Thoughts on “Antipsychiatry”

Nancy Rubenstein del Giudice
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In a recent post, Phil Hickey — my favorite blogger on Mad in America — asked: “Why is there an Antipsychiatry Movement?” I would like to respond, as a psychiatric survivor, to this question, as well as Dr. Hickey’s more recent piece about Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman. I have been called many things by many people over the last six years of my advocacy, and “Antipsychiatry” is, actually, one of the nicer ones. Yet, as much as I agree for the most part with what Phil writes (because it is obvious, and true), I still do not resonate with this term, and I would like to explain myself.

In addition I would respectfully disagree with both Drs Hickey and Lieberman on the point that there are no “anti” movements against other medical specialties like Dermatology, Cardiology, and Orthopedics. There most certainly are, and they are called Naturopathy, Chiropractic, Homeopathy, Acupuncture etc. This point gets directly to the heart of the matter, for me, which is that there is a broader movement against the medical tyranny that is underwritten by the pharmaceutical industry and enforced by the FDA, our courts, and even child protective services. This larger movement is the one with which I identify. I consider myself an activist for Civil Rights, and Health Freedom.

In 2010, when a psychologist arranged to have me arrested in North Carolina in order to teach me a lesson for being outspoken on the pharmaceutical industry, I certainly did learn many lessons, but not the particular lesson he intended; that I should shut up. In fact, the twenty-four hours I spent at the Buncombe County Jail effectively ensured that I will never shut up. I started an organisation called “Artists Against Psychiatry.”

Asheville was, in 2009, a place where being against anything was politically incorrect. In the face of forced drugging, which I knew would shorten my life and provide absolutely no benefit, I was not in a position to appreciate the semantics of that point, and neither was I inclined to respect a community ethic of censorship which called itself spiritual. I dreamed of wearing a tee-shirt bearing the words, “YES, the universe does hear the word NO.” Instead, I found a safer home in Alaska.

While I completely identify with Antipsychiatry activists because of the abuse I have experienced and that of all the Survivors I know, I have felt pressured within “the movement” to take stands I don’t agree with, and express opinions I do not hold. This makes no sense to me except to the extent that trauma often leads people to behave in the same ways as they themselves were abused.

My last problem with the label “Antipsychiatry” has to do with the way it translates to many people in the world who are struggling in desperate straits, or in concert with someone they love, and have nowhere else to turn for help. Many people contact me expressing a sense of shame, and I don’t think that is fair. It also predisposes many people not to take “Antipsychiatry” seriously, for this reason. For many people, in many situations, there are presently no alternatives to psychiatry.

What is also important for me to note is my sense of clique-ishness within the ranks of Psych Survivor activists. This idea that there even is a “we” is something I cannot ascribe to, much less the idea that we have been uniquely oppressed. Over the last few years, I have spent time researching a number of rare disease communities whose members routinely encounter psychiatric oppression. There is a phrase I find myself repeating over and over again; Psychiatry is the wastebasket of Alopathic Medicine.

In the course of researching the “Medical Child Abuse” cases I have written about, I have had the opportunity to get a good close look at the agenda the psychiatric profession has for the future, and it is a frightening one. Just as psychiatric drugs have been marketed to every woman, man, and child, there is a similar imperialism in regards to psychiatric oversight of all hospital admissions. Doctors, you see, have undiagnosed mental disorders which affect their medical judgement. Apparently psychiatrists do not.

I read Psychiatric Times, as I believe should anyone who seeks to understand the business plan of the APA. The vision of complete medical care for every psychiatric patient is a chilling one, couched in the language of benevolence.

I experienced a glimpse of this in North Carolina when my primary care physician retired.  I was referred to a relatively new practice where, upon reviewing my medical records, the doctor refused to treat me for a sinus infection because I was no longer seeing a psychiatrist for “my complex brain disorder.”  I was “Bipolar” because I had an adverse reaction to an SSRI prescribed to me during a divorce.  This portends the future of psychiatric segregation; “separate but equal medical systems.”  Much like Medicare patients have been discriminated against, so will people who have been slapped with these arbitrary and insidious DSM labels. George Orwell could not have made this up.

Why then, am I not “Antipsychiatry”?  Because the entire medical profession is participating in this.  Most of the people in the wonderful support group I am in were prescribed psychiatric drugs for insomnia or “stress” by family physicians and when protracted syndromes disabled them they were met with disbelief and sent to psychiatrists.  The psychiatrists (who also do not “believe” what is happening to them) pronounce all kinds of new underlying “illnesses” and suggest new drugs to mask the already profound central nervous system damage they had sustained.  This is a medical profession completely out of control.

1980 was a significant year, not only for psychiatry and the campaign to legitimize the DSM-III, it was also a time when the medical profession in its entirety succeeded in asserting an entitled position in our society.

My first husband was a resident in dermatology at Yale in the early eighties, and the ascension of the MDiety became clear to me when, after many hours of talking a neighbor’s daughter down from throwing herself off the top of a building an OB-GYN resident called to threaten me with legal action because I was not a licensed therapist.  The point at which “first do no harm” turns into “Do not help or I’ll sue,” the mission drift of the medical ethos is complete.

If Hippocrates were here today, the FDA would be all over his case.  What was obviously true thousands of years ago, that food is medicine, is today a threat to the profits of industries which keep us sick.  Producers of walnuts and cherries have faced litigation for “making medical claims,” whereas codeine-laced cough syrups were cherry-flavored precisely because Cherokee indian cough remedies were made from cherries.

To suggest that psychiatry is to blame for the state of medical tyranny is to ignore all the institutions which rely upon it, and avert responsibility from them.

I am grateful to Phil Hickey and Robert Whitaker for challenging Jeffrey Lieberman in the manner they did, because, at this point my response to him is more of an emotional one and it can best be summed up this way; “How dare you?”

Dr. Lieberman, how dare you suggest that you should not have to endure critical examination? In case you missed the college experience, anthropology is all about looking at cultures and their institutions, and since your profession has sought to redefine what it means to be human, anthropologists have an absolute duty to examine that endeavor.

I am not sure what country you think you live in, but this is the one that celebrates freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and the New York Times is not here to protect your profession or any other.

How dare you ignore the thousands of people who have been harmed by psychiatric drugs and diagnostic lies over the last several decades.  If you and your colleagues were the least bit concerned about people and society you would by now have mounted a full-scale investigation into hospital and physician records to find all the people who were told they had a “chemical imbalance” and needed to take psychiatric drugs for the rest of their lives, like a diabetic takes insulin. Dr. Pies’ well known assertion that this is only propagated by “uninformed” psychiatrists is belied by the fact that these “uninformed” psychiatrists run hospital psych wards all over the country.

You would find all the people who had an adverse reaction to an SSRI and were told this had “unmasked an underlying illness,” and were then put on polypharmacy cocktails leading to disability.  That would be the responsible thing to do. But car manufacturers make changes for public safety, and they are not “well-educated professionals” who have sworn to “Do no harm.”

How dare you call Robert Whitaker a menace to society?  The real menace to society is a profession that has knowingly lied for decades to vulnerable people for profit, and refuses to take responsibility for the harm done.

