Please Stop Saying “Anti-psychiatry”


I think a better term to use is “medical harm aware advocate.” It is a much better explanation of both the problem and the solution that we are working for. I’ve updated my graphic that explains why Allen Frances and mainstream mental health is using the word “anti-psychiatry” to avoid dialogue with our community.

And by the way, the blog with him about dialogue – it’s not. It’s just him promoting the same theory he came out with a week ago which has been soundly refuted by now. Where is his actual response to our criticisms of his theory? He asks us to merge two ends of the bell curve. How about he responds to our community’s requests to address what’s going on in the middle of the bell curve? That would have a lot more impact.

Mental Health Advocate Bell Curve

But since his community is hopeless for now, maybe we can look at language in our own community. Although we may be against much of what psychiatry is doing, saying, “medical-harm aware,” places the blame them. It points out their lack of science knowledge, and doesn’t point to us just for being against them.  This is kinda like David Oaks’ blog on Please Stop Staying Mental Illness,” which asks people not to use the language of the oppressor. I have an earlier post on Please stop Saying Medical Model, which explains that many political battles are lost when you accept the opponents’ framing of your argument. In the abortion argument, who wants to be anti-life, or anti-choice?  Also, if we make this request enough, maybe we can teach the disease model apologists how to be respectful.

I’m not telling you what words to use. I’m not the the language police. Do what you want. But I just want to make a case for what I think might be more effective.  Some words work better than others. Some words communicate the idea better, are more respectful, and have more political weight. I’m just asking people to choose their words consciously, to look at why and how we say things. You can say things the way you want, but I think saying “medical harm aware advocate” will work a lot better.


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.


  1. Corrina,

    I always enjoy your charts so much. I hope I can learn the skill of making those at some point. But, I might be too old…

    With that said, I am completely anti-psychiatry and am not likely to stop saying so. I used to love language and linguistics before psychiatry got ahold of me; so, I can appreciate your passion for finding the right words to describe your experience. To me, anti-psychiatry means no compromises–not a little forced treatment, not a few sessions of ECT, not even a discussion about the possibility of any of these and other atrocities and a way of politicking with differently minded individuals. I am all for change in language, and am well aware it will change with or without my endorsement. I also believe the movement needs to be able to identify who stands where on these issues. Saying I am anti psychiatry is the best way for me to identify myself.

    • Agreed.

      I’m not going to sit in a circle, hold hands and sing Kumbaya with these people any longer in the hopes that they will listen to me. They’re never going to listen to me, no matter what I call them or what words I use simply because I’m a former patient and they have no respect nor love for me or any of the rest of us. Are there good people out there with the title of “psychiatrist?” Of course there are, but they are far and few between these days. Even the “good” psychiatrists in the hospital where I work refuse to even acknowledge, let alone discuss, the material in the studies that Whitaker talks about all over the world today. They are intent on drugging people to the gills, no matter what, because this strokes their egos since by prescribing they can think of themselves as “real” doctors. And these are the good psychiatrists of the hospital. You can imagine the attitudes of those who are not so good. I’ve had them slam doors in my face, on purpose, and smile about it!

      So, as a former “patient” I proudly stand in the anti-psychiatry group, and will continue to do so, no matter what. We’re asked to use the “right” words so that we can carry on a supposed dialogue with this group but the expectations are that they are allowed to continue to do whatever it is that they want and they can continue to label us and drug us with impunity. They will continue to carry out their agenda no matter what words we use in our discussions.

  2. “medical harm aware advocate”
    I don’t think this is a good substitute for anti-psychiatry to be honest.
    First of all – it’s a mouthful
    Secondly – it has such a broad meaning that it dissolves the message
    Thirdly – anti-psychiatry is not a generic term for everyone critical of psychiatric practices – there are a lot of people who are more “alter-psychiatry” etc. This movement is a complex one and anti-psychiatry is only one part of it.

    Personally I have grown anti-psychiatry myself although I’m open to arguments which would show me that the medical model has some application for psychological distress. And I am for calling the spade a spade. I don’t think that playing word games is going to change things – if we design another word for anti-psychiatry they will make that one a tabu too. We should stop running but turn around and stand our ground and call them on their bs instead of trying not to make one or the other person upset.

    • Agreed.

      It’s time to turn, stand our ground, and fight. Otherwise, we will all be drugged in our very homes, just like E. Fuller Torrey plans to do to us. They couch their horrible agenda in very innocent words. They feign sorrow over how so many of us don’t get the “treatment that we so very much deserve and need!” Never mind that the “treatment” causes the very thing that it’s supposed to prevent or take care of! They cry and wring their hands over the plight of the “unmedicated person suffering from mental illness.” In the end, what they want is to drug us to oblivion so that we will shut up, sit in the corner and drool on ourselves, and behave like we’re supposed to do.

      We’re not supposed to stand up and scream that the emperor is naked and has no clothes! We’re not supposed to stand up and point out the inequities of our society that lead to so much psychological and emotionally suffering in the first place, which drives us to madness itself! We are supposed to conform and shut up and behave and if we don’t we will get the “treatment” that we all so very much deserve. And after all, it will be for our very own good anyway! They are so concerned for us! What a bunch of bologna!

  3. I must agree with B, above – “medical harm aware advocate” is not a clear term. Corinna, of course you are free to use whatever terms work best for you; why do you want to deny others that freedom as well? People who use the term “anti-psychiatry” know what it means; that’s why they use it.

