On Fighting Institutional Psychiatry With the “Attrition Model”


In a recently released article I provided an overview of antipsychiatry, teasing out its features and both its overlaps with and differences from related movements and constituencies (Burstow, 2014). Necessarily, the commitment to psychiatry abolition emerged as definitional as well as pivotal. In this article, I will be attempting to shed further light by clarifying and probing a particular model of psychiatry abolition. The question being addressed here is: Okay, so you know what you want—but just how do you go about figuring out what to do? A question that has been plaguing the movement for some time.

A brief history: For the longest time, while antipsychiatry activists were clear about the abolitionist goal, virtually nothing was written on how to achieve it. No articulation, no models, not even, for that matter, debates—exactly. This much, nonetheless, was obvious to most: So powerful and so firmly entrenched in the state is institutional psychiatry, that it was not about to disappear any time soon, no matter how valid the reasons for discarding it, how many scandals come to light, or how astutely those who oppose it proceed. Here is a reality that left all abolitionists shaking their heads. What at once arose from and further contributed to the conundrum, antipsychiatry activists had difficulty prioritizing actions, also choosing when to actively support and when to “pass” on initiatives developed by other constituencies.

It is not that there were no rationales given, sometimes cogent ones, for pursuing some paths and avoided others, but there was a lack of consistency and oftentimes choices were made on the sole basis that the action in question was one in which everyone had always engaged. As such, it gradually became clear that a decision-making model specifically geared to antipsychiatry was needed. It was in this context and with this understanding that in 2010, as a keynote at the international PsychOut Conference in Toronto, I introduced a model for prison abolition—what I call the “attrition model” (see Burstow, 2010). This model was subsequently adopted by Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA). I articulate it in this article so that people can get a sense of it and assess its possible usefulness.

The model was inspired by and is loosely based on an attrition model developed in the 1970s for a neighbouring social justice movement—prison abolition. Significantly, that model to varying degrees underpins “penal abolition” to this day. The attrition model for prison abolition is predicated on two key premises: 1) that an entrenched institution like prison will not quickly disappear and so working at gradually wearing it away is the most judicious way to proceed; the issue then is to assess each potential move carefully to see if it is likely to advance things “in the right direction”; 2) one can easily be deceived over what constitutes “progress”; a change which looks like “a move in the right direction” may in fact only be further entrenching or indeed actually expanding the prison system (see Mathiesen, 1974 and Knopp, 1976). Substitute “institutional psychiatry” for “prisons”—and you can see the fit here—and an attrition model for psychiatry abolition begins to take shape.

The attrition model for psychiatry abolition, as I have articulated it, centres on three “definitional” or “touchstone” questions which antipsychiatry activists are asked to keep firmly in mind when considering an action or direction:

  1. If successful, will the actions or campaigns that we are considering move us closer to the long-range goal of psychiatry abolition?
  2. Are they likely to avoid improving or giving added legitimacy to the current system?
  3. Do they avoid widening psychiatry’s net (creating conditions that allow psychiatry to scoop up, as it were, ever more people; see http://coalitionagainstpsychiatricassault.wordpress.com/attrition-model)?

Question one is the most fundamental of the questions asked. The purpose of asking it directly is to help activists stop themselves from getting sidetracked into focusing on otherwise benign actions and missions which in no way contribute to attrition (an example might be measures aimed at securing pocket money for people “on the inside”—a good thing in itself, but a questionable preoccupation for an abolitionist per se, given it brings us no closer to the ultimate goal.

With question two (are they likely to avoid improving or giving added legitimacy to the system?), psychiatry abolitionists more clearly part company with psychiatry reformers. The point underlying the question is that all sorts of actions, including many actively spearheaded by concerned people in related constituencies, serve to lend psychiatry legitimacy or in some way “improve psychiatry.” As such, however good the intention and whatever benefit certain people may derive (reasons why others might support them) they function to protect, support, and possibly expand psychiatry, and as such, should not be taken up by abolitionists. An example of the type of action that lends legitimacy to psychiatry is co-creating and mounting community/cultural events in concert with psychiatric institutions—festivals, theatre, celebrations. For examples of “improving psychiatry,” we need look no further than the long-standing historic attempts of different players to exert a corrective influence on the DSM, arguing for the tweaking of some “diagnostic categories” or the removal of others.

To be clear, I fully sympathize with people’s desire to intercede here, especially when it comes to groups uniquely oppressed by these categories. This notwithstanding, on a very basic level, even engaging in such advocacy has an unintended but unavoidable consequence: By the very act of everyone privileging the psychiatric text this way, such advocacy further ensconces the DSM as the go-to book—and as such, reinforces the centrality of psychiatry’s most formidable boss text (an institutional ethnography term; see Smith, 2005). Nor does the service to psychiatry stop here. Take the gutsy and very understandable fight to remove “homosexuality” from the DSM, which unfolded in the early 70s. While of course no one committed to social justice wants these highly oppressive definitions and categories, what in fact did this campaign succeed in doing? Making it look as if being lesbian or gay was no longer covered by “diagnoses,” when in fact new diagnoses which pathologized lesbians and gays such as “ego-dystonic homosexuality” were quickly and quietly introduced in place of the diagnosis removed (for a discussion of these diagnoses and this strategy, see Burstow, 1990); creating/recreating the classical “us-them” division, with activists involved in the campaign distinguishing between people who allegedly really were “mentally ill” and “gays” (see Teal, 1971). Moreover, it helped institutional psychiatry appear progressive—something to support. Ironically and sadly, it even proved to be a formidable factor in the ascendancy of biological psychiatry (for a discussion of how this happened, see Kirk and Kutchins, 1992 and 1997).

In other words, the consequences for the most part were decidedly negative. While it might not have been possible to predict the enormous boost this would give to biological psychiatry, the rest indeed could have been figured out—not something one can exactly expect of others, but herein lies the hard work of evaluating which abolitionists avoid at the cost of undermining their own goal. Hence the importance of taking care in assessing the likely long run impact of any action on psychiatric rule. And hence the significance of the second question.

Likewise crucial and likewise complicated is the third question: Do they [the actions being considered] avoid widening psychiatry’s net? What this guideline is inviting activists to do is avoid any action, which if successful, is likely to increase the number of people subjected to psychiatric rule. Again this is irrespective of whether or not the action is otherwise benign. Examples of initiatives, however seemingly benign, which would in point of fact “widen the net” are new services which are either performed by psychiatry or have a demonstrable tie-in with psychiatry. Think about how direly certain services are needed — services for battered women in isolated northern Canadian communities, say, or services for trans youth who have become homeless — and you can see how easy it would be to overlook or rationalize the hook-in with psychiatry which accompanies them.

What this model is inviting us to look at and take seriously is this: If we make such a deal and we accept the expansion of psychiatry into some area as a necessary tradeoff in order to get “services,” whatever may or may not happen in the short run our primary long-term achievement is precisely the expansion of psychiatry — paradoxically, together with eventual endangerment of the very population that we were endeavouring to assist. While the expansion of psychiatry may seem like a minor hiccup or “side effect,” the point is — as with the psychiatric drugs — the “side effect” is the major effect.

Tricky though it may be at times — and you can see that it is — the long-term benefits of such a model are obvious. As is evident from the examples, it would help abolitionists avoid seemingly benign actions that would preserve the status quo (or worse) that might otherwise be very easy to slip into doing. Moreover, the model would readily facilitate prioritization. While it is beyond the scope of this piece to spell out the various prioritizing that might emerge — for example, it could be argued that the disappearance of various noxious “treatments” has the potential to erode psychiatry and, as such, use of the model would lead to the prioritization of campaigns such as those against ECT. Other priorities that I can see emerging are the rescinding of key pieces of legislation (e.g., out-patient committal laws and involuntary “hospitalization”); the launching of law suits against “hospitals,” individual doctors, the pharmaceutical companies, and, moreover, the state; the curtailing of psychiatry’s “right” to “treat” without consent; and the creation of “befriending” networks independent of government and professionals (for a fuller articulation, see Burstow, 2010 and Burstow, “Psychiatry and the Business of Madness”).

Here then is the model as I have developed it and its possible usefulness. I leave it to antipsychiatry organizations to determine for themselves if and how it might serve them. An observation: The Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault adopted this model at its 2005 retreat. It was contentious at the time and so was taken up on a trial basis only, to be reassessed in one year’s time. Come the 2006 retreat, every member to a person endorsed making its adoption permanent — so helpful had it proved in establishing direction, settling disagreements, and getting our bearings. Not that it was consulted as a matter of course, but now and again in the midst of a heated disagreement or a decision that initially seemed simple, a light would go on in someone’s eye and the person would ask, “But what about our model?” And a unique space for thinking and planning materialized.

That noted, a few questions in ending: While the attrition model has obvious relevance to antipsychiatry activists, would this model or a modified version thereof be of any use to other constituencies who organize against psychiatry? Has it the potential, for instance, to illuminate the path of mad theorists or critical psychiatry theorists who are not abolitionists per se? Possibly yes, though not in any easy or straight-forward way. The point is that it is likely to “complexify” decisions or directions that now seem simple or obvious — in itself, a good thing — but people would need to want to take that on.

Finally: Is attrition per se the only major factor that an abolitionist need consider? At the risk of further complicating an already complicated issue, my answer would be no. Besides that the future, while crucial to keep sight of, can never be our only concern, it is not enough to rid ourselves of psychiatry. If that is all we accomplished, psychiatry could easily be replaced by a new form of ruling that is just as powerful, that is just as all-encompassing. Also — dare we imagine it? — that is every bit as damaging. Moreover, if we as a society want something better, we need to sow the seeds now.

But that is a topic for a different article.


Burstow, B. (1990). A History of Psychiatric Homophobia. Phoenix Rising, 8, S38-S39.