For the past five years that I have worked for The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights,  I have known over a thousand individuals who have literally lost everything because they are disabled after withdrawal from SSRIs, benzodiazapines, “mood stabilizers,” and neuroleptics prescribed for sleep.  They are a burden to their families, unable to qualify for disability because the medical profession refuses to learn and continues to deny the reality of their iatrogenic suffering.

How dare you ignore these young people whose twenties have been ripped away from them? As they suffer for years, unable even to leave the house, they watch their peers build families and careers and enjoy their youth.  Any responsible group of people, instead of digging their heels in and denying this is happening would be diving in first to learn, and then to help. Because people matter.  Because doctors are suppose to care about patients.  Instead, we have a public health epidemic of iatrogenesis.

Last, I have a few things to say about the legal profession, after my own court experience wherein the only way my opposition could win was to discredit me.  A psychiatrist who had never met me was hired, and he testified to how delusional I must be to suggest that I do not have “Bipolar Disorder,” which had no bearing on the facts of the case.  In the judge’s opinion denying me relief he wrote that he could tell I had “Bipolar Disorder” from the sound of my voice in his courtroom in New Hampshire over a screen, from Alaska.

This is how our legal system functions everyday. If discrediting people through psychiatry were illegal, our legal system would be jammed from here to the next century with full dockets.  It should be illegal, though, because a psychiatrist’s testimony is little more than slander, and the premise of validity is really a sham.

If the field of psychiatry were responsible for itself the APA would formally recognize that any testimony intended to undermine a person’s credibility is an ethical violation of the Hippocratic oath.

For all these reasons, I identify myself as a civil rights activists working on issues of health freedom and choose not to be distracted by the corner identifying itself as Antipsychiatry.  The problem is Corporatocracy, and the solution is individual rights and civil liberties.  Where due process is respected, juries decide who will be denied liberty and whether or not the state’s interest is compelling.  Where health freedom exists, individuals choose the medical treatments that work best for them, and have accessible legal recourse for fraud and malpractice.

Robert Whitaker and Lisa Cosgrove have a new book out about institutional corruption. Pharmaceutical fraud is impeccably documented therein, and a timeline is provided outlining, step by step, the marketing of medical fraudulent claims.  In the suggestions and solutions, I believe they miss the mark.  What Whitaker and Cosgrove have documented is criminal.  I hope someone out there sees what I do; a racketeering case against the American Psychiatric Association.

72 COMMENTS

  1. I tend to adopt a similar stance as far as headings. Antipsychiatry as a term seems to imply a willful refusal without a valid point or contribution of our own. My motivation reaches beyond just undermining or dismantling psychiatry. My motivation is about hundred of years of injustice and greed. It is about legal protections and the refusal to grant suspected class status to a group that Congress felt compelled to lie and hide their findings of prejudice in order to deny any rights that might endanger their money machine. We aren’t talking about thousands. We are talking about hundreds of thousands many times over. We are looking at a socially sanctioned and silent genocide and cycle of abuse that has such a long history that society has accepted it as a norm.

    • Nancy: It’s seems that you are suggesting that the issues at stake are larger than the APA and Big Pharma. On the legal front, I have noticed that therevis much haggling over the possible release of John Hinkley. It is my understanding that he was forced into the insanity plea. As convoluted as his stated motives for his actions may be, I believe that there is a double tragedy at place here-the lack of the ability to have one’s day in court,’as well as the bodily injury that he inflicted-now upgraded to homicide with the death of James Brady who died at 74, the approximate life expectancy of an American male.
      Part of what I objected to in my experience was the open-ended term of my sentence-30
      days to life. As many MIA readers know, a still considerable
      Number of “patients” are held for long durations-or transferred to mental “hospitals”
      whentheir sentence runs out. I am not a lawyer, but could this not be an opening. If James Bradey’s injury can be classified as a murder resulting from paraplegia 35’years after the fact, then could we not open the door for charges of negligent homicide for iatrogenic deaths due to forced treatment for what is now freely admitted by the psychiatric authorities ie “there are no chemical imbalances.”

        • That’s the way they get away with murder. There’s now way to prove the diagnosis is false because the diagnosis is basically an opinion of a psychiatrist and they always back one another in court. And if you can’t even question the diagnosis how on Earth can you even begin to question treatment. This is whole based on some sick Catch-22 idea and tragically most of our society takes it as a given that these people have any authority in terms of other mental states. This scene comes to mind:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjz16xjeBAA

    • “Antipsychiatry as a term seems to imply a willful refusal without a valid point or contribution of our own.”

      Like anti-war, anti-slavery, anti-apartheid?

      I disagree. The only reason we have this conversation is because the psychiatry’s PR machine has made it a dirty word (in some circles at least). Even if we all decide to change the label the new one will be discredited the same way the next day. The point is not to run away from it – the point is to stand and fight. People who run are perceived as weak and weak people don’t create successful movements.

      Psychiatry is a part of a larger system of social control but it’s one of the few which were created almost entirely for that reason. The other institutions can and have to be reformed since we need them Psychiatry has to go since nobody needs it and all it knows how to do is harm.

    • Your post was the one that I naturally read first on finding this site and I have to admit that at first “genocide” and “cycle of abuse” made me twitch a little. But the more I thought about it, the more apt they became. People who have come, and continue to come, for help in good faith are being destroyed. Not only destroyed, but with a cynical, casual disregard. Words well chosen.

      • When I told my husband the truth about my experience, he abruptly asked, Why didn’t you just walk out? Why didn’t you leave? People in this country can define dehumanization, but generally, they can’t conceive of it in practice. The closest comparison I can make is the Holocaust, but what is this but a socially accepted genocide? And that is precisely the definition of abuse I was thinking of. It tends to have the same effect on people that some of Sylvia Plath’s odd Nazi imagery did, but how many people have to die, denied human and civil rights, “tortured”, be used as lab rats, before we can use the word genocide?

  2. I’m against myself being pathologized, drugged, lobotomized, electroshocked, analyzed, and just plain labeled in general. As psychiatrists are the people who do the pathologizing, drugging, lobotomizing, electroshocking, analyzing, and labeling, I guess that makes me anti-psychiatry. Anybody who wants to be pathologized, drugged, lobotomized, electroshocked, analyzed, and labeled, well, there are psychiatrists offices, and I’m fully capable of directing you to one. If unmoving (i.e. constancy to my position) constitutes a movement, then I’m more than happy to be a movement of one. I call my opposition to being treated against my will and wishes antipsychiatry. Some people claim to want to be treated against their will and wishes. To those people I say, “Less power to you!”

      • All rights violations stem from the fact that you can do to people with psychiatric diagnoses what you can’t do to people without psychiatric diagnoses (i.e. force and deprivation of liberty are synonymous.) Any right to treatment is not the same as the right to refuse treatment, a right that we currently don’t have. If we had that right, we’d have a civil right and legal protection that we don’t currently have. I’m very much in favor of that right. I’m not in favor of the state presuming to have the right to play parent over me. That’s the right they use to deprive me of my right to object to false imprisonment. Their diagnosis, if made, could give them the right to imprison me under medical pretenses regardless of my feelings about the matter. I see this violation of my civil liberties as a violation of civil rights and legal protections, too. If that’s protecting me, who’s going to protect me from the protectors, the would be protectors who I’ve seen kill many people, wittingly or unwittingly.

