A Challenge to Dr. Lieberman

Robert Whitaker
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On Sunday, Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman was interviewed on The Sunday Edition on Canadian Public Radio by Michael Enright. I had been on that same show some time ago, and I spoke about the many studies that compared long-term outcomes for medicated or unmedicated patients, for such disorders as schizophrenia, depression, and ADHD, and how, time and again, researchers found better outcomes for the off medication group.

Michael Enright asked Lieberman about what I had said on his show, and here was Dr. Lieberman’s response:

Lieberman: “Is [Whitaker} wrong? What he says is preposterous. He’s a menace to society because he’s basically fomenting misinformation and misunderstanding about mental illness and the nature of treatment. What he just said in that clip you ran about, if you’re taking an antidepressant and you go off it and you get sick again… the same thing could be said about insulin for diabetes and asthma medication. . . Whitaker, he ostensibly considers himself to have been a journalist, God help the publication that employed him, but he has an ideological grudge against psychiatry for whatever reason and there’s no, what he calls research is simply his opinion and his construction of information.”

 Enright: “What about his contention that the unmedicated patients did better than the medicated patients?”

(pause)

 “I’d say that’s absolutely wrong. If you do a controlled study with various illnesses, whether it’s schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and you do a randomized study, assign one group to receive whatever the state of the art is in psychiatry including medication and you assign the other to some innocuous, non-medical type of supportive therapy or whatever, and you follow the people for a period of time the outcomes will be extraordinarily superior in the treated group. The magnitude of the difference we can sort of quibble about, but there’s no doubt about it.”

So here is our challenge to Dr. Lieberman. Please provide a list of randomized studies that show that medicated patients have a much better long-term outcome than the unmedicated patients. Please note that we are asking for studies that measure outcomes over the long-term, say for at least two years or longer, and are randomized, since you indicate there are many such studies. Please point out the “extraordinarily superior” outcomes for the medicated group. We presume the studies will focus not just on symptom control, but also functional outcomes.

We think this is important. This is the core issue for our society: Do these medications help people thrive over the long-term? Do they improve their lives over the long term? If there is such evidence, please let us know. I put up abstracts of the studies I cited in Anatomy of an Epidemic on madinamerica.com, which tell of worse outcomes for the medicated patients over the long term, and so here is your chance to point to the studies I left out.

One postscript. I should note that years ago, in 1998, I interviewed Jeffrey Lieberman for a series I was co-writing for the Boston Globe about abuses of psychiatric patients in research settings. (I wrote that series, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, as a correspondent for the Globe, as by this time, I had left daily journalism.) Lieberman had written about studies in which schizophrenia patients were given methylphenidate, with the expectation that this dopamine-elevating drug would make many patients much worse (and thus relapse), and he had also conducted one such study of his own. My co-writer and I thought that giving stable patients with schizophrenia a drug expected to make them worse was an unethical thing to do, and our reporting on those studies—conducted by Lieberman and others—composed one part of the series.

This is not the first time Lieberman has denounced me as a crappy journalist. (See CV here.) After Mad in America was published, we were on a National Public Radio show together, where he said that my book was a travesty that set journalism back decades (as apparently I had failed to get in line with the rest of journalists writing about the wonders of modern psychiatry). He has written other things very similar to what he told Michael Enright on Sunday, but I have to confess, I took extra pride in being called a “menace to society.” I think one day I will put that on my gravestone.

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111 COMMENTS

  1. Good play Robert.

    It will be interesting to see if Lieberman can muster any sort of response that directly addresses what you asked for. I don’t think he can, given the lack of randomized long term studies supporting medication, and the presence of several large long-term studies militating against his viewpoint (e.g. Martin Harrow, Courtenay Harding). He simply doesn’t have the weapons with which to do battle over this directly.

    So we should expect that he will ignore this request outright, or obfuscate, talk around, or otherwise avoid the issue. That he will choose one of these options – ignore, obfuscate, or talk around/muddy the waters – is to my mind almost a foregone conclusion. But it will be intriguing to see what defensive strategy he will choose.

  2. Projection at its finest by a psychiatrist who is the real menace to society.

    I’d bet $10 that if Lieberman took the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, he would score in the 90+%ile for narcissism and probably some antisocial traits too.

    And the APA made him a President. Speaks volumes why I don’t belong.

    Joel Hassman, MD

  3. I can,t wait to hear his reply. Doubt there will be one. Any one who relies on the ad hominem attack is not being intellectually honest.

    Since I completely recovered from my so-called schizophrenia, I suppose that he would have to say that my Columbus, Ohio psychiatrist and the psychiatric staff at The Institute of the Living, one of the premier psychiatric facilities in the country, were incompetent and mis-diagnosed me. After all, I’ve successfully been off of medication for almost 40 years and have been a therapist for 30. Well, maybe I’m just in long-term remission?!

    Hope you come to Columbus soon. I enjoyed seeing you at Suzanne’s.

      • Actually, I’ve mentioned having Mr. Whitaker speak at our grand rounds to Dr. Campo on more than one occasion and he has strongly considered it. Dr. Campo asked some very pointed questions of Dr. Lieberman when he spoke at our grand rounds in April 2013, based on his reading of Whitaker’s work. We also had Dr. Steingard in for grand rounds last September. Dr. Campo is a champion of integrated services and his philosophy, as well as the department’s, is strongly rooted in the biopsychosocial model. Of all the people in our field who deserve criticism, John Campo is near the bottom of the list.

        • Nick Forand, thanks for being a proponent of positive change at Ohio State! I hope you will continue to work on the chair of psychiatry until he moves from “strongly considering” a presentation by Mr. Whitaker to taking some real action to make it happen. The fact is that in 2012 when three deans at OSU (Nursing, Public Health, and Social Work) sponsored Robert Whitaker’s appearance on campus, the psychiatry department was invited to participate. John Campo declined.

          Regarding the psych ward at Ohio State, Dr. Allen Frances and I wrote about my late son’s experience there:
          https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/saving-normal/201303/the-dangers-premature-diagnosis
          The place was run by snakes in white coats then. Is there any reason for me to believe things have improved there?