Burstow (2010).  The Withering Away of Psychiatry: An Attrition Model for Anti-psychiatry.

Burstow, B. (2014). On Antipsychiatry.

Kirk, S. and Kutchins, H. (1992). The Selling of the DSM. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.

Kirk, S. and Kutchins, H. (1997). Making Us Crazy. New York: The Free Press.

Knopp, F. (1976). Instead of Prisons: A Handbook for Prison Abolitionists. New York: Prison Research Educational Project.

Mathiesen, T. (1974).The Politics of Abolition. New York: Halstead Press.

Smith, D. (2005). Institutional Ethnography: A Sociology for People. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Tiel, D. (1971). The Gay Militants. New York: Stein and Day.

* * * * *

This article first appeared on Bonnie Burstow’s website,


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


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  1. I think the abolition of psychiatry is a non starter. In fact, I think the abolition of forced psychiatry is a non starter. I wish our considerable efforts were going instead into informed consent (which rests on public awareness), raising the criteria for forced treatment to where it belongs, providing effective voluntary care and (especially) fighting outpatient commitment.

    With respect to ECT, abolition is the wrong goal. In response to an email, I wrote back to one of the organizers of an abolitionist outfit to say that some people choose ECT and the real issue is whether their consent is true consent (as in no coercion) and informed (as to risks).

    Lack of choice is exactly what we complain about when we criticize psychiatry. Why are we doing the very same thing to others? If somebody finds that ECT works for her, why shouldn’t she have that option? It’s paternalistic to declare that she can’t reasonably make that decision.

    Anyway, the organizer said there is no such thing as informed consent to ECT because it always causes brain damage. That doesn’t logically follow. A person can be aware that a procedure causes harm and still choose to go that route.

    Anyway, the concept of abolition of psychiatry or even abolition of forced psychiatry turns off an awful lot of influential people who would otherwise be our allies.

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    • Francesca. If people could substitute the word “lobotomy” for the initials “ECT” every time you use them in the above comment, it gives your perspective a unique slant. One could say, in fact, that by doing so, it is possible to go backwards in time.

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        • Francesca

          You are taking the concept of individual liberty to ridiculous extremes. So according to your view prostitution should be legal if women want to choose to sell themselves to men. We should view it only as a matter of “individual choice” despite the fact that the practice of prostitution is oppressive to all women, and actually oppressive to men in the final analysis.

          Where is the role of government in your concept of society? I am not talking about the current government that we have, but your concept of a more ideal government.

          It would be the responsibility of a truly representative government, of the people and for the people, to outlaw any practice that is clearly oppressive to the people. This occasionally happens today with certain drugs, such as for MS, that help some people but cause enough serious life threatening effects to warrant taking the drug off the market. Unfortunately they have not applied such standards to psychiatric drugs; nor will they ( in my view ) under the current economic and political system.


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          • I don’t wish to open a can of worms Richard but I wonder

            “prostitution should be legal if women want to choose to sell themselves to men. We should view it only as a matter of “individual choice” despite the fact that the practice of prostitution is oppressive to all women, and actually oppressive to men in the final analysis.”

            wouldn’t the government make it legal for men to sell themselves as well? And if so, is the fact that their are male prostitutes oppressive to all men?

            Not saying I disagree because it’s not an issue that I’ve examined in much depth.

            Could you direct me to a good article that covers the issue rather than trying to explain this view here and getting off topic?


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          • Richard,

            I agree with you entirely, on this matter.

            ECT is a terrible, brain-damaging, crap shoot, and advocates refuse to admit the truth of this.

            So, though it’s true, some who receive ECT report ‘good’ results; and, advocates of the procedure claim that it should be OK, as long as there’s “informed consent,” nonetheless, the procedure should be banned, imho.

            After all, many who are typically considered ‘good candidates’ for ‘voluntary’ ECT are often people who are locked up, against their will (so any ostensibly “voluntary treatment” that they’d ‘choose’ to receive may be chosen, indeed, mainly as way to hopefully put a quick end to their drug ‘treatment’ and ‘medical’ incarceration); and, most candidates tend to be individuals who are living more or less at their wits’ end.

            Frequently, they are individuals who’ve attempted suicide.

            So, ‘voluntary’ ECT candidates are usually individuals who feel that they have nothing to lose, in accepting the risks of the procedure, for think, ECT could bring an instant end to their troubles; they feel anything would be preferable to what they are currently experiencing.

            I.e., they are — at the point of ‘volunteering’ for such ‘treatment’ — desperate souls, who may be all too easily persuaded by the projected optimism, of true-believing ECT providers, like MIA blogger David Healy.

            I’m sure many of Healy’s ECT “patients” are drawn in, by his book, which he co-authored, with Edward Shorter, Shock Therapy: A History of Electroconvulsive Treatment in Mental Illness.

            In it, they can read,

            “Our research convinces us that ECT is an important, responsible, and reliable therapy that deserves to be more widely used…”


            “…there should be little controversy over whether it is safe or effective. Somatic therapies like ECT easily trump anything in the psychopharmaceutical medicine chest as the most effective treatment for such severe illnesses as melancholic depression, catatonia, or manic excitement; it also has a place in the treatment of schizophrenia,”


            “Why today, seventy years after its discovery, is ECT highly stigmatized, both among patients and many physicians? ECT is, in a sense, the penicillin of psychiatry. We would be baffled if the benefits of penicillin were not widely touted in the patients’ world, lauded by the press, and accepted as a matter of fact by medical doctors. Why has this not happened with ECT? The question is especially important because there are a great many people with depression who do not respond to antidepressant drugs.”

            All things considered, I am inclined to suspect (because ECT is known to be associated with somewhat increased suicide rates) that a relatively sizeable percentage of ‘voluntary’ ECT “patients” have agreed to accept ECT ‘treatments’ while secretly assuring themselves, that: They can ‘just’ commit suicide if the results wind up being particularly unpleasant.

            But, what they may fail to understand, is the drastic extent to which they will be, at first, completely disabled by ECT — and how: Once their course of ECT ‘treatments’ begins, there’ll be no way for them (nor for any ECT “patient”) to call it quits. (According to Dr. Peter Breggin, that’s the ultimate rub, when it comes to any and all talk of supposed “informed consent” for ECT…)

            Here, as follows, is a key paragraph from page 205 of Breggin’s book, Electroshock, its brain-disabling effects (1979), which well explains that point:

            “Even if it were possible to give voluntary, informed consent during a patient’s stay in a mental hospital, and even if ECT advocates made its hazards known beforehand, electroshock presents a special problem that effectively rules out consent in most or all cases. Despite giving initial consent to the treatment, the patient typically tries to reject it when he begins to experience the onset of an acute organic brain syndrome. His fear and outrage are always ignored, and often he is drugged, isolated and/or given extended ECT treatments, until rendered unable to protest with any strength or coherence. As the patient passes from abject terror to incoherence, his psychiatrist may use his growing mental incompetence to justify further treatment on the grounds that the patient is too irrational to know what is good for him. I have never seen or heard, or read of a single individual whose ECT was prematurely terminated on the grounds that he had changed his mind after experiencing the treatment and no longer wanted it. Most so-called voluntary ECT patients, therefore, become truly involuntary as soon as they experience its devastating effects. At first they are involuntary because their protests are ignored. Later they become involuntary because they are too brain-damaged to protest their worsening condition.”

            Richard, keep fighting the good fight…



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          • I’m a Canadian, Richard. Prostitution is legal here. And many feminists are of the view that prostitution is not oppressive to women. In fact, there’s an entire movement to legitimize the sex trade with a goal to keeping prostitutes safe. Merely saying “Eew, it’s blecchy!” does make a cogent argument for abolition.

            As for my idea of government in society, in a nutshell, I think needs to be there to gather taxes and to provide services for all in exchange.

            Like it or not, many people find that psych meds help them. People voluntarily choose them and there is no reason to deny them their choice. It’s offensive that survivors of psychiatry are so willing to inflict their ideology on others just as psychiatrists did to them.

            Now what we do need to do is work towards greater public awareness of the dangers of psych meds so that people know what they’re getting into. But many are already fully aware of the dangers of these drugs and still choose to take them.

            What we should be focusing on is strategies against coercion and unwarranted involuntary treatment. Those are goals that I can see being reached in my lifetime. Abolition of forced psychiatry and/or psychiatry in general, on the other hand, has no possibility of succeeding, ever.

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          • Jonah and Richard, it seems you’re having trouble wrapping your mind around the fact that someone may want to make a decision that you would not want to.

            Even with memory loss, brain damage, spontaneous seizures and a raft of other problems, some patients want ECT when they can’t see another way out of their depression.

            If you really want to reduce ECT, please stop alienating those who voluntarily choose it and concentrate instead on public awareness of the risks and promotion of alternatives for people who suffer from crippling depression.

            I’m quite serious about what I said before. It is actually disturbing to me to see psychiatric survivors being bullies. The major complaint most of us have against the psychiatric system is being denied choices and not being listened to. Yet here we are doing exactly the same thing to some of our comrades.

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          • On the issue of prostitution I don’t think it’s the best analogy for a number of reasons, which I don’t want to go into since I don’t think it makes sense to divert to discuss it here.
            However, you make a good point about the role of government in protecting its citizens, especially the valuable ones against fraud and abuse and ensuring that any authority that is exerted is justifiable. that is of course not what the current system is doing but theoretically that should be the role of governments.

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          • I can’t believe you would have any government criminalize prostitution per se and think many who consider themselves
            “sex workers” would be outraged at the suggestion. You could use many of the same arguments to criminalize marriage. Besides, how would you enforce this other than by punishing those you intend to help?

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          • Oldhead

            Where have I talked about “criminalizing” sex workers? The women are the main victims in this situation.

            My original point was that prostitution is overall oppressive to women and it should not be legalized in a truly equalitarian society. Do you think otherwise?

