What Is Biological Psychiatry? Pt. 3: Thoughts on Hastening Its Demise

Richard D. Lewis
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In Part 1 of this blog I attempted to summarize and define the evolution of psychiatry into its present day incarnation of Biological Psychiatry. In Part 2, I focused on analyzing the anatomy of its enormous power and control within our present day society. The following quote from my last blog highlights the sobering reality we now face in building a movement to dismantle the current mental health system and end all future psychiatric abuse: 

“Today’s Biological Psychiatry has become such an essential part of the economic and political fabric holding together our present day society, including its ability and need to maintain control over the more volatile sections of the population, that its future existence may be totally interdependent on the rise and fall of the entire system itself.”

Given the difficult circumstances we now face in confronting such powerful institutions, I still believe there are many opportunities to expand our struggle and grow our movement. History has taught us that “where there is oppression there will always be resistance.” With each person and family abused by this system, combined with every lie the system tells us, there is a constant regeneration of favorable conditions to expose them and gather allies.

Here are a few thoughts for discussion on the road forward:

  • We need more direct action targeting the major forms of psychiatric abuse. We have enough science and critical exposure, combined with a significant core of dedicated activists, to begin the creation of a greater organizational and activist presence. While political exposure must be expanded, this movement lacks organization and more radical forms of protest in the material world. The interdependence of education and direct action is such that you cannot sustain one without the other, and each will expand and grow the other.
  • The creation of alternative support systems, for those most likely to be captured and victimized by the current mental health system, is a valuable and necessary goal for the coming period. Development of The Hearing Voices Network and new forms of innovative respite programs are just a few specific examples of these types of alternatives. Another important example would be drug tapering and withdrawal support groups, which need to be expanded and given our encouragement and financial help wherever possible. These groups can not only save lives and minds, but also, (by their very nature) create fertile ground for the birth of future activists as the truth regarding the harm caused by psychiatric drugs and brain disease labeling becomes more evident to survivors.
  • As important as the creation of “alternatives” and “parallel systems” are for us to support and work to develop, they CANNOT substitute for or replace the primary need to educate the masses and organize forces against this system. Historically this system has always found ways to isolate, attack, demoralize, bankrupt, crush, or co-opt those who have attempted to create parallel alternatives outside the mainstream. This is NOT a reason to avoid this work, only a caution to make sure it is not the only (or even the main thing) we devote our energies to organize. It is so very easy for the overall struggle to create alternative systems to gradually morph into or be coopted into various forms of reformist dead ends. History provides us many lessons where this has happened.
  • While all psychiatric survivors and their families have key roles to play (when combined with other system dissidents) in this growing movement, we must also pay attention to bringing forward women and minorities as leaders within the course of future struggles.

Ideological Versus Programmatic Unity

In Part 1 of this blog and within other writings at MIA, I have advocated for a stance of being “anti-Biological Psychiatry” versus being “anti-psychiatry.” Several writers here (and in one to one discussions) have criticized this formulation and I am now prepared to ACCEPT those criticisms. This error on my part resulted from my confusing the question of “ideological” versus “programmatic” unity in the course of building this movement. I tended to universalize the need to seek “programmatic” unity with dissident psychiatrists and others not yet ready to abandon psychiatry, by downplaying or avoiding an “anti-psychiatry” stance, and thus focusing on the extremes of present day Biological Psychiatry. At the time I saw this as a way to perhaps help drive a wedge within the psychiatric profession, possibly leading to a major split in their ranks. I still believe that there may eventually be some type of split within psychiatry and that this kind of turmoil and upheaval within the profession might benefit our movement. But this possibility DOES NOT MEAN and SHOULD NOT MEAN that people should somehow drop or downplay their anti-psychiatry stance to help make this happen. I was clearly wrong for suggesting that.

To be anti-psychiatry in today’s world and be preparing the ground work for psychiatry (along with the entire therapeutic state), to finally leave history’s stage, is a laudable goal. As I stated in Part 2 of the blog, Biological Psychiatry is only the “worst of psychiatry on steroids with added forms of oppression.” This is a goal well worth fighting for, and also worth publicly stating, including here at MIA. There is clearly a critical need for people to unite, educate, and organize around this goal, and not be shy about it.

At the same time there are ALSO some struggles where we should seek out “programmatic” unity with other individuals and groups who are not yet ready to let go of psychiatry and other aspects of the current mental health system. We have to know how to work well in these situations, clearly stating the totality of our beliefs, but not demanding full “ideological” agreement on the bigger issues at ALL times. Let’s say, for example, in a struggle building opposition to Electro-shock or the mass drugging of children, we might be standing alongside a small number of dissident psychiatrists or other people caught up in the psychiatric system that are aroused about this issue, but not YET ready to declare themselves “anti-psychiatry.” We need to find the ways to work with these people and help them grow (over time) into more thorough going critics of the entire system.

Developing “programmatic” unity with people is already happening at the present time with some radical activists who write at MIA. Some of these activists are participating in panel discussions and educational events with dissident psychiatrists and other like-minded professionals in the mental health field who may not yet share their complete ideological outlook, including an “anti-psychiatry” stance. In these situations we might (at times, for tactical reasons) tone down (not totally avoid) our anti-psychiatry rhetoric in order to sustain unity of purpose in specific struggles. These types of tactical decisions (as part of an overall strategic approach) will, of course, vary according to the specific conditions presented in each battle that comes before us.