          I agree that almost all psychiatrists claim to believe in the so-called biopsychosocial model, but in practice they tend to be bio-bio-bio. For example, when I made the mistake of describing to John Campo (in a social setting, I would never seek “help” from psychiatry) my great despair over my son’s struggle and death, he told me that obviously, I needed to be on an anti-depressant. He then helpfully illustrated his point by explaining to me that if I had diabetes, I would not object to taking insulin. He further explained that the REAL reason I refuse to take anti-depressants is my “misplaced Christian pride.” (For the record, the REAL reason I don’t take psych drugs is I’m not buying the snake-oil sales pitch.)

          On the up side, I was encouraged that Sandra Steingard was invited to present to OSU’s psychiatry department. Maybe there is reason to hope that change is possible. But then again, somebody like Jeffrey Lieberman was also invited, the quintessential snake in a white coat.

          • When I moved from NY to Ohio at the age of 13 I couldn’t believe how backward some of the views of Ohioans are. I moved back to Ohio a couple years ago, and Wow! they’re still advocating belief in the “chemical imbalance” theory here. Change is definitely needed in the big OH.

          • Hi Suzanne,
            Thanks for your kind words. I am sorry you had this interaction with Dr. Campo. This is not typical of my interactions with him, so I can only hope that his comments were misunderstood. I do wish that we had extended an invitation to Mr. Whitaker (whom I had the pleasure to meet when I was a postdoc) and not invited Dr. Lieberman to speak, but please know that these actions do not necessarily represent the views of Dr. Campo or members of our department.

            I am also terribly sorry about your son. I am familiar with that piece in Psychology Today but did not realize it was you. What a terrible tragedy and it’s to our shame that our department contributed to it in some way. I have written some about the dangers of over-aggressive treatment and have a manuscript in preparation that deals with this issue in the treatment of depression. In general, although our treatments can be helpful, I believe the field more often errs on the side of more intensive treatment, which can be very damaging.

            Finally, I’m sorry to say that the units here are probably much the same as they were when your son was hospitalized. Unfortunately, this is attributable both to the culture of inpatient psychiatry but also to a lack of resources. This is a problem. However, I have some good news. We are about to welcome a well-regarded psychologist to our department who specializes in psychosocial treatment for psychotic illnesses. I am hopeful that he will improve the care for our sickest patients and perhaps also begin to shift the culture in the inpatient services toward a more holistic approach.

            This is the first time I’ve posted on this site, even though I’ve been reading it for several years. I’ve been reluctant to participate in part due to how psychiatrists (and sometimes psychologists) are sometimes characterized as corrupt, uncaring, and totally adherent to the medical model. Even though I am a psychologist and have had similar thoughts at times, this characterization does not match with my general impression of my colleagues. Certainly, there are some individuals who are bad at their jobs, and some who are freer than I would prefer with medications. But most are conservative prescribers who care about their patients and lean heavily on the psychosocial services provided by our therapists, including myself. I’ve seen them remove nearly as many prescriptions as they have made. Most of our psychiatrists are young, and I think this is a positive sign for the future.

            I wish you good luck in your efforts. Let me know if I can be of help to you here in Columbus.

          • Thanks for your kind offer, Nick Forand! There IS something you can help me with! Dr. Michael Corrigan and I are looking for a venue for a one-day seminar here in Columbus. The goal for the seminar, which Dr. Corrigan is presenting at universities across the U.S., is “to dramatically slow down the trend of over diagnosing, labeling and medicating children in the name of mental health.” Speakers will include experts such as Robert Whitaker, Dr. Gretchen LeFever Watson, Dr. Charles Fay, Jim Fay, Dr. Michael Gilbert and others.
            Here is a link:
            https://www.madinamerica.com/2015/03/rethinking-mental-health-drug-therapy-children/

            What do you think of having the OSU psychiatry department provide a venue and sponsor this important seminar? I’ll try to contact you via your OSU contact information. Or feel free to contact me at:
            [email protected]
            I’m also on Twitter and Facebook.

  4. Thank you Mr. Whitaker for standing up for those of us who very nearly died from having trusted men like Lieberman with our lives. So many are fighting for their lives right this minute to get free of psych drugs. Here is to all of them. Please keep speaking the truth loudly. Your voice is very much needed.

  5. If you do a controlled study with various illnesses, whether it’s schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and you do a randomized study, assign one group to receive whatever the state of the art is in psychiatry including medication and you assign the other to some innocuous, non-medical type of supportive therapy or whatever, and you follow the people for a period of time the outcomes will be extraordinarily superior in the treated group.

    This one quote opens a whole can of contradictions and implications. Lots of folks will no doubt be posting in response to this article so I’ll be brief but…

    First of course we must keep in mind that doing research on bogus “diseases” can only result in bogus conclusions, by definition. But that’s obvious.

    Now, this comment about “whatever the state of the art is in psychiatry including medication” being contrasted with “innocuous, non-medical type of supportive therapy or whatever” — lots of “whatevers” here — anyway I’m drawn to his use of the word “innocuous” to describe “non-medical supportive therapy.” Some of the antonyms for “innocuous” are “adverse, bad, baleful, baneful, damaging, dangerous, deleterious, detrimental, evil, harmful, hurtful, ill, injurious, mischievous, nocuous, noxious, pernicious, prejudicial, wicked…” So, do these terms describe the “medical type” of approach?

    Also when he refers to the “treated group” does he mean the drugged group only or everyone subjected to “whatever the state of the art is in psychiatry,” which presumably includes other procedures besides the administration of “medication”? If the latter, are only the people taking drugs considered to have been “treated”? If not, what other procedures constitute “treatment”
    when provided by a psychiatrist but not when provided by “innocuous non-medical” personnel?

    Picking at hairs somewhat, but like Limbaugh says, words mean things…

  6. A drugging psychiatrist who believes that tardive dyskinesia and brain shrinkage are minimal side effects (he did say that Risperdal is a wonderful drug with minimal side effects) is calling Bob Whitaker a menace to society? Wow, now that is rich. I read Lieberman’s tome (“Shrinks”) and was struck by how much Bob Whitaker and the movement that he sparked got to Lieberman. I urge everyone else to read it as well (don’t buy it; spend a couple of hours at Barnes & Noble, which is what I did) and then let’s all review it on Amazon to counter the lame and laudatory reviews that he has been garnering..