  4. I have been avidly reading and thinking on all of the common articles on this theme. I have a hard time with the term anti-psychiatry but not the thinking, thoughts, experiences and feelings behind it.

    Just don’t like the phrase itself as a main stream nomenclature. I have been trying really hard to figure out another phrase and I am stymied! In my culture we use the word “”againer” to label anyone is negative or always against things whether they are in the right or not. So the ability to be counter cultural, to be a truth teller and teller of wrongs has a long standing prejudice to overcome culturally.

    I think this maybe what the disagreements are about and I am sure my culture is not the only to put a wall up over anyone’s voice or narrative that does not play nice with the status quo.My culture also has a long standing respect for rebels and their movements however on looking back on it the rebels are much better respected after they have died!!!!
    I really like to linger on Ghandi and the Civil Rights Movement. How did they use language and how did they spread the message? My thoughts are that they used a wide variety of cultural and societal tracks. There were the Malcolm X’s and then Rosa Parks. There were little church ladies and bold college students who sat in restaurants demanding too be served.. Because we are an invisible tribe so to speak this creates a further and more complex dilemma. Where i am in life and in geography self identification would not be a gain for me. I am sure I am not alone on this so there is the underground layer that so many of us are restrained by. Again looking at the LBGT movement and their Stonewall and ACT UP history would be beneficial. They too were once an invisible tribe. They too had their nomenclature debates.
    I think we are layers and each layer is worthwhile and valuable from the undergrounders like me to those of you in your face in the movement.
    Can we just choose a color a geometric image totally abstract and totally non symbolic?
    The Rhomus Brigade? The Northern Lights Coalition? The Circle Society?
    Whatever! So we can spend our energies on moving forward and focusing on fighting the good fight. Makes a good cover and no one really knows how fucking angry we are!!!! They will find out.

  5. As far as I’ m concerned anti-psychiatry is shorthand for against, or in opposition to, psychiatry. Okay. There is biological psychiatry, bio-psycho-social psychiatry, social psychiatry, critical psychiatry, etc., etc., and then there is non-psychiatry, and then there is anti-psychiatry. Some mainstream biological psychiatrists would like to lump every critic of conventional psychiatry between the anti-psychiatry brackets, and then call anti-psychiatry discredited. It isn’t as simple as all that. Liberty is still valued in this country. When 100 % of the nation is mental patient, well, fortunately, I will be dead. I’m still one who thinks there is something to be said for liberating people from the mental patient role. I think we could string a few words together that define that liberation, words such as wholesome, healthy, and free. There are still words for not throwing off the yoke of psychiatry, words such as mental patient, mental health consumer, mental “defective” person, “mentally ill” person, person with “mental health issues”, person “in recovery”, etc. Such words I leave for you to do with as you will.

  6. Personally, as one who is pretty disillusioned with medicine in general, I prefer the term, “anti bullshit advocate” which of course has about as much chance of succeeding in being in used as my winning the lottery. 🙂 And for you outsiders who would accuse me of being anti science with this view, I am sick of the BS that medicine passes off as science.

  7. Hi Corrina – Thanks for keeping the consideration of labels and terms foremost in the discussion of how to represent the cause of opposing psychiatric oppression. Obviously, the big difficulty with anti-psychiatry is the fact of the tradition it originally served which fostered versions of belief in attributing “illnesses” and specialness of various kinds to people suffering with undeniable problems of adjustment and unhappy over-reaction for which there are simply not ever going to be medical approaches that suffice to explain or ameliorate those conditions. Like you are careful to say, it would be great to have thorough weeding out of physical factors by real medical means, but it isn’t done. In fact, it’s prevented by the cruelly intended word-game of labelling and the coercive demand to adhere to your reduced status as the good patient who accepts “insight into their illness” as the way to regain freedom and seeming kindnesses from the incarcerating maniacs who claim they keep society safe with their hospitals.

  8. As someone who is now escalating from a position of being anti-psychiatry to one of becoming anti-mainstream medicine – in the light of my continuing experience – I regard anti-psychiatry as my conservative, fall-back position. I look forward to the day when taking such a position will be considered absolutely sane and normal.

    • Heaven forbid! Anti-psychiatry is my constant position of absolute honesty. I don’t need to drag sanism and “normality” into the equation. I’d be fine with a “Deviant and proud of it!” button. The power of psychiatrists comes from their medical degrees. I, frankly, prefer magi of a different persuation. Once upon a time, not all that long ago, they were called ‘mad doctors’, and as far as I’m concerned, kind of like Dr. Frankenstein over there, they’re still ‘mad doctors’.

  9. The phrase “anti-psychiatry” has not been discredited. Far from it. But the psychiatric profession and its leaders are trying their best to do so. We shouldn’t fall into the trap they are trying to set.

    It makes absolutely no sense to allow the system we are fighting to tell us how to describe our position. As I have said a number of times recently, when the average person hears “anti-psychiatry,” their response isn’t “how weird.” It is usually “what’s that?” And when asked that question, we get to explain our position.

    When I say I am anti-psychiatry, I mean that I oppose the system and the profession that has ruined millions of lives, and continues to do so. It is very simple and straightforward.

    I am not intimidated by people like E. Fuller Torrey. I’m anti-psychiatry and I’m proud of it.