  3. Nancy, I agree that there seems to be a tendency among certain people in our movement to harangue and hassle people, and demand that they call themselves “anti-psychiatry.” Frankly, from what I can see, this almost always comes from people who are doing very little, if anything, to actually change the situation. This is becoming a new standard for being “politically correct,” a concept I find to be a royal pain in the butt.

    I DO consider myself to be anti-psychiatry, because I share all the concerns you have laid out in this article. You have mentioned dozens of reasons why we must fight back and take away the power of psychiatry. I think your politics about this issue and mine are 99% in agreement. ( I don’t agree with myself 100% of the time either.) So whether you call yourself anti-psychiatry or not, that is fine with me. I am sure when there is action to be taken we will be on the same side. I think it is a waste of time to harangue you to identify as anti-psychiatry, when in practice our politics on this issue are the same.

    BUT I think there is a value in calling oneself anti-psychiatry, and it was best revealed by Dr. Lieberman in one of his tantrums in the media, when he complained about the New York Times actually giving space to someone who dared to criticize the profession for which he is one of the main apologists. He talked about the concept of being anti-psychiatry the way people in the middle ages denied the concept that the earth is round and revolves around the sun. E. Fuller Torrey, who promotes taking away our constitutional rights, also talks about the anti-psychiatry position as if it were some kind of “mental illness” for which we should all be locked up.

    What this tells me is that these gentlemen (umm, is that the right word?) are TERRIFIED of the idea that the general public, as more and more people call themselves anti-psychiatry, will start seeing this as a reasonable point of view. Using this phrase is a shorthand way of saying that psychiatry is intellectually and morally bankrupt. And it is the general public we should be trying to reach.

    So I am going to continue to identify as anti-psychiatry, but I would never denounce you or anyone else if they don’t want to use that word. I don’t give a damn about political correctness, and I don’t want to try to be in charge of how people describe themselves. What is important to me is that those of us who see clearly the horrors of psychiatry, and the danger of the unlimited power they are demanding, stick together, with mutual respect and caring for one another, to fight back.

    I think the people who are trashing others who won’t use “politically correct” language are doing our movement a great disservice. If they feel so strongly about how bad psychiatry is, I think they should get off their butt and actually DO something about it, not appoint themselves as in charge of what words we use to describe ourselves.

    • I would, as you do, Ted, use the word to describe myself, and I wouldn’t put the word in other peoples’ mouths. It is a matter of, unlike psychiatric treatment in some instances, free choice. Nobody is forcing me to use the word, and where anybody else is with it, well, that’s up to them. I have no need nor use for psychiatrists, and hopefully, they find no need nor use for me either. I prefer the world without parenthesis. My mother and my father are dead, and so any role I may have played as “adult child” is over and done with.

      Anti the prefix means against, and psychiatry is the study, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses. If you believe as I do that mental illness is an illusion, a myth, I guess that make psychiatry a thing of smoke and mirrors. Regardless, I’ve had more than my fill of it, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m against it. I’m not going to pay a psychiatrist for his services, disservices, or whatever if I can help it (and there are catches in the matter (i.e. force).

      • I like the “smoke and mirrors” image; my dad was a magician and taught me the art of distraction that he used to fool people into believing that he made things appear and disappear! Psychiatry uses this strategy and plays upon the fears and shame that people experience when they or their loved ones are in dependent, easily victimized positions. when your thinking is not clear and you are scared and confused you can easily be distracted and led astray. Psychiatry is “smoke and mirrors” Psychiatrists are magicians and with this view we minimize their authority, their control and we can stop the applause for their acts. Let’s get them off of the stage.

  4. I believe that whatever ruffles the feathers of professions that “do harm” and hold themselves to be above the law and well above moral standards should be part of a movement towards health freedom. When psychiatry squirms under the lens of honest and ethical review then the medical profession is rattled and the drug companies might begin to shake in their boots. We need to show our outrage even if it is confined to a small part of the problem. I love the term “health freedom”, by the way may I use your article in the book I’m compiling? It is not focused only on psychiatry and it presents alternative pathways for those seeking recovery and “health freedom” Please read the doc. below and email me at [email protected]. I am the “voiceless in America” writer on the MIA site

    Greetings;
    I am the writer/blogger of Voiceless in America for MIA and I have been reading your posts with great interest. I recently contacted author/publisher Robert Whitaker to discuss my goal of putting together the collective voices of the MIA community in a book that would address several vital issues that may be of interest to you. I am enthusiastic about your participation in this project given the critical nature of the issues and your own views and experiences. Perhaps you would be interested in contributing? A collaborative and compelling book might go far in informing and motivating a great number of people.
    The issues are;
    Recognizing the huge and powerless group of voiceless individuals who struggle to exist amongst us;
    1. Those who are abused into silence through child abuse, incarceration, hospitalization
    2. those who are coerced into muteness due to the mental health system’s failure to speak out against psychiatry’s dependence on and use medication and of diagnostic labeling,
    3. Those who are marginalized into silent suffering due to poverty, lack of education and lack of opportunity to speak out.
    4. Those individuals who are shamed into silence due to social stigma and misinformation about emotional distress.
    5. Those who suffer alongside the voiceless population (family, friends, mental health workers)
    Identifying the Voices that have presumed to speak for the Voiceless population and who, with great authority and funding define who they are, tell them what their problems are, tell them what to do and inform them about what they need.
    1. The Organizations; American psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, the AMA,
    2. The Pharmacological Companies
    3. Political Groups
    4. Social groups that promote prejudice and stigma
    Giving the Voiceless their opportunity to speak;
    This large section of the book would contain chapters from the following
    1. Writers/bloggers within the MIA community who have struggled with and survived the mental health system and can share their experiences
    2. Writers from MIA who have posted their views on psychiatric practices, medication etc.
    3. Interviews with Voiceless individuals outside of MIA who can share their important experiences with medication, incarceration, abuse, hospitalization
    Proposing solutions for these issues
    Promoting public discussion, publishing facts and debunking faulty science, using social media, using the book to illustrate our issues and having book-discussions at NAMI and other meetings.
    I am open to all suggestions
    Please consider contributing to the collaborative book
    You can email me at [email protected]

    • Margie, per your added commentary and insightful reactions to how Nancy spelled out her convictions and beliefs, I want to say you have a great sense of the value to every moment for how it matters for good. You really make things doubly worth paying attention to several times over that were effectively strong messages to begin with, amidst much clamor in the surrounding social world. In the most matter of fact terms, Thomas Szasz described that he looked at cases like Nancy’s, like he would look at mine or Chris Reed’s and the whole range of them for any others, and what he saw was the proof of the validity of his critique of the psychiatric mind control system. He saw what really happens, that if psychiatry gets its way with labels and coercion, you end up with prosecutions of persons for having mental illness itself. You can get prosecuted not just for delusion about “having” the mythical disease and seemingly remaining a threat for letting it fester and get uglier and more contagious. You get prosecuted for schizophrenia, bipolar, dissociation., and so forth, outright. That is the ultimate consequence and the mainspring of the attracting powers of widespread adherence to and tolerance of the medical model coupled to the many orthodox pychological approaches that endorse it. These clinicians’ strategic goal as revealed here by Nancy’s story, and in the endless number of other courtroom farces, once these caregivers finally decide they cannot get to your run your life and bill you for it any other way, is to run you into the wall of nonsense that means you aren’t allowed to think or ask questions. At one and the same time that you suffer distress according to the “Law”, you are not allowed to have this real distress under the same Law. But the doctors can get to have you and put your chances for health freedom fast asleep, as many cases of this doing of time for no purpose illustrate. Very significantly, the majority of hospital doctors are not just insensitive in taking your freedom away from you, they are also terrible at their caregiving and diagnosing and prescribing job to begin with. Because they don’t have to be good at it, do they? This is all definitely so much more than the implication of health bondage. Getting prosecuted for bipolar is Kafkaesque at its heart and totalitarian in its aims, behind its Nanny State pseudo-care image. Health freedom now! is right.