            This came up in a discussion about people who have taken “freedom of choice” to extremes. This is when I brought up the analogy to prostitution.

            Ect, by similar example, should also not be legal, because enough evidence exists that it is overall harmful to people.

            The same is true related to prostitution for both women and men. For women (who are the major victims of such a practice) its very existence denotes an oppressive status level in society where one person with lessor status is forced to sell their services to another in a overall demeaning and degrading fashion.

            It is clearly the role of a truly representative government (one in which we do not have at this time) to decide if such practices such as ECT or prostitution should be legal.


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          • I think the comparison is limited.

            Adding culture to the equation may be helpful in understanding why.


            The UNICEF report identifies the Pakistani cultural values of purity and the protection of women as resulting in men preying on boys.

            Identifying where the relationship is exploitative is difficult with prostitution, not so much with ECT. Not saying its cut and dry, just that the lines seem a little clearer.

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        • But the only reason that ECT is out there in the first place, such that people can “consent” to it is that it is the psychiatric profession wanted a a quick form of lobotomy and fraudulently represented it as “medical”.

          That said, Francesca, stay tuned, for I will be writing a piece on consent and we can continue the dialogue

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          • Bonnie and Jonah

            Bonnie, great article . I will soon post on a similar theme in Part 3 of my blog on Biological Psychiatry.

            Jonah, great exposure on the true nature of ECT.

            Another point to consider here is that ECT has been proven to damage one’s memory. Resilience is part of a person’s memory, or one might also say, memory is a part of a person’s resilience. Destroy memory and you destroy resilience. Destroy resilience and you may destroy a person’s will to live.


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          • Well, ECT is a medical treatment if we’re going to call depression an illness. ECT often provides short-term relief. For some, that small gain is worth the substantial risks.

            The problem is forced or coerced ECT because it’s way too invasive and dangerous a procedure to use on this basis. I completely, 100% support an absolute abolition on forced/coerced ECT.

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          • “Well, ECT is a medical treatment if we’re going to call depression an illness.”
            Well, I see two problems there:
            – depression being an illness as opposed to a normal state of mind one can experience due to social, psychological or health stressors
            – ECT being a medical treatment – well, that could be considered a historical view, as much as historically doctors considered sugar or worse tobacco smoke to be treatments. I think it’s safe to say that any doctor right now trying to treat his patients with cigarettes would be considered committing serious malpractice. And trust me there could be many people who will go to that doctor and ask for it. I can even assure you many people will “get better”. Smoking may be an individual choice but nothing justifies doctors promoting it as treatment or prescribing cigarettes.
            Allowing doctors to prescribe treatment which are ineffective and dangerous is making a mockery of the idea of medicine. In such case everyone can be a doctor and it’s a mess and charlatanry.

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        • If you think the idea of abolishing psychiatry is a non-starter why are you spending so much time pursuing a conversation which is primarily between people who already identify as anti-psychiatry and are interested in discussing how, not whether to do so.

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      • Francesca,
        If people substitute the word” thalidomide” for the brain for the initials “ECT” every time you use them in the above comment ,it gives your perspective illuminative clarity . Only those who have had them know what they are like and what they do.I have had them forced on me and I guarantee you couldn’t handle it. Onward to the goal of abolishing psychiatry and I would add false AMA medical practices arriving all the way to medical freedom for all.

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    • I don’t believe it is a non-starter; I just think it is simply a long haul. I never plan in terms of what may be quickly achievable but the kind of society that I think we need to work toward. And for me that does not include psychiatry, albeit it does include services that stem from community and are rooted in community. As for informed choice, besides that psychiatry will never tell the truth about such treatments for no one would take them if they did, a medical profession should not be offering choices that do nothing medical and that conflict with all medical ethics. We would object to them offering the choice to people to be hit over the head by a -2 by 4. By the same token, we should object to medical people call brain damage “medicine” and thereby offering ECT.

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      • Hi, Bonnie. Thank you for not being offended (or not expressing offence). I agree that whatever gains we make will definitely be over the long haul. I must disagree, though, with your assertion that if people knew the biomedical model was a fraud, they wouldn’t pursue psychiatric treatment. I’m fully aware that mental disorders aren’t biological illnesses yet I’m grateful to have meds available, if and when I choose to use them.

        And, as with Frank’s comment above re: lobotomy, if a patient really exercises informed consent in choosing a 2 x 4-ectomy, then there’s no ethical reason to deny same. Empowerment means giving people choices, not restricting choices to those we happen to agree with. In this respect, I find certain aspects of the anti-psychiatry movement to be as oppressive as psychiatry.

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        • I think Dr’s have an ethical duty to provide the most effective and least damaging treatments. They should not be allowed to prescribe treatments that are more harmful than dangerous. We do not expect them to prescribe cyanide for headaches. If they tried they would be struck off. Saying, “My patients want it,” would not be a valid argument. Indeed some drugs have been withdrawn, pain medication drugs, not psychiatric ones, because they have caused some deaths, even though they worked well.

          I think the same arguments apply to ECT.

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        • All the same, “informed consent” or no “informed consent”, I’m glad doctors are not doing lobotomies any more. Ditto, insulin shock, and some other blatantly HARMFUL treatments. I wouldn’t give my consent for one anyway, and I wouldn’t want to be lobotomized. I was drugged (on top of imprisoned) against my will and wishes, multiple times, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I’m just glad I was spared ECT and lobotomy. If I advocate for anything, that anything would not be additional harmful practice. Iatrogenic death and injury is a big issue in the medical field today. People are being killed, perhaps unwittingly in most cases, by their physicians. There are practices that I can no longer consent to, informed or otherwise, because they are illegal. All the same, conventional psychiatric standard practice today is mostly a matter of injuring the patient. I have no problem with the fact that some injurious practices can no longer be inflicted on me or anybody else. I also don’t have a problem with the fact that they are not going to be performed at anybodies personal request either.

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          • I agree Bonnie. I think an analogy to non-Doctors might be useful: If a I have a can of petrol in the garage and a friend asks me to give it to him because he wants to drink it and my friend has researched all the potential bad effects, should I give it to them?

            I think not.

            If someone asks for ECT and the Dr knows it is damaging and more likely to harm than help then should the Dr give it to them? No more than I should give my friend a glass of petrol to drink just because he asks for it.

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          • Good point. People defend rights to have ECT performed by a doctor as a medical procedure but they probably would not defend the right to have your leg amputated or have cyanide prescribed just because someone chooses so. ECT is only looked at differently because people believe it’s treatment when it’s not.

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        • Francesca

          I don’t care if someone calls themselves a so-called feminist and claims that somehow prostitution is “liberating,” is it not, in the real world, oppressive to both women and men?

          Do YOU support the legalization of prostitution?

          Do you believe that once something is made legal that therefore it should always be legally available to those that choose it no matter how dangerous or oppressive this practice is found to be?

          Was it wrong for the drug, thalidomide, to be removed from the market place?

          Are some people being denied their right to choose to take this drug by an oppressive government?

          Do you think it is wrong for government to force white business owners to serve Black people even if they somehow decide they would rather not serve Black people?

          Are some white business owners being denied their right to serve whomever they want in their own businesses?

          Francesca, your logic on “freedom of choice” and “informed consent” is almost beyond credibility and making it hard for me to take you serious anymore.

          Are you ever wrong on some of the positions you take at MIA?


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          • Richard,

            Francesca says to you and me (above),

            “I’m quite serious about what I said before. It is actually disturbing to me to see psychiatric survivors being bullies.”

            That is purely an ad hominem attack (as there is nothing ‘bullying’ in your comments or mine); and, quite seriously, I think one big problem that Francesca has, is that she doesn’t read her critics’ comments carefully.

            We can see that happening in this instance.

            After all, from studying Francesca’s comment, that she addressed to you and me, above (on July 13, 2014 at 9:43 pm), I presume that she could not have actually read through my comment, which she is ostensibly replying to; for, her response to you and me indicates, that she’s paying no attention whatsoever to the passage I offered from Peter Breggin’s book, including these lines, “I have never seen or heard, or read of a single individual whose ECT was prematurely terminated on the grounds that he had changed his mind after experiencing the treatment and no longer wanted it. Most so-called voluntary ECT patients, therefore, become truly involuntary as soon as they experience its devastating effects. At first they are involuntary because their protests are ignored. Later they become involuntary because they are too brain-damaged to protest their worsening condition.”

            Surely, if Francesca had read that passage, she could not have written in response, to you and me, that,

            “The major complaint most of us have against the psychiatric system is being denied choices and not being listened to. Yet here we are doing exactly the same thing to some of our comrades.”

            She could not have written that, had she read the passage that I offered from Peter Breggin’s book, as that passage explains, very clearly, that, actually, any and all ECT “patients” who find that their initial ECT ‘treatment’ has been especially aversive will be denied the choice of discontinuing their full course of ECT ‘treatments’ — their objections will not be heard; they will not be listened to… (as soon as their ‘treatment’ begins, any objections they voice will be ignored and overridden by their doctor).

            How ironic, that Francesca is calling us “bullies” and that she’s accusing us of aiming to restrict reasonable choices, when, in fact, all I was doing is forwarding that information from Peter Breggin’s highly authoritative viewpoint, wherein he is explaining, that: Generally speaking, ECT “patients” do not make informed choices; they can’t; and, really, such is the nature of that beast (ECT), that will not change.

            Again, I emphasize: Every indication is that, Francesca is probably not reading through my comments; but, she is drawing conclusions about them (and now calling you and me “bullies”) nonetheless… It’s not the first time I’ve had such problems with her, in these MIA threads.

            (She has previously replied to a comment of mine, which she said she did not actually read; indeed, she explained that she does not like “reading verbose and redundant comments”).

