Psychiatry Through the Lens of Institutional Corruption

Robert Whitaker
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When you write a book, you usually do so in response to a prompt of some type, and in the process of researching and writing the book, you will come to see your subject in a new way. Psychiatry Under the Influence, a book I co-wrote with Lisa Cosgrove, provided that learning experience, and this is what I now know, with a much greater certainty than before: Our citizenry must develop a clear and cogent response to a medical specialty that, over the past 35 years, has displayed an “institutional corruption” that has done great injury to our society. In fact, I think this is one of the great political challenges of our times.

The specific “prompt” for this book can be traced back to a phone call. In 2011, Lisa Cosgrove, who is a professor at UMASS Boston, was finishing up a year as a fellow in a research lab at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University that had been set up to study “institutional corruption.” She called and asked if I would be interested in jointly applying with her for a fellowship at the Safra lab in the coming year. The thought was that we would investigate the American Psychiatric Association through this lens of institutional corruption (a subject I admittedly knew nothing about), and write a monograph as our fellowship project. However, midway during the fellowship year, we settled on a larger book-length project. We would investigate the “institution” of psychiatry, and we conceptualized that institution as being comprised of the American Psychiatric Association and academic psychiatry. We thought that our book, in addition to investigating the institution of psychiatry, might also serve to illustrate how the framework of institutional corruption provides a way to see the corruption in a clear light, and illuminate possible solutions.

The Framework of Institutional Corruption

The Safra lab on institutional corruption, which just completed its five-year run, was the brainchild of Lawrence Lessig. A professor at Harvard Law School, Lessig is known for his creative thinking and political activism on a number of issues fundamental to our society’s democratic well-being. He was a founder of Creative Commons, which has sought to expand and protect the public’s access to creative works, and he also founded Rootstrikers, a citizen’s group devoted to fighting political corruption in the United States. In his 2010 book Republic Lost, he told of the corrupting influence of lobbyists and special interests on Congress.

As Lessig and others have developed this field of study, they have noted that it is important to distinguish individual, quid-pro-quo, corruption from institutional corruption. The former is a story of “bad apples.” For instance, a politician takes a bribe in return for a political favor. That is quid-pro-quo corruption. Institutional corruption is of a different—and more societally damaging—type. Institutional corruption is a not a “bad apple” problem, but a “bad barrel” problem.

The basic concept of institutional corruption is this: There are “economies of influence” that create “incentives” for behaviors by members of the institution that are antithetical to the institution’s public mission. When this happens, the “corrupt” behavior may become “normative,” and even go unrecognized as problematic by those within the institution. Institutional corruption is of a systemic type, subtle, and yet ultimately corrosive to our democracy.

For example, politicians running for office must raise money to finance their campaigns. They may get such funding from industry lobbyists and from political action committees (PACs) established by special interest groups. As a result, the elected officials may develop an “improper dependency” on the funding from the special interests and will become subtly beholden to these funders, even though the members of Congress are supposed to be beholden to the citizenry. Moreover, politicians know they need to raise campaign funds, and taking PAC money has become an accepted method for doing so. This is just the way that the system works.

“These are not bad souls bending the public weal to private ends,” Lessig wrote. “We can presume that the individuals within the institution are innocent; the economy of influence that they have allowed to evolve is not.”

The framework developed at the Safra center also provides a concise guide for investigating institutional corruption. First, identify the economies of influence that may be creating “perverse” incentives. Then document the corrupt behaviors by members of the institution (which, although unethical, can be expected to be legal.) Next, detail the resulting social injury, and explore why the members of the institution remain largely unaware of the corruption. This investigatory process  is designed to illuminate possible solutions to the corruption: the economies of influence that have led the institution astray must be neutralized, either through government regulation or some other means.

Our Study of Institutional Corruption

In our study of the “institution of psychiatry,” we focused on psychiatry’s behavior since 1980, the year that the American Psychiatric Association published the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). This was the moment that the APA adopted a “disease” model for diagnosing and treating psychiatric disorders, and it is easy to identify two “economies of influence” that have been present ever since.

The first is the influence of the pharmaceutical industry, which, following the publication of DSM III, dramatically increased the amount of money it provided to the APA and to academic psychiatrists, who were paid by pharmaceutical companies to be speakers, advisors, and consultants. This “economy of influence” is well recognized by the public, and there has already been considerable societal discussion about how it could be neutralized. The amount of money flowing from industry to the APA and to academic psychiatrists has also diminished in recent years (partly because of that public attention), and so this corrupting force may be somewhat on the wane already.

However, the second “economy of influence,” which isn’t as well recognized by the public, is much more problematic. This is the influence of psychiatry’s own guild interests.

Once the APA adopted a disease model in 1980, it laid claim to having societal authority over three domains: diagnosis of psychiatric disorders, research into their biological causes, and drug treatments. As such, from a guild perspective, it had a need to inform the public that its diagnoses were valid, that its research was producing an understanding of the biology of psychiatric disorders, and that its drugs were safe and highly effective treatments for such problems. Moreover, unlike many medical specialties, psychiatry has to compete for patients with those who provide alternative therapies (psychologists, social workers, and so forth), and thus it could be said to have a particularly pronounced need to protect the guild interests that allow it to prosper in this marketplace.

If science subsequently supported telling such a story, one that informed the society of great progress being made in this field, than there would be no problem. Our society would simply be well informed of this advance. But if science did not support it, then the potential peril was this: Psychiatry, because of its guild interests, would be tempted to tell a story to the public that was out of sync with science, and in that way, betray its public mission.

With that potential for “corruption” set up, we then ask in our book: is there a historical record of such influences “corrupting” the behavior of the institution? And now this is what is great about the institutional corruption framework, when it comes to this particular topic of psychiatry. We tried to answer that question by applying an ethical standard that all of society can embrace. The inquiry does not need to focus on whether psychiatric disorders are “real,” or on the risks and benefits of psychiatric drugs, which are topics that can produce such an immediate division in readers. Instead, the inquiry focuses on whether the institution has fulfilled its duty to the public.

So we need to ask: what does the public expect—ethically speaking—of a medical specialty? The public expects that it will put the interests of patients first, and that this moral obligation will guide the institution in its conduct of research, its reporting of research results, its development of clinical practice guidelines, and its pronouncements to the public. This is a well-understood expectation, and corruption is revealed when the institution, as it performs such tasks, privileges the interests of pharmaceutical companies, or its own guild interests, over its duty to the public.

Many of the specific examples of corruption detailed in Psychiatry Under the Influence will be familiar to readers. I have written about a number of them in Anatomy of an Epidemic and other writings; Lisa has written about some of this corruption in her journal articles; and numerous critics of psychiatry have written about some of them as well. Still, presenting this behavior in a historical way, as stretching across three decades and present in every domain of psychiatry’s activities, is rather breathtaking.  And it also becomes quite clear that this behavior, within the institution, became the norm.

As I noted in the beginning of this post, co-writing this book led me to “see” this subject of psychiatry and its influence on our society in a new way. It puts the focus on society as the injured party, and it is easy to see that the social injury arising from this corruption is vast and profound.

The institution of psychiatry, with its disease model, has dramatically changed our society over the past 35 years. It has given us a new philosophy of being, and altered how we view children and teenagers, and their struggles. It has touched every corner of our society, and this societal change has arisen because of a story told to the public that has been shaped by guild and pharmaceutical influences, as opposed to a record of good science. That is the nature of the harm done: our society has organized itself around a “corrupt” narrative.

Prescriptions for Reform

 Now, what can be done about this? The first thought is that once this corruption is revealed, then perhaps the institution can reform itself. After all, institutional corruption is conceived as a problem of “good people” doing “bad things” because of the corrupted environment. Good people within the institution might be expected to lead the reform. However, cognitive dissonance theory predicts that it is difficult for people within the institution to see their own actions in this light. Our favorite quote to sum up this perception problem comes from Sinclair Lewis: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Given that internal reform isn’t likely, the responsibility lies with society to develop a solution. In many cases of institutional corruption, the solution may be regulatory reform that legally constrains the behavior of the institution. In this case of psychiatry, it is evident that society must find ways to neutralize the two corrupting economies of influence: the pharmaceutical influence and psychiatry’s own guild interests.

There are many strategies being proposed for neutralizing the pharmaceutical influence, which, as noted above, has waned in recent years. However, there has been little public discourse on how to neutralize the guild interest. While we offer a proposal in our book—we believe that the only possible solution is that psychiatry’s authority over this domain of our lives must be diminished, and that such societal authority must come from a broader, more diverse group of professionals and thinkers—the truth is that solving this problem requires a societal discussion about this corruption, and what we, as a society, can do about it.

As I think about this, I am personally inspired by Lessig’s own activism. He wrote about the corruption of Congress by PACs, and subsequently launched “Mayday, U.S.” a crowd-funded, non-partisan Super PAC that provides funding for political candidates who promise to enact campaign-finance reform designed to eliminate the influence of lobbyist-driven PACs. His may be a Quixotic battle, but it is a fight, in essence, to save our democracy and create a Congress that is beholden to the people, as opposed to one that is beholden to special interests.

And with that example of activism in mind, I am now thinking of whether MIA could host a public discussion on “solutions,” and also mount a public campaign to publicize this issue. The institutional corruption framework, which puts the focus on whether psychiatry has met its ethical obligations to the public, even provides the possibility of creating a non-partisan campaign. All of the public wants a medical specialty to fulfill that obligation.

More on these possibilities shortly.

