Psychiatrists and psychologists have been used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to facilitate mind control and torture in Project MKUltra and in the American Psychological Association bolstered CIA torture program. Psychiatric political abuses in nations that are U.S. enemies have been routinely denounced by U.S. establishment psychiatry and the U.S. government, especially during the Cold War within the Soviet Union (where political dissidents were diagnosed with “sluggish schizophrenia” and psychiatrically hospitalized and drugged). However, the abuse of psychiatric diagnosis and treatment to subvert human rights has occurred not only in totalitarian U.S. enemies but in the United States as well.
While the following list of political abuses of U.S. psychiatry and psychology begins with the infamous Project MKUltra and recent American Psychological Association torture scandal, this should not be taken to imply that these more sensational abuses are the most important ones. For gay Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans, the political abuse of psychiatry and psychology is a significant part of their traumatizing American history; and while MKUltra resulted in severe trauma and even death, mental health professionals’ current enabling of dehumanizing American institutions continues to create, quite possibly, even greater damage.
1. Project MKUltra
This CIA program of experiments on human subjects, which began in the early 1950s, used drugs (including LSD) and other procedures (including sensory deprivation and electroshock) to weaken and break an individual and force confessions. MKUltra has been documented by the U.S. Congress’s Church Committee investigations, acknowledged by the U.S. Supreme Court, and detailed in The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate”: The CIA and Mind Control: The Secret History of the Behavioral Sciences by former State Department officer John Marks.
In MKUltra, there was widespread involvement by at least 80 institutions (including universities, pharmaceutical corporations, and prisons) and 185 researchers, including some of America’s leading psychiatrists such as Louis Jolyon “Jolly” West and leading psychologists such as Henry Murray. Among the subjects in one of Murray’s MKUltra experiments at Harvard was a 17-year-old undergraduate Ted Kaczynski, and serving as a subject in another MKUltra experiment was a young prison inmate Whitey Bulger.
2. American Psychological Association Assistance in Interrogation/Torture
The American Psychological Association, in the days after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, nurtured relationships with the CIA and Department of Defense (DOD) so as “to position psychology and behavioral scientists as key players in U.S. counterterrorism and counterintelligence activities,” according to a 2014 Truthout report.
The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the George W. Bush administration to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners. This was highly useful for the government officials involved in torture, as the New York Times in 2015 reported, “The involvement of health professionals in the Bush-era interrogation program was significant because it enabled the Justice Department to argue in secret opinions that the program was legal and did not constitute torture, since the interrogations were being monitored by health professionals to make sure they were safe.”
The degree of American Psychological Association complicity was detailed in a damning independent review (commissioned, under political pressure, by the American Psychological Association) which revealed that ties between the American Psychological Association and the CIA/DOD were deeper than previously recognized, as the associations’ ethics director collaborated with the DOD to align the associations’ ethics policies with the needs of DOD.
3. Pathologizing Homosexuality and Disempowering Gay Americans
In recent times, the most well-known political abuse of psychiatry with regard to stigmatizing and disempowering a particular group is its psychopathologizing of homosexuality. The American Psychiatric Association in 1973—due to the political efforts of gay activists—finally relented and declassified homosexuality as a pathology in their diagnostic bible, the DSM.
Even after declassifying homosexuality as a mental illness, much of establishment psychiatry continued to maintain that homosexuality was not as normal as heterosexuality, according to dissident psychiatrist Vivek Datta, who points out that even in the declassification year 1973, “a number of publications discuss diagnostic and treatment aspects of homosexuality, including aversive conditioning, use of electric shocks and even lobotomy.” Datta details how the diagnosis of “sexual orientation disturbance” (later to become “ego-dystonic sexual orientation”)—defined by a discomfort with one’s sexual preference—was only applied by psychiatry to same-sex attraction, and that “it was not until 1987 that homosexuality completely disappeared from the DSM.”
4. Enabling Genocide of Indigenous Americans
Historically, the United States policy towards its indigenous peoples has been one of genocide through military invasion, starvation, induced disease, and cultural destruction, which has included the use of educational and mental health professionals. The political goals of this policy include land theft and enabling a standardized monoculture.
Boarding schools or “residential schools” were established by the United States and Canadian governments in the 19th century and functioned up until 1980 for the purpose of destroying indigenous culture (see Roland Chrisjohn’s Circle Game and Ward Churchill’s Kill the Indian, Save the Man). In these schools, draconian behavioral-modification “treatments” were utilized.
Dissident psychologist David Walker details American psychologists’ use of pseudoscientific psychometrics (including IQ testing) to attempt to establish the inferiority of indigenous Americans so as to justify eugenic solutions such as sterilization—another form of genocide. Says Walker, “It’s been a difficult realization to encounter my own profession’s complicity in this history, but I try to respond by bearing witness.
5. Enabling Racism and Subjugation of African Americans
Dr. Benjamin Rush, “the father of American psychiatry” (his image adorns the seal of the American Psychiatric Association) typifies psychiatry’s history of both racism and hypocrisy about it. In 1792, Rush argued that the “color” and “figure” of African Americans were derived from a form of leprosy, and he argued that with proper “treatment,” they could be cured and become white. In 1851, Louisiana physician Samuel A. Cartwright attempted to psychopathologize slaves attempting to flee captivity with the mental illness he called drapetomania, for which he devised brutal behavioral modification “treatments.”
