrably true, but, again, remember: I was speaking of ‘psychosis’ — because Jill was speaking in terms of “psychosis”; imo, ‘psychosis’ is too broad a set of phenomena to be described, as if ‘it’ is caused by a few simple neuro-chemical reactions.

            But, for a somewhat simpler phenomena, such as that, of which I spoke, in my second comment to Jill: ‘fear’ (that is often a subset of ‘psychosis’):

            Even if/when on can clearly establish, that “Without the neurochemical state XYZ, one wouldn’t have the sensations/perceptions” that are suggestive of ‘fear,’ that proof will not, in and of itself, be convincing evidence, that XYZ has created those sensations/perceptions.

            (I was attempting to say to you the same thing, in my preceding comment, above.)

            I know what I’m saying there, at last, about your “XYZ” may seem complicated, so it may seem boring to you, but maybe you’ll think differently of it, in the morning!

            I.e., if you revisit this comment, after a good night’s sleep — or at another time — it could actually seem interesting. (Just maybe.) But, sometimes, my writing can be overly complicated.

            In any case, I have done my very best to respond in a meaningful ways, while being purely civil; hopefully, I have succeeded…

            Respectfully, J.

            Report comment

          • Jonah, you’re quite right. My tone was unnecessary and I apologize, sincerely.

            My frustration is driven by your comments such as:

            “Even if/when on can clearly establish, that “Without the neurochemical state XYZ, one wouldn’t have the sensations/perceptions” that are suggestive of ‘fear,’ that proof will not, in and of itself, be convincing evidence, that XYZ has created those sensations/perceptions.”

            I KNOW THAT AND SAID AS MUCH! You take such a professorial tone to state such obvious truths. My point was simply that the research Jill is talking about is still valuable and worthwhile REGARDLESS OF HOW ANY PARTICULAR NEUROCHEMICAL STATE CAME TO BE.

            Report comment

          • Jonah, can you understand that if neurochemical state Y is found to be responsible for what we term mental state Z, that does not preclude a causal relationship between environmental factor X and mental state Z via neurochemical state Y?

            No, because every subjective state is correlated with a unique biochemical expression. The chemicals involved are merely conduits for the material/physical manifestation of that state. So the answer lies in changing the “environment,” not screwing around with the chemicals and the brain.

            Is anger a disease caused by adrenalin?

            Report comment

          • Oldhead, I am coming to the conclusion that I have very poor writing skills because some of these countering responses aren’t countering anything I (meant to) say.

            You write: “Is anger a disease caused by adrenalin?”

            No, but adrenalin is required to have the sensation of anger. If the neighbour’s music is making me angry, knowing that there’s an intermediate step (adrenalin) in no way changes the basic relationship of that noise = anger relationship. But here’s where we differ: The structure and function of adrenalin is still worthy of study even after the neighbour turns off his stereo.

            And earlier in the same post you write: “So the answer lies in changing the “environment,” not screwing around with the chemicals and the brain.”

            But you’re assuming that the culprit MUST be the environment and that’s not always the case. And even when it is the case, sometimes the environment can’t be immediately changed and sometimes changing the environment doesn’t immediately affect the brain state.

            Psych drugs remain and always will remain a valuable tool. Unfortunately, in rare and extraordinary circumstances, using them is completely justified even over someone’s objections.

            Clearly, involuntary treatment happens way too often and outpatient commitment is generally a bad approach. However, in a crisis intervention, there may be no alternative. Arguing otherwise is a lost cause.

            PS to CS2013, I concede that my “intellectual ability” (your words) precludes my agreeing with your position.

            And, with that, I will be leaving this thread and Mad in America. I wish everybody well but I prefer not to participate here anymore.

            Report comment

          • What? Our “brain” creates our sensations and perceptions— a feeling in the brain and a feeling are inseparable. So, when someone is being raped, the feelings about being raped are a chemical reality. That does NOT mean that a person being raped needs a drug to correct his/her bad feelings about it. Right?

            You don’t seem to understand that every individual is shaped by their surroundings much more than is acknowledged in the U.S., and that most humans do not remain “normal” and just skippy, thank you, during and after extreme experiences. People lose their minds from solitary confinement, torture, loss of a child (as a child), and being overwhelmed with a host of events. It’s human, not being fundamentally broken, but being overwhelmed. This is, obviously, a difficult society to live in for many.

            My uncle who I described above and my mother suffered unspeakable things as children. His mother was a sociopath and his father was a psychopath and —- probably because of the sibling’s grandmother— all of them have a conscience so they can feel the shame of what was done to them.

            He was strong to have survived, the “resilience” nonsense should have been throttled in the crib. My uncle also went through two tours in Viet Nam as a Marine helicopter machine gunner. He came back an addict and traumatized by a greater sickness than even his father’s . What sense does it make to blame his condition on biology? His condition reflected the war and the pathology of others, not a loose cog in the machinery of his mind.

            I don’t doubt that some people suffer from extreme mental illness from physical causes. Schizophrenia from an in vitro virus? Possibly some, but unlikely all; and schizophrenia is a category that is about psychiatry, not cause and effect. Study iof the human biome appears promising and has demonstrated that some apparent mental illnesses can be corrected in the gut.

            There are also hundreds of physical illnesses that can be manifested as mental illness that can be eliminated by treating the actual physical illness, and not the brain. The brain is part of the body, and the world, and memories, habits, skills, etc…

            Oh, and medication that can have an affect on mental processes and mood.

            Whenever anyone reduces human suffering to the point of madness as a biological fault in a human brain, they dismiss most of what it is to be human and are possibly a bit personally unfamiliar with atrocity and disaster.

            Report comment

          • That’s not the point. Brain generates psychosis. Brain generates fear, brain generates pleasure and pain and everything else. It does not make any of these states an illness necessarily or does not mean that they should be treated by changing the brain.
            If you feel pain because you put you hand into the fire, is giving you pain killers or cutting out pain centers of your brain the reasonable way of dealing with a situation? And even if you broke your bones and need pain meds for a short time should that be the only way you’re treated and do you think the pain meds cure the brain disease of pain? Or do they manage the pain from an injury elsewhere?
            The argument here is that what brain does is pretty much irrelevant: what is relevant is why the brain responds that way and what can be done to remove the reasons for the distress.

            Report comment

  9. Something I want to add. The rest of medicine might not be exempt of excesses, but since it is increasingly precise, the type of massive scam that happens in psychiatry is not possible.

    You can spin all day long that a given drug lowers cholesterol or sugar levels in blood but there are precise biological levels to falsify said claims: blood tests. Similarly, try to use cholesterol drugs off label to treat say cancer. There are ways to show whether the drug is not working, including that the patient might as well die.

    The reason psychiatry is a gold mine for big pharma is its non scientific, subjective nature. So any drug can be used to treat anything and there is no way to check whether the drug is doing (or not doing) what it is supposed to do, which is also unknown in the first place.

    Report comment

    • Since you bring up statins- they are widely prescribed. They are not treating an illness, they are treating risk. It takes complicated statistics to understand who benefits from risk reduction. This is true for mammography screening; when one medical body suggested that frequent screening may do more harm than good, there was a huge outcry from clinicians who order the tests. I could go on and on. Read David Healy’s website to find out more examples.

      Report comment

      • Not to go out of my area of expertise, but statins also have been shown to do a lot of damage, like cognitive disabilty and premature senility, while actually doing little or nothing to prevent hart attacks and strokes. While naturally occurring low cholesterol is associated with such benefits, artificially produced low cholesterol does not seem to have much beneficial effect. So states a very recent meta review of many studies. While MIA readers see a lot of criticism of psych drugs, we should keep in mind that the drug companies push a lot of other profitable poisons as well. Of course, everyone here should have a look at “Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime,” by the very courageous Danish physician Peter Gotzsche.

        Report comment

        • The number needed to treat to prevent one heart attack looks to be hanging around 500 right now. The risks are severe and permanent memory loss, severe and permanent muscle pain, severe and permanent muscle wasting. Given the number of things a person can do to reduce their risks of heart attack, it is, imo, malpractice to prescribe statins routinely.

          Report comment

          • Exactly. But in the past six months I’ve fought with two doctors who were determined to make me take statins, even with all the evidence against the use of the drugs. You tell them all this and they act like you’ve never said anything and go right on with trying to push the damned drugs on you. It’s unbelievable. Needless to say, neither of those doctors are working for me at this point in time.

            Report comment

      • Answering to Ted as well,

        Another big difference is that there is no court ordered statins or Truvada, even if there was a way to justify that taking either affects public health outcomes. I don’t have data to show that forcing people on statins would alter outcomes, but I do to show that forcing every single person deemed at high risk of HIV infection due to his/her behavioral patterns would dramatically affect the HIV prevalence in the United States: the Cuban experiment .

        All this to say that psychiatry enjoys a peculiar status that is denied to other branches of medicine that have arguably better scientific bona fides and better scientific justifications for their interventions.

        Both things combined -psychiatry’s lack of scientific basis and its coercive prerogative- help explain why psychiatry enjoys the free ride that other branches of medicine do not. You can say no to a doctor offering statins or Truvada for prevention purposes and that no means really no. With psychiatry a similar no/yes is never truly free.

        Report comment

        • CS2013, you’re right that statins are never court ordered but you’re wrong that physical medicine is never done over a patient’s objections. There are several exceptions where public safety trumps an individual’s freedom. I know that’s likely a scenario that sickens you politically but it exists and it exists for good reason.

          Report comment

          • The only drugging for real diseases that I am aware of that has ever been forced onto people has to do with highly contagious infectious diseases that can kill people (tuberculosis, leprosy). In fact, while the West was busy arguing whether HIV was one such disease, the Cuban government decided not to wait and adopted an aggressive policy in case it was (while a bit relaxed, that aggressive policy remains in place today).

            You cannot be locked up for the flu, for instance, even if you are highly contagious.

            I am not aware of any treatment for a physical disease that didn’t involve high risk of deadly contamination that was ever been imposed onto anybody, at least in the United States. Chemotherapy cannot be imposed against a patient’s will even if it is life saving (which makes a mockery of the whole notion of preemptive lock up for danger to self).

            These protections, of course, do not apply to minors or people legally incapacitated but that is not what we are talking about here. The bottom line remains: adults deemed having legal capacity cannot be forced on pretty much anything, medically speaking, save psychiatry.

            Report comment

      • I’ve finally decided to forego mammograms and already decided not to take statins; but haven’t told my doc yet. I love her, she’s great; but NO. If I disliked my doctor, I’d spend about zero energy on feelings over refusal. I have no doubts about refusal, and I’m not a door mat or submissive by any stretch, but there seems to be a little hitch in the personal vs. professional feelings in these situations.

        I think she’s doing her best in the system she’s in and she cares very much about the health of her patients; she is following guidelines, and the guidelines and their attendant marketing are problem. I could print up some information for her, but that may have nothing to do with what the consequences are to her of patients not taking what she prescribes. I doubt she has time to study much and have a life while working at a V.A. clinic. She’s a good doctor. She listens.

        It’s all such a diffuse and seemingly self-operating system with “EBM” and “preventive” medicine, and it appears to be causing more problems than it solves.

        Report comment

      • That is surely true for some recent drugs as “marketing of disease” but in case of psychiatry it’s a norm.
        Btw, I’d pretty much never take statin or advice anyone to just as much I’d not advice anyone to take psych drugs.

        Report comment

    • That’s pretty much the practice – no matter the diagnosis they will find a way to prescribe you at least one of the kind: an anti-depressants (for better mood, more energy what not), anti-psychotic (for stabilization, anti-psychosis, anti-anxiety), anti-convulstant (for… well, why not)… well what else do they have?

      Report comment

  10. Once upon a time, about the only “psychiatrists” you had running around were the superintendents of lunatic asylums. Now the American Psychiatric Association claims to have 28,000 members, and I’ve gotten estimates approaching 50, 000 for the numbers of “psychiatrists” practicing in the USA today. On top of this figure, they say there are not enough of them. This is the argument being used to legislate for granting prescribing privileges to psychologists. (If you were to corner me on the subject, I’m pretty antipsychology, too.) Being an abolitionist when it comes to forced psychiatric treatment, I’m pretty anti-state-mental-hospital-director also.

    Robert Whitaker, at a conference both of us attended recently, spoke about much psychiatry today as being by and large anti-social-justice. A listener later questioned, in regard to the use of the term anti-social-justice, why we weren’t using the term “psychiatric oppression” instead. My thought was that both terms seem to be pretty synonymous, that is to say, psychiatric oppression is anti-social-justice, and anti-social-justice is psychiatric oppression. I hope to be, myself, in so far as people go, pretty anti-anti-social-justice.

    People are dying today because they listened to their psychiatrist. Psychiatrists, today, are primarily pill-pushers. Health is not a metaphor, but mental health is as much a metaphor as is “mental illness” and, therefore, not scientifically valid. Combining (integrating) physical and mental health services, the thing psychiatry is itching to do, merely increases the business for undertakers and funeral home directors. Psychiatry’s reason for existence is up. The study and treatment of that metaphor, has created an industry around the metaphor, that is overwhelmingly bad for people. I’m not saying we don’t need good psychiatrists to do something about this dismal state of affairs, I’m just saying that according to those bad psychiatrists we have been talking about, the good psychiatrists are the bad psychiatrists. As a scientific field of inquiry, psychiatry never had a leg to stand on anyway. Why not accept the truth for what it is, and let bygones be bygones?

    I will tell you why. Among corporations with global aspirations the psycho-pharmaceutical industrial complex is not a minor player sitting out the game on a bench in the ballpark. We’ve got big business here. Psychiatrists have always been in the business of injuring their patients. Standard practice today is a matter of patient injury, in other words, the cure for the metaphor of mental illness is the discomfort and services that come out of physical damaging the patient. Reversing this process, and focusing on real health, physical health, instead, is to my way of thinking a matter of concern for anti-psychiatry, and not psychiatry. We don’t need people pursuing a medical education in order to damage other people. Case closed.

    Report comment

    • “People are dying today because they listened to their psychiatrist.”

      We have to make this message louder. I didn’t know that it could happen, until my friend died. Cardiac arrest at the age of 30, after 10 years on neuroleptics, which made her life worse. The autopsy confirmed, that her death was caused by the neuroleptics.

      Report comment

      • Destroyed her metabolism, I’m guessing. Sorry to hear about your friend.

        When I became stable, my doctor wanted to maintain me on Risperdal on the grounds that “if it ain’t broke, we needn’t fix it.” But it was broke! I was taking harmful and unnecessary medication.

        Perhaps my biggest objection was that I was not willing to have my mental health attributed to pills. In any event, I got off that crap in April 2013 and have never looked back.

        Report comment

    • I’m not saying we don’t need good psychiatrists to do something about this dismal state of affairs, I’m just saying that according to those bad psychiatrists we have been talking about, the good psychiatrists are the bad psychiatrists

      Yo Frank — totally agree with your post except I think we need to avoid talking about “good” & “bad” psychiatrists because it tends to focus on the individual shrink rather than the institution — as tho if we just could find enough “good” ones the problem could be solved. (I doubt you personally believe this, but thought I’d mention it anyway in terms of general principles).

      Report comment

      • For a majority of people the difference between a good ___ or a bad ___ is circumstances. There are of course exceptions on both end of the spectrum but sadly there exists such a thing as “banality of evil”.
        Which is why I find it hard to think well about my own species – it’s somehow easier for em to come to terms with the existence of psychopaths who harm people for fun and suffer not guilt over it than otherwise normal people capable of a full range of human emotions who can oftentimes do the same things. It’s chilling…

        Report comment

    • Hi Frank,

      As a person with some active education in clinical and cultural antropology and a psychiatric survivor, I have been working for years on aspects of social, moral and spiritual injustice und conflicts often inherent in extreme emotional and moral distress and emotional and spiritually altered ways of relating to and experiencing one’s being in an extremely conflicting world: far extending one’s individual dilemmata.

      In my view there are countless ‘meaningful’ themes in many diverse altered states and cognitions/perceptions which, not being reducable to them, relate to immense troubles of injustice seen to ‘psychotic’ amplified looking classes on wordly injustice. The social and moral tensions, oppressions and predicaments of injustice to me often seem inherent in extreme affective and mental experiences.

      Injustice predicaments point at important features of alternatives to psychiatry in values, stakes and organisational challenges. Claims for social, moral and ‘spiritual’ justice as new balancing of powers seem more and more ‘central’ to the developent of collective alternatives for people in despair and existencial moral agency predicaments.

      Development of alternatives have since the 1970s build on more ‘grassroots’ democracy as organisations, collective empowerment and demands for social justice. In my opinion there are new ways to reclaim and develop these values and reciprocity dialogues and doings with regards to many people’s overwelming predicaments (labelled mental illnessess, wrongly in my understanding, having learned from many people who have experienced ‘altered embodied and mental/cognitive worldlyness).

      I see psychiatry based on causal neurobiological hypothesis that seemed medical way forward end of 19th century as outdated by today’s knowledge of complex human mind’s, emotion’s, meaning making’ as well as organic interactions for whom neurological systems are subordinated mediating ‘substrates’. Causal logic is inadequate when it comes to organsisms, neurology in aware human beings living reciprocally in conflicting social, moral, cultural, spiritual worlds.

      Could you please post a reference to Robert Whitaker speaking about psychiatry as ‘neoliberal state backed control and pretend to normalize practice’ which serves to hide and hinder the tackling of social, moral, societal and cultural injustice witin many extreme experiences and witin societies. Thank you.

      Best regards,

      PS Sorry for my typos, I am a late life English as a foreign language speaker.

      Report comment

      • I wrote this, not Whitaker’s saying, for clarification : psychiatry as ‘neoliberal state backed control and pretend to normalize practice’ which serves to hide and hinder the tackling of social, moral, societal and cultural injustice… Best, Ute

        Report comment

        • I didn’t record his talk if that’s what you’re driving at. Sorry. I could only answer with hearsay, and I don’t think doing so a good idea.

          You’re dead on target about psychiatry acting as a social control mechanism though, and in that capacity it serves as a cloak for all sorts of social injustices. Biological psychiatry would treat social issues as facts of nature, and, as such, it obscures the fact that social and environmental conditions aren’t immutable.

          Report comment

          • Thank you for responding so soon.
            Ok, then I gonna look out what R Whitaker is gonna make if the ‘psychiatry as being anti social justice.

            In a talk R Whitaker at ‘Beyond the Therapeutic State – June 26-28, 2014’ related an example where US psychiatry intervened and took away some achievements in social life of young teens considered ‘lost cases’ but supported by some folks who helped them get off neuroleptic medication and get on in shared experiences. Because the youths had been taken of drugs psychiatry made sure the project was shut down and the ‘neglected’ teens put on psychophamaceuticals and into psychiatry again. This is a factual example.

            Obviously the social and political implications of psychiatry as agent of drugging and monitoring damaged individuals (‘…and make the world go away’, Mary Boyle, In: Demedicalising Misery, 2011) how psychiatric science fiction makes go away the social and scientific relevancy and impacts of social injustice is much wider.

            Here is a link to the Whitaker’s talk ‘Beyond the Therapeutic State – June 26-28, 2014’ conference

            Report comment

  11. Dr. Steingard, I celebrate your central and concluding point: that we need to worry about what would take the place of psychiatry if psychiatry was banished. In the USSR, capitalism and private ownership of business was abolished. And what took its place? Another dysfunctional system, one which did no better than capitalism in fulfilling the public’s needs. I agree with you that what is needed is not a complete revolution against, but an evolution within, the practice of psychiatry.

    I was the ultimate compliant patient with schizophrenia. As a result, I lost ten years of my life to a chemical lobotomy that left me unable to function for more than a couple hours at a time, that left me sleeping 14 hours a day, that left me completely unconnected to other people, and that destroyed my health — all because of the drugs that I was put on because psychiatrists would rather drug you into submissive quietude than support a system, like the Soteria model and others practiced throughout the world where modern medical psychiatry doesn’t dominate but that supports you during the difficult time that you go through your crisis.

    I agree with you that in that I believe that psychiatry can be reformed and made useful. But first it must:

    • completely reject the medical model
    • completely reject the use of any coercion except in the case of threatened harm
    • completely reject the use of any medication except when the patient is capable of truly informed consent without any form of coercion by others (see other recent MIA articles on the meaning of consent)
    • completely embrace the trauma model of psychological distress, including social factors like abuse, bullying, ostracization, and the effects of poverty, racism, and classism
    • completely embrace a system of community support where local agencies provide an environment where peer support from others with the same experience on a day-to-day basis, free of charge, replaces occasional appointments with “professionals” who restrict their services to hours of their own choosing and charge high prices to those in need

    My list is only a beginning of what needs to be done to reform psychiatry. Can you expand on it, or will you remain only an apologist? As I said at the beginning of my response, I respect your position. But you will need to expand on what that really means in order to be credible to this disillusioned audience.

    Report comment

    • Just a quibbly note — the USSR never abolished capitalism, it was only pushed underground. The demise of the USSR was not a failure of socialism but of the attempt to establish it in a permanent and democratic way.

      Report comment

      • Actually it was not an attempt to establish communism (not socialism) – I’d suggest listening to Chomsky on Lenin and USSR or (if you have a lot of free time) read Lenin himself. The idea was to make an industrialised country out of Russia to push it through to the nest step of development required for communist revolution. In communism the production was supposed to be worker run not state run…

        Report comment

  12. I write as a medical layman who advocates for and supports chronic pain patients in online media. I frequently observe the consequences of failures in both the medical and mental health practice systems, in what amounts to doctor abuse of patients with rare or unusual medical disorders, by writing them off as “psychosomatic”.

    From 18 years of active engagement with patients and wide reading in medical literature, I offer the following observations.

    1. There is real anguish in the world and in individuals. Psychiatry and psychology have done an awful and ineffective job of addressing or mediating that anguish. There is abundant evidence of professional psychiatric coercion of people in distress, and of intentional conspiracy to defraud in false claims of “safe” pharmaceutical treatment. Alternatives in psychotherapy equally lack valid science and repeatable outcomes.

    2. The DSM process and its parent institution, the APA, have been corrupted by pharmaceutical companies and by professional hubris. The diagnostic categories of the DSM are unsupported by science and the very concept of “mental disease” may be a misnomer. The National Institutes for Mental Health no longer employ the DSM as an organizing framework for research. It should also be abolished as a source of codes for insurance reimbursement.

    3. The human brain, consciousness and mind may be the most complex organism that we know. After 60 years of promised “progress”, the brain disease model for emotional and cognitive distress remains an abject failure, with little prospect of future breakthroughs in the amelioration of human distress.

    4. There are many critics of the state of affairs described above. Criticism is easy. It is real change that’s hard. None of the critics has set forth a detailed program or proposal for how society can get from where we are, to a better state.

    5. Arguing over the abolition versus reform of psychiatry doesn’t get us closer to a program or to any useful end goal. The argument is a mere distraction, an exercise in ego or misdirection which benefits only those who benefit from the current state of affairs.

    If you would abolish psychiatry, then tell us with what you would replace it, to aid people in distress. If you would reform the profession, then offer a realistic concept for beating into legal submission, the politicians that Big Pharma has bought and paid for with campaign contributions.

    STOP THINKING SMALL. As a wise sage informed us generations ago, the essence of madness is doing the same things over and over again and expecting the outcome to be different.

    Richard A. “Red” Lawhern, Ph.D.
    Resident Research Analyst
    Living with TN — an online community among Ben’s Friends
    Contributor, “Helping the Distressed Consciousness”, @psyguyots

    Report comment

      • Cannotsay2013, at the risk of provoking you, may I ask how your “thinking big” has translated into improving the lives of those who suffer from mental disorders/emotional distress/fill in your favourite term here?

        I believe that Dr. Lawhern is encouraging us to actually get something done rather than just keep bickering.

        Report comment

        • Francesca, that is indeed what I had in mind. Thanks for pointing that out.

          And if I may, a footnote for those who believe that viable non-pharmaceutical protocols exist for the severely disturbed and distressed: how many such alternatives have generated repeatable results in controlled randomized double-blind trials?


          Report comment

          • This question is as absurd as the notion that the anti slavery position was flawed because it didn’t provide an alternative to “room and board for life” that slaves had prior to the Emancipation Declaration.

            In fact, many today still blame the struggles of some in the African American community in the evil slavery that was perpetrated on them for a long time. Does this mean that slavery should have never been abolished without having an alternative to “room and board for life” for the former slaves? It is a ludicrous (and rhetorical) question that answers your own and Francesca’s.

            Report comment

          • CS2013, let me rephrase. Please give one example of any impact you have had on the lives of those suffering from mental disorders. For instance, one report of somebody reading your wisdom and improving his or her life as a result.

            Report comment

          • Francesca, while I concur with your position in regards to Dr. Lawhern’s thoughts, I think asking cannotsay2013 the question who he has helped personally is not appropriate because it is a personal question, the concept of help is subjective. and for that the answer will always be unknown to us unless those he has helped decide to answer your question here.

            Report comment

          • “And if I may, a footnote for those who believe that viable non-pharmaceutical protocols exist for the severely disturbed and distressed: how many such alternatives have generated repeatable results in controlled randomized double-blind trials?”

            Where’s the evidence for the efficacy of the current system/practises?

            Report comment

          • CS2013, let me rephrase. Please give one example of any impact you have had on the lives of those suffering from mental disorders. For instance, one report of somebody reading your wisdom and improving his or her life as a result.

            This borders on ad hominem, aside from the basic absurdity of the “argument.” But since you mention it, Cannotsay has improved my appreciation of the fallacies of psychiatry via the “hardware vs. software” analogy, which contributes to my general appreciation of life.

            Also, critical thinking is not “bickering.” I would say some self-critical thinking is in order. If the shoe fits, of course.

            Report comment

          • Thank you for your support Anon/oldhead.

            I am not one who likes to brag about the people that I have helped or I haven’t helped.

            Suffice it to say that if everything goes according to plan, 10-15 years from now psychiatry will hear in earnest from me (if it hasn’t been abolished in between, that is), when I plan to come out as a full time anti psychiatry activist.

            I am old enough to have seen several patterns in my life that, for better or for worse, show up over and over again.

            One of them is luck, including the particular circumstances in which my own abuse happened. I spoke of them in my first post but I left many details out to make it unlikely that somebody identifies me from reading my posts. However, when the full details of my story become public, people will understand that indeed, I am a lucky guy.

            The second is that people tend to underestimate me. This has happened to me both during my school years and my professional years.

            I am right now working on making sure that I am financially independent when the right time comes to “come out”. The most I can do for now is my anonymous online activism, but its not my last word when it comes to anti psychiatry activism by any means!

            Report comment

          • Hi, Oldhead. Anon had already suggested to me that it wasn’t an appropriate post and I responded in agreement. The notion of assessing who’s doing more to help does not strike me as an absurd approach, however. What was inappropriate about the post was my suggesting that CS2013 hadn’t helped which of course I have no way of knowing. That’s why I agreed with Anon.

            Report comment

    • Maybe we need to write a bill? Even if it never goes to effect as it is it’ll be a framework. It should abolish the coercive model and provide training and funding for alternatives.
      That would be a productive way to go forward but it’d require a bunch of activists to get together and spend some time making a draft.
      If Murphy can do it…

      Report comment

  13. I am anti-psychiatry because its fundamental premise is false; psychiatry is a medical science and emotional distress is not a medical problem. Emotional distress is the normal, natural biology of distressful experiences.

    Psychiatry is based on the false assumption that the mental process operates on a biological principle of rationality, and that since emotional distress is painfully irrational, it is therefore a biological dysfunction. A mental principle of rationality has been challenged throughout history by intellectuals advocating associative thinking. Plato and Aristotle, classical British empiricists, Associationists (who founded psychology with Rationalists) and early behaviorists (Pavlov and Skinner) all advocate associative thinking. Associative thinking has never been disproved. More importantly, basic empirical neuroscience now explains associative thinking.

    Drug therapies may temporarily alleviate symptoms of emotional distress but it is harmful to the community to falsely advocate that they cure emotional distress. The false stigma of a mental disorder and the coercion of forced hospitalization, forced ECTs and forced drug therapies increase emotional distress; they are therefore counter-productive.

    Psychiatry will only be replaced by a new psychology paradigm that focuses on reducing distressful experiences for sufferers.

    Best regards, Steve

    Report comment

  14. But you do realize that before psychiatry ever even took a single penny of drug company money, they were locking people up, electroshocking them and cutting peoples frontal lobes out?

    Psychiatry was on its “biological crusade” long before drug companies came into the picture, and were leaving unfathomable amounts of harm and suffering in their wake, one that was and is in no way comparable to the rest of medicine.

    Honestly, I’d much rather wear some leeches or be put in the sun for an hour than to have my frontal lobes removed.

    Report comment

  15. Sandy, I do agree with your basic point – medicine as a whole has been corrupted and continues to be corrupted by big money incentives and convenient lies that allow, for instance, massive sales of statins to perfectly healthy people when statins don’t actually even address the underlying issue that it is supposedly protecting against.

    Unfortunately, it appears that the vast bulk of psychiatric prescribing falls into that very same category – medicating a physiologically healthy populations with drugs that don’t address whatever underlying issues they are supposed to address, and actually making people less physically healthy and less likely to “recover” into the bargain. I really do appreciate that you personally appear to recognize this and to be trying to do something about it. I’m assuming from your writing that you would adopt a more “Moncriefian” approach to drugs in mental health, using them when they seem helpful but not assuming or asserting that they are treating a disease per se, and not assuming that they would be first-line or primary interventions. But how do you see the profession as a whole moving away from this disease/drug model, when the DSM provides cover and justification for doing so, and the drug company money provides the huge incentive for continued lying to the public about the lack of a genuine understanding that lies behind the DSM and the attendant “treatments?”

    Personally, I believe a move away from using DSM diagnoses is essential for any big changes to happen, and I don’t really see that happening any time soon. When so many people (not just doctors) are intellectually, emotionally, and financially invested in this cultural artifact, it seems very challenging to imagine such support flagging except by an absolute rebellion among the recipients of psychiatric care. Do you think there is another path that does not require wresting power away from those whose lack of intellectual depth and/or corruptibility prevents them from seeing or acknowledging the truth that you have come to recognize?

    It’s a big problem. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on how we get to a new place.

    —- Steve

    Report comment

    • Thanks, Steve. Yes, I am a Moncrieffian! I had not heard that term before. I wrote a blog called, The End of Psychiatry, in which I articulated where I thought psychiatry (or some subdivision of neurology) belonged. In brief, it is a small corner of the universe of people who could be helpful to those in extreme distress. That universe, in my view, would capitliaze on natural supports as well as on peers. I have studied the Open Dialogue model and it is my first choice of how to structure the mental health system.

      Report comment

      • You haven’t heard that term because I just invented it. But since we both are using it, I think it now officially counts as a word.

        My best idea to reform psychiatry would be to put you in charge. But I don’t think you’ll be president of the APA any time soon!

        I think we need people in all parts of the spectrum to make things change for the better, and for my part, I appreciate your energy and your efforts. You have gotten more done than a lot of people who might criticize you from both sides. Keep up the good work!

        — Steve

        Report comment

  16. Dr. Steingard,

    It seems your argument boils down to:
    You can’t isolate problems of Psychiatry from problems of Medicine
    AND Medicine is not going away
    AND People will continue to use psychoactive drugs available to alleviate suffering.A
    common way people to do is from visits to medical professionals, including
    SO If Psychiatry doesn’t take a stance between people suffering and drugs, then
    something worse might.

    I don’t have the energy/time to try to tackle this right now, but I just want to double check this boils down your stance to why you do not take an “abolitionist” approach to psychiatry as an institution or systemic force?

    Report comment

    • Hi Nathan,
      I think you got it all but I would re-write the last point.
      It goes beyond the simple fact that someone wil prescribe these drugs so we might was well have some entity in medicine prescribe them judicioulsy and wisely (that was the essence of my blog, The End of Psychiatry,

      But there are other solutions for addressing various kinds of distress. Some may be good and some not so good. We need to be cautious. I came up in the era of psychoanalysis. I think bad things happened under that umbrella. Someone sent me an e-mail today about this post. It is someone who chooses to not comment publicly. This person quoted Foucult: not everything is bad but everything is dangerous.

      Many of the comments here point to things that I think would bring about good change but I think we need to be humble about what we know and do not know. I would love to see money invested into trials of alternatives. This is starting to happen.

      Report comment

  17. Those of us who write on MIA, and who have experienced forced psychiatry, and have or are working to extricate themselves from the psychiatric system are totally absent from film and television portrayals of the mentally ill.

    Report comment

  18. It makes perfect sense why Dr. Steingard would take this point of view. It is much easier to remain in a profession that you have dedicated your life to, than break free and start over. So called critical psychiatrists are going to weave their way through each and every criticism until they find something good about their profession. Every anti-psychiatry proponent knows it’s a bunch of crap, but it’s the psychiatrists livelihood. When it comes to reforming mental health, psychiatrists simply do not have the tools or knowledge to help people heal. However, their is good news, many people do. I can understand how you would want to fight for a title that you spent a lot of time and money to obtain. How much longer can psychiatrists harm people just to keep their status in society

    Report comment

  19. I agree that it’s better to keep it specific.

    I think it’s important to see the framing with “anti-psychiatry”, what about “pro-psychiatry” ? At the end of the day psychiatry pushes a model and range of treatments. The onus of proof is on the “pro-psychiatry”, it’s the movement that truly exists, it’s the bullshit.

    Really a psychiatrist that just wants to go back to talk therapy, retain their power and earning potential whilst still pushing ‘disorders’ is still going to be a blight on society overall.

    Report comment

  20. Thanks Sandy for your post. In my mind I fall into the reformist camp because ultimately I am interested in systematic here and now change that improves lives for people in emotional distress. I prefer to strategically look at areas that the public is likely to agree on (such as systemic overmedication) and chip away at these areas rather than wait for some global eradication of the profession of psychiatry…which I think is highly unlikely in the short term.

    At core, I am a pragmatist. I would rather see psychiatric prescription patterns becoming much more cautious. I would like to see the use of force and restraints used only in rare cases of violence. I would like to see strong non-medical alternative systems in place for people who are looking for them. I would like to see doctors focused on how to properly taper someone who desires to be off psych drugs. I would like to see greater education and awareness of the long term health problems associated with psych drugs. I think this is all….possible.

    What I don’t see as possible, or even desirable, is the abolition of psychiatry. There are far too many people who want psychiatry as a choice. Far too many people who feel aided by psych drugs, or feel too challenged to withdraw off them to eradicate psychiatry. They should be offered that avenue, all be it with far more caveats and education around the perils of that path.