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117 COMMENTS

    • Voiceless in America by M. Altman MSW
      The Illusion of Power
      The voiceless individuals around us are invisibly visible; they are not going away. They are in the streets as you drive, they are being arrested and hospitalized while you go about your daily tasks, and they are being abused as you work and eat and play. Being without a voice, a way to express feelings, to communicate needs, to define who you are is an inhuman condition. They remind us of our personal and social conscience and the things that are obstacles for them cannot defeat our efforts to help improve their situation.
      Many writers for MIA have expressed the feeling that they, the writers, are powerless to effect changes in the “powerful” systems and organizations that purport to “help” society with their emotional and social pains . Some described confused feelings in that they are “optimistic” yet afraid to confront systems that they perceive as entrenched and immutable.
      In reality, the “systems” that appear to be powerful, united and in control are fragmented and fragile organizations of individuals who are very frightened by any opposition to their agendas. They project the illusion of strength and solidarity backed by fatly science and funding. This is an illusion that many of us buy into because they are consistent and convincing in their advertising and their distracting messages. In order to exert power and to control over another one must distract the “other” from the truth, destroy self-esteem and hope, present the illusion of strength and isolate the other. This is, of course, exactly what they do and will continue to do unless their myths are debunked.
      We must remember that In cases of terrible abuse and battering, women and men have been able to leave their oppressor and begin life with the help and support of others. They go through a process in order to do this and we can learn from them.
      The organizations that have paralyzed some of the most intelligent individuals are, of course, Psychiatry (individuals and organizations, psychology (individuals and societies) mental health state, county and federal organizations, the pharmaceutical companies.
      Weaknesses are apparent in the systems and organizations that present themselves as omnipotent and defections from their ranks are occurring. In addition, their frantic and often foolish attempts to defend their faulty science are being debunked by MIA journalists and others.
      Psychiatry, as those of us who have been in practice for many years know has always been the step-child of medicine. Psychiatrists have historically been thought of as individuals who are afraid to get their hands bloody by doing “real medicine” this may be a myth in many cases but it makes for very fragile self esteems in the ranks of psychiatrists who, I may add, are in fierce competition with psychologists who want prescribing privileges. This is NOT a cohesive, strong group of professionals. The pharmaceutical companies are heavily dependent upon this group in order to make their profits.
      These are some of the strategies we need to use in order to In order to respond, as Robert Whitaker puts it to the Institutional Corruption and illusion of power.
      Confront the illusion of strength with reality of weakness and fragmentation in our own minds
      Be united, speak with many voices and a cohesive message and “brand”; some suggestions would be “Prescription for Reform; taking the power back” We need input from MIA’s creative writers on this.
      Present alternatives for treatment and recovery; It is clear that Americans are always eager to try new things; diets, exercise, recovery programs, etc. Many MIA writers/bloggers do have alternatives that have been effective for them.
      Take the message to the public; in book form, in discussion groups, to CNN, “a public campaign” as Robert Whitaker suggests, social media,
      Continue to publish facts and to debunk the faulty studies, the “bad science”
      There are several writers who are collaborating on a book at this time. Some of the issues to be addressed are in the post below. If you are interested, please email me at [email protected]

    • This is a great example of what MIA can report. We should be mad that well educated members of the medical profession got taken in by the pharmaceutical industry. We should also be mad at the pharmaceutical industry for its own brand of institutional corruption.
      What remains a problem is how to redefine the scientific method to prevent ir reduce the impact of these egregious mistakes.

      I know that many psychiatrists bought into a dug model and for lots of seemingly good reasons. For one they were happy that the drug approach allowed many institutional patients to be deinstitutionalized. After all institutional life as depicted in One flew over the cookie’s nest” wasn’t a good place to be.
      Likewise I am sure that many pharmaceutical researchers and salespeople came to believe in the efficacy of drugs.

      In general MIA has a boatload of potential beachhead to attack because of the power exercised by the Sales and Marketing arms of industry. I become more and more convinced that the power of digital marketing is so large it can almost sell anything to anyone no matter how much common sense says BS.

      As I have said the revision of the theory and practice of the scientific method is desperately needed.
      To get particular about just one of the meant shortcomings of the Scientifics Method is to concentrate on the pharmaceutical industry.

      The regulatory requirements for drug testing are essentially 50 years old. hat industry has fought the imposition of more advanced statistical controls under the banner of keeping the government out of their scientific affairs.

      MIA could do well to institute a research study to see how this industry could be better regulated to the end of improving the approach to the design, analysis, testing and marketing of drugs to our population.

      Expect enormous pushback!

    • In the following comments people want “civil disobedience”, ie civil disorder to put their point across. NO< NO, stop with trying to convince the majority. Use internet, speak to your closest friends, be open and honest.
      I have been open and honest, since my first diagnosis of "minor depression", and the nightmare that ensued. I also thought the drugs were great, to start with, convinced I had some terrible ailment. The truth has proven harder to cope with. 8 years on effexor has led me to loss of love, secure marriage (30 year marriage, we met at 17!…… ) loss of my home, my career, my repuation, now on disability. WOW all in 8 years on effexor, at age 45. The pills kill, they destroy relationships, give a false sense of "self".
      Small is better, the Chinese proverb, anyone can build a mountain, just takes time. One small interaction with people you know, trust, or even strangers………. amazing the feedback, and kindness I get. Remember 1 in 4, on these meds? Dont need to slap everyone in the face with some sort of protest, just the gentleness that people damaged from these meds, or on these meds, or carers of people on these meds, already understand. Talking, one on one.
      I thank god for internet, is so difficult to silence people actually talking to other people…….. support groups popping up everywhere.
      With a surviving antidepressants site, and more and more people finding it every day……. from Little Things, BIG THINGS GROW.
      There was none of this information to patients/carers, as there is now on-line, 10 years ago.
      If you dont want to use your own facebook profile? Make another one, and spread the real information, the links, how you feel, etc………….. We are all abused people/by big Pharma/psychiatry………. remember 25% of people plus, are also victims of this big con.

  1. I appreciate this article and I am eager to read the book. I typically agree with the identification of the problems in psychiatry and mental health, but often disagree when it comes to prescriptions for meaningful change.

    If you don’t just have a “rotten apple” but instead have a “rotten barrel,” you can’t “reform” the barrel. You must remove the barrel entirely and replace it with something else.

    Turning to an institution “government” as fully corrupt and broken as the institution of psychiatry and expecting it to effectively regulate or legislate to reign in psychiatry is an exercise in futility.

    Some people share my view that we have no choice but to seek more radical change. But there is then even more disagreement on the mechanism for those changes. A lot of energy is placed into organizing efforts that take the form of rallies, marches or protests that have the objective of putting a loudspeaker to the voice of dissent. The problem is, simply raising our voices in the hope that representatives of institutional corruption will somehow hear us and enact meaningful change (not appeasing superficial gestures) is pretty ludicrous.

    These institutions don’t work for us. You can talk about the power of the “people” all you want, but that power is not in the ballot box (less than half the population votes at all and even if more did, the choice of candidates is always limited to those who can spend the most money given to them by privileged interests.) Holding a rally to loudly express our dissent or our demands for change does not actually bring change in itself. Ever. At any point in history.

    The missing piece in our activism in modern times is defiance. Rebellion. Acts of deliberate and organized disobedience are what change the world. Holding a rally that the police endorse, within the spaces that the police and rulers sanction to simply say a lot of words until the police tell us its time to go home accomplishes absolutely nothing other than self catharsis. Our “action” is fully contained by institutional authorities, whose agendas are not in anyway disrupted or damaged by our activities.

    We have done such a great job of glossing over the civil rights movement, to the point that now we throw around a few glib MLK quotes ripped from the context of the actual struggle and let ourselves somehow believe that just “marching” brought significant social gains. What brought those gains was civil disobedience, organizing events that had the goal of going somewhere and doing something that institutional authorities did NOT want done. The goal was not just to talk loudly, and it certainly did not entertain the ludicrous notion that just saying a bunch of words to power while acquiescing to their every demand would bring change.

    Movements are different than protests. Movements that have any success make conscious, intentional disobedience, refusal and defiance of illegitimate authority the center of its mission. Marchers were ordered to turn around and go home on the bridge to Selma. They refused. The marched INTO police lines, not away from them. The did not see their oppressors as their “collaborative partners in peaceful protest.” The accepted the likelihood that they may be injured or killed. They want forward anyway. The objective of their activity was disobedience as symbol and act of change.

    If we want to change institutionally corrupt systems, we have to first stop coming with our hat in hand to the very representatives of institutional corruption we oppose and ask them nicely to give us justice. Instead, organized activism needs to have concrete objectives of disobedience and disruption of status quo. It need not be violent, though our resistance to authority usually causes a violent reaction from that authority.

    Marches should be about marching somewhere authorities don’t want us to be and refusing to leave. Protests should be about things like marching to city halls and occupying them indefinitely and refusing to leave until demands are met. It should be about stopping traffic, disrupting ordinary activities, sit-ins, die-ins, not as theater but as acts that don’t stop until there is change or until police carry us out against our will in handcuffs.

    Simply gathering downtown with loud speakers and shouting for a while, and then going home with the police tell you do accomplishes little. History is good evidence of this. Powerful movements can have non-violent RESISTANCE at their core, but the word “resistance” is critical.

    • AMEN!

      Until we begin occupying lobbies of state hospitals and refusing to leave unless we’re dragged out by the police, then we’re just blowing smoke through our hats. And then we have to go right back and occupy those same lobbies when we get out of jail. We have to gain the real notice of the media, which seldom if ever pays any real respect and attention to people who are diagnosed as being “mentally ill”. We have to stand in the parking lots of said “hospitals” and yell “shame” at the psychiatrists as they try to make it into the “hospitals” so as to be able to carry out their programs of mass drugging with toxic drugs.

      I work in a state hospital and am amazed that the debunked “chemical imbalance” and “you need the drugs like you need insulin for diabetes” is business as usual. You can’t convince me that the psychiatrists who work where I do are not aware of the harm that long-term use of neuroleptics cause people and yet that’s exactly how they act, totally oblivious. I’ve given the prominent ones copies of Harrow’s and Wonderink’s studies and the WHO studies and Robert’s books and they smile, say nothing, and go right on forcing people to take the toxic drugs. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

      We must take the resistance to the places where psychiatrists and social workers and psychologists work and then perhaps things may shift in some small way. This country had to fight a war before slavery was ended; for some ridiculous reason slave owners refused to listen to logical negotiations about ending slavery. Many people, African American and White had to die before the day of Jim Crow and the Sundowner towns were lessened and Civil Rights Acts were signed into law, although we still don’t have true civil rights for all. As you point out so well, we must become visible and a problem by bringing our resistance to the places and people who continue to ignore the harm being done in the name of “good treatment” for those labeled as “mentally ill”.

      Sitting around a table holding hands and singing Kumbaya with those who oppress us is no longer an option for me. The fact is, the oppressors refuse to sit down and talk at all. It’s only those who have dealt with their own cognitive dissonance who are even willing to entertain sitting down with us on an equal basis.

    • I very much like what Andrew Loder wrote, except I don’t think it is true that the purpose of peaceful protests is to ask those who oppress us to please stop. They are not the audience for this. The general public is the audience. At this point in time, the public hardly knows anything about our issues, and peaceful demonstrations bring these issues to their attention. The demos also help us recruit people to our cause.

      I also strongly agree that we need to do a lot more than mild protests. But I have to ask, who is going to do them? Right now our movement is not large. Before we can do civil disobedience, we have to have a reasonable number of people who are willing to do this. Calling for civil disobedience is a good thing, that I wholeheartedly agree with, but right now it is hard to get people to do ANYTHING, much less get arrested for blocking entrances to shock hospitals, etc.