  10. OK i won’t peek at others’ comments till i finish mine, then look to see how many people agree…

    Corrina, you’re obviously “one of us” but I find your logic confounding. I might need to number my reactions just to keep myself focused.

    1. Starting with the title: If something is wrong, why would one dance around the notion of opposing it? (If you say fear, i get it; otherwise notso much.)

    2. I’m afraid I find the “substitute” phrase you propose to be not only unwieldy, but meaningless to the average person ‘on the street.” Additionally, the phrase you use hints that there are appropriate uses for psychiatry; if this is what you believe, then you personally are not anti-psychiatry but apparently hoping for some sort of “reform.” So in that case your concern is not actually that we use the term “anti-psychiatry” but the fact that we are anti-psychiatry and you think we should be something else.

    3. I see no reason to “dialogue” with our oppressors; we need to organize to take away their power to oppress. This includes educating the public as to their true nature, which includes the manipulation of language and logic. When any of theses characters tries to use the terms “anti-psychiatry” to slander us we should rejoice, because they’ve handed us an opportunity to expose them on a silver platter!

    (There’s already a good discussion going on in another blog about why the term is so valuable to us, and why we should unapologetically use it more and more, not less.)

  11. I agree that we should NOT adopt weasel words to express our agenda, which is, at its core, anti-psychiatry.

    Psychiatry’s history is embedded in coercion, confinement, isolation and inhuman and inhumane treatment, and NOT in evidence-based medicine. No other sphere of medicine holds the right to imprison and drug, shock or perform brain-damaging surgery against a patient’s will and without any evidence base.

    No other people in any profession are so totally powerful and operate so totally outside any human rights constraints with such total impunity. Were psychiatrists a “real” part of medicine, they would see how offensive and corrupting such power is, and cede it. Instead, they fight for extra resources, extra protections, extra funds, building alliances with drug companies and politicians and subverting any attempts people might make at self help and/or peer support, labeling, stigmatizing, drugging, doing whatever is necessary to further increase their own power (see Allen Frances’ recent posts on getting hold of prison funding).

    Anti-psychiatry is about being clearly and strongly against such behaviour.

    Anti-psychiatry is pro-human rights and dignity for people who are just being…..well….. human… and needing additional support and caring through difficult experiences. No need to be ashamed of or hide such an agenda in the way that psychiatry hides its agenda.

    • On further reflection:
      I hope I have not come across totally against all people-who-are-psychiatrists as I do think that part of the struggle is to help psychiatry-as-a-profession and society as a whole to dismantle the belief systems that have been constructed around “the insane”.

      Doctors and yes, even psychiatrists, are generally trusted and respected in our society and those who come out against the status quo have a powerful influence. I find very helpful the fact sheets etc at CEPUK and other resources written by similarly outspoken psychiatrists – people who might dismiss non-medical sources will actually read and be influenced by those writings, including primary care physicians and potential “mental health” patients.

      There are also many “mental health” authors (inc some psychiatrists) on this site who have been instrumental in my being able to challenge the paradigms that were forced upon me – they too are progressing their thinking and approach towards the issues through the dialogue occurring here and are/may become a powerful influence for change within both their profession and society…KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders, in drug company parlance).

      Psychiatry will not be wiped out overnight, and these intelligent, fine and courageous people are playing a vital role in changing thinking in the profession and society at a time when it most certainly is needed.

  12. The Wikipedia’s definition of anti-psychiatry is well written.

    Anti-psychiatry has been active for almost two centuries, and is the view that many psychiatric treatments are ultimately more damaging than helpful to patients. Psychiatry is seen by proponents of anti-psychiatry as a coercive instrument of oppression. According to anti-psychiatry, psychiatry involves an unequal power relationship between doctor and patient, and a highly subjective diagnostic process, leaving too much room for opinions and interpretations.

    • I’m not sure it is as clear as it might be, and what I mean by this is that the clincher comes with the next paragraph.

      Anti-psychiatry originates in an objection to what some view as dangerous treatments. Examples include electroconvulsive therapy, insulin shock therapy, brain lobotomy, and the over-prescription of potentially dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. An immediate concern lies in the significant increase in prescribing psychiatric drugs for children. There were also concerns about mental health institutions. Every society, including liberal Western society, permits involuntary treatment or involuntary commitment of mental patients.

      When people in treatment are dying at an age on average 25 years younger than the rest of society, clearly the treatment is worse than the disease, if in fact you are dealing with a disease at all. I think antipsychiatry emerges from the belief that psychiatry does more harm than it does good, and that there is actually much evidence, in terms of statistics and studies to support this belief. What’s more, given the social control aspects of psychiatric intervention (a military term), I don’t think some of those subjected to involuntary psychiatric treatment in the USA are all that different from Russian dissidents subjected to psychiatric oppression by the state. In either case, you’ve got people in the mental health system because it’s a way around the legal system proper, a system that would protect those rights circumvented by psychiatry.

      • Okay. Maybe I was rash in what I said above. Perhaps the wording could be a little more concise, that is, throw out the history, and go straight to the definition.

        Anti-psychiatry is the view that many psychiatric treatments are ultimately more damaging than helpful to patients.

        The history need not be incorporated into the definition if you include the history in the page. This history isn’t the definition. Sure, it’s been around for awhile, but that’s not what it is, and it distracts from the point that is being made.

        • “Anti-psychiatry is the view that many psychiatric treatments are ultimately more damaging than helpful to patients.”