One could argue that those who have created and maintain MIA have attempted to focus this website on a “programmatic” unity that involves a critical appraisal of the current mental health system. They have encouraged, any and all, people working within (and supporting aspects of this system) to join with those damaged by and/or critical of the system, to be a part of this important dialogue. This is a very good thing and we must respect their intentions, even when it involves people with whom we have big disagreements. Of course this also provides us with many opportunities to win over people to a more radical perspective, including a higher level of ideological and practical unity around the key questions confronting our movement.

As I have stated in other places at MIA, the base for organizing within this movement will be among psychiatric survivors and their families; other dissidents within and outside the mental health field will also play an important role. While of secondary importance, there IS definitely some value in attempting to win over and unite with dissident and open minded psychiatrists.

As discussed earlier, we are clearly up against major systemic opposition from many powerful institutions. This struggle to end all psychiatric oppression, along with the material conditions that gives rise to it, will be a long protracted battle with many twists and turns. We cannot afford to miss opportunities to gather more allies in this struggle. We have to find ways to “unite all who can be united” while continuing to find new ways to raise the level of ideological unity.

Some close allies who do not yet share the totality of our goals (for example, those that still support the use of “force” in extreme circumstances, or the more limited use of psychiatric drugs) should NOT be called our “enemy.” We should never resort to “demonizing” all psychiatrists or other partial believers in the medical model who are working in today’s mental health system. Even those who could be possibly harming people at the present time, mainly out of ignorance, should be carefully evaluated as to their specific role within the current system. They should be criticized, yes, but “demonized”, no. They, along with the broad masses of people, have also been brainwashed by Big Pharma and the leaders of Biological Psychiatry. It is our work in building this movement to increasingly create the conditions (through education and mass struggle) for the development of a clear dividing line drawn throughout the country that says: “Are you for or against psychiatric oppression” and if you are against it “What are you doing to stop it.”

In the course of this struggle every such doctor or mental health worker should be INDIVIDUALLY evaluated based on their position and degree of power within the system, and on the amount of harm they have done, or may still be carrying out. As people are confronted with the truth regarding their actions they should be given an opportunity to change and renounce their past actions. We must clearly target the leaders of Biological Psychiatry and create conditions for other people in the system to increasingly want to separate themselves from all its forms of oppression, and disavow these crimes against humanity.

Even the overused term, “evil,” could turn more potential allies away from our struggle and provide openings for our adversaries to attack us. “Demonizing” people or declaring “demons” and “evil” as the source of our oppression tends to imply that our oppressors are some kind of supernatural force that has aprioristically existed divorced from the actual material conditions in the world that gave rise to them. Check out the definitions of “demonize” and “evil” and you will see that they are not scientifically based concepts and tend to make an abstraction out of the actual material sources of our oppression.  We have plenty of science and real stories of psychiatric oppression to clearly make a powerful case for psychiatry leaving history’s stage without resorting to counter-productive hyperbole.

Keep in mind, one half of all psychiatrists in the U.S. are over the age of 55. Many lived through the upheaval of the 1960’s, and most psychiatrists of that age were trained more in a therapy mode of “treatment,” as opposed to the brain disease/psychiatric drug model. Some are embarrassed and ashamed of their profession’s complete sell out to Big Pharma. Certainly some of the psychiatrists who have dared to write at MIA fit this basic profile, and in certain cases have shown a clear evolution and growth in their beliefs. Yes, some psychiatrists who become partial critics of today’s mental health system may be trying to preserve their status and the economic benefits of their profession. This is inevitable; there will also be opportunists and careerists among those advancing their own personal agenda in our own ranks as well. This is all part and parcel of building a radical political movement, and it is no reason to avoid working with diverse and different sections of people within the current mental health system.

Even if (conservatively) only one percent of the 50,000 psychiatrists in the U.S. were sympathetic and open to being part of a movement to end psychiatric abuse, this amounts to 500 potential activists. There is also the Critical Psychiatry Network started in Europe that has attracted some interest in this country as well. Their voices speaking out publicly and raising opposition within their profession could be helpful to our movement. There could definitely be many issues where we could seek “programmatic” unity in a protracted struggle to end psychiatric oppression. I would much rather these doctors become activated, even in very small ways, than drop out of their profession and buy a small farm in southern France.

This is especially true when considering the need for more sympathetic doctors to find ways to support psychiatric survivors in their efforts to safely withdraw from psychiatric drugs. There clearly needs to be more research and development in this critical area, and some of these doctors do have some helpful knowledge along with the necessary credentials to prescribe. If all new prescriptions for these drugs were stopped today there would still be several decades of support necessary to help millions of psychiatric drug victims withdraw or find ways to minimize damage done to themselves.

In my prior writings published at MIA, I have stated that a profit-based economic system, and the political institutions sustaining it, stand as a major obstacle in the world for the further development of science, medicine and the humane care and support for those in society experiencing extreme forms of psychological distress. The more I examine the fundamental role that Biological Psychiatry plays in maintaining and reinforcing the status quo, the more this belief resonates with how I view the enormity of the historical tasks confronting the future of our movement. There are no easy solutions to our problems or simplistic forms of strategy to achieve our goals. I hope this blog can both stimulate and amplify the need for more specific discussion regarding strategy and tactics on the road forward.