            Source: http://www.madinamerica.com/2014/06/psychiatrys-response-attack-pr/#comment-44507

            Really, I have always been respectful toward her, and I think she’s just not willing to consider or acknowledge, that anyone who is disagreeing with her may have a good point.



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          • P.S. — Richard,

            Your view of prostitution does not enhance your argument against ECT, I think (especially, because there are so many forms of prostitution); but, I will not elaborate on that issue; I’d rather stay on topic.

            E.g., have you seen the meta-analysis of ECT (“The effectiveness of electroconvulsive therapy: A literature review”) that was done by John Read and Richard Bentall?

            Here’s their conclusion:

            “Given the strong evidence (summarised here) of persistent and, for some, permanent brain dysfunction, primarily evidenced in the form of retrograde and anterograde amnesia. and the evidence of a slight but significant increased risk of death, the cost-benefit analysis for ECT is so poor that its use cannot be scientifically justified.”

            Also, notably, they declare, “Neither author has any financial conflicts of interest in relation to this paper.”


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          • Richard, Francesca wrote “there’s an entire movement to legitimize the sex trade with a goal to keeping prostitutes safe.”

            Prostitution (like drug use) will always happen. So first it has to be legal to be a prostitute to have the same rights as other workers and don’t get oppressed by law-enforcement. There are prostitutes who don’t feel oppressed and like their job. And then there are people who don’t have access to non-paid sexual encounters.

            The question is not, if being a prostitute should be legal (it has to be), but if it’s illegal to pay for sex (like in Sweden, Norway, Iceland) or if prostitution should be legal and regulated.

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          • Francesca wrote:
            “I’m quite serious about what I said before. It is actually disturbing to me to see psychiatric survivors being bullies.”

            I think it was a general comment, Francesca didn’t say that Richard and Jonah are bullies (the way I read it). And I saw bullying happen against people who taking psychiatric drugs (because they were bullied by psychiatrist to take them).

            I think it’s possible to fight for making ECT illegal (at least for forced treatment) and still respect that people choose to get ECT treatment (as long as it is a legal “medical” treatment option).

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          • Richard, I’ve never heard prostitution being referred to as “liberating.” And from a legal standpoint, I support harm reduction. By way of analogy, I don’t think street drug use is either desirable or “liberating,” either but I don’t think the answer to it is shaming users.

            Rather than the personal attack, Richard, could you tell me specifically what logic of mine you find “almost beyond credibility” if you wish to discuss it? And, yes, I often change my mind about things as I learn more about them. It’s just that I haven’t learned anything here.

            Jonah, my comment about “bullying” was a general one directed at some sectors of the psych rights movement, not any particular individuals here. I’m sorry that you chose once again to select the very least generous interpretation of your opponent’s words.

            I’ve read Peter Breggin and find his position hard to reconcile with the facts. I agree that forced and/or coerced ECT has to be abolished but, as far as voluntary ECT goes, I’ve frequently seen people decline further treatments. Given that the USA’s mental health laws are much more user friendly than Canada’s, I assume that it happens in the USA too. Bottom line is that some people choose ECT and some in the psych rights movement choose not to respect other people’s choices, much as psychiatrists deny choice to their patients.

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          • Do YOU support the legalization of prostitution?

            I do. Simply because when it’s illegal the people who are harmed the most are those who are forced/coerced to it. I don’t know if there are in fact women or men who actually enjoy and at the very least don’t mind selling themselves in this way – it’s hard for me to phantom but if they do exit I don’t see why they should be prohibited form doing so. However, for the rest of the people who work in sex industry because of no better choice in their lives it’s better to have at least some degree of protection and of course any type of sex trafficking and coercion should be criminal.
            It’s a different matter than psychiatry where if we ban ECT it will be very easy to stop the practice and I am 100% sure that there won’t be underground ECT facilities offering it to desperate people anymore than there are underground lobotomies. The practicality of such a ban is the most compelling argument.

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          • “Prostitution (like drug use) will always happen. So first it has to be legal to be a prostitute to have the same rights as other workers and don’t get oppressed by law-enforcement.”
            Exactly. The same does not go for ECT – once you ban it it’s gone for good.

            “I think it’s possible to fight for making ECT illegal (at least for forced treatment) and still respect that people choose to get ECT treatment (as long as it is a legal “medical” treatment option).”
            Of course. I feel like this is a NAMI line: criticising drugs = stigmatising patients. Not at all. Nobody is going to punish you for having and ECT, however if someone performs ECT as a therapy they should face legal consequences and the person on whom it is performed can be considered a victim of a crime.

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          • @Francesca

            “I don’t think street drug use is either desirable…”

            The great majority of street drug users experience no significant adverse effects due to their drug use: http://theinfluence.org/newsflash-despite-our-drug-related-problems-non-problematic-drug-use-is-the-norm/

            So, the question is: Desirable to whom? It seems that if they are using these drugs and experiencing no negative consequences, it would seem to me that this can, indeed, be described as “desirable” from a net effect perspective?

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          • Interestingly enough, 99,9% of the people truly and freely consenting to any kind of plastic surgery being performed on them do not end up looking like Michael Jackson (may he rest in peace).

            Back on topic: contrary to plastic surgery procedures, the body part affected by ECT and other psychiatric „treatments“ is the very organ that we as humans depend on to experience life, ourselves and others, to think, feel, make decisions etc., in short: to live, at all – our brains in particular and the whole of our nervous system.

            Equating psychiatric so-called treatments with any other old form of medical procedure such as plastic surgery and „regular“ medical treatments is a shaky and kinda bold step, at best. Especially given the fact – you don’t need the reminder, but anyway, here goes… 🙂 – that the very concept of ‚mental illness‘ is based on fundamental category and attribution errors, that the so-called psychiatric diseases are proven to be mere phenomenological and tautological as well as neither reliable nor valid constructs, and are therefore always conveniently self-immunizing against verification and falsification in a general and even epistemic sense.

            And the act of being „diagnosed“ with a „mental illness“ in the first place, as I see it, is assault, libel, slander, and more importantly, a clear violation of personal rights – because who else, if not I, as the owner of my psyche, my mind, and the overall concept of MeMyselfandI should have the right to define myself as a person, and to define my problems, for that matter?

            So why in the world are we discussing – in part, at least – ECT as if it were a proper (and in some „cases“ even justified because of supposed informed consent) medical procedure/treatment?

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    • “I wish our considerable efforts were going instead into informed consent (which rests on public awareness), raising the criteria for forced treatment to where it belongs, providing effective voluntary care and (especially) fighting outpatient commitment.”
      Well, I think you’re totally unrealistic on these issues, maybe save for outpatient commitment, which should be banned.
      – informed consent – you can’t have it when you have coercive psychiatry. It is logically impossible because the right to refuse treatment is a per-requisition for consent. If you can’t refuse something you can’t consent to it – you have no choice. Moreover, in a situation when doctors know that you opinion doesn’t matter they don’t have the necessary incentives to inform you anyway.
      – raising the criteria for forced treatment – I happen to have lived for several yrs now in a country that has ratified the relevant UN convention, has all the protections on the books, has patient’s advocacy and the right to see a judge and all that stuff and I can tell you that the law is dead and psychiatrists do whatever the hell they want. It’s a nice legal fiction until you get abused and want to get some justice, then good luck to you.
      – providing effective voluntary care – when there is an option of involuntary treatment there is no incentive to improve existing treatment. A patient can’t say “I don’t like what you’re doing, I’m getting out of here” because he/she will get strapped to the bed and needle-raped. Doctors don’t need to bother if their treatment is effective since patients are captives.

      In my opinion abolition of forced psychiatry is the necessary first step to address all the other issues. How far do the people want to take if afterwards is another story.

      As to ECT: it should be banned. It’s not effective and causes brain damage with serious cognitive side effects and epilepsy. It’s not a matter of personal choice and here is why:

      If I went to a doctor and asked him to hit me over the head to help me with my depression until I collapse and he’d do that it’d be considered criminal. However, I have a right to hit myself over the head with whatever I want (or at least I should – psychiatry actually wants to take that right from me). Doctors are there to treat people according to the current medical knowledge and first cause no harm. They are not and should not be allowed to dispense treatments which are ineffective and/or harmful – that is considered malpractice. A doctor should not be allowed to perform ECT as much as he should not be allowed to beat me over the head with a baseball bat, my consent regardless. That’s why it’s totally ok to ban things like reperative gey therapy, ECT or lobotomy. Sure, your free to suck out parts of your brain or sniff your feces if you want but no doctors should be allowed to administer this as treatment.

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    • “Anyway, the concept of abolition of psychiatry or even abolition of forced psychiatry turns off an awful lot of influential people who would otherwise be our allies.”
      You should consider that for many people someone who embraces e.g. coercive psychiatry is not an ally. I draw a line on that one pretty firmly and if someone is going to decide “well, I’m going to continue with my current practice of drugging people insane and won’t listen to any criticism” because he/she doesn’t like my stand on that then they are no ally.
      I am afraid that in your quest to convince everyone to be on our side by lowering expectations and being non-inflammatory language runs into the danger of losing our principles and aims along the way as we are trying to appease people who are anyway not interested in listening to us.

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  2. Generally, people think of abolition as suddenly eliminating the object of its ire. As you say, Bonnie, it is a painstaking, slow, and deliberate process. It requires continual evaluation and re-evaluation, and must be orderly.

    Abolishing nuclear weapons requires nuclear arms reductions and a very clear and mutual process that two or more institutions must be committed to.

    Abolishing prisons is, likewise, is a long-term commitment, not a technocratic fix.

    Perhaps, it’s possible to work around most of the institution of psychiatry with alternative forms of counseling, respite, peer support, and the development of Soteria type alternatives— to leave psychiatry in the dust.