    Right now there are over 100,000 iatrogenic deaths per year due to the practice of modern medicine via drugs and surgery. I don’t support the abolition of modern medicine either but I also support the strong reform of all of medicine, not just psychiatry.

    Thanks for your words Sandy.

    Report comment

    • “There are far too many people who want psychiatry as a choice”

      The same is true of,

      – Christianity

      – Islam

      – Scientology

      – Mormonism

      – Astrology

      – Your preferred belief system…

      Why should my tax dollars have to pay for any of the above?

      What I have yet to hear from the reformist crowd is a cogent argument as to why it is legitimate for government to adopt psychiatry as a form of social control. The first amendment explicitly bans government from promoting “belief systems”. There seems to be little disagreement that indeed, psychiatry is a “belief system”. So even if people love it, why should I have to pay for it with my tax dollars? And why should I be forced to live by the DSM framework under the threat of losing my freedom if I do not comply?

      The reformist point of view doesn’t make any sense, intellectually speaking, except for the fact that when one combines the number of psychiatrist, psychologists, social workers and psychiatric nurses working out of government tax dollars, that’s a lot of people who would become unemployed if psychiatry were to be given the same legal status as the other “belief systems”.

      Report comment

    • Jonathan:I take it from reading your posts that you work as sort of para-professional in the mental health system. As some one who spent four months of my life involuntarily committed in 1989 and 1990, my memory suggests that I spent much more time with employees like you than I did with psychiatrists. Two employees, one’s title was trainer, helped me me immensely, by helping to soften the blow of the system. In your case, you could simply put in your time at work, and then go home and go about your business, but instead you choose to become more deeply enmeshed in the process. It’s seems that you stuck your neck out by speaking up for the group in Oregon that was kicked out by the Unitarians, and that is commendable. In my case, the trainer went out of his way to track me down after my release to tell me that I had made a difference in his life. People in your position can make a difference working within the system.
      It seems by reading these posts that we have a polarized community around the topic of psychiatric abolition. I am not sure that abolition and the day to day reforms that you fight for are mutually exclusive. For example, socialists of varying strips who envision a different and more just economic system also fought for and achieved the eight hour day and brought us the weekend, all without radically overthrowing capitalism. There are certainly many hurdles to over come if psychiatry were to be abolished. For example, I am currently trying to titrate from low doses of Zyprexa and klonapin and I need to maintain my access to my prescriptions to achieve this.
      In my day to day life, I am further removed from the system than you are, although I do get a glimmer of what goes on in my work experience. I have students who talk about their ADHD and who sporadically comply with the medication leaving them in a less than normally functioning state. At my other job, I transport foster youth to psychiatric and counseling appointments. I am not privy to their exact circumstances, and I do not pry. But when the question begs for an answer, I have told the youth that they can also ask the psychiatrists questions, and when a youth talks about her interaction with these professionals in a negative way, I remark that I am not their biggest fan either.
      On the one hand, there is no easy way to banish psychiatry from our culture, but on the other hand the leading lights of psychiatry (Frances and Insel) admit to the lack of scientific evidence for the theory of chemical imbalances and the DSM. The emperor has no clothes. For two decades I lived with one foot on the psychiatric plantation. I attended psych. Appointments and complied with medications. About five years ago I entered a graduate school of counseling, while also reading Thomas Szasz and others in the journal of Ethical and Human Psychology and Psychiatry-founded by Peter Breggin. My narrative of my experience began to change. I guess you could say that I am no longer a house slave. Four years ago, my primary care physician, my kidney doctor and my psychiatrist informed me that the Lithium has caused me to develop stage three kidney disease. I guess you could say this was the clincher for me.
      As for the people who believe that psychiatry has helped them, this does present somewhat of a cunumdram for psychiatric abolishionists. I certainly don’t want to put myself in the position of berating people for their false consciousness. But at the same time, I don’t shy away from talking about my experience in public even if it means being berated by a counseling instructor for my negative comments about psychiatry on the class on-line discussion board. I will continue to read and write on MIA and hope that that as a community someday we will be better able to forge a consensus.

      Report comment

      • It seems by reading these posts that we have a polarized community around the topic of psychiatric abolition. I am not sure that abolition and the day to day reforms that you fight for are mutually exclusive. For example, socialists of varying strips who envision a different and more just economic system also fought for and achieved the eight hour day and brought us the weekend, all without radically overthrowing capitalism.

        I think that is an excellent point.

        Regarding the supposed conflict between psychiatric abolitionists and eager psych patients: Prescriptions can be obtained from any MD or other prescriber. Psychiatry is not needed for that. Counseling, which psychiatrists do much less often anyway, can be done with any other form of counselor. Psychiatry is not needed for that either. So if psychiatry disappeared overnight, people would still be able to receive the same services they get now. This recurring argument that the absence of psychiatry would cause problems for service users seems spurious to me.

        Report comment

        • Hey Chris and Uprising. I think in a lot of ways the polarization between reformers and abolitionists is really not that great and is more of an academic exercise. Chris …just as you say, those who fought for the end of capitalism and were socialists were likely happy with progressive reforms such as the end of child labor, the 8 hour work day, safety reforms, etc, etc.

          I place myself in that camp. I want to look at each issue and work towards making on the ground change in each area that needs to be reformed. One example is the vast over-prescription of psych meds. Right now 20 percent of Americans are on psych meds…a massive explosion in this area over the past 30 years. We can change this through a number of ways- legal law suits against drug companies who neglect to inform people about the health problems associated with the drugs. We can reduce prescriptions through educating people about their horrible long term effects. We can reduce prescriptions by encouraging doctors like Sandra S. to speak openly and frequently about this issue, etc, etc. Its achievable.

          Less prescriptions means less people tied into the pharmaceutical system and movement towards a goal of using alternative methods of helping people in emotional distress. Achievable change.

          The goal of ending the prescription of psychiatric drugs…is not achievable. Focusing on that goal marginalizes us and leaves with…no change.

          Uprising, I’m not sure that shifting towards just letting MDs prescribe psych meds instead of psychiatrists furthers this movement. Already, the lion’s share of psych meds are prescribed by general practitioners. I think this is actually a huge part of he problem. In small 15 minute conversations, a doctor who has had little expertise in mental health offers psych meds that have long lasting ramifications. They tend to not encourage counseling, alternative holistic tools and certainly most of them are not versed in effective tapering methods. I would love to see that practice marginalized.

          So really I see abolitionists and reformists sharing many of the same goals and focusing on our differences is not really productive.

          Report comment

          • Jonathan,

            As one who was recently subjected to routine depression screening questions at my PCP’s office for no reason at all, your points are excellent about primary care physicians and the prescribing of psych meds. And many people ended up on the antidepressant withdrawal boards thanks to primary care physicians prescribing psych meds for BS reasons.

            And by the way, on the surviving antidepressants forum website of providers who help with withdrawing from psych meds, most of them are psychiatrists. Just saying.

            Report comment

          • Having survived forced psychiatric incarceration, and the mental health mistreatment that went along with it, I don’t see the debate as an academic exercise at all. I do agree, that sometimes there are issues we have in common, and that there are occasions when we can work together to a good end. That said, there are also times when the reverse is equally true. There are times when we are polarized because some of us can’t support harming patients even in the name of reform. I don’t see any value in equating abolition with reform. Our ends are not the same, and I have no interest in confusing anybody as to what respective differences of opinion we might have. I could only equate that kind of practice with deception, and deception is something I happen to equate with dishonesty.

            Report comment

          • Jonathan,

            The point of my above comment was not to support the 15 minute med check, nor to endorse current prescribing practices in general, but rather to point out that psychiatry is redundant at best.

            That’s why I respectfully disagree with this:

            What I don’t see as possible, or even desirable, is the abolition of psychiatry. There are far too many people who want psychiatry as a choice. Far too many people who feel aided by psych drugs, or feel too challenged to withdraw off them to eradicate psychiatry.

            The existence of psychiatry is not necessary to satisfy the needs of those who feel aided by psych drugs and those who need help with withdrawal.

            Report comment

    • 100,000 iatrogenic deaths is a vast under estimation. We’re talking substances that are often carcinogenic, if they don’t cause heart disease, and that don’t always show up in autopsy.

      In psychiatry, we’re talking substances that generally cause more problems than they alleviate, particularly over the long term. I don’t buy “trade off” theories, especially when that “trade off” could mean 25 – 30 missing years to a lifetime. 25 – 30 years less life, out of ingesting a slow acting poison, gives “unfair” new meaning. I’m not saying people can’t be “unfair” to themselves, especially when given encouragement by a well credentialed “professional”.

      Report comment

      • Frank: I did not see a reply button on the post in your response, so I am responding here. I don’t know if you will get the message. Anyway, sorry for the lazy writing style. I have read a dozen books by Szasz and scores of articles from the journal Ethical and Human Psychology and Psychiatry, so I should always include quotation marks for “patients” and “mentally.” Once again, sorry.
        Chris Reed

        Report comment

    • I don’t think being anti-psychiatry means “abolishing” psychiatry. This is a straw man. And I don’t disagree that making small changes that help some people now is a bad thing. But in order to accomplish these changes, one has to in some way limit the power of psychiatry. Shock doctors and those wh prescribe fifteen drugs at once are not going to change their ways because they are asked to.

      And in the long run, these changes and this chipping away at psychiatric power will mean that psychiatry can no longer force its damaging interventions on people. At that point the profession will either start offering something useful or it will abolish itself.

      I am anti-psychiatry but I don’t talk about “abolishing” psychiatry. That would be silly. Even with a magic wand it would not be possible. Like any other oppressive institution, change will only come after a long campaign.

      Report comment

      • Ted, I feel one has to take an abolitionist position as far as forced psychiatry is concerned. All the prejudices and abuses that people face in the psychiatric system stem directly from the fact that the state can lock people up, without due process of law, who have committed no crime, in the name of “medicine”, “public” safety, concerned relatives, or whatever.

        Psychiatry between two consenting adults is another thing altogether. Even if theoretically people are postulating the eventual demise of the profession, outlawing psychiatry itself can’t be such a pressing issue. It is a matter of supporting the same freedoms for everybody that are missing from the civil commitment process. I do think, on the other hand, that the pathologizing of any and every human behaviors requires popular resistance at all levels. This is to say, that where there is nonsense in the psychiatry department, the bigger fraud is that fraud that causes actual bodily injury.

        I think we can and must talk about abolishing forced psychiatry. I have this problem with the assumption, often made, that supporting alternatives (once upon a time to forced treatment), and supporting the abolition of forced treatment are equivalent positions. For many people who support alternatives of one sort or another, forced treatment represents some kind of a backup plan. I’m just saying, as far as I’m concerned, this kind of equivocating is not possible. I understand, and make allowances for, people doing whatever they must in the name of pragmatism. On the other hand, I do have to make the issue of abolition and, specifically, the abolition of forced (mis)treatment, a matter of contention.

        The end of reform is more reform and, when you’re dealing with the subhuman treatment of human beings, endless reform not something anybody should be excusing.

        Report comment

        • Frank: I did not see a reply button on the post in your response, so I am responding here. I don’t know if you will get the message. Anyway, sorry for the lazy writing style. I have read a dozen books by Szasz and scores of articles from the journal Ethical and Human Psychology and Psychiatry, so I should always include quotation marks for “patients” and “mentally.” Once again, sorry.
          Chris Reed

          Report comment

        • Frank, you write “…Even if theoretically people are postulating the eventual demise of the profession, outlawing psychiatry itself can’t be such a pressing issue. It is a matter of supporting the same freedoms for everybody that are missing from the civil commitment process. I do think, on the other hand, that the pathologizing of any and every human behaviors requires popular resistance at all levels. ”

          My thought: if popular resistance is required, then how can the beliefs and advocacy of participants at Mad In America and elsewhere be turned into an effective movement for substantive change? Doesn’t the existing system need to be challenged in court, and its proponents sued out of practice for the frauds they’ve committed?

          In other words, if you’ll forgive my repitition, where is the program for making the abolition of forced drugging and incarceration happen in the real world? So far, I haven’t seen a sign of an action plan or organizational initiative in this thread. And nobody seems remotely interested in pursuing the particular version I offered for consideration.

          So how does all of this happen without organization, money, and thousands of people working actively and in concert to bring it about? Do we think a miracle will happen? How has that approach worked out for us so far?

          Report comment

          • Richard.

            The existing system needs to be (and is being) challenged on many levels by many people. The court room is only one place where this drama is being enacted. The corporate media is lying through its teeth. Much education is required. The fact that people have been lied to is not going to prevent anybody from telling the truth at one point or another.

            People have been opposing forced (mis)treatment (i.e. torture) for as long as there has been a psychiatric survivor movement. Academics and professionals, too, have opposed force and institutionalization. Thomas Szasz, George Alexander, and Erving Goffman, for instance, formed the American Association for the Abolition of Involuntary Mental Hospitalization that was active throughout the 1970s.

            I’m not saying we don’t have an uphill struggle. It has always been an uphill struggle. It’s just a struggle that I, for one, cannot forsake. Forced treatment gives you treatment records, a paper trail, and this paper trail is used against people in courts of law. Some call it (or something else) “stigma”. Some call it prejudice and discrimination. Get rid of forced treatment, and you only have voluntary relationships with professionals. I’m counting on a few people not being complete dupes.

            When it comes to organizing, you always have grassroots organizations operating on shoestring budgets. Getting one of those off the ground can be something of a “miracle” in itself, but it happens. The psycho-pharmaceutical industrial complex may look big and imposing, but then so was a certain Goliath in a bible story I once heard, and he came down. It is my belief that the psycho-pharmaceutical industrial complex can be brought down, too.

            What’s more, although they have the disinformation, we have the information. I think that counts for a great deal. Propaganda can only take you so far. Sooner or later, here come those facts again, and it is only so easy to get around them.

            Report comment

          • Richard: I watched the first 40 minutes of Ralph Nader’s presentation of his book on left right alliance at the Cato Institute. The key thing he was saying was that there needed to be specific institution building about a specific proposal-please direct me to your proposal. He posits that the biggest obstacle to such an alliance rests on the nature of funding to think tanks of all stripes. The funding tends to reinforce differences, since the funding tends to drive the issues that are divisive across the political perspective of Libertarians, Conservatives, and the left. So is your proposal one that can unite us to take a step forward in the immediate here and now. I believe that you are correct, that changing the perceptions of the public takes patience, and that it is something that we also need to be in your the long haul. However, in certain situations paradigmatic shifts can occur more rapidly under the right circumstances.

            Report comment

          • Chris Reed: Like others, I have problems with the lack of a reply button when the conversational threads develop beyond three or four-deep. However, I am responding through the next-highest level in the conversation, hopefully “close” to your most recent comment.

            You wrote in part: Richard: I watched the first 40 minutes of Ralph Nader’s presentation of his book on left right alliance at the Cato Institute. The key thing he was saying was that there needed to be specific institution building about a specific proposal-please direct me to your proposal.
            He posits that the biggest obstacle to such an alliance rests on the nature of funding to think tanks of all stripes. The funding tends to reinforce differences, since the funding tends to drive the issues that are divisive across the political perspective of Libertarians, Conservatives, and the left. So is your proposal one that can unite us to take a step forward in the immediate here and now. I believe that you are correct, that changing the perceptions of the public takes patience, and that it is something that we also need to be in your the long haul. However, in certain situations paradigmatic shifts can occur more rapidly under the right circumstances.

            I’ve offered my thoughts about moving toward change in the institutions and practice of psychiatry on DxSummit in an article titled “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way — a Layman Perspective on Change” [].

            I’m not sure my program outline has explicitly addressed your concept of trying to bridge the political left and right. But it does suggest a course of action to move toward change. I am not wedded to the words of that course of action — in fact I have invited others to point out where it may need revision to be effective. There — as apparently here — few folks seemed much interested in suggesting changes or improvements.

            Parenthetically, I worked a part of my professional career as a technology futurist. One of the principles that I encountered repeatedly over a ten year period was that paradigm change is rather often highly disorderly and unintentional. Perhaps such change might be regarded within a framework of chaos theory, as inherently unpredictable. To say that we’re going to create a particular paradigm change can rather often be an oxymoron.

            Sometimes we have to seek change for itself, and have a degree of personal faith that almost anywhere we might wind up seems likely to be better than where we are. But to get anywhere, I would concur that we do need to create alternate institutions and organizations of people, money, research and public advocacy.

            Thanks for your inquiry.

            Report comment

  21. It is easy to have views that seem polarised when considering psychiatry.

    I agree with much that Phil and Sandra have written.

    One thing that I believe we should be mindful of when comparing psychiatry to other branches of medicine is that psychiatry does have an emphasis of coercion and force that other areas of medicine do not. Therefore I feel that high standards of scientific validity and scrutiny are not unreasonable to be applied as way of safeguarding the interests of those treated. Open discussion is a way forward.

    Report comment

    • It’s NOT other areas of medicine that psychiatry resembles, chiefly due to the coercive nature of the discipline. Psychiatry seems more akin to police science. As for ‘safeguarding interests’, we’re talking about people who have broken no law. We’ve got a murky middle ground here, quasi-legal, between criminality and medicine where we stow the unwanted. The “high standards of scientific validity and scrutiny” that you speak of just aren’t present. If any interests are being safeguarded, those interests belong to the state.

      Sure, open discussion can be a great way of proceeding and, hopefully, progressing. The other option, I suppose, would be suppression through incarceration, and we’ve got a lot of that out there, too.

      Report comment

      • I appreciate that psychiatry is different to other areas of medicine, and in fact rather than “quasi” middle ground it often accedes a position of real and solid legal power.

        When I talk about holding psychiatry to higher standards I am not accepting that such standards are necessarily in place but rather that they should be, and that through raising the issues perhaps in fora such as here and other online media it is one way of if not raising the standard then exposing the problem.

        You are right that there is lots of legislation to protect the state and I accept that the states interests are safeguarded, why would we expect different? I do think we need more to help safeguard individuals ( a great deal more) and one way is perhaps through promoting treatments and programmes that not only work but that may also allow a person real choice, even choice to say no to neuroleptic drugs.

        Report comment

        • A little clarification on my part is perhaps in order here. The middle ground I was referring to was the position of psychiatry as an intervening police force in relation to the rest of medical science which doesn’t do so much policing, if any. It is very murky. I called it quasi-legal because it is usually a matter of using laws that are enacted in violation of the US Constitution. Getting a progressive, some say heroic, Supreme Court (What we don’t have at the present moment.) to comprehend and respond to these violations is another, but related, matter.

          Report comment

          • Frank, Jonathan, and others:I was enrolled in an introduction to Mental Health class, and I find the three or four days interacting here to have been way more productive. People actual respond to my posts.

            Report comment

        • The very fact that psychiatry is coercive lowers the standard because there is virtually no feedback to the system – if you don’t like your treatment in other areas of medicine you do what you please. If you don’t feel you’re getting better on psych treatment – well, sad day for you.

          Report comment

    • And if we actually held Psychiatry to these high standards of scientific validity and scrutiny, what would we have left? IMHO, we have almost nothing, because the DSM has not the slightest shred of scientific validity behind it, as even Tom Insel admits.

      It seems like the real conflict here, and it is NOT a minor quibble, is that while we work on ‘reforming’ things, millions of people are being harmed and sometimes killed. I am not objecting to reform efforts, but I had a very hard time when I was doing involuntary detention evaluations, not because I had a problem with protecting a person from immediate harm, but because the only place I could send them was the psych hospital, and I saw very quickly that what went on there was anything but healing. I spent most of my energy doing brief therapy interventions in the ER to try and get a person NOT to be committed and to find other alternatives that could work, because I knew that going up to the psych ward meant being locked into a depressingly dark and dingy space, exposed to a lot of other miserable people who were not being listened to or helped, and being tried out (without any meaningful participation on your part) on various drugs until you “stabilized,” which essentially meant you had reduced your level of annoying behavior to the point that they could figure you wouldn’t be back in the ER for at least a month or two. Then they sent you to “case management,” which meant someone checking in to make sure you weren’t going off your meds or “decompensating,” which is a fancy word for “going nuts and making trouble again.” There was little to no compassion from the system, though there were individual workers who provided some light in the generally dark tunnel these people were being sent down.

      I left that job in 9 months, only because it took me that long to get another job. I got into advocacy and haven’t looked back. I don’t think I could work a job in the mental health industry, unless it was a radical agency committed to undoing the damage that the system is doing to people. It feels like collaboration with the occupying forces to me. It is an ethical dilemma, because the people who ran into me in the ER were in fact very fortunate, because I was dedicated to helping them get better RIGHT NOW so they wouldn’t have to be detained. And I was pretty good at it – I had the lowest percentage detention rate in the county. But I couldn’t stop every detention, and every one felt like I was participating in hurting someone. I had to get out.

      So I get it when someone is a total abolitionist, and even when someone draws analogies with NAZI Germany. People are being systematically harmed, and participating in the system feels like tacitly supporting the damage being done. At the same time, I appreciate the reformer viewpoint, because abolition seems an unlikely goal, and because people who are sucked into the system need someone like Jonathan to give them some glimmer of compassion and hope.

      Perhaps we can come together better if we talk about tactics rather than the ultimate goal. I think most people can get behind taking the force out of the equation, as long as there are some provisions for people who are dangerous in the present moment. Maybe we should try to focus on finding the things we DO want to get done, and coordinate our energies toward those things. I don’t think we can ever resolve the reform/replace/eliminate debate, because it comes from a place of ethics, and I think ethics is a very personal thing. I do think we can at least agree that individualization, empowerment and choice have to be at the center if things are to improve for those labeled by the system as “mentally ill.”

      —- Steve

      Report comment

  22. Re Bonnie Burstow’s remark about 17th century English astrologers being popular with the common “mad” folk in preference to physicians, she speculates that it was probably because the astrologers did no harm in contrast to the physicians. In fact, I have found in working with my son, that astrology does a lot of good. In addition to the fact that it couches itself in positive language, astrology, numerology, and Chinese 9 Star Ki actually speak the language that my son understands –that the universe has a meaning, his life has a unique vibration, and that he, like everyone else, is on a special path. When it was impossible to do a conventional resume for my son because he hadn’t held a paid job in years, by helping him understand his numbers, I managed to construct a resume for him based on his interests and passions (accurately and eerily bolstered by his numbers) that he had been keeping up to varying degrees throughout his crisis. The resulting resume was an instant confidence booster for him. Forget “What Color Is Your Parachute,” when you want a book on truly knowing what your best traits and talents are, go to the astrology and numerology section of your bookstore.

    Report comment

    • That is so helpful to know! It makes so much sense to me. People are trying to find meaning and purpose in their lives and in the universe. That’s the first touch point of any intervention, even if there are physiological health issues involved. I will remember this point and keep it in mind when needing to creatively engage someone whose perceptions of reality are hard for me to join with. It seems like it provides a great way to establish some common ground and start looking toward the future.

      —- Steve

      Report comment

      • Steve,
        You’ve added an excellent point – it helps to establish some common ground and a way of looking towards the future. I wonder if one of the keys here though, is that as I mother, I feel I know my son best, and I recognized in something important to him in what others see as vague generalizations that make them distrust astrology/numerology. So, when possible, get your client to interview his mother if he doesn’t see it himself. (On the other hand, if a mother doesn’t know her own child, then something is wrong with the mother for not paying enough attention. There are many mothers out there who fit this bill, sad to say.)

        Report comment

    • This is an excellent point! I have found interest and comfort in something called Flying Star feng shui, which is based on Chinese numerology and astrology. I even rearranged my bedroom to counteract an area that read for “insanity,” lol. Who knows, maybe that was my problem…

      Report comment

  23. I am anti psychiatry unless it is a serious violent or other type of danger like starving from not leaving etc. I have had social workers in my teens lock me up for 72 hours for being profane and rude but they were quite nasty as well. If psychiatry stayed with psychiatrists and psych nurse practitioners and social work did it’s own thing and not meddle or assume. I keep those appointments medical.

    What I hate is being stable on minimal meds and they freak about it. I decreased and will probably find a way to stop some day

    Report comment

  24. I address several questions here,


    The reference to astrology that I have made several times is not “out of the blue”. As a student of the different pseudoscientific theories that attempt to reduce the complexity of the human experience to simplistic models, I am well aware of the influence astrology had all the way throughout the Renaissance in Western Europe: . So strong that in fact, its legacy is still with us today. There are even peer reviewed journals on astrology like this or this .


    That example was so 40 + years ago. At that time (pre 1975), “need for treatment” was still a legitimate standard for civil commitment in the US . Can you provide a more recent example that doesn’t involve diseases deemed highly contagious and potentially deadly?


    We are so much on agreement on so many issues. I agree with pretty much everything that you have said. I want to emphasize the idea that the abolitionist debate is not an academic exercise for me either. The very existence of coercive psychiatry is the most important obstacle for my well being of all the different policies on so called “public health” written into the law. The existence of this form of oppression and the fact that I am officially labelled “sub human” by the mental health laws of the United States impacts the way I live and the things that I do or do not do. To those who defend the “reformist view”, spare me of the nonsense. I understand that there are many making a career of being either “mental health practitioners” or receiving “mental health benefits” and that you feel your source of income would be threatened if suddenly coercive psychiatry were to be abolished with public dollars stopping flowing from my taxes to you. You have a legitimate self interest but my own legitimate self interest is that all forms of coercive psychiatry are abolished so that the only way that I can be locked up is if I am suspected of having committed a crime and/or duly convicted of the same. I am not asking much, only that I am treated as every other person that the APA doesn’t consider “subhuman”.

    Report comment

    • Your comment to Frank above cannotsay hits a couple of nails on the head for me.

      The laws that make it so easy to label a person sub human, and the lack of any accountability emboldens the corrupt, and corrupts the good. This will gradually poison the profession, though in the meantime people are being killed and damaged.

      The issue of tax dollars is one that makes me laugh at times. The cries that there is not enough money to provide services comes from people who live in houses that are bigger than hospital wards. It doesnt take much looking to realise that there is lots of money in mental health, its just ending up in a few peoples pockets. Were offended when foreign governments apply for humanitarian aid, and then use the money to enrich the elite, and yet dont even look when its done in mental health. Lets start checking the books a bit more thoroughly.

      Report comment

  25. We need both abolitionists and reformers. Even if abolition is impractical, we need to hear the gut wrenching stories of abolitionists and respect them. We need to hear from those who have been so harmed by psychiatry and forced treatment that intellectual exercises and even diplomatic strategies are painful.
    Reform on the ground if you have the access, resources and strategies; don’t stop dreaming of an end to all torture if you have the vision, passion and strength of spirit.
    Maybe an abolitionist has no practical plan that will work. Sometimes, an intention and dream is as powerful or more than a practical plan, or the seed to creating one.
    We need both.

    Report comment

    • Chaya: I could not agree more. 10, 000 years of settled agricultural communities without psychiatry, how could humans have possible managed their affairs? From 1890 to 1930 the population of this country doubled, yet the rate of psychiatric incarceration went up ten fold. The key to understanding this lays in the emergence of a pseudoscience known as eugenics, which postulated that society could advance if the feeble minded, degenerates, pick the word of the day (Lunatics, Mad, mentally I’ll, people living with mental illness), and even epileptics could be removed from society. Access the Supreme Court case of Carrie Buck to see the tenor of the times. She was one of 7,000 Virginians who were forcible sterilized. Remember, lobotomies, insulin shock, as well as forcible sterilization took place in mental hospitals.
      Forcible sterilizations, and the incarceration of epileptics no longer occurs in this country. Yet, when this was occurring in this country,it seemed a common sense and acceptable approach.
      Stepping outside the framework of mental health, there are innumerable examples of power institutions biting the dust. Those emigrating to this country from the Indian Subcontinent enjoyed the highest rate of rejection (90%)-Higher than the rate for Chinese and Japanese in the first quarter of the 20th Century. The Ghandar Party, populated mostly by Punjabi Sikhs in the Bay Area, fought against British colonialism as well as racism in the United States. They reached out to Irish nationalists, (also under the British Empire) as well as the radical labor unionists of the IWW. When the ban on Indians in public pools was lifted in the 1960s, they insisted that this was not good enough, blacks should be allowed to swim as well. There you have it. The sun indeed does indeed set on the British Empire, and while we still have a ways to travel, de jur apartheid has been abolished in the United States and in South Africa.
      I believe that the key to change rests with getting those “diagnosed” into the political arena, and in the process making common cause with other marginalized groups: foster youth, prisoners, people of color, Appalachians, Palestinians, and Latin American countries that are struggling for a degree of political, and economic independence through ALBA and CELAC.

      Report comment

  26. Unfortunately, for most of us, both psychiatry and Medicine have become just another form of business enterprise. The education, as well as practice of both is controlled to a high degree by medical corporations and insurance companies, whose desire is to maximize profit and reduce overhead..

    So your comment about medicine not going away, is already too late… There is a striking difference between corporate medicine and medicine controlled by those that wish to help people, who receive their training in an orientation settings different that the ones we find ourselves in now.

    Both Medicine and Psychiatry have become a cattle drive, with the goal to keep them, the patients, moving, and prescribe certain drugs for certain conditions at certain stages of life, whether or not those treatments are of benefit makes very little difference as long as they are profitable.

    Psychiatry has become the same, Psychiatrists typically receive very little training in conducting psycho therapy, but instead rely on drugs, and those 15 minute med management sessions, which are highly profitable. Psych residency requirements provide little knowledge and expertise actually conducting therapy.

    In time psychiatry will die out, simply because its underlying assumptions about what causes psychological issues have absolutely nothing to offer… And there are real cures, that lie outside the accepted belief system, that in time will grow to supplant psychiatry…

    Unfortunately medicine does not have such a happy fate, but will continue to exploit medical illnesses, until once and for all it rids itself of the poison of corporatism.


    Report comment

    • Oh yeah! Reforming psychiatry would require so many abolitions. Abolishing drugs reps and advertising, abolishing misleading clinical trials, abolishing institutional abuse and forced drugging, abolishing profit driven practice, etc. etc. etc. There are so many things both reformers and abolitionists want to abolish.

      Report comment

  27. The practice of ‘psychiatry’ has already been replaced. There are so many effective ways of addressing all levels of distress and imbalance that have existed for a long time, and which are commonly practiced. It’s not necessarily ‘prestigious’ in academic journal circles or the recipient of government grants, but who cares about that when it comes to health and well-being? Well, a lot of people do, but, personally, I feel that’s a grave and limiting error in judgment. Health and well-being are contingent on neither social position or bank accounts. They are matter of inner peace and self-validation, and anyone can achieve these if that is what they want.

    These days, there are many readily practiced and extremely effective alternatives to the specific field of psychology/psychiatry which work outside of the framework of any disease model and more directly with the human heart and spirit.

    Getting off of 9 meds was the most physically painful and rigorous thing I’ve put myself through in life, but it was so well worth it in order to become independent of this rapidly downwardly spiraling field of psychology/psychiatry (I see them interlinked these days, in terms of dualistic perspective–always disenfranchising and splitting, one way or another, this seems inherent in how these clinical relationships are practiced). I found a lot of good natural support during this transitional time, which was a valuable education in and of itself.

    The mental health field, on the whole, has way more critics than supporters, and for good reason. I abolished it from my own life altogether, by refusing the toxins any longer and freeing myself up to discern where I would best find support in order to continue my healing, including from psychiatry-induced and psychotherapy-related post-traumatic stress.

    I’m certainly not interested in ‘reforming’ how I was treated, which would compromise my well-being and personal evolution. I am interested in abolishing that kind of treatment of others altogether, so I took the meticulous steps and practiced diligent focus to disentangle myself from this extremely dysfunctional relationship I had found myself in with this field. I know some people feel helped by meds or psychotherapy, but for me, my experience with the entire field was a catastrophic disaster, from which I then had to heal even more.

    The true blessing of it all is that it made my dark night extremely rich and productive, and all that I learned serves and supports emotional and spiritual freedom.

    The good news is that we do live in a great big world with a variety of cultures and perspectives, and what I discovered is that the mental health world is unto itself. I’ve been a member of many communities, but I’ve never experienced the lack of clarity and defensive rationalizations that exists in the mental health world. That’s a problem for people who turn to these fields specifically to seek clarity and inner peace. Apparently, that is nowhere to be found in the mental health world.

    There are many avenues of healing and seeking personal clarity out there, I don’t see why wondering what could replace ‘psychiatry’ is an issue. That makes it sound indispensable, which I can’t even fathom how this could be true.

    Sandy, you know I respect you a great deal and this is not meant to be at all personal, but the entire field just seems to highly toxic by now, I think it’s so evident. I can totally understand how this would not be a pleasing thought to someone conscientious like you who is in this field. But the world, on a whole, is toxic and not a terribly pleasant place to live at this time, so no one is alone in this.

    Still, imo, psychiatry, as way to find and maintain mental health, is self-propagated mythology; and turning to other sources of healing mind/heart/spirit, far and away from current established mental health practices and philosophy, is a done deal for a lot of people.

    Report comment

    • For the alternatives, I’d say you need more practitioners or better PR or both, probably both. Maybe it’s my location; I come from the land of Drs Szasz, Breggin, and ironically Pies, but there still aren’t a lot of alternatives in this area in medicine or pysch.

      Report comment

      • There are very adept trained, educated and highly successful healers all over the world, who have been through their journeys of darkness and made it all the way through, transformed, who are willing and able to connect via internet and phone. Here’s a directory of energy healers–which is what I’m talking about as the alternative, in general. They are listed state by state and also internationally.

        There are still a lot of practices and personalities that are individual to the practitioner, as with anything, and energy can be addressed in a variety of ways. But alternative to DSM and the like is energy medicine, which, regardless of what approach is utilized, addresses the complete mind/body/spirit picture, from the specific root to the most broad layer of perspective of energy; as opposed to psychology, which is generally very narrow in scope, and vague and incomplete, at best.

        Energy medicine gets right to the heart of the matter and serves to drive desired shifts, with no ambiguity, and certainly with no issues of dependence. The goal is mental clarity and physical relief. I work through dialogue, with some focused grounding meditation involved, but from a whole different perspective than traditional psychotherapy.

        Focus is on heart and spirit energy, which is a paradigm shift. The mind becomes clear when the heart feels relief. This is where double binds are resolved and ascended, creating a smoother flow of energy through the mind and body which is powerfully felt. Tons of relief and clarity come from knowing how our energy operates. It’s really empowering to know this.