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49 COMMENTS

  1. Richard,

    I find it odd that you are so willing to give any psychiatrist the benefit of the doubt no matter how much harm done while routinely disparaging those who have strong spiritual and/or religious beliefs. In fact, I have told you I have a Christian background and though I don’t take every word in the Bible and other religious/spiritual works literally and still struggle with my own spiritual path, I have found much value in learning about various world religions and their commonly shared wisdom like the golden rule and other important aspects of conducting one’s life. As a result, I find your constant attacks on religion/spirituality quite offensive and I believe others may feel this way too since some people posting at MIA have expressed strong religious/spiritual beliefs. I have held my tongue many times, but I have to tell you that I would appreciate it if you would refrain from such comments since I respect your freedom to have your own atheist beliefs, so I think you should do the same with others’ religious/spiritual beliefs since being one or the other should not be a requirement for this movement any more than one’s sex, sexual orientation, political party, etc. You don’t have any proof that God doesn’t exist do you? Many scientists believe in God and all the more so after studying quantum physics and other scientific realities. See the book, The Tao of Physics.

    Also, I strongly resent psychiatry, you or anyone dictating that I or anyone else cannot discern who is evil by their words, actions and other traits for my own personal safety and that of my loved ones, friends, etc. I can assure you that I have known very evil people who did immense harm to others in very sneaky underhanded ways while maintaining a phony superficial charm and other traits that hoodwinked the majority so that their victims were destroyed. You must be aware of the mob mentality that such people like Hitler can incite. Moreover, one’s character is very crucial in powerful political, teaching, medical, legal, religious and other professions, and the lack of such character these days is what is destroying our world not to mention the mental death profession. Also, people who have religious/spiritual beliefs can/could become strong allies, which is why Robert Whitaker and many mental health experts went to the Vatican to appeal to them about the harm being done to children by psychiatry. And the new very popular, humble Pope Francis who is focusing more on the poor and disenfranchised while chastising the many narcissists in the church in the pews and in the Vatican may be all the more open to helping such children. To put it in perspective, Pope Francis says he is a sinner too or makes mistakes, misses the mark as we all do as fallible humans.

    The Dalai Lama has also been a great source of influence in the world and the USA in terms of advocating for peace, well being and happiness for all, and many Americans have found much value in mediation and other spiritual practices from such Eastern religions.

    And there are many psychiatrists who do focus on the necessity of calling a spade a spade when it comes to the most vicious, sadistic, dangerous predators among us by acknowledging they are evil and should not be allowed back into society because of such dangerousness. I find it odd that certain psychiatrists who are so concerned about the rights of psychopathic intraspecies predators who commit physical and/or emotional, verbal, psychological, financial, spiritual, soul murder have no problem preying on normal people in crisis with life destroying stigmas and toxic drugs that destroy every area of their lives though they know they are committing fraud and I define as evil. Sorry, but both predatory behaviors are very evil in my opinion and I won’t be censored because you wish to force your atheism, vocabulary, ethics and beliefs on everyone in the movement. Whether Satan is a metaphor or real, he fits the bill if you compare some Bible passages with the traits of psychopaths and malignant narcissists. Ted Bundy anyone who wore a fake cast to charm, manipulate women into going to his car to help him unload his boat in order to torture and kill them?!

    Here are some psychiatrists debating the very thing you abhor with some thinking that to identify evil people is essential while others saying the opposite and there are many others who think a focus on evil is a necessity in psychiatry and life in general like Dr. M. Scott Peck, Psychiatrist and Christian, in his best selling books, The Road Less Travelled and The People of the Lie (with the latter focused on identifying evil people to help them while saving their victims from sure destruction).

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/08/health/psychology/08evil.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0

    Recently, we had this superb article by Rev. Dr. Steven Epperson, a minister of the Unitarian Church, which could not be more perfect in exposing psychiatry’s many crimes against humanity, which caused Dr. Sandra Steingard to deem it “brilliant” while many others applauded it as an excellent, thorough critique of most if not all that is wrong with psychiatry. Would you bar Dr. Epperson from making such a fantastic argument against psychiatry due to his spiritual beliefs and identification with a church ministry? I think we need to see people as unique individuals rather than judging them or dictating that they must fit a certain image to participate in the movement.

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/07/psychocracy-community/

    As you know, I have praised many of your great contributions to MIA, but I have not been in the least bit pleased with your insulting remarks about religion/spirituality and I think you may be offending/turning off others when doing this as well since many MIA members have identified as being Christian or another type of religion/spirituality.

    Finally, though I applaud your hard efforts to contribute to this worthwhile cause and to admit when you think you may be wrong about such terms as “antipsychiatry,” I am asking you to at least be as concerned about your fellow survivors/fighters in the antipsychiatry movement who do not share your religious views or lack thereof.

    I regret that I must write this, but I think you should give it some thought in terms of the many people you may be alienating when there is no need to do so.

    Thank you for considering my input on this important issue.

  2. Want to ensure it’s demise ? Focus on stopping them from creating the next generation of mental patients, go after the child druggers first.

    Shire to test Vyvance on 4 to 5-year olds in U.S. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/13/us-shire-brief-idUSKBN0EN1GT20140613

    Vyvance is not “new and improved” it’s nasty inferior shit they cooked up out of the old Dexedrine to get a new patent. All the focus should be on stopping them from screwing up the next generation with crap like this Vyvance “pro-drug” long lasting to drive you halfway to psychosis and get panic attacks so then you need more drugs to deal with that.

    How does a 4 year old benefit from taking this crap ? At first do no harm… Not with psychiatry.

    • I agree. As many others have pointed out repeatedly, the psychiatric drugging of children may be the weakest link in the chain of psychiatric oppression in terms of public opinion. I suspect that most people feel an instant and healthy revulsion when they hear the words “psychiatry,” “drugs,” and “children” in the same sentence.