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    • E. Lie Silly

      Why is it so hard to envision a world where people no longer sell themselves for sex? Can you envision a world where people are no longer labeled with a so-called “mental illness” or forced into oppressive forms of “treatment.”

      Clearly the existence of such practices arise out of conditions of unequal class status and unequal production and distribution of the necessities of life. Just as slavery is almost a thing of the past, so too will the existence of class oppression, in all its forms, become an historical relic if we do the work that history demands of us.

      It is the defenders of the status quo who try to convince us that that human nature is static and somehow of a permanent character; nothing is further from the truth.

      BTW, I find your critique of Scientology to be spot on – please keep writing on that subject as the need presents itself.


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      • “Why is it so hard to envision a world where people no longer sell themselves for sex?”


        In my last comment to you (above), I indicated that it was my preference to put the matter of prostitution aside and just stay ‘on topic’ (re psychiatry and ECT); however, now I’m feeling compelled to ask you a simple question, regarding your views of prostitution; and, this does tie in to ‘mental health system’ issues.

        Here’s my question: In your opinion, is ‘sex therapy’ never a good thing?

        (Note: Personally, I’m absolutely convinced that it can be a very good thing — i.e., perfectly therapeutic — for all involved, in some instances. From this point of view, that sex therapy can sometimes be a good thing for all involved, I believe, surely, there must be unlicensed providers of that same good service, who would thus be called “prostitutes” by society. Such is not to deny, that: Of course, sadly, many countless “prostitutes” are terribly exploited.)

        Again, I must say, there are many forms of prostitution.

        Surely, some forms are not at all bad…



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        • P.S. — Richard,

          You mention slavery, and it’s true, that prostitution can become a form of slavery. But, have you never heard of the archetype of the divine prostitute?

          In contrast to your suggestion, that prostitution must somehow necessarily be all about the continuation of class oppression, please consider the significance of Lara…:

          Lara — (Acca Larentia) Etruscan goddess of sexuality in whose worship sacred prostitution played an important role. A semi-divine prostitute, she passed into Roman mythology as a benefactress of the lower classes and as the she-wolf foster-mother of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. Her festival, the Larentalia, took place annually on December 23rd

          Source: http://www.spiritwalkministry.com/earth_mother/goddess_directory_g-l

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        • Jonah

          Yes, sex therapy can be a good thing, such as depicted in the movie “Sessions” with Helen Hunt.

          Prostitution is not sex therapy, and the relationship between individuals in such an exchange is of a qualitatively different nature than legitimate sex therapy.


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          • “Prostitution is not sex therapy…”


            Of course, not all prostitution is sex therapy; but, imho, some prostitution is, in effect, sex therapy.

            For instance, there are thousands of ‘massage therapists’ in this country who illegally perform sex acts on their clients. (Note: Quite honestly, this is something I’m aware of, from what I’ve been told; I went to school to become a massage therapist, so I have had friends who’ve described working in this way…)

            They know: If they were to have the misfortune of being caught in a police sting, they’d be charged with illegally ‘soliciting sex’ — i.e., prostitution.

            So, they do their best to screen their clients and maintain ongoing business relationships with trusted clients. In effect, they develop business friendships, which are therapeutic.

            Would you disagree — and say that such individuals (who are, of course, not formally trained ‘sex therapists’) are actually incapable of providing postively therapeutic sexual services?

            Richard, perhaps, you are using the term “prostitution” in a way that requires defining, because, from gathering how you’re using that term, I’m inclined to believe you have a more narrow, potentially anachronistic (if not highly politicized and/or bourgeois) view of these matters; but, honestly, I am hoping to avoid drawing such conclusions, as I may be failing to follow your reasoning only because your use of the term “prostitution” is not clear .

            So, I respectfully wonder, Richard: In your view, how is “prostitution” best defined?

            And, would it or would it not be fair to call those ‘massage therapists’ whom I’ve mentioned, above, “prostitutes”?

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          • Further to my point:

            “Users would be well advised that much of the pro/con sentiment is a result of differing definitions of prostitution rather than differences on how to deal with a specific defined type of prostitution, and that if the definition was standardized much of the conflict might disappear…”

            –John Ince, Attorney and Leader of the Sex Party, in a May 10, 2007 e-mail to ProCon.org

            Source: http://prostitution.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000116

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          • I think equating ECT with prostitution is an oversimplification. I don’t think one can define all types of sex trade as evil. Also sex is not intrinsically damaging and unhealthy – it’s the context that can make it damaging but in a healthy setting it’s obviously beneficial. None of this can be said about ECT.
            As long as individuals providing sex for money do it on their free will (and that includes – not out of desperation to find means to survive) I’m OK with it, even though it makes me very uncomfortable and it comes with a yuck factor.

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      • I’m not so sure that charging money for sex services is always bad. But just legalizing sex work doesn’t solve oppression by itself (as you can see in Germany). I don’t know enough about this topic to know what’s the right thing to do, but I think it’s important to not criminalize sex workers (or in general the oppressed).

        There will be new laws for sex work in Canada (Bill C-36)



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        • One could make a case that every time a man takes a woman out to dinner with the expectation of sleeping with her and if the woman feels obliged to sleep with him, that the arrangement nears prostitution. Ditto very rich men and their trophy wives. What appalls us about more obvious prostitution is just that – that it’s too obvious. We will never be able to get away from the fact that sex is often used as a commodity.

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  3. I don’t believe you can have informed consent co-existing with forced treatment at any level. Forced treatment is de facto without consent. And since psychiatry is, at base, a matter of opinion, forced treatment usually means that, although you commit no crime, you are arrested by the psychiatric establishment to please some outside person. It’s social control without the necessity for proof. To me this is the basic problem people face with psychiatry. You can chose to believe whatever quackery you want, but you shouldn’t be licensed to force it on another.

    Thanks, Bonnie, for this inspiring model.

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    • Informed consent is still possible even if forced treatment exists in other situations. What’s critical is to guard against the insidious grey area of coercion where people are “consenting” under threat of force when they don’t actually meet the criteria for involuntary treatment. In BC, the threshold for involuntary treatment is far too low and is so vaguely worded it could pretty much apply to anybody. “Imminent danger,” on the other hand, does seem a reasonable standard. I’d be happy with that in BC, provided a patient was entitled to a court hearing.

      There are, unfortunately, rare and extraordinary circumstances where intervention is justified. Intervention need not necessarily mean medication but it may mean a 72 hour hold. The need for such a legal mechanism has to be acknowledged because it’s never going to go away.

      I am adamantly opposed to psychiatry but I would never support absolute abolition of emergency psychiatric intervention. If somebody is writing down their fantasies about killing schoolchildren, they are not breaking any law, merely exercising free speech. If they don’t want counselling or other services, are we really going to ignore them? The public is never going to get behind a movement that answers “yes” to that question.

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        • If you don’t like the “psychiatric” descriptor, we don’t need to use it. The term intervention (or crisis intervention or emergency intervention) can stand by itself. My point is just that there are situations where it’s ethical and appropriate to intervene, even though a person may have broken no law.

          I agree that there are often a range of services that can be offered beyond involuntary hospitalization in a crisis and, of course, we should encourage use of those services first. However, if a person is declining such help, then, yes, the choice is between forced intervention or nothing. You can’t force a person to be talked down.

          If a police officer comes across a suicidal woman standing on a bridge railing, it is only mental health legislation that allows him to physically prevent her from jumping. Without such laws, he would actually be committing assault if he grabbed her. That’s an untenable scenario and just one reason why we’re never going to get rid of involuntary psychiatric treatment. The real issue is in its application and how civil liberties are balanced with public safety.

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          • “ethical and appropriate to intervene, even though a person may have broken no law.”
            If by intervene you mean force then I disagree. If someone is a threat to someone of public safety that is illegal and police can handle that. If someone is not a threat and not breaking any laws – you can have crisis intervention teams to talk someone down but if the person doesn’t want to talk to you they should be left alone.
            “Without such laws, he would actually be committing assault if he grabbed her. That’s an untenable scenario”
            I disagree. It’s a totally rational standpoint. You’re arguing ECT should be legal to perform on people who want it, yet you deny the poor lady the right to jump?

            One more thought on the use of force in crisis: I was in as situation of severe crisis and the sole reason I refused any help was the fact that I was aware that as soon as I enter the system I loose my human rights. I didn’t go to a hospital, didn’t want to talk to anyone, refused to “co-operate” even though I actually needed help. However in the coercive system I was too scared to look for help and rightly so – when it was forced on me it turned to be not help but horrific abuse, worse than anything that cause the crisis in the first place. Coercion in psychiatry is like the use of torture (well, it’s essentially the same but let’s make this distinction) – it’s not only inhumane but it also doesn’t work.

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          • “Well, I really can’t comment on that because I don’t know how you envision a better legal and criminal justice system.”
            I think that might be your problem… If you can’t get conceptually beyond the current system then obviously there’s no point trying to abolish psychiatry because the alternative is void.

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      • “Imminent danger,” on the other hand, does seem a reasonable standard.

        It’s a standard in where I live and patients also have a right to stand in front of a judge. Well, problem is that the “imminent danger” translates to psychiatrists says so and standing in front of a judge translates to judge rubber-stamping anything the psychiatrists tell him while the defendant is too drugged to even remember the event. Personal experience corroborated by many similar stories published in the local press. So much for “guard against the insidious grey area”.

        What you’re advocating may sound reasonable when reality is ignored but it’s unattainable in practice.

        “If somebody is writing down their fantasies about killing schoolchildren, they are not breaking any law, merely exercising free speech.”
        First of all that is not true. Making threat when there is a reasonable suspicion that they may be followed by actions (like evidence of planning) are criminal and can be prosecuted. Moreover, 72h stay in the hospital you’re proposing as one of the solutions would do exactly nothing to prevent school shootings, even if you assume that they are an effect of “mental illness” which I have a problem with. Criminal actions should be dealt with by the legal system not by doctors.