        A client with whom I’m working presently is across the country from me, and she found my website, consulted with me, and decided to trust her intuition and check out what I have going on. As a result, she has found what she was looking for in terms of healing and aligning body/mind/spirit, as per her evident progress and submitted testimonial. All our communication is via phone and internet. In fact, I gave her a 10-week course in energy healing and shifting the healing paradigm using a Google folder. I’d taught this class in person, but I’d never done that before long distance, and it worked beautifully, because we were both well-focused on specific goals.

        At this point, I’d recommend being open to all the new stuff that is growing in exposure and popularity out there. It’s all about energy. It may be coming to a neighborhood near you at some point, but in the meantime, there is a lot one can learn on one’s own about energy and energy medicine, it’s all over the internet and on YouTube. It’s really all about learning our own self-healing powers, under any and all circumstances.

        Energy medicine been practiced for centuries, but it has never filtered into the mainstream as it has started to do now. From what I understand, the oligarchy of power would not want the masses to know this information, as it would disempower them completely if we were to all know the extent of our own powers of healing and manifesting. Of course, their goal is to make us all dependent.

        There are also reasons for this info being subdued, having to do with what we do and do not accept in our society. That’s individual choice, however, not a societal one.

        But in reality, energy medicine is what is shifting the world into healing, rather than the downward course it’s been on. When we learn that we have the power to heal ourselves, a lot of established institutions will fall by the wayside, because these institutions are no longer required for healing and well-being. It will be a whole new world in the making when we awaken to this, en masse.

        I’m always happy to share what I know about this that might be helpful to someone, if anyone is ever interested in learning more about energy healing and has no other access to an energy medicine practitioner. I’ve been in practice for several years and have learned quite a bit about energy and the human experience, via my own healing. My training was thorough and systematic, along with my healing and integration.

        I remember well the financial challenges of healing, so when someone chooses to work with me, my charges are based on what people can comfortably afford. I’ve charged $5 for sessions, when necessary, even though I can hardly afford it. But it comes back in many ways, so it’s always a good deal, regardless.

        The quality of one’s healing should never, ever be based on what some can afford that others cannot. That’s class warfare, not healing.

        Report comment

  28. Hi Sandy,

    I have to say that I feel somewhat frustrated by your post in that I think both sides have tried to be fairly honest with each other while trying to maintain mutual respect and being forced to agree/admit that we disagree at times. As I’ve told you, I have been very pleased with the many changes you have made due to Bob Whitaker’s and others’ work and your own exploration of new methods like Open Dialog, drug tapering, etc. I’ve made changes too in that I have tried to understand your position when in very difficult, dangerous situations with psychotic people, which I have never experienced myself or in my family.

    Actually, much has changed and come to light since Bob Whitaker wrote Anatomy and we started posting here. I have always demonstrated my complete contempt and disgust for what I knew/know to be bogus, invented, voted in stigmas in the junk science DSM based on tons of research and common sense, and made no secret of it as you know. You, yourself, had admitted DSM stigmas are of dubious value except to get paid, but I don’t think you and others in your field see or admit how truly horrific it is to malign a fellow human with such devastating stigmas that can and will haunt them for life and in many cases destroy their lives in tons of ways. As Lucy Johnstone, Psychologist, says in her argument that they should be abolished, giving someone a DSM stigma (especially bipolar and schizophrenia today) has to be one of the most horrible things one could do to someone. Many experts in your field including some in the Critical Psychiatry Network are fighting to eliminate these horrible assaults on humanity. Perhaps the USA group could join the British group to abolish the DSM and stigmatizing people?

    You talked about reading Richard Noll’s American Madness. I just checked out a brief description of this book and found it surprising that Noll admits that going from dementia praecox to schizophrenia gave the profession a (false) sense of being a medical one even if they couldn’t cure these “diseases” if I understood this correctly. Thus, the only benefit of these great disease findings was for the so called status and image of psychiatrists as real medical doctors while doing nothing but more harm to the so called patients over time to the present. Some things never change, unfortunately. This is why Dr. Thomas Szasz called schizophrenia psychiatry’s “sacred symbol” to justify their existence now taken over by the bipolar fad fraud, another gem for which I don’t pretend to feel anything but total contempt especially toward the disease mongers like Nassir Ghaemi trying to expand this fad fraud to include about everyone on the planet. Also, as I have said before, Kraepelin was into eugenics deeply which continues today in psychiatry with the never ending search for the inferior, missing genes in those psychiatry stigmatizes in their degradation rituals to justify their violent and abusive “treatments” while deliberately creating such stigma to ostracize and discredit their victims, so the majority of society won’t object. Kraepelin also did quite a bit of work on psychopaths, which psychiatry conveniently ignored/s as it cherry picks what they find useful to enhance their position today as a great medical profession with a long history of advances when those like Kraepelin prove otherwise when one checks the facts and history.

    I don’t have much respect for Richard Noll after he vigorously pushed for ECT like others at Dr. Nardo’s web site showing he either has no conscience or is lazy about doing the research for the horrible brain damaging, lobotomy like effects of this savage “treatment” in the guise of medicine when many neurologists and other experts including one of its greatest pushers, Harold Sackeim, have admitted its devastating effects on one’s brain, memory, livelihood, creativity and ability to function overall and sometimes resulting in death, which are well described in books like Doctors of Deception recommended by Robert Whitaker and many web sites and articles on the web.

    This week, Dr. Insel and his cohorts came out with the latest bogus gene claims for schizophrenia based on a large study you probably read about from Nature Magazine or the many other news sources. The findings appear to be the usual junk science psychiatry uses to bully everyone into the false belief that the bogus DSM stigmas are real genetic entities and that they have real biological causes. I am pretty disgusted with Dr. Insel in that he had acknowledged DSM stigmas to be invalid not long ago. Not that long ago David Oakes of Mindfreedom staged a hunger strike for the APA and cohorts to force them to admit that there was no genetic, chemical imbalance or other evidence of faulty brains in those they falsely accused of being “mentally ill.” The APA and cohorts finally had to back down and admit the truth after much BS, obfuscation and pussy footing around. So, I am especially disgusted to see our government and what claims/pretends to be a prestigious medical profession act like a bunch of narcissistic 2 year olds with no concern about the consequences of the trust they routinely violate. Please bear in mind, we aren’t trying to abolish you or eliminate you, but rather, we are advocating that psychiatry’s many lies and human rights violations be ended especially the predation on our children with the bipolar fad fraud and neuroleptic drugs that is criminal in the opinion of many including me!

    You may be familiar with Dr. Mary Boyle’s Schizophrenia: A Scientific Delusion? This classic work is highly respected with its total debunking of this horrible stigma that seems to represent many different, diverse behaviors or illnesses. Experts expose it as a mere social construct with no real world reality or validity, but, psychiatry led by Dr. Insel has changed position from the invalidity of this voted in disorder to it now being used to show the genetic loci associations to schizophrenia in thousands of people. The insanity is that people with opposite symptoms with none of the same ones can all get this diagnosis with no tests, which makes it totally subjective. Thus, the whole premise of this great gene exploration is absurd with garbage in; garbage out. This is the type of circular reasoning Dr. Hickey exposes in that they start with a faulty premise that they can “diagnose” a disease with a voted in list of diverse symptoms and then attribute any similarities to the bogus disease of schizophrenia though they have no evidence it exists or at least not in one single entity. Plus, there may be many different causes of just psychosis alone in addition to all the other symptoms that come under this umbrella.

    So, what Dr. Insel and cohorts are asking us to do now is forget that DSM voted in stigmas like schizophrenia are INVALID as he admitted just recently and pretend they are valid now. Pretend that the thousands of heterogeneous people with very diverse symptoms and outcomes in this “study” are all just chips off the old block or your average schizophrenia patients. (Ludicrous and ridiculous of course!). Then, some vague loci of gene associations of about 108 are found that are now being proclaimed as EVIDENCE that schizophrenia is a real biological, medical illness though even Dr. Insel was forced to damper such enthusiasm since the great findings were very small and inconclusive. But, we have psychiatrists jumping up and down with glee that they have their new mental illness biomarkers to tout rather than thinking of the implications for their so called patients. Dr. Nardo posted some information about this and he, too, expressed satisfaction that the so called evidence seems to back up his BELIEF that certain DSM stigmas are biological, genetic, etc. such as schizophrenia, bipolar and maybe ADHD. It never ceases to amaze me how such intelligent and seemingly decent people can be so blind in other ways. Why would anyone want to see others have real genetic brain diseases or such life long disabilities rather than hoping that the problems were social, environmental, relational and otherwise possible to fix with enough insight and will to succeed. Perhaps it is hard for you and others in your field to see things this way, but for people like me, it sure it hard to see it from the standpoint of your profession or accept or tolerate it for a minute!

    Anyway, I’ve tried to share some things that bother me greatly about the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma cartel that came on the scene with Robert Spitzer’s pseudoscience DSM III and I doubt I will ever forgive them for that any more than others forgive those initiating other human holocausts on themselves and loved ones in their time on earth and the children that follow. You’ve acknowledged that many of these things have bothered you too, so I don’t think you or I or others here could say we are in total opposite camps by any means.

    You have also acknowleged there are many dishonest, abusive people in your profession whom Dr. Nardo has exposed on his web site with their Big Pharma and other corruption. Anyway, these are just some thoughts I have about the huge chasm or divide that exists between me and psychiatry since it greatly threatened my loved ones and I fear greatly for future generations as long as such brain assaults and disabling continue for all ages. I think most people have excepted you from their anger at psychiatry because you have expressed your own unique views and work at MIA, but we as a society all have to deal with the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma industrial complex with our eyes wide open and very alert brains, which means one must avoid forced drugging and other brain disabling treatments at all costs.

    One of the things I am most angry about is that our government in the voice of Dr. Thomas Insel, can routinely lie to and deceive the people about what is known about “mental illness” and the so called treatments available as well as its causes. For Insel to keep carping about the genetic and other biological causes of severe emotional distress is just parroting a tired, old ideology as Dr. Nardo exposed as he urged that it is time for Insel to move on since he has no fresh or really applicable ideas to relieve all the existing suffering and poverty around us. I think psychiatry should be up in arms and outraged that the public is being deceived routinely in the name of psychiatry, which tends to destroy people’s trust and hope for the future.

    And without sounding brash, there is always that old saying, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” You’ve had many discussions with us on your blog from Fuller Torrey’s anosognosia to Lieberman’s touting of future lucrative Big Pharma opportunities to its members that you don’t exactly admire yourself.

    Just remember, you yourself said, that you try to avoid going to the general doctor as much as possible given the statin debacle and now the new diabetes guidelines that would be very inclusive, etc.

    This is not meant to offend you, but to remind you that we can respect you and appreciate changes in your views and practice while not agreeing about everything. Such respect is earned and not automatically assumed given the state of ethics and actions in psychiatry and medicine in general today, so I sure know not to trust just anyone in psychiatry in that it can be life threatening. Sorry, but it’s all too true.

    Again, thanks for being here and continuing to tough it out, which I greatly admire. Just remember that you have agreed that the science is not really there for the DSM and its labels, the drugs were promoted as being far better than they were/are, there were/are many corrupt KOL’s and others in psychiatry, and other inconvenient truths covered by Dr. Nardo and colleagues. So, usually, when I say negative things about psychiatry, I am not including you because we’ve hashed out our ideas on your blog and elsewhere already. This is why Dr. Thomas Szasz called schizophrenia psychiatry’s “sacred symbol” to justify their existence now taken over by the bipolar fad fraud, another gem for which I don’t pretend to feel anything but total contempt especially toward the disease mongers like Nassir Ghaemi trying to expand this fad fraud to include about everyone on the planet.

    As usual, thanks for hanging in there. When you consider it, with all the things/blogs written at MIA, the fact you could only find 3 for your complaint shows it could be much worse. Just trying to add some of that new fangled positive psychology here!

    Report comment

  29. Donna,
    I am sorry this left you feeling frustrated. To clarify one point, I did not intend this as a criticism of those blogs nor of any comments that might be considered as “abolitionist” with regard to psychiatry. Rather it was intended more as a rumination. It was an attempt to clarify my own position in contrast to others.

    To many others who have commented,
    I have found the conversation to be of great interest. My relative silence is for several reasons-
    I have not had much to add to what I said and it seems that others have used this post as an opportunity to reflect in a similar way.
    The comments came on quickly and it has been hard to follow some threads.
    My computer is on the fritz so I am viewing and writing in an iPad, which is challenging.
    Thank you all for your interest.

    Report comment

  30. Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for your response. I guess I felt frustrated and torn by your post because I don’t want you to feel disrespected and unwanted here since everyone likes and respects you even if they don’t agree with you about everything, which works both ways. Obviously, you don’t agree with us all the time either and the rest of us don’t agree with each other a whole lot either! So, you’ve become an official member of this opinionated group! But, I’d say the disagreements we have pale in comparison to those we have with the likes of Ralph Torrey and those of his ilk like Nassir Ghaemi, bipolar fanatic world dominator, my nemesis! Ghaemi is trying to extend the guidelines for bipolar to include PTSD, borderline, depression, anxiety, any reaction to a life event, abuse, rape, etc., which led Dr. Joel Paris to accuse him of bipolar imperialism and Dr. David Healy, bipolar babble/mania. An amusing web site, The Last Psychiatrist, also exposes the Ghaemi bipolar world takeover with much humor on his site, but it’s not funny if you consider Rebecca Riley, the 4 year old who died from the lethal drugs from her bogus ADHD/bipolar stigmas thanks to Dr. Joseph Biederman who single handedly created the child ADHD and bipolar epidemics while collecting millions under the table from J&J while promising positive studies for children taking deadly neuroleptics in advance. These are the real villains who should be jailed like many Dr. Nardo exposes.

    I was just checking a web site I like quite a bit called (I’ve shared some items from this site with you) and most of the good information on it came from ethical psychiatrists and other excellent mental health professionals because lay people like us can’t really speak on the subject with much authority, which is why we seek out whistleblowers and critical psychiatrists willing to speak the truth rather than the usual mainstream lies. I would say you fall in the category of telling us the truth as when you’ve taken on Jeffrey Lieberman, Fuller Torrey and others. Many psychiatrists have been seen as antipsychiatrists by their peers if they don’t hang on every mainstream word dictated by the APA, et al.

    Anyway, thank you for your concern. Again, I regret that some posts are offensive to you, but others are even more offensive to us when they use medicalized language and other tricks to be insulting and maddening in their own way. If I reacted to everything that upsets me here, I would do nothing else!

    Have a nice night,

    Report comment

  31. Hi Sandy,
    When will come the time you seriously explore energy healing . Take a break and become a real help . Study or learn from Alex who comments eloquently up above. Sandy I’ve suffered too much from the tortures of psychiatry to lie to anyone really trying to help . Step outside the psychiatric umbrella learn energy healing ,open your eyes and become someone who can really help people reach their full potential while you reach your own. Skepticism without any inclination to investigate would be a huge mistake. Forgetabout the excuses. The proof is in the pudding. Leave behind the pseudo science.

    Report comment

      • As you probably know there is such a thing as real science .When research is being honestly done and real answers are being looked for there is no telling where the inquiry will go or what the result will be.

        On the other hand when pseudo science is happening monetary profit and power are the driving engine, and studies , results, research will be “doctored” ,”tweaked” ,” covered up,as necessary,”with all creative subterfuge” to push and coerce forward a desired result or impression of such to enrich the funder of the study or research regardless without any regard for truth.
        Like psychiatry for example.

        YuenMethod is an example of real science.

        Report comment

    • Fred, thanks, as always, for your back up on this.

      Been interesting since I started doing this work. I’ve never advertised or listed anywhere, other than where I’ve posted Voices That Heal or in discussion groups such as this. I get a few responses here and there. Mostly, I get referrals from other students and clients, so it’s mostly word of mouth. Plus, whenever I screen my film or give presentations–as I did a few months ago to public health nurses–one or two people recognize me and choose to work with me.

      Not everyone is ready to let go of all they’ve known in order to allow a new reality to emerge. Even though we want change, there is also a lot of fear of change. Resolving this internalized polarity is part of the consciousness shift. Given how things are going in the world these days, one way or another, people will wake up. For some, it will be a relief, while for others it could feel devastating. It so depends on one’s flexibility of mind and heartfelt trust of a process.

      I’ve made my shift, so I’m here to support anyone ready for theirs.

      It’s so great that you crossed paths with such a gifted and generous teacher, and that you found your peace. Quite a blessing, after all that we’ve endured, isn’t it?

      Take good care,

      Report comment

      • One things I wanted to add for clarity–my work is geared toward anyone who is on the journey desiring to awaken to their spirit. My clientele has been highly diverse, from therapists, teachers, writers, filmmaker, to folks who live with diagnoses and disability. On meds or not is not an issue for me. These are all individual lots in life, all of which can change in an instant. We are all at one place or another in life.

        When it comes to energy work, everyone is equally on their journey, including me. There is no duality, no ‘us vs. them.’ When we talk about energy, we are One. I believe this is why this work is so effective. It never, ever marginalizes or discriminates.

        We are all energy, period, equal in power and potential, each of us in the game of cause and effect. Anything outside of this is pure illusion, and can be easily manipulated. With a strong loving collective heart, we will create a peaceful and just world. That will take some time, of course, but if we start with healing our hearts, we are well on our way.

        Report comment

  32. So this is my brief response to the post itself rather than to various comments.

    I am not questioning whether Sandra is or can be sometimes be helpful to her clients. I’m sure she can and has. But on a non-individual, non-personal level I don’t understand how people can spend so much of their lives invested in a notion — “mental illness” — which is simply impossible unless the rules and characteristics of language are totally reconstrued. A metaphor is not tangible, a corporation cannot be a person and a mind cannot have a disease. Period.

    I know that those who have “natural” abilities to help those in emotional turmoil are confined and restricted by the legal need to undergo certain “training” rituals, resulting in degrees, before their skills may be officially shared with the world. Often by then their intuitive side has been suffocated. Sometimes things are worth restructuring. But if the field in which the degree is offered is based on not only an invalid analysis of the problem, but a completely impossible one, doesn’t there come a point where you would concede that to be truly helpful the problem needs to be radically redefined? And that your skills could be put to better use in (perhaps) a new school of thought and human support?

    Report comment

    • Very well said!!

      I very much like this,

      “if the field in which the degree is offered is based on not only an invalid analysis of the problem, but a completely impossible one, doesn’t there come a point where you would concede that to be truly helpful the problem needs to be radically redefined”

      The way psychiatrists are trained makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. They spend 4 years of rigorous training on the inner workings of the body. After these four years they are told: put aside all that rigorous/scientific training and be prepared to preach “chimeras about the mind” that are scientifically unproven. It begs the question why do they need a medical degree in the first place.

      Using my “hardware/software” analogy -which I know you like- is like requiring software engineers to spend 10 years (4 undergrad + 6 to get a doctorate) learning about quantum mechanics and how electrons travel in electronic devices only to tell them, never mind, now you are going to apply all that knowledge about quantum mechanics to design nice looking webpages.

      I think of Sandy as “work in progress”. I am not giving up that someday she will come full circle accepting what you say.

      Report comment

  33. Dr Steingrad has started (or perhaps continued) a very wide ranging discussion here at Mad in America. For that start, my thanks added to those of many others. We have seen responses that span many moral, ethical, and philosophical positions. Some have related their own experiences and mis-adventures as patients coerced by psychiatry and the forced use of psychoactive drugs. Others have advocated for abolition or reform of psychiatry as a profession.

    But I must wonder: in three days of discussion, has anything fundamentally changed? Are we any closer to something actionable that might materially improve the ability of well-intended professionals to help people in distress, or protect patient autonomy and human rights when confronted by physicians convinced of their own omnipotence and insensitive to the harms they may be doing?

    There are many dimensions in the practice of the healing arts — both medicine and cognitive/emotional support and therapy. As a technically trained medical layman (engineer and chronic pain patient advocate), I make no claim to deep expertise. But I think I recognize when people are running around in ever-widening circles of polemic and avoidance. I see some of those circles revolving here and I find myself wanting to scream STOP!

    This is not the first time I have pointed out that g0od intentions and moral philosophy don’t matter unless something actually changes. Last September, I attempted a similar project in a different forum: The Global Summit for Diagnostic Alternatives, hosted by the Society for Humanistic Psychology. As I pointed out there and will risk repeating myself here, NOTHING that has passed in this otherwise very interesting thread of discussion will ultimately matter unless it can be turned into a program for substantive change that people can get behind with their dollars and their organized public advocacy. NOTHING.

    I attempted to suggest just such a program. I invite others here at MIA to read it at and to start a separate discussion at MIA of its implications. I realize that I may be naive, mistaken, or simply uninformed of medical literature. So nobody has to sign up to my personal vision. But can’t we agree to TRY to do more than just talk?

    The article on DxSummit was titled “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way — A Layman Perspective on Change”. I invite authors, discussants and staff at MIA to create and nurture a process that might actually implement parts of that vision as reality. It won’t happen overnight. But if we can’t get beyond venting and arguing with each other, it won’t happen at all.

    Richard A. “Red” Lawhern, Ph.D.
    Resident Research Analyst, Living With TN,
    an online community within the Ben’s Friends cluster for patients with rare medical disorders.

    Report comment

    • Richard,

      I have looked over your proposal at and find it to be quite interesting. You speak there (in no uncertain terms) of the shortfallings of the current ‘mh’ diagnostics system and of what you believe is an absolutely undeniably pressing need for, ‘the structured and managed development of a new professional standard for characterizing human emotional and mental distress. We might call this standard something like “Compendium of Mental Health Assessment and Practice” (CMHAP).’

      While I am not someone who expects that the ‘mh’ system will be significantly revamped any time soon and, generally speaking, I read the U.S. Constitution (and, especially the Bill of Rights) as strongly suggesting, that government should not ever have been placed in a position of judging anyone’s ‘mental health’; thus, I believe no state should be licensing any professionals to impose their views of ‘mental health’ on anyone…, I am, nonetheless, impressed by your level of passion for what you are forwarding.

      Because I know that there will always be a ‘mh’ system, of one kind or another, I think your proposal could possibly catalyze positive initiatives, harm reducing initiatives, which would spare us from at least some of the current, considerable harms now being perpetrated by devotees of the American Psychiatric Association and others who wield their latest edition of the DSM…

      Your proposal is notable for its really comprehensive quality of thought, and I am guessing the amount of energy that you’ve put into already must be to be nothing short of cyclonic; I vote that your proposal be posted to this MIA website, so readers can comment upon it.

      Meanwhile, I encourage MIA readers and bloggers to give it a look.



      Report comment

      • The plan looks great in theory, but in practice, I think it is wishful thinking because it fails to acknowledge that the vast majority of psychiatrists are part of the problem. Take for instance,

        “5. Find a law firm which represents mental health clients in malpractice, negligence and reckless endangerment suits. Volunteer 10% of your professional time to help patients who have been harmed by doctors using DSM-5 category labels or practices unsupported by even rudimentary research. Encourage local law firms to pursue legal action not only against pharmaceutical companies as corporate entities, but against individual corporate officers by name, on grounds of conspiracy to defraud and reckless endangerment of the health of patients who use their over-hyped psychotropic products.”

        I bet that the number of psychiatrists in the US, both members and non members of the APA, who would not be eligible for being at the receiving end of legal action is so small that the majority of psychiatrists are unlikely to accept the advice above. And if any of them is targeted by a lawsuit, they will call their friends to CYA.

        This is the main problem that I see with those of the “reform mindset”. They fail to see that the majority of the current practitioners of psychiatry, psychology and social work are part of the problem. They can be hardly part of the solution as long as they continue to make a living out of the status quo.

        Report comment

    • 3 whole days of talk and everything’s the same, damn.

      I also have had the sense of talks here starting to go in circles. But I think it may be more accurately described as a case of two divergent viewpoints having at one another. One of these sees psychiatry as worth saving and “reforming”; the other believes it should be sidestepped entirely, and have its legal authority to coerce and other governmental support rescinded. If one sees “progress” as bringing these two sides together one is bound to be frustrated, as they represent the conflicting interests of different groups, which will not be reconciled by discussion alone.

      Report comment

      • Oldhead, I must agree with your observation. Three whole days and nothing new. I suspect we have amply confirmed the earlier observation that many of those in the anti-psychiatry movement are so polarized that they will accept nothing less than abject surrender from those with points of view other than their own.

        That said, a basic suggestion to all who have participated here. This discussion isn’t going to finish the many arguments that need to be had or the many points of fact or principle that need to be resolved in order for something better to emerge. Nor SHOULD this discussion determine the future course of the psychiatric profession. That’s a task for a different and much larger group of people, and probably a minimum of three to five years of funded labor.

        Talk is cheap. Action and change are hard. Action without a program and a structured process for change will generate nothing of lasting value. When I wrote “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way” on DxSummit, it was precisely because I saw that worthy forum circling in the same way this MIA discussion has — endlessly. There are people of good will at DxSummit, as there are here. But I question whether they are either interested or even willing to embrace change that might cost them something more than evening time in commentary.

        Interestingly, there have so far been only three comments on the program I’ve suggested in the article, and one of those seemed to be in opposition to the entire idea as being in the category of “it will never be allowed to happen” (not the commentator’s precise phrasing). If we believe that premise, then we might as well fold up our tents and go home, because the rest is word noise.

        So what’s it going to be, folks? Is this group going to insist on purism or move toward practicalities of change? I’m waiting to hear an answer to that question.


        Report comment

        • Since I believe you were mentioning my comment, I ask you back, how do you expect mainstream psychiatrists to agree to your point 5- if the are part of the problem. Example,

          “Most of these in-demand speakers hail from a just handful of states: four each from New York and Texas, and two each from California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Half are psychiatrists, including three of the top four earners”

          Those of us who are abolitionists are told that our position is not realistic, but my contention is that a plan like yours, which is based on the assumption that mainstream psychiatrists are going to participate massively or in significant numbers to make a difference is said lawsuits, is what is not realistic.

          The abolitionist position is based on the realization that psychiatry is too corrupted to be reformed. It cannot be reformed. And since psychiatry and psychiatrists are not going to go away, because as Alesandra Rain explains there is a market of people who want psychotropic drugs and there will always be, the best we can do is to make sure that all forms of coercive psychiatry are abolished.

          So in my view, those of us who fight for the ban of coercive psychiatry are the ones who have the more “realistic” point of view. Realistic doesn’t mean easy, of course, but when it comes to humans trusting pill pushers, the most realistic scenario is to make sure that said pill pushing is entirely voluntary, not pretend that it is going to go away by reforming the way pills are pushed onto people involuntarily.

          Report comment

          • Abolition of involuntary medication is not the same issue as abolition of psychiatry as a field. And even the abolition of forcible or coerced medication is not problem free. It comes with a cost to people who cannot or will not self-regulate their own behavior, and to others who are called upon to pay for facilities to house the truly dangerous. Whether we call such places prisons or asylums, that cost is still real.

            If you would abolish psychiatry, then with what would you replace it for the many people in contemporary society who experience mental and emotional agony? Or are we to simply tell them “get your act together and soldier on?”

            Report comment

          • To clarify,

            My position, as an abolitionist, has been one of abolishing coercive psychiatry, which means, abolishing involuntary commitment, involuntary drugging, forensic psychiatry.

            Now, in addition, it would be nice if we stopped spending any of my hard earned tax dollars on so called “mental health”. As I have also explained several times, I see all expenditures on so called “mental health” a violation of the establishment and free exercise clauses of the first amendment. I understand however that there are many people making a living out of these dollars, including many so called “consumers” that DJ Jaffe likes to take on, so I am happy with settling with the abolition program for all forms of coercive psychiatry and letting the federal government waste my dollars on mental health quackery in exchange. That’s pretty realistic to me: we continue to pay the quacks and the proud users of their services in exchange that they leave the rest of us who want nothing to do with psychiatry alone.

            Report comment

        • Obviously you missed my irony:

          “Oldhead, I must agree with your observation. Three whole days and nothing new. I suspect we have amply confirmed the earlier observation that many of those in the anti-psychiatry movement are so polarized that they will accept nothing less than abject surrender from those with points of view other than their own.”

          That was not “my observation”; it was me making fun of your supposed disappointment that a centuries-old struggle hadn’t been resolved in a few days of conversation at MIA

          Your hostility toward the anti-psychiatry movement (or soon-to-be movement) is palpable, as is your arrogance. So we have the option of supporting your “program,” whatever it may be, or being impractical purists? That tells me right away to move on to the next post!

          Personally I don’t demand “surrender” from those who oppose my positions. Depending on the specific case in point I may consider their opinion to be irrelevant, however. I generally take the attitude that when people are ready to see something I’ll try to facilitate that understanding.

          Also, the anti-psychiatry movement is not polarized, though there are always disagreements on tactics and priorities. Though we are well-represented here, the MIA community and the anti-psychiatry movement are not one and the same.

          Report comment

          • Oldhead, Sometimes irony doesn’t convey well in print.

            Moreover, your accusation of arrogance might bear a bit more weight if it was accompanied by some slight evidence that you had bothered to read the program proposal I offered. Have you done better? If so, then where may I read and comment upon your proposals for substantive change in present conditions?

            The conclusion that the anti-psychiatry movement is heavily polarized seems well supported by what I read in this thread — and perhaps also by your dismissiveness and willingness to dismiss as “arrogant”, opinions that you consider “irrelevant”.

            It seems to me that effective change in psychiatric practice must be based not on opinion but on medical evidence. Not my opinion or yours, or that of self-proclaimed authorities in the field. That is ultimately what science is about.

            Report comment

  34. Jonah and Jonathan,

    Thank you for your kind remarks. By way of follow-up, you might consider writing to MIA site management support the proposal. I would be happy to edit a version of Lead, Follow or Get Out Of The Way specifically for MIA, with credit to DxSummit for the initial publication.

    I would also offer an olive branch to others who revile any and all government judgements of the mentally and emotionally distressed. I share the view that government should not — under most circumstances — be empowered to lock people up for being deranged or disordered, so long as they do not comprise a threat of violence.

    That said, there is still a dimension of law that I believe we need to consider. Legal action will almost certainly be required to break the strangle hold that Big Pharma now exercises over government and accepted medical / mental-health practice. Corporate officers need to be sent to jail for collusion and conspiracy to defraud. Corrupt professional institutions such as the APA need to be sued out of existence or their influence greatly curtailed. And “some” standard such as the Compendium I have suggested seems required in order to establish practice standards under which malpractice and quackery can be prosecuted when patients are palpably harmed. Government shouldn’t establish that standard, but it may be the only institution well enough funded to pay for its development.

    Further response to “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way” is invited and welcome. I have no monopoly on thoughtful concern and certainly no oracular powers of divination in what will work and what will not, for the improvement of the healing arts.

    Again, thanks for your kind remarks…

    Report comment

    • “I would also offer an olive branch to others who revile any and all government judgements of the mentally and emotionally distressed. I share the view that government should not — under most circumstances — be empowered to lock people up for being deranged or disordered, so long as they do not comprise a threat of violence.”


      Those lines, of yours, in your reply, are entirely key — and, in my view, require a certain clarification, on your part.

      I would like to know…

      Do you mean to say, that, in your view, people who seem ‘deranged and disordered’ and ‘violent’ should be ‘locked up’ and also ‘treated’ as though they are ‘ill’ — and, thus, as though they supposedly require drugging — e.g., so-called “antipsychotic” drugs (neuroleptics)?

      To be more concise, I am wondering, do you support the forced ‘medical treatment’ (e.g., forced IM/neuroleptic drugging) of “patients,” in any instance?

      Notably, you have directed your comment to me and to Jonathan Keyes. And, in his comment, that’s directed to the blogger (Sandra Steingard, M.D.), above (on July 29, 2014 at 12:04 am), Jonathan states,

      “At core, I am a pragmatist. I would rather see psychiatric prescription patterns becoming much more cautious. I would like to see the use of force and restraints used only in rare cases of violence.”

      Here, as follows, I’ll briefly scrutinize that last sentence of his (i.e., his statement, that “I would like to see the use of force and restraints used only in rare cases of violence”):

      Jonathan Keyes explains, “I would like to see the use of force and restraints used only in rare cases of violence.”

      What does that mean, really?

      Jonathan refers to “the use of force and restraints” even as, we all know (I mean, it’s simply undeniable, that) any application of ‘restraints’ represents, in and of itself, a use of force.

      Of course, ‘restraints’ (in these conversations) represents, in and of itself, a use of force.

      Hence, I submit to you, that, when Jonathan says “the use of force,” there, in his comment to the blogger, what Jonathan really means to say, is this: the use of forced psychotropic drugging — and, more specifically, he means forced drugging with neuroleptics (so-called “heavy tranquilizers”), delivered intravenously (via the ultimate jab, of syringe, a hollow needle) whilst that “patient” is being physically restrained — held down — by the weight of a number of “hospital” workers, such as himself.

      So, when Jonathan says, “At core, I am a pragmatist. I would rather see psychiatric prescription patterns becoming much more cautious. I would like to see the use of force and restraints used only in rare cases of violence,” what I believe he really means to say, is that: He would ‘like to see the use of forced drugging and restraints used only in rare cases of violence.’


      “I would like to see the use of force and restraints used only in rare cases of violence,” writes Jonathan; yet, of course, he means to say “forced drugging…”

      Indeed, he’s forever confusing this issue, of ‘force,’ in his comments (as do so many people who likewise defend forced drugging) by his failing to acknowledge what kind of force he’s talking about…

      In fact, it’s the forced drugging and the other forced ‘medical’ procedures, in psychiatry, that have always presented the worst problems, in psychiatry.

      Certainly, Jonathan knows that; and, yet he won’t say that, as forced drugging is what he’s talking about and defending.

      He won’t come out and say, honestly “I would like to see the use of forced drugging…” no way, not unless, perhaps, he’s directly questioned (challenged, really, as I am basically challenging him here) to say that such is, in fact, precisely what he’s actually talking about, as he speaks of force, in his comment, to Sandra Steingard, above…

      Rarely is he ever challenged, as far as i can tell; i think almost no one does ever challenge his support of forced drugging, on this website… (I find that sort of strange, until i remind myself of how stealthy and evasive he can be, in how he speaks of these issues… e.g., his claiming, in one comment, to me, months ago, that he supposedly doesn’t “treat” people unwillingly, because, after all, in his view, the forced IM druggings of “patients” who are ostensibly ‘violent’ does not, in his view, amount to treatment.)

      What is most incredible to me, is that, by his own accounts, Jonathan has, himself, voluntarily experienced neuroleptic drugs (briefly).

      He found their effect so totally aversive (they caused him to feel suicidal), so he immediately quit taking them and would never take them again. (That’s not an unusual experience for people who enter the realm of psychiatry when they are not in the midst of a seeming emergency.)