  7. He’ll trot out studies by Keller and Thase and Nemeroff, the PREVENT series. Those were about long-term maintainance on Effexor. They took half the people who had responded well to Effexor off of it. They called those people a placebo group, and compared Effexor continuers to this false placebo group. No suprise, it was better to stay on Effexor than to go off it–the withdrawal and tardive effects are notoroius. By labelling the discontinuers “placebo,” Effexor was made to shine in comparison.

    Thase is fond of saying that the undeniably small positive effects of the drugs are magnified and thus important when public health (for 329m people) is at stake. He never admits that the the same is true of adverse effects.

    Leiberman has made a fortune off of damaging the brains of children. His comrades have, too. This is Soviet-style mind control, from the drugs to the diatribes. Thank heaven we have the government to protect us from the University Sociopaths Selling Remedies.

    Except we don’t, thus far.

    • Ugh. Effexor is the only drug that put me in such a desperate place during withdrawal that I gave in and called my psychiatrist at the time – after hours no less – to beg him to call in a script for more because I was just so sick.

      Thanks for bringing all those memories rushing back 😉

      -Sera

  8. It’s interesting that he says the other group would get some sort of innocuous non medical “whatever” therapy, when in reality, many of those people might actually need medical help to get off of the “medications” they were on, were they not getting any medications and were supposed to go off cold turkey when they’d already been made addicted and acquired a chemical imbalance from the medications NOT the “disease.”

    I mean, along with already distorting the meaning of the word medical,

    And this concerns me when you push the issue of needing proof, you end up with highly contorted misleading deceptive stuff. And there’s no need to ask for proof, when someone already predicts an outcome beforehand, that points out the lack of proof. Otherwise he’d actually have it to offer.

    I’ve seen this kind of scary stuff, where they have images of a “schizophrenic” brain stating that these were taken from people who were on and who weren’t on medications. Meaning that there’s some marginal correspondence as there always can be with someone not on “medications”, but with the “medications” there’s all sorts of drastic changes that show up as abnormalities, and that’s what they have pictures of as if it’s a verifiable disease, exactly what the drugs have been shown to create. And the whole fear tactic only points out the supposed occurrence of abnormalities from an alleged disease (which actually come from the treatment that would be administered for abnormalities that clearly come from the treatment) that saying nothing about whether the treatment that’s said to be needed actually works or treats any chemical imbalance. And the finagling with data continues from there. I’m sure that the people they use in trials aren’t given the kind of support that actually correlates with recovery. I would doubt highly that people that have helped numerous people come out of first term psychosis are consulted as to how to help…. Still then there are clinical trials where people are simply left alone, and get better after so many years, but these aren’t the trials you would hear about. It would be people that are vulnerable enough to get thrown into mainstream treatment and get no understanding, and those put on medications and allowed to just go off of them unsupervised without any medical (and here’s an appropriate use of that word) help.

    I really wonder when all of this is going to stop, while we’re dealing with people that just need to be heard rather than to be numbers in whatever someone else needs to prove.

  9. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such a menace to psychiatrists like Lieberman. Thank you for using your academic and literary talents to search so persistently for the truth about the effectiveness of psychiatric treatments.

  10. Typical response when someone can’t argue the facts and instead resorts to name calling.

    And Dr. Lieberman, here is another challenge for you. If you and your colleagues are going to continue to insist that taking antidepressants is like taking insulin for diabetes, please explain what medical tests can measure the right neurotransmitter levels in the body since there are hundreds of them and they constantly fluctuate.

    Bob, thank you again for what you do.

    • I agree and I really hope that is the way Robert Whitaker looks at it: This is surely a good sign and a testament to Whitakers effectiveness and brilliance!: The power mongers are past the ignoring stage and working full steam on the demonizing stage!!

      I really hope Robert Whitaker is trying to get a rebuttal in with CBC: I’m actually confident he could get in there either by contacting Enright or some other party at CBC.

      like so many I’m so grateful for the game changing work of Mr. Whitaker!

  11. thank you, robert whitaker, from the bottom of my heart for your devotion to the issue most important to me and to so many others (and to those big pharm/psychi victims who are too blind to know it yet).

    keep being the manace you are for many, many years…

    erin

  12. You are a credit to society. There is a huge industry that feeds off other peoples misery, and you are exposing this terrible situation in a decent and reasonable way.

    My experience is that the ‘anti psychotic’ medications manufacture long term mental illness through rebound and withdrawal syndromes and I appreciate your graphic illustration of this. Most ‘patients’ try to stop medication at some stage but end up getting into trouble and diagnosed worse. This is what my records reflect.

    I have acted out in the past. I have had several suicidal episodes, but only on strong psychiatric medication. My records also reflect this.

    I attended an Open Dialogue function last Friday, at Kingsley Hall East London where the massive money cost of long term ‘mental illness’ was cited as a good reason to follow an Open Dialogue opportunity to full Recovery. I’ve experienced something similar myself through community self support groups and supportive counselling from MIND (the mental health association) and other, and its worked for me for the last 30 years.

    I don’t like the term “Schizophrenia” because it represents an “illness” that I don’t think exists. A lot of the so called symptoms are symptoms of exagerrated stress. But there are practical non drug solutions that work well for problems with stress related decision making (CBT, Mindfulness – they work).

    I think you’re a very readable writer as well.

  13. Part of my drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis was about me being a ‘Denise the Menace’ running to a Mr. Wilson (my actual pastor), who was kind enough to explain I’d dealt with the “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.” Psychiatric misdiagnosis and poisoning, has historically, and is still used to cover up easily recognized iatrogenesis for the incompetent doctors and child abuse for the too paternalistic religions. At least my drug withdrawal induced “psychosis” was a somewhat funny story. It was as if I dreamt it up when I was a child, and then was awoken to my childhood dreams later. Who knows?