In the modern era, psychiatry has been used to deprive African Americans of their human rights. When, for example, civil rights activist Clennon W. King Jr. attempted to enroll at the all-white University of Mississippi in 1958, the Mississippi police arrested him on the grounds that “any nigger who tried to enter Ole Miss must be crazy,” and he was confined to a mental hospital for twelve days. Jonathan Metzl’S 2010 book The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease details how African-Americans have been diagnosed with schizophrenia because of their civil rights ideas.
In the early 1990s, the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA) unleashed its “violence initiative,” which sought a genetic basis for criminal behavior. ADAMHA director, psychiatrist Frederick Goodwin, compared the “high-impact inner city” to a jungle and its youth to rhesus monkeys who only want to kill one another, have sex, and reproduce. By focusing on “biologically vulnerable” youth for psychiatric interventions, including drug treatments, the initiative was essentially depoliticizing as it de-emphasized social explanations for crime.
6. Subverting U.S. Soldiers’ Resistance to the Military-Industrial Complex
Nothing was more powerful in ending American involvement in Vietnam than U.S. soldiers’ refusal to cooperate with the U.S. military (see 2005 documentary Sir! No Sir!). However, current American mental health professionals, by way of behavioral manipulation and psychiatric drugs, make such resistance more difficult.
The former president of the American Psychological Association, Martin Seligman, has consulted with the U.S. Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness positive psychology program. In one role-play utilized in this program, a sergeant is asked to take his exhausted men on one more difficult mission, and the sergeant is initially angry and complains that “it’s not fair”; but in the role-play, his “rehabilitation” involves reinterpreting the order as a compliment. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Seligman was quoted as saying, “We’re after creating an indomitable military.”
According to the Navy Times in 2010, one in six U.S. armed service members were taking at least one psychiatric drug, many of these medicated soldiers in combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many soldiers in Vietnam, as part of a general non-cooperation, used illegal psychotropic drugs, which alarmed U.S. government officials who were afraid of unleashing illegal-drug using veterans on American streets. But legal psychotropic drugs ubiquitously prescribed in the military co-opts the once rebellious culture of psychotropic use, and the illegal-psychiatric drug hypocrisy promulgated by psychiatry enables the military-industrial complex to deny concerns.
7. Enabling Authoritarian Standard Schooling
As dissident teachers have observed, standard schools are routinely authoritarian institutions that utilize coercions that kill curiosity. John Taylor Gatto, former New York City and New York State teacher of the year, stated: “The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders”; and John Holt concluded, “School is a place where children learn to be stupid . . . Children come to school curious; within a few years most of that curiosity is dead, or at least silent.” The National Endowments for the Arts reported in 2007 that standard schooling is associated with a decline of reading for pleasure, and Scholastic reported in 2015 that this decline is associated with coercion (choice over reading materials increases pleasure reading).
While coercive and oppressive schooling is not the only pain for young people, it is a major fuel for inattention, passive-aggressive anger, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression, all of which are routinely labeled by mental health professionals as “symptoms” of mental disorders that result in “treatments” (increasingly consisting of medication). So, psychiatry and psychology help society maintain denial of the oppressive, anti-educational nature of standard schooling
8. Depoliticizing Normal Reactions to Dehumanizing Employment
A June 2013 Gallup poll revealed that 70% of Americans hate their jobs or have “checked out” of them. Psychiatry and psychology help cover up an often alienating and poorly compensated work life by pathologizing—and thus depoliticizing—our normal human reactions to oppressive jobs.
Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that for 2014 the 10 largest occupations in the United States were: (1) retail salespersons (4.5 million); (2) cashiers (3.4 million); (3) combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food (3.1 million); (4) office clerks, general (2.9 million); (5) registered nurses (2.7 million); (6) customer service representatives (2.5 million), (7) waiters and waitresses (2.4 million); (8) laborers and freight, stock, and material movers (2.4 million); (9) secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive (2.2 million); (10 )janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners (2.1 million).
Even among those employed in careers that they have desired, bureaucratic oppression often makes their jobs dissatisfying. For example, a 2012 survey among physicians revealed that nine out of ten doctors would not recommend health care as a profession to their friends and family.
Inattention, anger, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression can be quite normal reactions to an alienating and oppressive job, but mental health professionals routinely label these reactions as symptoms of mental illness to be medicated; and so psychiatry and psychology are used to depoliticize Americans from rebelling against their dehumanizing work life.
9. Medicating Noncompliance and Marginalizing Anti-Authoritarians
Mental health professionals pathologize noncompliance. Rebellious children and teenagers, for example, are routinely diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), the symptoms include “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules” and “often argues with adults.” ODD is one of several “disruptive behavior disorders,” and a 2012 study reported that disruptive behavior disorders were the most common diagnoses in children medicated with antipsychotic drugs, accounting for 63% of those medicated.