  5. Incredible. Thank you very much for saying so much in one essay.

    You are right about the disabling iatrogenic conditions that follow the bipolar diagnoses that follow antidepressant use. The pain, the akathsia, the endless mental torment, are bad enough. But to be discredited makes it worse.

    Further, if those experts had copped to this at the outset the vast bulk of sufferers would be free and happy today. I know of three women who no longer have houses they owned due to post-ERffexor mania. One sold without knowing, one sold against her will when a realtor forged her signature, and the other, I don’t know the details. Selling a house does not mean one can buy another one, by the way.

    Yet Lieberman just called people thus disabled “patients who are unwilling to acknowledge their own illness.”

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

    Maybe I am not alone in saying statements like that are actionable. I mean it when I say it.

    I agree with your racketeering allegation, too, but I’d rather see them tried one at a time.

    I am glad you made it to Alaska. I’ve been reading about Kodiak and how the people swarmed their borough assembly and got a property-rights-destroying bill quashed.

    • Very well put. Thank you. More emphasis on ‘actionable’ should be a priority. Accountability, especially financial, has a way of focusing the minds of even the most swaggering of bungling practitioners. Thanks to I forget what concoction i was on I almost bought a second house which would have literally have left me ruined. A cooler head prevailed and I put the pen down. I was being treated for cancer at the time and under enormous work-related stress. Needless to say I didn’t get help. I got the opposite. Just tossing things up here from my experience but before, or in parallel to, consulting a psychiatrist, anyone with an issue, any issue, should get a broad, insightful, physical workup for any signs of minimally autoimmune disease and, of course thyroid. Lupus is not known as ‘the great impostor’ for nothing. Same goes for other autoimmune disorders whose neurological features are being slowly but conclusively revealed. I’ve had Grave’s, and do have Sjogren’s, with severe neuropathy, so this is not idle chit chat. This is not a topic dear to psychiatrist’s hearts. Maybe it smacks too much of due diligence. Superimposing such conditions with a broad spectrum assault of psychoactive meds is malpractice with extreme prejudice.

  6. “there are no “anti” movements against other medical specialties like Dermatology, Cardiology, and Orthopedics. There most certainly are, and they are called Naturopathy, Chiropractic, Homeopathy, Acupuncture etc.”

    They are not anti- anything. The hint is in the name: they don’t call themselves anti-cardiology or anti-dermatology. In fact homeopathy is often prescribed by licensed professionals either out of belief in it’s real healing power or as a useful way of prescribing placebo. There are people who avoid certain or even all modern medical treatments on various grounds but anti-psychiatry is the one and only of its kind and in my mind it has a lot to do with psychiatry’s role as a social oppressor and an aid of oppressive sociopolitical system in general rather than anything to do with medicine.

  7. Nancy, thank you for this thoughtful, powerful, nuanced essay. Wonderful work.
    As for suing the APA for racketeering, I have been trying for decades to find even one lawyer who would file suit against the APA for all the harm they caused through the DSM, which they knew (or ought to have known) was unscientific, did not lead to reduction of human suffering, and carried enormous risks of harm. No one (except one Scientologist, so I cannot work with him) has been willing to take on the huge financial burden that such a lawsuit would involve, especially given the vast fortunes the APA has at its disposal and the fact that Pharma would surely kick in huge amounts of money as well to hire the top attorneys to oppose such a lawsuit. Furthermore, the barriers to winning any lawsuit against the APA are very high and numerous…no time to go into them all here. But when I wrote They Say You’re Crazy in 1995, I very carefully documented a vast amount of unscrupulous activity on the part of the DSM people, and I did it partly to save a lot of time and trouble for attorneys who might take them on. But I would be glad to work with any lawyer who is considering any kind of lawsuit against the APA, because I am happy to share with them tons of information that is very damning.

    • Why can you not work with a Scientologist Paula Caplan? CCHR was co-founded by the Church of Scientology, and Dr Szasz who was never a Scientologist. Do you have strong disagreement with him as well? The Mission Statement and activities of CCHR don’t indicate anything religious from my experience. Do they from yours? Would assistance from an attorney on an APA racketeering suite be more acceptable from a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslem or Christian attorney really make a difference? How?

    • Why can you not work with a Scientologist Paula Caplan? CCHR was co-founded by the Church of Scientology, and Dr Szasz who was never a Scientologist. Do you have strong disagreement with him as well? The Mission Statement and activities of CCHR don’t indicate anything religious from my experience. Do they from yours? Would assistance from an attorney on APA racketeering, or other charges be more acceptable from a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslem or Christian attorney? How?

  8. I had originally gone to my psychiatrist because of insomnia and I ended up on more drugs than anyone thought possible. I was being told I had a profound mental illness as I became more and more drugged. It was a sham. I did get my psychiatrist’s office notes and that was an eye opener. He wrote he couldn’t figure out what was going on with me yet he kept prescribing neuroleptics ”” No one who has not personally gone through this hellish nightmare knows what it does to you.

    My city has two hospital authorities who own all the doctors and because my diagnosis is out in one system I can not go to anyone in this group. I did not hurt anyone, I’m no evil yet I’m discriminated toward by physicians. I remember all too well going to a new doctor for the first visit and she had seen my psyche diagnosis in the records. She actually hissed at me saying Go back to your psychiatrist, nothing is really wrong with you.

    What you wrote is incredible, so true and I hope more and more people read about the harm psychiatry does. My thanks to you.

  9. Thanks so much for this, Nancy! Like you, I’m happy to work with people who call themselves “anti-psychiatry” but don’t really identify with that label myself. Although I sure-as-hell understand why so many people do …

    To me the most important thing is building that movement for freedom and human dignity, and having it remain a big tent. If there’s room for people who believe in homeopathy and those who don’t, or for folks who trust chiropractors more than MDs and folks (like me) who trust them even less, then surely there’s room for people who disagree about things like: is there such a thing as mental illness and could some of it be partly biological? Or: Is it always wrong to use a substance, prescribed or unprescribed, to manage your pain?

    I think the bio-bio-bio approach has been built on greed and arrogance, and has damaged a whole society by telling people their normal pain and confusion is a brain disease to be treated with long-term drugs. I also think it’s damaged a whole lot of people who may actually have some kind of illness with some kind of constitutional or physical basis. Am I one of those? Damn if I know; my answer might depend on what day you ask me.