      It is a big first step to get people to do more than just complain to one another, or click on the “like” button.

      I mean, I have read people who say we should have a million people march on Washington to demand justice for our issues. That is a great idea too, but where are those millions of people going to come from? We have to work from the stage where we are, and right now there is a lot of movement building to do.

      • But I will say this also. If those who think we are ready for civil disobedience try to organize actions like that, I will be right there willing to be arrested. Please try to organize that and I will be there.

        But I won’t do it by myself, and I don’t think you should do it that way either.

        • I hope that when the time comes, I am not a coward.

          That’s what I’m most afraid of. That when the day comes, and I am confident that it will, when I have to face a beating, or arrest, or imprisonment – that I will run. The kind of stand I am advocating actually scares me half to death. I don’t feel particularly courageous, or strong. But I want to be. I sincerely believe that making that stand is the right thing to do, and I can only hope that my conviction will overcome my cowardice.

        • There is safety in numbers. In this case “relative safety” – if 5 people show up you can lock them up, declare incurably mentally ill and keep chemically lobotomised in a “hospital” for the rest of their lives. It’s a real threat.

          If a thousand people show up – well, there’s more of an issue. They can do that to a few but if the rest will keep making noise it would only bring more people to the cause.

          I agree with both of you – we need more than just protests but we also need more people for a bolder action. One way to do it is to target our campaign to where the audience is – hospitals. Handing leaflets and talking to people who go in and out is probably a better way than waiting for them to come to us (though some do but usually after the tremendous damage was done).

        • I’ve been waiting for acts of civil disobedience myself for some time. I would like to see them, and I’m very willing and able to go jail over the human rights that we are so often denied. I think people have grown too accustomed to seeing just another group of people holding signs. Were we to put our lives on the line in this fashion, I think maybe we’d begin to make the news again, and it would become that much harder to ignore, as is so often the case, what we had to say.

          As you say Ted, probably not a good idea to do this kind of thing alone, but if we could get a group of dedicated people behind it, maybe, just maybe, we would be able to accomplish wonders.

      • I appreciate that point, and it makes sense to me. But I do question the effectiveness of “voice raising” alone, even as an act of public consciousness raising.

        For one thing, what do we want the public to do when their awareness is elevated? Write their congress person? Or join the ranks for more voice raising? I argue that we more effectively gain the attention of a slumbering public through planned deliberate acts of defiance and disobedience. These are the things that terrify rulers, and also the things that rouse the attention of the masses.

        I am 38 years old, which of course sets the limits of my experiential knowledge. I am too young to have experienced the civil rights movement directly, and yet I still feel that I have to do my best to understand the history. But the first major protests of national and international scale that I can remember were in the lead up to the Iraq War.

        In the year before the start of the war, there were demonstrations of a scale we had not seen in decades, possibly ever. 1.5 million in New York City, 350,000 in Atlanta, 500,000 in San Francisco. And even larger numbers in other parts of the world. These demonstrations took very similar forms for the most part. Organizing efforts to get people to show up, gathering place, and then a series of planned speakers.

        What was the outcome? I’ve recently talked about this with several different people in my life and not a single one of them even remembered that these demonstrations had even happened. They failed to establish themselves in cultural memory. We still went to war. We are STILL fighting. Whatever public consciousness raising might have been achieved did not translate into meaningful change.

        Something was missing in these efforts, a missing ingredient essential to transformative action. I think I know what it is.

        Your question, who is going to do them? Is a critical one, that I have to make sure I don’t avoid. Points well taken about the movement being small, about the challenges of getting people to do anything at all, etc. That all sounds right to me.

        So perhaps we’re not at a place where we can engage in more direct resistant actions. But even if we’re still slowing gathering a movement, I want to be an early voice advocating for direct confrontation with illegitimate authority (confrontation does not automatically mean violence, and I am not advocating it) with an emphasis on planned disobedience and disruption as the tactic and tool of radical change. I think some people will need convincing, so I want to start talking about these things early and often. Even if we’re not quite there yet.

        And of course this is an opinion, and others will see it differently. Their voices should be respected. But I want to try to persuade people to my point of view. 🙂

        • I think Robert Whittiker is slowly and carefully facilitating the building of a movement. We just have to hang in there and it will arise.

          For every person taking direct action you need 100, 1000, 10, ooo followers. People who will write letters and sign petitions supporting you.

          You need to identify your allies and talk to them.

          You may need to take your allies struggles on too.

          All of this is slowly happening with two steps forward and one step back but it is happening.

        • The thing is, the general public don’t benefit from the pharmaceutical companies. They aren’t having their campaigns financed or being given kickbacks. They really have nothing to lose. However, I would caution against acts of directly volatile or “unreasonable” acts to raise awareness. We need the public to see us as people. We need them to relate to us.

    • “If we want to change institutionally corrupt systems, we have to first stop coming with our hat in hand to the very representatives of institutional corruption we oppose and ask them nicely to give us justice.”

      TRUE. All you get from that is insult to injury or at best a bunch of platitudes to appease you and make you feel you’ve accomplished something.

    • Dear Squash Put your ideas into writing for the book, please.
      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 Altman, I love your reply and the coverage of it… as I am so keenly aware and disturbed and frustrated by this entire topic, and its actual prevalence into aspects far more reaching than just the ‘medication/drug’ formulation discussion… A lot of the issues and points you’ve enumerated in your reply, are just as in need of illumination, because it is actually appalling how institutionalized corruption actually is VIOLATING basic human rights for so many people, let alone completely disregarding of the very laws/protections in place to protect the Disabled, for example, from Disability discrimination. It is shocking how much actual discrimination exists within the actual internal systems, set up to service these ‘industries,’ let alone care for, serve and protect the vulnerable or marginalized. I’m glad to learn of your collaborations into further discussions and publications.. and that you’ve enclosed an email address… I’d have interest in learning and participating further. By the way, the responder after you, who mentions another topic of relevance is the ‘whistleblowers,’ and what actually happens to them… (Speaking from direct experience.) The level of heightened institutionalized corruption that one will undoubtedly, (or at least I have,) meet with, or actually be violated by, as a result of attempting in any way to speak up, complain or file formal grievances in any act of fair and accurate reporting, etc. – is another astounding discussion/topic, which also has behind it the push of even greater and more powerful harms… especially if anyone is speaking from within the categorization of ‘the voiceless!’ — S. G.

  2. Robert Whitaker,

    I understand this is a niche question in the larger picture but I would appreciate your thoughts on something that I’ve wondered about for many years.

    Why aren’t there more whistleblowers?

    Did you discover influences on this and are they addressed in your book?

    The closet I’ve come to an explanation so far is in a very recent article:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/01/23/why-are-there-so-few-whistleblowers-blame-evolution/

    The following quote from the article addresses an institutional reform that I’ve only seen lip-service paid to, and frankly, I wonder if it is even feasible. Regardless, do you find any merit in it?

    If an organization’s policy can be reformulated so that whistleblowing is regarded internally as an act of loyalty, then it will no longer contradict the evolutionary urge to be cooperative.

  3. I think a key area of potential support could come from somehow educating and reaching the families and loved ones of the seriously ill who have been harmed, and also the family and the loved ones of children who have been harmed by drugs.

    In the mainstream literature I still often read comments from family members who’ write off’ anyone who criticizes institutional psychiatry as they believe sites like mad in america is simply full of people who were wrongly diagnosed, and full of people who believe mental illness is caused by bad parenting.

    Once families and loved ones begin to understand how institutional corruption guided their decisions around treatment for their loved ones FOR SO LONG; or as Robert puts it, sees ‘society as the injured party;….and sees…the social injury arising from this corruption – I believe a very loud outcry would follow…….

    The family members and loved ones are the ones who, next of course to people with lived experience, probably know the most about long term distress, and the effects of long term medication, even if they currently believe that their loved one would have been ‘even worse’ without the meds. The general public, on the other hand, that does not have experience with long term serious illness are more likely to believe the fabrications: that the mentally ill are in one of three categories: 1. not curable, 2. on medication and doing well and participating in events to reduce stigma, or 3. off their meds and acting dangerous and crazy.

    • I think you make a good point here, Sa. In keeping with the mantra “Think globally, act locally” I rejoined my local NAMI chapter expressly for the reasons you mention, since this is the organization that virtually ALL people/families in emotional/mental crisis get sent to in my area. I want to reach out to families in distress and try to be a “different voice” to the struggling and desperate family members who come there. At times I think I have had a modest, positive impact. I sense that families are very open to information when it comes from someone else who has experienced similar things.

      Unfortunately, I’ve been AWOL for a while now because of the feelings of discouragement and futility I was left with the last couple times. Sometimes there is so much erroneous information being endorsed by the leadership that to confront it all I would have to make myself even more of an irritating presence to some than I’ve already been, and I just don’t have the temperament for it lately. I may be coming to the point when I feel that the negatives outweigh the positives in terms of my continued involvement. Admittedly, I’m less hopeful than I was a couple years ago when Bob Whitaker was invited to present at NAMI’s national convention, and when Keris Myrick was the board president….but I’m hoping to regroup and get back in the mix.

      I keep musing about starting up some kind of local alternative to NAMI…a place that wouldn’t be beholden to the drug companies (who heavily fund NAMI) and where people could get honest, complete information and support, with no effort to coerce them toward a way of thinking that primarily serves the “system” rather than the individual experiencing mental and/or emotional distress. The trouble with this is I just don’t currently have the time and energy for such an undertaking…and I’m not sure if i have the personal skill set for such a venture.

      • The idea of an alternative to NAMI is a good one. Please think about writing up your suggestions for the book that I’m compiling with input from several MIA writers; we need proactive and positive suggestions for reform
        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]

      • Thanks Madmom.

        I also want to let you know that I think of you and your girl often, and keep hoping for some kind of solution. I wondered if you have ever tried to talk to any of the lawyers on this site for ideas on how to proceed, and if anyone knows of any way you could access funding for legal help… ……….wouldn’t it be great if organizations like NAMI could instead provide that kind of help to families…….what a world we live in

    • Sa,

      I wholeheartedly agree that it will strengthen our movement immeasurably if we can convince enough NAMI families that they put their trust in the wrong place, that the current mainstream treatment is brutal and deadly, and that longitudinal studies show that, long-term, people do better without drugs. I plan on going to several NAMI support group meetings, not to seek support, but to bear witness to what is making possible my daughter’s healing without drugs.

      • I commend your courage. I don’t think I would feel good there.