Many people diagnosed with anxiety, depression, substance abuse disorders, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are essentially anti-authoritarians who fear that their contempt for illegitimate authorities will make it difficult for them to survive. A potentially large army of anti-authoritarian activists are being kept off democracy battlefields by mental health professionals who prevent the development of political consciousness by pathologizing—and thus depoliticizing—normal defiant reactions.
10. Controlling Uncared about and Discarded Populations
By 2011, antipsychotic drugs grossed over $18 billion a year in the United States, making antipsychotics the highest grossing class of drugs. Much of this growth is attributable to the prescribing of antipsychotics to non-psychotic people who are so uncared about that society permits them to be controlled as inexpensively as possible. These discarded populations include foster children, the elderly in nursing homes, and inmates in prisons and jails, where antipsychotic drugs are an inexpensive way to subdue and manage.
Among U.S. veterans, a 2014 study revealed 1.85 million veterans are using at least one psychiatric drug with 30 percent of them having no psychiatric diagnosis. Instead of devoting resources to help veterans heal from trauma, re-integrate into their families, and find meaningful work, the quick and cheap way to get troubled veterans out the clinic door is a psychiatric drug prescription.
For unhappy and potentially rebellious women in the 1960s and 1970s, rather than taking seriously their societal oppression, millions were prescribed Valium (“mother’s little helper”). Currently, 23 percent of women ages 40-59 are taking antidepressant (compared to 11 percent for all American adults). Also in assembly-line medicine, rather than taking the time to make a difficult organic diagnosis, physicians refer many Americans—especially women (see Chloe Atkins’ 2010 book My Imaginary Illness) —to psychiatrists where they are labeled with some kind of “head case” diagnosis (such as “somatic pain” and “somatoform”) resulting in their physical complaints not being taken seriously.
In recent years, a new huge group of Americans has been “thrown overboard”: millions of student-loan debtors with huge monthly debt payments. Their normal reactions of depression, anxiety, and anger have been pathologized, medicated, and thus depoliticized—subverting organizing for political action to abolish debt oppression.
To summarize, the mainstream media has reported on sensational political abuses of psychiatry such as MKUltra, the American Psychological Association torture scandal, as well as the abuses of well-known figures (such as the use of psychiatry to discredit Barry Goldwater and Martha Mitchell). However, the mainstream media has routinely neglected the ordinary and everyday political use and abuse of U.S. psychiatry and psychology to stigmatize and disempower groups, enable dehumanizing institutions, compel compliance, marginalize dissent, depoliticize, and maintain the status quo.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
Once again, Bruce Levine has given us a lot of useful thinking about how the “mental health” system is a tool of social control. I know that last phrase has become an overused cliche, but this article gives it a lot more substance and meaning.
It’s not overused – it’s underused. Psychiatry is all about social control and that’s the message that we have to shout from the rooftops. It’s not a bout helping, which is sadly the illusion most people live under.
Before all of these examples, there was drapetomania.
Psychiatrists in 19th century America diagnosed this mental illness in black slaves. Drapetomania was defined as a disease of unknown origin which caused negros to flee their plantations in search of freedom. Cures for the disease included severe whippings and removal of both large toes (to prevent running).
Unfortunately, this is not a joke: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drapetomania
And of course, drapetomania has just as much validity as all the diagnoses in the present-day DSM 5.
Oh, I see drapetomania was briefly mentioned above. I missed that the first read through.
Please take a look to my story: http://doc2doc.bmj.com/forums/open-clinical_medicolegal_requesting-legal-advice-whistleblowing-political-abuse-of-psychiatry=
‘inflexible convictions’, ‘inclination to formulate ideological formulations’, ‘originality’, ‘fight for the truth’, ‘perseverance’, ‘reformist wishes’, ‘conflicts with paternal or politic authority’, and ‘incapacity to adapt at the social context’.
That’s the mental sterility of psychiatry. They take something like ‘originality’ and turn it into something negative and horrid, a criminal charge by which to condemn somebody.
Ah, yes. Perseverance, that dreadful disease.
Retarded or evil?
I had “highly intelligent” used on me as a form of an insult from a psychiatrist who talked and behaved like a true sociopath (I don’t know if that was learnt behaviour or who he really was).
Thank you for writing this piece. Reading this makes me feel less on the fringe. When someone with education and credibility makes the case, as you just did, that political disenfranchisement and psychiatric profiling go hand-in-hand, then it becomes harder for psychiatric abolitionists and/or reformers to be dismissed as ‘crackpot’. As David Oaks has pointed out on numerous occasions, activism is the most undervalued and underfunded ‘therapy’ for psychiatric survivors, trauma survivors, and their loved ones. Moreover, sanism stands at the nexus of every other social justice issue of our time. In other words, this issues ties all the other issues together!
‘Assembly line psychiatry’ as you call it has taken a terrible human toll on political activism in our nation as more and more people in despair have allowed themselves to become isolated and inward seeking. May I suggest that the spirit of activism did not simply disappear but rather, it is in hibernation while millions grapple with their own spirituality and the deeper connections that bind us together. Perhaps the next political revolution will be even deeper and more effective when millions come out of their drug induced stupor and self loathing long enough to realize the extent of the massive shift of wealth from the middle class that has just taken place under our noses?