      I realize that many parents opt to drug their children anyway for various reasons, but I think it takes a lot of psychiatry/pharma advertizing to get most of them to that point – not to mention state collusion. I think that most parents would be outraged if they knew the truth about what the drugs are doing to their kids.

  3. Richard,

    Imho, it’s a significant shift of tactical positioning you’ve taken (coming to embrace the ‘anti-psychiatry’ folk), and I feel it’s a good one for you. It will make you considerably more effective as an activist, I think.

    I, myself, have no love of psychiatry, but I’m not totally against psychiatry, so I don’t call myself “antipsychiatry.” (But, often, I do think to myself ‘I hate psychiatry,’ and I sometimes say that aloud.)

    The thing is, I think psychiatrists should have a right to be psychiatrists, and I have no beef against some psychiatrists.

    However, many psychiatrists do many of their “patients” more harm than good, imo; and, I am most concerned with medical-coercive psychiatry; I think that should be abolished, definitely; so…

    RE “Some close allies who do not yet share the totality of our goals (for example, those that still support the use of “force” in extreme circumstances, or the more limited use of psychiatric drugs) should NOT be called our “enemy.” We should never resort to “demonizing” all psychiatrists or other partial believers in the medical model who are working in today’s mental health system.”

    Richard, in any criminal justice system, there can be positively justified uses of force; and, I believe, in some medical environments (e.g., the emergency rooms, of real hospitals), there are, at times, “extreme circumstances” wherein certain limited uses of force are justified – but only if/when designed to momentarily physically restrain and/or just very briefly detain someone (e.g., when an individual seems to be threatening violence and an E.R. staff is determining whether or not it shall be necessary to involve the police). That is different from invasive kinds of force – which I oppose entirely.

    Such is to say, sometimes the use “force” can be justified, by real hospital workers, imho – but only in terms of mechanical restraints; and, imho, “mental hospitals” are not real hospitals, and any unwanted imposition of neuro-invasive so-called “medical care” must be opposed — everywhere. (I actually think you agree with me, on that point; but, I view those who administer such ‘care’ as ‘enemies.’)

    Individuals who choose to work at jobs requiring that they ‘must’ sometimes forcibly tamper with a person’s brain functions (and/or individuals who work at jobs, which ‘require’ that they order such forcible ‘care’) shall always appear as potential ‘enemies’ to me – most especially, when they are on the job; and, they will be political enemies to me for as long as they aim to defend such practices. [Note — I have emphasized previously (and now do so again): Of course, they are not ‘mortal enemies,’ in my view. (Imho, that should go without saying…)]

    And, I agree with your first commenter (Donna), as she points out, that: Some people who choose jobs in the realm of psychiatry are literally evil people. I think the field attracts evil people for various reasons. (Here I speak of ‘evil people,’ referring to those who deliberately seek to subjugate and destroy the lives of identified “patients” who are viewed as ‘others’ and who are basically defenseless…)

    One way to limit the harms done by such individuals: Eliminate forced brain-invasive ‘treatment’.

    Forced brain ‘treatments’ are never necessary, imho; they are a convenient way to totally overwhelm and control someone; and, in so doing, they typically crush that person’s sense of dignity.

    Always, there are reasonable alternatives to such “medical treatment” (or such “care” or such supposed “prevention of violence” …or whatever else it may be deemed by those who administer it).

    Why are those ‘mh’ pros viewed as ‘enemies’ by me (and not by me alone but by many psychiatric survivors)?

    Those who choose to involve themselves in forcibly tampering with others’ brains represent a potentially serious threat to anyone who is labeled as I have been labeled; and, they are violators of human dignity.

    Some say they have no other choice; it is supposedly their only way to prevent violence.

    But, every time they restrain someone, to forcibly plunge a needle into that person’s veins, they are committing a very serious act of aggression, imho — most terrible form of violence. (Likewise, when they forcibly restrain and shock people with electricity…)

    But, to my mind, they can certainly redeem themselves; especially, those who are genuinely well-intentioned, are committing forgivable acts, I think…

    That is why I have said before (and say again now): Very possibly, I could befriend a psychiatrist or any other associated ‘mh’ professional who makes a point of quitting (renouncing and denouncing) his/her practice of forcibly tampering with “patients'” brains.

    When any psychiatrist and/or psychiatric helper ‘sees the light,’ that way — such that they permanently resolve to completely dis-involve themselves with and cease their support of any and all forced neuro-invasive ‘treatments’ –, then I’ll no longer view them as ‘enemies’ – and could even consider them friends (if not just well-respected allies in the cause of opposing medical-coercive psychiatry and upholding human dignity).

    Respectfully,

    Jonah

  4. Hi. I like the way you pulled a lot of things together here and reworked some of your earlier positions. I think I agree with most of it, or at least much more than I did. On the other hand I’m on vacation and very tired so will have to revisit this all a little later.

    I have always supported the tactic of coalitions around specific pragmatic issues. I also try to stress that it is primarily the institution, not the individual. which we are targeting in most cases. I also don’t generalize the sins of the institution to the individual, be it psychiatrists or cops or what or whoever we’re talking about, unless it is deserved in the particular instance at hand.

