Does MadinAmerica Promote the Spreading of Scientific Anarchy?

Michael Cornwall, PhD

I believe that Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, the past president of the American Psychiatric Association must judge some writers and commenters here on MIA as being “anti-science” and “anarchists.” He has now published at least two articles that, in essence, suggest that critics of the DSM-5 and psychiatry should be silenced.

In an article published online in the Scientific American in May 2013, titled, "DSM-5: Caught between Mental Illness Stigma and Anti- Psychiatry Prejudice,” he said this about critics: "These are real people who don't want to improve mental healthcare...they are to my mind, misguided and misleading ideologues and self-promoters who are spreading scientific anarchy."

Note the ad hominem attacks against anyone who criticizes psychiatry. Critics of psychiatry apparently want worse mental healthcare than we already have.

In his Scientific American article, Lieberman wrote that it was not just the DSM-5 that he felt was under attack. "I was also alarmed at the harsh criticism of the field of psychiatry and the APA...the inevitable outcry from a small group of critics  - made louder by social media and support from dubious sources - who have relentlessly sought to undermine the credibility of psychiatric medicine and question the validity of mental illness."

I wonder how many psychiatrists who voted for Dr. Lieberman for APA President supported inflammatory remarks about critics of psychiatry spreading scientific anarchy?

Now Dr. Lieberman is at it again. On January 17, the New York Times published an article titled “Redefining Mental Illness” by anthropologist T.M. Luhrmann. She started her article by writing, "Two months ago the British Psychological Association released a remarkable document titled ‘Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia.’ Its authors say that hearing voices and feeling paranoid are common experiences, and are often a reaction to trauma, abuse or deprivation...The report says that there is no strict dividing line between psychosis and normal experience."

Dr. Lurhmann also wrote, "The report adds that antipsychotic medications are sometimes helpful, but that "there is no evidence that it corrects an underlying biological abnormality."

In response, Dr. Lieberman wrote a piece that was published on February 18 on Medscape. In it, he complained about T.M. Luhrmann’s article and the New York Times for not publishing his riposte to that piece.  He titled his Medscape article, “"What does the New York Times Have Against Psychiatry?"

He began this article by stating, “My comments today could be titled- ‘Psychiatry suffers another indignity.’ " Then he dropped several pearls.

In response to the UK report on psychosis that questions the validity of claiming that anti-psychotics treat an unproven chemical imbalance of the brain or abnormality, Dr. Lieberman wrote: "The (UK) article addresses the fact that there is no evidence that antipsychotic drugs correct any biologic abnormality, which also is inaccurate. Antipsychotic drugs work through the antagonism of the blocking of dopamine. They may have downstream and upstream effects with a neural pathway, but the link between dopamine activity and psychotic symptoms is indisputable."

Note here that while he is seeming to defend the chemical imbalance story, he actually doesn’t claim that researchers have found that people diagnosed with schizophrenia have abnormal dopamine systems. He claims something is “indisputable,” even though when he presents evidence of that biologic abnormality, all he can say is there is some link between dopamine activity and psychotic symptoms. So clearly, it is quite disputable about whether these drugs correct a biological abnormality.

Next, he stated that the DSM-5 should be called the “gold standard” for diagnosis in psychiatry. "The clinical diagnoses that have been used and continue to be refined through the iterative DSM process are the gold standard of what needs to be used."

I guess you could call anything the gold standard if it is the only game in town. The gold standard of restaurants might be McDonalds if it was the only restaurant allowed to be open.

Finally, Dr. Lieberman complained that the New York Times would give T.M. Luhrmann this public forum for her thoughts. "What other medical specialty would be asked to endure an anthropologist opining on the scientific validity of its diagnoses?” he wrote. “ None, except psychiatry. Psychiatry has the dubious distinction of being the only medical specialty with an anti-movement. There is an anti-psychiatry movement. You have never heard of an anti-cardiology movement, an anti-dermatology movement, or an anti-orthopedics movement."

A psychiatrist friend of mine who read Dr. Lieberman's Medscape piece said that she was, "Used to his over the top simplistic rants, but this one made my jaw drop- and he wonders why there is an anti-psychiatry!"

I wonder, though, if Dr. Lieberman ever asks himself whether psychiatry’s own behavior plays a role in the creation of an antipsychiatry movement? Could one reason there are more critics of psychiatry than of cardiology be because people given diagnoses of a “major mental illness” and treated for it die 25 years earlier than the general public? People diagnosed/labeled with schizophrenia or bipolar or major depression don't have a potentially life threatening physical disease like cancer or coronary-artery disease, and yet they are dying young as though they did.

What other medical specialties like cardiology and dermatology that do care for people with life threatening illness are under the cloud of legitimacy that psychiatry is experiencing?

Psychiatry sets the diagnostic criteria for care and sets the best practice standards for care. The recipients of that care die 25 years sooner than people not receiving psychiatric care. Is it any wonder psychiatry is in a crisis of legitimacy? And that is to say nothing about much of that care, like ECT, forced medication and medicating children, are human rights abuses in my opinion.

Wouldn't there be a great many, very vocal critics of cancer treatment if oncologists sought to get laws passed so they could strap down “treatment-resistant” patients and forcibly inject chemotherapy drugs into them?

Critics of psychiatry shouldn't be labeled and demonized as scientific anarchists. It's dangerous, Dr. Lieberman, to throw that kind of ostracizing, condemning language around. It's demagoguery. Some people will feel that we should be silenced.

Am I wrong in believing that you want to silence us Dr. Lieberman ?

I believe those of us who dare to be critical of psychiatry are not the irrational extremists you would make us out to be.

Please look to your own glass house and stop your defamatory language about those you should feel blessed to serve and help Dr. Lieberman. Don't call us derogatory names.

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  1. Thanks, Michael, for providing such a perfect example of how the dialogue between survivors and psychiatry/the system is stuck.

    This is so typical of pattern of communication that takes place, whether in public, or worse yet, in a private office setting, face-to-face. This has happened to me and to absolutely everyone I know who has attempted to file a grievance:

    Client/survivor: “I feel abused, dismissed, disregarded, stigmatized, and discriminated against.”

    Psychiatrist (or representative/enabler): “You have issues, you have disorganized thinking, you are outside reality, something is wrong with you, you are paranoid, you are psychotic, you are delusional, this is a pattern for you, you are hurting my feelings, you are making me angry, you are wrong.” My favorite one of all has been, “I don’t have time for this.” I’ve heard ‘em all.

    These would trigger any reasonable, sane, and self-respecting person to high heaven, as it is demeaning, discriminating, dismissive, and completely avoidant of the issue, in favor of pure stigma.

    Fortunately, the law has been on my side, so I was able to get past this, but it was so draining. I had to heal simply from standing up for my rights when they were denied. They don’t make it easy, not at all. In fact, the mediator who facilitated my legal mediation 10 years ago said, “You can go further, but they’re going to make your life hell.” Being given the option to fight for justice with the promise of such personal sacrifice, simply because they can get away with it, is neither encouraging nor tempting. I’d already been through hell, I was not looking for another round trip ticket in that direction.

    First of all, at no time have I ever heard, “I’m so glad you said something, I had no idea you were feeling this way. Please tell me why you feel this way and we’ll see if we can uncover some truth, here, see what’s going on that got us to this point.” Or something to that affect, not intimidating, defensive, combative, or demeaning, but neutral and with some legitimate and heartfelt concern to actually correct this matter reasonably, regardless from where it originates. And, with some personal ownership in tow. THAT would be reasonable, mature, and most of all, healing.

    Jumping to the immediate conclusion that something is ‘wrong’ with the person making the complaint—which is the big and traumatizing double bind for people trying to file grievances from within the system–without careful examination of what has taken place to make a person feel this way, is not only shallow and defensive, I believe it’s actually illegal, as per ADA. Yet, it’s standard procedure. These things need to be taken seriously, rather than to initiate a battle of disparaging insults. That solves nothing, and only makes things worse.

    Second, I think these defensive responses to accusations of abuse and discrimination, which are so real and with plenty of evidence to substantiate that claim, is a perfect illustration of the utter lack of empathy that has gripped the psychiatric field. These grievances come from a place of profound wounding from stigma, marginalization, oppression, discrimination, and general social trauma. That would be something to heal, not make worse with defensiveness. That directly contradicts healing, so they’re totally not doing their jobs here.