      Jonathan found that the neuroleptics, in his own system, created a sense that he wanted to kill himself; and, yet, he does join his “hospital” worker comrades, when they force such drugs into the veins of other people, because (he says) those people are “violent.” (The irony of that would be laughable if it was not so tragic.)

      He is totally opposed to calling the police, to arrest and take away violent people, from any “hospital” setting…

      I would strongly suggest to you and to anyone else who is interested in these issues: Just study the most recent literature on violence in psychiatric “hospital” settings, and you will find that: mainly, when there is any considerable threat of violence, from a “patient” who’s being ‘held’ on a psychiatric ward, it’s because the staff has provoked that person. And, indeed, imminent threats of forced IM druggings tend to make that “patient” who is to be forcibly drugged appear as though s/he is a ‘violent’ or ‘threatening’ person.

      So, consider how very easy it is to claim that the “patient” who has been forcibly drugged presented a threat to others and/or to himself/herself.

      Then, after that person has been forcibly drugged, it’s all too view him or her as ‘mentally ill’.

      I submit to you, there is never any justice in forcibly drugging anyone into submission.

      And, there is always a lot of harm that is caused in the process of forcibly drugging people into submission. (Most of that harm can easily be ignored by anyone who wishes to ignore it.)

      Now I will say no more, as the more I write about this, the more inclined I am to upset myself; and, I’ve got to avoid doing that, so I can get on with my day…

      But, again, Richard, I would like to know…

      Do you mean to say, that, in your view, people who seem ‘deranged and disordered’ and ‘violent’ should be ‘locked up’ and also ‘treated’ as though they are ‘ill’ — and, thus, as though they supposedly require forced drugging?

      I look forward to your reply.



      Report comment

      • Hey Jonah,

        I do t think we can go much further with this conversation as we have somewhat gone round and round on it. I’ll just say this. yes…in rare cases when all other measures have been tried to try and deescalate…When conversation, space, food and comfort measures have been offered; when listening, allowing for strong and intense emotions to be expressed, and a person is still threatening or engaged in strong harm to other patients and staff…I support forced drugging.

        I know that you…and many others don’t support that. You have suggested police should be involved when violence happens. I completely disagree. If given these horrible choices, I will choose a forced drug over tazers and bullets. By saying you support police involvement, do you support using 50,000 volts of electricity to subdue people who are violent and “mentally ill”? Do you support police drawing guns to threaten those who are violent and “mentally ill”? These are the awful choices we are left with.

        I will always support having staff who are trained in making sure this type of choice happens very very rarely. But ultimately, these choices do have to be made. I will fight hard to see they happen as rarely as humanly possible.

        Report comment

        • Just a little further, I know you are a stickler for language, and are pretty focused on wanting to paint me as “pro forced drugging”, I would ask…

          Are you pro-forced electro shocking (I.e.tazering)? I know you are not but by suggesting police should be involved in these cases you are de facto agreeing to the idea of “treating” mental illness/violence with electro-shocking.

          I am as much pro “forced drugging” as you are pro “forced electro shocking”… Which is not at all. but I do acknowledge the hard choices that have to be made at times. We need to work on making sure these choices have to happen a little as possible.

          Report comment

          • Jonathan Keyes writes, to me:

            Are you pro-forced electro shocking (I.e.tazering)? I know you are not but by suggesting police should be involved in these cases you are de facto agreeing to the idea of “treating” mental illness/violence with electro-shocking.

            I am as much pro “forced drugging” as you are pro “forced electro shocking”… Which is not at all…

            That’s a false equivalency, which Jonathan is offering.

            Jonathan is someone who actually participates in forced IM (neuroleptic) drugging of some “patients” in the the hospital setting where he works; I, on the other hand, do not participate in any tazering of anyone.

            And, in no way am I doing what he’s saying, in terms of de facto agreeing to the idea of “treating” mental illness/violence with electro-shocking.

            I am not in any way agreeing to that. (Absolutely not.)

            But, Jonathan is quite correct in deducing that I am opposed to the use of tazers. Perhaps, I have mentioned that, to him previously… (i.e., I am opposed to their use in any and all instances — just like I’m opposed to forced psychotropic drugging in all instances).

            That I would choose to call the police for help, in certain situations, does not at all mean that I would endorse their use of tazers, ever.

            And, I would fully expect, that, were some “hospital” worker to be in need of calling the police, that professional and his or her fellow associates could, if they so wished, in their professional capacity, choose to effectively physically restrain (i.e., with mechanical restraints — not with chemical restraints) the person who was to be placed under arrest and taken away, so there would be no seeming need for the police to come with guns drawn, and there would be no seeming ‘need’ for the police to taze that individual.

            (Note: If I was working in an E.R. or “hospital,” calling the police to arrest anyone who is not very clearly violating the law, would be a last resort — until that point at which the individual became, in my view, really very seriously threatening and/or assaultive. At that point, I would view the person as seriously violating the law and as someone who posed a danger to others in that setting; I would not hesitate to call the police, at that point. But, I would offer any really very extremely ‘agitated’ person being tended to, in that setting, the possibility of voluntarily taking a mild sedative, to calm down, instead of becoming a serious threat. Again, my emphasis: I would not want anyone to be arrested unless or until it was clear, that s/he committed an obvious crime and/or was becoming very seriously threatening…)

            Please, see my following comment, which I shall post momentarily, below, for further details of my view of all this…

            Report comment

          • What’s the point of playing with words? To draw some false equivalency between self-defense and ECT?

            Given the choice I’d take the taser over the ECT any day. The former you generally recover from in short order.

            Report comment

        • “When conversation, space, food and comfort measures have been offered; when listening, allowing for strong and intense emotions to be expressed, and a person is still threatening or engaged in strong harm to other patients and staff…I support forced drugging.”


          Thanks for your reply. I’m sure you can guess (from our previous exchanges, in these comment threads) that my response to you will include this: I do not support forced psychotropic drugging in that instance, which you’re describing — nor in any other instances (as I have explained to you previously).

          Additionally, here I’ll remark, regarding that scenario, which you are describing (in that italicized quote, that’s now topping this comment of mine): Jonathan, to me, you seem to be describing a person who is refusing to accept the ‘help’ even of the most seemingly reasonable kinds; so, maybe s/he is just plain totally fed up with psychiatric ‘help’ generally — with good reason.

          And, though I would not recommend to such a person, that s/he become violent (nor would I attempt to ‘justify’ any violence, on anyone’s part, that’s not absolutely necessary, as a means of effective self-defense), a careful study of that person’s refusals to accept the ‘help’ you’re describing may prove that person’s resistance well warranted.

          In fact, I believe, if s/he is aware that s/he is actually being threatened with forced drugging (and, indeed, all “patients” in psychiatric “hospitals” know that they do risk being forcibly drugged if/when they may become ‘resistant’ to staff), then I can certainly empathize with that person’s refusal to accept the ‘help’ you’re describing.

          After all, who are these people who are doing the ‘helping’ that you’re describing?

          Do they ‘deserve’ the cooperation of the “patient” whom you’re describing?

          Have they been asked, by that person, for such ‘help’ as you’re describing?

          Again, Jonathan (as I have pointed out, in my comments, to you, previously): In many instances, ‘violence’ and ‘threats of violence’ — especially, in psychiatric “hospitals” — are vagaries, that are, subjectively perceived.

          Most ‘containment events’ within psychiatric “hospital wards” are provoked by “hospital” staff members.

          So, about that person whom you’re describing: Maybe, on some level, s/he would actually prefer to be jailed — perhaps, to (hopefully) receive a day in court — as opposed to being “hospitalized” by yourself and others… who, of course, can’t help but treat every “patient” in your “hospital” as though, at best, ‘mentally ill’ …and/or, at least, as though ‘needing’ some (ostensibly ‘therapeutic’) form of attention, which s/he may ultimately find ultimately unwarranted — if not also unjust.

          Furthermore, we should be clear, that that sort of scenario, which you’re describing, does not describe the only sort of psychiatric “patient” whom you’ve indicated should be forcibly drugged.

          E.g., you’ve written in one MIA comment (on June 21, 2014 at 5:25 pm),

          Recently, a man who had been in prison for a number of years for numerous crimes was brought from jail to our ER because he was “decompensating”. He then proceeded to attack ER nurses, injuring one by kicking her hard in the chest. Really challenging cases and ERs have really crappy ways of working with people in these situations. Restraints? Forced meds? Then what?

          In my opinion, one huge problem with your reasoning, in these discussions, is that, when you do aim to engage in dialogue, you are forever coming back to comments like this one (which you’ve offered, above): “You have suggested police should be involved when violence happens. I completely disagree. If given these horrible choices, I will choose a forced drug over tazers and bullets.”

          That’s an absurd point, that you make (again and again); it’s nothing more than specious rhetoric, imho, …because, obviously, those aren’t the only choices.

          You say to me (above),

          By saying you support police involvement, do you support using 50,000 volts of electricity to subdue people who are violent and “mentally ill”? Do you support police drawing guns to threaten those who are violent and “mentally ill”? These are the awful choices we are left with.

          That’s just absurd, really.

          I don’t support any use of tazers (“50,000 volts of electricity”) and don’t support shooting anyone’s shooting anyone else with a gun, except as an absolute last resort means of saving the lives of innocents, so I would not expect the police to be drawing their guns, in the situations you describe.

          Imho, it would not be especially difficult for trained “hospital” staff to subdue and physically restrain the “patients” you’re describing, with mechanical restraints, as they await the police… who could agree to leave their guns in their vehicle; they could take such individuals, still in those physical restraints, out of the “hospital” — to be processed into the justice system.

          Really, I am totally against the existence of psychiatric “hospitals,” because I know such places will keep people locked inside and ‘medically treated’ against their will; and, I am most totally against the use of such places, as an ‘alternative’ settings for individuals who are supposedly prone to violence.

          There are incredibly massive psychological and emotional harms done to other “patients” in those settings (“patients” who may be very gentle by nature), as you wind up mixing them in, with persons who are accused of violent crimes and who may even be ‘diagnosed’ with ‘homicidal psychosis’ etc.; truly, imho, it’s just insane to propose that all these people should be mixed together in “hospital” settings.

          And, in any case, I believe that no one should ever be forcibly subjected to psychotropic drugging (nor should anyone be forcibly subjected to any other form of ‘brain treatment’).

          There should be no forced psychotropic drugging in the jails either, of course; sadly, individuals are made to seem as though “mental patients” by the way they are forcibly drugged in E.R.’s; they wind up ‘diagnosed’ with some supposed ‘mental disorder’; then, if/when they do wind up in jail, they wind up ‘treated’ as ‘mentally ill’ there; it’s a most vicious sort of double-jeopardy…

          Imho, everyone should have the right to be formally charged with a crime and jailed …as opposed to being forcibly ‘treated’ by psychiatry.



          Report comment

          • I’m sorry Jonah, if you truly feel that police should be involved in these cases where violence is occurring you are indeed de facto suggesting that you support police measures for dealing with violent individuals.

            In the case above you suggested that hospital staff should forcibly restrain a patient experiencing psychosis and is violent…and wait until police arrive, have them remove all weapons and then transfer the person to a police car and then to jail.

            First of all, that violent individual needs to be taken out of hospital restraints and placed into handcuffs and then transported to a jail while in a highly agitated state while police remove all their weapons and tazers. That is just not a likely or realistic scenario for police.

            Again, when you support police involvement in these cases you cannot be evasive and say you don’t support electro shocking.

            I’ll give you an example of something that happened a few years back. A man was in the ER and was experiencing profound psychosis and then rushed out into the hallway and attacked another patient. I was nearby but before I could arrive I saw a policeman in the ER tazering that man. One of the other tazer lines also dropped the other patient at the same time.

            What does one do in that incident? It’s complicated, dangerous and fast. But simply saying you are against one thing begs the question of what the alternative to forced drugs would be in its absence. And sadly, that is the alternative. I don’t support either but I do acknowledge brutal choices at times.

            Tazering or jailing someone (and then drugging them) who is in the throes of severe psychosis and violent is not the better option in my book…but all options suck if deescalation has not worked.


            Report comment

          • P.S. — Here’s a minor correction, to clarify my position on forced drugging:

            I wrote, in my comment above (on August 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm) “I believe that no one should ever be forcibly subjected to psychotropic drugging (nor should anyone be forcibly subjected to any other form of ‘brain treatment’).”

            Actually, that parenthetical statement should include an asterisk, as it requires an addendum; for, it is forced psychotropic drugging (and other forms of invasive psychiatric brain-tampering) that I’m opposed to; but, on the other hand, in my opinion, there are some (rare) neurological conditions that could possibly warrant force drugging, of a different kind.

            At least, there is one example of a such a condition, that I know of, which is malaria.

            Malaria is a very real disease, which affects the brain, and it can become very serious, when gone untreated by antibiotics.

            A psychiatrist whom I was debating (online) pointed out, to me, that: Not infrequently, in climates where malaria frequently occurs, physicians will encounter malaria patients who are “delirious” and apparently do not want to be medicated; so, they will forcibly inject such patients with antibiotics; and (the psychiatrist whom I was debating, explained) soon thereafter, those physicians find themselves being thanked by those patients.

            As compared to forced psychotropic drugging, I see that as a very different sort of situation, because there are no forced psychotropic drugs in the equation and because malaria is a clearly identifiable disease, which adversely affects the brain; i.e., unlike so-called “mental disorders” and so-called “mental illnesses,” the presence of that real disease, malaria, can be very objectively identified, it’s treatment (an antibiotic) is real medicine, that precisely cures the disease.

            Report comment

          • “First of all, that violent individual needs to be taken out of hospital restraints and placed into handcuffs and then transported to a jail while in a highly agitated state while police remove all their weapons and tazers. That is just not a likely or realistic scenario for police.”


            RE “That is just not a likely or realistic scenario for police.

            What you’re saying there may be true, currently (I’m conceding it may not be a likely or realistic scenario currently, according to standard protocols, which have, by this point, become a matter of convention); but, what is mere convention need not remain convention forever.

            Imho, the jails need to maintain a place for people who are especially ‘agitated’ and, perhaps, are especially confused.

            And, of course, I realize that some people who are viewed as ‘psychotic’ are going to be much better cared for, in some “hospital” setting, than they would be in any jail system.

            However, really, I know that many people who are deemed “psychotic” by psychiatrists would do best were they to be simply sent home.

            And, many people who wind up deemed “psychotic” by psychiatrists would be better off in jail.

            Really, I cannot count how many times, over the years, I’ve looked, in retrospect, back… (to my early twenties) and have considered my experiences with medical-coercive psychiatry (especially, how I was forcibly drugged and then labeled indelibly, with “diagnoses” suggesting I am forever ‘seriously mentally ill’) …and, in looking back, I’ve wished, wistfully:

            ‘If only I could have, from the start, been charged with a crime and placed in jail, to be promised my day in court — as opposed to being ‘treated’ for supposed ‘psychosis’ by psychiatrists!’

            Jonathan, imho, there are situations, wherein some people are apparently in need of professional help, because they are very confused, very disoriented; and, most police are not well trained to deal with such people; but, your opposition to involving the police is too extreme; and, I maintain, that: Never should anyone be forcibly drugged into submission.

            Such druggings create far more harm than good, in the long run…

            That’s my view anyway…



            Report comment

          • I said above “And, many people who wind up deemed “psychotic” by psychiatrists would be better off in jail.”

            To be clear, of course, I meant to indicate that, many people who have committed crimes that typically warrant jailing wind up deemed “psychotic” and are, thus, sent to “hospitals” instead of jail.

            I think that’s wrong. It’s bad for everyone, ultimately.

            Imho, everyone who has apparently committed a crime should be afforded the benefits of legal counsel and a proper court trial; for prisoners awaiting trial, the jail systems should be equipped with padded cells, and there should be some availability of counselors (preferably experts in navigating such problems of life), and, for those individuals who seem most psychological and/or emotionally disturbed, there could be professional licensed to prescribe certain sedatives (relative mild ones, as compared to the ‘heavy tranquilizers’ that are forced on “patients” in “hospital” settings) to be used only by those who choose to use them voluntarily.

            Report comment

          • The larger question of whether jail or hospital is a better option for someone is an important one to address. I agree that in jail at least you get your court date, your right to prove innocence, etc. whereas it’s a crapshoot if you go into a hospital and are psychotic and at times violent.

            You could end up committed and then sent to state hospital, remain in a weird limbo of not having committed a crime, then get mandated to take drugs (AOT), and be placed under state authority even when you are “released.”

            That all needs to be seriously addressed and reformed, and “treatment” in the form of mandated neuroleptics needs to be ended…now.

            But we weren’t really talking about that. We were talking about how to deal with psychosis/violence in the moment. I want to be clear that since you have asked me not to use euphemisms like force (I’ll call it forced drugging), I would ask you not to use euphemisms like “police” and instead call it forced electro-shocking.

            At this point, we cannot remain pure by simply pawning off the problem of how to manage these difficult cases by off sourcing it to police via electro-shocking and jailing someone for being “mentally ill.”

            Report comment

          • I want to be clear that since you have asked me not to use euphemisms like force (I’ll call it forced drugging), I would ask you not to use euphemisms like “police” and instead call it forced electro-shocking.


            I believe that tazers are your go-to strawman….

            Or, are you not aware, it’s quite possible to create laws (clearly legislating) that the police must not use tazers, in certain settings.

            I submit to you, it would not be particularly difficult to create absolute restrictions against police using tazers on any person who is being transferred from a “hospital,” into a specially equipped jail setting.

            Really, I have no idea how many times (or, in how many ways) I need wind up repeat the following, to you: I cannot see any justification for any use of tazers.

            When I speak of calling for police help, in these instances, which you’re detailing, I mean, simply this: The “hospital” staff physically restrains someone who has become terribly assaultive and/or threatening, and they summon the police to charge that person with that crime and deliver that person to jail, where s/he can be assigned legal counsel as well as other forms of counsel (if s/he wants that) in addition to legal counsel.

            Please, stop with the talk of tazering. Though I’m sure it was very traumatic for you to have seen someone tazered, you needn’t believe that calling for police = tazering.

            Really, there could be laws passed, which strictly forbid the police from tazering your “patients”.



            Report comment

          • By the way, Jonathan, about your stating, this ~~> “I want to be clear that since you have asked me not to use euphemisms like force (I’ll call it forced drugging),” that’s great, imho.

            Your doing that will be a big help, in making your positions, on this subject, more clearly understood, by MIA readers, I think.

            And, again, as for your saying, this ~~> “I would ask you not to use euphemisms like “police” and instead call it forced electro-shocking,” really, that’s just your way of being nonsensical — either creating a diversion from the content of my comments — or, maybe, it’s the effect of your having been seriously traumatized, by seeing a “patient” tazered.

            It could be that, I believe.

            So, in fact, when I use the term “police” in reference to “hospital” settings, please, presume I’m referring to police who have been completely forbidden, by law, from using their tazers, on anyone, there. Indeed, presume the police who are summoned to a “hospital” setting will know they should leave their tazers at home — that they’ll literally lose their jobs if they come to tazer any of the “patients” whom they apprehend in “hospital” to deliver to jail.

            Really, I would be more than happy to fight for the passage of such laws…



            Report comment

        • Jonathan – This. 1000 times.

          Recent article on the subject

          For all those who wish to intellectualize the debate, please consider this. Absence of coercion is the absence of something. Not sure we all agree on what, but from what I gather from those that write here it is the removal of coercion on philosophical grounds and/or because of the harm it may cause. Or may not, cause – you can not predict whether coerced psychiatric care will harm or help a given individual no more than any other mortal. And I don’t mean “odds of X happening”.

          Therefore, please do not pretend (and I know that not all of you do) that it is the presence of something. The something being, the intent to provide or the means, opportunity, or provision for, the care of another human being in distress.

          Many here talk of how to get society on your side. Even though I can’t speak for all members of society (I am quite libertarian compared to most) I can say this as a random member of the public who is not an ex-patient or a worker in the psychiatric system – if you wish to get society on your side you may wish to prioritize the presence of something over the absence of something.

          Report comment

        • OK thanks for finally being honest and direct about your reprehensible support for forced drugging.

          If some criminal has a gun at my head my only request of any potential rescuer would be that they shoot accurately the first time. Do you really think I would care whether the guy with the gun at my head has been declared “mentally ill”? Sorry, I don’t give out “kill me, I understand” passes to anyone. Self defense is and should a priority with us all.

          Now unless you’re talking about using tranquilizer guns (which could conceivably be considered “forced drugging”) in self -defense, by the time someone has been restrained enough to inject them they are already under control and subject to physical restraints. So the forced drugging/chemical rape argument loses its validity at that point.

          Report comment

      • Jonah, it seems to me that you pose an intentionally provocative scenario in your question. But I will try to answer it as fairly as I can. Please realize in this that I’m a medical layman, not a psychiatric professional. So I’m trying to apply common sense.

        We really don’t have a choice of the first people outside family who will respond to an individual acting out violent or bizarre behaviors. Police are the only institution we have, who are trained to intervene and to separate violent or threatening people from potential or actual victims. We may advocate that police need to be better trained to avoid use of tasers or night sticks. But whether we like it or not, they will likely continue to be the first called outside of immediate family. If you see a different world, Jonah, I’d be interested in hearing a practical response on this issue. But in so doing, please realize that “should” doesn’t carry the argument if you propose to impose it on the people paying the bills.

        In the matter of forced drugging, I am in principle against the practice entirely. But we must also look at practicalities. It is possible to confine a violently acting out person and to offer support for their calming down and regulating their own behavior without drugs. It is also possible to place patients in isolation if they physically attack facility personnel who are charged with humanely confining them. But in both cases, we need to ask for how long and at what expense, when the one who is confined persistently rejects or is unable to enact behavioral regulation on their own behalf or by others.

        To demand that each “mad” man or woman receive free support and housing for the rest of their lives without qualification or condition is simply unrealistic in the world as we find it. At our present state of knowledge, at least some of those who act out bizarre patterns of disturbance won’t get better. They will never be able to live independently of external constraints (different from “restraints” in this context). A responsible response to madness must include a standard of care in the larger society, with regard to such people. And just as you would have the patient agree to any therapy offered them, so too must the society agree to the use of limited resources in housing and regulating people who cannot function independently. This is a double-edged sword.

        This is an argument that western society has already had at least once with many unintended consequences. Two generations ago, most “asylums” for the mentally disordered were phased out in favor of community discharge for all except the relatively few who clearly comprise an immediate or on-going risk of harm to themselves or other people. Because the society of that time was unwilling to create community based mental health support for large numbers of people, this step produced hundreds of thousands of homeless people. And the society of our own time continues unwilling to do so. So what practical alternatives do you propose, Jonah?

        Please understand that I am fully aware of the reality that mental hospitals do harm to the less disordered by mixing them with the seriously deranged and by medicating them with drugs whose effects are in some people toxic. But we cannot focus on the civil rights of the inmates of such facilities alone. We must also give attention to the civil rights of the larger society which we ask to support our disabled.

        Again as a practical matter, I suggest that this issue has wide-ranging ethical implications. Thus if we have an ethicist among the authors at Mad In America, I invite the commentary of one who is more deeply trained than I am in negotiating such issues.

        Regards and Best,
        Richard A. “Red” Lawhern, Ph. D.

        Report comment

        • Richard,

          RE “Please understand that I am fully aware of the reality that mental hospitals do harm to the less disordered by mixing them with the seriously deranged and by medicating them with drugs whose effects are in some people toxic. But we cannot focus on the civil rights of the inmates of such facilities alone. We must also give attention to the civil rights of the larger society which we ask to support our disabled.”


          To your saying that, I can’t help but come to suspect that what you’re aiming for — is promoting an ‘instrumentalism’ …of the Machiavellian kind.

          Likewise, there’s the pragmatism of Jonathan Keyes. (He explains, in his comment, addressed to Sandra Steingard, above, on July 29, 2014 at 12:04 am: “At core, I am a pragmatist. I would rather see psychiatric prescription patterns becoming much more cautious. I would like to see the use of force…”)

          About Machiavelli, we can read online,

          “Although never directly stated in [his book, The Prince], ‘the end justifies the means’ is often quoted as indicative of the Pragmatism or Instrumentalism that underlies Machiavelli’s philosophy. He also touched on totalitarian themes, arguing that the state is merely an instrument for the benefit of the ruler, who should have no qualms at using whatever means are at his disposal to keep the citizenry suppressed. Unlike Plato and Aristotle, though, Machiavelli was not looking to describe the ideal society, merely to present a guide to getting and preserving power and the status quo.”


          Based on what you are saying here, now, I would not recommend you to anyone who has ever been forcibly “hospitalized” — as I see your attitude, as expressed, in this latest comment, of yours, as professing a desire for policies that would come, at the complete detriment of millions of people who have been, unfortunately, labeled by psychiatry, in ways that make them vulnerable to the potential tyranny of the majority.

          And RE “To demand that each “mad” man or woman receive free support and housing for the rest of their lives without qualification or condition is simply unrealistic in the world as we find it.”

          I don’t know why you say that to me. Surely, no one can read my comments on this MIA website and assume that I am wanting to promote the creation of such a ‘support’ system. You are speaking there, of a Welfare State (which I oppose, in all its forms).


          Finally, I’ll add this: personally, believe that ‘madness’ comes in a zillion shapes and sizes and degrees of severity (e.g., many of our politicians, who are ostensibly the makers of public policy, in this country are, in my view, far more dangerously ‘mad’ than most of the supposedly ‘mad’ people who are locked in psychiatric “hospitals” around the country).

          Indeed, I think you’re a bit ‘mad’ for believing you can lead a complete reformation of the ‘mh’ system; but, that’s just my opinion, and it is not meant to be an insult; I admire your passion and appreciate much of what you say — especially about the shortcomings of psychiatry.

          Therefore, in no way shall I fault you for being seemingly ‘mad’ in that way (of believing your proposal could lead to a complete reformation of the ‘mh’ system).

          And, as far as the sorts of ‘madness’ that winds up being ‘treated’ in most psychiatric “hospitals” goes, I think that, probably, the majority of ‘cases’ are drug and alcohol related; they could be healed rather quickly, if only those individuals were led to realize the harms being caused them by their drug(s) of choice.

          Others who seemingly go ‘mad’ may have good reasons for doing so, but I think no person’s seeming ‘madness’ needs be particularly debilitating for long; imho, the average ‘case’ would not last for more than a couple of months, at most, were it not for the usual sort of ‘help’ that is given, by psychiatry!

          Thank you for your response.



          Report comment

      • At Jonah 5:49- Not a straw man…reality as we know it today. Today if someone develops a psychosis and becomes violent, you are left with choices…today. If this happens to a loved one or a friend, you are left with choices….today. And the choices we have when things get out of control…are bad. Maintaining ideological purity goes out the window when you are confronted by a tough situation.

        You say- well then lets pass laws against tazers. Would you also suggest that we ban the use of guns, bean bag guns and nightsticks for police officers? These are the weapons of choice that police use for dealing with violent people.

        Again, you are outsourcing how to work with people who are violent and “ill” to police and are de facto endorsing those types of methods of working with that population in the name of purity.

        Report comment

        • “Again, you are outsourcing how to work with people who are violent and “ill” to police and are de facto endorsing those types of methods of working with that population in the name of purity.”


          On the contrary, it seems, to me, the justice system (and, in particular, the jail systems) wind up outsourcing to psychiatrists and others who operate psychiatric “hospitals” (such as the “hospital” which pays your salary); the justice system sends you your “patients” who really should be charged with criminal offenses.

          In my opinion, that does a great disservice to “patients” who have committed no crimes (and, certainly, that degree of innocence describes the majority of folk who are called “patients” in psychiatric “hospitals”).

          Often, violent offenders wind up “hospitalized” and ‘excused’ for their violence — based on psychiatric “diagnoses” that suggest those individuals could not possibly have known better.

          Society mainly accepts that state of affairs, so many people who should be behind bars or who, perhaps, should be working to provide restitution for their crimes, are deemed “mentally ill” and are effectively ‘excused’ from criminal prosecution; of course, many of those folk will, at first, welcome and appreciate that seeming ‘mercy’ that’s being afforded them, by the intervention of ‘medical’ quacks (the psychiatrists); but, in most instances, sooner or later, they realize, they’ve actually made a deal with the ‘Devil’.

          Most of them are tagged with indelible psychiatric labels, which make them into lifelong wards of the Therapeutic State.

          In most instances, that’s a fate far worse than any that would have come from ‘just’ facing the music, in the sense of staying with an arrest, accepting a bit of jail time — and looking forward to a subsequent trial. Even a possible guilty verdict and sentencing will not lead to the sort of harms that are typically suffered, as one becomes a “mental patient” who ostensibly has very little or no free will.

          RE “Would you also suggest that we ban the use of guns, bean bag guns and nightsticks for police officers? These are the weapons of choice that police use for dealing with violent people.”

          Jonathan, I very deeply believe that’s possible; police who take “patients” from hospitals (i.e., take them to jail cells, which may be padded rooms) can be trained to completely avoid resorting to use of guns and nightsticks, against such individuals.

          There could be specially trained teams of police, who are charged with that responsibility.

          Please, understand, I deeply feel, this would lead to much better outcomes — and even a lot of genuinely good outcomes — for one and all…



          Report comment

          • Jonah, I don’t accept your comparison of the use of tazers to the use of electro-convulsive shock. In both long-term effects and the circumstances of application, the two cannot be meaningfully compared. ECS is advocated as therapy by some people in professional psychiatry — and I believe this practice is deeply in error. Tazers, however, are employed to avoid applying even more dangerous methods in a high-threat situation that unfolds in mere seconds.

            Plenty of public attention is already given to the issue of excessive force when an uncooperative person is assaulted by a policeman with a tazer. Officers are being trained all over the US to avoid unless they or someone else is at risk of violence. However, police are *routinely* assaulted in domestic violence situations. The use of tazers is much preferable and FAR less damaging to life and limb than either a firearm or a nightstick used as a club. If you believe otherwise, then perhaps you might interview police who have been hospitalized after being beaten nearly to death by folks on PCP, who ignored their own severe injuries while assaulting an officer.

            As for Machiavelli — with that idea I candidly don’t know what to do. I find truth, however, in an observation which I believe is from either Mark Twain or humorist Will Rogers: it is usually a mistake to attribute to conspiracy, behaviors that are equally plausible as outcomes of simple human cussedness.

            We aren’t going to settle these differences in perspective tonight. And likely not in ten years. But if we do not begin a process of organizing to support change in psychiatric practice, then I believe we will ultimately change nothing.


            Report comment

          • “Jonah, I don’t accept your comparison of the use of tazers to the use of electro-convulsive shock.”


            I don’t make that comparison anywhere. (Seems to me, that, somehow, you have misread my comments, in those regards.)

            And, with respect to what you offer, as “an observation which I believe is from either Mark Twain or humorist Will Rogers: it is usually a mistake to attribute to conspiracy, behaviors that are equally plausible as outcomes of simple human cussedness,” please understand, I see so many countless conflicting opinions being posted on this MIA website, that, by this point, I could not possibly view anyone who is posting (comments or blogs) here as ‘conspiring’ with anyone else.

            But, generally speaking, I do tend to see a Machiavellian tendency in those who come to defend forced psychotropic drugging.

            Perhaps, they conspire with the status quo way of doing things — as do most people — quite naturally.

            In any case, I very much appreciate your parting words and feel they are well worth repeating here:

            “We aren’t going to settle these differences in perspective tonight. And likely not in ten years. But if we do not begin a process of organizing to support change in psychiatric practice, then I believe we will ultimately change nothing.”

            Thanks for the exchange.



            Report comment

          • Interesting how the US government overcame the problems with enemy combatants in Afghanistan.

            They created a system equivalent to the mental health system. Guantanamo bay. Reverse the presumtion of innocence. You need to prove your not mad (a terrorist).

            Seems that the historical shift to community treatment has resulted in the justice system dealing with the mentally ill anyway


            But there are a few who require special treatment still, and who can not be subjected to this treatment consistent with our laws. Create a legal limbo, and do it away from public scrutiny.

            Guantanamo bay way set up using mental health as a model, and the ‘treatment’ for detainees developed by psychiatrists. Speaks for itself.

            Tazers here in Australia can not be used for coercion, only force. I can tell you how to get around that problem quite easily if anyone is interested.

            Report comment

          • Sorry, that should read tazers can not be used for compliance, only force.

            Its worth looking at the debate here in Australia about how to deal with those fighting in Syria with ISIL.

            Civil libertarians up in arms about the laws, and yet have nothing to say about our mental health acts. One can only assume that they see the mentally ill as being more dangerous than potential terrorists lol.

            The hypocrisy is astounding.

            Report comment

    • Richard: the Church Committee in the Senate and the Pike Committee in The House partially lifted the veil on the nefarious activities of our intelligence agencies. So is something similarly possible with regards to psychiatry. While I have experienced the life of a mental patient for 25 years, my clearest view to the effects of psychiatry on psychiatric patients in the larger society comes through interaction on this website, and through contributors to The journal Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry. In order to bring our issues to the public at large, it is going to have to include the efforts of the survivors and those that work within the system. If it is really true that 100,000s of us are dying 20 years before our time, than this should be a topic for a Congressional investigation.

      Report comment

      • Chris, the Committees you reference would never have “lifted the veil” without being confronted by a groundswell of outraged public opinion. Most recently, that outrage has been prompted by the unauthorized revelations of Edward Snowden. During the Vietnam era it was Daniel Ellsworth.

        The committee process is probably a lot more vulnerable to such persuasion than the FDA and NIMH, acting to protect the interests of politicians and political appointees. Thus I suspect the groundswell must become a social tsunami before such people will deign to notice.

        Part of the tsunami is almost certainly going to require lawsuits filed by people such as yourself, with the aid and support of well-funded organizations. My article on “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way” (mentioned above) is my attempt at a first step toward building such organizations. I do hope that the proposal gets a serious publication and discussion here on Mad in America.


        Report comment

        • Richard: Currently, Congressional committee hearings and legislation regarding mental illness seems to be a response to the threat that the mentally ill allegedly pose to society. The first hearings on mental health in several years, occurred in the wake of Newtown. Proposed compromised gun control legislation by Senator Joe Manchin of WV, enshrined the legitimacy of mental hygiene courts, and by extension the legitimacy of psychiatry itself. Congressman Murphy’s attempt to further entrench assisted out patient laws is but one further example. But as the most recent post on this site from the Fox News contributor accurately demonstrates, the negative aspects of psychotropic medications leave a much broader impact than just those labeled severely mentally ill. Any congressional involvement in this matter would be limited in scope initially. Only from concerted action by psychiatric survivors and their allies, could the public be prompted to more fully scrutinize the history and the current state of the psychiatric profession.