        I think you should cut public some slack on being able to understand complex issues if they are provided with actual facts and not just assume we have to continue current dumb practice because the public is not going to accept reality.

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  4. What I am about to say is controversial, but I think that the way the gay rights movement managed to get homosexuality off the DSM and even get some states, and the federal government, to recognize gay marriage provides the actual blue print for the best way to accomplish long lasting change.

    To those who say that it’s impossible, it begs reminding them where the gay rights movement started. This is where the gay rights movement was 50 years ago https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AXAOT_swIE . The language used against homosexuals in the video should resonate with the rest of us.

    Now I have been harsh in previous post with gay rights activists who use the exclusion of homosexuality of the DSM as a way to affirm normality, and that cannot be discounted, but wouldn’t it be great that all current labels in the DSM got the homosexuality treatment so that the DSM would not contain any label whatsoever? Meaning, wouldn’t it be a statement of “true equality” that no behavior that deviates from whatever is the social norm of the day and that it is not deemed criminal be declared “pathological” by a group of self appointed, unaccountable mind guardians?

    In that regard, I think that we need to,

    – Be proud of who we are as a people. Because homosexuality has been controversial for centuries, there is a lot of information about possible genetic components in homosexuality (from twin studies) and fMRI correlates with homosexual tendencies. Aren’t both those things used by the believers in psychiatry to “show” that the invented DSM labels are real? If a genetic component and fMRI correlates are not enough to declare homosexuality a “disease” it shouldn’t be the case for any of the other DSM labels.

    – Shame those who use “mental health services”. I am not going as far as the gay rights movement is with demanding that conversion therapy is banned, because people who use “mental health services” should be free to use them, but I am talking about those who are proud “users”. To clarify, by “mental health services” I mean those provided by “the system”: licensed psychiatrists, licensed psychologists, licensed social workers, etc. I see nothing to be shamed in people seeking help of counselors, friends, clerics, etc. I am talking about “official, government sponsored, mental health”. Those who use these services are legitimizing “the system” in the same way those who attend religious services legitimate the role of religion. Unlike religion, “mental health” can be imposed by government. We must make emphasis that “using government sponsored mental health services” legitimizes the psychiatric tyranny.

    – Thinking about “coming out” parties, Mad Pride demonstrations, etc.

    The gay rights movement shows that it will not be easy and that there will be setbacks, but it also shows that it can be done.

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    • When we all of us find ways to advance our own legitimate causes while being truly mindful of the ways in which we proceed injures others legitimate causes, we will be in a position to create a better society. That did not happen in the battle for removing homosexuality from the DSM. Nor did it happen over the fight over the sexist diagnoses. Nor does it happen, for that matter, in any routine way with any struggle I know. This, I think, may well be the most important issue that we as activists need to figure out.

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    • I agree with you, but I think it’s difficult to control the ethics of others. Unethical medicals are nothing new. Unethical medicals with the power to compel treatments is what we’ve got in the psychiatric system. To me that’s over the top.

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    • How is it a contradiction in terms? A patient can be given the facts (informed) and genuinely choose the treatment (consent). I think what trips anti-psychiatrists up is their disagreement with other people’s choices. The irony is that limiting choice is the primary complaint they have against psychiatry! We do, indeed, bear responsibility for what we offer but we also bear responsibility for denying choice.

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      • Dr’s have duty to offer treatments that are effective and cause the least harm. That cannot be said of ECT or lobotomy.

        The same applies to consumer law. A company cannot sell food that is obviously dangerous and poisoned even if the consumer will buy it.

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      • Which facts would those be exactly, when what constitutes “fact” in these matters is contested terrain?

        Which facts would those be when the long-term harmful effects of the drugs are not and cannot be entirely known?

        Is it realistic to expect the purveyors of snake oil to tell their patients that it’s snake oil? And if they don’t, how exactly will people get that information before making their “choice”?

        I for one consented to take the drugs because I was told all sorts of “facts” about biological illnesses, correction of chemical imbalance, “unmasking” etc. I was told that the drugs were “safe” and “effective” “medicine” and was rarely told about risks, particularly of permanent damage. I was never told of any alternative options. Setting aside the issue that I was a child in the foster system and could not meaningfully give consent anyway, the fact remains that I willingly embraced psychiatry because I believed it was the only rational choice — in essence, not a choice at all.

        So as far as I’m concerned my consent was coerced, which is a form of force. And I think that’s the case for most people really. If doctors were to say “this stuff is no more effective than Skittles, it very well might wreck your brain and body for life, and I’m only prescribing it because I’m lazy and the pharma rep gave me this nice Zyprexa wall clock, plus I know you’re desperate and your insurance won’t cover anything else anyway” I doubt many would make such a choice, but you know doctors will never say that.

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        • As long as psychiatrists have the legal power to impose their so called “treatments” onto people against their will, consent is not really “consent”.

          If you were to read the notes the psychiatrist who committed me wrote, you’ll find things like “he was upset to have been committed, then he started to collaborate one day later”. Really, did I really have a choice “not to collaborate” or “not to take drugs”? Please!

          I regularly also tell the story of a young woman who shared her commitment experience with me. In her case she was there “allegedly” on a voluntary basis. When you arrived to the facility you were giving a nice looking pamphlet that listed your “rights”. Among them there was the right to be released if you were there on a “voluntary basis”. It wasn’t an option for me because I was there on an involuntary basis, but this young woman tried to be released. She was restrained in a bed for as long as it took the nursing staff to ask for an involuntary commitment order.

          True consent is what happens with those populations at high risk of HIV infection. A couple of months ago the CDC started a campaign to put as many of these people as possible on Truvada. None of these people can be forced to be put on Truvada so when they say, “thanks but no thanks” it truly means NO. It doesn’t meant “no, but it might be the case that you, infectious disease specialists think it is better for me to be on Truvada and you might want to force me on the drug so I might as well agree to make it look like that I am taking Truvada voluntarily”.

          This is the big difference. So, as long as coercive psychiatry is legal, even if it is legal in the “petty circumstance” that every psychiatrist who blogs here thinks that should be legal, the imbalance of power is there and will be abused.

          The abolition of all forms of coercive psychiatry in all circumstances is the only thing that will bring our movement true freedom, even for those who believe that they are fine with ECT or lobotomy.

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          • Yeah, I see what you mean — if they can’t get you with the carrot there’s always the stick, and the existence of the latter renders the former fairly irrelevant.

            Your average person doesn’t even know about the stick though, they just hunger to feel better and can’t resist that golden promise dangling before their eyes. We need to get rid of both, the threats and the lies.

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          • “he was upset to have been committed, then he started to collaborate one day later”
            Yeah, this is the same way as I “consented to taking drugs” after I was needle-raped and restrained. It’s like a guy in the dark alley giving you a choice “will you have sex with me or should I stab you and rape you?” is consensual sex. Well, that’s really informed consent – you can consent or not and you’re informed about the consequences of refusal. It’s pathetic.

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          • “Your average person doesn’t even know about the stick though, they just hunger to feel better and can’t resist that golden promise dangling before their eyes.”
            Not entirely true. Many people are afraid to admit there’s something wrong going on in their lives because they fear psychiatry and rightly so.

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  5. I think this article is very important for encouraging people in our antipsychiatry movement to stop and think about what they are doing. I think there s very little tactical or strategic thinking in our movement and we need a lot more.

    I do think there is an important issue we should talk about when deciding what actions to take that Bonnie doesn’t mention, and that is the effect of the action on public opinion about psychiatry. At bottom, psychiatry has been given ts power because the public believes in psychiatry’s competence and benevolence. Anything we do that reveals to the public just how incompetent and destructive psychiatry is a big step on the way to taking away that power.

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  6. I would question the effectiveness of such a model based on the massive expansion of the prison industrial complex in western countries. Not saying that it is of no use, but I see it as only one tool in the box.

    Personally i prefer to use the “hanging on to the tigers belt” model used by Colonel Giap of the North Vietnamese Army. Get hold of the tiger where it cannot harm you, and stab it in the side hard. When it gradually recovers from the harm, do it again, and again. The animal will become exhausted, and then move in and kill it.

    The strategy was, as history has shown, very effective.

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      • If that’s what your fighting E Lie.

        For me, there is no better reference on fighting tactics than Sun Tsu, The Art of War.

        My battle is with co ercive psychiatry and is where my focus will remain. At this point in time I dont have the resources to fight any other fight.

        Sun Tzu says about alliances that “We cannot enter into alliances until we are aquainted with the designs of our neighbours”.

        I have no alliance with Scientology, merely a common enemy. I also have no time for examining the designs of Scientology, I have my own beliefs.

        Should they do my enemy harm, then I will celebrate their victory. It would not however make me one of them.

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      • “how this could be applied to Scientology”
        As I understand it, to follow Scientology is a voluntary action.
        The same should be true for the religion of Psychiatry. Their followers have to be voluntary.
        “No behaviour or misbehaviour is a disease, that is not what diseases are!” Szasz

        That being said, you can’t kill a religion, but you can limit its power.

        The psychiatrist declares that their patient need medication, and the Government has to pay for this medication.
        Imagine a slave owner demanding the Government pay for the chains that bind the slave. The slave owner should pay for the drugs out of his own pocket.

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          • Hard to leave psychiatry? Try impossible to leave, because the law sees psychiatry as legitimate science.

            Only a religion can excuse themselves of a crime, a cult could not have got away with mass murder.

            Watson: Do you think they felt they were murdering people?
            Dr Benno Muller Hill: There it’s most interesting that two other chiefs here, medical doctors and psychiatrists who were running this place here, kind of got away with it in 1962 by saying that they couldn’t see anything wrong with killing those incurably insane, and they had learned this in the medical courses at the universities and so they couldn’t see anything wrong, so in fact they got free. And so this went then up from court to court, and in 1972 the German Supreme Court decided that indeed, since they didn’t see anything wrong there was nothing wrong with it, and they could be free.