    It’s just so clear that this is a closed system, stuck and spiraling downward, until the dialogue between survivors and clinicians becomes reasonable, and with a new dynamic. Is that possible? Who knows? Psychiatrists are among the most stubborn and defensive, sensitive people I know. Indeed, that is a negative characterization, but it’s really and truly what I have experienced. I’m still waiting to find the exception to this, as it has eluded me entirely. The kind of dialogue I associate with psychiatrists is calculated and manipulative, that’s just the honest truth. Why is that? Training? Fear? I don’t know, but it’s always been the case in my attempts to dialogue. It’s why they’re in trouble now, that stuff comes does back to haunt, eventually. It would be great to see this take a turn in another direction, once and for all. How Lieberman responded here is just sos, and it gets so tiresome.

    • Thank you Alex. Your moving personal comment makes real, how the enormous failures of empathy that often happen when we are related to as second class beings due to our perceived pathology, are then compounded by actual hostility being turned on us if we dare to speak up- and say we are being mistreated by psychiatry in general or a psychiatrist who we are face to face with.
      Best wishes,

      • I think it’s because they are guilty of all that we charge, which is why truth registers as a threat to their consciousness–much like the distorted perception of the light from those in Plato’s cave, who only perceive shadow.

        But the inner being knows the truth, so I can’t imagine that this split is terribly comfortable. Denial can only go so far before it turns into something more evidently toxic and self-sabotaging.

        • Inferring that someone is “2nd class,” btw, is for purposes of shaming, to throw someone off kilter, so the focus on discrimination and abuse is diffused. It’s a tool, and an effective one at that, because it creates ambiguity and doubt where there is, in reality, clarity and certainty.

          Class division is an illusion, that becomes real when we buy into it. Solution: don’t buy into the stigma.

          • I totally agree with what you say about being seen as second class Alex! Reminds me I have an article here on MIA called- “Does the psychiatric diagnosis process qualify as a degradation ceremony?”
            Thanks, Michael

      • Dr. Sorry I can’t help but add a little levity to the situation. In Demolition Man with Sandra Bullock, Wesley Snipes and Sylvester Stallone-the only movie of his I can stand to watch-The only restaurant in the dystopian future is a sit down version of Taco Bell.
        On a more serious note, I don’t find being called an Anarchist or a Luddite insulting. Both movements help us to charter a better path forward as a community of social primates. (See Noam Chomsky. Also some think that the original Luddites trodden the same ground as Robin Hood). Monsanto is singing the same song about anti-science with regards to GM Frankenstein food. (See Vandana Shiva for a wholistic critique of how corporatized food production is ruinous to society-looking beyond whether the food itself is safe for human consumption).

        • Thank you chrisreed for this and your other great comments here- good point about people who oppose altered food also being called anti-science. It’s the new thought crime.
          Best wishes, Michael

    • “I don’t have time for this.”
      Yeah, that’s what I had heard before they tortured me by strapping me to a bed and forcibly injecting with their shitty drugs. Later on I read in my documents that I was a danger to self and others and a whole story how I tied to kick them or something signed by two people one of whom wasn’t even there. These people should be in prison and they act like authority.

      • B: In the transition from apartheid to democracy, the South African Government instituted a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was basically a public shaming process, wherein the victims had the abusers dragged into a public forum. The only problem was, the new government did not go far enough in diminishing the economic power of the ruling Afrikaner elite. Just some thoughts, as we try to move away from the punitive and self-defeating prison-industrial complex.

    • Alex: I have posted here in the past about my experience with involuntary commitment, but this is the first time I have brought up trying to find legal recourse. The lithium damaged my kidneys, so I called around town to about a half a dozen lawyers. One of the more honest ones stated that frankly something like that would be too difficult to win and made no sense dollar and cents wise. Others knowing I was a mental patients, were waiting to pounce on a particular date in the time line as I was trying to describe my situation so as to use the statute of limitations to get off the phone with me. Another told me that they didn’t take “product liability cases.” What I was asking for is what is being asked for here on MIA-a paradigmatic shift-along the lines of Galileo and Copernicus, not an issue of a petty technicality. The only lawyer who would even listen to me, was the partner of one of the kids from my son’s cross country team, so I decided not to drag them into it.
      Another repercussion of this was my prior loss of employment, when my dreaded “history.” made it through the grape vine through a petty tyrant of a parent through to the discriminatory principal. Through a friend of a friend, I met with a lawyer who used to be a teacher-her firm specialized in labor cases, and overall she was pretty good-her diagnosis-I don’t suffer fools gladly. But when asked about my motives in moving forward with the case, I stated that I wanted to cause pain-the legally inflicted kind of course. The firm gave me the brush off after that.
      On a related note, if what psychiatrist do is for your own good when they lock you up, why do psychiatrists and lawyers run like the plague from it when it comes to involuntary commitment for themselves?

    • Alex: I think youdid a fine job of describing what I felt. As for me and the personal indignities, they were rather compacted into a short period of time. But I do think the whole process left me questioning myself a bit-I did identify as Bi-polar for a while, but I never went as far as to totally disown my behavior leading up to the diagnosis

  2. Right on to you, Michael. The only problem I have with this article is that you are picking on such a weak opponent. Lieberman’s arguments are intellectually pathetic, and even though I don’t have a high opinion of psychiatry, I still can’t understand how Lieberman was chosen the president of the APA.

    But I hope Doctor Lieberman continues to write, in as many publications as possible, as often as possible. He is one of our secret weapons.

    • Thanks Ted! Some people are still wondering how George Bush got elected twice too.
      I think Lieberman was very well known for his beliefs before he ran for APA president and was chosen because the majority of psychiatrists share his prejudices.
      That’s part of the larger rationale for writing this article- and I’m still waiting for a chorus of psychiatrists to distance themselves from Lieberman’s demagoguery.
      Best wishes,

      • Ted: This is how I generally feel about politicians who go off the script in a manner that sheds light on the dysfunctional political system. Keep them talking. Let them inadvertently lampoon the whole system.

    • “even though I don’t have a high opinion of psychiatry, I still can’t understand how Lieberman was chosen the president of the APA.”
      It’s always surprising how low some people can go.

      “But I hope Doctor Lieberman continues to write, in as many publications as possible, as often as possible. He is one of our secret weapons.”
      Maybe he’s secretly an anti-psychiatry troll who will reveal himself as trying to work for our case? In any way I agree – he’s passive-aggressive writing is great for the movement.

  3. Personally, scientific anarchism is not an insult in my book. Nor is it, for that matter, a demon. I was surprised however to learn that some readers of MIA might be “anti-science” and “anarchists”. If this be the case, perhaps we should escalate our “reform” efforts, huh? At least, those of us, unlike myself, who would further “reform” the torturing, labeling, and imprisoning (i.e. coercive psychiatry) system, one way or the other, that is, more so or less so. Anything, but not so.

    Joseph Lieberman has become comical of late, that’s true. Psychiatry’s science can’t weather a great deal of scrutiny, not as it now stands, but given less criticism, more and more people on the streets might believe anything they were told, and he, of course, is the big shot behind the last DSM to tell them. I guess if psychiatry were the Catholic Church that would make him pope, or former pope. Any day now the key to understanding the mind will be ours, this is, after all, the golden age of brain research until, of course, next “decade of the brain”. 200 years of feeling those noggin lumps, and he’s still a mysterious numb skull, isn’t he? Oh yeah, unless you’re Joseph Lieberman and the APA Illuminati.

    Alas, the DSM grimoire is a sad grimoire, and even some of those statistics on file have managed to get the jest by now.

  4. Hi Frank,
    Thank you for reading and your comment.
    Dr. Lieberman still embracing the DSM as the “gold standard” unfortunately sends the message to the public that psychiatry is still the authority on diagnosis and treatment.
    Best wishes, Michael

  5. Thank You Michael for this post and I agree with you Ted- Lieberman is such a “wonderful” argument against the psychiatric tradition. Anyone having an open mind ought to see how far out his arguments are and how very weak the “science” is re psychiatry and DSM.

  6. But he isn’t acting much differently from a psychiatrist who was, “Treating,” a freind of mine about 30 years ago. He said, “I don’t believe anyone since Jung has believed in psychotherapy for functional disorders like schizophrenia.” He was pompous, dismissive and offended by my requst for less drugs and therapy for my friend.