    • Hi again. “Vacation” may have been an overstatement but anyway I’m “back”… 🙂

      So I think I pretty succinctly summed up my mostly concurring views on several of the issues you raise in my initial post above. As for some others:

      First, I must give you props for engaging in such a public turnabout on the main thing I just couldn’t get with you on, which was the semantic finesse of the psychiatry/biopsychiatry distinction (still dubious in my mind), which seemed sure to lead to more unnecessary confusion and division when we have enough already. I just think in your quest to in your terms “unite all who can be united” you were maybe failing to recognize that there are some who can’t be united, at least not now.

      Uprising in his posts here reflects my attitude on the necessity, or lack thereof, to “tiptoe through the eggshells” in terms of not hurting the feelings of “mh” professionals who are trying to be progressive and humanistic; most of them have strong enough egos that they wouldn’t jump ship at the mention of anti-psych criticism, and if they did they weren’t really with us to begin with. Also, they’ll likely be back once they get a strong enough dose of contradiction in their efforts to be “reasonable & practical” reformers.

      BTW, beyond the posting of date/place/time/etc. of public events, I don’t think concrete organizing — i.e. discussions of specific actions, tactics, etc. should ever be done over the internet for reasons that should be obvious; nor do I believe we should be participating in mass-surveillance hubs like FACEBOOK. (See http://rt.com/shows/sophieco/snowden-leak-privacy-surveillance-093/ )
      I think people need to be careful when using terms like “protest,” “civil disobedience” and “direct action,” which often mean different things to different people and — as this stuff is on our permanent record — could be taken out of context and used against people in the future, no matter how innocuous the terms might have been to them at the time.

      But I do concur with your “bullet” points pretty thoroughly (though I’d like to hear some feedback from more of MIA’s more prominent anti-psych theorists). It’s been a tactic of critics of many movements to claim that what someone is doing is invalid because they can’t have a bake sale and fund working “alternatives” to whatever problem they are dealing with. While developing alternative support systems is certainly vital, we can’t let ourselves fall into this trap. “Alternatives” are not simply better “places to go,” but new ways of interrelating which demystify the notion of human support as something that must be done by “experts.” And it must be understood that all our efforts will be mere band-aids until capitalist oppression and exploitation are eliminated from the planet.

      • I’m looking out my door for those dudes with sunglasses on now. I know things can be awfully hairy, but I’m not concerned about those folks in the white coats any more. Paranoia, you know, technically it’s in the DSM. I had a shrink once with his twenty questions, such as, do you hear voices, do you think somebody is out to get you, etc, etc. I’m not worried. If you know a venue for discussing “tactics”, great. My lips are sealed. Otherwise, let the discussions rip. Thing is….silence is no discussion whatsoever. Doing requires planning. Alright. We can’t skip to step C without going through step A and step B. Safety is not always one’s first consideration when real action is called for. If you know of people who are planning the kind of direct actions we need. Alright. How about hooking me up with them? (Oh, never mind. Maybe I’m there anyway.)

        • I was simply making a cautionary statement, I think you’re inferring way too much. I’m just saying that people should be careful when they use potentially provocative terms, not that they should be paranoid (a psychiatric term meaning “irrational” fear — isn’t that a little subjective?)…

          • Excuse me, oldhead. I definitely don’t want to infer too much. I got your “cautionary statement”. I do want to be a little “cautionary” here, sure, if that is called for. I just don’t want to overdo it. If I was being “improper” maybe you can tell me. Of course, I’m sure it’s not enough to say I’m not a cop. Who’d buy that!? You can, if you like, pretend I didn’t suggest anything, and then I won’t infer that you are a coward. My apologies.

          • I think I’m confused. Nothing I said was in reference to you. And I’ve been familiar with you for years, I just don’t use my name here. We agree on most things, including all the most important things, regarding the need to curtail psychiatric power. I have no personal concerns about you or anyone on this site, including those with whom I disagree most.

          • Okay, I don’t want to confuse you I thought maybe you were referring to some comments I had made. I do appreciate the support, and I don’t want to pretend that there is any conflict between us. Perhaps I just over-reacted. If so, my bad.

          • I was actually responding to Richard & it was mainly an aside, but this forum format can make it hard to ascertain who’s responding to whom sometimes…glad you took the energy to question me if you weren’t sure tho. Venceremos! 🙂

  5. I found that some of the UK Critical Psychiatry Network members were very supportive of Speak Out Against Psychiatry when it formed, and that is a pretty out there name. Alliances are indeed possible with a wide range of people. It is strategically the wise thing to do.

    I agree, alternatives are needed. I read a book on campaigning strategy in which it said Breakfast Clubs for school children are not very radical, but a Breakfast Club ran by the Black Panther’s was. So I like the idea of alternatives run in the name of anti-psychiatry organisations.

    There was a sanctuary near where I live where psychiatric workers were banned unless invited by the people who ran it. We need more of that sort of thing. Things that make it explicit that the service is being run because the mainstream is just so dangerous.

    • Wow, John – great comment!

      I agree with you that alliances on some issues are both possible and wise.

      And I would also piggy back off your point to say that I believe critical psychiatrists know who they are. I don’t think that they need to be wooed by psychiatrized people or others into joining against some of the things that are wrong with their profession. I also don’t think that psychiatrized people or others need to walk on eggshells around critical psychiatrists in regards to the isuues out of fear for losing their allegiance or hurting their feelings. Critical psychiatrists know what they are doing and they would be swimming against the tide anyway. That takes courage and conviction and is not likely to be compromised by authenticity and clarity on the part of those who are anti-psychiatry. (This is all aimed at the general readership, of course.)

      I also strongly agree on the attractiveness of alternatives run in the name of anti-psychiatry organizations (the only problem being, sadly, how to they would be funded). And that sanctuary sounds wonderful.