          This is certainly not my definition. While the damage done is certainly a characteristic of psychiatry, using that alone as the essence of anti-psychiatry sentiment leaves open the inference that despite “many” damaging “treatments,” there may be a few that <i. are helpful.

          Isn’t anti-psychiatry more basically defined as a rejection of the theoretical and semantic underpinnings which allow for concepts such as “mental illness” to be accepted as actual diseases, i.e. the concretization of the abstraction known as the mind?

          • Yes. Psychiatry will always be “ultimately more damaging than helpful to patients,” because its existence depends upon the flawed premise you have identified – that metaphorical illnesses can and should be “treated” with medical interventions.

          • Oldhead, you are making matters more complex than they need to be. Why do we reject the theoretical and semantic underpinnings of psychiatry? Well, basically because it is more damaging than it is helpful. I think that is implicit to the definition given. Attacking the theoretical and semantic underpinnings, if psychiatry is more harmful than helpful then there go the theoretical and semantic underpinnings anyway. We need a definition simple and general enough that people can understand it, and agree with it. Theory and semantics! Just how ivory tower do you have to make matters? Psychiatry hurts, maims and kills. Theory and semantics are it’s excuse for doing so.

          • I wasn’t suggesting that my verbiage in the above post should be “the” definition, I know it’s a little “ivory-tower” sounding and it was off the top of my head. However,

            Why do we reject the theoretical and semantic underpinnings of psychiatry? Well, basically because it is more damaging than it is helpful.

            I think I reject them because they are objectively absurd. I think they would be just as absurd if they were not clearly “more damaging than helpful.” That’s the theoretical level. But even if the theory seemed valid, if in practice the outcome were more damaging than helpful I would absolutely remain opposed to that but not necessarily closed to the possibility that psychiatry could be a “helpful” solution if it were practiced differently (a possibility I reject) . Tho I guess maybe we are getting close to talking about angels on the head of a pin…

          • I don’t want to get into an academic argument. I could see it put either way. I like the first (Wikipedia without the two centuries) for it’s simplicity, but I can live with either. While I think the theoretic and semantic baggage much like the history baggage, I don’t want to be picky. Although I think there Wikipedia did hit the nail on the head, nonetheless, if you can get a revision to the definition, all power to you. For some kind of position paper, putting it as you have works, for a definition though, I think people are likely to lose you and you them. For example, if Wikipedia later goes into the theoretical and semantics of the matter. I just see that as elaboration. As I was trying to say. Any definition, you come up with, I’m okay with. I don’t want to be picky.

          • Uh, because some people may see themselves as anti-psychiatry and reformist. I don’t think anti-psychiatry of necessity means abolition. In my case it does. I’m anti-psychiatry and abolitionist, but I’m not sure it follows that everybody who calls themselves anti-psychiatry sees things the same way.

          • That’s a good point, Frank, and I believe you, but why on earth would anyone who identifies as “anti-psychiatry” want to keep it around, and why would anyone who thinks that it is salvageable want to call themselves “anti-psychiatry”? (Just a rhetorical question there.)

          • Alright.

            Anti-psychiatry is the view that, ultimately more damaging than helpful, the psychiatric profession should be abolished.

            I’m not sure that necessarily covers it. I’d like to see the issue of coercion separated and prioritized over the “withering away” wish. If you are talking about abolishing the entire field, well, somebody has a very daunting task ahead of themselves. That is not exactly the direction things have been going in. I would caution a little bit of pragmatism, or, as it could be put, I don’t think it a good idea to lead with a bum foot. If progress is to be made in stages, it helps to recognize that stage you are at. That said, I don’t want to be a fly in the ointment so to speak.

          • Don’t want to make this more confusing than it is, but although it would follow that to be anti-psychiatry is to favor its elimination, I would not consider myself an abolitionist necessarily if that means outlawing the “profession.” I would support enforcing truth in advertising laws, however, as well as outlawing TV advertising for psychiatric drugs. And I do believe that stopping involuntary “treatment” would be the death knell for psychiatry as a whole.

          • What would be the problem with outlawing the profession, if it were possible? (Not a rhetorical question, btw. You’re definitely not the only one one who identifies as anti-psychiatry but with that particular caveat, and I wonder what the reasoning is behind it.)

          • I don’t believe outlawing involuntary treatment would be the death knell for psychiatry, but as it is the cause of so much prejudice and human rights violations, it would be a very positive step. I was talking deprogramming before because if psychiatry resembles anything, the voluntary kind that is, it resembles brainwashing. Now they’ve got treatment malls at hospitals where they presume to teach “wellness”. Nonsense. First, I’d get rid of coercion, and then the biggest problem in psychiatry has flown the coop. It is no longer the social control mechanism that it is today. As for it withering away, you have to work on the commercial aspects of it. It’s a business, and that business can’t operate without growth. Should psychiatry truly become interested in redeeming people, that is, lessening the numbers of people receiving mental health care, it would be working for it’s own demise anyway.

          • You really have an uphill struggle if you want to outlaw psychiatry. Religion isn’t scientific either, but just try outlawing religion. Some people, after all, see the psychiatrist, not as a part of a treatment team, or a lord of the psych unit, but because they choose to do so. We’ve got a prescription drug problem in no small measure because of our illicit drug problem, and vice versa. There are a heck of lot of gullible people in the world. People who get off on deception and self-deception, and that’s what we really have to contend with. Psychiatry thrives on all sorts of deception, expose the deception, and it will either have to scram, or it will have to become something other than what it presently is.