While reality television viewership and other forms of escapist entertainment has gone up, investigative journalism and civic engagement has gone down. Let us hope that the next great revolution will be a peaceful one, characterized by a spirit of curiosity and scholarship generosity and inclusiveness, where neurodiversity, is valued and people who identify with being homeless, marginalized or disabled are honored for who they are and what they know, not for what they can contribute to our depraved economic growth.
Not only will the next revolution not be televised, the revolution will also not be medicalized. Amen.
“activism is the most undervalued and underfunded ‘therapy’ for psychiatric survivors, trauma survivors, and their loved ones”
Amen to that. I rarely hear words so true.
You’ve got it all wrong, Dr. Levine. Psychiatry is the innocent victim of corrupt politics and a society that is somewhere on the spectrum of Axis II disorders–
You’ll get the straight talk here:
Who, but a psychiatrist could get it right for us? Hurry over and get your complimentary Axis II diagnosis and general lambasting for being anti-psychiatry!!
“…a society that is somewhere on the spectrum of Axis II disorders–”
Love this. I think that’s totally accurate. I believe narcissistic wounding covers it pretty well, but the collective certainly has branched out to other personality issues. That’s really, really tough to heal, but I know it’s doable. Takes faith and trust, though, as part of that healing process, given that severe control issues on the part of the narcissist make dialogue so challenging. Tough love. Don’t know of any other way.
Oh, and forgive me, Katie, for taking this out of context. But when I saw this phrase, something clicked and I ran with it. I actually think there is some deep truth to this, although not because we criticize psychiatry, that’s ridiculous. But I do feel we are dealing with rampant collective wounding, and this includes the shrinks and everyone, including myself.
Perhaps we are on the verge of re-defining what is healthy and sound, for ourselves and the collective. While this is partly personal and subjective, I do think there are universal truths that we are not yet reaching. Were we to discover these, that would be a new world.
You are TOO kind 🙂
Love to get your feedback on these recent exchanges between me and the blogging anti-anti-psychiatry psychiatrist.
see comments on this linked article >>
Then– notice how the good doctor devotes a blog on his site to degrading me further..
There is a history of course– the story of how I got banned from Dr. Hassman’s site–seems that this sort of sniper attack is his forte?
Very interesting story.
Could you tell me more about how you got banned from Dr. Hassman site?
P.S. Welcome to chaos xD. http://chaoticpharmacology.com/2015/10/06/mad-in-america-10-of-the-worst-political-abuses-of-the-psychiatric-and-psychological-professions-in-american-history/
Hi Katie, it looks to me as though you are speaking your heartfelt truth and expressing it with raw and unfiltered emotion, and he is 1) taking it personally, 2) calling you ‘crazy,’ and 3) shutting down communication.
Standard operational procedure.
You go, Katie!! Very powerful.
So imagine in these 1:1 weekly or so meetings with a clinician, with no witness. I shudder to think. Well, actually, I know from experience how this goes, and we’ve heard the stories from many, and they’re so not hard to believe, we witness these double-binding and gaslighting tactics/dynamics publically, I’ve seen it on here repeatedly.
We need to see them for what they are, when these dynamics appear in private meetings: mental cruelty and abuse–if only because of the power imbalance and the utter vulnerability of a client. I call this ‘clinical trauma,’ causes confusion and disorientation, as well as negative introjections.
These meetings need cams or something, as back up. That is way too dangerous, when clinicians pull this kind of crap on clients, and personally, I believe it to be the norm. To me, this is the problem and why we have a perpetual tower of babel here. So, so many of these clinicians are hyper-sensitive and shaming, and they panic with truth, I’ve seen this repeatedly.
I know I keep using us vs. them language, but at this point, I’m at a bit of a loss around this. I want unity, but first, we have to see what is constantly sabotaging the unity. I think it’s hunger for power, territoriality, and of course, we all know the greed involved. So much deceit and duplicity going on, it’s hard to know who is who and what is what.
So much going on behind closed doors, how do we get beyond the point of speculation, and actually get it to light up for all to see clearly and unambiguously?
Well, considering what we’re talking about, maybe not cams of course, that could do more harm than good; but a monitor or advocate or something to protect the client in the moment, so they can do a reality check when the clinician starts to pull this stuff. I imagine you catch my drift, here.
Ok, well, it’s just all so absurd, that’s really my point. There’s no solution in this paradigm, it just gets thicker and thicker.
Alex, my experience with these diagnosis-touters who get offended by our mere presence are actually reiterating that they aren’t really all that secure with the eugenics they propagate. When someone is hostile to me I remind myself that they are really speaking to the person in the mirror. In writing school, I learned that the degree of discomfort others feel regarding our writing is most likely a reflection of the effectiveness of our words.
Awesome of course. One minor point for the record: Saying that these activities are abuses of said professions rather than part and parcel of same may be giving them more benefit of the doubt than they deserve at this point.
Thank you for your important article, and for writing about about how mainstream psychiatry and psychology depoliticize and decontextualize human behavior, and seek to maintain the status quo. These are very important points.