    No doubt, all of us who have recovered and escaped the “disempowering psychiatric system” are “menaces” to the Lieberman’s of this world. And on the off chance Dr. Lieberman reads this, I have a question for him.

    How do we know most schizophrenia is not actually misdiagnoses of the central symptoms of neuroleptic induced anticholinergic intoxication syndrome as schizophrenia, given the similarity in the symptoms of schizophrenia and this neuroleptic induced syndrome? From drugs.com:

    “neuroleptics … 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.”

    I have a theory such misdiagnoses may actually be the most common cause of schizophrenia. And this means the doctors are trying to cure a neuroleptic induced syndrome, with more neuroleptics. Which is, of course, not beneficial for the patients.

    Thanks for all you have done, and are doing, Robert. I truly appreciate your being a “menace to society,” too.

  14. I’m delighted that Lieberman chose to talk about you. Lieberman’s comments contribute to the diffusion of information to the public. The group that most needs to be apprised that data exist against current psychiatric practices are the psychiatrists themselves. The more public the controversy, the more likely that doctors will be induced to investigate the issue and find the truth. If med students read the data, it’s pretty clear that psychotropic meds are a bad idea. However, if you are a psychiatrist in training, you just will never hear of any thing negative. Lieberman’s high profile inflammatory remarks may induce his colleagues to start asking questions. Once questions are asked, a negative view of current psychiatric practices will follow.

    Any way, you can debate Lieberman on the Canadian broadcast?

  15. Thank you for being a menace to psychiatry. The truth is getting out and the psychiatrists are running scared. I ran into my son’s psychiatrist at a social function last month and he hurried away and pretended he didn’t see me. But I saw the fear on his face before he quickly looked away. I’m sure I won’t have to hear “it’s just like insulin for diabetes” from him again!

  16. Robert – Thanks for taking a moment with me out at the Empathic conference to remind me of your talk at Grand Rounds, and believe me–I was sorry to have missed it–not having allowed for the travel according to the noon hour set for that event. What a pain. I hope it went well and feel positive that it did, and very much want to hear you again and finally get your autograph in your books for my collection. The guys on my roof had finished up the perimeter floodlights around eleven, but they were still fanning the paint dry on the landing bullseye and saw no way really to get the chopper outside my door for the quick trip last Wednesday.

  17. In the summer of 2003 five psychiatric survivors and I issued a challenge to the APA, NAMI, and the Office of the Surgeon General to produce even a single study which could meet not only the research standards of orthodox science, but could also offer good evidence supportive of their public claims. We enlisted 14 academics and practitioners (including the late Loren Mosher, Mary Boyle, David Cohen Bruce Levine and others) to analyze whatever research our targets would offer while we ingested only liquids for 21 days as we awaited responses. All they came up with were some text books containing numerous statements which supported our contention that they would be unable to produce anything of scientific value. Our targets had been placed in a position out of which there was no room for them to maneuver, nor were they able to disparage either the challengers or the folks we referred to as our “scientific panel.” A film, about the challenge and its aftermath is available for sale from MIA. The dispute over whether psychiatry must be reformed or abolished is unnecessary. It is my position that psychiatry, AS PSYCHIATRY, offers nothing of value which is not already being done by alternative programs and wise and caring individuals (some of whom just happen to be psychiatrists). Gradual recognition of this by the public, courts, media, and entertainment industry will weaken, and eventually eliminate, psychiatry by what Bonnie Burstow has described as . Psychiatry itself has nothing to offer society and all too frequently produces only harm.

    • “It is my position that psychiatry, AS PSYCHIATRY, offers nothing of value which is not already being done by alternative programs and wise and caring individuals (some of whom just happen to be psychiatrists).”

      You’re exactly right.

    • Mickey Weinberg – I love how you put this. Probably should print it out. Wish the point could stand as moot. But unfortunately just trying to support even some neutral (and hypothetically efficacious) “P”-sychiatry rubs me the wrong way. To such a degree that it’s not worth asking anyone trying to make the word itself Anathema Incarnate to cut that out. Pretty obviously to me, the poetics of it all are going to provide as much of a revelation in the historical record as anything else that will. The matter of record being what it is. That showing the absolute malignance of this pseudo-medical institution and of the unconditional denial of its negligence from the vast majority of its more vocal practitioners, thus far.

  18. In the summer of 2003 five psychiatric survivors and I issued a challenge to the APA, NAMI, and the Office of the Surgeon General to produce even a single study which could meet not only the research standards of orthodox science, but could also offer good evidence supportive of their public claims. We enlisted 14 academics and practitioners (including the late Loren Mosher, Mary Boyle, David Cohen Bruce Levine and others) to analyze whatever research our targets would offer while we ingested only liquids for 21 days as we awaited responses. All they came up with were some text books containing numerous statements which supported our contention that they would be unable to produce anything of scientific value. Our targets had been placed in a position out of which there was no room for them to maneuver, nor were they able to disparage either the challengers or the folks we referred to as our “scientific panel.” A film, “Where’s the Evidence: A Challenge to Psychiatric Authority” about the challenge and its aftermath is available for sale from MIA. The dispute over whether psychiatry must be reformed or abolished is unnecessary. It is my position that psychiatry, AS PSYCHIATRY, offers nothing of value which is not already being done by alternative programs and wise and caring individuals (some of whom just happen to be psychiatrists). Gradual recognition of this by the public, courts, media, and entertainment industry will weaken, and eventually eliminate, psychiatry by what Bonnie Burstow has described as” attrition.” Psychiatry itself has nothing to offer society and all too frequently produces only harm.

    • The historic 6 person challenge to psychiatry to produce something of scientific value ,the brilliant way it was planned and pulled off was a great shining event in the struggle against psychiatric oppression and I believe has continued to have a cascading positive effect in the struggle against psychiatric oppression. The weakening and eventual eliminating psychiatry by “attrition” seems a logical direction for it to take .One question is how to minimize the damage done by psychiatry’s continued growth and probable strategic shape shifting , to hundreds of millions or more of people globally of all ages as it continues blatantly growing in size and boldness ,considering the size of it’s war chest along with pharma’s ?Also to consider is it’s ability to place people in key government appointed positions and others positions to block their own demise, seemingly indefinitely all while real brain damage over time caused by their modalities is further spun into new realms dangerous to the people. The civil rights movement made progress through more then one strategy and of course there was the civil war that re-established that slavery was violation of basic human rights. Psychiatry can not be allowed too much time to exist as time makes it more easy for it to flip into more dangerous eugenic directions possibly under the guise of reform. More people must do more actions to hasten its demise and to overcome the great prejudice against us , the ones who’ve been labeled and the newly labeled whose numbers grow.