          • OK this response format is getting crazy.

            Anyway this is for Uprising:

            First — except for the drugs and ECT — I think it’s like outlawing astrology or existentialism or whatever. Maybe more importantly — and in this case I would agree with Richard L. — this would be considered an ultra-leftist position and could threaten the formation of a broad-based to coalition to stop forced “treatment,” which must be our initial unified goal.

          • Very good point. Now you have ex-patients talking about how they were “helped” by forced treatment. It is, therefore, very important to express and espouse an opposing pro-rights (anti-assault) view. Forced treatment works by deprivation of liberty and violation of rights. It is extreme, and extremist. Your total institution is a totalitarian institution. Give people the power to say “no” to forced psychiatry, and you’re psychiatric label doesn’t have the clout that it once did. We’ve got a lot of important points that we can keep hammering on. You can’t talk about ending psychiatry the field in their view without appearing extremist. It will appear less “extreme” to talk about ending the extremism in psychiatry. Talk about ending psychiatry is rather like talk about ceasing to use the word anti-psychiatry. Not in a country that prides itself on freedom of speech! You can only provide a forum for it’s discussion by attempting to do so. A profession based on error may be bad, nonetheless, it is not so bad as the censorship of ideas and opinions.

  13. Frank and all, I believe in the definition of anti=psychiatry. I have no problems with it. However, I have a hard time working with a cause that starts with a negative. The NAACP took a more positive spin with the word advancement.They didn’t go for a loud anti-white approach although they were certainly justified in doing so.There were some that did and that is what I respected in their movement then it was in many ways all encompassing though I am sure there were multiple political disagreements and debates similar to the several threads going on here on MIA.We are dealing with centuries of fear and prejudice and with a political environment that is becoming more and more restrictive for all.
    One of the global missing links is the open dedication to any memorial for the disabled and “disordered” people who were killed by the Nazis. They were the first to be rounded and up and the forced silence of the masses allowed the “superior race” river to grow into waves of death with the Jewish people.This is an old story that has never been told adequately and unfortunately keeps on repeating. Anyone different especially in times of economic distress or social dysfunction and fear becomes more than just other we become
    objects that need to be removed.
    I would like a different name for the movement. I won’t stop growing with it but it truthfully causes me dis – ease because I know there are some folks on the other side
    that are more for us than against us as there were in Nazi Germany and down through the centuries.Don’t know if some is enough to make a nomenclature change.

    I haven’t done thorough research on the self labeling of change movements . Ah if only Saul Alinsky were alive and we could hear his thoughts on this! He was very specific on what and how he would take on causes. He wanted a 75% chance of victory in order to go with a cause. Maybe we need a discussion on in the long run does anti psychiatry no matter how pinpoint will it really work in the long run to advance the movement?
    Not sure yet.

    • I don’t see it as a negative.

      Psychiatry is based on entirely false grounds. According to Wikipedia:

      Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders.

      In characterizing minds as disordered, psychiatry is showing itself to be negative pseudo-science. In grammar, although bad grammar, a double negative is ultimately positive. There you go. Anti-psychiatry is very positive.

      Mental disorder is a weasel word used to try to get around saying “mental illness”, and “mental illness” itself is merely a myth.

      Speaking of the NAACP. MindFreedom International, certainly not an anti-psychiatry organization by any stretch of the imagination, although some it’s members may take an anti-psychiatry position, following the suggestion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has an International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.

      A 75 % of victory? Okay. Given that NAMI would now have + 26 % of the US population labeled “mentally ill”, I guess we’ve got to work a little harder on getting that + 1 % back and fully recovered before we have even a 75 % victory. I think a + 1 % gain still very doable.

      Not to make a lot over words. I don’t need psychiatry as a profession. Anybody that wants a psychiatrist can have one. I don’t want one. I wouldn’t have a psychiatrist imposed upon me either. If that’s anti-psychiatry, well, now we have a word for it.

  14. Ok, You all are right and I’m wrong.

    But, if you’re so right, why haven’t you solved the problem already? Especially those of you with the same complaints and same solutions for 30 years? How come they haven’t worked yet? Think on that a little before you are trying to be against, against, against.

    What are you FOR? What are YOU building? What is your solution excepting bitching?

    • Corinna, I don’t think anyone is saying “we’re right and you’re wrong.” I’m not. I disagree with the argument you’ve made here. That’s all. I think asking what people are “for” is a valid question, but the rest of your questions are pretty unfair, imo, and ignore the massive power imbalance between the psychiatric machine and its critics. Please don’t take any of this as a personal criticism, because it’s not.

      • I think more action is possible if we make it happen, but then you need the people who are going to act rather than theorize. The problem with theory is that it can impede your ability to act. If you spend too much time theorizing, you’re going to alienate some potential actors if they don’t agree completely with your particular theory. There is a danger, let me say it, of making the parameters of your critique (your system) too narrow. Many people have much reason to be wary of ideologues, and I certainly don’t want to come off sounding like one.

    • 30 years would take us back to approximately the exact point where the anti-psych movement was taken over by opportunists who watched their (our) language so as not to offend, took money from the system to redefine ourselves as a “consumer” movement, and in general set progress back to a point where we are just beginning to regain our collective consciousness. Does that say anything?