When we speak of social and environmental causes for human distress, high on the list of causes is the profession of psychiatry. Consigning to psychological conditions biological causes, however spurious, has its own social consequences (effects). If the “authorities” don’t like something about somebody today, all they have to do is to get that something categorized “mental disorder” to, in effect, issue an order to, if not destroy him or her, change his or her behavior. It would be erroneous to assume that some people do not get destroyed in the process. Thank you for this article. I don’t see how exposing the atrocities of psychiatry and psychology can make matters any worse for the people who have experienced firsthand such matters, and that makes doing so a very good thing.
I couldn’t agree more, Frank. Well put.
I thought this was pretty interesting. Some people dug out the history on a building that was the eugenics records office, but has since become a private residence.
So maybe this can be #11 of the worst political abuses of the “help” industry (psychiatry and psychology).
Hidden History: the Eugenics Record Office Is for Sale
Interesting feedback here. I love this article. Sorry, Katie, but I cannot view society or any segment of society as having a psych diagnosis (axis anything) that has no validity anyway. I find the idea of “character disorder” so grossly offensive that I now will not use that term to describe a person, nor group of people. This includes “psychopath” and “sex offender.” What do these things say except “We now expect you to behave badly.” I also avoid the terms “toxic” or “negative energy” as applied to humans, since these are just DSM personality disorder diagnoses re-worded to sound trendy and cool, as underhanded labels, really.
Most people are just plain confused. We see contradictions out there, swaying us this way and that. We notice dishonesty, unfairness, bigotry, corruption, and greed. If we try to point out the truth, we get publicly ridiculed, or stoned or hung or beheaded, either literally or figuratively.
We need stronger protection for whistleblowers, making it safer for anyone to speak out. This needs to happen on all levels, applying to all rungs of the socio-medical ladder. The laws are too weak if they exist at all. Patient whistleblowers and malpractice victims usually get persecuted in some fashion, and often forced onto gag orders, many end up with ruined reputations. More protection for whistleblowers would stop these “programs” before they got too far. From what I have observed, patients, students, and workers are too scared to speak out right now, and are told it’s a disease (or bad attitude) if you don’t “accept” the status quo.
I was referencing psychiatrist Joel Hassman’s assessment of society– I got my axis II diagnosis challenging *on-line psych diagnosis of total strangers*– posting comments on his blog –. My comment here is a A tongue in cheek referral to visit his blog — and laugh until you cry.
I came out as *anti-psychiatry* on his web site–and immediately, he tossed me into his dust bin of *stupid,dangerous* people with the MIA extremist zealots– Obama supporters, etc.
Maybe there is something of value in noting how psychiatrists view themselves as the experts du jour–At precisely the time when there is open public scorn of this corrupt, morally bankrupt profession, Dr. Hassman slaps us all with a label–, or rather discredits the messengers–as only he can. LOL
Yes, I am enjoying a chuckle over this one, Katie. The usual, “You are paranoid about the meds” deal, or “paranoid about cops,” or, “paranoid about psychiatry.”
Jesus was schiz, MLK was paranoid over race, Gandhi was surely nuts, too! What crazy ideas they had! Human rights? Say what? Only fetuses and cute animals have rights.
Why don’t we just legalize slavery, too? After all, under other names, it’s not only already legal, it’s desirable “treatment.” It’s a scientifically proven method of silencing those of us insane enough to demand, “Love thy neighbor.”
“Online diagnosis of total strangers” runs rampant, especially in popular media and between Facebook “friends.” I once was commenting on an article posted once by a shrink who was discussing diagnosis and families. This was on Psychology Today. So many people were writing in asking for help with their family scapegoats. He was literally not only diagnosing the families who wrote in, berating them as the cause, but diagnosing the designated patients who weren’t even participating! “I think your daughter has___disorder,” etc. All my comments were deleted on that post. I mentioned that maybe it’s possible that a false diagnosis was given. Granted, all psych dx is either complete nonsense, or not psych in origin (such as epilepsy). You give a psych dx, a person will live up to it. This is what’s so criminal about it.
Actually, recently there was a story out about a woman diagnosed with epilepsy. She was encouraged to get sterilized. I guess over a decade later she found out that the diagnosis was false. Luckily, she managed to get pregnant, and I don’t recall the details on that. The precise same thing happened to a male acquaintance of mine who later had his vasectomy reversed.
I see parallels here. Young people told to abandon jobs, education, careers, grad school, or to break off engagements, or never have family or children. Told we’ll be sick for life. After ten years, or twenty, or even ONE, it can be nearly impossible to regain what we had.
I’ve seen this as well. People asking on forums: “I have a disorder X. Is it OK for me to have children?”. Followed by everything from “it’s OK if you stay or your meds and if your psychiatrist says so” to “You should never do it. You’ll suck as a parent and your children will also be crazy because it’s genetic”. It makes me so angry.
Dr. Levine, I am also wondering what data exists on psychiatric persecution of the Jewish population post-Holocaust? A friend of mine mentioned some research about urban Jews in USA and elsewhere being coerced disproportionately into excess medical care and medical studies. $$$$?
“Loca de rebeldía (crazy of rebellion)
Some articles which were originally written in your native tongue (my case is Spanish) could be a challenge for anyone willing to translate with accuracy their contents (e.g., Spanish to English). The article entitled “Loca de Rebeldia“ (NoGracias) is certainly one example of this situation. I started the translation of this article a few weeks ago with Marc Casañas (his native tongue is also Spanish). Below you can read the translation of the full text.