          Report comment

          • crisreed. Please, refrain from using, as above, the expression “the mentally ill”. There is no such homogenous and, therefore, dispensable entity. (Show me a “mental illness”, and I will show you a liar.) It is as absurd as the expression “the physically ill”, and I don’t hear a lot of people using that one, perhaps because no one is going to try to scapegoat people for their physical ailments as a rule. It does offer salvation though, given the affinity with other minority groups (i.e the women, the blacks, the Jews, the reds, etc.) As in the latter expressions, with the addition of the article “the”, it becomes highly prejudicial. Singling out a group is, as you can see, is a little more peculiar than singling out individuals. I imagine you are using it by way of example, still…. Otherwise, I completely agree. It takes a little public education from whatever source for people. who are not in the know, to get the gist of what’s going on here.

            Report comment

          • Chris — I don’t think we can argue usefully that the delusional loners who kill school kids are mentally healthy.

            What, may I ask, does “concerted action by psychiatric survivors and their allies” actually comprise? Would the program of “Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way” be a useful starting point?

            I might also suggest that there is a morally and ethically sound rationale for court hearings specialized in issues of confinement of people whose behavior is bizarre or threatening to others. Few municipal or superior court judges have training in assessing reported or in-person bizarre human behavior to determine an appropriate course of action that protects the rights of the larger society as well as those of mentally disordered people. Even acknowledging that mental health professionals do a lousy job of predicting behavioral outcomes, they are at least formally trained for the task of human assessment. Judges and lawyers mostly aren’t. It’s not an ideal situation. Nor does it seem to me to be well addressed in either-or thinking.

            In all candor, I also have a hard time personally with the idea that the society “must” change to accommodate those who act out strangeness and threaten others. Society almost never changes en mass out of intention, and never out of threat by perceived “outsiders”. Society certainly evolves over time and education can be a part of our evolution. But this is a generational process, not done overnight. And before large numbers of people can be educated, the consensus beliefs of educators must first be changed.

            So a part of what I believe needs to happen if we are ever to see more humane treatment of people in mental and emotional distress, is that opinion leaders in the larger society must be *persuaded* that what they’ve been doing in the past hasn’t worked and is morally unsound. Persuasion is a different process than coercion or confrontation, as many here at Mad in America might testify. Only where persuasion appears impractical on the face of the evidence, does legal action seem warranted. In the case of the APA and DSM-5, I believe that condition is obvious. A lot of other areas of psych practice seem more ambiguous.


            Report comment

          • “I don’t think we can argue usefully that the delusional loners who kill school children are mentally healthy.”

            I think we can reasonably argue that people who kill school children are breaking the law (i.e. committing criminal acts) in doing so. As for “delusional loners”, the media has turned every Joe on the street into an armchair psychiatrist. Not being a court of law, I don’t think it is our business to go around exonerating mass murderers on account of impugned “mental illness” so-called. Of course, where you have no surviving suspect it is awfully convenient to do so.

            Certainly the acts of a few relatively isolated multiple murderers are not going terrorize society into making any dramatic changes. What we do get out of this is a general effort by the legal political establishment to scapegoat people in the mental health system for the crimes of those few multiple murderers. Those crimes, as if you hadn’t noticed, are not symptoms of any real disease under the sun, moon, and stars. (Again. Show me a “mental illness”, and I will show you a liar.)

            Part of the problem is this ‘succeed at all costs’ mentality that is so prominent today. It only breeds sore losers. If profit margin, and looks, are all we care about, no wonder we’ve got this big social problem erupting. Targeting school children for psychiatric labeling and drugging, as is being planned, can only exacerbate an already exacerbated situation. Society is now blaming gun violence on a “mental illness” that does not exist rather than on the child rearing practices that such excuses have supplanted. Who needs to raise children anymore now that we’ve got pharmaceuticals. If anything goes seriously haywire, a “mental illness” must have done it.

            Report comment

          • Frank,

            I completely agree with your comment (on August 2, 2014 at 10:06 pm), and it is very well stated.

            It is an excellent reply to Richard’s amazing line (that was directed to Chris).

            Richard explains: “I don’t think we can argue usefully that the delusional loners who kill school children are mentally healthy.”

            To reiterate your main point, Frank, here’s my reply to that line (i.e., what follows is actually my reply to Richard):

            I don’t think we can argue usefully that anyone who kills school children is ‘mentally healthy,’ nor do I think we can argue usefully that anyone who kills school children is ‘mentally ill.’

            However, sadly, tragically and not unexpectedly (if we are being perfectly honest with ourselves), some number of kids who are told that they are “mentally ill” by psychiatrists will thus wind up becoming mass murderers; for, the notion that they are given, that they are “mentally ill,” will be a constant thorn in the side of most kids, and the “medications” that they’re prescribed for their supposed “mental illness” will be no great balm, as no psychiatric drug can reasonably be expected to have merely welcomed effects (all psychotropic drugs can have unpleasant as well as personally destabilizing effects).

            By virtue of these facts — and the fact that all kids, by their exposure to news media, well know, extreme violence is often attributed to ‘mental illness’ –, not a few kids who are officially deemed and ‘treated’ as ‘mentally ill’ shall, of course, come to feel so alienated by their ‘mentally ill’ status and by its accompanying ‘treatment,’ they will entertain fantasies of lashing out violently and will imagine using ‘mental illness’ as their excuse for doing so; some few will lash out, in very extreme ways.

            That’s simply inevitable — because millions of kids are being officially deemed “mentally ill” and ‘treated’ with psychotropic drugs.

            It’s incredibly sad — but undeniable.

            Imho, one of the best bits of wisdom that any parent can offer, to his or her kids, is this:

            No matter what anyone says to you, you are not ‘mentally ill,’ and you will never be ‘mentally ill.’ There is no such thing as ‘mental illness’ in reality; but, yes, there are people who may be more or less emotionally troubled and/or confused about their place in the world.

            I tell my child the truth, that way, while explaining, that, I believe, undoubtedly, many people could benefit from professional counseling — presuming the counselor would be someone who can listen well and who knows how to offer suggestions that are positively meaningful and laden with good sense.

            Unfortunately, the vast majority of licensed counselors are inclined to favor the views of psychiatry.

            As a parent, I strongly recommend against sending kids to any psychiatrist who is in the practice of assigning DSM ‘diagnostic’ labels and prescribing drugs.

            I will recommend certain counselors or therapists who are absolutely inclined to reject the psychiatric (medical model) paradigm, knowing it is a complete sham.



            Report comment

          • Jonah,

            Yes, we are in agreement.

            As has been pointed out, many of the people who committed these atrocities were already in the mental health system. The mental health system then has, and is, no kind of deterrent in so far as violence is concerned. Pinning hopes on using the mental health system to prevent and contain violent behavior is foolhardy. If anything, the mental health system is a likely aggravation and source of such violent sentiments.

            I’d like to point out as well that the relationship of the mental health professional to the client or patient isn’t the kind of relationship that develops naturally among friends. There is a monetary exchange that takes place in these, frankly, bureaucratic arrangements from which the customer all too often gets the rough end of the deal. Again, not too conducive to civil and peaceful living together among equals.

            The mental health system is not the place where we send our much loved, desired, and popular fellows. The mental health system is where we send our mistakes. The mental health system is where they stow people who are unwanted, unloved, and unpopular. You know, the kind of people generally referred to as losers and failures. The thing is, in doing so, the system misses the fact that some of the biggest failures in the nation lay hidden in it’s greatest success stories.

            Our idea of success is someone who made their fortune from corporate imperialism and profiteering. What do we get out of this corporate rapaciousness? A vastly impoverished, environmentally threatened, and increasingly violent, nation. The voices of this nation are, by and large, suppressed. When one human life is worth, as Napoleon claimed, more than thousands of other human lives, that’s kind of what you get. How much is so and so worth on Wall Street today? That sort of perspective goes along with how little so many are worth in comparison.

            I’d say some big changes are in order for the future if we don’t want continue with the ‘same old same old’. Particularly when the ‘same old same old’ is one kind of cataclysmic catastrophe or another, relatively speaking. It might help if we got back to the old “equality under the law” that we have drifted so far from, as well as, the constitution that once upheld it. This two laws thing is beyond confusing, and simply unfair.

            Report comment

  35. I want to shift focus from anti-psychiatry to question what creates effective dialogue? It is certainly not what many have experienced in the mh system where the power imbalance is so skewed that even articulately questioning psychiatric “treatment” translates into “lacking insight” of one’s “deteriorating mental condition.” Nor is it in the political agenda of so called solving problems of violence and mh in the same coercive strategy. We need posts like Ode to Biological Psychiatry to tell it like it is and spell out what the rules in this game have been and why and who the players have been because the real issues of harm passing as “treatment” have been obscured for so long and blamed on labellees. Many of us in the movement are still trying to get grounded from being hit so hard below the belt, and still finding our words after years of having them suppressed, twisted, and/or obscured by the power players. If making things clearer and putting together a collective voice is what you are interpreting as attacks or shutting dialogue, I have to ask — Does psychiatry know or even care to know what creates effective dialogue? So far, biological psychiatry has not provided an acceptable answer to that question. If some of us want to move on, and it’s called anti-psychiatry, so be it. It doesn’t mean that we don’t know where we want to go, collectively or otherwise.

    Report comment

  36. “Your goal may be the abolition of psychiatry and mine is to reform and critique.”
    The abolition of a religion is impossible.
    People want and need to believe in a magic medicine (NOT A DRUG) that will cure them or their upset loved one.

    “In our fervor to medicalize morals, we have transformed every sin but
    one into sickness.” Szasz

    Report comment

      • To reform or critique, you need a doctorate to be listened to/taken seriously.

        I dislike being indoors after being hospitalized-jailed and drugged for long periods of time by psychiatry for having a diseased mind.

        As I can not stay indoors without great discomfort, schooling is held indoors, I can not get the education to get a doctorate.

        The system is perfect, if it wasn’t it would not exist.

        Report comment

  37. I will be sure to go back and read more of this thread but I have read Sandy’s post and found myself, as I nearly always have upon reading Sandy’s posts, imagining what a positive impact she might have had on my life had I encountered her, or a medical professional like her, many years ago. The thoughtfulness, realism, compassion, skepticism, empiricism, humility, and gravitas, among many other good qualities, that she plainly brings to her work — much of which is devoted to help improve the lives and ease the suffering of people who are in distress and themselves asking for help — is far too rare in the world of psychiatry. And is absolutely necessary, for some of us.

    I began my own Adventures with Whitaker (and Breggin) about 1.5 years ago, around which time I began tapering off of the 300mg Seroquel dose I had been on for some 8 years. I have told my story in various forms on this site over the past two years, but as an update I remain 2/3 down from the level I was at, to 100mg (and will continue to reduce to zero, in time), but doubled my dosage of Lamictal from 200mg to 400mg daily. My reasons for agreeing to this this are complex but the result (empirically) has been that I am better psychologically than I have ever been in as an adult.

    Significantly, my mind has on occasion veered in directions that I have not wanted to go (in my own considered and informed judgment), both in regard to feelings bright and dark. Now I am it seems settling within what is beginning to feel like a kind of bandwidth, within which I have been able to function effectively and consistently. The consistently part means that I am at my best self within this range. Without the consistency, I would prefer to dwell in the bright places nearly at all times. Maybe it will be less linear, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have been able to keep my life together and have somehow ended a string of disastrous and soul crushing reversals.

    I view myself as someone who feels and thinks very intensely (whatever one wants to call such a person). But because of the responsibilities I have taken on in life and the power that others have over me over which I have no control, as well as social norms that I have chosen to embrace (in my considered and informed judgment), I am not an abolitionist. As in pretty much all matters, I strive to bring thoughtfulness, realism, compassion, skepticism, empiricism, humility, gravitas and, most importantly, lessons from my own personal experiences and those of other folks including many of you all, to the way I view the question of psychiatry. In recent years, that approach has served me quite well.

    Report comment

  38. I hope one day the “mentally ill will realize the system that is keeping them down, perpetuating and reinforcing illness and stigma. What we really need is strength. We need to realize that trauma is the source of our differences. Our dissociation from ourself and our suppressed memories keep us afraid. Society keeps us afraid and ashamed of our trauma, of our anxiety. This fear of being different can escalate symptoms of mental illness. “Mental illness”

    It is designed to oppress us, take away out power, our voice. There is a cure. It is realizing there are suppressed memories. We have hidden these memories to protect ourselves, but once we realize how past traumas have influenced “symptoms” we can become whole.
    My mission is to find the cure to the Illness that does not exist.

    -Tru Harlow

    Report comment

    • @ truharlow,

      Your comment is meaningful, and your first blog post (I just now visited your WordPress site) is good. (Though, I will say, it could be even better, as it needs just a bit of proof reading.) Good luck with that new blog of yours, and thanks for offering your commenting here, to offer your insights…



      Report comment

      • Jonah: part of the problem I am experiencing here is the lack of reply buttons at the bottom of the posts. For example, I am responding at the bottom of this post, instead of the bottom of the post in your reply to me. In the post to Richard, I was trying to orient him to my reply to his reply to me which was posted to my post, my reply to him is located just below your latest reply to me.
        I think you correctly understood my brief description of my family experience with repressed memories.
        Like you, I have had experience with forced drugging. For me, it was attempted soul murder. One which thankfully failed, but 25 years in the psych. System has left me with stage 3 kidney disease. These two situations have led me to conclude that we need to take the initiative to root out the psychiatric system lock stock and barrel. But in the short term, we need to form broad coalitions with people who can help to reduce the use of these harmful medications in the broader public. If we are successful at bringing the public’s attention to the harmful effects of these drugs, then we may be able to bring a focus on the illegitimacy of psychiatry as a whole. Currently, many people are skeptical of ADHD medical “treatment.” However, there is a strong bias against people who have been involuntarily committed. Mass media, particularly entertainment media,ingrains this bias into the public. In the political arena, Congressman Murphy is building on the fear mongering of E. Fuller Torrey, by highlighting the violent actions of a few outliers, in order to scape goat us, and make us a permanent class under class, who lack constitutional protections (assisted outpatient treatment, see Kendra’s Law in New York State.) In my own state of West Virginia, Senator Manchin got on his high horse to forge a gun rights bipartisan compromise. This failed compromise, would have further ingrained the judgements of the mental hygiene commissions into our law and into our society.
        There has been a long back and forth debate on this blog regarding whether to use psychiatric authorities or police power to address individuals who threaten others. As both of us can attest to, people are forcible drugged, even when we pose no direct threat to others. Besides forming a broad coalition to achieve specific immediate relief from these harmful medications, I believe we need to forge broader coalitions. Mass incarceration of prisoners is also a blight on society. Our local police force are becoming a para-militarized force through the donation and purchasing of surplus and antiquated military equipment. Swat,teams originally formed to addresses hostage situations, have been deputized to lead midnight drug raids. So in a sense, there may not be a simple choice between psychiatry and the police. But in my limited experience in jail, two nights, I did not feel nearly as demoralized as I did when I was incarcerated in mental hospital. In my initiation to psychiatry, I was arrested for disturbing peace. However, I managed to develop a cordial relationship with the arresting officer, who was subsequently charged with driving me to the “hospital.” The officer genuinely seemed bothered by his role in having to carry out his job in taking me to the “hospital.” In my case, I was stuck not only with a psych record, but also a misdemeanor charge which stayed on my record. Moreover, I was denied the opportunity to defend myself in court on this charge, because I couldn’t be two places at once.

        Report comment

        • Jonah and Frank: I am following your exchange from this morning where you ponder the possibility that standard psychiatric care is compounding rather than alleviating distress. My last inpatient experience was in 1990 at an unlocked community “crisis intervention,” facility or some such thing. I had my own room, and had good company with a couple of workers who were pretty non-judge mental. I tried with a degree of success to get other “patients” involved in the community. Prior to, Joe and Ed, not their real names, were slumped over in a manner which would have described my own prior situation heavily drugged at a state “hospital.”
          I complied with the medication, but I was really was quite dismissive of the psychiatrists. I noticed one day, that one of the psychiatrists was talking in a hushed and very patronizing tone to Joe. Sometime later, Joe seemed very happy for me that I had a group of friends come to visit me. Some months later, Joe was accused in a double murder in a fire bombing incident at one of the independent living apartments of the agency. That was not the Joe that I knew at a particular time and place. I don’t know what happened to Joe in the intervening months since we made our acquaintance. The only thing that I know, is that the media reports of murders, did not question the nature of help being offered by the agency.

          Report comment

    • Tru, I hate to rain on your parade, but the evidence for “dissociation” and suppressed memory is very shaky in mental health literature. I would also point out that this supposed evidence was manipulated into a psychiatric witch hunt in the 1980s and early 1990s that resulted in the false imprisonment of large numbers of day care center operators on grounds of child abuse and satanic rituals (yes “satanic” — I kid you not!). The testimony of psychiatric professionals was a key element in creating this outrage.

      I recently participated in a major cat fight between proponents and advocates of dissociation and suppressed memory in the online journal “Psychiatric Times”. See “Reforming Mental Health Care: How Ending “Recovered Memory” Treatments Brought Informed Consent to Psychotherapy” .

      This being said, I would agree that there is sound medical evidence that childhood trauma and abuse can distort patterns of brain formation and personality development. Brainwashing of any type can result in similar outcomes. And there is clearly need for reliable and repeatable drug-free methods for helping people recover adult independence and function. I merely point out that there seem to be no one-size-fits-all methods or solutions for problems of this type.

      From reading as a medical layman, my going-away impression is that the collection of behaviors and symptoms which we call schizophrenia is not always associated with identifiable childhood trauma. Many young people who hear voices or harbor an unreasonable belief that they are being continuously observed and persecuted by a mysterious “they”, come from highly supportive and positive family backgrounds. By contrast, the incidence of such symptoms is significantly higher in identical twins separated early for adoption than in the general population. [among other sources, see Martin L. Gross “The Psychological Society — The impact — and the failure — of psychiatry, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and the psychological revolution” , Random House, NYC 1978]

      Ultimately the medical evidence — not my personal opinion or anybody else’s — must become the basis for developing a new compendium of mental health assessment and practice. This is yet another reason why “structured and managed development” of such a standard is desperately needed. And it is a reason why this development must invite participation not only by psychiatrists (as was the case in the DSM-5 debacle by the APA), but also by the full range of affected stakeholders: psychologists, social workers, medical doctors, educated lay people and former patients damaged by the present system.


      Report comment

      • Richard,

        You claim much knowledge in these matters but cite the so called twin studies for “schizophrenics” and others that have been widely debunked by Dr. Peter Breggin, Dr. Jay Joseph and many others. The problem with the so called genetic claims by psychiatry is that they manipulated them and failed to account for environmental factors enough in most cases. For example, if twins have the same IQ, looks and other factors, they are more likely to be treated in similar ways whether raised together or apart. See Dr. Jay Joseph’s The Gene Illusion and The Missing Gene and articles at MIA demonstrating that the latest eugenics claims are made by the 1% current robber barons to justify their exploitation and destruction of the rest of us inferior beings who deserve what we get supposedly.
        It’s the medicalization of injustice, poverty, sexism, racism, classism, and lots of other “isms” that have allowed the psychopaths to use the “shock doctrine” to hijack the globe and all its former democratic entities.

        Beware of such Trojan horses.

        Also, while it is true that those like the Unibomber supposedly came from “good homes,” a more careful look at reality shows that he and his brother lived in bizarre conditions in their youth as was true of Ted Bundy and other misfits. I’m not saying that bad families are always the problem because there are many other influences in one’s life like school, work, community, friends, enemies and the luck of the draw.

        Report comment

        • Donna, you wrote “For example, if twins have the same IQ, looks and other factors, they are more likely to be treated in similar ways whether raised together or apart.” To which I respond “So what? Surely you cannot be suggesting that all adoptive homes are abusive? That would seem implied if one suggests that something about identical twins gets them both maltreated when adopted out.

          You may have a point when you suggest that “It’s the medicalization of injustice, poverty, sexism, racism, classism, and lots of other “isms” that have allowed the psychopaths to use the “shock doctrine” to hijack the globe and all its former democratic entities.” But I seriously doubt that the connections are quite that simple. I also wonder how you would propose to stop such a medicalization without changing the conditions themselves?

          It seems to me entirely too easy and unhelpful to attribute all of society’s bad outcomes to “isms”, as if that explained anything or led to an actionable program of change. It simply doesn’t.

          My focus is on finding the “actionable” and getting beyond the taking of positions in principle, to concretely change standards of medical and mental health practice for the better. If we make the problem one of eliminating the “isms” rather than changing the smaller domain of health practice, then I think we render the problem too large and too diffuse to solve.

          You write ” I’m not saying that bad families are always the problem because there are many other influences in one’s life like school, work, community, friends, enemies and the luck of the draw.” For whatever this is worth, neither am I saying that all severely disabling mental health issues are a consequence of brain chemistry defects. But some people DO seem to be dealing with such defects. I think it’s a mistake to leave these people in darkness by proclaiming that “dissociation” of childhood traumas accounts for the great bulk of severe mental health issues. The evidence for that proposition seems weak, at least from the reading I’ve done as a layman over the past 30 years.

          The underlying argument here is an old one: nature versus nurture. To the proponents of both positions, my suggestion is “stop generalizing and polarizing the issue. Maybe both play a role, and both need to be addressed in order to aid people in severe emotional and mental distress.”

          Report comment

          • “Donna, you wrote “For example, if twins have the same IQ, looks and other factors, they are more likely to be treated in similar ways whether raised together or apart.” To which I respond “So what? Surely you cannot be suggesting that all adoptive homes are abusive? That would seem implied if one suggests that something about identical twins gets them both maltreated when adopted out.”

            Donna’s point is exactly made here. That in response it’s AGAIN ignored that the environmental factors play strongly. And to make an adhoc accusation that she’s stereotyping all adoptive homes, when her statement is IN NO WAY about all adoptive homes, but those homes (not even necessarily adoptive homes, it could be one went to live with a Grandmother) that a pair of twins with similar characteristics who were both identified as being schizophrenic would encounter.

            This kind of subterfuge of what someone clearly says isn’t even worth responding it. AND in reality rather than it being an attack on “all adoptive families” it’s a personal attack on Donna, implying she said something which she didn’t at all. She made a clear intelligent remark. It does point out how people might respond to someone with a high IQ….or intelligence….

            Report comment

          • For Nijinsky: I intended no stereotyping of Donna’s remarks or ad hominem attack on her as an individual. I merely fail to understand her logic. It seems to me that she is claiming that something about identical twins tends to get them treated similarly in whatever family environment they find themselves. But she (and presumably the authors whom she references) make the claim that environmental factors were not given sufficient weight as influences in the higher rate of diagnoses of schizophrenia in identicals. Would not the environment need to be similar for this outcome to occur? And if we credit dissociation as a major mechanism in emergence of schizophrenia, then wouldn’t the environment need to be abusive? Or is the assertion actually that rates of schizophrenia diagnosis are no higher in this population than the 1% or so estimated for all US citizens?

            Where am I going wrong here? Explain it to me.

            I can’t really respond to the accusation that investigators fudged the data in studies of twins. It’s certainly possible, and the practice is demonstrably widespread in other branches of psychiatry. But my focus was on the generalization that family environment creates schizophrenia. I haven’t seen persuasive evidence for that position, even acknowledging that traumatic family environment does play a serious role in later emotional adjustment problems and perhaps psychosis.

            I sense that my layman’s opinion in this issue may be influenced by the generation of psychiatrists from the 1970s and 1980s, who decided that there was little evidence that psychotherapy actually helped those diagnosed as schizophrenic or psychotic — and who then led their profession toward the medical and pharmacological models of practice which so many are now complaining of at Mad in America and elsewhere. The law of unintended consequences seems to reign supreme.

            I also offer that I may not be totally unbiased in this discussion. I was physically battered as a child, and grew up in an emotionally violent home. I later did therapy as an adult to deal with emotional insecurity that I associate with my early upbringing. Therapy helped, though I don’t generalize from my own sample of one. But neither do I accept without reservation, the assertion that people who hear voices “are that way” because of what was done to them as young children.

            Sometimes life is messy and highly individual. Wasn’t that a point that many others were trying to make?

            Report comment

          • Richard Lawhern, Ph.D. writes: “For whatever this is worth, neither am I saying that all severely disabling mental health issues are a consequence of brain chemistry defects. But some people DO seem to be dealing with such defects. I think it’s a mistake to leave these people in darkness by proclaiming that “dissociation” of childhood traumas accounts for the great bulk of severe mental health issues. The evidence for that proposition seems weak, at least from the reading I’ve done as a layman over the past 30 years.”


            I have quoted you verbatim there (in italics, above) while nonetheless very deliberately putting your repeated use of the word “seems” in bold print.

            Seems, to me, you’re not providing convincing arguments…

            Frankly, I believe psychiatry is a system designed to deny the realities of how it is, that many of the most “severely disabling mental health issues” that it addresses are a consequence of having been abused (not necessarily by their parents).

            You say, “I think it’s a mistake to leave these people in darkness by proclaiming that “dissociation” of childhood traumas accounts for the great bulk of severe mental health issues.”

            You say, “The evidence for that proposition seems weak, at least from the reading I’ve done as a layman over the past 30 years.”

            Most of the “patients” who tend to receive psychiatry’s most damning labels have (in my observation) been seriously abused, more or less, throughout their lives (or throughout considerable portions of their lives).

            Psychiatry becomes their ultimate abuser, most especially when it resorts to forced ‘treatment’ — especially, bodily intrusions.

            Many of those individuals never find their way out of their ‘victim role’ — because their tendency is to survive by way of suppressing most of their experiences, of having been abused.

            (Again — and more emphatically — I say: It’s not necessarily abuse by parents.)

            You suggest that you have studied ‘mh’ issues, as a layman, for the past thirty years.

            So have I, and — except for my agreement, with you, that psychiatry’s current ‘diagnostic’ tools are pure garbage — I have come to very different conclusion than you have, regarding the supposed “severe mental heath issues.”

            It seems to me, that your conclusions, about what may be causing most ‘mh’ problems that lead to ‘diagnoses’ of supposedly ‘severe’ conditions, are coming from hunches (i.e., in your view, brain defects seem to be causing them, oftentimes).

            I can’t help but conclude (from what you’re saying in your comments), that, for the past 30 years, you have relied on the typical sort of ‘mental health’ research (wrongly called “literature”) that’s, of course, going to deny the effects of critically dysfunctional parenting and other forms of critically stressful, trauma producing, experiences, including abuse of virtually all kinds, that often comes from outside the home.

            These days, especially, bullying in schools can be absolutely vicious and devastating for those who are subjected to it.

            In my humble opinion, you would do well to study, at length, the effects of that phenomenon — and realize how medical-coercive psychiatry can readily becomes ones ultimate bully…

            Whether it happens inside the home or outside the home (or both), bullying is the most commonly ignored (or denied) factor leading to seemingly “serious mental health issues.” Carefully study the effects of bullying.

            Until you do so, I suspect your language will continue to be steeped in the usual prejudices of that worst-of-all ‘mh’ professions (psychiatry), which you are aiming to critique.



            P.S. — Richard,

            From my reading of your response to commenter truharlow (on August 2, 2014 at 8:53 am ), I think you might be confusing these terms “suppression” and “repression” (you should study those terms, to clearly distinguish them from one another).

            truharlow writes,

            “What we really need is strength. We need to realize that trauma is the source of our differences. Our dissociation from ourself and our suppressed memories keep us afraid. Society keeps us afraid and ashamed of our trauma, of our anxiety. This fear of being different can escalate symptoms of mental illness. “Mental illness”

            It is designed to oppress us, take away out power, our voice. There is a cure. It is realizing there are suppressed memories. We have hidden these memories to protect ourselves, but once we realize how past traumas have influenced “symptoms” we can become whole.”

            I think truharlow is quite right, about that.

            Today’s psychiatry (as opposed to some psychiatry, in the past, which also failed, in its own ways) is especially ‘good’ at ‘helping’ its “patients” to suppress their memories, of having been abused (most especially, their memories of having been abused by psychiatry itself).

            Nonetheless, I agree with you, as you refer to issues related to the misleading heading of “schizophrenia,” to this extent: you’re right to say “I merely point out that there seem to be no one-size-fits-all methods or solutions for problems of this type.”

            Along those lines, I encourage you to utilize the following link, to view what (in my opinion) is a fascinating film, featuring one of MIA’s foreign correspondents, Rufus May:


            That film is titled “The Doctor Who Hears Voices.”

            Report comment

          • Here’s a very simple overview of the important difference between two basic concepts in psychology, that have been mentioned in this comment thread (above):

            “What is the difference between repressed memories and suppressed memories?

            Repressed memory : A repressed memory is the memory of a traumatic event unconsciously retained in the mind, where it is said to adversely affect conscious thought, desire, and action

            Suppressed Memory: Conscious exclusion of unacceptable desires, thoughts, or memories from the mind.”


            Report comment

          • Jonah, it seems to me as if you are trying to place me in the position of either agreeing with everything you say, or being run out of the forum for heresy.

            When I use terms like “may” or “might”, it is with a chosen respect for the uncertainties which prevail on issues of cause and effect. Experts have been having quite parallel arguments to those we have entertained in this thread, for the past sixty years at least — and yet here we find ourselves, stymied from making progress on betterment of conditions, because we’re still doing the routine where “you’re wrong and I’m right and I’ll never be convinced that what you’re doing or saying is constructive or helpful.”

            If you’re not willing to settle for half the loaf, then I suspect none of us are going to sit at a banquet of real change. I’d encourage you to leave room for new learning. If a process of change is ever to become possible, then both professionals and lay people alike are likely to find that there are plenty of things we’ll have to UN-learn because evidence collected with rigorous attention to scientific methods and consistency just doesn’t support a lot of the orthodoxy. And you may find that your particular form of orthodoxy is just as subject to that process, as you would have my insights become.


            Report comment

          • “Jonah, it seems to me as if you are trying to place me in the position of either agreeing with everything you say, or being run out of the forum for heresy.”


            I’m smiling and chuckling to myself, as I read those lines… because you are so very wrong about my intent (and about my ability to affect your standing in this forum).

            Let me first assure you, here, now, in all sincerity, that: I don’t expect you to agree with everything I say.

            (Really, in fact, not only don’t I expect you or anyone else here to agree with everything I say… indeed, to get you or anyone else here to agree with me on most matters, is not my goal, ever, with respect to anyone, as I offer my comments, on this website.)

            I have been offering my comments, here, at MIA, off and on, for over two years. In all that time, certainly, never have I found anyone who agrees with everything I say, and I fully expect that trend to continue. (I fully presume I will never find anyone who does agree with me entirely, on these issues.)

            Simply, I do my best here to forward my #1 highest priority ‘item’ — when it comes to speaking of ‘reform’ in the ‘mh’ realm: End all forced ‘medical treatment’ of ‘mh’ issues — especially, all forced injections of psychotropic drugs and other forced neuro-invasive procedures.

            To me, it seems (from my readings, of the history of psychiatry), claims of what are supposedly existing (but, in fact, are just seeming) “brain defects” amongst “patients,” in the realm of psychiatry, tend to be quite spurious; in fact, quite often, brain injuries caused by psychiatric ‘treatments’ (psych ‘meds’ and ECT) have been viewed as ‘signs’ of “mental illness.”

            It happens quite often, in ‘scientific’ research.

            Indeed, when most people in our society offer their own observations, of what little they know, of “severe mental health issues,” what they are often referring to, in fact, is what they’ve observed of iatrogenic effects (i.e., the many terrible effects of psychiatric ‘care’).

            To base ones view of “severe mental health issues” on what seems to cause what seems to be “schizophrenia,” in many instances (or most instances), lay students of the subject and ‘noted’ researchers come to the conclusion: This seems to be caused by “brain defects.”

            Immense tragedies result.

            You needn’t agree.

            Simply, I would ask you to show us your proof of what you say “seems” to be the “brain defect” that’s causing what you and others call “schizophrenia”; I will be happy to keep an open mind, as I study whatever articles you can offer me, along those lines.

            Meanwhile, I maintain that “schizophrenia” is an incredibly misleading term, describing many (countless) possible experiences. (The causes of such an endless array of phenomena can, thus, be limitless.) And, the label “schizophrenia” is attached to most folk who receive it, without regard for the effects that the label itself can create (because, of course, there are horrible expectations, that are usually associated with that label).

            You or anyone else who reads my comment might, with good reason, call any part or all of what I’m saying my ‘orthodoxy’; but, in terms of ‘mh’ reforms, again, all I ask for is an end to forced ‘medical treatment.’

            That means, I completely oppose forced “mental health” ‘medical treatment’ of any kind.

            In my humble opinion, and according to last year’s statement by Mr. Juan E Mendez (the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment), it is perfectly reasonable to completely opposed such ‘treatment,’ as it is so horribly invasive (mind-altering, brain-altering and potentially brain-damaging), it amounts to torture.

            Indeed, I was literally tortured by such ‘treatment’; hence, I feel quite strongly about this issue.

            And, I have always known that my having been bullied as a young child had an enormous impact on my life; ever since I was viewed as ‘psychotic’ by psychiatrists, at age twenty-one (nearly three decades ago), I have known that that bullying played an huge role in my becoming seemingly ‘psychotic’ back then.

            But, no one would listen to anything I had to say about my childhood.

            In my humble opinion, that no one would listen to me (they would only drug me) was a function of systemic denial.

            Today, I choose to reject those denials, regardless of how well-meaning may be the messengers of such.

            I urge you, please, don’t you take that passion of mine, in any way personally.



            Report comment

          • Jonah, I’m a medical and mental health layman, not a professional. I don’t think anyone should take as authoritative, my opinion (or even yours) on which references in medical literature really are “authoritative” and which are not, with respect to the roles played by childhood trauma versus neurochemistry in the emergence of symptoms and behaviors we loosely call “schizophrenia.”

            What I do know, however, is that quite a number of psychiatrists rebelled during the 1970s from the then-prevailing orthodoxy that hearing voices or feeling observed by hostile unknown strangers was uniformly caused by early childhood trauma. Then-available modalities of psychotherapy had very little if any effectiveness in moderating or managing the bizarre experiences and acts of people believed to be schizophrenic.

            However, some of the other participants in this thread have far deeper study of these issues, to offer. Thus I invite anyone now in psychiatric practice who treats schizophrenics, to post references which establish the root sources or causes of this (these) disorder(s). When I read about schizophrenia in sources accessible to lay people, what I see are assertions that science has not yet established a definitive cause. I’ve also noted recent discussions of a study of genetics in the disorder, which suggests that more than a hundred different genes may contribute or be involved in it. So I don’t think we’re dealing with a single modality of disorder or a single environmental influence.