    Whatever my problem is or was, I do know the drugs I’ve been offered to treat it can do as much harm as good, sometimes much more. None of them should be taken for life, I’m convinced. But I agree that nobody should be shamed, lectured to or looked down on if they continue to take one. Life is rough; the powers that be in this society don’t give a damn about you, and neither does Mother Nature sometimes. We all cope as best we can.

    We can give each other advice, but if there’s one thing the goddam drugs have taught me, it’s that we’re all as individual as snowflakes. We’ll probably never come up with a way of life that works for everyone. Matter of fact, I think that’s what I’d most like to pound into the head of the average doctor … you will never be so brilliant that you no longer need to ask your patient what’s going on.

  10. “(S)urely there’s room for people who disagree about things like: is there such a thing as mental illness and could some of it be partly biological? Or: Is it always wrong to use a substance, prescribed or unprescribed, to manage your pain?”

    Yes, and there is room in my conception of being anti-psychiatry for these ideas. I myself believe that there are some kinds of mental distress that have physical causes, particularly extreme mood swings, but also what psychiatrists call “schizophrenia.” I also believe that some instances of “depression” have a physiological basis. (Hope I don’t get attacked for this.)

    And while I would not take them myself, I can understand why some people feel so much emotional pain that they are willing to numb themselves out with drugs to escape it. I myself have taken benzos for short periods of time when life was making me feel unbearably anxious. Sometimes I even drink alcohol for the same reason, not good for me, I know.

    But just because that may be true, doesn’t mean that psychiatry as it is practiced is a force for good in our society. Almost everyone posting on MIA has experienced terrible abuse from the psychiatric profession, and this is not some rare incident.

    Psychiatry as a whole is really destructive to our society, and that’s why I consider myself to be anti-psychiatry. But as I wrote earlier in this thread, I am not interested in harassing people for whatever word they want to use to describe their attitude toward psychiatry. The important thing is that we all work together to take away psychiatry’s power to hurt people. I hope we can put our energy into activism, rather than talk talk talk talk talk at each other. (Notice I said “at” and not “with.”)

    Fighting over words is not helpful, especially when it leads to good people being attacked. So let’s give a big priority to figuring out what we can actually DO, and also to supporting and nurturing one another in our common struggle to free ourselves and the people we care about from the clutches of psychiatry.

    • Ted – Thanks for commenting at length, and getting so many points across in sympathy for the different perspectives on goals and outcomes needed from this point forward. How is this for a historical parallel? Remember how doctoring and curative surgical procedures took on meaning in early modern times with barbering. Barbers would lance your boils for some coin, then? What did we get later… doctors who wouldn’t wash their hands before “helping” birthing mothers with delivery, just about? Along with that they wouldn’t let midwives practice. Finally, in or around the Civil Rights Era, always keeping in step with the times, they went gungho for hysterectomies to cure every female complaint so-named, so that they could use it to hang their hat on … and their diagnoses on. Psychiatry is going through all the same advantage seeking and betrayals of trust at even higher rates of malfeasance and ever greater magnitudes of indifference toward harms visited on their own real neighbors. For certain, this indicates the protracted evil of dissolute corporate expansiveness and routine victimization of the less infranchised, all stemming from calling people’s brains their faultily constructed personality organ and getting it thought of as their God-given weakness. Next, in insisting that all the work is medical, and letting that stand true as demonstrated by there connectedness to power and authority proves, the mental healthcare incrowds busily join together in identifying the broken brain as the “thinking organ” they must carefully diagnose and expertly “treat”. Back in the day, you might have needed an amputation, and the surgeon got rough, so you would insult him behind his back long and hard. Then you could maybe show up at his early modern surgical convention and finally let him have it to his face. “You goddamned Barber!”, you could say. We have the role of heirs to such well-considered progressive innovations, too, as psychiatric survivors, having existed unintentionally as the patients who are recipients of the same types of mismatched derivations of applied treatment protocols as were the hapless “failures” and the first “saved” surgical patients were. But rather than boils for lancing giving way to bones for sawing, we stand to receive instead the kinds of attention for problems in living that stem from practices of torture and Frankensteinian conceptions of our genetics, so that clinicians can take us to be mere organisms existing in necessarily malconfigured states. But luckily, tgey maintain, we are at least waiting with justified hope on the soon to be made known optimal performance standards for our type of defective, so that we can have our illness explained right and voted on. Then we can get saved by psychiatry, instead of being failures who need restrained. Totally awesome, they teach, their new interns, we mentally ill people can enjoy the modern privilege of holding on until the doctors can succeed to fix us more right than Nature got us made. The ECT, drugs, and breaking of our wills in compliance regimens that are legally mandated–meanwhile, do wonders for Psychiatry’s humanely drawn future image, when the needed corrections to our brains, minds, and personalities more perfectly than ever will make us “safe” and “insightful” welcome citizens. From barbers to surgeons with the medical doctors, from blood-letting and castrating to saying “maybe we should talk more, now, after all,” with the psychiatrists. All of it thanks to demanding change from the people in charge more adamantly than we are asking them for better proof of wise intentions in the first place, and more clear analysis of the true results which they use to justify their efforts. But just until now–thanks so much to Robert Whitaker, we are asking about those results loud and long at last. The wise intentions from the industry and its governmental bureaucratic partners still are lacking, though, we can’t help but notice. Many of our differences of attitude and comfort level with what we’re all fighting and doubts about how to do it, appear because of how that affects us each differently, I think, … the not knowing: we feel our willingness to dialogue, see their accusing us of self-righteousness and refusing to dialogue, who really aren’t available to negotiate terms, anyway. The most credentialled and influential have connections to Power and drug marketing kickbacks. But they all across the country have parity fee coverage protection now, don’t they? The nicer ones, who we aren’t so mad at, in the greater numbers have these benefits in pretty standard form, too. We’re stuck here as survivors, until the systematic entitlements go away, along with the illusion of better moral judgment by licensed experts in forced drugging campaigns and the lie of actual medical revolutions in psychiatric services.

    • Margie – Your project keeps sounding like the very apt challenge to the system I suspect it will be, and imagining how it will turn out suggests to me plenty of dynamic innovations in sharing the survivor perspective on fighting for your dignity, sanity, zand not least of all your life. I was thinking you might find some value in this link to a paper which by contrast highlights credible formal psychological explanation of how you can come to find yourself haplessly “living the label” of your disorder. While still seeming very uniquely personable because of the ethnological interviews appended, the theoretical points appear succinctly illustrated in seeing how these survivors are caught up in running the gamut of decentered and displaced sense of social identity. You and your cohorts in the Dignity project may enjoy it. I found it very helpful to encounter earlier in my life when it felt like getting away from the oppressive and limiting feelings needing managed care would never happen.

      http://www.ajol.info/index.php/ipjp/article/viewFile/65636/53327

      I appreciate your supportive attitude here on MIA and feel so impressed by your careful work and professional experience, and especially by what people mean to you.