    So here’s to the UK BPS report on psychosis which says little more than I said to my freind’s psyhciatirst all those years ago, but says it with a lot more evidence and in some quarters is being believed.

  7. These are dark times. The forces of darkness, such Lieberman, Torrey, PHARMA, and Murphy are tasting blood. We need to keep countering their claims. I would only have added to your argument that Dr. Insel and NIMH have admitted they have found no biological basis for any of the forms of mental distress labeled mental illness. We need media outlets to get our ideas out to the public. Here we are mainly speaking to each other. It will be in the court of public opinion that these questions will be acted upon.

    • Thanks Dan!
      I imagine soon after Insel said that bombshell about no bio proof to base a DSM diagnosis on, that Lieberman got furious and as APA president, pressured Insel into their joint memo about the DSM still being the gold standard.
      Bless you Dan- and Leah, Oryx and the team at NEC for all you do- especially the daily battle over the Murphy legislation,
      Best wishes,

  8. Interesting blog Michael.

    Which seems, from afar, to spell out the fearful divisions within the American psyche. The taken for granted sense of “us & them” which so defines America’s politics of experience, which from a Buddhist landscape, appears to be a desire for cognitive constructs invoking a sense of victory, rather than enlightenment. One wonders if God weeps for the illusions of self-awareness, inherent in a Caucasian mind-body split, ruling over the heart of America’s, national, sense of self.

    HOW to go beyond the easy headlines (cognitive function) invoking a need to feel strong and feel the impulse of self-protective function, that will transcend the psychotic delusions of a survival economy masquerading as a society? HOW to be honest with each other and admit that in the great race of life, we can always bet on self-interest.

    HOW to go beyond the “pretty faces that tell pretty lies,” as Billy Joel puts it in his song HONESTY. HOW to deepen our combined sense of self, beyond the self-defensive psychotic adjustments to reality, that we all exhibit in our taken for granted behaviours and perceptions of reality.

    For as you state in our blogger profile:
    “I want this blog and the discussion it generates to help deepen our understanding of the mystery of madness and to help us learn ways to lovingly do self care when we are mad, and how to lovingly respond to others when they are mad.”

    Is this blog post a loving response to T.M. Luhrmann’s madness, Michael? Are you helping to deepen our understanding of the mystery, Michael? Are you helping people to make sense of Dr John Weir Perry’s lived-experience perception that psychosis is “natures way of setting things right.”

    I understand the rhetoric and the socio-political argument. But do you believe that such affect-raising labels/words do anything other than keep America’s mental health debate stuck in a Cartesian circle? A Cartesian circle created, imo, by our individual & group needs of regulating the bio-energetic nature of being human, The heart-centered impulse to our impassioned pleas for sanity, in this age of darkness and its increasingly self-objectifying language of science based illusions, about the human condition and the mystery of life’s purpose.

    I ask readers to contemplate the reality that we are not yet fully human and all our PROJECTIONS onto external reality, are created by internal processes which are essentially PSYCHOTIC in nature. And that all group behaviour, whether it be a group labelled psychiatry or anti-psychiatry, is based on basic-assumptions that are essentially about binding and bonding needs. An understanding that may be contemplated from a reading of Bion’s formulations on groups:

    “Bion on Groups:
    Bion’s major work, “Experiences in Groups,” was published in 1961. His starting point in groups, was the work of Melanie Klein and the mechanisms she ascribed to the earliest phases of mental life, mechanisms that involve psychotic defenses. These psychotic defenses persist in the life of all normal individuals to a greater or lesser extent, but they are especially characteristic of groups, and revealed in the “basic assumption” that binds the group together.

    Generally, “basic assumptions” are about the affects of “anxiety, fear, hate and love.” Specifically, by a “basic assumption,” Bion means an assumption such as “the group exists for fight or flight,” or the group depends on a leader, or the group has hope based on a belief that through it a new messiah or solution will emerge. How thoroughly such an assumption holds varies, but a basic-assumption always exists.” -Teresa Brennan. The Transmission of Affect

    I’m sure you will read this comment in the spirit of its intention, Michael. Even as it raises, heart energized, innate affects, like pain, anger and rage.



    • So what do you propose? We should sit down and meditate our way to eternal enlightenment while ignoring reality? People do group thinking because we are group animals. Abuse and systemic violence does not go away no matter how spiritual you get.

      People have a tendency to praise Ghandis and MLKs of the world and that’s all good and fine but they ignore the fact that a big part of their success was that there were all the Malcolm Xes and other who threatened open rebellion. I’m not a ghost or an bodiless soul – for now at least I have flesh which exists in this world and I want to protect myself and others against torture and abuse with any means necessary.

        • I will do whatever it takes to keep away from both psych meds and the docs who want to shove them down my throat. The meaning of the word meditation in has gotten so watered down by new age dilettantes it’s almost meaningless. I think it is just like any discipline. You practice with whatever works until you get it. Because we have no choice. Because our lives and our agency depend on it.

      • “Abuse and systemic violence does not go away no matter how spiritual you get.”

        In reality, I believe abuse and discrimination do transform and eventually cease when we perceive from and embody a spiritual perspective as an expansion of what we have learned collectively so far. It’s another, very broad, dimension of reality, that I believe is universally relevant.

        Abuse is abuse, and I’m not calling it anything other than that. But when we know how to connect with our spiritual nature (which is a practice and discipline, not an academic exercise), then we know how to heal abuse in our own lives and stop patterns of abuse; instead, shifting the nature of our relationship with others by feeling our power within them, rather than fear and intimidation. That changes our relationship with ourselves for the better.

        When we have abusive patterns, we abuse ourselves, via self-punishing self-talk, when no one else is around to do it, so that is one thing we can change ourselves, as a way of finding relief from such anxiety as self-hatred. That changes the world around us, right there, just from that internal shift from self-judgment to self-appreciation and self-validation. It extends outward. That is a basic spiritual principle which I see at work every day, 100%.

        This happens one person at a time, where each of us can create a different relationship pattern, where we are empowered, and not susceptible to abuse. That takes focus, perception, and transforming our consciousness. It’s a shift in perception that requires focus and diligence at first, until it becomes second nature, as well as open-minded and open-hearted contemplation. So it’s not easy when we’re in the habit of perceiving so much abuse and discrimination, causing us to recoil our hearts.

        But not only am I convinced it is possible, but to my mind, it’s THE way to transform systemic violence such as what occurs via psychiatry. Not easy, but it’s sound, and it’s the shift in paradigm that will heal abuse because it’s how we change reality, by changing our perception.

        Shifting ourselves–our beliefs, self-perception, how we approach situations, attitude, perspective, etc.–is the most efficient and healthful way to create change outside of ourselves. That is the nature of spiritual healing.

    • “I ask readers to contemplate the reality that we are not yet fully human and all our PROJECTIONS onto external reality, are created by internal processes which are essentially PSYCHOTIC in nature. And that all group behaviour, whether it be a group labelled psychiatry or anti-psychiatry, is based on basic-assumptions that are essentially about binding and bonding needs.”

      Brilliant, David, as usual. I agree 100%.

      I always love reading your impassioned, expertly-reasoned, and, to my mind, enlightened truth. You’re a lumen, as far as I’m concerned. So great to see you posting here again 🙂

      • Although I will say this, regarding groups–I think when groups come together over matters of the heart, it can, perhaps, be authentic. But first, it’s vital we have an uplifting relationship with ourselves, and that requires that we become acquainted with and embrace our ever-expansive nature to, indeed, become more fully human, as you imply. Perhaps that’s a never-ending process, but I do believe it is the journey we are all on, from day to day, becoming more fully ourselves.

        When people come together in that state of being, miracles can happen. I’ve witnessed this repeatedly. It’s amazing what happens when truly heart-centered and spiritually aware people come together. To me, that would transcend the bonding ‘need,’ and in turn, it becomes an expansive, open, and ever-creative community, very powerful. But it has to be authentic, because it is based on transparency and full diversity, no exceptions. That is the unifying force of unconditional love, it extends to absolutely everyone.

        With this awareness, I don’t see how violence can even be on the radar, because from this perspective, we know from where it stems: our own projections. When we take full responsibility and own our inner conflicts, the outer ones begin to dissipate. Plus, we feel a lot better, so in that process, we enjoy life more. So to me, owning our inner conflicts as the root of external conflict is a win/win proposition–feel better, and change the world in the process. Why not?