        I visit a former teacher in a low-security federal pen and feel no discomfort, and that’s not because there are a few armed guards among the hundred or more inmates and visitors in the visiting hall. It’s because I’m not all that different from the inmates. I dream of elaborate tax-avoidance schemes too (and pay my tax bills assiduously). I wouldn’t pirate DVDs for profit, but I wouldn’t mind knowing someone who used to. I wouldn’t deal pot, but I’ve bought it.

        I doubt any of the inmates thinks he know what’s best for me. I wouldn’t mind telling them about my run with psychiatry; they’ve been subjugated and deprived of choices too, so there’s a fellowship and an agreement that loss of agency hurts.

        NAMI’s mission is “to eradicate mental illness and improve the quality of life of those affected by these diseases.” Them and Us is built right into it, along with condescension and grandiosity. I’ll take the meth dealer whose wares people crave, and which I can refuse, over the proselytizer whose firm belief is that I should take drugs that aren’t even pleasurable, whether I want to or not.

        Who’s crazy and dangerous: the drug dealer, the drug forcer, or the person who just wants to choose for herself?

  4. My fear of retaliation from my former psychiatrist stopped me from publicly complaining. He admitted in his office he has totally screwed up but I was still afraid to do anything about it. Having a bogus diagnosis in my med charts has caused me to fly under the radar and hope it does not surface again to hinder any further medical treatment. I’ve been in the ER and told” people like me are not ill, go home” when I had Pancreatitis. Unless someone has been through what most of us here has it’s hard for them to fathom our fear of reprisal. I was told I was permanently damaged and that was not true. My hope is MIA can lessen the injury psychiatry does in the future.

  5. I agree with “Sa” that family members and other people who are in NAMI now are potential folks who we should try to recruit to our movement. NAMI gets almost all its funding from the drug companies, and so its grassroots members are exposed to tons of pro-drug propaganda.

    I know a fair number of people who are NAMI members and really want what is best for their family members, and who want to be with other people with “mentally ill” relatives for support. If we could reach them, they would be powerful allies.

    • I’m of a mind that we should be physically protesting NAMI conferences and meetings. Demonstrating at APA annual conventions can become somewhat redundant, and altogether too predictable. Once we used to protest drug companies, too. I see a real problem in the mental health movement of which both the MHA and now NAMI, not to mention the rest of the so called consumer movement, are the predominate part. Pour money into the mental health system, and the “mental illness” rate skyrockets, as do the taxes that are paying the way for the people in that system. This bogus “stigma busting” they are so much a part of is a propaganda campaign on behalf of “mental illness” the excuse, biological entity, and career. I can understand what’s wrong with a lot of people by considering how their parents are regular NAMI members. I’d like to see the bogus illness rate go down, not up. For some time though, it has known only one direction. Up up up up. Turn off the spending stream, and you cure a whopping lot of people. Get people real jobs OUTSIDE OF THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM, and ditto.

      Excuse me, I was co-facilitating Leadership Academy today, and one of our students was the director of the local NAMI chapter. I feel very guilty and remorseful about the matter, and I feel I must repent, as well as vent.

      • How about sneaking into their conferences (I mean all of them – APA, NAMI etc). and protesting the way people did in Supreme Court? Making sure that there’s another person filming and the whole thing will get out? Go after the most apologetic and criminal and “Code Pink” their speeches? Protesting outside where no one can hear you makes little sense.

        Most people don’t even know we exist (I mean we are scientologists right?). We have to make our name known, regardless if people think we’re crazy or not. PETA people are sometimes quite extreme but at least everyone knows about them and they managed to achieve quite a bit.

      • Frank, I agree with you that we need to protest NAMI and other pseudo consumer advocacy organizations. They are the mouthpieces for all the pseudo scientific mythology that is bouncing around out there with their ‘educational’ campaigns. NAMI is supposed to be advocating for my daughter but they aren’t. They just are a front for big PHARMA and the APA

        • Madmom,
          I want you to know that even though (as I said above) I’ve rejoined my local NAMI chapter, I’ve done so with the intention of being a dissident presence within this organization. Not to oversimplify, but i see three types of people at NAMI meetings: 1) Anguished and devastated newcomers (usually referred by someone in the mental health system), desperate for support and direction; 2) People who have been coming to meetings, feel they and their loved one has been positively supported, and have more or less bought into the biopsychiatric model of mental illness that NAMI promotes; and 3) the leaders, who have been thoroughly indoctrinated in the biopsychiatric model. Those in group 1 are the ones I’m most hopeful of supporting and those that are the most receptive to honest, open information and discussion; some in group 2 seem open to re-evaluating the “truth” of what they’ve been led to believe; group 3 vary from somewhat open (if they’re relatively new to leadership) to extremely defensive to the point of shutting down discussion or doing everything they can to prevent it in the first place.

          As I said, I’ve stepped back from involvement lately as the meetings have left me with feelings of frustration and futility…it just feels too much like paddling upstream against a powerful current.

          You mention “NAMI is supposed to be advocating for my daughter but they aren’t.” From what you’ve written in other posts about your daughter, I have much empathy for you on this. I have also experienced the leadership of my local NAMI showing no inclination whatsoever to intervene on my daughter’s behalf in terms of correcting potentially harmful, erroneous information in her hospital records. They bill themselves as “the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness”…yet, in my view NAMI’s leadership seems much more concerned with protecting the image of the psychiatric profession and the pharmaceutical industry than standing up for individuals who are harmed by them–in fact, they seem to be in denial that such harm even exists!

          I’m thinking more and more that an alternative to NAMI is sorely needed, and hopefully I’ll be a part of that.

          • Russerford,

            I really ‘hear’ you on the point that vocal family advocates in leadership roles often seem very concerned with protecting the image of the psychiatric profession and supporting the resulting drug recommendations – I have had the same experience. I have had a little different experience, however, with these same people’s reaction to the Pharmaceutical industry – I have found they do seem to have some worries about the corrupting influence of Big Pharma- I also find that despite this intense protectionism of psychiatry, they do also complain of being treated in a paternal way by many psychiatrists, and complain that many if not most psychiatrists do not listen properly to family members.

            I am trying very hard to understand this ‘ extreme protective role towards psychiatry’ that some of the vocal family advocates have, because I believe it is the key to reaching out to this large and potentially powerful group who have also been so victimized for so long by institutional corruption.

            I have noticed that vocal family advocates are the ones who speak the loudest about ‘evidence based’ treatment and yet seem unable to question the gaping holes in evidence presented so convincingly in `An Anatomy of an Epidemic’. Indeed when you read their arguments against so called ‘anti psychiatry’ positions, the arguments they use are full of erroneous science and the standard chemical balance myths etc, while at the same time usually include the phrase evidence-based’ treatment as their argument. When confronted with stories of people who have recovered, many of these family members seem at some level so unable to imagine that recovery is possible, that they do not believe these people were ever severely ill. I understand that family members are not necessarily scientists themselves, and might not trust a ‘dissident’ writer, but why are they not worried that the psychiatric community has not yet provided counter arguments to Whitaker’s arguments about long term recovery? This is so puzzling to me. I genuinely believe that most, if not almost all family members, simply want what is best for their loved one, so it is not the same ‘cognitive dissonance ‘ that happens to people whose ‘pay checks depends on them not understanding the research’.

            Severe distress is such a confusing, terrifying and agonizing thing to witness in someone you love. If often comes suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, often with no overtly obvious traumatic event, and many times, as we all know, from a myriad of physical and biological reasons. To quote Sandra Steingard on this last point; ‘ Although many of these problems will turn out to be well handled in non-medical ways, not all of them will. There are endocrine disturbances, inflammations, vitamin deficiencies, even tumors that could be causing the problem. I once read a paper that was 100 pages long and listed all of the medical causes of psychosis.’

            Added to this confusion around ’causes’, is that the changes that accompany severe distress are often so dramatic that someone’s loved one seems to be like a completely different person. Now factor in how slow recovery can be, and that recovery can take the form of such small steps forward, followed by steps back to the point where you are wondering if you are seeing recovery or relapse.

            Now add that for some families -although certainly not our family and according to the research not for the majority of people – dramatic positive changes can happen after drugs are introduced particularly in the short term, and even for a few, the benefits last long term. All of this helps me understand how families have been led to so fervently believe that the psychiatrist just needs to find the ‘right’ combination of drugs to make this miracle happen for their loved one.

            I guess the point of my rambling comment is two fold.

            One is that we need to better understand whatever the ‘cognitive dissonance’ factors are for families that make them vilify people who argue for the benefits of treatments other than drug therapy.

            The second thing I think it could be important if we clearly expressed our awareness of the social injury to families that has resulted from institutional corruption, so they know we understand how traumatized and victimized families have been as well by what has happened to their loved ones. The NAMI families are a group of families – not a group of ‘bad’ families, and they never should have had their trust betrayed in such a way.

          • Sa, I’m probably posting this too late for you to see it (unless you checked the box for an email notice when there’s another comment on the same article)…Anyway, I REALLY appreciated your last response in our exchange on this article that starts with…

            “Sa on May 9, 2015 at 4:28 pm said:

            Russerford,

            I really ‘hear’ you on the point that vocal family advocates in leadership roles often seem very concerned with protecting the image of the psychiatric profession and supporting the resulting drug recommendations – I have had the same experience.”

            Your analysis of why so many family members seem blind to the pseudo-science behind the so-called “evidence base” in psychiatry was excellent, and resonates greatly with me. You brought out so many things I’ve also witnessed, such as the following:

            ” When confronted with stories of people who have recovered, many of these family members seem at some level so unable to imagine that recovery is possible, that they do not believe these people were ever severely ill.”
            Some years ago a colleague of mine, knowing the story of my daughter’s horrific experiences in psychiatric hospitalizations, mentioned a film that i finally checked out of the library: “Lorenzo’s Oil”…It’s very heart-rending, but I highly recommend it. It’s about the absolutely heroic efforts of two parents to advocate for their son, and eventually contribute to a breakthrough in treatment that helped prolong his life some, and greatly helped others with the same rare and usually fatal disease. One of the most poignant and disturbing issues brought out was how their efforts were actually OPPOSED by the advocacy group in place for this disease! They resisted them on the basis that “you are giving people false hope”!

            Also, your following point is key in this discussion:

            “Now add that for some families -although certainly not our family and according to the research not for the majority of people – dramatic positive changes can happen after drugs are introduced particularly in the short term, and even for a few, the benefits last long term. All of this helps me understand how families have been led to so fervently believe that the psychiatrist just needs to find the ‘right’ combination of drugs to make this miracle happen for their loved one.”