    • Gradual recognition of this by the public, courts, media, and entertainment industry will weaken, and eventually eliminate, psychiatry by what Bonnie Burstow has described as” attrition.”

      Well, I’ll give that an emphatic “maybe”…I’m more inclined to think of Frederick Douglass and his famous quote, “Power cedes nothing without a demand.”

      Psychiatry is a key element in the repressive infrastructure of this system. It is not in power because of some sort of “confusion” on the part of the authorities, courts, etc. It is given power because it’s the most sophisticated and effective way to date of demoralizing people and getting them to blame themselves for their oppression and their depression.

      You can’t talk the slavemaster into ceding his power, nor the institutional psychiatrist; you have to take away his power to coerce. So when we take our protests to the door of the APA or any other center of psychiatric oppression we should be clear that we aren’t there to ask them to change, to argue with them, or to request anything of them except that they disappear. Our focus should be on exposing them to the public and undermining their ability to keep people from looking the other way and falling sway to the propaganda.

      • I completely understand your feelings, oldhead. Here’s a complication: Demands without credible consequences, should the demands be ignored, become little more than begging. Also, demands by people both maligned and disrespected are easily dismissed. That is why I believe that what our movement has lacked is imagination. Within the realm of issues and interests, the situation of users and survivors of psychiatry is nearly unique and requires tailor made strategies and tactics. There is a tendency of interest groups to mimic tactics which were successfully employed by groups with other assets against opponents with different liabilities which may not be applicable for use by other people in different situations. The folks in our movement who have been oppressed by psychiatry lack legitimacy not only with their oppressors, but also with the general public, and must find a way to neutralize that situation. The hunger strike employed a panel of credentialed academics and practitioners to perform that function. We also were careful not to use tactics which could easily be dismissed as the behavior of “crazy people.” Look, ya gotta do what ya gotta do to succeed. What we did by asking our targets to offer real, orthodox evidence for their claims was to place them in the position of “telling” on THEMSELVES. Anyhow, that’s how I see it.

        • Hi, I wasn’t commenting on the efficacy of the particular action you were describing, just on your quote that i mentioned. In addition to making a general strategic observation about the nature of “protest,” my focus was on what seems to be an implication that simply achieving a higher collective awareness about psychiatry’s evils will inevitably lead to its demise. Lots of people have a keen awareness of the genocidal nature of the “justice” system, and have for ages; so far that consciousness has resulted in very few significant cracks in the gulag, and our best and brightest political prisoners are being killed one by one by one…so anyway, we need consciousness but that consciousness needs formal expression in political actions which have a chance of successfully de-fanging psychiatry and curtailing its ability to coerce the people into complying. Not that I think you seriously disagree with any of this, just adding my 2 cents.

        • “The folks in our movement who have been oppressed by psychiatry lack legitimacy not only with their oppressors, but also with the general public, and must find a way to neutralize that situation.” Indeed.

          Even more to the point, the antipsychiatry movement lacks legitimacy with many people most directly affected by psychiatric abuse, who do not realize that they (or their loved ones) have been injured by psychiatry, such as the NAMI families. Here, I would draw a distinction between NAMI, the organization and its leadership, that sold out to pharma and became a big part of the problem, and the many NAMI families who are simply desperate, alone and dependent on the support they get from the organization. They are not all dumb boobs who enjoy drugging their children for the thrill of it. I believe this group (or many of them) can and should be convinced to join the cause, provided they are presented with healing options that actually work. The antipsychiatry movement needs more allies and this would be one group that I would target.

      • At the same time oldhead we have to take our freedom. In fact my e-mail address is http:[email protected]
        I grew up in Rodgers Park on the north side of Chicago , Illinois . It was the Haight-Asbury like area of Chicago. When you went to Morse beach on those sunny days there was just us hippies and senior aged ladies , some of them shaking their heads in disapproval sitting on benches .
        I spent lots a decades in and out of “mental institutions ” on and (off whenever possible) of their “treatments”. During one of the in-between times I went to Georgia and ended up learning how to work high rise construction from a foreman who happened to be a Cherokee Indian.I used to wreak out the plywood used to support cement poured floors after the cement dried so it could be reused in another pour. I was a carpenter helper , a laborer.
        At the end of last day of work before the New Years Eve Holiday : I was siting on a 4 by 8 sheet of plywood with the foreman and a welder on the ground at a big Western Electric building site . We were drinking Jack Daniels and the conversation flowed freely. Then the foreman asked me ” Do you wana join ” I asked him “Join what?” He said ” The Klan” I was baffled, here was a Cherokee Indian asking me who he knew was Jewish to join the Klu Klux Klan !?!??? Then when I sought more clarification he said ,” Indians and Jews can be accepted into the Klan .” Evidently it it was the Black people this particular Klansman group found so offensive. Besides I was given a ride to work each by one of the black laborers who worked with us on the site. He asked me again the welder also being a member and wanting me to join .” “Do you wana join?” I said “No I believe in equality and freedom for all.” The foreman looked me in the eye and said in a drawn out way “Freedoms got to be earned “. I looked back at him in the eye and said in a drawn out way ” Freedom’s got to be taken” That was the end of the conversation on that topic. We all got along well , I guess cause as a laborer in that place, in that time I did the work of 3 laborers as staying active helped me maintain stability and physical work pace up North is much faster than in the South maybe somewhat due to climate.
        One of the ways we can take our freedom is learning from other’s who’ve escaped how to entirely avoid psychiatry’s grasp and how to most efficiently by learning each others tricks to get out of their trap if we are captured . Not in any real disagreement with you old head and Micky just adding details from lived experience that maybe the conversation forward.