            “They got away with it”


            To hear the quote
            1)Choose “In the third Riech” (bottom, near right)

            2)Choose “Epilogue” (top , right)

            3)Then advance one page. (near bottom, near left, “>” sign)

            4)Choose “They couldn’t see anything wrong” (left collum)

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  7. Thanks for this. I’m so glad you are blogging here.

    I encourage other readers to check out the links to Bonnie’s other work. I also highly recommend the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault’s “Fact Sheet,” which addresses many of the common myths and misperceptions about the antipsychiatry position:


    As someone who is relatively new to these issues and who feels that antipsychiatry makes the most logical and moral sense, I found it to be extremely helpful. I think it might also be a useful read for the reformists here who sometimes seem to have a knee-jerk aversion to antipsychiatry.

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  8. “…it is not enough to rid ourselves of psychiatry. If that is all we accomplished, psychiatry could easily be replaced by a new form of ruling that is just as powerful, that is just as all-encompassing.”

    I agree, psychiatry is just one example of such influential agencies in our culture being corrupt, and draining society by creating–or at the very least, actively contributing to–social ills, in addition to individual suffering. Unfortunately, we have such dysfunctional social dynamics which make the ground fertile for such groups. We’re an overly stressed society, which makes us vulnerable to tyranny-like oppression. I really love your point, Bonnie, that imagination is key. I think we want to create new things, rather than to keep doing the same things over and over (aka insanity). I imagine, even, radically new things from radically new perspectives.

    Personally, I abolished psychiatry in my own life, which was the best thing I ever did for myself. When I completed with all that, after a 20 year run using their services, what I really needed and what eventually led to my full integral healing pretty much sprang forth, and that was the thread I followed. Now, I’m simply in my flow of personal growth, like anyone else. No diagnoses, no drugs, no therapy, just self-awareness and knowing what keeps me feeling healthy and aligned with myself.

    Psychiatric services took me from bad to worse, and soaked up so much space in my mind and energy, that it overtook my life. So when I changed course finally, I felt incredibly freed up, just from letting that go—all that negativity and discouragement, the coercion and manipulation, and the drugs. It was really an amazing difference when I was finally able to break free of all that, which was a meticulous process, of course. It led to a personal transformation that got me back on my feet, and into the river of life once again. What a relief it’s been, all these years.

    I’ve got a lot of stories from that time, but the story I tell the most is that psychiatry made me so sick and disabled, and only by completely changing healing tracks to a whole different paradigm of healing was I able to come back to life and claim it, so that I could once again be happy, grounded and productive. In my case, it was absolutely no contest.

    Toxins bad; nature good. No on Psych!

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    • “…it is not enough to rid ourselves of psychiatry. If that is all we accomplished, psychiatry could easily be replaced by a new form of ruling that is just as powerful, that is just as all-encompassing.”

      That is what Scientology with the help of CCHR has in mind, replacing psychiatry with Dianetics.

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      • I replaced it with common sense and self-respect. That was enough to lead to me to find effective and authentic healing. Anything that involves funding, dogma, and institution will not be helpful, of this I’m certain.

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  9. Very timely piece here, Bonnie. We need to think more in terms of strategy, and I thank you for that. The attrition model is something we can put into action. Your 3 touchstones or questions, definitely strike home. Number 3, what with so many people being hired, often bought out by the system, is especially pressing. You end up, in some instances, with an expanding mental illness system promoted by paraprofessional turncoats. Also, now that the mental health big wigs are targeting children for surveillance, labeling, and drugging over the violence red herring, the numbers rise, and the absurdity just becomes more and more apparent.

    I agree with Ted Chabasinski as well. We should play to the public and public opinion. I could see his definitional or touchstone question/point make no. 4. We’ve got problems here, too, as the corporate owned mass media has found it easy to ignore us, and the DIY (do it yourself) media can only get so far as a rule. If we could find more routes into the mass media that would help. I also think it important to utilize the element of surprise sometimes in planning actions. When we become too predictable, we become too easy to ignore. If we could catch them off guard sometime, well, that kind of thing is harder to ignore.

    The former director of Virginian’s Against the Death Penalty (he was subsequently hired elsewhere) told me that he never got any media attention until he got arrested. I was talking to a member of our movement, and he was telling me about these acts of civil disobedience he had engaged in years and years ago. None since. I’m thinking it would perhaps be useful if we could find the people willing to take that extra step. I’ve got a notion that if we were willing go to jail for our beliefs, it would probably make the dailies. Anyway, that’s another area that I feel has probably been under utilized in recent years while the need to do something of the sort has grown. Psychiatry, in my opinion, has been expanding and getting stronger. I don’t think, therefore, we should be weakening.

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    • Except that you’ll probably end up in a psych ward rather than jail and if you eve emerge back you’ll be so brain damaged that you’d probably be dead. Sorry for being cynical here but that’s just how I see it.

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      • B. I’m talking about organized non-violent civil disobedience of the sort that made the civil rights movement so effective. You need a group, or groups, of people acting in concert to carry these things out. I’m aware that one individual acting alone, without backing and support, could get into a world of trouble, if not “treatment”. I wouldn’t expect any individual alone to take on the risk, it would be foolish to do so, however, dotting your Is and crossing your Ts, with a little bit of preparation and planning, mountains can be moved. I just see a situation that keeps getting worse over time, and as desperate situations demand desperate measures. I’d say the time is long overdue to start making a more forceful political statement by showing that we mean business, and that, oh, this isn’t just another instance of “you’re only saying that, you don’t really mean it”.

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        • I’m with you on this Frank.

          The word ‘saboteur’ comes to mind. I believe that the word originated back during the industrial revolution and that a “sabot” was a wooden clog that workers who were being made to perform at rates they couldn’t maintain, would throw into the machinery.

          I do believe that some form of resistance may be necessary.

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          • “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

            Mario Savio 1964.

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          • I’m with you, too, boans. I just think I would stay away from presenting the matter in military terms. I wouldn’t use the word “sabotage” even if what we did were technically “sabotage”. I don’t think we can change the system directly through civil disobedience. We don’t have that kind of clout. I think the civil disobedience would be instrumental in educating the public, and that that public education could be instrumental in changing the system. All the public knows is what it sees in the media, and right now the media is full of this or that victim/puppet of the psychiatry claiming to have a “mental illness”. I think we’ve got pockets of resistance to psychiatry now, it’s just a matter of organizing those pockets of resistance into a force to be reckoned with. Unorganized, and divided, resistance would tend to be passive, and could have little effect. This is a way to increase the impact, and if we’re open to using any and all means of resistance, just another tool at our disposal, at this point, perhaps, under utilized.

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          • Certainly Frank.

            One area that shows promise to me is the use of recording devices. It is being resisted with vigor here under the guise of ‘patient confidentiality’. The truth is that images of the brutality being dished out in our hospitals would do significant damage to public image.

            There have been two instances of the police excessive use of force come to light recently. The public has been angered by these matters. And yet I’ve seen worse done in the hospital environment but there are no images of this.

            A picture may paint a thousand words if any of this brutality could be captured and distributed to the public.

            A word of warning. I had a friend who managed to capture a recording of a police officer committing a corrupt act on tape. When he made an official complaint to the police, the recording was erased. Sorry about that.

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          • “One area that shows promise to me is the use of recording devices.”
            True. If my encounter at the hospital was taped I would have something to sue them with – as it stands now is my word against theirs and they can simply state I was a danger for self and others, case closed.
            Every psych ward should have 24/7 video surveillance which should be freely accessible to patients and their legal representation. It’d not solve the problem but it’d certainly give us some ammunition and maybe get some of the most abusive people face some consequences.

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        • What if there were even 6 people carrying signs, also with a portable display of info on the subject of drugging babies, toddlers, and young children. Could they get a permit to demonstrate near a school or somewhere near a guilty psychiatrists office or in a place visible to the public.If yes how long could they expect to be able to be allowed to demonstrate.
          Can this be made workable? And is 6 people enough for starters to avoid being held for” treatment” even if some of them are psych- survivors ? Closest city to me is Eugene Or. 75 miles away.

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          • We were discussing non-violent civil disobedience. Demonstrating is not actually civil disobedience. Yes, six people could pull off a protest of one type or another, and in some places I’d consider that a good number. As for permits, you’d have to inquire of the area where you live. Laws vary from locality to locality. Sometimes you don’t even need a permit. You just have to keep moving, and you have to stay off “private” property. A protest of one sort or another is certainly doable anywhere. If you’re just wanting to demonstrate, 6 people is enough, and nobody should be holding anybody for “treatment”. Of course, you might want to check with the city clerk, or somebody who works for the city where you live on just what the laws are. You might want to work things out with the police first, too, so that there are no misunderstandings.

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          • I don’t think demonstrating at schools would have the desired outcome, even though it would be legitimate and even though I understand the motivation to do so.

            I feel similarly about the idea of protesting any individual psychiatrist, unless the protesters have personal grievances with that particular psychiatrist and those grievances can be easily explained to the media.

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          • True enough. There is always NAMI. I think it always good to show people that NAMI’s voice isn’t the only voice out there, and if it takes a demonstration to get that message out, so much the better. Also, there have been all sorts of abuses at some of these private facilities, and if nobody is around to rub it in their faces, it just gets swept under the rug. Some facilities, public and private, could use shutting down. There are better ways to treat people. I could see targeting drug companies, too. These guys weather the largest civil settlements in human history because, with all the money they take in, to them it’s just a write off. Well, it wouldn’t hurt to try a little harder to make them feel it. If by schools you mean grade schools, okay. Let them make their own mistakes, however, the same is not true for institutions of higher education. Colleges and universities have known demonstrations by their own students, and where corporate interests, for example drug companies and pharmacology departments, would interfere with an impartial education, they could use a little trouble making. Somebody has to tell them, “No, this is not okay.” If nobody does so, the number of hands with blood on them just multiplies.