      “Things that make it explicit that the service is being run because the mainstream is just so dangerous.” <Yes, this.

      Thank you again for your inspiring comment.

  6. Thanks for this, Richard! I think this is excellent and I also very much appreciate the surprise ending (re: “anti-psychiatry”). 🙂

    As usual, you’ve covered so much ground here. I’ve only read it once and will read it again, but so far I think all of your points are strong and I agree with them.

    The only exception might be the “demon/evil” conversation, about which my feelings are mixed. I think your overall argument there is quite reasonable, and I agree that “demon,” to me usually makes me think that religious issues are being discussed (though I admit that I have occasionally used language like this myself when discussing psychiatry).”Evil,” however, has a common colloquial usage, so I don’t see it as equally problematic, as long as a good explanation is included about why something is “evil.” In fact, since these are moral issues, I think it is perfectly appropriate. But from my perspective, this disagreement I have is a minor issue considering everything you’ve brought to the table here.

  7. I like the message you are relaying here, Richard. I don’t think anybody should be expecting everybody to be born antipsychiatrists. We also need to work with other people, whatever their professional affiliation, or level of enlightenment, in order to achieve our aims. The thing is, there have been efforts on behalf of organized psychiatry to silence every psychiatrist with a critical perspective. It happened to Szasz, and it happened to Laing, and it happened to Mosher, and, among the living, it happened to Breggin. Telling the truth in the mental health profession can land you in a world of hot water. This animosity is not merely directed at dissident psychiatrists either. Any mental health professional who doesn’t toe the mainstream line is likely at one point or another to find the going rough. Making a difference here is a very brave thing to do. I want to give people credit who deserve it, and I want to make that point. It’s a courageous thing to do. We shouldn’t alienate allies and potential allies, especially when that alienation could keep us from realizing our objectives. Divisiveness can be deadly when it comes to taking effective political action. We don’t need it in trumps. That said, we don’t need to resemble our adversaries either. All in all, a very good post.

  8. I think this was a great and useful article. I am very glad to see more and more discussion on MIA about what we can actually DO. I also very much agree that the psychiatric abuse of children is something that we should be concentrated on, as it is something that the average person who doesn’t otherwise pay attention to our issues would take seriously.

    Following in the footsteps of Richard and Bonnie Burstow, I am working on a article about my own ideas about tactics and strategy. I think the more discussions like this that we have, the better.

  9. Again let’s not throw out the integrative, functional Medicine baby with the dirty Pharma bathwater.

    Szasz, Breggin and Mosher are all Psychiatrists, who are psychosocial theorists, who have acted to help suppress Medical psychiatry. This is of benefit to the medicopharmaceutical establishment Psychiatry.

    Breggin was a horrifying let down with his statements in Talking Back to Ritalin. And Loren Mosher as everyone knows participated in the Task Force 7.

    (Breggin states that while excess sugar could be slightly important, that the exclusive reason why any diet program done by the elders, regulating children, for the putative ‘attention deficit,’ is psychosocial – exclusively psychosocial is the only meaning this can have – according to Breggin in Talking Back to Prozec – by showing that the adults care about the welfare of the children, and by imposing a structure on the children (misguided and foolish as the structure is). This is the nature of the value. Everyone who follows such things is wrong – page 200 or whatever. (Much as with books “by” E. Fuller Torrey and others where on some page or two it states “authoritatively” the “truth” as we are to know it.

    Label and drug Psychiatry’s scam is that after suppressing biochemical treatment in Psychiatry (1973) they have their clinicians making non-Medical “Psychiatric diagnoses” of abnormal psychology and then treating patients with patented items to address theoretical, Medical model “imbalances.”

    Label behaviorally and psychologically as abnormal – being mentally disordered, and “mentally ill” and then sell a lot of patent drug products for decades – trillions of dollars in blood money.

    They suppressed biochemical imbalance treatment and testing – and then permanently use the catch phrase chemical imbalance as part of their conman fraud.

    Then the oppostion to them also has a firmly controlled stance of leaving this out of the history, world view, statements about what is and what happened and what it means.

    Of course fortunately most of us are not fundamentally allied with ReEvaluation Counseling, Scientology. Peter Breggin, the ISPS, Bertram P. Karon, Ph.D. and the Michigan Psychoanalytic Council or Duncan Double and Joanna Moncrieff of academic psychiatry in Sheffield, England.

    We are allied to the truth. We oppose the harm and death and lies. Merging our rhetoric means adding a few more personages, ideas and historic development information.

    Their NIMH/APA/WPA/ACNP Biopsychiatry has 3 modes of (ersatz) treatment which are also the areas of (bogus) scholarly consideration. These are shock, psychosurgery and neuropsychopharmacology. They take definitive, repeatable actions on the body – beating, abduction, drugging, shocking the head, cutting the brain, and tying to a table. This helps them pretend to be Newtonian – the (ghostwritten by Medical propaganda firms) peer review Journal publications have the double blind scientific test reports that they fake up – these have the well defined intervention (starting drugging the patient) as the “independent variable.”

    It seems fairly possible the Donald Klein, MD has been a central player in crafting the con. Max Fink, M.D. may have been an inspiration. When one looks at the 58 page fraud of the Task Force 7 one sees then casting a curse on the the legitimate members of their profession, stating intentional crafted maledictions which applied to what they themselves were about to do. Some long standing qualities of treachery seem to be in play in this. Predating the then current participants.