    • Re your comment “I myself believe that there are some kinds of mental distress that have physical causes”, I concur, absolutely. I’ve talked to people that have endured and continue to endure true Bipolar I and were realistic about it. Without their maintenance therapy, usually lithium, their lives plain fell apart. I met them in DBSA meetings when I was “in the system”. No duplicity in that population. Too much at stake. No experience with schizophrenics other than street interaction with the unfortunates in San Francisco and other places. One girlfriend, a very bright woman, had a schizophrenic brother and she gave me some insight. Yes, they need treatment as well, clearly. Maybe its less about anti-psychiatry and more about anti-biological-psychiatry-gone-wild. The use of powerful psychoactive drugs as diagnostic probes is not acceptable, especially considering that they may cause the symptoms of the illness that they are ostensibly treating. This is more like psychological vivisection than it is about compassionate care and needs to stop. I remember the words of this GP I saw after I moved here some 6 months ago, where I was guided to a consult (mentioned in another post). Having concluded that I was bipolar from reading my medical cliff notes, and by my checking ‘depressed’ on their questionnaire, he wanted to “see how I was” on a big load of his triple med solution. So I was to go away for several months and experience this avalanche of chemicals and return for my 15 minutes so he could “see how I was”. Amazing. So, I totally agree that it is absolutely true that there are people who need meds. They are a band aid but they let them get through life without too much suffering. But there is also a need to completely reform how psychiatry is practiced, diagnosis and treatment. For the grace of God most of us do not live at the extremes. We may have issues at times, and some help might be in order. But, the bias must be in favor of educated, insightful evaluation, and first doing no harm. I enjoyed your post. Thanks.

  11. Nancy,

    Great post and one that definitely echos my feelings. As I keep stating on this board, 80% of all psych meds are prescribed by non psychiatrist but people seem to want to conveniently forget that. Non psychiatrists who prescribe these meds for frivolous reasons can cause just as much damage as the psychiatrist who prescribed the meds.

    And I am curious why people on this board want to let alternative folks off of the hook who while they don’t prescribe SSRIs continue to spread the false BS that depression is a chemical imbalance which can lead to the prescription of supplements that can be harmful. Just because something isn’t a medicine doesn’t mean it is harmless.

    Finally, Ted, thank you for your post about there being too much focus on who is antipsychiatry and who isn’t and that it is more important to focus on actions. Wonderfully said.

  12. Very interesting writing! You capture some of my feelings and frustrations. I think sometimes I change on what day I am o my journey. There does seem to be a huge issue with medical practice in general. I don’t know anyone who is happy with the current status quo as it is and that includes current docs and retired old front line docs.
    I saw the change from 1979 onward and watched in growing frustration as my profession and all the social service world changed to medication, medication, medication.I tried hard to keep my children and myself away from medication but still managed to fall into the ever widening gyre. I most greatly regret ever taking my first pill. Huge, huge mistake. I thought maybe I was mistaken and the med route was the way to go. It was only after seeing this website and reading books that I found I was always right and now finally am medication free and doing quite well. I too still have to live with the stigma of labeling and live in an area where the no one wants to really stand up to question the medical model. There I am sure silent dissent but how to break the silence seems to be ongoing issue for all of us everywhere.
    It’s nice to hear the struggle about our own labeling issues. Humans! whatcha goin to do?

  13. I refer to myself as anti psychiatry, but have no issues with how others choose to define themselves. I also have no issues with being seen as someone who is against a concept without offering any positive, viable alternatives. Saying NO is the first step. If anything, I think this discussion supports that we are nowhere near a second step.

  14. Nancy,
    Thank you very much for writing this article. It is so very poignant and pertinent on so many levels it’s difficult for me to respond. Like you, I believe in the need to address this holocaust of psychiatric mal-practice from a civil rights/legal perspective. Fighting it out in the courts is very very important and necessary. I wonder if it would also be good to add grass-roots organizing (thank you Ted Chabasinski), to our arsenal of ways to support each other and simultaneously move toward the creation of a just system that would preclude a fascist corporatocracy that uses people like commodities and guinea pigs, and dismisses their value and humanity in the way you describe.

    I’m wondering if it would make sense to start in that direction by going or sending delegates to the upcoming US Social Forum Conference this summer. It’s being held in Philadelphia June 25-28, and in San Jose June 24-28th. For more on what it’s about, see https://www.ussocialforum.net/node/572. In addition to all the wonderful types of work people are already doing and have done for the “cause”, it may be a good idea to also reach out and join with with other activist organizations seeking a more just and humane system. It may be a way to provide mutual support and broaden our resources and power in this struggle. Maybe offering to do a workshop there would be worthwhile, as well.

    Though many of us are still sick, hurt, trying to recover or preoccupied with helping others to do so, maybe some can contribute in this way toward changing this sick system. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

  15. Human beings are born pro-life, pro-freedom, pro-goodness. Psychiatry, and modern medical despotism in general, stands in direct opposition to these goods. Psychiatry is anti-life, anti-freedom, anti-goodness. Modern medical despotism is also anti-everything-good. Of course people are free to identify with which ever movements they wish to identify with, but there is absolutely no reason why the cause of psychiatric survivors and the cause of survivors of modern medical tyranny, could not be called the “pro-freedom” movement, because that is what it is… pro-freedom. I am pro-freedom, anti-psychiatry, anti-medical-tyranny, and more… these terms are still too weak, which is why I prefer the phrase “Slay the Dragon of Psychiatry.” Whichever phrase one prefers, we can unite behind the common cause of freedom. Thanks for your article Nancy. Best wishes.

  16. Nancy ,
    There are no blogs or comments more a favorite of mine then the ones you post. Virtual educational cornucopias . Please Blog more often if you have time .
    After just reading this one a new idea entered my mind. I’m a consumer of and can without license practice some of the same alternatives you we are consumers of. Also energy healing http://www.YuenMethod.com etc. I’m really with the vital necessity of Health Freedom and do consider myself anti-psychiatry . I’m a psych survivor of the whole 9 yards including electro -shock and will be demonstrating against it in Eugene Or. May 16th . Compared to people like you and Ted I’m a wannabe activist.
    I imagine a lot a people think I’m goofy when I, in my comments here at MIA include the ADA , American Dental Association as a big factor in mental emotional distress and in creating customers for psychiatry and the drug company racketeers. After reading your article I think I can explain it better. I actually had mercury poisoning from silver amalgam fillings which are actually made of over 50% mercury the second deadliest element on the periodic table to humans next to liquid plutonium. And its installed in the mouth near the brain even in little children and proven over time to off gas mercury vapor that end up into various parts of our body including the brain . See Boyd Halley and Hal Huggins recommended advanced dentistry . Also the organization DAMS ( dental amalgam mercury solutions.) Also http://www.MercuryJustice.org See Dr. Russell Blaylock (retired top neurosurgeon) on vaccinations and mercury . He’s got lots of videos on youtube. Now in the USA alone 2oo,ooo,ooo people are estimated to have mercury amalgam filings in their mouths . About 1 in 6 people have trouble excreting mercury from their bodies. 50% of dentists in the USA still install these mostly mercury fillings in peoples mouths . Here’s the connection I just realized . Insomnia is only one of the many symptoms of mercury poisoning. By the way its also in some fish, and yeah ,some mercury compounds are in some vaccinations and in the flu shots that are being pushed everywhere you go for free. Do the math and ask yourselves how many people looking for help for insomnia (which how many people have, because of some degree of mercury poisoning in addition to, or causing life problems?) are captured by psychiatry and the drug cartel given neuroleptics and or shock , (instead of something to help them sleep or being sent to a Traditional Naturopath to get a correct diagnosis), labeled for life and you know the story . It happened to me. I know cause when advanced dentists removed my load of mercury etc. all my symptoms including hearing voices disappeared immediately yes immediately. And why when 5000 people travel to Switzerland to the Paracelsus Klinic each year( because they can’t get helpful results in their home country by doctors they’ve already been to ) there run by Dr.Rau ( you can also see The Rau Way ) that has a team of 80 practioners of various healing arts including the most advanced wholistic dentistry is flat out the best all round one stop inclusive healing clinic for whatever, in the world, that I have heard of . Everyone that arrives there first gets all metals removed from their mouths, also all root canals removed , also are checked for cavitations , (dead gum tissue above or below the upper or lower teeth caused by ,sometimes in some people, blood never coming back to gum tissue because the numbing lasts for too much time duration after tooth extractions by ADA dentists.) Then restorations are made with the highest tech inert ceramic materials. Immediately astoundingly 3500 people go home after the wholistic dental work is done ,the various issues that brought them there totally resolved however severe. As for the remaining 1500 the team works on them with state of the art multifaceted skills and arts in the finest clinic I ever heard of anywhere in the world. The Paracelsus Klinic has determined that conventional dentistry like what the ADA advocates for adamantly ,exclusively “the guild”, interferes with the accurate diagnosis of all health issues period, besides causing over time , many various health issues, yes “the corrective” ADA dental work itself causes.You got questions on this I got answers. Health Freedom Yeah! We need reparations to help get our lives back. I got a lot to say about the AMA too (another time)
    Thank You, Fred