      • I imagine we’re there already, that is, thirty years back. We had a small movement way back when but it wasn’t a movement of people who bought into their own oppression. The idea was to liberate people from such oppression.

        Now you have a small elite guiding a much bigger and broader ‘movement’, if you can call it that, but this ‘movement’ is a ‘movement’ of people seeking a government paycheck rather than liberation.

        I think we have to return to critiquing the system for what it is, and I think we have to get back to the idea of urging people to seek liberation from that system rather than a government paycheck.

        The mental health movement is all about demanding more funds from the government for an expanding mental health/mental illness system. The bought out ‘movement’ that has developed is a part of the mental health movement.

        When the system hires people from the system (buys out people) the system expands. You’ve got a wider employee base, now you can aim for more “customer”/”consumers”.

        I don’t think people are entitled to a slice of the national taxpayer pie by virtue of their engagement with mental health/mental illness system. These ideas of entitlement and artificially “disabled” based dependency are things we need to work on changing.

        • I don’t currently get a paycheck from the government, but one day, I probably will. You see, I have a thirty thousand dollar college loan for an education that I can never use because of a diagnosis I originally got when I was thirteen. Would I feel badly about accepting that check? No, I would not. I don’t think people are happily accepting a diagnosis for social security. I certainly hope they aren’t because there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think, what could I have been… I do know that the job market makes life uncomfortable for people like us. My last job decided that the three weeks of FMLA my doctor required to sort out my meds was too much so they accidentally leaked my diagnosis. Pretty soon, it was common knowledge that talking to me would label you a troublemaker. When I stood up for myself when they refused to allow me missed training (per the law) and instead, wanted to punish me for not having it, I was publicly humiliated so horribly that the next day, just trying to start my car to go to work sent me into a panic attack. I would trade any so called entitlements for the opportunity to be treated like a person.

          • I think the issue here is really with corporatocracy and marginalization. The two in effect go hand in hand together. The corporations need a marginalized population just like they need unemployment and cheap foreign labor. The way to fight corporatocracy is through community participation and through grassroots community activism. The gated communities can only control the wider community through tacit collusion and subtle corruption. When the people have power, the communities are theirs’. In an oligarchy, such as it is, the oligarchs rule.

    • I have personally built quite a lot, and continue to do so, on the simple premise that people have a right to be against or “anti” things that are harming and limiting them. I don’t (personally) see MIA as an appropriate forum for self promotion, but I would be happy to discuss how this has worked with you in a more private space, Corrina.

      Best, Sharon

      PS I don’t think you are “wrong”, but perhaps the quest for the perfect language does complicate things for folks at times.

    • I’m sorry to report that the magnitude or madnitude of the problems the people face are so huge that being anti-psychiatry which I am is really a rather mild reaction only addressing a part of the oppressive issues we face . Psychiatry ,pharmaceutical cartel, medical, dental, cartel and a government that has merged with these and also other cartels ( food and water supply , agriculture, security for the powerful ,military and police ,media and propaganda , constitute probably the most powerful criminal fascist organization on planet earth and is busy spreading a comprehensive dictatorial pseudo scientific (that impacts most all disciplines ) ideology posing as real science fooling or shocking into no action most people for the benefit of a very small group of “elite” modern day high tech robber barons to the ends of culling the population and subjugating the survivors with flunkies used to carry out the operation. This is not a conspiracy theory , just a business plan that is building momentum and financed to the max . The people are generally not informed as to what is going on. You want historical context and accuracy like no other read Edwin Black’s book “War Against The Weak” and Robert Young’s book “Sick and Tired” . What am I building . I’m helping one person in my home to wean off of psych” meds” and to not become captured and destroyed by the system . Educating oneself and others is not bitching . All we can do is the best we can .

    • What am I for? I’m for human rights. I’m for those rights always being available and not just when they’ve been violated so horribly that other people become aware that those rights are necessary. I am for equal rights for all because strengthening the rights of others doesn’t detract from my rights. It actually helps to strengthen them. The reason the problem hasn’t been solved already is because social standing, stigma, misinformation, and fear have kept the mentally ill from being heard. In fact, if you have a diagnosis, your best bet to secure basic human rights for yourself is to commit a crime. I am not antipsychiatry, I am anti anything that forces me to live in fear and be ashamed. As for meeting Doctor Frances in the middle, the problem with that is we have been doing that for years. If you don’t commit yourself willingly, then it will looked down on by the court. If you disagree with your treatment plan, you will be viewed as oppositional and lose your privileges. If you don’t take your medications, you will be placed in five point restraints. I have spent thee majority of my life compromising and accepting things like clothes and shower curtains and bathroom doors as privileges. I am not willing to be reduced to violence, but I’ve compromised enough. This doesn’t mean that you’re wrong or that we aren’t fighting for the same end result. It just means that I don’t think Doctor Frances and his like have the same motivations.

    • I have seen that argument before: “Look how we have not made any progress in thirty years. This shows how you anti-psychiatry people have nothing to offer.” The problem with this is that our movement for the last thirty years has been dominated by the people who are NOT anti-psychiatry. Before that, we were making great progress, until people started to take system money. Of course, the system is not going to pay you to overthrow it. They are paying you to keep your mouth shut and not use language like…”anti-psychiatry.”

  15. That’s alright Corrine, it’s just that some people have such a bend, and are radical, and then the one’s on the other side try to go along with such maneuvers, trying to be making outreach or connection for warmth, because of how they are (who knows what they are on)….