We believe this article is very important to understand a reality that very few are willing to openly discuss: political abuse of psychiatry. Please feel welcome to suggest any improvement to this translation, we will appreciate your feedback a lot.
There is a theory of the origin of schizophrenia in which a person could lose their head due to the exposure during their childhood of conflicting messages transmitted by – often their mothers – or anyone who is in charge of their upbringing. An extremely protective and controlling mother continuously depriving the autonomy of their child, but at the same time she acts emotionally distant, hostile, even threatening, without offering a minimum of affection to protect the mental stability of their child. These contradicting messages – according to this theory – could provoke the loss of the child’s models of reference, confusion arises without any possible way out, an irrational mind in the adulthood is the only possible certain outcome for this individual.”
– Read more: http://chaoticpharmacology.com/2015/10/04/6581/
Loca de rebeldía
17 febrero 2015 by Enrique Gavilán in Demedicalize-it – 8 Comments
“Hay una teoría del origen de la esquizofrenia que dice que si una persona recibe mensajes contradictorios por parte de la persona encargada de su crianza, generalmente de la madre, corre el peligro de perder la cabeza. Una madre demasiado protectora, que priva de su autonomía al hijo, controlando todos sus movimientos, pero que al mismo tiempo se comporta de una manera emocionalmente distante, hostil, incluso amenazante, y que no ofrece el cariño necesario para el equilibrio mental del niño, puede contribuir a que éste pierda todos sus marcos de referencia y termine, confundido y sin salida, abandonando el juicio.”
– Leer más: http://www.nogracias.eu/2015/02/17/loca-de-rebeldia/#sthash.NNgBKq2X.dpuf
Alex, I am replying to your comment regarding hidden cams. I do have recordings that I made. I don’t have recordings of the worst offenses. But I did sneak recorders into a few of the other sessions. I actually started doing this way back in 2009, because something told me things weren’t right. I’d have recorded them all, but I was so often scared of surprise “sectioning” that I knew I could only bring the recorder in when I was absolutely positive I’d walk out and not get wheeled out. I never signed a paper that said I had to keep confidentiality, only that the clinician would. Tape recording without the person’s knowledge isn’t legal in all states but I believe to “catch” abuse, allowances are made. Most psych wards do have cameras, often sound and video both. Why do you think they don’t allow cell phones? Not only because of cameras, but because a phone can transmit abuses via patients’ conversations. The institutions routinely break telephone rights laws for this very reason.
Oh yes, they’ll grant patients privacy. But it’s only to protect the institutions and their abuses. It’s so twisted around.
I don’t for one minute regret the recordings I made, and none involved other patients, ever. All were of 1:1 meetings. It was for my own protection, since I noticed my own words were often written down by my shrink and then, used against me. I don’t see any reason why I couldn’t do the same. I have never made these recordings public. I have publicly discussed the content plenty, though.
You know how clinicians write books using their clients, under pseudonym, cases and very personal and intimate information as support for their theories and ‘observations?’ Why couldn’t survivors do the same?
“Let’s call him/her Dr. X.”
Why protect them, Alex. I name them all. Now that I am free of illegal retaliation, there’s nothing illegal about naming the shrinks and institutions. As I said, we don’t sign confidentiality papers regarding outing the clinicians or facilities. I have checked and double-checked this. Many online venues are supportive of Freedom of Speech. Do be aware (anyone out there) that if you name names (including your own) you could be subject to retaliation, such as more forced psychiatry. They are rather insidious about this have no regard for the law nor morality when they retaliate.
I do know the following: We need to be truthful. In writing school I learned the difference between truth and accuracy. (Psychiatrists told me this was nonsense, by the way.) If a person tells the truth, we know, and should take into account that our memories aren’t perfect. We also know human POV (point of view) is limited to one set of eyes. This means I need to leave open the variables I may be unsure of, or state very clearly “This is speculation on my part” when this is the case.
In the writing of a personal account or memoir, it is usually implicate in the writing itself that the writer is making use of, say, compound characters, characters who are disguised or deliberately altered to hide identity, changing of place-names, etc. Most writers state how much they have taken their liberties in a disclaimer. As for the naming of names, what are we holding back for?
You’re right and I agree, truth is truth, and it sets us free. I was just being ironic, but, in the end, if you were to write this I don’t think it would be a matter of protecting them as much as possibly protecting yourself. Naming them is truthful and courageous, and is one way to go. And, of course, be ready for what happens next and the chips will fall where they may. That’s true activism, in my book.
Hi Alex & Julie,
With a bit of extra time on my hands, I revisited this blog post and found your very thought provoking conversation.
Wow. Very provoked to rethink along strategy lines.
I agree that there is a degree of risk to anyone who fully exposes, in vivd, well documented detail, the horrific behavior of MH profs – especially psychiatrists. I have the same disconcerting images of setting myself up, backed up by experiences of having done just that 🙂
I have always believed in my having some capacity for furthering the cause of protecting the human rights of my patients via my advocating as a MH professional. Actually, more success with this in settings where I was not employed by the facility wielding its power against my *client*– In any case, the point I want to make is, just as the published criticisms of both the DSM and the pseudo-science behind drugging in psychiatry– and the published indictments against corrupt pharma, collusion with psych etc., has served many psych survivors well in furthering their own self advocacy– even it was just to win over family/significant others for their cause, a team effort between MH professionals and psych survivors regarding publicizing the *untold* stories seems like a way forward.