        • The Health Freedom Movement can be looked up, lots of entries on google. Can see on wikipedia . They should be a natural ally of those that do not want any coercive treatment of any kind and want to clearly reserve free choice for people to choose or not choose their own help medical , alternative or whatever or not. They feel the main obstacle is the pharmaceutical cartel. We should make sure that freedom from psychiatry ” the coercive pseudo science from hell” necessitating anti-psychiatry is clearly on their agenda as best as we possibly can. We all need health freedom. Not to allow it is a corner stone of the Theraputic State: control the population by weakening and/or culling as necessary to maintain control and cash flow while avoiding inconvenient change , through the magic of pseudo science , applied in any field of the powerful elite oligarchs choosing. We are surrounded by it.The people have great need to expose the many facets of pseudo science in so many fields that are used sygernistically to oppress the population’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

  19. I am so PROUD to know this ‘menace to society’ ! I celebrate this ‘menace to society’ and this ‘menace to society” is not alone! We are many who chose to stop listening to psychiatry and listen to the ‘menaces of society’ and guess what? … It is those who stopped listening to psychiatry and listened to these ‘menaces’ who are free from the shackles of psychiatry
    I think the next mad in America tee-shirt should have something with Menace to Society on it 🙂

  20. Bravo Bob! Throwing up nasty labels is what pharmapsy docs like Lieberman are paid for. Now Dr. Lie. just has to wait for his “menace-to-society” label to be voted in to the DSM-VI. Until then, our good society will allow you a few more years to be as curious, observant, smart and generous as you want to.

  21. If it wasn’t for Mad in America’s information I read in 2013 and http://www.benzo.org.uk and Dr. Heather C. Ashton, I would probably be in a long-term nursing facility now, because my VA doctors did not know that the benzodiazepine drugs they gave me since 1994 were causing all sorts of problems. Those problems (tolerance and dependence symptoms) they managed with antipsychotics, antidepressants and anticonvulsants of all different names, but with the same lack of efficacy. I told the doctor, when the benzodiazepine withdrawals were finally recognized by me, thanks to you, Robert, that I needed to discontinue them. The VA doctors had already discontinued the antipsychotics and antidepressants because of severe movement disorders, including stuttering and stammering. The VA falsified the pharmacy records to include them (antipsychotics & antidepressants) to reflect that the benzodiazepine withdrawals had been managed, when if fact they were not. I was in a “black hole” the summer and fall of 2013 and continued to suffer withdrawals in 2014. I’m in the process of reclaiming what I can, despite the physical problems which seem to be getting worse. Tardive?? I welcome all to view my Facebook posts which I have made public – Jane Reoch. I want to be a voice to prevent chemical abuse and torture that is inflicted on innocent and believing consumers who think there is a pill to fix the mental and emotional consequences of life stresses that can be healed with other methods more safely than toxic medications. Yes, you’re getting the backlash Robert that Big Pharma and money will do. Money is talking right now, but the truth should walk and prevail. I’m One Voice against the unsafe medicating of children and young adults who will have their lives ruined by these poorly studied toxic psychiatric medications. Your website serves the public well, and I am proof, but would not know that years ago. The damages had to occur before I knew the medications were horribly harmful and not needed at all in the first place. I’m alive to tell my story over and over again. Thanks for your book Robert and Mad In America! Jane Reoch

  22. Dr. Lieberman calling Robert Whitaker a menace to society provides us with a great opportunity to revisit a piece of Dr. Lieberman’s history in which Dr. Lieberman appears to has gone well beyond the normal psychiatrogenic misery, committing the kind of egregious medical experimentation that — in the wake of Nazi doctors’ experimentation — was decried by the Nuremberg Code for Medical Ethics

    Robert Whitaker writes, “Lieberman had written about studies in which schizophrenia patients were given methylphenidate, with the expectation that this dopamine-elevating drug would make many patients much worse (and thus relapse), and he had also conducted one such study of his own.”

    See Dr. Lieberman’s study “Behavioral response to methylphenidate and treatment outcome in first episode schizophrenia” at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2236460

    It appears to me that Dr. Lieberman — given that his expectation that the methylphenidate would worsen the condition of patients — e violated at least 2 of the 10 points of the Nuremberg Code for Medical Ethics created after Nazi doctor experiments (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Code ):
    1. The experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical physical and mental suffering and injury.
    2. No experiment should be conducted where there is a prior reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur; except, perhaps, in those experiments where the experimental physicians also serve as subjects.

  23. Dear Robert,
    From time to time, when I don’t resist anymore, I post on this site. As a journalist, do you think you could contact a group of philosophers who are able to provide a logical analysis of any DSM? – word by word, sentence by sentence, starting with the title, ofcourse 🙂 You could transform the menace into reality. I feel too much to do this, but I prefer short things and for me it’d be more than enough to analyze just the word ”Psychiatry” in a short article. This thing with Psychiatry or whatever should be called (see Etymology), really stops the evolution of our society, but media can help about it.
    Good luck and congratulations.

  24. Sorry, but I still want to mention that Lieberman’s whole language points out that the proof isn’t there.

    “If you do a controlled study”
    “the outcomes will be”

    That’s not scientific, scientific would be we have done controlled studies and the outcome was…. You can’t use predetermined bias or ideology to prove a point.

    And this is all in the same line as things like: “Look at their behavior, their has to be something wrong with their brain.”

    Beyond that, proof of a chemical imbalance still wouldn’t mean that cure isn’t more effective when the body is encouraged to re-balance its own chemistry rather than to become new territory for the drug companies to take over a chemical process the body could do itself when looked at holistically, emotionally or spiritually. There’s so much hype for this proof, if there was proof there was a chemical imbalance and drugs helped, that would knock out the clinical trials or simple knowledge that where the body was helped to re-balance itself.

    In ways, when you don’t even point out that Liebermann isn’t addressing the issue in a scientific way but listing presumed outcomes, you’re playing into his game. He’ll come up with more convoluted stuff and many people out of desperation will believe that, because mainstream is supposed to be what works.

    Perhaps you need to go completely out of the box.
    And there are more and more people needing help, rather than to be used as numbers.