    Thomas A. Ban, M.D. states that neuropsychopharmacology is a new discipline dedicated to the study and treatment of psychopathology with the employment of centrally acting drugs.

    Diagnose psychologically (using the objective Professional opinion of the clinicians) and treat with lucrative patented Neuropsychopharmaceutical sales items.

    This is indoctrination based – it doesn’t make sense – it does not logically scan.

    This no longer had anything much to do with Medical treatment in Psychiatry – chemotherapy for chemical imbalances. This is “dedication” to pretending to study and and pretending to be interested in treatment of psychopathology with the employ of centrally acting drugs.

    The “disorder” categories are (at best) syndrome labels as with the syndrome label of Pneumonia.

    Daniel Burdick Eugene, Oregon USA

    Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D. Biochemical Psychiatrist
    http://www.orthomolecular.org/history/hoffer/ahlife.pdf

    “We met in Washington, DC. On our side we had Linus Pauling, Humphry Osmond, our executive director and for the NIMH Dr Morris Lipton, who had chaired the remarkable Task Force of the American Psychiatric Association which had roundly denounced our work and had published a most remarkable document, remarkable for its totally dishonest account of what we had been doing and claiming. The most rabid republican in the United States would probably have done a more honest job in attacking the Democratic Party. Humphry and I replied to this corrupt document but few paid any attention

    It became the holy writ, the bible, for the anti-orthomolecular movement.”
    __________________________________________________

    Mental Illness and the Mind-Body Problem
    R.P. HUEMER, M.D.
    http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/2000/abstracts/2000-v15n03-p118.shtml
    ” There is no mental illness,” writes Thomas Szasz in a recent article in Reason, repeating for the nth time his mantra of the past four decades. ” Bodily diseases-pneumonia, cancer, and so on-are real,” he told the interviewer; “but mental diseases are metaphoric diseases, in the sense of a ‘sick’ joke. They are problems, but they are not medical problems in that they do not involve somatic, organic etiologies and are not amenable to a somatic, organic resolution. They are essentially conflicts within oneself and conflicts between oneself and other people.”
    _________________________________________________

    The Fraud of the Task Force 7 Report (and of the fake methionine test done by TA Ban for it).
    https://www.facebook.com/WNUSP/posts/10202566437134438

    Loren Mosher, M.D. and Thomas Ban, M.D.’s role in creating Mainstream Psychiatry

    American Psychiatric Association
    1973 Task Force 7 Report

    “This review and critique has carefully examined the literature
    produced by megavitamin proponents and by those who have attempted to replicate their basic and clinical work.”

    “It concludes in this regard that the credibility of the megavitamin proponents is low.”

    _________________________________________________
    Thomas Ban, M.D. and the Need to Combine Orthomolecular into our Rhetoric and Paradigm

    There’s a need to incorporate Orthomolecular Psychiatry (2) and its systematic repression into the verbiage, assessment of what is happening, historical analysis (1) and recommendations for change in Psychiatry and Mental Health.

    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=601777649843314&id=559220827432330
    _________________________________________________

    “In the DSM there is no assumption that each category of mental disorder is a completely discrete entity with absolute boundaries dividing it from other mental disorders or from no mental disorder. There is also no assumption that all individuals described as having the same mental disorder are alike in all important ways.”

    From:

    1) Treatment of Bipolar Disorder by Charles Gant, M. D.
    http://www.charlesgantmd.com/articles/Orthomolecular-Medicine-Treatment-Bipolar-Disorder.pdf

    2) Forensic Psychiatry http://sbmu.ac.ir/uploads/ForensicPsychiatry2010.pdf

    _______________________________________________________

    David Moyer http://beyondmentalillness.us

    Who is this website for? It is for anyone who has been told they have a “chemical imbalance,” anyone whose friend or loved one has been told they have a “chemical imbalance” and anyone who told anyone else they have a “chemical imbalance.”

    It is for those who believe they or their loved one have a “mental disease”…

    Abnormal Psychology
    http://en.docsity.com/documents/swf/2012/08/08/Psycological_Disorder-Abnormal_Psycology-Lecture_Handout_pdf.pdf.swf

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

    Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
    http://sevencounties.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=8212&cn=18

    _______________________________________________________

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

    Validity of nosological classification
    Petr Smolik, MD, PhD*
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181576/
    _______________________________________________________

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

    https://www.google.com/#q=percent+mood+other+psychotic+disorders+panels+lisa+cosgrove++Prozac+OR+Risperdal+OR+Sharav+OR+Whitaker

    _________________________________

    Finding Restorative Care for Mental Illness by Robert Sealey, BSc, CA

    “Why shortcut the practice guidelines of psychiatry which recommend testing and diagnosing before prescribing? Why mix meds without trying to identify the root cause(s) of brain symptoms?”

    http://www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/recovery-resources/articles.php?id=51

    _________________________________

    William Walsh, Ph.D.
    http://www.walshinstitute.org/nutrient-power.html

    Finding the Medical Causes of Severe Mental Symptoms: The Extraordinary Walker Exam by Dan Stradford
    http://www.alternativementalhealth.com/articles/stradford.htm

    Dan Burdick, Eugene Oregon USA

  10. Thank you, Richard, for your thoughts, I largely agree. I must confess, I too, am a “spiritual” MIA blogger. And I’d like to point out the importance of something Frank brought up, the concept of “level of enlightenment,” or a related concept of “levels of consciousness.” Sean Blackwell does a nice job of synopsizing the concept, and how it relates to the mental health field:

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IgXhF8H-UhA

    And the reason I feel this is relevant is because my experience with the mainstream medical community, including the psychopharmacutical industries, is those working in these fields tend to be anywhere between the archaic to the modern levels of consciousness. So when a person who is at the post modern level of consciousness, like me, goes in to discuss a possible spiritual crisis as she’s moving into the “power of now” level of consciousness. The people within these industries have no clue what to make of such a person, because the psychiatric practitioners are largely at only the lower levels of consciousness, and can’t even conceive of the reality that others are more enlightened or insightful than the “professionals.” I guess my point is we need to somehow educate these industries as to their “lack of insight.”