    But it’s jumping from sides against each other that makes for bad poetry, perhaps.

  16. Yes, I got mad yesterday with my comments and took this personally. I don’t think people understand the point I’m trying to make about using the oppressor’s language to frame your argument. And I really dislike being called a “sell-out,” or “co-opted.”

    I do know that “anti-psychiatry” is a term that will block partnership with people who have the money and power. I respect the viewpoint that the system is so broken there is no fix. But that viewpoint, and thus “anti-psychiatry” term, then requires people to find a solution completely on their own. Which is possible, but hasn’t happened yet. Protest, while blocking partnership, while not working for a solution, how is that supposed to help people who have emotional distress to not get labeled?

    Further, it would be very nice if the people who take that protest / independent solution path would stop constantly accusing other advocates of “co-optation” and “selling out.” There are different kinds of advocacy paths, there are different levels of talking to the enemy, there are different levels of being an insider mole, etc. We all have principles and morals and ability to move the dialogue forward.

    If I’m helping people who have emotional distress to not get labeled and the protest types aren’t, at what point is responding to their accusations just a waste of my time?

    • Your labeling people who have a more activist perspective as “protest types” is not helping your arguments. Offhand I don’t recall anyone addressing you or any particular person as a “sellout” or whatever, but it would be whistling past the graveyard to ignore that the original liberating energy of the “mental patients'”/anti-psychiatry movement was usurped years ago by fake “alternatives” funded by NIMH and others.

      However, if we were to deny who and what we are and what we stand for in order to cozy up to those with money and power, that’s basically the definition of cooptation. In fact, the reason they have that money and power is that they are sucking our blood. Do you really think they’ll stop if we just find the right polite, non-threatening words with which to ask them?

  17. I guess I am finding this all very frustrating. One important factor in this is that we have no example in front of us now of a militant movement for human rights, the way the civil rights movement was in the 1960’s.

    The concept that if we call ourselves anti-psychiatry, this will alienate us from the psychiatrists implies that the way t0 make change is to convince the psychiatrists they are wrong. No way will that happen. Social change happens when we convince the general public that our cause is just. Well-considered demonstrations are one way to do this.

    I just can’t believe, though I know it’s true, that anyone would think that our audience should be the very people who have abused us and our brothers and sisters. That has been happening for the last thirty years, and look where that has left us.

    • Hi Ted, Corinna, and all
      I am thinking that I used the NAACP as an example for two reasons. One that it used a “positive” word and old a phrase that is now in disuse and not respected in mainstream society. The org has to use the NAACP instead of the entire phrase.
      For us, we will always be others to most psychiatrists. Despite the fact that many have their own and family members issues. Sometimes I feel like I am “passing” as normal like biracial folks used to “pass” for whites. Duplication and evasion and I really really dislike even having to be put in a situation where I have to think that way. I have a cohort of peers who do not know my 12 year debacle as a severely mental ill so to say person or, whatever is the most PC term as of right now. If I divulge to them there will b e a change of tone, a change of conversation and our relationship many times will never be the same again. If I don’t divulge or out myself things continue to go on as if the 12 year horror was never a lived experience for me. To this day this site is one of the few points of expression for me and I still haven’t told half of what happened to me.
      So my concern is not about the psychiatrists and other professionals my concern is for the nonprofessional people on the street. I am afraid they will be turned off the use of anti. Not to mean I won’t support the movement if antipsych still is used just a concern of mine and my need to look at other movements and their nomenclature I was on an adult psych unit when there were protests in the early eighties at the APA when the news came through there was a palpable dejection on the docs that I really respected. And yes there are some, definitely not all, but they somehow got in. Their thinking was that the movement had hurt itself. But I don’t know what else could have or should have be done to have changed – what we have now which is so so so much worse.

      It took centuries for some cultural/societal movements to change the direction of a national outlook if ever.I would really just like to be able to have a word for the movement that I could get my nuclear and extended family on board with. Right now anti pysch will not in any way draw them in and these are folks who spearheaded the DD independence movement in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s.

      The prejudice against us runs so very very deep. Any maybe that says it all and we do need to do an all out in your face movement in thoughts, words, and deeds.

  18. My notion of anti-psychiatry he’s pretty closely to Thomas Szasz’s, that he rejected it along with orthomolecular psychiatry is something everyone knows. I assume that CorInna alludes to the idea when she says it’s our N-word. So, it’s also like the term pro-life, which states the opposite of what it should mean, and stands for coerced reproduction. I am sure that we have to push to have two types of psychiatry widely available. One that is as phony as at present and provides dogma and excuses and industrial treatment, for those who like saying they are sick, one for facts and options and good counsel. Soon I will have totally helped myself and will forever see nothing respectable about the results touted by either of the current APAs and their matching categories for the abnormal and the non-compliant. Will there be any action after recovering on my own after ridiculous clinical enslavement and detention? Just protest and criticism. Most they are wrong plenty but will gladly accept the majority vote of approval. Anti- establishment attitudes are most important here.

  19. @oldhead (continued from above)

    First — except for the drugs and ECT — I think it’s like outlawing astrology or existentialism or whatever. Maybe more importantly — and in this case I would agree with Richard L. — this would be considered an ultra-leftist position and could threaten the formation of a broad-based to coalition to stop forced “treatment,” which must be our initial unified goal.