Share the risk, double the power of the message. ??
Maybe I should write a blog post here on MIA?
My musings on the Columbus Day holiday– appropriately inspired by misrepresentations of our shared history as American citizens.
Cheers!== thanks for the inspiration:-)
I agree. In fact I did the same – named the people and hospital involved in the abuse of me publicly. I was threatened with a lawsuit for that (which I have recorded) but my response was to laugh at them and invite it. I’d love to see them sue me with defamation but I know they never will since I’d win and expose them.
Katie, I saw Hassman’s post calling people who are antipsychiatry “Axis II.” What next? My psychiatrist said I was “paranoid and manic.” Then, midsentence, she changed that diagnosis to “bipolar mixed.” (I have that on tape.) Anything to discredit us, slam us down, or take away our rights. Freedom of speech means you can say what you want, but it doesn’t seem like freedom if what you say goes nowhere due to discrediting diagnoses.
Anybody can draw up a DSM, psychiatrists do so all the time. All you need are a body or bodies, and a vote. That’s the way the task-forces connected with the DSM come up with “mental disorders”, they vote them into existence. I think it works like this, first you have a drug, then you get a disease for it, and the next thing you know you have an epidemic. Epidemics, by the way, for psychiatrists put money in the bank. There is, in fact, a People’s DSM Wiki on line.
I suspect that a large part of the problem is that “mental health” professionals are “sicker” than the rest of society, especially their patients, by along shot. Psychiatrist disorder is among the most serious disorders going. I know it hasn’t made the shrink’s bible yet, but they have their “guild interests”, too, to worry about. (See Whitaker and Cosgrove.) The problem with “healing” the “mentally disturbed” in large measure is complicated by the fate that their “healing” is contingent on this matter of “curing” people of psychiatrist disorder. Psychiatrist disorder is a serious disorder, as I’ve been saying, with outcomes as a rule proving abysmal.
On a lighter note, if only 1 in 5 people require the services of a person with psychiatrist disorder during a given year, that means that 4 in 5 people don’t require such services. The key to curing people afflicted with psychiatrist disorder is same as that of curing this 20 % of the population. Convince them that they don’t need a shrink, and you’d have also found a cure for the shrinks deterioration. Psychiatry can'[t survive without customers, willing or unwilling. Where there is no demand, there need be no supply.
Excuse me, I was a little too fast at the keyboard. It would probably be more correct to say, “Where there is no demand, supply can rot!”
The problem with that is the mistaken idea that demand is what creates supply. It works well in theoretical models but it’s not how markets really operate. There are a lot of ways to create demand by force or by manipulation or by social pressure. Psyhciatry’s been using them both. In fact it’s very tightly linked to the broken economic and political system, and as the article above shows, protects it vehemently.
Julie, your comment on Hassman’s blog re:diagnosing on-line/bad medicine, is much appreciated. I couldn’t help laughing out loud as his response to your direct admonition. He grants your criticism *some merit* then goes on to give himself credibility — like he can do his on-line personalized slamming, as he did on a t least one other blog post dedicated to *putting in my place* and supporting banning me from his sight. Why? because he interacts on other blogs with Axix 2 folks like me, and *some* of *them*–(I am now lumped into this category, THEM), some make bizarre , even threatening statements based on wanting to abolish psychiatry. I have not read comments that verify his statement here, and I certainly never wrote such things on hs or anyone else’s blog, though, yes, am adamant and consistent in my anti-psychiatry, dismantle and dispose of it , philosophy.
So, he gives you credit for what might be a valid criticism, except YOU don’t know just how thorough he is in gathering the *data* he needs to match people up to the DSM criteria for Axis 2 disorders – I think I have been put in the anti-social personality disorder bin– .
I shared this tot demonstrate what I think is the underlying problem here. It’s the power psychiatrists have– that is so pervasive. Hassman writes a provocative blog, comments here and elsewhere, more often than not, actually validates most of the key points raised by anti-psychiatry advocates, so I have no interest in targeting him, as much as I see an opportunity to demonstrate that the cognitive dissonance theory does not address the degrade of narcissism in a group of professionals that are trained and then practice as ultimate authorities, with impunity.
There is no doubting that psychiatry is fully aware of the role they play. They are the hit squad for the 1% ruling class, with no competition for this role and every reason to view themselves as indispensable. Every psychiatrist uses this in some way, even those who criticize their professional colleagues, will casually dismiss direct confrontation about their own misuses of power– involuntary commitment and forced drugging. To some degree all psychiatrists demonstrate an attitude of *not having to be accountable to the people*– they know who they serve, and how secure their jobs are.
I shared a little glimpse of Hassman’s M.O. because it was easy to link and easy to interpret— but the overall take home message is that we have to go back to the drawing board and strategically plan. I think determining our individual *best shot* , encouraging a collective deployment of the full gamut of abuse, criminal behavior and intentional exploitation of vulnerable people for profit makes sense.