          • Not the first time I’ve heard this haven’t heard this, B. I’m so well aware of what some people in this community think about my perspective.

            But, like others, I went from a chronically truly horrible and terrifying state from the same traumatic experiences which people here describe, and I went through all the anger and resentment and chaos and blame and rage and grief, etc., for years, and then I finally found what I needed and it worked.
            I enjoy sharing what I learned and expressing my truth, and feel that’s one of the purposes of this website. Although the dialogue portion can be iffy, as far as really fleshing out ideas to clarity.

            Not sure really what to say, I mean, it totally works for me, I’m one of the happiest people I know, and I suffered for years and years due to meds and all that crap. Of course you don’t have to subscribe to it, but why would you want to begrudge me my truth, sort of bordering on invalidating and demeaning, almost shaming, perhaps? I don’t know, but these kinds of comments are what really make me step back. What is the purpose of them, other than to judge and invalidate? You’re always calling out abuse, and to me, this feels a bit abusive, if only because I’m coming from an open heart. It’s why I say this website can be unsafe.

            I’m not asking you to believe, but some people might benefit from considering what I say. I’m a very successful teacher and counselor, been doing it for years. A lot of people follow what I teach and succeed with this, and they’d totally disagree with you. As well as being called ‘rosy viewed,’ I’ve also been called a light and lumen, because I’ve been through my trials by fire in spades, and healed from it (whether people believe what I say on here is another story, this is a really tough crowd!).

            Who do you think I’m going to listen to, you or them? That’s how we discern our personal reality.

            What you and others say and feel about my truth is the reason I consider myself courageous for posting here. It’s relevant, and some agree with me. Either way, I don’t think it’s inappropriate at all, so I do respect your opinion.

            I do wish you were a bit more empathic, however, to the fact that I’m human and I’ve been through my trials and learned from them, so I don’t consider myself naïve.

            But I do consider a lot of people here to be painfully cynical, and that’s hard for me at this point, as I think that causes suffering, pure and simple, and that’s what we’re trying to address in order to alleviate. So it’s kind of ironic to me that there would be such a plethora of cynicism, although I know where it comes from, I’ve been through all that.

            Still, I respect our diversity. Thanks for your honest–albeit not terribly kind or supportive–comment.

          • I don’t bother posting this here any longer, although I’ve worked with people on this site, and they claimed I’ve helped them a great deal.

            But what you said made me think about all that I put together as I was healing while on disability in San Francisco, one of the most expensive and, these days, intolerant cities in the world. It’s truly a jungle, people are angry, mean, and competitive, and I trudged through all of that while sick on and off meds, to my healing, being demeaned and stigmatized all the way. I don’t know anyone else who went to legal mediation to directly challenge this. That was really rough, I had no advocacy support, other than my attorney. But no one from mental health, I did this on my own, before I even heard of mad pride or a survivors movement.

            The work that I do now is the result of all that I endured and survived, and it wasn’t easy, but I had faith and it all came together. This is what I did as a response to my suffering at the hands of the system, so that, perhaps, others can have an easier time of it: http://www.embodycalm.

            If you check the testimonials page, you’ll see another perspective. Every word is authentic, from my students and clients, and the endorsement is from the teacher/healer that really spearheaded my healing, to miraculous heights. On the last film is a film I made while traversing a mine field of politics, and I got away with it, did it at no cost, just imagination and faith, and I’ve done great with it.
            On top of that, I became an actor in the Bay Area, just out of the system, while going through mediation. I took a risk, and it paid off. That’s a pretty rough and tumble world, too, but at least it’s creative and fun, which is how it was healing to me.

            I learned a lot going the way out alternative route, all I needed. And I’m very proud of what I accomplished. I’m not intending to sound like a braggart here, but what you said made me mad because it was so incredibly presumptuous, and I thought we were on the same side. This is what confuses me around here, what exactly are the issues that are supposed to be uniting people?

  9. Proud anarchist here.

    Well, let me humanize that with a dose of humility: I live and work in a capitalist society. I own a smart phone and I’m even guilty of really enjoying it. There are a lot of things about living in this society that are confusing to me – many conveniences within this system that I myself make use of.

    It’s better today that the philosophical history of anarchist though continues to influence my own thinking and challenge me to question how I live each day.

    So while “anarchists” may have been used as an epithet by Lieberman, I see it differently.

    Anarchism in all its forms (which are diverse and sometimes even contradictory) essentially agrees in one principle and one task. It agrees in the principle that blind obedience to any authority is destructive. And it agrees that the task of “anarchist” is to examine any institution that claims the “authority” to curtail human freedom in any way and demand that it justify its right to do so.

    If that institution cannot reasonable justify its need and right to exist, it should be done away with and, if even necessary, recreated from the bottom up rather than the top down.

    Those are basic ideals that I’m very proud to hold. If someone wants to call me an “anarchist” I will feel a little bit of hypocrisy and contradiction in my life as I struggle to live out these ideas — but I’ll still reply, “thank you!”

    • Thank you Andrew. I think of myself as a self-defined anarchist along the lines you describe. I believe Lieberman misuses the definition of anarchism to create an epithet, that paints critics as dishonest opportunists worthy of being scorned, if not silenced, for not adhering to dogmatic psychiatric orthodoxy.
      If he would have had his way, Dr. Luhrmann’s article never would have appeared in the NY Times.
      Your articles and comments on MIA are great!
      Best wishes, Michael

  10. I have a scientific background. Then I spent my medical studies wondering what is wrong with medical students. So, as soon as you start questioning anything about the medical reasoning, lot’s of doctors start blocking and asking “why” are you questioning everything. WHY? Well, as scientists, knowledge comes with questioning.

    We are still questioning some of the physical theories that are so much easier than any of the medical physiology we know about. And physicians (not the medical ones, but the physical ones) tolerate this without getting angry at each other. WHY can’t we do the same with medicine? And specially psychiatry, where there are no really science-based-models that can explain psychiatric processes?

    • And as another scientist, I have to say that even when real scientific models (like neurological down-regulation) are utilized by Whitaker and others writing in this area, their concerns appear to be viewed as anti-science. My personal view is that “scientific anarchy” is not so much the problem as pseudo-scientific authoritarianism. And while I see this occur in the antipsychiatry movement at times, it is a much more prominent theme among mainstream psychiatrists and the institutions they inhabit and promote. Real scientists, as you point out, are always anxious to hear other points of view, or are at worse tolerant of them, knowing that science is created out of the crucible of constant skeptical review of what we know. If psychiatry wants to be viewed as an actual scientific enterprise, it needs to stop using illogical rhetorical arguments and phrases like “scientific anarchy” and show some respect for the actual DATA that they are being presented with, including the vitally important data of their patients’ own reports of their experiences.

      — Steve

        • Just as an example, some people say, “We are making drug addicts out of our kids by giving them Ritalin!” But the science is kind of equivocal on that point. It is likely we’re making more smokers, but the jury’s out on whether stimulant abuse is any different for stimulant users. So far, there isn’t really good data to suggest that it’s more likely, though Nadine Lambert’s work suggests it is possible that they are sensitized to later stimulant abuse to some degree. Which may explain the smoking increase, though that’s also common with antipsychotics.

          The biggest difference, though, is when I provide some information to someone in this movement, they are generally interested in hearing about it, or at least will modify their remarks. Unlike certain recent posters on here, who shall remain nameless, that repeat the same message over and over again despite massive evidence presented to the contrary. On the whole, I think the antipsychiatry movement is much more firmly grounded in science. Not even close, actually. Orders of magnitude more grounded.

          Hope that helps clarify a bit.

          —- Steve

          • I’ve also heard people get down on parents of “ADHD” diagnosed kids who use stimulants, saying they are “lazy” or that “basic discipline will put these kids on the right track in no time.” I can say from personal experience that this is not generally the case. The mismatch between this type of personality and the expectations of the school creates massive difficulties that are not easily addressed with even the best of parenting approaches. And there are parenting strategies that work well with this kind of child (those who seek intensity and stimulation and hate being bored or told what to do) that are not necessarily obvious or commonly known.

            Again, I see this as a small minority and not even necessarily from people who are very well informed on the issue. It is not something I see on this site, for certain, but I think the group that congregates here is generally extremely well informed scientifically.