            I think this last point is SO important for people to note and understand! I believe it is a huge factor in perpetuating the aggressive drugging of altered states of mind and emotion. Because SOME people have an initial, dramatic positive response to medication, it is assumed that everyone needs this…and when they don’t respond as expected, higher doses and/or different drugs are thrown into the mix…or ECT, if all else fails! And the same holds true of those whose initially positive response turns not so good over time…Rarely is the thought of carefully tapering the medication given credence. And, of course, when a person sees their loved deteriorate after stopping medication (usually abruptly, because they feel so crappy and no one shows any interest in helping them carefully taper), this then confirms the myth that they have a “brain chemical imbalance for which they need to take medication for the rest of their life”.

            This is tragic, frustrating and disheartening. But, in the words of Winston Churchill, “Never give up!”

            Thanks again, Sa, for your very insightful comments.

          • Russerford and Sa, institutions were corrupt long before NAMI in 1979, almost 1980, came into existence. NAMI has helped things get much worse very fast. NAMI is very much involved in this institutional corruption. Drug companies, through funding, keep NAMI going strong. Sure, families have been putting away family members for a long, long time, and with what they consider the best of intentions. Mental illness, given the mental health movement in cahoots with the mental illness industry is spreading. In my opinion we must take an aggressive stance here. It’s going to get worse, but pretending it is something other than what it is, or that NAMI is a beneficial organization, is only going to escalate the negatives. I think people need to be educated about these matters, and part of that education involves exposing NAMI, and like groups, for exactly what they are, and what they are is harmful. The storm is here, things are getting worse, the “mental illness” rate is growing, the drug market is expanding, western medicine is conquering developing nations like dominoes, it is urgent to recognize the emergency that is upon us and to act, we are a long, long ways from any temperate conditions. I know this runs counter to other more optimistic views of the situation, but as far as I can tell, the only rosy development of late is still merely the rose of rose tinted spectacles.

          • I don’t, in other words, think the situation has changed dramatically from what it was back in 1998 when, in his resignation speech from the APA, Dr. Loren Mosher spoke of an unholy alliance between the APA, NAMI, and Big Pharma. I see more harm in letting people be suckered in by this type of thinking. I’m not open to the idea of receiving a bribe, or a job offering, from the federal government either, not in the name of seeming to do something that is not worth doing in the first place.

  6. “And with that example of activism in mind, I am now thinking of whether MIA could host a public discussion on “solutions,” and also mount a public campaign to publicize this issue.”

    Okay, I’m in! Here are two suggestion for rallying cries for such a campaign:

    SHRINK THE POWER OF SHRINKS!

    GET YOUR DRUGS OFF OUR BRAINS–SUPPORT DETOX NOW!

  7. The most powerful argument you can make against ineffective therapies and harmful ideology is that it costs too much.

    If Americans knew what Medicare and Medicaid spent on psych drugs AND iatrogenic illness, plus SSDI, at taxpayer expense, and also knew what percent of private spending on “healthcare” went to psych drugs and their side effects…that would get a reaction.

    Another accounting is the price of human tragedy, which is hard to put a number on. Not just murder and violence, but spouses and parents going manic or suicidal and ruining families, etc. The public has a hard time, under the assault of APA lies, believing psych drugs make ordinary people into criminals and killers. But they might be interested in the much larger number of less dramatic outcomes like ruined marriages, children sent to foster care, etc.

    One thing we can all do is write notes to reporters who publish stories about psychiatric issues and stick to the APA line. Ask them why they omit mention of side effects or withdrawal, especially when the story is about a murder done by someone who “just went off their meds.” I think asking is more effective than telling, and plus I want to know. So far my first try got no response, but I’ll keep it up.

        • B, please read the following
          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

          • Margie,
            I think this is an excellent idea.

            It’s important people know that full recovery is available for the “long term psychiatric illnesses” (outside of the current model).

          • This is rather brilliant. I would be very interested in making this a reality. I still remember, when I first told my husband the story behind my institutionalization. He looked at me suspiciously before asking, “But why didn’t you just walk out? Why didn’t you just leave the treatment center if it was so horrible?” He couldn’t concede to the idea of ever not having the right to simply walk out. He couldn’t imagine having no protection or recourse.

        • Every story I read inspires me to keep reading and writing. You would think the general public would be up in arms by now, but our stories are up against misinformation and outright nastiness from Guild members who discredit us as hysterics and incompetents.

          Anyone who has been treated by a psychiatrist can be dismissed as an unreliable witness, which gives this movement challenges not faced by other activists.

          That is no reason to stop telling the stories, though.

          I am optimistic, believe it or not, and very grateful for those who came before me, and for heroic efforts like those of Robert Whitaker and others who come to this out of compassion rather than their own injuries.

          • Psychiatry is a PSEUDO-science, which negates any credibility it purports to….

            Any so-called “mental illness” is exactly as real as a present from Santa Claus, but not more real. As a child, I received MANY presents from Santa Claus, so yes, I do know they are real….

            I recently saw this description of a person: “….he had a mental health illness issue”…..

            Psychiatry exists because of gobbledy-gook & psychobabble….it’s a word game, a head game, and a con game. A drug racket and a lie….
            How “reliable” is *THAT*….????….

  8. Ok. Whitaker and Cosgrove have written a great book, one of the best. It is unrelentingly clear concerning the reality of psychiatric corruption.

    I would like to push back a bit, however, against the concept of “rotten apples” and “rotten barrels.” The idea that good apples occupy a rotten barrel is a little bit too simplistic, and let me explain why. Of course there are good people (good apples) who end up in corrupt institutions (bad barrels) like psychiatry, but we need to think a little more deeply about why psychiatry is a bad barrel. Where do bad barrels come from? Why are they bad?

    Whitaker and Cosgrove seem to begin with the assumption that in the beginning psychiatry was something of a good barrel, an institution that aimed to preserve and protect public health, that has gradually been corrupted and become a bad barrel. I challenge this assumption. Bad barrels are often built around bad apples to begin with (Freud, Charcot, etc.), and the bad apples that occupy a bad barrel attract more bad apples. I am not implying that all psychiatrists are bad apples (although I could be wrong), nor am I implying that there are no good apples in the bad barrel. What I am suggesting is that an institution that rests upon a rotten foundation (the quest for prominence, prestige, power and pecuniary advantages with no regard to the common good) is a bad barrel to begin with. Bad barrels can become worse, and they naturally attract bad apples, that is, people who promote the same corrupt ends (prominence, prestige, power, and profane amounts of payment). Of course there are good people who unwittingly enter into the bad barrel of psychiatry with the intent to do good, but they usually end up coming to the realization that they are in a corrupt institution, a bad barrel. Szasz, Breggin, and others went as good apples into the bad barrel of psychiatry and saw it for what it was. In other words, a bad barrel attracts many bad apples, but the few good apples that enter into it realize that something is wrong. Szasz, Breggin and others have shown that psychiatry wasn’t just a good barrel that got corrupted, but that it was a bad barrel to begin with.

    I would also like to respectfully push back against the assumption that Whitaker makes at the end of this article: “The institutional corruption framework, which puts the focus on whether psychiatry has met its ethical obligations to the public, even provides the possibility of creating a non-partisan campaign. All of the public wants a medical specialty to fulfill that obligation.”

    While Whitaker is absolutely correct to point out that psychiatry is a corrupt institution, it is a mistake to assume that psychiatry has an “ethical obligation to the public,” or that “all of the public wants a medical specialty to fulfill that obligation.” These assumptions sound reasonable in a society that takes for granted the idea that the therapeutic state has an obligation to watch out for the health of its citizens. The idea of “public health”or “health care” (as Szasz has often pointed out in his books) is by now so engrained in the social consciousness that we can hardly remember a time that it wasn’t so… but this is a radical idea. Why should the therapeutic state have jurisdiction over the health of citizens? Furthermore, why should the therapeutic state recruit a rotten pseudo-scientific institution to patrol the mythical “mental health” or “mental illness” of citizens? Government should derive its power from the consent of the governed, and the purposes of government are to maximize the liberty of citizens and protect citizens from foreign invasion. A government or an institution that insists on regulating the perceived “mental health” of its citizens has over-stepped its bounds and bears a striking resemblance to a certain Soviet regime of yesteryear.

    The only obligation that psychiatry has to the public is one that it has arrogated to itself over the centuries, purportedly to “heal souls.” The absurdity of this project is written into the name itself: the “iatros,” or “healing” of the “psyche,” or “soul.” Szasz illustrated the absurdity of these ideas in many of his books, but his arguments have largely been ignored, or rejected, because the natural inclination of human beings is not to mind their own business.

    This does not mean that there is no place for the medical arts, but as soon as freedom and the common good (including health) are no longer the ends, medicine ceases to function as an art and begins to play the role of a tyrant. Psychiatry is especially susceptible to this because it was never really a medical specialty to begin with, and it still lacks all medical and scientific credibility.

    The solution to the problem is so simple that it may escape us. Get rid of the rotten barrel, with all the apples who insist on remaining rotten, while the good apples move on to invest themselves more fully in pursuit of the common good and service to their fellow man. Reform is an illusion. Slay the dragon of psychiatry.

      • To clarify, I meant that the solution to the problem is simple, not that it’s implementation would be easy. I have many ideas on this matter, but foremost is my faith that truth and goodness will prevail over evil and falsehood. My personal belief is that it will take a David vs. Goliath scenario to finally defeat psychiatry. The Israelites feared the mighty Philistine, but David knew and trusted in a power much greater than his own, a power much greater than that of any giant, no matter how terrifying. To be brief, God will slay the dragon of psychiatry in His own way, and in His own time. Our small part is to do what we can within our given circumstances to educate, warn, and relieve suffering.

        • “…David knew and trusted in a power much greater than his own, a power much greater than that of any giant, no matter how terrifying. To be brief, God will slay the dragon of psychiatry in His own way, and in His own time. Our small part is to do what we can within our given circumstances to educate, warn, and relieve suffering.”

          Yes, this is my approach, exactly, and it has worked, repeatedly. Thank you, very well-stated.

      • The power of psychiatry is an illusion. They are not a unified, stable, immutable force with science and history behind them. Psychiatrists have always been considered the step children of medicine; they are in constant competition with psychologists and they fear that other specialties will be granted prescribing powers. The illusion of power is supported via the usual power and control model; keep the victim feeling helpless, keep him or her isolated and abuse him or her.

        • As long as one takes on the identity of ‘victim,’ they give power to this illusion. There are highly effective and powerfully strategic ways to use perception as a tool for revolutionary change, the same way it has been used to imprison others by creating illusions and persuading others they are real. The persuasion of truth can be tricky amid these powerfully projected holograms.