  17. I very recently had an experience with GP very much like the one you describe re getting you sinus infection treated. I pushed back hard on my routine pain prescription getting botched completely by him and the pain clinic. I subsequently received an email where he suggested that I come in to his office to discuss medications since he thought that I was “going into a manic episode”. I was stunned and still feel threatened. I have been diagnosed in the past with bipolars I, II, III…nth after revealing that I had several hypomanic episodes but only when being given antidepressants. So, like you and many others, I have been barcoded and am fair game for buffoons like this guy. I went looking for attorney referrals and other sources of backup at all of the right places and the landscape is disturbingly barren. Attorneys I can understand. No real money in it. But the sites that I found espousing great dedication to the cause were also almost completely unresponsive. Got a call eventually from a NAMI lawyer who told me to join my local NAMI group and had to run. The loud silence of support has made me aware that mental health is the Flying Dutchman of causes apparently. My first post here so please excuse the digression.

    • I ran into this 12 years ago as electronic records came in and realized the only way I might escape being treated as crazy was to find independent doctors. I got copies of my medical records and deleted paragraphs pertaining to me being depressed, on various psych drugs , etc. These I hand delivered to my new doctors. It worked to an extent.

      Next time take a friend with you to visit this doctor. Doctors and especially pain clinics feed into the whole “Client has psych issues”. You end of being reduced to a nut case who supposively has pain. I had to leave the pain clinic I’d gone to because of how I was mistreated. Sorry you have to experience this.

      • Thanks. I appreciate it. One thing troubling to me was that, while I have enough fight left in me to push back on these ignorant practitioners, what happens to those who are so beaten down that they believe that their only recourse is passivity in the face of condescension and possibly even worse treatment? I suspect that they are just ground into dust. There needs to be sufficient access to motivated litigators to give these doctors pause. We’re talking massive egos here in many cases, and compliance will just encourage more bullying in whatever form. What worried and worries me is there does not seem to be any there, there legal resource-wise. I hope that I’m wrong.

  18. Hi Walter,

    Sadly, you have learned that you can’t say a word to any doctor about any psych meds you have taken in the past because any miscommunication that happens as what you experienced with pain medications will be attributed to your psych problems. I am so sorry about your difficulties.

    • Absolutely, and please don’t be sorry. I flew over the Cuckoo’s nest. I had another problem right after I move here to the Portland area, again with a GP. It was important to me to establish contacts with a GP and a rheumatologist so I could continue getting a handful of medications that I thought that I needed, among them several medications to treat my “bipolar II depression”. On the patient questionnaire there were the usual questions about whether you were experiencing depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc. ‘Yes’ and ‘often to all so I was shunted into a consult with a GP with credentials in psychiatry. We spoke for about 10 minutes and he added and adjusted, all way up, several medications simultaneously while lowering my thyroid replacement (without any testing). The one medication that he denied was the only one that really helped. Arrogance, again. I declined all of the changes except something for sleep expressed my amazement at his recommendations. Among the drugs that he wanted to doubled the dose of, immediately, was one that I had had a severe dermatological reaction to when titrated too quickly. Dangerous, dangerous guy. All of the meds are gone now, except for pain and sleep. Obviously he is gone as well. Beware the questionnaire, and your own earnestness. Thanks for your time. Finding this forum is fortifying. How best to make us of it, and be useful to it, will take time.

  19. Sadly Walter, I am not surprised at your story. That is the reason I never disclose my past psych med history to any physician whatsoever.

    I stupidly did to one specialist and now have a permanent diagnosis of depression and ADHD in my records. It is the reason why I won’t see any doctor connected with that hospital system unless I am completely out of options.

  20. When I was in High School I was very unhappy from being bullied and ostracized for being gay as well as being very very poorly treated by my father and his third wife. She decided to try to humiliate and marginalize me further (moving beyond leaving attacking nutty letters, signs, and a variety of other ploys) to getting me on psychiatric medication. Fortunately for me I was able to bluff my way out of that because I had read (in Time) about how young people people had reported that their emotions were permanently stunted by those. I also did not want to give her the satisfaction of misplacing the blame for my unhappiness.

    The experience of being tested/evaluated by “psychiatric experts/professionals” at the Cleveland Clinic and being able to bluntly lie to them (I told them I was feeling better/happy and basically bluffed my way through everything because I was miserable) without them knowing suggested to me that they weren’t competent. Either that or they were so shrewd that they could see my bluffing as a symptom of sanity. I nearly completely doubt that, but I suppose it’s possible. My instinct and observation tells me that as long as one goes through the motions (says the right things — things that make a person a passive pleasant pawn in our passive pleasant society) one can be labeled perfectly fine. I was perfectly fine in terms of sanity. I was sane enough to be mad as hell about the mistreatment. I won’t go into what it was at home but I can tell you that it involved physical as well as mental abuse.

    I was also sent to counseling sessions with some local joker who just asked me questions as if I had been too unintelligent to have considered them myself already. I am a thoughtful introspective analytical person. Nothing he asked me was even slightly revelatory, nor were any of the answers I provided keys to some sort of magical transcendence over the horrible reality imposed upon me by others. And attitude change on my part would not have, for instance, prevented my step-mother from forcing me to endure flea bites, bleeding eyelids, and cat urine/feces in my bedroom! Let me know when positive thinking and pills will whisk those things away for a powerless teenager who is hated at their school for being gay.