            — Steve

          • Thanks for explaining, Steve. I agree with your critiques and think it’s a huge mistake on the part of anti-psychiatry proponents to make unscientific claims like those, as it lowers them to the level of psychiatry, which cannot even provide any scientific justification for it’s own existence. It doesn’t make sense to give away a clear advantage.

          • On the addiction itself: the problem is the definition of it. My personal opinion is that there are two different things that can be called addiction:

            – physical dependence which can be only created by biologically active substances (anyone suffering from withdrawal knows what I’m talking about)
            – psychological addition which can be not only to drugs but also behaviours (internet, porn, gambling) – everything that gives us pleasure, relief, escape

            The latter one seems to be an effect of adverse life circumstances, both past and present.

            I don’t know if amphetamines have much of a withdrawal (if so it seems much shorter and easier than from otehr psych drugs but I maybe 100% wrong – I have no personal experience nor have I researched it deeply enough – so please correct me) so they may not be physically so addictive but they certainly can be psychologically addictive as people use them for coping purposes (and are told this is the right thing to do by psychiatric drug pushers). In this case I don’t think there’s much doubt that ADHD drugs are creating an addiction problem much as any feel-good drug in a troubled population.

          • “I’ve also heard people get down on parents of “ADHD” diagnosed kids who use stimulants, saying they are “lazy” or that “basic discipline will put these kids on the right track in no time.””

            Well, while I don’t condone such comments for their dismissive tone (how the hell do they know) the problem with the whole ADHD diagnosis is exactly that it throws all the “hyperactive, inattentive” kids in one big sack. There are a lot of reasons why kids may end up with this label and while “laziness” may not be one of them (I have not seen a lazy child in my life) some of the kids may be labelled that if they are brought up in “no stress” environment. This parenting technique has been quite popular and I find it really questionable.

          • I agree as usual, B. There are absolutely parents who create “ADHD” symptoms with bad parenting, and such should never be let off the hook. And I have to honestly acknowledge, we made it a lot worse than it needed to be with our first, because we had no clue what we were doing and were learning on the fly. But you are so right, the biggest problem with “ADHD” and most of these “diagnoses” is that it allows the adults to pretend they “understand” a situation without having to do the hard work about figuring out what’s really going on. I just read about a kid who was almost diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome as the result of a bacterial infection. Good thing the mom didn’t just “trust the doctor.”

            In the end, the diagnoses do far more large-scale harm than the drugs ever could.

            —- Steve

    • This is true. Medical doctors have a completely different way of thinking than “regular scientists”. I’ve collaborated with medical students on a project during my studies and it was stunning for me how little they know about actual biology and how little they care to ask “why”. I can understand why this way of thinking may be useful in this profession (in ER you sometimes have to make fast decisions and having algorithms to follow is better than having too many doubts) but in general critical thinking among the professionals is pretty low (and the students I was interacting with were the best and most involved out there).
      This is also sadly reflected in the quality of clinical studies which are mostly designed and conducted by doctors (I’m talking about those which are not propaganda pieces paid by pharma). Most doctors, even the publishing professors aren’t really god scientists. It takes much more than to just give a drug to half of the people and sugar pill to the other half and run some follow up to call yourself that. That’s true for all medicine, psychiatry is only 1000x worse.

  11. My reason for posting on MIA is the absurd diagnostic criteria for a so called mental illness and how psychiatric drugs can mimic and cause mental instability. I was told one day a magic pill would make me better as the poly drugging changed my perception and ability to think. I’ve had doctors I never met before treat me shabbily because they saw my diagnosis. This is why I came here again and again to read and post.

    How many people are wrongly diagnosed and treated for cancer ?? Because of the criteria for diagnosing not many. So why can’t we have the same guidelines and consideration as this to be spared being wrongly diagnosed and being given toxic drugs? OMG, the stigma a lone having a psych diagnosis is scary, so scary.

    I wish I could had mediated my bogus psychiatric diagnoses and drugging like Alex but I was told I would be blacklisted for any medical treatment in my city. I was too scared and ill from tapering off the several psychiatric drugs to stand up for myself. I did have the satisfaction of watching my prescribing psychiatrist burst into tears apologizing for wrongly drugging me for 15 years. That was it because he did his best to discredit me later. Psychiatry has little credibility with others physicians but still has too much power with diagnosing on what they think they hear.

  12. A couple of other examples of faulty logic on the part of the APA:

    1) Patients seek the best in scientifically, evidence-based treatment
    2) Psychiatrists treats patients
    3) Therefore, psychiatry is scientific and evidence-based

    1) All legitimate medical schools teach an appreciation of the scientific method
    2) All psychiatrists attend medical school
    3) Therefore, all psychiatrists appreciate the scientific method

    There are a thousand other possibilities.
    At the end of the day, I can’t begin to get my head around where Lieberman and the APA are coming from. All I really know is that their “medicine” ain’t based on science!


  13. Thank you for this, Michael. My only comment would be: let’s not give anarchy a bad name! You know, it means governance without a ruler, or without central authority. Not the same as chaos. Lots of tribal and agricultural societies were anarchic, some still are. As a modern political philosophy and movement it has a long and respected history. At least it did until the propagandistas really took over.

    • Thank you Danny S.
      I agree with you about not giving anarchy a bad name- please see my response to Andrew above. For me anarchy has always been equated with personal freedom and personal sovereignty and responsibility. Lieberman misuses the term to label critics of psychiatry as self-serving foes of science and orthodox psychiatry.
      Best wishes, Michael

  14. Of course, psychiatry is based on the myth of the chemical imbalance of neural transmitters. To challenge this is a distracting debate since this is a myth. Meanwhile hormones, sleep deprivation, stress, drugs, and improper nutrition create real chemical imbalances that are ignored for the promoted myth. Concepts of self-identity, group roles, communication skills, habitual trauma-induced responses, and social adaptations strategies are ignored. It is overdue to bypass psychiatry and create effective therapeutic services. Of course, that would be a mighty political struggle surviving the economic interests of the pharmaceutical industry. Psychiatry should have been left behind a long time ago. It is overdue to move on pass this illusion of a science and help people with limited skills cope by improving those skills. Much of so-called mental illness is simply a lack of life skills and often a lot of bad habits based on a lack of health. The largest cause of mental-illness is simply mentally-ill people who are seen as normal in a pathological culture that promotes war and economic disparity as ideals. Many of the mentally-ill are just over-traumatized victims of these so-called normal authority figures such as psychiatrists. Psychiatry itself may be the largest manifestation of mental-illness.

  15. Why does psychiatry always blame others for it’s own faults ?

    They created the anti psychiatry movement with there own actions.

    Psychiatric drugs made me sick then when I went to the hospital they abused me.

    I am anti psychiatry.

  16. Michael said,
    “For me anarchy has always been equated with personal freedom and personal sovereignty and responsibility. Lieberman misuses the term to label critics of psychiatry as self-serving foes of science and orthodox psychiatry. ”

    Yes, and thanks for saying this.

    Psychiatry falsely imprisons and drugs people, and so why would anti-psychiatry NOT be a natural, healthy response?

    That Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman says we anti-psychiatry people are bad, evil anarchists for having such a natural and healthy response to abuse, demonstrates quite clearly that he is coming from a stance that values sickness over health – what he refuses to acknowledge is that a rebellious response to abuse is HEALTHY.

    In so doing he basically asserts that health should be wiped out, so psychiatry and sickness can prevail. This is the upside-down, crazy-making “reasoning” one so oft encounters when dealing with psychiatry.

    I agree when the various commentators above say Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman is a friend of the anti-psychiatry movement (if we could be called such)… as long as he continues to behave in the way he does.

    Roll on anarchy!

  17. Thanks, Michael, for your article. It is refreshing to read both the article and so many comments with which I agree, after being confronted by psychiatry pseudoscience for so long. Last week I tried to convince a psychiatry registrar that his theories that low serotonin causes depression and high dopamine causes schizophrenia were simplistic and unscientific. I suggested that he familiarise himself with the work of Robert Whitaker but he confessed to never having heard of him. He also admitted never reading any ‘antipsychiatry material’, countering that he has never read any ‘overtly pro-psychiatry material either’. I had to laugh.