          The truth is more powerful than illusion, always. From the highest perspective imaginable, no one is a victim, this is all about awakening to the illusions and seeing past them, not engaging with them any longer. Once we get this, we are free, and the illusions will dissolve on their own, because we will no longer be feeding them. Trust in that which is greater than us, to support the truth of our power and the power of our truth, is key.

          • I disagree. As long as no recourse exists, there are very real victims. As long as they are ignored, the general public believes that it is acceptable. Most people today would balk at the idea of a racial slur being used on prime time television. However, a psychiatric diagnosis is a perfectly acceptable punchline. The usage isn’t that dissimilar in either case. This level of marginalization creates a cycle of prejudice that is prevalent. It also creates a vacuum to which untold numbers of mentally ill live their entire lives… under the shadow of misinformation, medical quackery, and greed.

          • I like this spirit of this, but want to make a distinction.

            It might be feasible for those who were traumatized or brainwashed during psychiatric interventions, but not for those with neurologic impairment that has yet to remit.

        • I agree. Carefully chosen terms like “diagnosis” and “diagnostic”, the repeated but completely unsupported claim that the mentally ill could only be safely managed bya psychiatrist, and the steady stream of misinformation and fear mongering did more to establish psychiatry as a supposed medicine that any contributions they have made to medicine over the years.

    • Regarding “in the beginning psychiatry was something of a good barrel” . As it was the NEW age of microbiology scientists thought there was a physical problem. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Jansk%C3%BD

      Whitaker picks the year 1980, when the third DSM came out. They knew (scientifically) at this time there were no chemical imbalances.

      Psychiatry is a religion, and I do not know how it will end as man is , and always be a sinner, or an imperfect machine that makes mistakes, a Homo sapien .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_sapiens

      • Believing in the ancient and obsolete religious concept of “sin” is almost as damaging as believing in the myth of so-called “mental illness”…..
        Children might receive a present from Santa Claus at Christmas, but adults do not.
        Any and all so-called “mental illnesses” are exactly as real as a present from Santa Claus, but not more real. That’s the *TRUTH* that I now live by, anyway….
        I hope it helps you, too, to understand.

    • “Why should the therapeutic state have jurisdiction over the health of citizens?”

      Szasz posed this question because this is a question a libertarian would raise. Unfortunately, far too many people, quite possibly, the majority, view the mission of psychiatry as protecting the public from crazy and dangerous people, people who shoot up schools, who push unsuspecting bystanders off train platforms, or who fly planeloads of innocent passengers into mountains. Demonstrating that psychiatry is irredeemably corrupt as well as harmful to the people directly involved is important and necessary, but it is not enough. We have to show that it is unreliable and harmful to the society at large–e.g., that school shooting are due to psychotropic drugs, not “untreated mental illness.”

  9. It seems powerful people aware of the devastating power of pseudo science combined with monopolistic control of the mainstream communication media, have developed mainstream APA ,the AMA , and ADA into Trojan Horses posing as legitimate scientific health care systems for the peoples benefit while they in truth, for the vast majority and for the most part , are just potent delivery systems of oppression often in a form amounting to time- released eugenics for profit and control. Psychiatry being the worst with AMA medicine ever ready to pick up their modalities and run with them in addition to their own . Maybe we can somehow effectively expose the dangers to the people while proving there are better ways to survive .
    It might take something drastic like forming an anti-psychiatry commune on a piece of land with maybe 30 or more permanent residents living and trying together to educate the public from a place the media could not easily ignore . And/ or a virtual anti- psychiatry community formed on the web in cartoon form something like King of the Hill say that we would hope to go viral. Just some thoughts .These could also be a center for designing effective customized civil disobedience actions to eliminate psychiatric oppression and also promote health freedom . Just some thoughts.

  10. I suppose psychiatrists in common believe in the ‘medical model’, thats what they are taught during many years of training. What is very troublesome is that so many psychologists, therapists and even social workers have bought the idea about manual based formulas, diagnosis and a distanced perspective towards those we call clients. Unfortunately I think academia, prestige and the very idea about being ‘individualistic’ play a central role. We need to talk about the imåortamce of humanistic and sustainable values and act in a more solidaric and including way.

    • “the very idea about being ‘individualistic’ play a central role. We need to talk about the imåortamce of humanistic and sustainable values and act in a more solidaric and including way.”

      Exactly. Psychiatry is one of the mechanisms of social control, ingraining in the masses the idea of broken brain as a root of mental distress – having everything to do with defective individuals and god forbid anything to do with the system. Today people are suicidal because they’re ill -n not because someone abused them, tortured them, condemned them to live in poverty, bullied and ridiculed them for who they are. We should stay isolated, afraid of one another and unable to coalesce into a movement. Organised people is what they fear.

  11. I am glad for this book! I tried the NAMI route and got nowhere fast. Good ,kind caring people but they are unable to break away from the idea that institutional psychiatry is corrupt enough to be problematic. There are always a few professionals in all the helping fields that are good at what they do and they in turn in a weird way keep the believers believing. So many people are on medication but very few are willing to open about that part of their lives. So there is obfuscation on many levels in society. I think looking at systematic corruption is extremely important. The Civil Rights Movement still in reality is going on and just maybe the stultification may be breaking. Tobacco industry is going global and doing very well (see John Oliver’s expose on his HBO comedy program). Economically we are in another Glided Age with robber barons abounding. The frustrating part is that we don’t have good communication outlets that are willing and able to do what Nelly Blye and others have her ilk used to do. Books are the last greatest hope.
    I have tried writing letters and have got nada. That’s about as far as I am willing to go by myself. Not many people are willing to speak up in my area for good reason.Everytime I research I find more byzantine information and I really don’t feel comfortable exploring much further without having group support.
    We really need some movies that are based on the institutional corruption mindset.
    Where is our Michael Moore? or Dalton Trambo?

    • Mr. Whitaker:

      I look forward to reading this book and your ideas about how to neutralize the influence of big Pharma and the APA. For those of us whose children are being forcibly drugged, secluded, and restrained, this issue of corruption and cognitive dissonance is not an academic one. We don’t have the luxury of discussing strategies for how to move an oil tanker that is going in the wrong direction. Those of us whose children’s lives hand in the balance are desperately searching for lifeboats this very moment to save our children from being permanently harmed. The County where I live, Lane County, shipped my daughter to a bleak facility in Umatilla, Oregon, five hours of driving time from our home community. She is not doing well. She has been institutionalized now for five years. The reason I am posting here is because you neglected to point out the extent of the corruption in pseudo consumer organizations such as National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. psychiatry. They offer no help or encouragement to families advocating for individuals who are being iatrogenically harmed, neither do the disability rights organizations.

    • Regarding “NAMI”: You’ll just have to take my word for it, but here’s the SHORT version:
      A Dad had sex repeatedly with his young daughter. When she got old enough to spill the beans on Dad, he took her to a psychiatrist, got her “diagnosed”, and *DRUGGED*, so nobody would believe her when she told the truth. Dad became a very public and vocal local supporter of “NAMI”, to further cover up his crimes. Except for the “NAMI” part, I also know 2 other women who were similarly VICTIMIZED by the pseudo-science LIE of psychiatry. Psychiatry is no more than 21st Century Phrenology…. And it has done, and continues to do, far more harm than good…..

      • I know a story like that too. A guy sexually abusing first his daughter then her daughters and when one of them tried to commit suicide psychiatry got its hands on her. The perpetrator of course never faced any justice.
        Another story about a girl being physically abused by her mother, tried to kill herself – again locked up and the mother never faced any charges.
        Thank you psychiatry…

  12. I’ve read through this article and many of the comments. I’m left wondering what exactly the corruption involves. I’m assuming it has to do with the efficacy of drugs used to treat symptoms most in the field would describe as psychiatric disorders/illnesses. In other words, the argument is that the scientific studies do not support the use of such drugs. Related to that, the very notion that mental illness is chemical/biological in nature is unfounded. Is my understanding correct of what Mad in America is asserting in general?

    I realize this particular article strives to focus on systemic corruption in general and options to combat it. One person commented that perhaps the best ally are those diagnosed with mental illness and their loved ones. I would tend to agree.

    However, as one who has been given a mental illness diagnosis, has taken and continues to take medication for it, all this site does (for me) is frustrate me. If I’m not to trust my psychiatrist or the safety of using the drugs she prescribes, what am I to do? If I question her decision or ask questions I’m described as being unwilling to accept that I have an illness. If I consider stopping the use of such drugs I’m considered selfish and irresponsible for possibly putting myself or family in harms way – or at least creating emotional distress for either myself or them. In fact, stopping the use of meds is considered a symptom of my illness!

    But, when I read articles from this site, I wonder if I’m being brainwashed as a result of this “systemic corruption”. If there’s a better solution to alleviating or curing the symptoms that led to my diagnosis, then by all means, tell me what I should do and what the safest, most effective treatment /course of action is! I certainly don’t know how I would go about discovering it if it’s being communicated that psychiatrists are untrustworthy, although well-meanng.

    • I trusted my psychiatrist and took every drug he prescribed. According to him I was becoming more and more mentally ill but he did not look into the very drugs he prescribed causing me to be worse. By chance a neurologist told me I had the worst Akathisia he’d ever seen and I didn’t know what that meant. Akathisia is caused by psychiatric drugs and I was unable to sit still, not sleep for days, became confused and I was pacing for hours because the drugs. My psychiatrist saw this as me being manic and added more drugs. All I’m saying is what happen to me is NOT uncommon. Have you had a second…third opinion?? If you are here reading than you do have doubts. I am drug free after 2 years of tapering off numerous drugs and my life blossomed, my thinking cleared and I can lay down in my bed quietly again. I’m the last person to question a doctor but I did and found what he was doing to me criminal, horribly wrong. He was drugging me for toxic drug side effects not a mental illness. I did go to other psychiatrists and they said I’m never been mentally ill in the first place. Remember you do have a choice, to decide what you want to do.

      • To go off psych drugs or not…This is what I have gathered through experience and a lot of reading–books, journal articles, and support forums. It is not meant as advice, just some things to keep in mind.

        Going off psych drugs can lead to short and long term mental, emotional, and physical problems, whether a person tapers off slowly or goes cold turkey. These can be severe and ruinous, and wholly unlike a return of the original symptoms. Or they can be mild, or not happen at all. Doctors vary in their understanding of this and the usefulness of the guidance they offer. Some drugs are harder to get off than others. Effexor and Paxil are often mentioned as bad ones.

