On the Tyranny of Good Will: Why We Call Ourselves Psychiatric Survivors


“….I was horrified to see how I deteriorated intellectually, morally, emotionally from day to day.  My interest in political problems quickly disappeared, then my interest in scientific problems and then my interest in my wife and children….   I was prescribed haloperidol (Haldol) in small doses.”  —   From a press conference – in 1975! – by the Russian dissident Leonid Plyushch, quoted in Toxic Psychiatry Peter Breggin M.D.

“Neuroleptics  are the drugs known as anti-psychotics. They are used extensively in psychiatric institutions and are the kind of drug most commonly used against a person’s will.  Researcher David Cohen documents that they have the same effects on human being or animal, a profound dampening of the central nervous system as well as many associated uncomfortabel physical and mental sensations.”  — Tina Minkowitz, World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry

I believe if the public really knew and understood the reason why we who have survived medically-induced harm, and who do not have the human right to — with real evidence — legally expose this, they would support psychiatric survivors and help us to put an end to what has been called ‘the tyranny of good will.’

Today, if I go to visit any doctor and I am examined, I could be diagnosed as having any serious medical condition.  This could be true or untrue.  Following this, I would have the choice to avail myself of any medical procedures modern medicine has in its toolkit.  Even if the doctor was not helpful, or I make a bad choice, I am a free agent.  The final result of this visit could even be that I die much younger.  So; indirectly I could be responsible for my own demise.  If this were to happen it would not be viewed as self-induced harm.

Also today, if I visit a doctor—even for a physical medical condition—and he/she diagnoses me with a psychiatric diagnosis, this cannot be ‘true’ because there is no test to prove that any of these ‘conditions’ actually exist.  However, often after just a very short conversation,  he/she can diagnose me with a psychiatric diagnosis, and the consequence of this can be disastrous!  If I end up with a psychiatric diagnosis (and there is every likelihood that I could) I will no longer be free to make important decisions and choices for myself.  My family, too, if they agree with me and I want support, would not be able to help me.

Psychiatric diagnoses therefore strip people of their human rights, their human right to act as free agents.  Survivor of psychiatry Hebriana, quoted in Deprived of our Humanity by Lars Marensson MD, puts it this way;

“I feel I am a survivor.  It is impossible to find space or the opportunity to tell other people about these experiences.  I am not allowed to share them, because they are beyond what people want to know.  This is not fun at all to live with.  People do not want to see the truth.  I could just a well be dead.”

Unlike other survivors of abuse, she says,

“Neuroleptic survivors get the opposite of understanding and acceptance. They get denial.  Such denial is a cause of sorrow and hopelessness. I feel a sorrow that I cannot share. Such denial can be lethal. I could just as well be dead. Such denial is a continuing crime.“

There is no evidence that what is accepted every second of every day by society — so-called ‘mental illness’ — exists.   Yet those who get these pseudo-diagnoses have not got the legal right to decide for themselves.  As Hebriana said, more than 30 years ago, “we might as well be dead”!

Without any medical evidence, and yet reinforced with the strong arm of legal fiction, we continue to be deprived of our humanity.  As the late and great professor Thomas Szasz said,

“Classifying persons as mental patients and creating legal fictions involving human beings leads to the same results:  The person, concealed behind a mask, is rendered less than fully human or even completely non human.”

When black people were legally classified as possessions, as non persons, they were treated as slaves who were also very necessary for the economy to thrive and prosper, for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer.  Thankfully this group of people are no longer in this position.  Today, however, those who have the power to diagnose others with psychiatric, non-scientific diagnoses do treat their subjects as slaves because under the law they are viewed as non-persons with broken brains.  This ever-increasing group of people is also necessary to keep our economies booming; especially the pharmaceutical industry, which is one of the richest industries worldwide.  Maybe the most pervasive illusion today is that those in power ever want the poor to get richer and rich get poorer!

While this group of people continue to be treated as property and denied their legal right to act as human beings, we are all deprived of our humanity.  While society turns a blind eye, people will continue to be harmed more than they are helped.  People will continue  to be severely distressed because they feel there is no way out or might even feel that enough is enough.

I encountered the hard hand of psychiatry in 1976.  It was because I received medically-induced harm while having my first baby that I received my initial psychiatric ‘diagnosis,’ and soon after was force-treated with electroshock, Haloperidol and many other neuroleptic drugs.  Having recently received my medical notes; the final time I took the neuroleptic Thorozine (Largactil) in 1999 was, as always, out of fear.  Then, at the very end of the year 2000, having reduced much too quickly (on the advice of yet another psychiatrist) I took a final dose of the very toxic, mind-altering substance Lithium.  I am a very fortunate woman  that I managed to survive their poisonous effects, with their combined withdrawal effects, cleverly disguised by psychiatrists as ‘discontinuation syndromes.’ Yet, because of the DSM psychiatric labelling I, along with all my fellow survivors, still are subject to discrimination by international ‘mental health’ laws.  This is why I will continue to campaign for all human rights and especially for our basic human right to BE human.