            Report comment

          • “…quite a number of psychiatrists rebelled during the 1970s from the then-prevailing orthodoxy that hearing voices or feeling observed by hostile unknown strangers was uniformly caused by early childhood trauma. Then-available modalities of psychotherapy had very little if any effectiveness in moderating or managing the bizarre experiences and acts of people believed to be schizophrenic.”


            I’m not sure what you mean to say, by your offering me that last sentence (in italics, above).

            It suggests to me, that, perhaps, you have not yet exposed yourself to the writings of Bob Whitaker (whose website this is). Of course, if I’m right about that, it reflects no crime on your part (but it would tell me you need to do some more studying of these subjects).

            Also, about that sentence: It suggests to me, you have not done much studying of this website over all — considering all that has been shared here, on this site, regarding that ‘diagnosis’ of “schizophrenia”; e.g., there are numerous mentions here of people who received that “schizophrenia” label, who very successfully overcame the issues that led them to receiving that label… sometimes with psychotherapy.

            Really, study the work of Loren Mosher, much of which spanned the 1970’s.


            Also, you might wish to study the following article, which is by yet another an MIA foreign correspondent…

            “Is Schizophrenia Really a Brain Disease?”
            by Paris Williams, PhD | June 23, 2012


            And, in any case, please know: I do not believe that, “hearing voices or feeling observed by hostile unknown strangers [is] uniformly caused by early childhood trauma.”

            So, please, don’t think I’m suggesting that such experiences (which are often called “symptoms” of “schizophrenia”) are uniformly caused by early childhood trauma — nor that there is any ‘uniform’ explanation for such experiences…

            But I do believe that such experiences are often caused primarily by traumatic events (whether in childhood or later) as well as by any number of factors, especially factors of any kind that may lead to ‘extreme’ isolation — especially, when one can find no ultimately creative outlet for expression.

            In childhood (or young adult life), one can very easily wind up being bullied, in any number of ways — sometimes day after day for months or even years — merely for appearing in any way awkward, anxious or simply different.

            That kind of treatment (whether it comes from inside ones home or outside or both) can have more or less devastating effects on the young person’s psyche.

            In particular, I point out: Bullying can cause such isolation, as leads to ‘psychosis…’ and can eventually lead to such effects, as you’re describing.

            I’d offer you another link (it’s link to a recently posted page, here at MIA, featuring this heading, “Childhood Bullying Linked to Psychosis”), but it only speaks in terms of ‘psychosis’ being ‘linked’ to childhood bullying — not caused by it; and, it is a rather small study…

            At last, you should please not doubt, that I well know, there are many reasons that people can wind up seemingly ‘psychotic.’

            Study up on Loren Mosher’s life and how he came to renounce his APA membership.

            Google “Loren Mosher resignation letter.”



            Report comment

          • To repeat myself without becoming redundant.

            When it’s identified that the cause of emotional stress a child is suffering could be because of it’s environment, and could be because of it’s guardian (whether this is someone who adopted them, is a family member other than a parent, or a parent, or Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, The Lone Ranger or Captain Kangaroo) this doesn’t imply by any means that all guardians are abusive.

            It’s also not true that when a person points out the abuses of a corporation (let’s say the drug companies, which have had to haul out the to them “collateral damage” of something like 5 billion dollars in fines – don’t quote me, it’s in the billions – because of false advertising in regards the new wave of neuroleptics that were said to medicate bi-polar, their newest big hit “disease”) this doesn’t mean that whoever points this abuse out is saying that all corporations are evil abusive entities neither is the person pointing out the abuse necessarily a communist bent on undermining capitalism. This also doesn’t mean that the writings of Marx should be kept out of public libraries or that the CIA needs to know exactly who checked his writings out of a library, or who bought them from a commercial store.

            This “discussion” which has become quite redundant, is about the correlation between abuse and schizophrenia being overlooked. This doesn’t mean there might not be another cause, such as a biological one, but since the psychiatric profession with it’s medical model has only caused more occurrences of the disease, more relapses, more disability because of it, loss of life, severe addiction, disabling side effects and withdrawal symptoms; it’s not the place to go on in such a setting about what might be causing the symptoms, when the idea that it stems from an organic source is used to cause an actual organic disease with “medications.”

            When, in an attempt to prove “schizophrenia” is genetic, every correlation with a twin and his twin is counted TWICE, as if each twin has magically become another person, but when there is not a correlation (one is schizophrenic the other isn’t) this ISN’T counted twice, this is false convoluted logic, and there isn’t any real basis for this in science or statistics except to rig the results. Further more, environment is overlooked; and the only way as far as I know that there is any kind of correlation with genetics and “schizophrenia” is when they find a whole group of people who happen to have certain correlations, as in a bunch of red heads that like to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken are schizophrenic; and thus all the genes that involve this (which apparently involves a whole hundred different ones in the more recent announced “discoveries”) are all linked together as causing schizophrenia. Which makes one wonder why they stop at 100 when you could just say that all genes cause schizophrenia, the whole genetic material, since in I think ALL cases that it is found in said studies it DOES involve human genetics. But since that’s a bit rash, such “correlations” have to be grouped into more palatable groups sub-groups and such…….

            There is enough evidence that bad nutrition, not enough sleep, too much stress, and whole host of over things can cause “schizophrenia,” but this doesn’t excuse overlooking whether abuse by authority figures who are guardians can cause whatever “schizophrenia” is supposed to be, or whether it can be caused by abuse from others, or whether it comes from other types of trauma.

            I also believe strongly that what’s really going on (in such cases) can be a human being finding their ability to transcend trauma, and reach a different harmonic with life, but this is a problem for a society whose discipline is trauma based, and based on fear coercion, intimidation and other such aspects of a penal or military industrial system; but then “schizophrenia” becomes the ability to actual move away and out of the reach of such a “discipline” by recognizing how it effects one; and that is FAR from a disease, it’s a form of enlightenment which leads towards compassion and empathy and the ability to relate to others that are traumatized and heal them rather than to judge their behavior.

            Report comment

          • Richard: I am not finding a reply button to many of your posts. I reposted to your post to me below. I would like to add here that my family situation was put into a bit of turmoil when one family member “recovered” her memory and accused another family member of sexual molestation in her childhood. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify my position.
            Chris Reed

            Report comment

          • @ chrisreed,

            In your comment to Richard, on August 2, 2014 at 10:21 pm, you write:

            “I would like to add here that my family situation was put into a bit of turmoil when one family member “recovered” her memory and accused another family member of sexual molestation in her childhood. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify my position.”

            With all due respect, though you say “Thanks for the opportunity to clarify my position,” I think you would need to elaborate just a bit, on what you’re saying there, in order to clarify your position. (Really, your comment is quite minimalistic, so it’s difficult to know exactly what you’re saying, in it.) Indeed, if you are to elaborate, you might want to begin by explaining, “This is my position on…” (fill in the blank).

            I’m not sure, but I think you are probably indicating, that you had a situation in your family, wherein one of your family members had announced a supposedly “recovered” memory of having been sexually molested by another family member, and that it eventually proved, after all, to be an utterly false memory (i.e., no such molestation occurred, in reality).

            Many years ago, I was well acquainted with a family wherein that sort of scenario played out; in fact, I was well acquainted with the ‘healer’ who had ‘helped’ two sisters to come up with, what were supposedly “recovered” memories. (She was the worst ‘healer’ I’ve ever met, as she was fully inclined to project her own experiences, of having been molested, by her father, into the lives of her clients.) These two sisters came up with matching “memories” of having been, as infants, improperly caressed by their father (who was a physician).

            After a few months of treating their dad like a pariah, they both realized that no molestation had occurred.

            It was a serious disruption in their family, at the time, but it was completely resolved.

            Years later, I went to school to become a hypnotherapist, and we were told that we must not ever attempt to “recover” a client’s memories.

            Memories that are ostensibly “recovered” by ‘therapy’ are typically developed through the ‘leading questions’ of the ‘therapist’; usually, the ‘therapist’ doesn’t even realize that s/he is leading the client, that way.

            Such “recovered” memories are bound to be false memories.

            However, some people do have repressed memories — including, perhaps, memories of having been abused or otherwise traumatized. Such individuals may eventually ‘recover’ those memories, on their own. (My admittedly limited studies of formal research, on that phenomenon, suggest that it’s actually a rather rare experience.)

            In fact, the research that I’ve studied, on this subject, suggests that most people can rather easily recall, in their own mind’s eye, their own past traumatic experiences.

            But, many people do suppress their own traumatic experiences (‘suppression’ is a conscious and deliberate process).

            That suppression is a ‘coping mechanism’ — which can eventually get in the way of living a full life.

            That is why I made a point of agreeing with the commenter (truharlow) who raised the topic of suppression (on July 31, 2014 at 10:16 pm).

            Richard later expressed considerable disagreement with truharlow’s comment.

            However, I actually believe, that, had Richard failed to note that truharlow was speaking of suppression, not repression.

            So, had he been reading truharlow’s comment more closely, he may not have disagreed — at least, not to the extent that he did.

            After all, I believe Richard is saying something very similar to truharlow, to begin (on July 28, 2014 at 2:37 pm), as he (Richard) asks “How can the distressed consciousness be helped or healed — or more realistically, how can we suppress entrenched interests for long enough to learn how?”

            I believe that’s actually a good use of the word “suppress” and a good question.

            It was a couple of days later (on July 31, 2014 at 10:16 pm), that truharlow said: “What we really need is strength. We need to realize that trauma is the source of our differences. Our dissociation from ourself and our suppressed memories keep us afraid.”

            I believe truharlow was thereby agree with Richard’s

            And, in considering the full context, of what truharlow posted, I believe truharlow offers a good use of the word “suppress” – especially because I believe, that many who have been seriously traumatized by forced psychiatric ‘treatment’ are inclined to suppress those memories.

            (I.e., in a sense, they deliberately ‘shove down’ and ‘hide’ those memories, to their own ultimate detriment.)

            Also, I do know (and have always known), that my having been bullied for years, as a young child had the effects of an ongoing trauma, which was one major factor leading to an eventual, sudden (and very brief) expression of rage, at age 21.5 – that would be defined instead as an expression of ‘psychosis,’ by the psychiatrist whom I was then urged to meet with, at a nearby E.R..

            Though I was not in any way enraged by the time of that visit to the E.R., I would gain there my first experience of being forcibly drugged. It was an incredibly traumatic experience, which I soon thereafter came to suppress, largely because no one whom I knew, back then, would even begin to confirm what I knew, about that ‘treatment’ — that it was absolutely uncalled for and ultimately abusive.

            (Note: Fewer than twelve hours later, I’d be yet again forcibly drugged. No one ever told me why. As far as I could tell, the psych-techs simply decided to ‘teach me a lesson’ because, apparently, they’d learned from one “patient,” that I’d mentioned to him: “I can’t tell the ‘patients’ from the staff.”)

            For many years, I suppressed my experiences, of being forcibly drugged as well – for the same reasons, that I knew no one who would accept, they were completely unnecessary forms of ‘treatment’ that were incredibly abusive.

            Anyway, I do think Richard went a bit off track, by critiquing truharlow’s comment, which mentioned “suppressed memories.”

            Richard’s critique gave examples of infamous cases of ‘therapists’ who led kids to produce false memories, yet no one ever claimed those ‘memories’ had been suppressed; the claims were that they had been ‘repressed’ memories.

            (There is really an huge difference between (a) stating that someone’s memories have been ‘recovered’ after being ‘repressed’ and (b) on the one hand, stating that someone has been ‘suppressing’ certain memories…)

            So, if I understand your very brief comment about the “recovered” memories of your family member, you certainly have good (really excellent) reason to be totally skeptical of “recovered” memories generally. I, too, am totally skeptical of them…

            Nonetheless, again, emphatically, I must insist, this is true: For many years I suppressed (i.e., deliberately ‘shoved down’ and hid) my memories of having been abused by medical-coercive psychiatry.

            Unfortunately, many people do that; many psychiatric survivors conclude, that they have no choice but to suppress their own memories of having been abused by medical-coercive psychiatry, because they find no one around who’s willing to fully accept this truth, that never should they have been forcibly ‘treated’.

            I find these are not necessarily easy matters to clarify in a comment form; but, hopefully, I have made all my points here, in a way that is fairly clear…



            Report comment

      • Richard: I did not see a reply button below your post so I will reply here. From what I can gather here, the bloggers report similar situations from the English speaking countries represented here-U.S., Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. From what I understand, this web site was prompted by Robert Whitaker’s book which posits that long term outcomes for those maintained on psychiatric drugs is worse in societies that typically maintain “patients” for life than society’s that take a more judicious approach. (I would like to know more about how Findland relates to this issue. I understand that they tend to like more closely to the “patient’s relationship with significant others-also one of the themes of the bloggers here is the role of societal dysfunction as a contributor to an individual’s distress).
        For many people, they are introduced to these drugs after being committed involuntarily by the mental hygiene court. For others who write here, they seemed to get enmeshed in ways that do not involve involuntary commitment. By the level of reported use, the vast majority of “patients” including those diagnosed with ADHD and depression have not gone through this process. My experience is the former.
        Whitaker has taken some flak for allowing staunch abolitionists to post here. He does not seem to fall in the abolitionist camp, which is also true for many of professionals and other bloggers here, but to Whitaker’s credit he stands up for those who promote a more radical perspective. In the week I have been blogging here, I have been responding to posts from writer’s celebrating life off psychiatry drugs, bloggers linking concerns with our education system to mental health issues, the question of whether true consent can really occur in the mental health system, and the role of mental health providers who are trying to provide a corrective to the current overuse of medications.
        Thus far, I have not jumped directly into the very long debate over the deployment of police vs. mental health authorities. I will address that in another post. My over all thrust is as someone who was involuntarily committed Twenty-five years ago and who has developed an iatrogenic disease as a result, is that we need to put a human face to people who find themselves in a similar fate. I have been open to family, friends, co-workers, fellow counseling students, and employers. Moreover, I am entering a phase of my life where I believe that by becoming more public I can do some public good. My psych records label me as grandiose and narcissistic, but I am confident that most people will make up their own mind upon meeting me. Richard, thanks for the opportunity to clarify my position.

        Report comment

  39. “However, from time to time, I find myself feeling the urge to articulate my views and delineate them from people with whom I may be identified. “

    Sorry, but this is a completely unnecessary statement. Would anyone believe that anywhere in ANY blog or in ANY group, certainly here where a wide diversity of opinions are allowed to be expressed; would there be a believe that what others express identifies yet others who are in the group, this says something about whoever is making such assumptions, and THEIR need to stereotype.

    “This work feels like a shutting down of dialogue. There is little room for response. I am hoping to open up the conversation and I see no room for that with the rhetoric used here.”

    “Rhetoric” doesn’t have such limitations. And to me truly bad “rhetoric” would be to say that there’s no room for opening up the conversation, when in reality all one would have to do is take part. Something which, for example, isn’t allowed when someone who has been involuntarily committed is speaking to their psychiatrist and would tell the scientific truth about what’s truly known about the medications. And as has been brought up Steingaard HAS made an opening up of the conversation impossible in her work, and has taken away people’s freedoms in such a manner. She of course would make excuses for this, stating that there in certain causes are true reasons etc. but this doesn’t take away from the basic premise of what is going on here. Would one be rational about her claims about dangerous people, she might fall into this category herself, would she force dangerous mind altering addictive medications on others who would loose their freedom (possibly for life) to not be forced to have their brain damaged in such a manner. THAT is not happening here. No one is going to have her locked up etc. It IS different for someone who is being forced to have psychiatric treatment, would they discuss here openly who they are, what is going on with them, and rebel against a system using their own name, this could all be used to force them on more treatment, were they vulnerable to such controls.

    Anyone with a grip on common sense knows exactly what all of the quotes Dr. Steingaard uses refer to.
    Would psychiatry desist in locking people up against their will, would it desist from forcing them on medications which cause biological disease (all along telling their “patients” that they are healing a biological disease while all the true evidence points to the contrary, that they are CAUSING biological disease), which correlate with more disability, more relapsing, more occurrences of the disease, a loss of life, withdrawal symptoms, side effects and the utter confusion, abuse and trauma that all of this causes to the emotional, mental, physical and conceptual faculties of not only those who are forced to tolerate such “treatment” but to the rest of society believing that medical treatment and cures are going on, when it’s statistically the contrary. I haven’t mentioned what this does economically. Would psychiatry desist from all of these things, the term “psychiatry” would have a different meaning, as would psychiatric treatment, as would being a psychiatrist. And it would not be associated with a totalitarian system, which stereotypes people as being dangerous, takes away their freedoms, forces them on treatments which correlate with more of the problem they are said to solve and then those inflicting such “treatment” on society call themselves healers, and have the right to decide whoever needs such “treatment.”

    It’s also simple common sense to see that psychiatry, in contrast to just about all of “modern medicine” doesn’t have to show proof that their “treatments” actually are treating what they entertain they are treating (a chemical imbalance), they only have to make people more paranoid about normal reactions to trauma; make them believe there’s a pill that will solve it, disable the mind from even expressing trauma and act as if this eradicates what caused the trauma, terrify the rest of the populace to believe that this is necessary cure; and gain more and more control over anyone they can diagnose with a steadily increase repertoire of more and more criterion that have no scientific basis, and could apply to basically anyone.

    “The human desire for psychoactive substances which long precedes the business of psychiatry – modern or otherwise – is not likely to abate.”

    Psychiatry doesn’t advertise or even admit that the “psychoactive substances” they promote are that at all. They sell them as “medications” which treat a chemical imbalance. Otherwise, their “medications” would fall under the same realm as sugar, alcohol, caffeine and the illegal street drugs which half a century ago used to be psychiatric “psychoactive substances.” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that marijuana use can cause “psychiatric” illness, when anti-depressants certainly cause “psychiatric” illness. To excuse the gross misinformation going on in psychiatry (and how much of this is profit driven) by saying that humans will always “desire” psychoactive substances is quite profoundly.

    To bring up the point about problems with modern medicine, and refer to others who seem to single out psychiatry and according to her think the rest of medicine is fine. And this blog isn’t about modern medicine, by the way; and I’m not aware that Steingaard is in “common practice,” or whatever you call a doctor that deals with diseases that have actually been proven to exist biologically. To continue to take part – and, as was brought up, also take part in forcing others on such treatment – in handing out “medications” which have no scientific basis, are extremely addictive, are forced on vulnerable people and then subterfuge all of this by pointing out profit driven entities (as if what she does isn’t involved with this, as if her forcing such medications on people is altruism); this to me is simply decorating compliance to a very abusive system with smooth talking overtures.

    But that then would fall under “consensual reality deportment.”

    That then also includes believing there’s ever an excuse to force anyone, against their will, on what has been proven to be drugs which damage the mind and do not truly correlate with healing, and correlate highly with causing violence.

    And I must say that all of this fussing about form rather than content could be quite inhibiting in therapy, where a person needs to feel that they can actually express what’s inside of them and what they need to let go of, without having to deal with a whole matrix of what’s acceptable and what isn’t. To me THAT is where dialogue is shut down.

    Report comment

  40. Liisa,

    I watched the video you cited as “funny” and I did not think it was funny at all. In fact, Dr. Ross does what he claimed he would do with his apparatus by making sounds. It’s also very minor in the scheme of things considering his great contribution to helping trauma/psychiatry survivors by exposing the truth about both.

    Thus, I assume your comment was meant to discredit Dr. Colin Ross though he has contributed greatly to exposing the lies promoted by biopsychiatry/Big Pharma, which is probably why he has been attacked by some and praised highly by many medical and other experts.

    He also came up with the excellent idea of using The Trauma Model he explains in his book by that title since like Dr. Judith Herman, trauma expert, he believes most emotional distress is caused by trauma that accounts for all the seeming comorbidities in psychiatry.

    How come you haven’t debunked main stream psychiatrists colluding with much fraud that Dr. Ross exposes above? I find it very disheartening that MIA members would try to discredit someone who has told the truth in a very intelligent, honest way with much evidence. I can make this statement having done tons of research in this area.

    Report comment

  41. Liisa,

    Your dredging this minor thing up on Colin Ross to discredit and ridicule him is obviously because he has exposed the truth about psychiatry. And I watched the video you cited and it appeared that he demonstrated what he claimed and you have no proof it is pseudoscience. Anyway, who cares about such a minor, irrelevant thing?

    At the same time, Ross and others including me have tons of proof that main stream DSM/toxic drugging psychiatry is the real pseudoscience and corrupted to its rotten core making billions while destroying countless lives. Also, it’s obvious that you and E. Silly are trying to side track us from such “inconvenient truths” with smear campaigns, ridicule, creating chaos, instigating people against each other, creating an abusive atmosphere to intimidate and other well known bullying and mobbing tactics. See web site, Bullyonline to get a full description of yourselves.

    So, please spare me your not so expert advice which is very obvious.

    Report comment

    • Of course main stream psychiatry is not proper science, they want to sell their patented expensive drugs that make you ill. But it’s very hard to argue against psychiatry with a guy like doctor Ross, everybody would laugh at me.

      Why are you so angry? I feel a little bit bullied by you… 🙁

      Report comment

  42. Notice the not so innocent Liisa thinks she has completed her bogus demolition enterprise against Colin Ross based on ridicule, lies, innuendo, nastiness, character assassination and trying to paint him as an ignorant buffoon when the opposite is true, typical of Big Pharma/psychiatry trolls. And she has been trying to do the same thing to me with supposed guilt by association since I have commended Dr. Colin Ross as have many other real experts.

    Anyway, Liisa’s tactics can be found on the great Tim Field’s web site, Bullyonline, and her latest ploy is the feigning victimhood and turning the tables on the real victim of the bully’s abuse to make the victim appear to be the villain of the piece.

    Why am I so angry? Now, Lissa becomes the bullied!

    Once one is on to such tactics, they no longer work.

    Again, Dr. Colin Ross is very highly regarded for his books, The Trauma Model and Pseudoscience In Biopsychiatry, so it is not great surprise as to why Big Pharma/psychiatry trolls would wish to discredit and smear campaign him.

    Report comment

  43. I really want to emphasize what it does to have to, for “therapy,” deal with a person who can have your freedoms taken away, and/or force you on medications which don’t correlate with recovery, lessening of disability, which can cause terrible side effects, withdrawal symptoms, loss of life (20 to 25 years), which are extremely addictive, which correlate with causing more violence, which cause chemical imbalance rather than healing or addressing one, which the drug companies have had to pay severe fines for advertising in deceptive criminal ways…

    THIS is where discussion shuts down. And the result isn’t therapy but intimidation and mind control.

    Report comment

    • Nijinsky: for someone like myself, who is suffering from iatrogenic disease, it makes me extremely angry that I was led down the path to a life time on medication. I realize that people die all the time from nosocomial (hospital induced) infections, and that medical procedures and prescription drugs also cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people a year. But what you are describing here is a public health calamity that is concentrated in a small sector of society, one that entails a classification of people who do not enjoy all the civil and human rights of our fellow citizens. Moreover, in order to address this crisis, I would first like to know how me can quantify and then personalize the problem in order to mobilize the public into action.

      Report comment

      • Chrisreed, you’d be surprised how many people know how ridiculous the whole con job is, once you get beyond all the people who watch anyone they think has a “mental illness” and try to take control over their lives, despite the fact that they are making everything worse. And it’s not just a small part of the population. One in five people in the US are on a psychiatric drug. Once you start just talking to people, I’m surprised how much they want to express how ridiculous it is. How easily a doctor puts someone on an anti-depressant etc..

        You’d also be surprised how many “celebrities” have a different notion of what’s going on than they let on. I’ve found this out to be the case personally, something which can infuriate me quite a bit. The same as that said actors would jump at doing a gay role (and make themselves out to be open minded role models, although they just took a role that a gay person wouldn’t be able to do, given marketing; and they have the “straight” image they have because they’re not completely honest) you have this in regards mental illness. But to go one step further would be too much for them. This then also IS Hollywood and corporate media one is talking about with it’s MOB mentality. So there isn’t really this great loss to not be represented there, either.

        And it’s not my place to tell you how to live your life, but I would offer that if it makes you extremely angry to have to deal with the system or forced drugging, that it’s OK to give yourself the space to just simply heal guilt-free, without feeling you have to respond to the system at all. I notice from your posts that you are well informed and extremely intelligent, and having to deal with all of the inconsistencies of the system can overload any intelligent person, anyone who actually has the ability to think for themselves enough to see the loose ends, and the fragmented jargon, clipped statements and false logic that goes on with “the system,” “psychiatry,” or whatever you want to call it. In fact, if you have read the shock doctrine by Naomi Klein, or any other book about oppression, this describes how they try to infuriate people on purpose in order to have an excuse to repress them. It’s perfectly OK for you just to want to heal, and to want the space to deal with your own thoughts, and not to have to say boo or bah to whoever is infuriating you. And I think that the most change one can make is on the inside; this communicates more than trying to force any change on the outside.

        It’s perfectly OK to feel you don’t have to be angry all the time, and to just heal rather than trying to fight injustice; I think healing yourself also communicates more than trying to argue with another person to change their view.

        When a person gets angry, the fight or flight response kicks in, then the immune system starts shutting down and all the attention is put onto what’s going on outside of the person, this isn’t good for the body.
        And when you’ve given yourself the space to rest, you’ve collected your thought as well, and know how to respond in a way that would communicate rather than it be out of frustration.

        Also (and for what it’s worth), I don’t believe one needs to be angry at another person, or see oneself as a victim in order to make change. By being angry and investing in a trauma based, fear based method of controlling others, this is the same as what one deems to be fighting against. I don’t believe it works. No matter how many numbers of victims ones says one is saving by perpetuating the trauma based methods of social control, this only perpetuates the method, and adds more numbers, in the end. And when you take a different turn, when you look towards compassion, forgiveness, non-attachment, art and beauty you find a whole different definition of what it is to be human, and you find that everyone responds to this, even though you are told that being human is something different, as if it needs to be defended with trauma based mind control and violence, instead. When you really look, and dare to heal yourself, you see we are all connected on the inside. This is what makes us human, all of us. It’s OK to look for joy rather than justice. And you’re not forsaking others by doing this, you are reminding them of who they are (whether they are friends or enemies), and you’re doing this on the inside where there isn’t any separation, nor would I say the constraints of time and space as they were defined in traditional science. Quantum physics has shown this to be true, but then the ancient religions said the same thing; and art has always known this.

        Report comment

        • Nijinsky: Thanks for your words of encouragement. I have taken steps to take control back over my life in the past couple of years. I no longer go along with the ritual of blood work to test my Lithium level, or what ever else they were looking for in my blood sample without telling me. I tapered off Lamictal eight months ago, and have tapered to a lower level of Zypreza along with obtaining a gradual weight loss which has left me within 20lbs. to go to reach my goal. I am also on .5 mg of Klonapin, which I gather from reading the posts of MIA,is a rather minimal dose. If I can manage to balance my life requirements and keep my stress limits to a minimum, I stand the possibility of extricating myself entirely from psychiatry someday.

          Report comment

        • “It’s OK to look for joy rather than justice.”


          Great comment.

          I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say in it (and you say it much better than I ever could). Only, it does seem to me, necessary to point out, that the advice “It’s OK to look for joy rather than justice” is something to say to individuals — especially, when they are overwhelmed by their own tendency to take themselves too seriously (this is something I’ve done, at times).

          Also, this too requires saying: there are times when seeking justice is necessary, when it is absolutely called for (because some situations are so utterly devoid of justice, they literally beg for justice); but, in any case, I feel we should do our utmost to bring dignity to our calls for justice; that should never preclude our ability to bring joy…

          And, in fact, along those lines, I’d say, it’s necessary to look for joy while fighting for justice.

          Joy, in the here and now.

          We must (I believe, for our own well being) strive to find appreciation for the genuine ‘goods’ that we have access to, in this very moment.

          And, again, in each moment, continue striving to realize all the good, in what we (as individuals) have already accomplished… no matter how seemingly ‘trivial’ or small these accomplishments may seem to others.

          In fact, anyone who becomes somehow entirely bent on seeking long-term goals, huge goals, high and might goals, to hopefully change or destroy a seemingly ‘all-powerful’ system (and anyone who is aiming to ‘just’ buck such a system) must learn to look for joy, all along the way… because ‘seriousness’ and/or anger can only take a person so far, before it winds up eating away at his or her soul, entirely.

          In fact, anger — though it has, of course, sometimes been a catalyst for accomplishing great deeds — can only take a person so far before it becomes his or her own worst enemy.

          Tapping into ones own sense of righteous indignation can be a great starting point for seeking justice.

          But, he most effective social justice activists have always been those who became most fully capable of accessing joy daily.

          I think your comment is good because it lends a feeling, that you wish to share your joy…

          That is what makes it such a good comment, I feel.

          If we can’t learn to readily access our joy and strive to share it with others, we probably won’t do a whole lot, in the long run, to relay the fullness of our sorrow, with respect to what we’ve already lost to psychiatry…

          Psychiatry’s countless crimes against humanity, that it has committed (including those crimes committed by its most ‘well-meaning’ servants) throughout the long history of its War on so-called “Mental Illness” will never be truly justified; there can never be proper restitution paid to all of Psychiatry’s many victims.

          But, we’ll just continue to be the losers, in that war, if we can’t find good ways to access and share joy all along.

          And, by the way, before I go on further, in this vein, to be perfectly honest, I should admit, here I am doing my best to offer myself a pep talk — as I need one, really.

          I.e., by this point, in my life, I’m not a good example of someone who can find joy everywhere he goes, but I’d like to be able to practice what I’m preaching here, in these regards.

          The Mad Pride movement was apparently created with joy as an inspiration.

          I quite like this video featuring the late John McCarthy (of Mad Pride in Ireland):

          Just know, I really do like your comment quite a lot…



          And, P.S. —

          I also quite like the following poem by John (that’s titled “Abuse”):


          You have: rotated us, dunked us,
          beat us, tied us, chained us, locked us,
          deserted us, desecrated us, drugged us,
          disgraced us, insulin ated us, shocked us,
          ignored us, propagandised us, lied, put
          your knives under our eyes detached our
          lobes, stole our memories you are still at
          it now. Chemical, not ice pick, but as
          cold as ever.
          You have failed us.
          You have caused us to be
          feared. To be afraid. Ashamed of who
          we are. Through your arrogant educated
          ignorance you have labelled us, made
          a disease of life, while you guess and vote
          your pitiless hands thrust into the air
          salute delves into our souls.
          Your diagnostic box our living,
          breathing, lifeless, coffin soul pallbearer!
          Your incorrect guess, my fault!

          Does failure teach you nothing
          except to fail again. Or are you
          as corrupt as some say you are. Your
          hands chemically stained from the
          pockets you pick to sustain you.

          Failure of force as care obvious except
          to you who thrive on the abuse you feed
          from. Opinion as fact! Supported by do
          gooders who never touched a tormented
          soul, but know the law. Capacity judged as
          those innocents before savagely damaged.
          Similar law that protected the church while
          a previous generation of do gooders pruned
          themselves in the reflected glory of the abusers
          held in high station by an older generation of educated
          ignorance. Belief not knowledge, bible to
          DSM, guess to access my soul how you
          feel about how we feel impacts so much
          on us ; on you. Not at all.

          Your call protected by law your co-conspirators
          as Nuremburg plead orders, the job, family to
          feed, as defence. Drugged up, dumbed down,
          shaking, shivering, tardive dyskinesia, akathisia
          by injection without request from Hammar
          nightingales trained to abuse in the name of
          care. Blind indifference to consequence.
          Not much longer:
          we are beginning to stand, we will not take it in
          ass from ye any longer. We will not compliantly
          turn and bend; you will face us now when we
          refuse to be used.

          Report comment

  44. I do not know how much longer people will continue to post on this article, but I thought that I would include this nonetheless. Liat Ben-Moshe, a professor of disability studies at the University of Toledo, has a new book coming out with Angela Davis. Ben-Moshe takes a broad look at the history of incarceration in the United States, in that she includes, prison’s, mental hospitals, and institutions for the developmentally disabled in her study.

    Report comment

  45. When Milton Erickson was doing his internship as a young psychiatrist he worked in a mental hospital back East somewhere. There was one patient who never spoke to anyone but would simply sit and say odd things (I believe that is what he did.). So Milton sat each day with him and after quite a time he began doing the same things the patient was doing; at that point the patient asked him what he thought he was doing. He acted like a normal person. Milton was an extremely successful psychiatrist who did lots of crazy things one can not do anymore like set ups in restaurants and having one man live in his backyard for a while. Now days even MD’s are very constrained. So if Milton were the model the problem would be solved. But most psychiatrists lack the self knowledge of Dr Erickson and probably avoid getting it. So the real problem is human nature. Too few humans stay alive and vibrant after childhood. Too few take the good type of risk. Too many lack integrity. Like the American politician it is just easier to ride and ask polite questions and go along with the crowd. And tragically? we can do absolutely nothing about it. We are stuck with the human condition. I know this is sour news for reformers but there is a place for them so that things do not get even worse. But no utopias on this planet. It would nice if only men and women who had awakened minds could qualify for the medical profession. The same for all the professions; but then what would those souls do who need the experiences that come with corruption? Tossed by the way side?
    In the meantime if I were a psychiatrist I would follow the advise of Peter Breggin regarding drugs. I would not have the many years to repeat his work. I would try various things especially those that worked for the very best therapists. And I would keep an eye cocked on world events. When Israel talks about “permissible genocide” which they are applying to Gaza I would consider how people will be effected by this and their country even supplying the means! We can not escape the world’s evil doings even in our own hidden rooms under the bed. It pervades all human space. So this would be an important part of my therapy. I would probably recommend certain novels and films. Actually as a therapist I have done this. And then finally I would stay detached and count myself for little in the whole process going on with each person. Watching and listening and wondering.