    • Funny how the psychiatrists whining about anti-psychiatry never actually bother to quote us to try and address our arguments. When some present anti-vaccine arguments or even super ridiculous anti-theory of evolution stuff people who oppose them actually get involved in a dialogue and address their opponents claims even if they are sometimes ridiculous. Psychiatry never does that and I have a feeling I know why that could be.

  18. Thanks for the blog, Michael.

    “Antipsychotic drugs work through the antagonism of the blocking of dopamine. They may have downstream and upstream effects with a neural pathway, but the link between dopamine activity and psychotic symptoms is indisputable.”

    There is a “link between dopamine activity and psychotic symptoms.” And this means the antipsychotics cause psychosis when given to a non-psychotic person. Here’s the medical evidence:

    “Agents with anticholinergic properties (e.g. … neuroleptics …) may have additive effects when used in combination. Excessive parasympatholytic effects may result in … the anticholinergic intoxication syndrome … Central symptoms may include memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, hallucinations, psychosis, delirium, hyperactivity, twitching or jerking movements, stereotypy, and seizures.” The only difference between schizophrenia and neuroleptic induced anticholinergic intoxication syndrome is “inactivity” vs. “hyperactivity” – but, of course, it’s well known these major tranquilizers make everyone very tired.

    And the “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions,” according to an ethical pastor, is that the psychiatric industry historically and still today will defame, discredit, and turn any person into a psychotic with their antipsychotics to cover up sexual abuse of children for the religions and easily recognized iatrogenesis for the incompetent doctors.

    Do we really need an entire faction of the medical community who profits from keeping the child molesters on the streets raping more children and proactively prevents legitimate potential malpractice suits for the incompetent and paranoid doctors?

    • Micheal,

      I noticed you were kind enough to give a response to almost everyone, except me. And I completely understand that the fact that there is a “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions,” means that the psychiatric, psychological, religious, and mainstream medical professions are all seemingly in the business of covering up sexual abuse of children – and this reality is embarrassing for all these professions.

      As a mother whose child was abused, however, I believe this is an issue that needs to be addressed. I’d like this “dirty little secret” way of covering up child abuse to end.

      Especially since John Read’s research has pointed out that, “Psychosis is, of all diagnostic categories, the most strongly correlated with child abuse (8,9,10). Of 100 child inpatients, 77 percent of those who had been sexually abused received a diagnosis of a psychosis, compared with 10 percent of those who had not been abused (11). Compared with other psychiatric patients, patients who had been abused as children have earlier first admissions, have longer and more frequent hospitalizations, spend more time in seclusion, are more likely to receive psychotropic medication, relapse more frequently, and are more likely to attempt suicide (1,12).”

      This implies that around 77% of child abuse victims are diagnosed as psychotic, thus are subsequently diagnosed as having the supposed “life long incurable” brain diseases of bipolar or schizophrenia. Symptoms of child abuse are not a brain disease. They are symptoms of a crime, and these are crimes being covered up by the medical community, by drugging the victims of the crimes. And, of course, the psychiatric drugs don’t cure anyone of real life concerns.

      I’d like the entire medical community to get out of the business of covering up the sexual abuse of children by way of defaming those with concerns or symptoms of child abuse with fictitious mental illnesses.

      I would politely request we, as a group fighting against psychiatry’s current crimes against humanity, also point out that the medical community as a whole have historically, and are still today, covering up the crime of child abuse by defaming the victims of child abuse with “life long incurable” mental illnesses.

      I’m sorry if my concerns are too embarrassing for you to personally address.

      • Thank you for both of your comments Someone Else. I appreciated your information about anti-psychotics and dopamine in your first comment. I didn’t understand what you meant in the last two paragraphs about the two original educated professions.
        Thank you for expanding on that in your second comment. I was grateful that part of my work as a therapist was to serve children and teens who were victims of sexual abuse, and their families for 20 years. I’m very sorry your child was abused and see your courage to speak out for justice.
        Best wishes, Michael

        • Thank you, Michael, for your reply, I’m glad my second blog helped you to understand my concerns further.

          My point is that the dopamine antagonists do indeed relate to psychosis, I agree with the psychiatric industry on that viewpoint. And I’ve spoken with patients who claim the neuroleptics help, but these are patients that were actually dealing with psychosis prior to being put on antipsychotics.

          But the medical community needs to stop claiming symptoms or concerns of child abuse are psychosis. Because the dopamine antagonists disrupt the healthy dopamine system of a person merely dealing with a real life sexual abuse issue. And Read’s research points out this is happening way too frequently.

          Thank you for your work with children who have been abused, and your empathy regarding my family’s situation.

          But I hope to educate the psychiatric industry that even a non-psychoic adult can be made “psychotic” on as little as .5 mg of Risperdal, so this is not a safe dose of antipsychotic for any child.

          And the bottom line is, antipsychotics may help those actually suffering from psychosis, but they cause psychosis in those not previously psychotic. So drugging people dealing with real life problems on the antipsychotics is wrong and extremely harmful.

      • According to psychiatry’s logic if you have long-lasting negative emotional reaction to abuse it’s because your brain is broken. Apparently only psychopaths are normal since they supposedly aren’t very easy to hurt in an emotional way.

  19. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? How did Humpty Dumpty fall from the wall? How can we put him back together again an hoist him back up again? These questions are endless. They are very important and well worth asking. My parents, friends and family saw me transform from a hardworking girl, brimming with talent, intelligence and promise into a broken ruin almost overnight. They want the magic bullet. They want so FUCKING BADLY for some glue to put me back together again.

    I want that too. Too badly to even allow myself to think about. What we want and what we need are two different things. What I NEED is not help to return to what I was. What I need is a way to move through each day, as a broken and ruined person. With less misery. With not being constantly reminded about what I lost. I don’t need dreams I need those around me to get a reality check. There are dozens of things that would make the hell I exist in more bearable. I could list a hundred small but helpful adaptations that would reduce the misery of my day to day life by even a glorious 10%.

    I need help living with being broken, not the impossible pressure of those who have spent the last 10 years trying to fix me.

    • Best wishes in your healing journey, schizoaffective. I’m working on a book, and referenced Humpty Dumpty, too. There’s millions of pieces, and we’re all working on trying to figure out the psychiatric puzzle. And it certainly seems that, as I noticed when working on a puzzle of sorts, just after I’d been drugged, that sometimes to solve the puzzle, the last piece needs to be put in upside down and backwards.

      In other words, the psychiatrists are never personally going to confess that their drugs cause their DSM disorder symptoms. To solve the psychiatric puzzle, we need people outside the psychiatric industry to point this out. The ADHD drugs and antidepressants cause the bipolar mania. And the antipsychotics cause the schizophrenia psychosis via anticholinergic intoxication syndrome.

      • Hi Someone Else,
        Good luck with your book! You bring up a really important point and possibly one of the biggest points of “largely friendly” contention on this website. I believe that Robert Whitaker changed the world when he wrote his books. You know that Dr. Suess book, The Speaker For The Trees? Robert did that for us. He is not “crazy” but he spoke for the crazy folk in a way we could not because we would not be taken seriously. He patiently, brutally and calmly devastated the prevailing paradigm with logic, evidence and scholarship. The fact remains that my brain pumps out psychotic thoughts like my stomach secretes acid. I know this wasn’t caused by meds because I have never taken them. I do believe it was caused by a combination of psychiatric disorders on both sides of my family and a childhood saturated with severe sexual abuse. We need a big tent for this movement, one we can all shelter underneath. Those of us with psychiatric problems that medication does not help and almost universally worsens. Those of us whose disorders were caused by these horrific drugs. Those of us suspended somewhere in between. And last but not least, those of you who took the Hippocratic oath seriously, and refuse to trade it in for some bullshit Faustian Bargain. We are all in this together.

        PS I forgot to thank Duane for his excellent post. Thank you Duane!

          • You’re welcome schizoaffective- and I’m really grateful for what you are sharing with us all. What you said above about what Bob Whitaker has done and is doing for us is beautiful and true.
            We are all in this together- comrades in a human rights struggle is what it means to me.
            Best wishes, Michael

    • Dear Schizoeffective,

      I am so sorry to hear of your continuing struggles. If you could list some of those “small but helpful adaptations that would reduce your misery” I would love to hear them. My family has also been searching for years for the “magic bullet” for our dear son. Slowly we are beginning to realize that he might never be his old self again. It is so very hard to accept this.