In Peter Lehmann and Peter Stasny’s Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry activist and fellow survivor Kate Millet, in her excellent chapter ‘The Illusion of Mental Illness” writes passionately about survivors of psychiatry:

“We are also survivors of one of the meanest systems of oppression ever developed, as its victims and critics.  We are the ones to tell the truth, to say that mental illness is an illusion, intellectually and scientifically, but also a system of social control of unprecedented thoroughness and pervasiveness.  It is our role to expose this illusion and to free us all – for we are all constrained, oppressed, limited, intimidated by this phantom of mental illness.  We stand with reason against error and superstition, with imagination against conformity and oppression.  What good fortune to be part of such a struggle for freedom and human rights.”

David Oaks, another fellow survivor, and formerly long-term driving force of MindFreedom International has this to say in the same book:

“The mind is one of the most complex topics humanity has ever studied.  The psychiatric industry is one of the most profitable in the history of the planet.  While science has never found a chemical imbalance in our brains, our movement has discovered an imbalance – an enormous power imbalance in society itself.  A focus on human rights activism is one way those who are oppressed can unify against this overwhelming tyranny. Because, ‘of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. (C.S.Lewis)'”

In her beautiful poem ‘Remembering what it means to be human’ human rights activist and survivor Laura Delano challenges psychiatry, and we with a united voice sing in harmony with her:

“I challenge you, Psychiatry, to give us all you’ve got:
dismiss us, laugh at us, call us insulting names out of
your fifth edition of fraud.
lock our bodies up in prisons called “hospitals” and “group homes”,
our minds in prisons called “medication”,
our selfhoods in prisons called “mental illness.”
“Do everything you can to try to silence us
because you can’t
and you won’t
and you know this
and it terrifies you……..
we all know that one day
you’ll be buried in the darkest annals of human history,
alongside other dehumanizing institutions of social control and annihilation that came before you.
And already we feel the stirrings of a world
beginning to awaken from your decimating spell,
and remember once again
what it means
to be human.

It’s happening, Psychiatry,

and it’s for your own good.”

We re-echo the voices of those who did not survive, such as my good lifelong friend Helena King who said

“I have been assaulted by male and female nurses for injection into the bum scores of times over 36 years.  This is painful and humiliating, I have been paralyzed in hospital by drugs. I have Parkinson’s, shaking constantly for a couple of months at a time.  The doctors treated me as a receptacle for drugs, no listening or reasoning, no soul.  This was abuse.”

Speaking about her departed brother Edmond, human rights activist Patrice Campion says that

“… the harm and devastation caused by the bio-medical model is far more outreaching because the pain and loss continues to reverberate forever through the family and friends of the loved ones killed by these drugs.”

Every day that passes, more and more survivors of psychiatry and those in solidarity with their cause are becoming more vocal.  We know our day will come because we can and we will!  It cannot come too soon!  You can help us out by becoming more aware and joining us in our campaign to achieve freedom, truth, equality, justice, love, peace, understanding, and HUMAN RIGHTS!

* * * * *



    • This is a great quote from Anonymous.

      I’d add to it my favorite quote from Bane in the Dark Knight rises, which I’ve actually said to a few psychiatrists who found my website, in this adapted form:

      “People like me are your reckoning, here to end the borrowed time your theories have been living on.”

      Here I’m referring to theories that diagnoses like Borderline PD are valid, reliable lifelong brain illnesses with genetic or biological causes. What a bunch of shit!

  1. Hi Mary,

    Thanks for the great article.

    “…..with a psychiatric diagnosis, this cannot be ‘true’ because there is no test to prove that any of these ‘conditions’ actually exist…” I certainly don’t believe in these diagnosis – what they are is gimics.

    Your slavery comparison is very pertinent as well, as the system needs human fodder to survive.

  2. As Audrey Lorde said, “Your silence will not protect you”….
    Keep speaking out. One day …you are right….there will be some dire history books about the dark days, the tragic deaths of innocents, harmed in so many ways by psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry.

  3. Fantastic article Mary Maddock.

    A solution I think of is a (mandatory) lawyer for every psychiatric patient. The “patient” does not have to request one. The doctors would have to admit the hospital they work in is really a jail (for people to get lawyers), so I don’t think that is going to happen.

    The “patient” must be undrugged, the lawyer must be educated to use all forms of communication to be able to talk with his/her client. Written, vocal, sign language, foreign language recognition.

    The patient-prisoner must be given a chance to escape ( from what crime? a brain chemical imbalance?) a chance to prove they are “sane” , as in their actions are based on reasons.

  4. Dear Mary,

    Thank you for sharing your difficult experience, so that others may benefit. Your work is hugely important to your community, both near and far. You have always helped lift the voices of those who have suffered, and continue to suffer through your voice of reason and compassion. I believe the more your work educates others about the potential harm that results from the biomedical model, the less harm and devastation will occur. Thank you for always being courageous and noble in your tirelessness and wanting to help others.

    Sadly, the harm and destruction that has resulted from these treatments is already incalculable and exponential; and must be redressed. It’s going to take enormous political will from leaders who cannot be bought.

  5. I feel as if it’s too late for me dear Mary. I’m forced to take drugs that are destroying me slowly, with cruelty. I wrote to Dr Breggin to ask for an independant expertise that l would be willing to pay for. That was months ago, l have had no reply…No one it seems is able or willing to enable me to come slowly off the chemicals l am forced to take in a place where l and others would be safe. I am playing the ‘trouble-fête ‘ here because for countless people like me nothing is changing.