    And, this is particularly a problem because these industries basically have monopolistic power. And, the medical community is currently set up like a caste system, and wants to impose this “us” vs. “them” caste system onto the the whole of humanity, despite that being historically the antithesis of the goals of the founding fathers of the United States. And I know, I don’t want a caste system in the US; but even India, which has a caste system, is wise enough to know that absolutely, the medical professionals should NOT be at the top of the caste system. It’s unwise.

    I also wanted to comment on your “thoughts for discussion”:

    • I believe the most egregious of psychiatry’s abuses is their broad sweeping attacks on the elderly and children. But most specifically, the fact that their industry has historically, and is still today, in the business of covering up sexual abuse of children (and women) – in essence the psychiatric industry, since the days of Freud and likely prior, intentionally covers up sexual abuse by defaming victims with fictitious “mental illnesses” and then tranquilizes them. Thus, effectively, leaving the sexual predators on the streets to rape more and more victims, which, of course, is profitable for the psychiatric industry … but not in the best interest of society as a whole.

    • Absolutely, alternatives to psychiatry are mandatory in a free society. And, as mentioned earlier, the allopathic medical industry, including psychiatry, has way too much of a monopolistic hold on the US (and seemingly other countries) today. And, if they were curing diseases, that might be fine. But they are not, they are really just managing symptoms, and creating iatrogenic illnesses for profit. We NEED real alternatives.

    • Definitely, women, children, and minorities are still to this day being attacked by psychiatric professionals, more so than men. But this means, you’ll likely have some good women from whom to choose among.

    “There are no easy solutions to our problems or simplistic forms of strategy to achieve our goals.” I will point out that the root cause of the problems within the psychiatric industry and medical industries in the US today, are the same root cause of many of the problems within America as a whole. Our country is no longer governed “by the people, for the people;” it is now a corporatocracy, ruled by leaders who are financially controlled by big business.

    We need to work on pointing out the fact that “too big to fail” is an undemocratic and inappropriate philosophy with which to rule the US. We need to point out the ineffective treatments / failings of both the allopathic medical and psychiatric industries, and their monopolistic stranglehold on the US economy, perhaps via some new form of Sherman Antitrust Act?

    Thanks again for your thoughts, I believe there are many groups of disgruntled Americans with whom we might be able to work, to help fix the underlying cancer (a big industry / corporate controlled government) within modern American civilization.

  11. Someone Else,
    So many people see science and faith as opposites, while I believe they go together. I also consider myself both spiritual and religious.
    The psychiatrists who ruined my life many years ago were atheists. Many patients “had religious delusions” in the place I was in. They didn’t necessarily seem to be delusions to me, except one guy who would strip off his clothes and claim to be Christ. They seemed to be people who were searching for answers and while trying to find answers in religion, became superstitious, scrupulous, and obsessed with God and the devil.
    It was a conflict because the atheist doctors insisted that the delusions had to go, and tried to drive them out using ECT and drugs.
    Pencilect

  12. This statement,

    “the base for organizing within this movement will be among psychiatric survivors and their families…While of secondary importance, there IS definitely some value in attempting to win over and unite with dissident and open minded psychiatrists”

    leaves out the many working-class people who form the base of the psy-industry, the ones who do the grunt work.

    Most front-line psy-workers are also psychiatric survivors or are closely related to them. They are overworked and underpaid. They are expected to solve complex social problems while being denied any power to actually do that. This powerlessness defines them as workers and not as managers or directors of the industry. They direct their frustration against themselves and their clients, and rarely against their impossible situation.

    On the other hand, psy-workers are the base and foundation of a powerful industry. They have the collective power to challenge it and (most important) transform the system that requires it. We got a tiny glimpse of what is possible in the strike of mental health workers at Kaiser Permanente in California. http://www.beyondchron.org/when-workers-fight-nuhw-wins-battle-with-kaiser/

    Ultimately, the demand for better working conditions runs parallel to the demand for better life conditions for those we serve. ‘Better conditions’ means the right to choose what happens. Every psychiatric survivor has experienced that right being violated – the right to be safe, understood, accepted, and cared about.

    We can join forces. We can choose to over-ride the needs of the system in order to serve the needs of our clients and patients – as YOU communicate them to us. We can go forward together.

    • “As I have stated in other places at MIA, the base for organizing within this movement will be among psychiatric survivors and their families; other dissidents within and outside the mental health field will also play an important role. While of secondary importance, there IS definitely some value in attempting to win over and unite with dissident and open minded psychiatrists.”

      The complete quote doesn’t leave anyone out.

    • A very old blog but I’m sure Richard doesn’t mind.

      Problem is, there’s no need for the “mental health” system, period. A permanent general strike with no demands might be a good tactic. Those who consider themselves “mental health workers” need to find a better outlet for their skills anyway. (“Survivors” are neither “patients” nor clients btw. But that’s what I would communicate to you, for what it’s worth.)