    Okay, I’d been confused for a while as to what Richard L had meant by that, but now your comment and Franks’ have given me an idea. It seems like you all think I was advocating some kind of attempt at suppressing the psychiatric belief system. That’s not what I had in mind and I don’t think I said anything like that. Certainly, people have the right to believe whatever they want.

    But neither astrology nor existentialism is sanctioned and funded by the government. Neither astrology nor existentialism is a licensed medical specialty. The point I’d been trying to make to Richard was that psychiatry is not medicine; therefore no psychiatrist has a “right” to a medical license solely on the basis of psychiatric “expertise.” Earlier in the thread, I was just wondering why some people who identify as anti-psychiatry feel the need to insert the caveat about not wanting to eliminate psychiatry altogether. As I said, it was not a rhetorical question. I am sincerely curious, because I can’t think of any reason to keep it around (the medical specialty, that is). And yes, I realize that this is all theoretical, but I think it is important to discuss, because it’s confusing to read, “We’re ‘anti-psychiatry,’ but we’re not trying to get rid of it.”

    • I think it is just a matter of, as oldhead said once, not putting the cart before the horse. You can get somewhere by opposing abduction, assault, torture, etc., that you can’t get by opposing relations freely entered into. Do something about the deprivation of rights and liberties involved, and then maybe you can do something about the seductive falsity and deception that would claim harm “help”. I don’t see anything off base about saying we envision a world without the profession of psychiatry. Yes, we oppose psychiatry, but it must be agreed that some offenses are much more egregious than others. It is those especially egregious matters that we can and must deal with first. Other aspects we can live with as long as people’s liberties are protected. Misinformed consent is one thing, non-consent, informed or misinformed, is entirely another thing. We don’t need any non-consensual relationships, and power disparities, masquerading as medicine.

        • “Psychiatric rape”. And, I proudly OPPOSE psychiatric rape…. Despite the fact that sometimes, in 21st Century America, Judges and Courts actually ORDER psychiatric rape to be inflicted on vulnerable persons…. A good friend of mine is a victim of the local CMHC. A few months ago, she was driven to the State Hospital by the Sheriff’s, in handcuffs and shackles. 3 days later, she was sent home in a taxi. Think about that. And THANK-YOU for posting here. I’m with you….If I thought it would help keep them away from me, I’d get “Anti-Psychiatry” tattooed on my forehead…. 😉

    • Yeah, I actually did think you were implying that it should be officially suppressed. And I do totally oppose any government sanctioned or funded psychiatric activity, period.

      That’s the thing — without ECT, drugs and coercion, psychiatry would amount to another philosophical, pop-psych indulgence like astrology or yoga (and I’m not criticizing astrology or yoga, just sayin’). At that point it wouldn’t matter so much if there were groups of people wanting to identify as “mentally ill” and be treated as such. Masochism isn’t illegal so far as I’m aware. But I doubt that it would be the dominant trend.

      It’s not a matter of not wanting it to disappear, nor of not trying to get rid of it, it’s more a question of strategy for me. Again, an anti-psychiatry analysis is not essential to understanding the dangers of the Murphy Bill, etc., so insisting on such even if it would be a deal-breaker in terms of uniting with so-called “moderates” would be self-defeating.

      I too have no issue with fine-tuning our theory & analysis. That doesn’t mean instead of action; when the time comes for action we take the available understanding we have and use it to the best of our ability, then when the time for reflection comes again we take our experience and see where our analysis has been correct and where adjustments need to be made.

      Also I was thinking, the main reason Szasz when asked didn’t identify with the term anti-psychiatry (other than not wanting to be confused with Laing) is he interpreted it as meaning outlawing psychiatry. Maybe if he were asked the same question, but with the caveat that “anti” did not mean favoring state suppression, he would have been less hesitant to say he was anti-psychiatry.

      Thanks for re-starting this in a new thread, it was getting unwieldy.

      • To clarify — I’m not suggesting that in order to build coalitions we should back away from our anti-psychiatry stance, I meant that we should not insist that others change their own guiding principles as a condition of working with them to accomplish specific goals.

        • Well, of course not. We would fall into the same trap that the Dsm started in, before they got creative, by trying to assume that people fit into these niches. Whatever works for you should be the way you approach your mental health unless it’s harming you….

  20. Personally, I’d like to see the APA dismantled from the ground up, but the APA isn’t necessarily psychiatry and voice versa. The Dsm should be abandoned, and dishonest, biased, and otherwise tampered with research should be abandoned. I don’t think I could settle for less.

  21. I agree with Corinna. The term “anti-psychiatry” is too widely misunderstood and it alienates people who choose to use the system. A new term for “the view that many psychiatric treatments are ultimately more damaging than helpful to patients” (definition per Wikipedia) is needed. Not sure what it should be though. (Sorry about this, but I’m not too crazy about “medical harm aware advocate,” even though I can’t come up with anything better.) I’ve seen people use the terms “pro-choice” and “iatrogenic awareness.” I do like both of these.

  22. Would it be more “positive” if we had a more flowery name, such as the Anti-Psychiatry Network for Universal Justice?

    I think we have to be less nervous about “alienating” people who use the system. If they want to use the system that’s their prerogative; it’s our job to be there for them when they get tired of beating their heads against the wall.

    (If Bonnie B. is reading this I wonder what her thoughts are on the Wikipedia “definition” of anti-psychiatry.)

    What is there to misunderstand??? I think the term is very straightforward.