    And sorry I find this thread full of other remarks that are like a free gift for Lieberman and followers to start using to disqualify anything Whitaker has said. I did an experiment recently with such responses, although not from this post, and you can take such comments, easily copy them, and then replace the proponents on one side with the names of those on the other, change a few other references and you have a pre-fabricated post from the other side. I did a find search for the word menace (which since has increased), and it turns up 26 times in the post listing. Is it really necessary to go on about this one remark that perhaps didn’t deserve a response to begin with, and act like this is creating the counterpoint needed?

    There’s of course a point there:
    “menace to society”
    “schizophrenic, has a chemical imbalance, could become violent.”

    Beyond that, this whole fuss about chemical imbalances or proof of medications being effective has really nothing to do with what’s going on. There is no proof its biological, and the healing that happens happens because of something else. There is of course proof that the treatment of the alleged biological disease makes things worse, but this still isn’t manifesting the kind of emotional help, when needed, that can bring someone out of a first term psychosis. And where someone heals from an emotional wound is not happening or greatly facilitated where you join sides and dwell on the word “menace” in regards what really has nothing to do with it, to begin with. I thought that’s what the programs that actually show what has efficacy in healing schizophrenia, for example, do. They simply tend to the person, not the gang, or whichever side…

    If the emphasis would be simply on what helps – on what cures – society would be different and then perhaps even Liebermann’s emotional wounds and his grievous cognitive errors might have been tended to leaving him out as an object for scorn here, because he wouldn’t be dwelling on chemical imbalance to thwart some idea of guilt he needs to project on others to escape from, because society seems to be based on bankrupting everyone with it, guilt that is.

    • Regarding “what helps – on what cures ” Nijinsky.

      They have the cure for “mental illness” already, the inventors received the Nobel prize for the discovery. It is called the Lobotomy. Remove or destroy the brain.http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1949/

      It doesn’t matter what the truth is when Pharma Co is making BILLIONS of dollars selling legal drugs. To sell legal drugs you need doctors to prescribe them.
      18 Billion dollars a year in antipsychotics.

      11 Billion dollars a year in antidepressants.

      10 Billion dollars a year in stimulant drugs.

      39 Billion total.

      • Unfortunately, you can’t really measure the economic toll.

        A society that’s consumer based, thrives on keeping people addicted to buffer their emotional wounds rather than find self worth; the economic toll clearly goes farther than 39 billion. I wouldn’t put trillions as being past the mark.

        Many people who keep the whole system running are on psychiatric drugs, and the money that goes into the drug company profits is perhaps only a fraction of the toll: Wallstreet bankers have “designer” psychiatrists (along with cocaine habits and high class hookers) while running the system corrupt and ragged lest their unconscious mind dissent from such dehumanizing activities; many people doing all of the busy work keeping track of everything get ADHD medications by going to a psychiatrist and listing the symptoms they’re supposed to have whether they have them or not, which wouldn’t solve it anyhow but it gets them to do robotic meaningless tasks; people in a dead end job, dead end family, institutional or social situation go on antidepressants to disable their mind from challenging the situation; people all over the place (one in five in the US) are on psychiatric medications to keep their mind disabled from seeing what they’re doing or getting into.

        And people think such sterility, such inability to think, such lack of creativity is functional…..

        But you see, all those people have emotional wounds also. Somewhere they lost their own self worth, and can’t deal with true emotions anymore. Filling the world with more guilt that’s bankrupting everyone from seeing what they could give to life isn’t going to solve the situation. When you look at what does solve it, the kind of empathy that occurs in Healing Homes of Finland, Open Dialogue, Soteria House or what used to occur in the Quaker asylums where people were given a place to be with nature and rest, this leads back to the human condition for everyone, not a population of ghosts trying to hold onto material possessions that had no spiritual value to begin with.

  25. Thank you, Robert. I’m wondering what sort of interest Enright or the producers of the program may have shown in pursuing this or facilitating an exchange. It seems to me that Lieberman may need some sort of public coaxing or pressure to respond in a meaningful way.

  26. Mickey ,
    and determination ….Rock bands reunite why not groupings of successful activists . Ted’s nobel fight to end electric shock , Robert W’s scientific research analysis revolution, and so many other’s across the globe and here at MIA. If the right groupings of people met live to exchange info and ideas , plan great surprises and actions, who knows how quick we could first save a generation of babies, toddlers , children, and families from the ravages of the psychopharmgulogcomplex whose very nature is coercion .

  27. Numbers helped Vs numbers harmed…

    There must be 1000’s of horror stories online now by people who went to psychiatry for help and got all screwed up or dead due to the greedy reckless and criminal nature of the psycho pharma industry .

    I want to see the psychiatric establishment just admit they harm some people or see them have any meaningful conversation about harms done.

    • You could near enough say that a person doesn’t have an incurable ‘mental’ problem until they follow medical advice.

      The ‘SSRI long term illness’ epidemic can be compared to the ‘antipsychotic long term illness’ epidemic in that both are iatrogenic and mostly avoidable. There are lots of effective ways of coping with life without consuming tranquilizers.

  28. “but I have to confess, I took extra pride in being called a “menace to society.” I think one day I will put that on my gravestone.”

    Crap. Don’t you dare. Lieberman’s words belong nowhere near your grave.

    Robert Whitaker is the hero that Lieberman isn’t and will never be.

  29. Dear Bob,

    As you are well aware, individuals suffering from symptoms described as “severe mental illness” are among the most stigmatized, discriminated against, marginalized, disadvantaged and vulnerable members of society.

    The horrific crimes committed by individuals while in a psychotic state of mind become widely-publicized and proliferate not only the stigma of “mental illness” but also hatred of the “mentally ill”.

    Here are just a few of the homicide cases that occurred in Florida involving individuals considered to be suffering from “severe mental illness”:

    Christian Gomez, 23, charged with first-degree murder after deputies found the decapitated body of his mother 48-year-old Maria Suarez Cassagne alongside garbage cans outside of the Tampa-area home,

    John Jonchuck Jr, 25, faces first-degree murder charges after a St. Petersburg police officer said he watched Jonchuck throw his 5-year-old daughter over the railing of the Dick Misener Bridge on Florida’s west coast Jan. 8.