        Going off psychiatric drugs is not something to be undertaken lightly. When someone in the news is said to have “just gone off his meds,” quite often the bizarre behavior is not what the person was medicated for in the first place, though that is assumed by writers and readers alike. This is not the APA party line, but it is evident in the stories on survivingantidepressants.org and documented in case histories that can be found by searching scholar.google.com. Sites like crazytalk and crazymeds are pro-psych drugs, but stories there of people starting and stopping multiple drugs are nonetheless instructive and not usually flattering to psychiatry.

        People who do fine on psych drugs are not heard from much in web forums.

        Problems with discontinuation do not get mentioned in clinical trials, for several reasons. One is that the FDA does not mandate study of discontinuation phenomena. The rest of the reasons have to do with the nature of clinical trials and their purpose. They are not pure research motivated by scientific curiosity. Outcomes are shoehorned into questionnaires completed by subjects or interviewers. Akathisia can be called anxiety or agitation. In an infamous case, suicidality was coded as “emotional lability.” Hypomania and mania might just be coded as improvement in mood, for that matter, but that’s my conjecture. Adverse effects are not usually reported unless they happen to more than 5% (sometimes 10%) of subjects. Adverse events do not have to be reported at all if the people running the trial believe they were not caused by the drug. Outcomes for people who quit the drug and leave the trial are not reported. Studies designed to compare discontinuation to continuation have been done post-marketing (the PREVENT series) but they are comical in design and analysis, and published by questionable authors like Keller (lead author of the notorious Study 329) and Nemeroff (disgraced over unstated conflict of interest was revealed in another trial) whose ties to the drug industry are numerous.

        Considerations before even thinking about stopping a drug are numerous. How difficult were the original symptoms? Did they occur in reaction to a short-term life crisis? Was the diagnosis correct? Did drugs prescribed for an initial diagnosis like depression trigger symptoms of a new one, like bipolar? Do the drugs really work to alleviate symptoms? Are the side effects worth any benefit? Are the drugs known to cause other health problems, like obesity and diabetes? Have some drugs been prescribed to treat the side effects of other ones? Are other therapies known to be helpful for the original diagnosis? If one could go back in time and not start the drugs, would one?

        So, a can of worms. It’s not like being a heavy drinker and deciding to quit. In that case the benefit is obvious, the course of withdrawal is predictable, and much support for the decision is available.

    • “If I’m not to trust my psychiatrist or the safety of using the drugs she prescribes, what am I to do?”

      Why would you trust her just because they have a degree in something so discredited as psychiatry anyway? It’s like asking “If I’m not to trust a politician or the wisdom of economic policies she prescribes, what am I to do?” If you read MIA you are well aware that psychiatric drugs have no evidence base to speak of so why would you trust with your health and life someone who is at best misinformed, at worst willfully ignorant?

      “If I question her decision or ask questions I’m described as being unwilling to accept that I have an illness. If I consider stopping the use of such drugs I’m considered selfish and irresponsible for possibly putting myself or family in harms way – or at least creating emotional distress for either myself or them. In fact, stopping the use of meds is considered a symptom of my illness!”

      What you’ve just describe dis exactly the systemic oppression. You can’t break free because the very act of rebellion is being used as a justification for abuse. It’s Catch 22 – everything you say or do is a sign of an illness unless you agree 100% with a system. And fear mongering is one of the system’s best protections.

      “If there’s a better solution to alleviating or curing the symptoms that led to my diagnosis, then by all means, tell me what I should do and what the safest, most effective treatment /course of action is!”

      If it were that simple we would not be having this conversation. The one thing to say is it’s almost certainly not drugs. The fact that there is no simple fast-working solution does not make snake oil medicine. I don’t know what your particular problems are but there are many alternative ways to healing for all the different issues people have depending not only on the “symptoms” but more importantly the reasons for the problems. Only when one finds a reason one can start to think about a “cure”.

      • GM – great questions to which there are simple answers that are probably not very useful.

        Which is why I suggest politicised support groups might be a good way ahead. People need viable alternatives to psychiatry. They are not readily available. Maybe they should be?

        • John, I agree with you that it would be a good idea. Since I never was drugged, as I was locked up so long ago the drugs didn’t exist yet, I am only in a fe groups o people trying to get off them, but I can see there is a lot of understanding about why and how these drugs are pushed on people. I think there is already a degree of politicization in some of these groups.

          So in some of these groups, there is already a lot of consciousness-raising going on.

    • “If I’m not to trust my psychiatrist or the safety of using the drugs she prescribes, what am I to do? If I question her decision or ask questions I’m described as being unwilling to accept that I have an illness.”

      Please continue to educate yourself. I particularly recommend doing a lot of research on nutrient (orthomolecular) therapy and the brain-gut connection. Bonnie Kaplan has posted great stuff on MIA; I also highly recommend William Walsh’s “Nutrient Power.” Don’t stop there; read everything. No one can tell you what to do; only you can decide how to proceed and what risk you are prepared to take on (drug withdrawal is very difficult and very dangerous and should not be undertaken or even thought about without lots of research, planning and preparation). You must first arm yourself with information that will enable you determine whether your psychiatrist is competent and trustworthy. But only you can and should make that call.

  13. GM: I am in a similar boat except that for some reason my psychiatrist continues to fill my perscriptions without having to meet with him (two years). Since I went off of lithium four years ago, there is no mechanism in place to determine my compliance. I was last institutionalized 25 years ago and have confidence in my self. I am still on a low dose of Zypreza 2mg and .5mg of klonapin. I would like to be free and clear of the “profession,” but Zypreza withdraw is difficult, and I have heard many horror stories about detoxing from Klonapin.

    • Sounds like 2 wolves and a sheep “discussing” what’s for dinner…..
      …..&….”radicalize”?…. That’s like advocating for “mental patients” to be allowed treatment on Vulcan by Mr. Spock….. Scotty can beam us all up on the teleporter, and Kirk and Sulu can chart our progress….
      After all the “BS”, and the “more’o-the-same”, next try, “Pray harder, Dear”……
      (B.S., M.S., Ph.D………)
      Get it?……
      I didn’t survive *DRUG*TORTURE*, just to spend the rest of my life in psycho-babble and gobbledy-gook…..
      RSVP?

  14. The main narrative of psychiatry aligns well with the interest of other “powers that be”. Mainly, it promotes the idea that and individual’s broken brain is responsible for all his or her distress and therefore the solution has to concentrate on the individual alone, no matter if consensually or not. It does not allow the dirty idea that society can be at fault or other people can be at fault – abusers, people creating toxic relationships, bullies. It’s all about blaming the victims for not being “resilient enough” since everyone apparently knows that we are supposed to take anything and remain sane and healthy. By promoting this individualistic, blaming view of “mental illness” psychiatry not only serves pharma and it’s own guild interests but also the people benefiting from current broken socio-economic system.

    • I think this is a very perceptive comment. Yes, by ignoring the fact hat most emotional distress and what is labeled “mental illness” is caused by the bad experiences people have, psychiatry is changing our culture in a very dangerous way. Essentially, what psychiatry is telling us is that fighting back against the abuses in our larger society is a symptom of mental illness.

      How well this fits in with the concentration of power and money that is corrupting our society.

      • Mr. Chabasinski,
        I agree with your comment. It’s not only dangerous, but it’s frightening. It extends to other institutions and institutionalized corruption and discrimination that causes even more harms and abuse. (Try any societal institution ‘reacting’ or ‘responding’ to what they perceive or have labelled as ‘mental illness,’) and I can’t even begin to describe the horrors. I recently had a horrifying and traumatic experience, based on the actual location/property where I live. It is a ‘low income/subsidized’ residence, albeit, there are many people here labelled/diagnosed with a ‘mental illness’ or disability of some kind or another. However, in being systematically or institutionally regarded as ‘mentally ill,’ and or having inappropriate labels or categorizations applied to myself or any other tenants at this building who qualified for income reasons, or physical OR medical or disability conditions- which does not make everyone here unilaterally the ‘same’ and or ‘criminally insane,’ – It has actually been extremely harmful and dangerous to not only ‘speak up against’ and or ‘complaint’ against any such abuses or improprieties taking place to residents here, but LAPD actually coming and inappropriately detaining anyone for a ‘5150’ psych hold, and doing so based on the ‘belief’ that anyone/everyone living here is in fact ‘mentally ill,’ and or with a diagnosis they don’t even have… (and cannot be experiencing just regular ’emotional distress,’ ) such as I or anyone else would, say, if victimized by an actual crime…. I have actually directly encountered the institutionalized corruption which this topic, mainly focuses on the drug/medication aspects of the industry to highlight… but which I find to be direct abuses against people’s civil rights, ADA/Disability rights let alone Fair Housing rights, because of the directly harmful ways in which those in authority, actually do continue to perpetuate any such discriminatory or corrupt practices. Innocent people are getting hurt, and worse, those who are in fact the most vulnerable, or marginalized, (and say, Disabled, or in need of further advocacy, protections and service,) are actually being discriminated against, horribly abused and mistreated, etc. Imagine if you weren’t diagnosed with schizophrenia for example, and yet, based on any such ignorance or actual institutionalized corruptions and discrimination that do actually run rampant in many of the social service fields, (outside of Psychiatry, even,) and present even within other institutions, such as government, law enforcement, etc.- you are deemed and treated as a ‘hallucinating, mentally ill, liar,’ even when you are actually completely sound and telling the truth! (And documented, irrefutable truth at that, ) to where finding yourself at the mercy of any such other branches of any institution and its corruptions and staffing, must certainly lend to horrific experiences and stories, which probably are more traumatizing and disturbing than what any ‘disabled’ or ‘mentally ill’ human being, should ever have to go through or be put through on top of it. The fact that this can happen to those who have not been appropriated the correct labels or terms either, simply for living in a population that does have some tenants/cases where this is true or applicable, has been personally, the most insane and crazy making experience I’ve ever had in my entire life.

        • ALL so-called “mental illnesses” are in fact “STD’s”. They are Socially Transmitted Delusions. Any & all so-called “mental illnesses” are
          exactly, and only, as real as a Christmas present from Santa Claus. But not more real….
          Real people have real problems, but imaginary “diseases” shouldn’t be part of that….

  15. More important than any thing else you can do to achieve your goals is to be on the level. Welcome challenges. Welcome debate, vigorous, honest, passionate, respectful debate. Welcome those who drive you crazy. If you stop growing now, you surrender most everything you tried to gain.