      Sometimes I get very weary of listening to people argue about what caused his problems and what needs to be done to fix him. Some days I just want to scream at everyone on this site and all over the internet, YOU ARE ALL WRONG!!!! NOBODY HAS COME UP WITH AN ANSWER YET!!! But then I remember how far we have come in the last five years.

      At least the powers that be are listening to the critics of psychiatry. Five years ago the only people who were discussing these issues were a few fringe groups. The fact that the president of the APA is writing about the ant-psychiatry movement is good news for sufferers. Some psychiatrists are waking up and realizing that there are real problems with standard psychiatric treatment. This web page is only four years old but its readership is growing. Four years ago I couldn’t find anything on Facebook about alternatives to psychiatry, now there are dozens of pages.

      The pace of change seems very slow for those of us who are suffering. But I thank Dr. Cornwall and the other writers on MIA for continuing their fight against complacency and bringing hope to the sufferers.

      • Hi MadinCanada and Emmeline, I would love to compile a list of what has worked for me in a blog post. What helps me most with my psychosis is the meditation practice I learned before my first psychotic break. It’s simple, but powerful. Your thoughts are not you, and they are not real. They don’t have to define your present or your future if you do not allow them to. Psychosis can be like a siren song, beautiful, compelling, transcendent, terrifying and deadly. When I become psychotic I do the most mundane and physically grounding things I can until they are more manageable. It’s like riding out high waves in a storm. It’s very hard to do but the more you practice it the easier it gets. I know this is probably abstract and useless. Best wishes to you both!

        A long distance hug

      • Thank you for your comment madincanada- best wishes to you and your son. I’m grateful for madinamerica too- its a community that is making our hopes for a better future a reality.

  20. If I am an anarchist or anti psychiatry it is because I was lied to by biological psychiatry for most of my life. Telling me at 22 that I had a “disease” that was “caused by a chemical imbalance” and was “incurable” but could be “managed with lifelong medications”, that this “disease” was hereditary, that I was and always would be “disabled” removed all hope for my future. I believed this as did my family and from then on I was treated differently. My life, my hopes, even my ambition changed to managing my “symptoms”. Not recovering and having a life.

    When I finally got exposed to people who thought differently 4 years ago I was shocked. What do you mean that there is no evidence proving the “chemical imbalance theory”? What do you mean that the drugs could be causing the very “symptoms” I am being treated for? What do the studies showing that those of us on these drugs as long as I have been (decades) are dying 25 years sooner mean for me and others blindly, without informed consent, mean ? What do you mean there is no safe way known to stop these drugs? And when I told my counselor I wanted to stop and why she had no clue. When I did stop I was alone. We know more about helping people get off heroin and crack and alcohol then we do about psychotropic drugs and that is wrong.

    So thank all of you, survivors and allies, for speaking out. Any so called science that can vote on a diagnosis like a popularity contest, financed by drug companies motivated by profit, which ignores “first, do no harm” and is actually the creator of harm deserves a movement against it. Psychiatry fits that and more. I am glad I now know the truth even though I lost so much. When psychiatrists wonder why they are losing respect I wonder how they ever had any.

    • Maladjusted

      That was one of the most eloquent and concise condemnations of Biological Psychiatry ever written here at MIA. I would like to find a way to copy it and pass it on to people who need to hear your message.

      I wish you could find a way to work with the editors at MIA to tell your narrative in the Personal Stories section of this website.

      In Solidarity, Richard

      • I very much second Richard’s great suggestion Maladjusted, about more broadly sharing your very valuable comment above, and if possible to tell your narrative on MIA if you feel moved to do that.
        Best wishes, Michael

  21. Calling me an anarchist is the best non-insult ever. The only one taht comes close is the ODD diagnosis ;). So proud not to be an authoritarian arrogant human rights abuser with zero self reflection or empathy, even if that’s socially unacceptable these days.

  22. I’m rather late to the discussion. Please forgive me for not reading the comments!

    I find it interesting that a growing number of Psychiatrists and psycho-pharmacologists are questioning the DMS-V and the use of anti-psychotics/anti-depressants, etc. One of the leaders in the opposition to such drugs was the late Dr. William Glasser, a psychiatrist himself. Of course there’s Drs Peter Breggin and David Healy to name a couple of others in the field.

    So the criticism includes a healthy dose of self-critical psychiatrists. I wouldn’t call it so much “anti-psychiatry” as “peer review”. Clearly there is a place for traditional talk-therapy psychiatry–why must questioning the use psycho-pharmaceuticals and the DSM-V be considered “anti-psychiatry”? I dare say, there are many more psychiatrists who privately consider the the DSM-V to be only marginally useful.

    And psychiatry is not the only field where there are healthy questions and criticisms. I think Dr. Lieberman is being overly sensitive and certainly exaggerating his case. There have been a lot of questions about current practices in fields such as cardiology and oncology–and (fancy this) most of the criticisms are related to the use of drugs.

    Is it so much anti-psychiatry, -oncology, or -cardiology as it is a deep concern that the Western world is relying to much on pharmaceuticals as the end of all problems physical and mental?

    My father had a Doctorate in Pharmacy and was in retail pharmacy for over 50 years (he died at the ripe age of 91 and had not been taking any drugs for over 15 years)–he had become quite disenchanted with the pharmaceutical industry. He, too, questioned the use of psycho-pharmaceuticals and other medications such as statins. He maintained vigorous health–both physical and mental and did not succumb to the ravages of age until the last few months of his life. He stayed current in the literature and managed his own little farm–including operating a tractor as late as his 90th year. So I give his opinion a lot of credibility.

    • That is a great point. Psych drugs are not the only drugs out there with questionable efficacy and considerable side effects. That is largely the fault of for-profit medicine and ridiculous rules that are set up in such a way that pharma can push almost any toxin down our throats with little oversight.

      However, in actual medicine there’s less room for inventing stuff and pathologizing every deviation from the norm (while the norm is not even defined). It happens to some extent but not nearly as much as in psychiatry.

      But in general we rely much to much on drugs. It’s much easier to get a prescription for quite dangerous muscle relaxant than to get physiotherapy refunded. You’ll get amphetamines for “binge eating” but nobody will pay for a dietician and gym card and so on. I think it goes back to money and the capitalistic system we live in. Not only does pharma make bucks of drugs but also we are supposed to be always 100% productive so who has time to wait for results of psychotherapy or exercise to kick in and who has the patience to deal with a worker who takes time off to go to physiotherapy. We’re not machines, we need rest and we need to take care of ourselves but that is not profitable for anyone.

      • Hi B!
        Thank you again for your comments and thought provoking statements. I like your constructive anger and I like the way you think. We have a thread/support group on the community forums called “the bridge” if you would like to come by. It formed organically and has pretty much gotten me through this winter.

        Hugs to you and please stay confident and lively!

          • Hi B,
            No travel necessary. The thread / group just exists right here on the website. I think we are spread between at least 3 continents. I’m located in rural Wyoming so an online community is a lifeline for me.

            Just go to the community section of the forums. Boans started it and named it “the bridge.” It is very appropriate as we are all from different places. You will have to put up with my long and emo poetry. You are most welcome. I just wanted to extend an olive branch to you and anyone else who would benefit from a place to rant, rave, and reach out to others who are isolated. I think the concept of digital support groups is very powerful. This one has saved my life a few times.

            Just know that you have a place to be yourself if you need it. I filter a lot of my expression on the main page here at mad in america. The forums are a great place to just be yourself.

            Anyone reading this is invited. I spent my entire young adulthood as the weird kid no one wanted to talk to. I despise exclusivity and cliques.

            Finding a safe space where I can be my strange self has meant the world to me. I just wanted you to know you are not alone.


    • Thanks for your comment Daryl. I think that the huge usage of prescribed drugs of every kind is proof of the enormously successful business plan of the drug companies. It’s nice to hear that your father saw the problem very clearly.
      Best wishes, Michael

  23. The very words ‘Scientific Anarchy ‘, indicate that Dr Lierberman is clutching at straws in his whining ad hominem attack on anyone who might be critical of psychiatry, or have come up with a credible alternative. Science is in essence just a way of investigating the world around us, rooted in established principles and methodologies. It is not a political system, though from Lierberman’s opining you’d think it was. Gallileo and Darwin had the book thrown at them for challenging the established view. I think this is similar. Science in essence should be about debate, checking the facts, checking the data, examining the research methodologies, reviewing the hypothesis in light of emerging data. It isn’t anarchy doctor Lieberman, unless of course what you repesent and defend is more political and economic than scientific, which I guess you are saying it is.