    23-year-old Jason Rios faces two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder after he killed his own mother and 9-year-old niece in Pasco County, FL.

    I am heartbroken every time I hear of cases like these.

    It pains me to know how a serious flaw in our mental health system leaves patients who are suffering from underlying medical conditions that manifest as psychosis at risk of being misdiagnosed and mistreated.

    Most medical and mental health professionals use the DSM5 with a “Chinese Menu” approach. Patients are simply rubber-stamped with psychiatric labels and commonly treated with a one-size-fits-all medication management regime.

    Individuals suffering from symptoms of psychosis are in need of strong advocates.

    This agenda must include Best Practice Assessment of psychotic symptoms, as published in the British Medical Journal and supported by Functional Medicine.

    I do not know how anyone could challenge, or argue against, testing for and treating underlying conditions that can manifest as psychotic symptoms.

    Fixing our broken mental health care system will only be accomplished when challenges are laid to rest and a unified advocacy agenda based on best practice standards of care can be advanced.

    https://psychoticdisorders.wordpress.com/bmj-best-practice-assessment-of-psychosis/

  30. From the NYT review of Lie-bore-man’s new book, “Stinks.”

    “Ultimately, though, the real secret to psychiatry’s success is drugs.”

    Yes, Natalie Angier is right. Drugs and the message that they must be taken for life. Drugs and withdrawal syndromes that defeat efforts to quit. Drugs and side effects such as new diagnoses (bipolar).

  31. Lie-bore-man dad an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit recently.

    This is what he thinks of those who have suffered under the psych meds,

    “The only thing that I can say about scientologies antipathy against psychiatry is that unlike the idealogical zealots like Robert Whitaker and patients who are unwilling to acknowledge their own illness and thus blame psychiatry. ”

    http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/3219ri/hi_im_doctor_jeffrey_lieberman_former_president/

  32. From Dr. Lieberman’s Wikipedia entry:
    “In 2006, Lieberman co-signed a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal with about thirty other doctors. With this, he disclosed honoraria, consulting fees, research grant support from AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Upjohn Pharmacia, Novartis, Eli Lilly, Janssen, Pfizer, Hoechst AG, and AstraZeneca. He also listed as corporate speakers bureaus AstraZeneca, Janssen, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer. Lieberman disclosed in 2007 in the journal Primary Psychiatry that he was a consultant to Eli Lilly and Pfizer. He was on the advisory boards of AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Lundbeck, Organon, and Pfizer. He has a patent from Repligen Corporation. Lieberman received research support from Acadia, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Merck, Organon, and Pfizer. In 2009, Lieberman disclosed grants from Allon, Forest Laboratories, Merck, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cephalon, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Otsuka, Solvay, and Wyeth to the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology for their annual meeting in which he participated. In 2011, his disclosure at Medscape of relevant financial relationships says he served on the advisory board of Bioline, GlaxoSmithKline, Intra-Cellular Therapies, Eli Lilly, Pierre Fabre, and Psychogenics, and that he received research grants from Allon Therapeutics, GlaxoSmithKline, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Sepracor, and Targacept. He also disclosed in 2013, as a member of the psychiatry editorial board at Medscape, that he received research grants from Allon, Novartis, Sepracor, and Targacept; and he served on the advisory boards at Bioline, Intra-Cellular Therapies, Pierre Fabre and Psychogenics. In additional disclosures at Medscape in 2013, he received research grants from Allon, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Psychogenics, Hoffmann-La Roche, Sepracor, and Targacept, and he served on the advisory board of Alkermes, Bioline, Intra-Cellular Therapies, Pierre Fabre, and Psychogenics.”
    “A note on ‘competing interests’ for contributors to the book Essentials of Schizophrenia (2011) says Lieberman receives no direct financial compensation for his research, consulting and advisory board activities (except Intra-Cellular Therapies.”

  33. Well in 10 years antidepressants have caused the loss of my marriage, my career, my finances……
    trying to give them up? They made me suicidal……… they destroy your brain…. I used to smart,
    employable, reliable used to enjoy creativity, tidiness, cleanliness………. now I am on Disability, spend all day in my dressing gown…………………….. I call psychiatrists and Big Pharma who push these drugs Satan. I hope they take their own pills………..

  34. Dear Sirs, Mad in America,

    – This is my first comment on this website.

    – I read and understood the posting policy of Mad in America.

    – This article was recently cited (a few minutes ago) in a response to an Medscape article by Dr. Lieberman: What does the New York Times have against psychiatry? http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/838764 (February 18, 2015).

    Re: A challenge for Dr. Lieberman

    …”So here is our challenge to Dr. Lieberman. Please provide a list of randomized studies that show that medicated patients have a much better long-term outcome than the unmedicated patients. Please note that we are asking for studies that measure outcomes over the long-term, say for at least two years or longer, and are randomized, since you indicate there are many such studies. Please point out the “extraordinarily superior” outcomes for the medicated group. We presume the studies will focus not just on symptom control, but also functional outcomes.”…
    https://www.madinamerica.com/2015/04/challenge-dr-lieberman/

    Response:

    1. Please let me help Dr. Lieberman to start disclosing the requested list of randomized studies:
    http://chaoticpharmacology.com/2015/01/14/psychiatric-research-misconduct-at-the-university-of-minnesota-cafe-study-nct00034892-cc-fearloathingbtx/

    2. Please let me add the following to this challenge:

    Dr. Lieberman: please provide a list of payments received by pharmaceutical companies not disclosing their data to Propublica – Dollars for Docs.
    https://projects.propublica.org/docdollars/

    Payments received from Pfizer, Cephalon, Eli Lilly, AbbVie, UCB, and Johnson & Johnson (2009 – 2013):

    Research = $381554 USD
    Meals, travel, speaking, consulting, and combination = $114.993 USD
    Total = $496.487 USD

    Source: Dollars for Docs – Propublica

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jQ9n0yG0tu-G64c6EjjGAA3WHYgzTzHqUSKzegaXCqA/edit#gid=0