    The ridiculous inkblot tests and other tests I went through at the Cleveland Clinic were so silly that, during the process, I became even more convinced that avoiding the drugging was my highest priority. To this day I have never subjected myself to these medications but I have seen first-hand a sane man (my husband) be slowly rendered subservient to “anti-anxiety” pills. These meds cause him to have spontaneous panic attacks over nothing when he tried to go off of them (through tapering down the dosage) as well as nearly constant fury. So much for mood stabilization! I used to be the more emotionally volatile of the two (having survived more even difficult life circumstances and by virtue of being quite a lot younger) and now I’m, BY FAR, the most calm in any crisis or stressful situation — without meds, therapy, yoga, or whatever other nonsense people peddle. What works for me is honesty and the constant battle to make due with less and less. That’s reality and, especially for those of us who are no longer young and in great physical health, it’s one we need to learn how to deal with without brain-scrambling substances.

    Guess what his doctor did when I asked him to get off the medication because of its bad effects on him? First he doubled the dosage. When that had the opposite effect he proscribed ANOTHER medication on top of the one he was taking! It was an anti-psychotic and it made him into a person I didn’t feel I even knew. He was totally loopy and could have never kept his job taking that combo.

    Both of us (my husband and myself) were happy smiling children. The very young photos of my husband are heartbreaking. He had the sunniest smile! I also used to smile and had a calm expression. Then society (including our families) turned against us for being born gay. Magic pills and incantations aren’t going to fix that. The only thing that will fix it is honesty, with oneself and with others.

    Suffering and stress are generally caused by problems in the environment — how others treat us, for instance. The intolerance toward difference and that self-expression happened even when I was very young, when both my sister and my mother ridiculed me for flapping my arms when I would get excited or when I’d go down the stairs. Psychiatry lists “flapping” as a symptom of mental problems (unsurprisingly, since it’s not something adults do in public without being ridiculed — and that alone is proof that it’s A Very Bad Thing™) but there was nothing wrong with me. I was a kid who was excited and wanted to fly, or at least express that excitement. Lots of things flew in cartoons. I read bird books. People often dream about flying. It’s not abnormal. What’s unhealthy is when the people you trust turn on you because you’re not just like them. Apparently it’s fine to gyrate on a dance floor wearing next to nothing with a tool in a striped suit grinding his hips into you while you stick out your tongue to indicate a degrading sexual act (Miley Cyrus on MTV) — as long as that’s for corporate cash. But, heaven forbid a small boy get excited and flap his arms or bring his mother some pretty flowers.

    My mother told me as an adult that my father was “worried” about me as a very small child because I wasn’t aggressive enough — not boyish enough for his taste. Apparently doing nice things like bringing my mother flowers was an offensive thing to him and the society he represented. Bigotry isn’t solved with pills either. It’s solved with education and that is rooted in honesty.

    I can write a lot, but I’ll make just a few more points. Firstly, Consumer Reports did a review on psychological care and reported results from its readers. Apparently, over 70% of people who went to psychologists and psychiatrists reported an improvement in their sense of well-being. Medical doctors who prescribed mood-squashing pro-anxiety pills fared quite a lot worse. Psychiatrists had a small edge over psychologists. When I took a social psych course at university I was taught that directive counseling (psych tells you what to do and what to think) was equally as effective as vastly more passive listen + praise counseling). This information suggests a variety of possibilities:

    1) The masses, in general, do benefit from having someone they feel they can trust to talk to — much more than they benefit from psychiatric medications. Otherwise, we would have seen a much larger gap between the reported effectiveness of psychiatrists vs. psychologists. However, it’s also possible (although unlikely) that people managed to separate themselves into two groups (one in need of meds + counseling and then the counseling only needed group) but I doubt that quite a bit. There are also other issues, like selection bias (readers of Consumer Reports who bothered to respond). However, selection bias was likely minimized in the studies that found no difference between the effectiveness of radically different types of counseling.

    2) As with anything, there are good and bad examples. There are bad shrinks, bad this, bad that. Whether or not the institution itself is bereft of worth is difficult to prove based on anecdotal evidence. However, I will say that the APA pretty much has exposed itself as being an ethically bankrupt organization, such as by not kicking out the psychologists who agreed to work with the US military to develop torture programs. Similarly, the legal profession and the courts have exposed themselves (to say nothing of academia) as being greedy patsies — all part of the money-grubbing scheme of the business of America being business (rather than something a bit more lofty). We have secret rubber-stamp courts. We have secret law that forces corporations to do the wrong thing (because the right thing to the money machine is making money for the right people, nothing else). The legal profession has pretty much rolled over and enabled the killing of habeas corpus and other illusions of justice/liberty, with “constitutional scholars” saying that not only is that unnecessary but that torture is just dandy.

    In line with the point, though, that there can be good psychologists… consider that I am an American. I am part of the global money matrix, the inhumane anti-ecological machine that is grinding everything down other than small advances in technology and behavior. I do not consider myself one of the torture-loving Earth-raping law-as-a-joke-to-merely-serve-the-rich folk. Yet, I am part of this organization. The same may be true for psychologists. I really doubt they all are the type who would fail the Milgram Experiment. Most of them, though, like most of us, would.

    As for the medications… they ARE being used for social control and corporate profits far more than they are being used to actually help the small number of people who can benefit from them, despite their awful side-effects. There is a big interest in keeping people docile, especially young people. Young people are still too naive and think they can change the world. Ask Aaron Swartz about that… Law really does exist primarily to safeguard elite privilege and anyone who threatens that too much tends to meet an unfortunate end.

    And, physicians are far too glib about their side-effects. They are propagandized by the industry, too, by the way. There are jobs available right now as pharma companies to propagandize hospitals and doctors. They even say they want connections to specific people on your resume (to better sell their stuff through bias introduced by human interactions). They say it’s to “educate” about their meds, which is a fair point to a point since there are so many of them (particularly so many duplicates of profitable ones to keep the patent train going). I asked my doctor about several of them out of curiosity (variations on Valium with different half-lives and quickness of action) and he had never heard of them. However, I can say from not only my experience but from my husband’s and other family members’ experiences that side-effects (unless there is a listed serious interaction or something minor like drowsiness/headache) are completely glossed-over. People at doctor’s offices often seem surprised when I tell them I’m not taking any medications regularly. I only take them as needed and in the smallest necessary quantity. They all have unwanted side-effects. The only meds I’ve taken that seem to have minimal negative effects are antibiotics (and, of course, I take the full course of those).

    The final thing I’ll mention is that learning how the mind works is very important. It helps us to separate rational behavior from superstition. However, it can also be abused, like any other tool. So, what I think you’re really dealing with is an attempt to reduce corruption in the field. There is plenty of that because there is so much money involved.

  21. Great article. As I read it I said to my self yes, yes, and yes to all the points. I don’t understand what people don’t get about this holocaust befalling our society. I scratch my head on this because there are so many activists that have endured the tortures of psychiatry. Not just psychiatrist but family practice doctors are also prescribing psychotropic drugs for back aches and other non-psyche maladies. Keep writing, keep being outspoken, speak your truth. Hopefully, you spark others to speak their truths. We need a lot of sparks and hopefully some day the sparks will gain traction. We need a forest fire of enlightenment! One of the saddest things I have to endure is administrating the over 1800 member group on Facebook called “Cymbalta Drug Dangers” where daily we have people come to us searching for answers. The shattered lives are incalculable. I can’t believe this is reality.