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          • I jumped the gun with my last comment, that is to say, now that I come to think about it, I disagree. There has been much campaigning against screening adolescents and children for mental health. I could definitely see a good reason there for demonstrations as long as parents were involved in them. The therapeutic state is targeting children and adolescents for labeling and drugging. Doing so is going to mean the surveillance and monitoring of problem people over the course of entire lifetimes. If that isn’t a reason for taking action then tell what is. Who wants the government preying on their children? Individual psychiatrists include the likes of Joseph Biederman and Charles Nemeroff. In the not only department, you’ve got psychiatrists who are known for their over prescribing practices. I was reading recently about an Illinois psychiatrist being investigated for prescribing more pills than any other doctor in the state. There are psychiatrists who leave dead bodies in their wake. If you think we should be ignoring the memory of these people murdered by a psychiatrist, shame on you! We should do something about it, and a protest is one of those things we can do.

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          • I think we agree here, Frank.

            I wasn’t thinking about higher ed schools. Of course they are appropriate sites for protests. I was thinking about grade schools and high schools. And if parents are going to do the protesting at their own children’s schools, then of course that would be an exception to what I said.

            I also agree that protesting NAMI is a good idea.

            Have psychiatrized people ever protested the American Medical Association?

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          • Not that I know of. Any person knowledgeable on the subject can correct me if I’m wrong. Although there have been many protests of the American Psychiatric Association, the point of a protest of the American Medical Association over psychiatry would be mostly lost on people. The out going president of the AMA, Joseph A. Lazarus was a psychiatrist, and he spoke recently about the “tremendous partnership” the AMA had with psychiatry and the APA, but all the same, I think there must be many people in the AMA who aren’t closely allied with psychiatry. I don’t think people likely to understand the reasoning behind a protest of the AMA over psychiatry alone, and I would think it very important to be as clear as possible about these matters.

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          • “I don’t think demonstrating at schools would have the desired outcome”
            Agreed. In my view demonstrating the psychiatric hospitals may be a more desirable target – making people aware of what goes on in there, human rights violations, forced drugging and ECT. Maybe giving out short pamphlets on psychiatric abuses (with examples of famous cases where people were harmed or died like Justina Pelletier or Dan Markingson) would be useful – something that people can take and read if they can’t figure out what the protest is about on the spot. Making people aware what can happen if they or their loved ones decide to enter the system…

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          • Given that the children and adolescents are being targeted, as the answer to gun violence in America, for psychiatric labeling and drugging, I don’t think schools should be considered off grounds as far as protest and political statements are concerned. It’s America’s children that are at stake here. Of course, this may be more of an issue to parents and children than it would to ex-patients, unless the ex-patient was an ex-child patient. I’m just saying that people have better things to do with their children than turn them into lifetime mental patients, and when it comes to demonstrations, schools should be no sacred cows either. Nothing wrong with demonstrating at a mental institution, but people could, and perhaps should, be demonstrating over abuse in schools (for this is abuse), and they could march on drug companies as well.

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          • If I were voting on what an initial focus of public protest might be for a united movement — which is currently a theoretical scenario — other than the APA, I think it would be about exposing the corporate/pharmaceutical connection to what Szasz called “the manufacture of madness.” Another unifying campaign might be fighting the Murphy bill with a widely advertised & publicized demonstration in an appropriately symbolic location.

            PS to Fred, most of the stuff you describe seems like pretty basic 1st Amendment activity if you don’t obstruct the sidewalk, traffic, business, etc. HOWEVER, depending on where you are and when, all this can be totally meaningless in practice. It’s always a good idea to ask a local lawyer first or ask the national ACLU to direct you to one. They might not charge for basic advice over the phone if they like you & what you’re trying to do.

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  10. Excellent article & as an old-school anti-psychiatry activist one I can seemingly agree with 100% (I’ll keep looking though just to keep it interesting).

    Bonnie, one question — what are your thoughts on the move by Richard & some others to single out what they call “biological” psychiatry as the villain rather than the entire field? (Personally I think it creates unnecessary confusion.)

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    • Not a straight forward answer, but I would see biological psychiatry without question as psychiatry as its very worst–and indeed the one direction that has allowed psychiatry to flourish. So indeed, it is pivotal. At the same time, psychiatry, biological and otherwise, s part of an incarceral project which predates psychiatry per se, and we can ill afford to ignore this part of the equatipn.

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      • OK — 2 additional things I would bring up:

        First, I don’t believe you go to school to become a “biological” psychiatrist or get a special degree for such; it seems to be a nebulous term that many shrinks would not particularly identify with even if others considered them to be “biological,” hence the confusion; and

        Second, all psychiatry is predicated on the contention that there can be mental “diseases,” i.e. that metaphors can in this case be taken concretely, in defiance of all rules of the English language (and I would assume most others).

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        • Oldhead

          You are correct that there is no degree in “Biological” psychiatry. However, a biologically based genetic/ disease/ drug centered medical model is the essence of what defines today’s dominant trend in psychiatry , frequently called and referred to as Biological Psychiatry.

          Making reference to Biological Psychiatry only illuminates it recent theoretical and practical evolution. It SHOULD NOT be meant to discourage criticism of psychiatry as a profession or imply that there is some wing of psychiatry that is somehow not based on faulty and oppressive premises.

          In my next blog submission (written, but waiting to be put up) I will self criticize my prior formulation that promoted a view that being “anti-Biological Psychiatry” was somehow more appropriate and correct than being “anti-psychiatry.”

          To the extent that I was discouraging an “anti-psychiatry” position with that particular formulation, I was clearly wrong. I will elaborate more on the reasoning behind my change in thinking in Part 3, hopefully it will go up soon. And I want to thank those who have given me critical feedback in past discussions.


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          • Sounds like your analysis is taking a positive turn. I disagree tho with your frequent assertions that anything is “frequently referred to as biological psychiatry.” I doubt many people outside MIA who are not “mental health” workers of some sort have ever heard of the term (including many psychiatrists). The general public just calls it psychiatry, which I doubt will change much.

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        • Psychiatry generally equates with biological psychiatry. Biological basis is the dominating bias in psychiatry today. The schools teach it. Even biopsychosocial is biopsychosocial because you have bio up there getting top billing. Psychosocial, in other words, moved aside for dear ole’ bio to get ahead, and right now, he’s way ahead. Bio is hot, hot, hot. Bio is neuro. Think psychiatry, and you’re, as a rule, thinking biological psychiatry.

          As for medical model, the definition of psychiatrist embodies it. If “mental illness” is a metaphor and myth, that metaphor is the primary subject of concern for his profession. “Mental illness” implies a “mental health” somewhere, but that is NOT the concern of the psychiatrist. He or she is there to do something about what is being referred to as “mental illness”. What he or she is doing is injuring the patient with shocks or drugs. The treatment for “mental illness” is physical injury. Now if you can get to health from there, you’re more flexible than most ordinary mortals.

          If psychiatry is not medical, psychiatry is redundant, because what defines the psychiatrist are all those years in medical school it took to become a member of the profession. Psychiatrists, now that psychologists and social workers do the talk therapy, do little besides push pills. These pills injure their patients. Patients would be better off without injury and, therefore, without psychiatrists. The way to health is not through injury.

          I have seen mental health professional after mental health professional who won’t hear that psychiatric drugs are dangerous and damaging because their careers depend upon it. That is a great motivation. I can see what is going on, and I can see the deception at work. I just have a hard time understanding how this “road of good intentions” became so ultimately damning. You’d think there would be a conscience to stop them somewhere. Gaze at “good intentions” long enough, I suppose, and it resembles the real thing.

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        • Biological psychiatry is fact the mainstay of psychiatry. Psychiatrists in training rotate though all of medicine in medical school even before they get to psychiatry-specific area. In this regard, there is a clear message given that ultimately, the biological is the foundation.

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  11. Bonnie, Your ideas and explanations are a positive step toward clarity. Why in the light of the growing assault on the very youngest ,projecting forward 25 years seems unthinkable, is a guerrilla revolution by all means necessary model not to be also simultaneously pursued. By your criteria would it be helpful? Great to hear about AARP’s legal victory concerning over drugging seniors.

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  12. This is way to complicated for me.

    We need to just keep throwing our stones of truth at the beast called Institutional Psychiatry until it respects human rights . What ever your angle of attack, it doesn’t much matter just do what your good at.

    They may have billions but this is an information war and the truth is on our side.

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  13. Bonnie, Ted seems to be striking when the iron is hot by letting us respond to this overview of your investigations of how to effect change. I also think that individual protests can happen independently of the advanced knowledge that is needed for evaluating the goal best to share and the outcomes of and downsides of planned projects of group action. But I mean advanced knowledge of the intricacies particular to getting the facts straight. The facts that support hypotheses like those you wish to keep in focus are indispensable in themselves. The most difficult point to appreciate for most people who decide they can or have or will or should rescue themselves from psychiatry, and help see that others can, is its appeal to all conventional approaches to systematic maintenance of authority and power, so that accountable is the detachable option at the top, and according to what the ultimate authority acting at a given time may react to as “right or wrong”. I think there is right and wrong, but psychiatry and psychology and neurology acting in concert will intend to dictate both the final conclusions about that and the conventional wisdom and legal definitions for declaring it officially true, as they do for “choices”, “sanity”, and “intentions” already. We can make monkeys out of psychiatrists for voting diseases into existence. But no vote has to happen for them to keep allies throughout government, academia, and the corporate world–just to keep the means to exclude and disempower intact. History needs retold, undoubtedly.

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