  16. Avoiding the pot shots the therapeutic state takes at the population :
    The problem is the majority don’t have the support, finances , energy , or understanding to pull it off due to the razzle dazzle of the massively reinforced mainstream propaganda coaxing us along the path of least resistance toward insurance covered pseudo support. Having systematically denied the public, health freedom, the liberty to make their own informed choices about what they want to do or not do , or what help they can freely seek or avoid . They are even denied the knowledge they need to take care of themselves or younger family members or each other if needed .
    Believe it or not heres a prescription for well being from birth onwards . Hoping that everyone has loving parents . No vaccinations ! homeopathic remedies instead if needed . If you need a primary care physician make them a Traditional Naturopath ,(with at least 5 years of practice behind them), organic food diet if possible your PCP can guide you on this best. Wholistic Dentistry if needed preferably Hal Huggins trained . By these moves alone which are not so easy to get to even though they should be, psychiatry and the drug cartel would lose hundreds of millions even into the billion or billions of customers .
    As for those already captured if enough survivors heard the specific details of your distress or loved ones distress in give and take live conversations solutions you have not thought of from lived experience of these survivors would help move the distressed toward well being.
    The above are the directions my lived experience points too.

  17. I’m very grateful Bob for your continued work to address the damage done by psychiatry, not just to individual lives, but now showing it as a failed medical specialty and monolithic social institution, that has corrupted our very democratic social contract- and even re-defined human nature and human suffering as shot through with incipient pathology.

    But as psychiatry has used science to carry out this betrayal, I have for decades seen science itself as the willing host vehicle that psychiatry has fed off of, and has relied on as psychiatry mutated into the powerful creature it has become.

    Science has been the legitimizing social institution and vehicle for psychiatry even mastering electoral politics- to where now legislation allows forced in home treatment in almost all our states. This hegemony at every turn, has been documented as the operationalizing of the latest science.

    Isn’t the almost sacrosanct historical institution of western science itself the larger “barrel” that psychiatry has grown out of like a hydra?

    With a fundamentalist zeal, our culture believes in a reified empiricism, and has tithed untold billions at the altar of science, fervently building an edifice that makes the centuries of cathedral building in Europe seem puny.

    Let’s dare to look at science itself as a betrayer of the human spirit. How much has Apollo’s victory over Dionysus, Descarte’s victory over Rousseau cost us all?

    The lamentations of the human heart fall on the deaf ears of sterile science and it’s offspring psychiatry.

    Jung said that psychiatry has turned the gods into diseases. He also said if he had lived in the middle ages he would have been burned as a heretic.

    I think part of the solution to rectifying the sins of psychiatry, is exercising some heresy against the soulless science that spawned and sustains it.

  18. I find myself disillusioned with the whole process of fighting back against corrupt systems. At best best it is just a game played that goes on for years with nothing ever changing and neither side ever being declared the “winner”.

    Our entire society is corrupt on so many levels and in so many different arenas that most people have just come to believe that corruption is a part of everyday life, nothing will change in our lifetime so why bother fighting it.

    Specific groups such as MIA may prevent a particular system from completely taking over our lifestyle but that is all they can hope to achieve. They will never end the corruption. Only the passage of time and the progression of technology will ever show us what fools we have been in the past.

    Of course even with that being said I do remain the eternal optimist and like continually fight against ignorance and corruption in many ways myself.

  19. I sure agree with that. It is better to try and fail than do nothing. And anyway, there is never a direct path to attaining social justice. I have been involved in organizing for a long time, and have had a few successes, but most of the time what I have tried to do doesn’t work. Still I keep trying, because this cause is so important, not just to me, but to all who have been abused by psychiatry, and to our larger society too.

    As far as “science” being used by psychiatry to justify what it has done, I don’t think that means we should decide that science is somehow to blame. When I was in a grad school program in psychology 50 years ago, the head of my department spoke about “scientism,” a kind of religion. That is what psychiatry takes advantage of, the tendency of people to believe that whatever is presented as “science” must be correct. But psychiatry is not “scientific.” The only thing scientific about it is that its apologists, like Dr. Lieberman, repeat the words “science” and “scientific” in every other sentence.

    Science, to me, is just a way to ascertain the truth. When what psychiatry does is evaluated through the real scientific method, it is clear what a fraud it is. Keep in mind that real science is on our side. It is important for us to point that out as much as we can.

  20. While it may be true that newer psychiatrists may be more humane to start with than their older, more jaded colleagues, I don’t agree with the implicit premise that the institution of psychiatry will mainly be changed from within. Like any other institution that oppresses people, it has to be changed from without, by the general public, who do not yet realize how threatened they too are by psychiatry; and by the people who have already been damaged by it, we survivors who know full well what psychiatry stands for.

    And almost no one, even in the survivor movement, even seems to think about the tens of millions of people who have been trapped in the system for a short time, and have fought their way out of it. These in-the-closet survivors give us the possibility of a real mass movement, if only we could figure out how to recruit them. I think we could start by trying to create a supportive and nurturing community in our existing movement. Coming out of the closet, for many secret survivors, will mean lost relationships, lost jobs, the social status of a leper. At least in return we could offer a supportive community.

    But expecting to end the oppressive nature of psychiatry from the inside is exactly like trying to end slavery by appealing to the moral sensibilities of the slaveowners. Yes, there WERE decent slaveowners who came to see that treating human beings as things, as property, was wrong. But it took a lot more than that to end slavery (which even now, as we see, still exists to some extent.).

    Evil systems won’t change themselves, and it is not realistic to believe that can happen.

  21. I think we can make common cause with many other groups of people who feel more exploited than served by modern, profit-driven corporate medicine. My volunteer work with RxISK has brought me into contact with people with arthritis, Crohn’s disease, breast cancer, epilepsy and MS who also find their doctors being transformed into mere agents of the pharmaceutical, medical device and hospital industries. (And don’t even get me started on the orthopedic surgeons.) Not to mention the “medicalization” of our elders, which both the elders themselves and their grown children are coming to realize is producing far more misery than health.

    To quote from How We Do Harm, a surprisingly hard-hitting expose from Dr. Otis Brawley of the American Cancer Society: “Too often, helping the patient isn’t the point. Economic incentives can dictate that the patient be ground up as expensively as possible with the goal of maximizing the cut of every practitioner who gets involved.”

    Cardiologist Harlan Krumholtz, a Yale professor, recently declared that “informed consent is a joke” in his field because patients are being sold expensive and potentially life-threatening procedures with no clear idea of the risks, benefits or alternatives. And thousands of people are waking up to the public health disaster imposed on us by “pain management” with addictive and health-destroying high-dose opioids — including a few gutsy docs like Andrew Kolodny who have put the blame squarely on the medical profession rather than on individual drug “abusers.”

    The 3d Preventing Over-Diagnosis Conference, happening next month in DC, might be a good place to look for allies, if we can get some members of our movement there. We’d find out about plenty of bad barrels, I think — and find a lot of the participants are open to our story, simply because they have been burned enough times by corrupt medical experts in other fields to be willing to question the sacred narrative of “chemical imbalance” as well.

    One aspect of our plight that’s unique: Psychiatrists are not necessarily more powerful than other medical guilds, but the turf they lay claim to involves the human condition itself — who we are as people and who we can become. Long before the “biological revolution” of 1980, psychiatry was highly prone to being used to prop up the status quo, calling on people to look within, or blame their mothers and families, rather than question society’s wrongs, and branding rebels with the stigma of a diagnosis.

    Because the bio revolution made psychiatrists dependent on patented products of industry, it strengthened and centralized this process in a way that made internal rebellion much harder. But it also brought them into line with all the most pathological tendencies of modern for-profit medicine as a whole. In that sense, maybe we’re no longer alone, eh?

    • “I think we can make common cause with many other groups of people who feel more exploited than served by modern, profit-driven corporate medicine.”

      Quite so. We should also make common cause with those who are harmed by other powerful industries that deny and suppress the harm caused by their products (e.g., the telecommunications industry, the food industry). The irresponsible growth of modern technology (cell phones, wi-fi) is producing EMF damage to the body and mind that is just beginning to be recognized, not by the industry or government “watchdogs” (at least not in the U.S.) but people who have been harmed and by dissident, visionary doctors.

  22. This last comment is very enlightening to me. I guess I have been lucky in the doctors I have come in contact with. Of course, the attitude that human beings are profit centers is all over our society now. No reason that would not be true in the rest of the medical profession (if psychiatrists are really doctors).

  23. Alliances with other patient categories would be very helpful. As the psych group, our claims are inherently falsifiable, if not automatically dismissed. The physical illness people maintain their credibility, even if they are not always believed. Then, they’re not crazy, just mistaken.

    Naive persons cannot fathom a total retreat of the self, with replacement by a tranced-out monster, on an FDA-approved drug. Could those who experienced it, until happened?

    We say/They say:

    The drug MAKES me manic ; She won’t take her meds. No wonder she’s manic.

    I am not mentally ill ; Poor girl. Her doctor says she is mentally ill, and she thinks she’s fine.

    I broke the windows during a post-Effexor psychotic episode. I was normal before ; That could never happen to me. I’m ME, immutable. It cannot happen at all, to anyone. If I took Paxil I might feel weird, but I would still be “home” and “running the show.” Psych patients lack insight, I guess.

    I screamed at the cops after Paxil made me manic. I only took it for mild anxiety ; The FDA would withdraw Paxil if it made people do that. Everyone’s on antidepressants, and they’re not all screaming.

    We’re “the other” to the bone once “diagnoosed.” This will change. It’ll just take more writing, talking, activism, time, energy, ideas.

  24. Thank-you, Dr. Whitaker. I believe in your “institutional corruption” idea, and would be glad to have my story part of your book. Please feel free to contact me, if I can be of any help…..
    mail: POBox 1860, Keene, NH, 03431
    ….or reply here.

  25. MONEY TALKS.

    Crowdfund ads, like political campaign ads, for national TV. To counter the ads by pharma.

    We have some brilliant filmmakers in here. What are some 30 second spots we could do? (similar to CEPUK in the UK, but they would have to be poppier, snazzier, more “American focused”) Not anti-psychiatry per se – but awareness raising with links to more information

    Chemical Imbalance Myth
    Your drug may be your problem (thank you Dr. Breggin)
    Safe tapers
    Taper down instead of adding more drugs
    ECT myths
    Forced treatment and human rights
    The right to say “no” to your psychiatrist or GP
    Why you might want to say “no” to your psychiatrist or GP
    Coercion in Medicine
    Informed consent – why wasn’t I told?
    Violence and Suicide with SSRI’s & antipsychotics
    Corruption in Drug Trials
    Prozac for Profit
    Withdrawal not relapse

    All are potential 30 second topics. Kickstart it, crowdfund it – and get the ads up on a national and international scale.

    We don’t have the power to lobby like Pharma and Tobacco – but Direct to Consumer campaigns might swell our numbers – and get people thinking about what has happened to them with their unhappy “happy pills.”