Psychiatry made a big mistake– stepping out into both the medical arena and flashing the wealth they amassed by colluding with corrupt pharma. Every story that documents 1)Harm done by non-medical, non-scientific based interventions, 2) linked to $profit as the motive– is a body of evidence that smokes psychiatry out of hiding behind political/government protection.
Money does buy political support from *our* elected leaders, but just like the example Aaron Swartz made when he sacked the SOPA bill via public protest (large scale/on-line activated), ultimately. like it or not, our government is bound by the constitution to serve our best interests.
And we have the legal right to demand they do just that.
It is not just the buy out of our elected leaders that has produced this oppressive collusion that is destroying our society, there is a HUGE knowledge deficit undermining opposition to lobbyists. This also was exposed by Aaron Swartz’a campaign. The dismantling of specialized knowledge based advisory committees was exposed as the budget saving idea of Newt Gingrich– the reason that congressman had no sound basis from which to analyze the true intention of SOPA.
Jon Stewart conveyed this message on the Daly Show- here is a write up about his rant:
Matters not what lay behind the almost certain ignorance of our elected leaders– what matters is credible, persistent public campaign to educate those on whom our very lives may depend—
In my mind, a powerful grassroots movement would be comprised of psychiatric survivors and the MH professionals who validate their stories and add some insider info from their own experience and research.
Best, (and thanks, again 🙂
Yes, Katie, I saw the contradiction in his blog and made a stab. For one thing, I agree that some people “use” doctors and I can see why the docs resent this. I have a pal who can’t seem to get it out of her head that if docs are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, you go to a doctor to improve your health. She refuses to see it that way, and instead, hopes for MORE illness so she can get more pills. I swear each time she gets a new dx she’s happy. But I ask her why. She says that means there’s a cure. I ask her what she wants, to be free of sickness, or to have more sickness and more pills. Funny, she won’t even hear that question, she’ll stop me midway and go round the mulberry bush again. She wants pain, she wants more panic attacks, she wants anything, any reason for pills, and if she has pain she wants to make sure the doc knows. I suggest something that actually might cure her, relieve pain, etc, and she refuses to go that route, only the routes that keep her sick and on pills forever. I think the only thing that’ll stop her is when the pills make her so sick she gets the wakeup call. I can see why a doctor is frustrated with that situation. But I think the shrinks put themselves into the pill-dispensing role in the first place. You walk into their offices, and right away they got that script pad waiting. Who do they expect is going to see them but someone wanting pills? Why don’t they put up a sign saying “I give out high school diplomas.” All the dropouts will be lined up waiting. Whoever has more money or more billable insurance will be deemed the sickest and therefore most worthy.
I think psychiatry has their stock answers to any of us who might call themselves anti psychiatry. Can they put the same labels on us if we say we are pro-human rights? That scares them. Any mention of rights and they’ll try pulling the paranoia card. If they can’t prove schiz or bipolar they’ll try the “Axis 2” garbage. It’s perfectly vague, therefore, so unprovable and wide-umbrellaed that the suit will fit anyone. You prove “Axis 2” by taunting the patient, poking fun, provoking, till she gets pissed. Then you claim she has “anger issues.” I remember that one from back in the 1990’s. Even in the 80’s they did that. I think the med schools teach it.
I think you’re right, Julie — they are trained to execute their best *defense* and it is invariable a big “offense”. Guess that’s all they can do excuse themselves from accountability for indefensible behavior.
Bogus *damaged goods* labels and powerful brain scrambling drugs–hmmm. Was this psychiatry’s assigned mission for political ends? or scheme for adding wealth to their power in society, thereby influencing political agendas?
Note that Dr. Hassman’s on-line psychiatric diagnosis practice encompasses a good many of our most powerful political leaders & all of our current crop of presidential candidates–.
I wonder if his web site could be an instrument for inserting the scourge of psychiatry into the political agendas of the presidential candidates ? Or rather change the discussion currently focused on MH reform– to “Who the hell is this doctor diagnosing US? the premier 2016 presidential candidates, on-line?”
And, BTW, the Axix 2 diagnosis supports blaming them(political leaders) for turning shrinks into drug pushers
Things going downhill as they seem to be psychiatry, with more and more evidence of worse and worse from this profession, we can expect more attacks in the form of bogus labels and more blame from them for exposing their corrupt practice.
Thanks you so much for creating that list – it’s important to remind people that psychiatry’s infamous history is not a thing of the past but it continues beyond the Holocaust era and is not restricted to “bad countries”.
B, I went to empowerment centers, I tried out three. Not one of them was doing anything even close to political activism. Two of them looked and smelled like day treatment. No letters to congressmen, no petitions, no marching in the streets, no activism whatsover. Know what they did? Sat around and had “groups.” Relaxation group, support group, crafts, etc. I wondered what the heck they were calling themselves empowerment centers for. It looked like babysitting to me.
B, I think it was Anne Lamott who said something like, “If you don’t like it that a writer put you in her book, you shouldn’t have acted like that.” I should go find the quote. I didn’t name names in my book that’s out, but my next one won’t spare them. Actually, my published book was written before my turnaround. It is not pro nor anti anything. It’s only a story. A very good one, and I’m proud of it.