    • Thank you Jeremy, for your great comment rebuking Dr. Lieberman about his distorted view of science!
      I’m very glad to see you writing here on MIA, and am moved and heartened by your remarkably open and inspiring first 2 articles. I hope everyone reads them too.

      Since I completed it, I’ve been planning to get my article here into Dr. Lieberman’s hands. Once there, I hope he reads down to your comment- which I imagine would elicit a pang of outrage to see a fellow psychiatrist take him to task. I know he has a special judgement for those fellow MD’s who don’t see things his way and instead stray from psychiatric orthodoxy.
      But you may in fact earn a place on his list of apostates that include beloved friend Peter Breggin.
      Finally, I felt a pang of recognition when you revealed in your MIA article, “On Becoming Critical,” that the main feature of your dark night of the soul was massive fear. That hell of super charged terror was my daily portion during my experience of un-medicated madness almost 50 years ago. I describe that life altering passage in my first blog article here on MIA titled- “Initiatory Madness.”
      Best wishes,

      • The funny thing michael is this, that my boss posted me lieberman’s article after I had posted her links to my first blog post and to the BPS report. This was her response, to post me this. It seemed to say I’m afraid this is what the establishment says about you and your crazy critical views. I was relieved to see your response on the same day and have a chancr to fire off a salvo at this stupidity. Best wishes JW

        • Keep up the good work – it is lovely to see a “human” psychiatrist grounded in reality!

          I have enjoyed your contributions to MIA and appreciate your understanding approach to psychosis and trauma.

          The circumstances around my one and only psychotic event were very definitely trauma and stress related. Had they been addressed as such rather than treated as some lifelong psychiatric “illness” with involuntary hospitalisation and drugging, the past 10 years would have been vastly different for me.

          I am sure you will make a massive contribution to your patients with this approach and hope you can influence your colleagues too.

    • That is funny Michael- but not surprising because it’s pretty clear Dr. Liebeman is willing to fudge or forget the facts in this damage control, bare knuckle political process of trying to discredit and silence critics of psychiatry.
      Thanks for your comment and I hope everyone reads your 2 great articles here on MIA!
      Best wishes,

  24. Dr. Michael (and MIA) members,
    I found your article quite helpful, in learning some of the issues that led to the “row” (rift) between the British Psychologists and the British Psychiatrists, that had evaded my curious side, for a couple years. I was also grateful to see some acquaintances of mine among your fellow contributors here. I attended Robert Whitaker’s “Anatomy of an Epidemic” presentation at Dartmouth College in October of 2011, and was most impressed, especially when he fielded questions from some of the Psychiatrists practicing there. I was pleased to see Stephen Morgan and Dr. Dan Fisher listed as among your contributors, as well.
    I’ve had a few occasions to try to refute assertions by E. Fuller Torrey, and D.J. Jaffe, and I felt a sense of community here, that has been missing from part of my life of late: transitions in the process of Trauma-Informed Intentional Peer Support in New Hampshire (part of my bias is much of my “Community Organizing/Empowerment training and experience-going back to Saul Alinsky’s “visit” to Rochester, New York, when he walked into the Eastman- Kodak annual shareholders meeting holding about 37% of the entire stock proxies-in his hands….; along with Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” text, and years later having Freire being the commencement speaker where I finally [at age 29] went to college).
    My ‘long-time’ friend Phil Zimbardo, elaborated in his recent book, “the Lucifer Effect:…” how our “individualistic culture” affects three of our primary institutions: Law, Medicine, and Religion in their “world view” of only looking WITHIN for defining pathology and Heroes (“Criminals, Mentally Ill, and Sinners” versus “Law-Abiding, Sane, Believers”). I first learned of Epidemiology at a Dartmouth “Grand Rounds” Continuing Ed. presentation on how 52% of Detroit Metropolitan Area Schoolchildren met “PTSD criteria”. Having spent a little bit of time 25+years before that, in the Southeast Bronx, near Lincoln Hospital-where the House Staff brochure noted: 85% of the housing was sub-standard or deteriorated, TB was then 4 times the national average, VD/STD’s were 6 times the national average, in a community with 100,000 heroin addicts (1972-3); …and hearing a resident physician note
    that two older gang members accompanied an 8 year old member into the OR to make sure he didn’t cry when the bullet in his thigh was removed. I found myself wondering: how does this happen; WHAT (rather than WHO) causes this. Fortunately, the Epidemiologists, Somatic scholars, and Neuroscientists, along with the Center for Disease Control’s ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study, and the Texas ACE sequel study reported in the April 2010 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease journal, and eighteen subsequent BRFSS’S later-which included ACE screening questions, that now even the World Health Organization has adopted the ACE screening tool, and used it in its 2013 assessment of the world’s healthiest children (Netherlands was # 1, …U.S.A-25th, Canada-26th)….
    I can appreciate Charles Hampden-Turner’s citing a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald, in his book “Radical Man: The Process of Psycho-Social Development”: “The Children in Appalachia and Mississippi have been starving for centuries, but only recently have we chosen to see them.” I speculate that our “world-views” can be greatly influenced by our professional training and status, as well as traumatic incidents. In an article in the Health Law Project Library Bulletin (U. of Penn), A Family Physician writes of three patients who taught him things he didn’t learn in medical school: one being a VietNam veteran with a heroin addiction.
    Thirty-something years ago, I worked on the only “Patient-Governed” ward of our State Hospital, staffed by a (National Health Service Corps) Family Physician in lieu of a Psychiatrist. NAPI (Non-Abusive Physical Intervention) was just making its debut here, and in Maine, and Georgia. The Puppy we had on the ward, had a pile of newspapers right underneath where we posted the Puppy’s “Treatment Plan”. (I’m not sure any theories of “Mammalian Attachment” were formalized then, that we could use to assess the puppy’s therapeutic value on that ward).
    Part of your article helped me consider why Bessel van der Kolk’s proposed [2005] diagnostic construct of “Developmental Trauma” didn’t make it into the DSM-5, considering ACE Study researchers, Neurodevelopment specialists, Somatic practitioners, and others had collaborated their separate professional evidence bases to it. How could the APA possibly refute findings which were “outside their world view”, without specialized training in all those other fields? I suspect Freire’s concept of “illiteracy” being an inability to perceive things “beyond the public view”-more with regard to Haitian literacy than professional “denial” in the APA’s case, may be a factor for consideration.
    Rather than having the benefits of “Consumer Majorities” that were part of the National Health Planning and Resources Development Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-641), where “Certificate-Of_Need” processes operated, I am stuck with what the U.S. Supreme Court now refers to as a “TAX” -the ACA (Obamacare), with no “representation”-that we had before the Reagan administration gutted the “Consumer [Citizen Participation] Majorities” provisions. When I later asked my Primary Care Physician Assistant (formerly a military nurse in VietNam), if she could write me a prescription for “Somatic Experiencing Therapy”, so if my health insurance didn’t cover it, I could use my Medical Savings Account to pay for it, and/or my 60 mile commute to Montpelier, Vermont…only to subsequently discover that the MSA (Medical Savings Account) was administered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield -who also provided my health insurance, and they denied me coverage for it as well as denying me reimbursement from my Medical Savings Account. Now, I only have Medicare, and I don’t know if it will cover EMDR and/or Somatic Experiencing, and some “traumatic Grief” work, assuming I can find a practitioner in those techniques that have worked for me in the past, who’ll accept new patients with only medicare. I hope my comments were civil enough.

  25. As an afterthought, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. was criticized by some group on facebook, as being opposed to funding appropriate Suicide Prevention for Veterans. He is the author of a 2014 report: “Friendly Fire: Death, Delay, and Dismay at the VA. A substantial portion of his report notes systemic resistance to providing appropriate Suicide Prevention and or intervention, at the VA, in addition to exploring the VA culture.
    Senator Coburn intervened when the VA Inspector General tried to subpoena the identities of VA Whistleblowers from “VA Watch”, a joint project between POGO (the Project on Government Oversight) and IAVA (Iraq-Afghanistan Veterans Association)