    Report comment

      • Astor Turf: I see our challenge as two fold way. As I posted to Richard a couple of days ago, and which I am attempting to clarify here, and which other people also seemed to be suggesting, we need to converge on a specific and achievable goal, one which seems to be already pretty much agreed to here, but which lacks the institution framework to be carried through.
        The current state of psychiatry doesn’t seem to be working for anyone on this site. As someone who fits into the Category of “severely mentally ill,” I am particularly perturbed when I here reports of a reduction of 20 years in life expectancy. But I am part of a small minority in the overall population of those prescribed psychiatric medications. But even those prescribed ADHD and anti-depressant medications are also facing long term negative side affects. The explosion in the use of psychiatric medications in the general public is only about 20 years, so many of the long term ramifications of this trend may not yet be known.
        When I posted to Richard the other day, I mentioned Ralph Nader’s new book The Emerging Left- Right Alliance, whose significance to our immediate concern on this site is how to form an alliance to an achievable end, when people from different persuasions come together: in Nader’s Book-Progressives, Libertarians, and Conservatives are converging to fightagainst Corporatisim and Crony Capitalism: In our case, The analogy is not to these three broad political schools of thought, but rather to our divergent views of psychiatry’s future. All of here seem to agree that we live in an overly psychiatric drugged society; some of us seek reform where the use of these drugs can be seriously curtailed, others envision a world without forced psychiatry, where others see psychiatry either withering away or actively brushed into the dust bin of history.
        Sorry Astro Turf if my tie into your post seemed to take a long detour. But yes, at the same time that we form coalition around immediate achievable goals, it is also important to form coalitions with other marginalized groups, such as the people of Gaza. I see my interest in the issues raised at MIA as one facet of my engagement in the broader civil society. I became involved with Palestinian, Central American, Southern Africa and anti-CIA activism when I lived in Washington D.C in the 1980s, and I have maintained this interest in scholarly and activist circles back here in West Virginian (Mountain Top Removal being the most pertinent local issue). So it is here that Nader’s thesis comes into play in a broader manner. Nader recently spoke at the Cato Institute, a couple of weeks ago. (CATO was also one of Szasz’s favorite haunts). The person charged with introducing Nader, went to great lengths to describe his personal journal from viewing Nader as an anathema in his youth to now being the one introducing him at the forum. I believe the over all message is that as a society we are not really as polarized as a society as we are constantly being told that we are. In recent years, I myself have become more willing to engage Fundamentalist Christians on equal terms, rather than throwing up barriers. I also have found more community mindedness on this site in the short time time that I have been blogging here, than in the two years of a formal counseling program.
        Best Wishes:
        Chris Reed

        Report comment

      • Thanks for the additional information. Still pretty strong remark to appear in a national newspaper.
        Gaza and Hamas only make sense if one remembers that in 1916 Britain finding itself in a tight spot purchased help from the Jews by promising what they could not honourably do–namely, give away someone else’s property. After the war the British wiggled out of this. But after WWII Truman also in a tight spot recognized Israel despite opposition from just about everyone including the new UN. Thus Israel was the thief’s land. Hamas’ rockets are a reminder. The thief obviously is unwilling to give up his booty. And must put a good face on self defence. No amount of questionable history or mythology can make the land belong to a people’s most of whom did not even exist ancestrally until the 8th or 9th century. But even if they were descendants of the original inhabitants almost two thousand years has eroded their claims which probably the Palestinians really have anyway as descendants of the original peoples. Hence, make sure the title is clear before purchasing. The solution is for Israel to shrink back to land it has a clear title to. That would make Israel about the size of Lichtenstein or Monaco. That would be in line with International Law; and I am sure there would be no more Hamas rockets to deal with!
        Clearly all this violence and dishonesty wears on the mind and is factor in people’s mental health. But is rarely addressed in therapy as being too irrelevant or worldly?

        Report comment

  46. OK crazies, I have a concrete proposal. (I’m taking advantage of the popularity of this discussion to re-post something I just said elsewhere):

    MIA is not intended to be an anti-psychiatry forum and we should not expect it to be, as much of its value lies in its diversity of perspectives. MIA provides a crossroads for many schools of thought with perhaps the only thread of unity being around the recognized necessity to break out of standard “mental health” definitions and practices. As such, and by definition, a great portion of the MIA community will not get on an anti-psychiatry bandwagon because it is not in their interest to do so, for varying reasons. On the other hand, the rumblings of the psychiatrized on the site have been growing louder in our calls for the end of forced psychiatry and the medical model. As odd as it seems, these many strands of thought and opinion somehow maintain a relatively cooperative attitude towards one another, most likely because we all value at least the attempt to communicate. So here’s the thing:

    I don’t have any intention of attempting to achieve either unanimity or majority support at MIA for an anti-psychiatry position. However I encourage the psychiatrized among us who have a clear anti-psychiatry stance, and our allies, to begin discussions on this site about what we would like a concrete anti-psychiatry organization/network to look like and stand for, what positions and campaigns it would adopt and prioritize, etc. If we spend a few weeks or months engaged in such informal discussions it would be easier if/when we make it to the next step of actually scheduling a meeting somewhere, because we wouldn’t have to start from scratch when people finally did meet.

    I encourage those smaller groups of people (it seems there may be several) who may be on the verge of announcing such a meeting (if you in fact exist) to refrain from making any concrete moves towards such in the immediate future, as I believe that there are 20+ people here (at least) who have interest in this. If we have the time to prepare for the eventuality of such an event it would allow for more thorough and democratic discussion of all that is involved, and probably ensure greater participation when we do get together.

    It would be great if there were an ongoing blog or something here specifically set aside for discussing the “hows” of such an organization rather than the whether, or the why. But if this is not deemed feasible by the management, we can still carry on the discussion here amongst ourselves. Thoughts, anyone?

    Report comment

    • I always feel its a shame that such valuable discussion occurs in the comments to articles. The valuable information drops off the cliff edge when the article is superceeded. Having these discussions in the forums would solve some of that, but it just doesn’t seem to happen.

      I’ve got no idea how that could be resolved, but it does sadden me that the comments made by people that are sometimes more valuable than the articles themselves get lost in this manner.

      I wonder if a thread in the forums, and the posting of a link across articles might be helpful oldhead. I know i’d like to be involved in such a discussion.

      Report comment

      • Congratulations Boans, you already are involved in the discussion.

        Let me make a few things clear if I haven’t already: It is my viewpoint that any credible anti-psychiatry organization would be led by the psychiatrized. The discussion I envision would be primarily among the psychiatrized, and specifically the psychiatrized who are anti-psychiatry. Others, including “professionals,” are welcome to listen, primarily, and to contribute feedback and support, but “support” as defined by us.

        Having a continuing thread on this project would help, but the discussions I hope to see would not need to be confined to any one thread, they should be part of our continuing dialogue. There may well be political reasons that MIA understandably would not want to be seen as officially supporting a blatantly anti-psychiatry organization. On the other hand, there are numerous individual bloggers who could devote columns to the issue, which could then be discussed at length. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and this needn’t be done in a manner that would pose a serious threat to the integrity or stability of MIA, which or course none of us want.

        Report comment

        • Old head: I have been reading the blog here for over a year, but I have only been commenting for a little over a week. On the topic of forced psychiatry, hasn’t Tina Minkowitz been writing about a U.N. Treaty that came under the auspicious of the rights of the disabled, that is designed to end forced psychiatry. Something attached to the treaty called RUDs,weakened the chance of ratification of the Treaty in the Senate. So in what since is the effort put forward here a duplication of Tina’s efforts.
          I was involuntarily committed by a “mental hygiene court,” whose very name ties it to the era of eugenics in America: A movement which also greatly influenced the spread of forced sterilization to Germany where it later formed one of the lynch pins of the Third Reich’s final solution. Having said this, and in conjunction with all the other testimony on this site tied to the grave ills of the profession, I am not sure what if anything as far as a more principle can be salvaged of psychiatry.
          I am looking at a future kidney transplant sometime down the line owing to Lithium. I tend to agree with Bonnie, that the situation psychiatry put me in did not meet the threshhold of informed consent. Aside from the kidney problem, I feel that I have been luckier than most, and even though I was in need of a respite at one juncture of life, I feel that a course of action was taken against me rather than something that was done for me.
          I look forward to hear the opinion of others on this topic.
          Chris Reed

          Report comment

    • I share Boans sentiment at least in part. If I may add: it may be useful for others of this view to send mail to the publisher or site administration, requesting that a blog be set up for development of an action plan to end forced psychiatric treatment. Such an objective may not comprise “the whole loaf” for those who are determined to abolish psychiatry in total as a field. But it might at least represent an incremental positive change.

      To have any lasting effect, the blog will ultimately need to go beyond “discussion” to some form or forms of confrontation and dialog with psychiatrists, psychologists, and “mental health” practice as it now exists. I believe somebody will also need to take responsibility for assembling a consensus position and plan from the discussions — or they will otherwise prove endless and ultimately futile. I’m willing to contribute to the process, but I’m not professionally qualified to lead it.

      So who will volunteer?

      Report comment

      • Richard Lawhern, Ph.D. writes: “If I may add: it may be useful […] to send mail to the publisher or site administration, requesting that a blog be set up for development of an action plan to end forced psychiatric treatment.”


        That’s a very good/productive idea, and I deeply appreciate your suggesting it.

        I wonder, would Bob Whitaker and the MIA staff choose to go along with it?

        (I.e., in essence, would Bob and his staff give, regularly, on their home page, a platform, to those who are advancing the cause of abolishing forced psychiatric ‘treatment’? I suspect that their doing so might be too much to ask. I think it’s more possible that such would be ‘anti-forced-treatment’ bloggers might be encouraged to start a conversation in the MIA forum… where, of course, their discussion wouldn’t receive much attention from most MIA readers.)

        I think it’s a good idea, worth presenting; however, I somewhat doubt that Bob would take the bait… (maybe I’m wrong to anticipate his response).

        Bob is an exceedingly decent guy (I have met him briefly and was impressed by his humility); but, I’m not sure if he’s ready to oppose forced psychiatry, and I doubt he would wish to make himself vulnerable to charges, that he is using his website as a way to advance ‘antipsychiatry’ sentiments.

        Like you, I know that opposing forced psychiatric ‘treatment’ needn’t be considered opposing psychiatry itself; but, quite naturally, many self-described antipsychiatry folk are going to be happy to join this cause…

        KOLs in mainstream psychiatry will naturally do everything possible to paint all such individuals as ‘crazy’ — and worse.

        So, I think Bob will probably not give a platform to ‘anti-forced-psychiatry’ people.

        As for your saying this: “I believe somebody will also need to take responsibility for assembling a consensus position and plan from the discussions — or they will otherwise prove endless and ultimately futile. I’m willing to contribute to the process, but I’m not professionally qualified to lead it.”

        A consensus position and plan is good for any potentially unified group that is formed by a common cause. I don’t see such a group present here, in these comment threads — which is not say I’m doubtful that a relatively small group that’s completely opposed to forced psychiatric ‘treatment’ could be created from amongst some of the commenters here.

        But, frankly, Richard, I think this should go without saying: No one needs to be a professional, in order to be considered a leader, in any movement for human rights (which this is); it is quite enough for anyone to listen carefully, to those who know firsthand the hell that is typically caused by forced ‘treatment’; in the course of carefully listening, one can become, to some considerable extent, a lay expert on the matter; and, as for building a group consensus on opposing forced psychiatry, I don’t foresee a time when any one person (“somebody”) — nor even any two or three people — shall wind up assuming such a role.

        On the contrary, I believe the campaign against medical-coercive psychiatry has always been and will always be (henceforth, evolving, over time) led by quite a number of folk, who are all leading, simultaneously…

        There shall be, I believe, more and more of them coming forth, with the advancing powers, of the Internet (as long as there remains a modicum of freedom to express oneself here).

        And, one more thing…

        As you have authored a proposal titled “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way! (A Layman Perspective on Change),” and it is a meaningful proposal, which you have put a lot of thought into, I wonder…

        Now, as you are proposing “an action plan to end forced psychiatric treatment” (and, believe me, I am more than willing to listen to any ideas that come to mind, for you, along these lines), I think the task may be somewhat more formidable than you realize.

        Thousands of people have been working on that task, over many years; for some, it has been the work of a lifetime; I have long been a supporter — but not on the ‘front line’; I guess to join the ‘front line,’ it would take befriending those who are already working on that task, out in the open. I have always wished to maintain my anonymity. Maybe that will not always be the case.

        But, how could I be any sort of effective leader amongst so many folk who seem to enjoy gatherings, I wonder?

        I enjoy peace and quiet, mainly.

        Ever since I was a child (back in the 70’s), there have been two wooden placard hangings in the kitchen, of my parents’ home, where I grew up. My mother hung them there.

        The first one reads:

        “Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

        (Those are the words of Henry David Thoreau.)

        The second wooden placard reads:

        “Don’t walk in front of me
        I many not follow
        Don’t walk behind me
        I may not lead
        Walk beside me
        And just be my friend”

        (Those are the words of Albert Camus.)

        Richard, both of those placards speak to me quite personally, I feel.

        I.e., they convey — in so few words — significant and undeniable aspects of my personality; in fact, more and more, as I grow older, I resonate with those two messages; hence, as I post comments online opposing forced psychiatry (and was also blogging, in that vein, in a personal blog, just a bit, in years past), still, I don’t know many people irl (‘in real life’ — beyond online conversating) who oppose it.

        Indeed, it seems to me, most families I have known, have had family members or are friends with other families who have had one of their own forcibly ‘committed’ to psychiatry and thus forcibly ‘treated’ by psychiatry; and, that forced ‘treatment’ has, in the eyes of those people, seemed ‘necessary’ forever after.

        (In my experience and observation: By far, most people who ‘commit’ someone else to an “involuntary hospitalization” shall never come to realize or ‘confess’ that, indeed, more harm than good was done in the process.)

        So, whether online or irl, though I am hoping always to find more and more people who are willing to offer at least their moral support — if not also their leadership skills — to the long-running battle against forced psychiatry, I am, all the moreso, ‘just’ hoping to make friends of people who are like-minded in that way…

        I am heartened to sense, from your comment, that you may be (at least to some small extent) volunteering to be one such person…



        Report comment

          • Jonah, I can relate to some of what you say — and for other elements, maybe not so much. I’m a child of the middle 1940s, formed in the 1960s. I’ve read a bit of Camus, Kahlil Gibran, Hermann Hesse, Carlos Castenada, Fritz and Laura Perls, Erich Fromm, and quite a number of other authors who might be counted philosophers. Learned a lot. Moved on to earning a living.

            There’s a practical side to my life too: I served 21 years as a US Air Force officer, systems engineer, and technology futurist. Did 23 more years in aerospace defense industry. I know some little about practical leadership, having been thrust into such roles. From this background I suggest a variation on an old cliche (sometimes also seen on placards): “A committee without an action agenda is an organism of six or more arms and no head.”

            I offer ill will or malice to nobody at MIA. But I would still remark that in all of the very stimulating discussion I’ve seen in the present thread and elsewhere on the site, I detect no evidence that anybody is willing to get organized for substantive changes to medical and mental health practice. You’d rather kvetch and pontificate than DO something. But until you organize, you might as well be having a discussion of Heaven rather than actually going there (to borrow an old joke that Unitarians sometimes tell each other in church).

            Proponents for abolition of forced psychiatric treatment are facing an entrenched and very well funded cabal of evil corporate interests that will NOT let go of their control and power voluntarily. Big Pharma and its APA shills can be compared quite meaningfully to the tobacco companies whose executives lied to Congress and in front of judges and juries with straight faces, that nicotine wasn’t addictive and their advertising campaigns weren’t targeted on kids. Both were in effect, racketeer-influenced and corrupt organizations.

            That being said, we no longer see cigarette advertising on television, do we? Look at what had to happen for even that incremental change. Opponents of the tobacco companies had to spend millions of dollars to get their voices heard in court and in the public consciousness (to use an imprecise term). The process is still unfinished, but it has started. Acknowledging that I haven’t read every author at MIA, I see no comparable movement toward changing the public climate on forced psychiatric care — either here or elsewhere.

            I wrote the article on “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way” after participating for nine months of wide-ranging discussions at the Global Summit for Diagnostic Alternatives (a website of the Society for Humanistic Psychology). The discussions were circling endlessly. As far as I can see, they still are. I was candidly scolding the 150 0r so contributors at for being more interested in talk than real action. I sense a parallel sentiment here.

            Talk is cheap. But there is no magic that transforms talk into change. If you will not organize, then your message will not miraculously become accepted truth for either the public or the law. And if you’ll pardon my scolding further, if you will not organize and thrash out a practical and concrete plan of action, then you will not DESERVE change because you’re not willing to do real work for it.

            Enough, already. I’m DONE!

            Report comment

          • I am not a good communicator. Anyone who has read my comments here would know that I shoot from the hip, and am skeptical of the reformist position.

            MIA seems to be the only site that is offering any resistance to what I see as human rights abuses going on in our own back yards.

            Personally I’d like to be more involved in acting to do something about the situation. Groups of online activists are getting involved in what has been termed FTSU ($%&* their &%$# up). It ain’t pretty at times, but is highly effective in bringing attention to certain issues, and resisting oppression by institutions.

            I like the information here at MIA, and feel that many are heading in the right direction. But is there a need for another site or splinter group actively involved in confronting these issues, rather than wanting to engage in a one sided dialogue? Doctor knows best, and those with horror stories are ‘isolated incidents’ without any real validity.

            I haven’t had time to read your document Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way yet Richard, but it is certainly something that I am doing my best to get round to.

            I am at this point in time an army of one, doing everything I can to bring about change in my own community. Linking up with others who are active would be a bonus for me.

            Report comment

          • “Richard Lawhern Ph.D.” — Whoever you are and however you got here, I am more than curious as to whether you are a formerly psychiatrized person or what, and in any case where you get off lecturing people, calling for “volunteers,” encouraging people to bother Bob Whitaker, etc. If you are a “survivor” of psychiatry I slightly apologize, but you come off at best as someone who thinks he should be in charge when really he needs to sit back and learn.

            Report comment

          • For oldhead: I am a survivor of being a battered kid up to about age 6, and of pschotherapy in my 20s, but not of psychiatry in the sense that you intend. I don’t remotely want to be in charge — but I do want to see somebody take responsibility for more than talk, talk, and more talk. If I struck a nerve with you, that’s just fine. If you aren’t part of the solutions, then it might be that you’re part of the problem.


            Report comment

          • I am part of the solution dude, and don’t flatter yourself, you have struck no nerves, just reinforced my impression regarding your boorish, full-of-oneself attitide. Take my word for it, you barely have a clue about what is being discussed here, again I suggest that you just sit back and try to take it in for awhile. Oh, and this is a discussion site so yes you will hear/see lots of talk here. Do you go to sports events and complain about the noise? Over and OUT…

            Now what were we talking about?

            Report comment

          • Richard Lawhern, Ph.D. (MIA Author) on August 5, 2014, at 1:58 pm, began his last comment reply, to me, by stating:

            “Jonah, I can relate to some of what you say — and for other elements, maybe not so much…”

            Richard offered a number of interesting thoughts, in that comment of his; so, various possible responses came instantly to mind.

            I chose to delay my responding (and debated within my own mind whether I should reply at all — or whether I should just choose to refrain from replying too quickly) …noting how he’d signed off, with such finality.

            And, as it happened, I was totally busied these past few days, with pressing matters at home, so it was easy to conclude, that Richard’s comment didn’t seem calling for any reply, from me; but, here, I am, now, responding — and speaking of Richard in the third person…

            One commenter has recently suggested that it is rude for me to speak of another poster in the third person; but, as Richard did end his comment, to me, by firmly stating, “Enough, already. I’m DONE!” …I take those words — and his entire comment — as strongly implying, that, in fact, he does not wish to be a friend (the suggestion that maybe we could be friends had been the overall gist of my last comment to him).

            So, for now, I speak to MIA readers, about that third person…

            Richard Lawhern apparently wants to do nothing more or less in these comment threads than to kick proverbial a** …hopefully motivating and encouraging people to take action, based on a clear game plan, of their own devising or of someone else’s devising (not his own).

            “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!” says the title of his proposal posted a bit less than a year ago, at

            For MIA readers who have not yet seen that proposal, of Richard’s, if you are, perhaps, interested in doing so, you can find it via the following link:

            I offered my initial response to that proposal, in my first comment to Richard, posted above, now a bit over a week ago (on July 30, 2014 at 10:26 pm). There, I stated (and, now, please, forgive me my repeating the brunt of that comment, of mine, here….),

            “While I am not someone who expects that the ‘mh’ system will be significantly revamped any time soon and, generally speaking, I read the U.S. Constitution (and, especially the Bill of Rights) as strongly suggesting, that government should not ever have been placed in a position of judging anyone’s ‘mental health’; thus, I believe no state should be licensing any professionals to impose their views of ‘mental health’ on anyone…, I am, nonetheless, impressed by your level of passion for what you are forwarding.

            Because I know that there will always be a ‘mh’ system, of one kind or another, I think your proposal could possibly catalyze positive initiatives, harm reducing initiatives, which would spare us from at least some of the current, considerable harms now being perpetrated by devotees of the American Psychiatric Association and others who wield their latest edition of the DSM…

            Your proposal is notable for its really comprehensive quality of thought, and I am guessing the amount of energy that you’ve put into already must be to be nothing short of cyclonic; I vote that your proposal be posted to this MIA website, so readers can comment upon it.

            Meanwhile, I encourage MIA readers and bloggers to give it a look…”

            Subsequently, the MIA commenter Cannotsay2013 (on July 30, 2014 at 10:46 pm) offered a fair bit of critique, of Richard’s proposal. (By this point, no one else in this comment thread has commented upon it.) Cannotsay’s criticism — essentially, that we cannot reasonably expect the ‘mh’ system to be revamped by its makers — is a perfectly good one, I think. I agree with Cannotsay, in these regards, including as he critiques specifically Richard’s proposal’s paragraph, which suggests, “5. Find a law firm which represents mental health clients in malpractice, negligence and reckless endangerment suits. Volunteer 10% of your professional time to help patients who have been harmed by doctors using DSM-5 category labels or practices unsupported by even rudimentary research…” Cannotsay points out the unlikelihood of establishing ‘malpractrice’ claims against doctors who are engaging in whatever has come to be widely considered ‘standard medical practices.’

            (Of course, pharmaceutical companies can be — and have been — successfully sued, in class-action suits, for their having knowingly misled prescribers and others; but, those suits do nothing to change ‘diagnostic’ practices; and, Richard’s proposal first and foremost regards the problems inherent in psychiatric ‘diagnostic’ systems — most especially, in the ever-expanding DSM…)

            But, in my opinion, the most problematic part of Richard’s proposal is in a different paragraph; it is in that passage, which reads, as follows…

            “c. Lest I be accused of advocating for the replacement of neurology by psychotherapy or counseling, we should also acknowledge a second reality. Talking therapies and counseling have little to offer patients who suffer from major cognitive disorganization now characterized as psychosis, delusions, paranoia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality, or violent sociopathic behavior. This reality has been known since double-blind trials of psychotherapy protocols in the 1950s. Thus existing medications—with all of their real faults and dangers—may have an ongoing role in the management of severe mental dysfunction…”

            “Talking therapies and counseling have little to offer patients who suffer from major cognitive disorganization now characterized as psychosis, delusions, paranoia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality, or violent sociopathic behavior.” Really???

            I believe certain “medications” — taken voluntarily — may do some limited/brief, appreciable good for some “patients” whose experiences may wind up described by such terms.

            But, personally, I cannot help but wonder whether those “medications” for those individuals are ever entirely necessary; in fact, I doubt they are ever entirely necessary, except as those individuals are made increasingly dependent on those “medications” (by forcing them and/or coercing them to accept such ‘treatment’) and as no good alternatives (including safe haven and positively effective counseling) are offered.

            Richard is just plain wrong to state, that “Talking therapies and counseling have little to offer” those “patients.”

            (Thus ends ‘Part One’ of my response to Richard’s last comment to me. I will offer my ‘Part Two’ by posting another comment, sometime in the next 48 hours, as time permits…)



            Report comment

          • Jonah, thank you for sharing the quote from Richard Lawhern’s article (“c.Lest I be accused of advocating for the replacement…”). That is really all I needed to see of it. I’m glad he recognizes that the “MH” system is broken, but clearly he needs to do more research into the true nature of the states that get labeled as “mental illness.”

            Report comment

          • Jonah — I wouldn’t waste my energy with a part two, but it’s your energy.

            To me the whole “lead/follow/out of the way” thing is pretty arrogant in & of itself, but the guy obviously has no understanding of the anti-psychiatry analysis as he’s talking “mental health reform” stuff; yet still he’s calling for “volunteers,” telling us how to strategize, etc. I found it irritating, hence my response. Also, when I was trying to start some dialogue among those of us who are already (or almost) anti-psychiatry, finding his basically self-centered and diversionary stuff in the middle of it struck me as almost provocaturial, even if that wasn’t his intent. Not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I consider that a lesser priority than getting folks into this conversation who have felt the full impact of psychiatric oppression and know what we’re fighting against.

            Report comment

          • “Jonah — I wouldn’t waste my energy with a part two, but it’s your energy.”

            @ oldhead,

            While strongly disagreeing with Richard Lawhern, in considerable ways, I do welcome Richard’s input here, in these MIA comment threads, and I believe that some of his views are well worth considering.

            I encourage you to listen to his conversation with Peter Breggin, which was posted just this past week, online. You can find it via the following link:

            Richard has genuine insights to offer, into how it is, that psychiatry tends to very negatively impact its ‘patients’ with its various ‘diagnoses’ of supposed ‘psychosomatic disorders,’ especially when those ‘patients’ actually turn out to be, in fact, suffering from real biological diseases.

            Over many years, Richard has, in essence, devoted himself to helping people who are in need of good physicians’ care, as they are in real physical pain, the source of which can be elusive.

            Now, that helping journey brings him to exposing certain miseries caused psychiatric ‘diagnostics.’

            (Perhaps, unfortunately, he does not yet understand that none of psychiatry’s “major mental disorders” are valid medical diagnoses. Perhaps, he can come to understand the truth of this, in due time? Maybe we can help him to understand this, sooner rather than later, if we do not first drive him away from these MIA comment threads. I am hoping he will not be driven away…)

            Whether or not one finds all of Richards views agreeable (and whether or not one is inclined to appreciate his way of hopefully motivating readers to ‘organize’ themselves and create viable game-plans for affecting social policy), I believe he is a very capable ‘thinker’; he demonstrates a fair capacity for understanding the harms done by psychiatry, and he can provide MIA readers valuable insights, at least when sharing what he does genuinely understand, of certain aspects of psychiatric quackery.

            In any case, I will be responding further (by no later than tomorrow morning, at the latest) to address Richard with my ‘Part Two.’

            Thanks for your feedback.



            Report comment

          • Whether or not one finds all of Richards views agreeable (and whether or not one is inclined to appreciate his way of hopefully motivating readers to ‘organize’ themselves and create viable game-plans for affecting social policy), I believe he is a very capable ‘thinker’; he demonstrates a fair capacity for understanding the harms done by psychiatry, and he can provide MIA readers valuable insights, at least when sharing what he does genuinely understand, of certain aspects of psychiatric quackery.

            Jonah. You’re missing the forest for the trees or something.

            How in the world is any of this relevant? Did anyone question his ability to reason, his “views,” or anything regarding his basic worth as a human being? No, I criticized and will continue to criticize his barging into a conversation about self-directed anti-psychiatry organizing by psychiatrized, throwing around insulting comments and turning it into a conversation about Richard Lawhern and his “proposals.” I will continue to point out this disrespectful and patronizing attitude on the part of “well meaning” professionals.

            If you think I’m mistaken, look at how this conversation started and how it has been largely been diverted into discussing one individual. I agree having our own forum would help delineate things better however, and would make clear what things are to be discussed and who is included as part of this particular project, and what things should be moved to other more generalized discussions. (Actually the rules of moderation as they currently exist could be helpful here.)

            Report comment

      • Horribly inappropriate, aren’t I?

        I had the good fortune to learn to identify with “crazy” as a positive term before I actually got locked up. As in “Amerika hates its crazies so you got to let go you know or else you stay…” (Jefferson Airplane/Starship)

        So c’mon Uprising, you must have more than that to add?!

        Report comment

        • Well firstly, I have no criticism of your language. Psychiatrized and mad people own that word, as far as I’m concerned.

          Secondly, I was glad to see this proposal and I support what you are saying.

          Thirdly, I share boans’ feelings about conversations being fragmented and lost in the various comment sections. I am not necessarily suggesting that we should do anything differently in terms of comments, but it would be helpful if we could also use the forums. There is a lot of space there and low traffic.

          (For people who like to receive email notifications on subjects they are interested in, that can also be done in the forums section. The newer political forum is the least populated and it is a perfect space for this, in my opinion.)

          Fourthly, I don’t think it would be appropriate or wise to expect or request any involvement by MIA, beyond their continuing openness to different points of view. There is already room enough here to have these kinds of conversations without compromising either MIA’s mission or the potential strengths of self-directed groups that would be primarily of and for the psychiatrized.

          I’m curious to see what might develop.

          (As a side note, I would like to acknowledge Richard L’s contribution to this thread. I have not yet read his proposal, but I will. I want to make clear that my comment regarding groups primarily of and for psychiatrized people is not intended to be exclusionary toward him or anyone else. I am glad that he has a plan that he is passionate about. I think we all need to do what we think is best, and it’s a shame when things get personal due to frustration with the status quo. I will be happy to support his plan as well if I find it appealing.)

          Report comment

          • I’ll complete this reply later when i have more time but as far as the forums idea goes, if people agree that this is a viable format maybe we can talk for a day or 2 about how it would work and what issues are to be discussed, also how to get the word out that this is happening, then do it.

            Can anyone start a new topic or is special authorization necessary?

            Report comment

          • Anyone can start a new topic in the forums. If you mean start a new forum, then that would require authorization. However, if there were enough interest generated as to make the existing forum space here too confining or inconvenient, then we could export that part of the conversation to another site.

            What do other people think?

            Report comment

          • OK like I remember when the All Things Political forum or topic or whatever got started by someone, how would we get an equivalent heading saying something like “Towards an Anti-psychiatry Network”?

            Report comment

          • PS I think we can do better than just taking over a pre-existing forum topic, we need our own.

            I thoughh i remembered the “Political” forum being started by that guy Duane who used to post but i could be wrong.

            Report comment

          • I’m not clear on exactly how that came about. My guess has always been that Duane pitched the idea for that forum to someone at MIA as an effort to divert partisan politics from the comments sections. Regardless of how it came to be, the “All Things Political” forum has this subtitle: “Thoughts on a Paradigm Shift – from the Left, Right and Center.”

            This title is vague enough not to offend anyone and it is inclusive of all. But a forum dedicated to anti-psychiatry would be akin to taking a political stance, in my opinion. I doubt they would do it and I don’t think they should. Do you think that much room is necessary to start off discussions? If so, we could always create an off-site blog somewhere and use the comment system there as a forum, I guess. But I’m not sure we need that right off. And I think there are big advantages to keeping the conversation here as much as possible, as long as we are welcome to do so.

            Report comment

  47. … read more


    I am not a good communicator. Anyone who has read my comments here would know that I shoot from the hip, and am skeptical of the reformist position…MIA seems to be the only site that is offering any resistance to what I see as human rights abuses going on in our own back yards…
    Personally I’d like to be more involved in acting to do something about the situation

    Everyone brings their own particular skills into the mix, whatever they may be. We don’t have to worry about coming up with perfect propposals; we should start out simply by imagining what such a network would look like if it existed, just to see where people are coming from at the moment, and see where it might go from there.

    Report comment

    • “personally I’d like to be more involved in acting to do something about the situation”
      My skills etc. allow me to say it is definitely possible with knowledge available today plus the knowledge that resides in psych survivors to describe enough ” first do no harm strategies” that can be done where people live to help vast numbers of people including parents and children to avoid capture by the “psych dragnet.” Also how to escape from it to some degree.
      Maybe it should be done online , pamphlets, video, and audio all for free, if possible in many languages . Done by a group of people who know it can be done and/ or by me.
      I’m sure others have good idea’s as well.We must start where we can.
      It’s like birthing something positive underground alongside that works without coercion and as more and more people choose it and improve it cause it works, the old way fades out.

      Report comment

      • I have no doubt oldhead that this State sponsored persecution that is forced psychiatry will be defeated.

        It will require some role models of people who have been subjected to torture and have not bowed their heads to the false god, and thanked their torturers.

        As it stands it is too easy for psychiatrists to continue the torture until the will is broken, or the heretic is killed. If people have role models that show resistance is possible, they will be much more likely to resist, if only in small ways.

        Report comment

      • Sounds good to me. As our current numbers are limited there’s a lot of stuff that would have to fall on geographically scattered individuals to do. So a lot of stuff would need to be decentralized in practice. But even one person working “alone” can be stronger and more effective when she/he backed up by and coordinated with a larger network, in many ways. It’s also important for the network to have a core set of principles and positions to avoid “loose cannons” making statements or taking actions in the name of the larger collective which are in contradiction to the stated goals and principles of the collective.

        Report comment

    • Old head: I am interested and perusing this topic further. As for role models, I believe that other writers on this site, like Laura Delano, and Monica Cassinni also speak quite well on this topic from what I have read from their articles.

      Report comment

      • Totally agree about Laura & Monica, and others here as well. However we need to avoid falling into the trap of looking to those who demonstrate leadership capacities to carry the ball. For one, if the enemy can identify people who they believe are indispensible to the movement, they will be quickly dispensed with unless we have their backs big time. Secondly, when all the work falls on a few people they will inevitably burn out.

        We all need to develop the leadership abilities within us.

        Report comment

  48. A couple of thoughts on this very long thread.

    (1) My original article “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way” was written for participants at a website of the Society for Humanistic Psychology. That audience was heavily concentrated among psychiatric and psychology professionals. So yes — for that audience — I was writing to kick tail and take names among folks who would rather talk about changes in diagnostic practice, than actually do something concrete and make change real. In the context of the present thread, I was certainly suggesting that endless talk-talk-talk doesn’t seem likely to change anything of substance. I still believe that. I’m glad to see a few tentative steps being taken toward exploring tactics for changing public attitudes on forcible psychiatric drugging. If sustained, that could be progress.

    (2) Some others here who advocate with passion are convinced that there are proven alternatives to drug treatment for severe cognitive disturbance and human distress. Surely some people are coming off drugs and doing much better. And I applaud them. But before we generalize toward standards for an entire profession, please show me (and more importantly show the public whose support will be needed for changed standards of care) proof in repeatable double-blind randomized trials. If we are to disbelieve the claims of drug companies on the basis of the manipulation of such trials, then surely it is not too much to ask that alternative therapies be subjected to similar standards of evaluation that are NOT manipulated.

    (3) As clinical health psychologist James C. Coyne (among others) has written, consistency in application of trials protocols and repeatability of outcomes with various forms of psychotherapy have been “abysmal”. [See @CoyneoftheRealm] It is also at least arguable from sources other than Coyne that the single best predictor of success in aiding distressed people is not the method used, but the practitioner who uses it.

    (4) It’s been known for at least 50 years that the forms of talking therapy applied in the mid 20th century have very little effect in ameliorating severe patient distress in psychosis or schizophrenia. Multiple studies conducted in the 50s and 60s examined the outcomes of Freudian, Adlerian, and other therapies administered in resident treatment facilities, with people who enrolled themselves for help in major anxiety or depression. There was no significant difference in outcomes between the talking therapy modalities. More important, there was no difference in outcomes for applicants placed on a waiting list. After six months, about half of both groups reported improvement in the conditions that led them to seek resident treatment in the first place. These studies are summarized in Martin L. Gross, “The Psychological Society” — Random House, NYC, 1978, among other places. Gross is worth reading if you can find the book in a used book store. It’s no longer in print.

    (5) It is entirely conceivable that community support and talking therapies evolved over the past half century may be more effective and useful for severely distressed or cognitively disturbed people, than were their historical predecessors. If this is true, then trials data should demonstrate the improvements. Opinion and case studies don’t carry that argument, even if they offer useful indicators of methods worth looking at in greater depth.

    (6) I got into this discussion as a medical and mental health layman who thinks that mainstream psychiatry is a broken institution, and the brain disease model is an invention without backing in science. The article Donna put forward on August 8th, makes that case well. And to be fair, the article does indeed raise doubt on the credibility of studies of identical twins, sometimes touted by pharmaceutical companies. I personally sensed that the authors of the article reached a little hard for explanations of how separated identicals could be very similarly affected by environment. But they at least argued the issue to a deadlock. I don’t think the nature-versus-nurture argument in severe cognitive disorders is quite resolved yet.

    (7) My participation in this thread has been motivated in part by the 18 years I’ve spent helping chronic pain patients as a website moderator, online research assistant, and patient advocate for people with a rare neurological disorder called Trigeminal Neuralgia. More recently I’ve broadened scope to address the damage that psychosomatic medicine and mythology have done to thousands of people with subtle medical problems who are written off as “head cases” by medical doctors who haven’t been able to treat them. I clearly do NOT know it all in even one branch of mental health practice, but I’m doing what I can to speak on behalf of patients who deserve better from people licensed as healers. Part of my ongoing effort on behalf of pain patients occurred last Wednesday in an interview on the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, around the subject “It’s Not All in Your Head”. Ginger Breggin invited me to join Dr Breggin for a talk after reading my editorial which Mad in America published by that title. If anybody wants hear more, the hour is archived at

    (8) I don’t mind being referred to in the third person. I do mind being labeled “boorish” for having the temerity to speak out with passion on a subject that is just as meaningful to me as to others who have suffered more directly at the hands of professional psychiatry. Given that I seem to be considered by some here to be too ignorant to have anything useful to say, I hope I can be pardoned for wishing y’all well on that journey and standing aside. I really don’t sense that my participation is welcome here. I hope you can find a way to create allies among other people who differ in some details of whatever approach you work out.

    Richard A. “Red” Lawhern, Ph.D.
    Resident Research Analyst,
    Living With TN: An online patient community in the Ben’s Friends group.

    Report comment

    • Richard, I’m sorry you feel unwelcome. I suspect that the opinions of MIA readers are so diverse that there may be many here who might support your proposal. I would like to point out to you, in case you are not aware of it, that it looks like you have primarily been interacting on this thread with people who, like myself, have been psychiatrized. I hope you don’t take it personally when psychiatrized people have a lack of enthusiasm for a plan that includes a section that essentially says, “but the really crazy people need to take their meds.”

      Report comment

      • I understand the distinction you’re making, “uprising”. What I don’t see and think is important, are the details of reliable replacement therapies for meds. Without that piece, I think the puzzle falls apart for many who have never walked the mile on nails that you and others who have been psychiatrized have. I sense that the moral case for abolishing psychiatric coercion won’t ultimately win an argument with public safety — either real or imagined, with Big Pharma flooding the airwaves with scare stories (a real possibility).

        The proposal isn’t important because it’s mine. I put it out here only as a platform for starting to move beyond discussion and toward some more concrete action that others in the forum might choose to participate in developing. I’ve long practiced the principle that you can get almost anything done if you don’t care who takes the credit. So by all means begin. I simply don’t expect a lot of success in changing public policy if you won’t talk to people outside the circle of those who have personally experienced harm. You’ll have to make the public at large care enough to look at alternatives. And the alternatives will really have to be there to be looked at, by friends and skeptics alike.

        Regards, Red

        Report comment

        • I’m more than happy to talk to people outside the circle of those who have experienced harm, and now its time for them to start to listen.

          I appreciate the input you have made here Richard, it has helped confirm so of the beliefs that I hold.

          Evil can not be reformed. And justifying evil because it is required to deal with evil opens up a corrupting influence where vigilante doctors have become the rule rather than the exception. Certainly the case where I live where people are locked up for not cleaning their house, or having a bit too much pot.

          Report comment

          • Our Mental Health Act is nothing more than a ‘Batman’ clause. Brought into existence to deal with a few ‘Jokers’. Trouble is that they all think they are Batman and are going to clean up the streets with the power to do evil.

            Punishment for smoking a bit too much pot in the justice system. 1 night in jail and a $500 fine.

            Treatment in the mental health system, months incarcerated, and a life on a cocktail of drugs.

            Looks like vigilante justice to me.

            Report comment

          • I do mind being labeled “boorish” for having the temerity to speak out with passion on a subject that is just as meaningful to me as to others who have suffered more directly at the hands of professional psychiatry.

            I think this speaks for itself.

            To use a current analogy, I can support the Palestinian struggle against colonialism and zionism. But I would never dare claim that the plight of the Palestinians is “just as meaningful to me” as to someone who just had their family killed and their home destroyed by U.S./Israeli rockets, nor would I presume to offer them “advice” with the warning that if they don’t take it they are doomed to failure.

            Report comment

          • Steve, perhaps you and boans and oldhead might consider having a conversation in a forum of your own choosing. Each of you has a vision of the past, and perhaps a vision of the future. But if that vision cannot be elaborated and shared with others across a range of variable feelings and opinions, then what chance do any of you have for substantively changing public policy and law?

            I find it exceedingly strange to be accused of something evil or arrogant or boorish for advocating that talk is cheap and real change may require organization. It seems pretty clear to me that a part of this group is disinterested in enlisting allies — if in that process they might need to reexamine anything in their own world view. How very like the analogy that oldhead offers up: are not the leaders of Hamas and the State of Israel engaging in something very similar?

            Report comment

        • Since I have nothing but time to waste on ridiculous bs and nothing important in life to deal with I will respond to this for god knows what reason. I think 3rd person is the way to go because my thoughts are mainly directed to those involved in the back & forth around organizing a psychiatrized-led anti-psychiatry group.

          What we have here is a typical situation that will come up any time we begin to talk about self-directed organizing, so get used to it: someone or some group will come along and try, not to support what you’re doing, but to give you patronizing (and sometimes threatening “advice” about what you should stand for and how you should wage your struggle. In this case we see where someone who hasn’t a clue about what we’re about has decided that we need his “expertise” (presumably based on his PhD in something, or his marginal contact with psychotherapy) to find our way, and if we say thanks but no thanks that means we are extremists who don’t want to “talk” to those who disagree. And in this case he’s right, because the conversation he jumped into is an important one that didn’t involve him, it was about organizing the psychiatrized by the psychiatrized.

          Note further the way in which, after jumping into a discussion and basically attacking the participants in various ways, he then suggests that the several MIA members who were involved in it “find our own forum” and take the discussion somewhere else, or, presumably, “get out of the way.” As though this is a personal issue with a few lone nuts.

          I’ve been watching this process for years, there’s nothing new here. But those who wish to take an organized anti-psychiatry stance should be prepared for these attacks masquerading as something else. This is why white liberals were not welcome in the Black Power movement btw. (And the comment equating Palestinians wiith zionists is not worth the dignity of a response).

          Report comment

    • I essentially agree with you on most points, Richard, but there are a couple of caveats I’d add. First off, talking therapies may not need to be held to the same standard of proof as drug interventions, because the drugs are so much more dangerous. Sure, there are a lot of incompetent boobs out there doing “therapy,” and sometimes the results can be quite disastrous, but most of the time, the worst outcome of talking therapy is someone deciding “he’s a quack” and looking for another practitioner, or maybe deciding to give up on the effort entirely. No one comes out with permanent brain damage, involuntary movements, or diabetes. True, there are situations where bad therapy has caused violence or suicide, but certainly at a tiny fraction of the rates seen with SSRIs or stimulant drugs.

      Second, and perhaps more important, saying we need double blind studies implies that we know ahead of time who fits into the category of “needing therapy,” hence, a legitimate diagnosis. Since most of us here (and the DSM itself) have observed and agree that the DSM categories of “major depressive disorder” or “bipolar disorder” don’t represent homogeneous groups of patients who all have the same problem or need the same approach. So how are we to do a controlled study of these alternatives, since we can’t identify a homogeneous comparison group? Maybe something works for some depressed people and not for others because they have differing needs. It sounds like characteristics of helpful practitioners have been identified, and perhaps that’s where we should put our energy, since the particular school of therapy a person belongs to seems to have little to no impact on the outcome.

      Finally, it is perhaps legitimate to question whether “therapy” as a practice isn’t more closely related to religion or philosophy than to medicine. If this is the case, perhaps the concept of “double blind studies” doesn’t really apply – maybe people should be able to seek out the kind of support they find helpful, without some veneer of scientific-ness that has been laid over the mystery of being human?

      None of this is meant to deny the possibility of actual physiological diseases or injuries causing mental/emotional distress. These should be investigated using the scientific method and should be carefully distinguished from psychological states. But I am not sure there can be or will ever be a scientific approach that encompasses mental/emotional distress, because I don’t think it’s usually the result of a disease state of the body. And if I”m right, it puts us in a whole new realm where the science of the physical universe is not of much if any use.

      —- Steve

      Report comment

  49. I’m keeping an eye out to see if any other psychiatrized people have thoughts on the above (
    proposal for an explicitly anti-psychiatry collective, or if any of the people who have already commented have more thoughts on it.

    Oldhead also posted the idea here,, where others have shared some thoughts.

    Report comment

    • Do you mean anti-psychiatry as in ‘anti-dote’, antipathy, (or anti-bellum?!) I’m not for propaganda or kidnapping.

      I think as a new idea we have an opportunity to define our path, which I believe will be very long if we are to be successful. I think the numbers of any movement will be small- the general public would over time question first what we stand for, and thereafter the general orthodoxy, but mostly as Oldhead has said, there is much to learn and the temptation to meddle is strong.

      As noted below we continue to challenge our own basic assumptions and fail to define our terms. We must overcome our fear to achieve our goals and accept criticism as much needed feedback to guide us on our course. Blood will be on our hands if we simply take revenge on our gaolers.

      Report comment

      • Psychiatry abducts people all the time, and colluding with the “mental health” movement, propagates all sorts of mis and disinformation. (As if, for instance, peddling services and drugs wasn’t going to increase clientele (i.e. increase the “mental illness” labeling rate). The question is, as put so succinctly in the Bonnie Burstow piece on the attrition model of anti-psychiatry activism: How do we effectively struggle against these campaigns to label and drug more and more people?

        Blood is already on the hands of our gaolers. Fitting revenge would be no more gaol.

        Report comment

  50. Thanks uprising.

    Even though this discussion — which is all I propsed for the time being — is in its infancy you can see that there are a number of regulars interested in this, and there are others who haven’t jumped in yet but I know they’re around. We eventually need to coordinate the discussion somehow but it’s nice, again, just to see people putting out their thoughts; I’m sure we can find a number of ways to keep this going, and I’ll see how the forums “officially” work and how we might get one of our own. (I disagree that MIA facilitating this would indicate bias on their part; they’re free to have also have competing forums of professionals who want to organize to defeat us, or psychiatrized people who want more of the same .)

    Report comment

    • Uprising, Oldhead, I think organizing makes a lot more sense than remaining dispersed, and so, yeah, I’d like to see some sort of group develop, too. When you can state your position, it has a way of inspiring others, and that in itself can prevent complete and total burn out and die off. What did Ho Chi Minh say, the thing that inspired a book by the Weather Underground, “a single spark can start a prairie fire”? Should a lot of shrub burn, and the fire fizzle out, all it takes is that one little spark, and you’ve got a blaze again. I would definitely think that a collective would represent an improvement over no collective. for awhile anyway. I’d like to see more blaze, and less charred ground myself. We’re back to that cartoon image of the many little fish chasing the one big fish. One little fish alone would be an absolute goner.

      Report comment

  51. I just find it strange that we have a site where the majority of content…

    > Questions the validity of ‘diagnosis’ and/or
    > Questions the validity of treatments for said ‘diagnoses’

    but somehow doesn’t want to identify as “anti-psychiatry”

    What exactly is really being said when it’s said that this site isn’t “anti-psychiatry” because to be honest I don’t get it. Is it a matter of supplying credentials as to not be seen as a wacko or something ?

    Report comment

    • “What exactly is really being said when it’s said that this site isn’t “anti-psychiatry” because to be honest I don’t get it. Is it a matter of supplying credentials as to not be seen as a wacko or something ?”


      I believe it’s perfectly reasonable to say this site is not “anti-psychiatry” — but that, it is quite critical of psychiatry.

      After all, it’s Bob Whitaker’s site; and, when reading Bob’s writings (carefully), one finds that he is never conveying an ‘anti-psychiatry’ message.

      Bob is a science writer, who takes his study of science very seriously (i.e., he is inclined to point out flawed science, as such, when he sees it).

      So… He conveys a message about psychiatry, that is not flattering, because he can’t help but realize the truly outstanding lack of good science behind many (or most) of psychiatry’s standard practices, past and present.

      In terms of psychiatry’s history, he refuses to white wash the profession’s checkered past (including its connection to the eugenics movement, of the early 20th Century).

      And, having spent the last 20 years or so writing on matters to do with psychiatry’s current practices, he is ultimately well-versed in psychiatry’s shortcomings and is especially skeptical of the influence that Big Pharma has had on most of its practitioners, in modern times; hence, most often, he is bound to be highly critical of what have become standard practices in psychiatry.

      But, he is not opposed to psychiatry itself — only hoping for an end to its worst (most in-efficacious) ways of ‘treatment.’

      See, for example his blog post “Harrow + Wunderink + Open Dialogue = An Evidence-based Mandate for A New Standard of Care”:

      Along those lines, Bob has apparently befriended at least a small handful of psychiatrists (including the blogger on this page) who identify with the ‘critical psychiatry’ movement (which has been advance by the ‘Critical Psychiatry Network’ in the U.K.).




      Report comment

      • But, he is not opposed to psychiatry itself — only hoping for an end to its worst (most in-efficacious) ways of ‘treatment.’

        If this is an accurate portrayal of BW’s view (and I hesitate to comment here as I haven’t ascertained that it is) I would just have to ask, if mental illness is an impossibility why would one not oppose as fraudulent an industry based on “curing” it? Again, the concretization of metaphor is contrary to the rules of both language and logic; in EF Torrey’s words the notion of “mental illness” is as nonsensical as the concept of a “purple idea.”

        Report comment

        • “I would just have to ask, if mental illness is an impossibility why would one not oppose as fraudulent an industry based on “curing” it? Again, the concretization of metaphor is contrary to the rules of both language and logic…”

          @ oldhead,

          First… psychiatry is not an industry based on “curing” anything; mainly, psychiatry aims to control ___ (fill-in-the-blank).

          (I believe many psychiatrists will agree with me, on that; a large proportion — perhaps, even a majority — of psychiatrists will readily admit, that they have no ‘cures’ for anyone.)

          Second… one needn’t believe in the existence of ‘mental illness’ to be either (A) a psychiatrist or (B) a supporter of the ‘critical psychiatry’ movement (or both A and B).

          Some psychiatrists quite openly eschew the medical model and stick with the notion, that they’re addressing, in practice, various sorts of more or less pernicious sufferings, which they may deem ‘mental disorder’ and/or ’emotional disorder’ (and, lately, quite a few speak in terms of “distress” instead of “disorder”) …all the while that they honestly maintain, that they are not, in fact, addressing genuine physical illnesses.

          And, so, one can question or even oppose psychiatry’s medical model and still welcome the psychiatric ‘treatment’ of some people, including with psych-drugs.

          I guess that ‘treatment’ can be called “medical treatment,” especially if and when it does include prescribed psychopharmacology and other mind-altering and brain-altering procedures.

          And, we know (all too well), most psychiatrists do insist, that such ‘treatment,’ of some of those above-mentioned ‘sufferings,’ is helpful — and, perhaps, even literally life-saving — for some people.

          From my reading of his work, I believe Bob Whitaker is supportive of some psychiatrists, who work along those lines — especially, psychiatrists who work in concert with the ‘Open Dialogue’ program, which began in Western Lapland…

          Probably, I haven’t offered anything here that you don’t already know, but it’s the best answer I can give, to your comment reply…



          Report comment

          • And, so, one can question or even oppose psychiatry’s medical model and still welcome the psychiatric ‘treatment’ of some people, including with psych-drugs.

            “Disorder” is basically a euphemism to get around the “disease” argument, but it still applies concrete properties to an abstraction, the mind, which is not a thing. If diseases were not ostensibly being treated there would be no need for a medical degree as a requirement to be a psychiatrist.

            Report comment

          • Could the thing that psychiatry means to ‘control’ be (fill in the blank) “people”? Or did you have some DSM category or another for socially undesirable behaviors in mind?

            Once upon a time, not that long ago, insane peoples were divided along “curable” “incurable” lines. This is because psychiatry had medical science pretensions. More recently, I’ve seen the term “in remission” used (not by psychiatrists though mind you). This is due in large part to psychiatry’s failure as a branch of medical science. I don’t see “mental illness” “symptoms” “in remission” as an improvement.

            The news is littered with “living with” and even “thriving with” “mental illness” stories. People speak of “highly functioning” “schizophrenia”, etc., but this makes the “disease” something of an oxymoron as doctors diagnose not on the basis of pathogens, or lesions, but rather on the basis of “functionality”, something of a judgment, er, prejudgment, call.

            One could be overwhelmed to point of eternal fog I suppose, but all the same, some people manage to free their vessels, and make a break for the light of day again. I mean there’s an illogic to any and every Wonderland that could consume a person for a few lifetimes, provided they were more immortal than the rest of us, but is that the way any of us need to go. One could wise up, and get on with the business of living, too. What am I saying? More or less, let the follies of youth and inexperience give way to the wisdom that comes of age and practice.

            “Second… one needn’t believe in the existence of ‘mental illness’ to be either (A) a psychiatrist or (B) a supporter of the ‘critical psychiatry’ movement (or both A and B).”

            Okay, what is fraud?

            If psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of “mental illnesses”, and if there are no “mental illnesses”, where does that leave this field purporting to be a branch of medical science? Trying to find a way of reconciling non-medicine with medicine? There is a lot of deception involved in this business of treating artificial invalids. With deception, goes folly.

            Report comment

    • I think the fear is that identifying with anti-psychiatry would make the site vulnerable to the Scientology smear (which I think is an overreaction) and/or would be “throwing the baby out with the bath water” (tho I don’t see any babies here, unless we’re talking about Rosemary’s).

      It’s ok though, as the diversity of views is a major part of the value of MIA. Those of us who are uneqivocally anti-psychiatry still have the opportunity to hook up with like-minded folks and organize amongst ourselves.

      Report comment

  52. I don’t know that this will help, Jonah, but here goes…

    Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders. These include various affective, behavioural, cognitive and perceptual abnormalities. The term “psychiatry” was first coined by the German physician Johann Christian Reil in 1808 and literally means the ‘medical treatment of the soul’ (psych- “soul” from Ancient Greek psykhē “soul”; -iatry “medical treatment” from Gk. iātrikos “medical” from iāsthai “to heal”). A medical doctor specializing in psychiatry is a psychiatrist. (For a historical overview, see Timeline of psychiatry.)”

    Anti-psychiatry is the view that psychiatric treatments are ultimately more damaging than helpful to patients. Psychiatry is seen by proponents of anti-psychiatry as a coercive instrument of oppression. According to anti-psychiatry, psychiatry involves an unequal power relationship between doctor and patient, and a highly subjective diagnostic process, leaving too much room for opinions and interpretations.

    Anti-psychiatry originates in an objection to what some view as dangerous treatments. Examples include electroconvulsive therapy, insulin shock therapy, brain lobotomy, and the over-prescription of potentially dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. An immediate concern lies in the significant increase in prescribing psychiatric drugs for children. Every society, including liberal Western society, permits involuntary treatment or involuntary commitment of mental patients.”

    History of mental disorders
    Modern period
    16th to 18th centuries

    “Some mentally disturbed people may have been victims of the witch-hunts that spread in waves in early modern Europe.[28] However, those judged insane were increasingly admitted to local workhouses, poorhouses and jails (particularly the “pauper insane”) or sometimes to the new private madhouses.[29] Restraints and forcible confinement were used for those thought dangerously disturbed or potentially violent to themselves, others or property.[19] The latter likely grew out of lodging arrangements for single individuals (who, in workhouses, were considered disruptive or ungovernable) then there were a few catering each for only a handful of people, then they gradually expanded (e.g. 16 in London in 1774, and 40 by 1819). By the mid-19th century there would be 100 to 500 inmates in each. The development of this network of madhouses has been linked to new capitalist social relations and a service economy, that meant families were no longer able or willing to look after disturbed relatives.

    Emphasis to last sentence, above, added.

    Report comment

    • This is a great discussion-thanks for the above, Frank. There it is, in just a paragraph or two. I too would love to see some kind of collective form around these issues-something tangible I could plug into. I will help in whatever way I can.

      Report comment

    • Dr. Allen Frances MD recently published “Is The Worst Time Ever To Have A Severe Mental Illness?” on his blog on Huff Post. He quotes extensively from Professor Edward Shorter, an “eminent historian of psychiatry”, amplifying on themes suggested in the Wikipedia articles above.

      I’ve tangled with Dr. Frances on occasion for what I regard as a naive and self-interested defense of over-medication that his 2013 book “Saving Normal” does little to dispel regardless of the useful insights it provides into psychiatric fads and fallacies. But the article can be taken as stand-alone support for reconsideration of abusive practices in psychiatry.


      Report comment

      • I’ve read the article. Problem. If you think the reforms at the beginning of the 19 th century made all that much difference in treatment, a big claim for psychiatry, and with it the “mental health” movement, the claim made in this case by Edward Shorter, you might agree. However, if you looked a little more closely at (mis)treatment in the 19 th century, you might disagree. What didn’t change, and what hasn’t changed, is the situation described last sentence of my comment above.

        “The development of this network of madhouses has been linked to new capitalist social relations and a service economy, that meant families were no longer able or willing to look after disturbed relatives.

        Simply add “and communities” to families in the above sentence, and make the connection. You didn’t have throw away people to the extent to which you do today before the advent of forced psychiatric (mis)treatment.

        Report comment

    • As the anti-psychiatrists, I think that we should define anti-psychiatry ourselves rather than relying on others to define us, not that some of the Wikipedia stuff isn’t interesting. For example, there is no mention of the invalidity of the medical model here, just the dangers of “treatment.”

      Some of us might want to make a project if going through Wikipedia and editing all the “mental patient liberation” entries, especially the common misinformation that the movement “evolved” (rather than degenerated) into the “consumers'” movement.

      Report comment

  53. In one of my comments above (on August 9, 2014 at 12:15 pm), I signed off parenthetically:

    “Thus ends ‘Part One’ of my response to Richard’s last comment to me. I will offer my ‘Part Two’ by posting another comment, sometime in the next 48 hours, as time permits…”

    Here’s ‘Part Two’ — as follows:

    …In one MIA comment, recently, I mentioned, that: I don’t fully agree with anyone here…

    To expand, on that thought, now I add, that: I’ve found, in the course of participating in conversations regarding psychiatry, generally — whether the exchange takes place on this MIA website or elsewhere (usually, for me, it has been online, but sometimes in person): I do not agree with anyone all of the time; and, yet… some folk with whom I’m disagreeing, I’ll come to greatly appreciate — may even come to highly admire, in ways…

    Richard, I’m finding, is one such individual.

    Despite strongly disagreeing with something(s) he’s said, Richard Lawhern is, I feel, in ways, an admirable person. (And, note: He mentioned in his comment, above, he doesn’t mind being spoken of, in the third person, so I feel I’m not being rude, as I speak of him this way…)

    I can’t yet be sure as to exactly how much Richard disagrees with me (he has been somewhat unspecific), yet I get that he does disagree considerably; hence, his last comment to me (on August 5, 2014, at 1:58 pm) seemed to suggest, that he was quite done speaking with me.

    Indeed, I took that last comment, of his, to me, as stating, that he really does not wish to be my friend.

    Even so, I continued to study his expressions, online… and find he may have a lot of good to offer many MIA readers — even as I know he has a lot to learn from MIA, as well. (Seems to me, he’d learn from studying this website’s offerings more carefully than he has, to now; in particular, he should read Bob Whitaker’s posts. But, also (I think) the MIA site designers could well learn from Richard, by realizing that he’s asking good questions (on August 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm), some of which could be converted into MIA ‘FAQs’.

    (I believe the moderator has stated that she intends to create a ‘FAQ’ page.)

    Richard’s style of communicating may be overly ‘authoritative’ for some readers, most especially when he’s speaking with ‘anti-psychiatry’ readers (who are naturally anti-authoritarian). He could easily alienate many readers with his tendency to offer instructions. And, he tends to take criticisms too personally.

    So, whether or not it’s true, that Richard can appeal to many here, I’ve found, in the course of my reading some of Richard’s writings online, and upon, yesterday, listening to his talk with Peter Breggin, I’m quite liking Richard — largely because he is highly critical of psychiatry (as am I) but also because, it seems to me, I could learn some valuable lessons from taking some of what he says, to heart…

    I could possibly gain some real ground, in life, by learning from someone like Richard, how to become a more fully effective human being, in the world, at large…

    And, I am listening to Richard, as he speaks, on the merits, of reaching out to folk who are not psychiatric survivors — as I have become, more and more, a ‘hermit’ in recent years, ‘speaking’ mostly online — mainly with psychiatric survivors; many of these folk have done me great good, and I appreciate them; but, Richard, who exhibits what are apparently very contrary qualities of character (as compared to most psychiatric survivors whom I’ve ‘met’ online), can also do me good, I think.

    Though I don’t intend to emulate Richard or model myself after him, I’m listening carefully to what he has to say. I’m studying his words — separating the wheat from the chaff.

    So, if he could not imagine being a friend, I would nonetheless hope he could ‘just’ continue our conversations, by email.

    I gladly invite him to email me here: [email protected]

    In any event, he knows that I took his suggestions, to read his proposal; he knows I appreciated it — and am also critical of some of it; now, if he reads my words (in this comment) and can appreciate the fact, that I also took his suggestion, to listen to his talk with Peter Breggin, and I’ve positively appraised that interview…, maybe he can take my suggestion, to study what can be found, at the following links:

    “Forced Psychiatric Drugging”:

    “MindFreedom – Fighting Back Against Human Rights Abuses in the Mental Health System”:

    Also, there are links that I could offer him, regarding highly successful non-medical ways of addressing ‘psychosis’ experiences. (Many of those links have come to me via this MIA website.) I would like to offer him such links and would value any opportunity to discuss their contents with him, as I believe Richard is terribly undereducated in some ways.

    He is apparently embracing an out-moded view of ‘psychosis’ experiences; and, one can readily gather, from his comments, he knows far too little about the history of the the psych-rights movement, in the U.S.; however, I think Richard does well to advise (on August 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm): “I hope you can find a way to create allies among other people who differ in some details of whatever approach you work out.”

    Suggesting to anyone whom we’ve just ‘met’ briefly, online, to accept our invitation to ‘be friends,’ may be far too much to suggest; so, I may have scared him away with that suggestion; and, I could easily read Richard’s last words to me as a final brush off.

    Nonetheless, here I am doing my best to encourage Richard to please realize, that I would very happily explore, with him, the possibility, that we could casually exchange online links, to hopefully remain open to the possibility, we might eventually learn a good deal from one another…

    Enough already… 🙂



    Report comment

    • , I think Richard does well to advise (on August 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm): “I hope you can find a way to create allies among other people who differ in some details of whatever approach you work out.”

      You apparently miss the arrogance of the assumption that we don’t reach out to those who have different viewpoints; this is happening here all the time. That doesn’t mean that we should include them in our organizing activites or that we need to constantly be educating/arguing with them to the detriment of what we’re trying to get done. For example, would a “supportive” heterosexual expect to be accepted into a gay organization and participate equally in their decision-making, or is that person’s role to accept the decisions of the people he/she is supporting?

      Report comment

  54. I heard a brief debate between a Minister and a human rights lawyer last night about our new Mental Health Act for Muslims.

    The Minister claims that the removal of the presumption of innocence to allow the legal kidnapping and torture of those few deemed to be a danger to self or other is required to deal with the problem. And of course she pointed out that there will be oversight and accountability.

    The human rights lawyer pointed out that such laws are wide open to abuse, and that oversight and accountability were code for turning a blind eye and cover ups.

    The Ministers response? “You’ll have to trust us”.

    If the way that our Mental Health Act is being applied is anything to go by, they are not worthy of the trust. It will be interesting to see how the Muslim community responds to having their human rights removed in the same manner as those deemed to be mentally ill.

    They are a little more organised than the anti psychiatry movement, and I get the feeling that arbitrary kidnappings and torture will not be taken well.

    Though subjecting tens of thousands of people to brutality under the guise of laws enacted to deal with a few people under the Mental Health Act has been so effective, why wouldn’t it work?

    Good luck with that.

    Report comment

  55. I think that debates like the one on this thread seem to go no where for a number of reasons, first of all there is a lack of clinical exposure to the current health delivery system, and over concern on the personalities of people who deliver the message.

    Psychiatry, as it is now, is just an extension of corporate medicine. Many decades ago this was not the case, but it is most definitely the case now. Psychiatry is about making a profit for medical corporations, its not about helping people get better.

    For example Gastric Bi-Passes, make lots of money for hospitals, usually about $40,000 per surgery. Do gastric surgeries really people people with weight problems, in my experience its a mixed bag. I would say no. But there is a sales department and a marketing department that sells people on the idea.

    This is also true of hospital based treatment programs for mental health, they do very little, are expensive, and are designed to maximize profit.

    Its the same for outpatient treatment.

    Consider this. Seeing a therapist 1 time weekly for a year, is based on the therapists fee. In larger Metropolitan areas its about $100 an hour.. 100 x 52 is $5,200 a year. If the therapist is on an insurance panel, then insurers see this as a significant cost compared to medication management., of 1 or 2 sessions a year at about $250 per fifteen minute session. .

    This is one of the reasons why psychiatry favors drugs, over talk therapy, because its more profitable for medical corporations.

    People get hung up on the idea that psychiatry is there to help people, those days are long gone. Its really only about making money.

    Psychiatric medications do not help people, yes there may be a few people that think they are helped. But we don’t prescribe medications on whats good for a few people.

    I have met pilots who can fly a fighter jet on LSD, perfectly well. Does this mean we should legalize LSD?

    Psychiatric meds, are about making money, whether or not they hurt or help anyone, is not the primary consideration of their use. Its about profit that’s all.

    So debating, the effectiveness of various treatment, and whether or not they work, is an issue, ignores, the sickness, that corporate medicine has become…

    We simply have no way to tell, because the caring system of people trying to help others, and having an interest in what makes people better no longer exists.

    Report comment

    • P.D., If the caring system no longer exists, then what would you recommend for re-creating it? Or should we assume that people will simply get better if they’re left untreated and unsupported? Hasn’t that already been tried in the non-benign neglect that so many in this thread have complained of?

      One may find justification for cynicism, and there’s plenty of blame to go around. But cynicism and blame have never been a healing influence that I could ever see, without offering something something new. So what do you offer that’s new?

      Report comment

      • I do not think PD was being cynical – more realistic about the majority of what people get from psyciatry.

        I do not think there is anything new to offer.

        What works is caring and compassionate relationships based on understanding and encouragement. That is as old as humanity. This is not a medical specialty.

        Open Dialogue, Soteria Houses, good therapy, living with nice people while getting therapy (which is what the Family Care people provide) – they are all based on the same values. Non of this seems very medical to me. Frued was a Dr but his method of listening to people and trying to make sense of what they say is found in other disciplines, or in simple friendship.

        Drugs can help calm people down in a crisis – a medicinal brandy, a valium at night for a few days – but it isn’t medical treatment in my opinion. It is what people have always done, even before Dr’s existed.

        Report comment

    • I think that debates like the one on this thread seem to go no where for a number of reasons, first of all there is a lack of clinical exposure to the current health delivery system, and over concern on the personalities of people who deliver the message.

      Don’t know about the first assertion but as for the part about personalits, definitely. People need to stop worrying so much about whether other posters like them or not and pay more attention to the arguments being made from the standpoint of logic.

      Primarily though (I do note that you use the word “seem”) I don’t think that arguments “go nowhere” but that there are at least two irreconcilable viewpoints being represented, and different interests being represented.

      Nothing to disagree with as far as most of what you say. Tho I think LSD should be legalized, along with all other drugs, at least in principle. It’s the coercion that’s the problem.

      Report comment

      • “It’s the coercion that’s the problem.”

        @ oldhead,

        I concur entirely with that conclusion. When it comes to psychiatry, though many problems abound, all of them pale in significance, when compared to that one.

        And, I do think, that: if that worst-of-all problems, in psychiatry, can be creatively resolved, then the other problems of psychiatry will more or less naturally find their own positive resolutions…

        Hence, for my own part, I aim to stay as entirely focused, as possible, on that one problem, of coercion, in psychiatry.



        Report comment

  56. First of all theres a difference between blaming and responsibility. Thats what professionals do they take responsibility.

    You have to recognize that.. There are plenty of examples of clinicians here that have taken responsibility for trying to change things.

    That’s the first step taking responsibility, being willing to step forward and testify to the fact of what the current system is and what it does to people, and supporting people that have survived the process.

    I am not going to let you frame the issues, from your point of view.Thats just your opinion, its not a fact. Yours is not the only voice..

    I think that here what is happening is that people have gotten off these meds, often on their own, and their lives have improved, immeasurably…

    Initially people were likely to feel that something was wrong with themselves for questioning their psychiatrists, and may have tried to comply more. They were isolated, and without support. This place is a good place to find support for each other, by listening, to what people have to say. And benefiting from others experiences. Coming together, like this is much more positive for most of those people, just as having support is necessary to heal .

    MIA has never existed before….And its a good place to begin…

    Report comment