Myths are Used to Justify Depriving People Diagnosed as Mentally Ill of Their Human Rights

Paula J. Caplan, PhD
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Who in this world ought to have the right to make decisions about their lives, and who is required to lose that right and have the medical community and the courts take over?

Despite the fact that no one in history, not even the omnipotent American Psychiatric Association — which produces and profits mightily from the “Bible” of mental disorders — has come up with a halfway good definition of “mental illness,” and despite the fact that the process of creating and applying the labels of mental illness is unscientific, any of those labels can be used to deprive the person so labeled of their human rights. This is terrifying. It ought to terrify those who are so labeled and those who are not, because deprivation of human rights on totally arbitrary grounds is inhumane and immoral.

The combination of the specter of terrorism and highly publicized incidents of gun violence have led rapidly to politicians, therapists, and the general public blaming “the mentally ill” for these dangers, and that is used to justify depriving not just terrorists and other killers but anyone with a label of mental disorder of their rights. They can be locked up against their will, they can be ordered to comply with just about anything that a professional calls “treatment of the mentally ill,” no matter how these actions can harm the person and in the absence of scientific evidence that the “treatments” of people who have been psychiatrically labeled will prevent violence. In other words, the huge leap is often made from “This person has a psychiatric label” to “This person is therefore dangerous to themselves and others,” even in the absence of any history or current indication of such dangerousness, and that leap is then used to lock people up and/or otherwise “treat” them against their will.

Now the United Nations human rights treaty called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities includes the absolute prohibition of forced commitment and forced treatment, and the brilliant and tireless advocate Tina Minkowitz is leading a campaign to show that there is a wide base of support for these prohibitions. This is especially important in the United States, because 162 nations have ratified the CRPD, but the U.S. has not.

Minkowitz worked on drafting and negotiations for the treaty from 2002-2006 and helped ensure the incorporation in the CRPD of Article 12, which says that “states,” countries and national governments bound by international law recognize that people with disabilities have the right to make their own decisions in all aspects of life and to do so free from coercion. Note that “people with disabilities” applies to anyone who has received a diagnosis of any mental disorder (in addition to other disabilities). It is important to note the CRPD’s Article14, which specifies according to the text and the authoritative interpretation by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that the existence of disability or perceived disability cannot be used to justify deprivation of liberty, and Article 25 requires that healthcare be provided on the basis of free and informed consent. The word “perceived” is crucial, in light of the fact that the ballooning numbers of categories listed as mental disorders in the two primary handbooks used to classify people as mentally ill have made it possible, even likely, that anyone entering a therapist’s or other professional’s office in other than a calm and happy state will be diagnosed as psychiatrically disordered, moving just about anyone into the “perceived as disabled” category. So one crucial myth that is relevant to the CRPD is that psychiatric diagnoses are scientific and usually appropriately applied.

If no harm came from being classified as mentally ill, there would be less cause for alarm. But it is easy, even likely, for laypeople, therapists and other healthcare professionals, and judges to assume wrongly that having a disability (even a perceived disability) means that one’s judgment is impaired and that one should not be allowed to make choices about their lives, their bodies, and the treatments to which they will be subjected. Frequently, the criterion of “dangerous to oneself and/or others” is used to justify forced commitment or forced treatment, and this is done despite the proven fact that people diagnosed as mentally ill are actually less likely than others to commit acts of violence and more likely to be victims of violence. The evidence for this pattern is all the more remarkable, given that for a number of reasons (e.g., defense attorneys trying to get psychiatric labels for their clients in order to obtain reduced sentences or diversion from prison to the mental health system; the skyhigh frequency of prisoners being diagnosed as mentally ill so that they can be heavily medicated and thus reduce the need for prison staff), statistics in the near future are likely to show an increasingly high correlation between psychiatric labels and violence. Thus, two other crucial myths that are relevant to the CRPD are that people who have received psychiatric labels are likely to be incompetent to make choices about their lives and that they are more likely than other people to be violent.

A fourth crucial myth is that forced commitment and forced treatment are beneficial (and, by implication, not harmful). That this is a myth is reflected in the high rates of suicide that follow inpatient treatment and the increased rates of suicide caused by many psychiatric drugs, as well as the plummeting rates of recovery and increased rates of longterm disability that have followed the introduction of various psychiatric drugs into the market and the use of electroshock.

Another myth is this: The important word “orthogonal” applies to the question of whether people diagnosed as mentally ill are able to make their own choices and whether they have good judgment. We all know people who have no psychiatric labels but who make terrible choices and poor judgment, yet those limitations are not used to deprive the of their human rights. These capacities are orthogonal to whether or not one has been diagnosed as mentally ill, meaning that knowing whether or not a person has a diagnosis is simply not a predictor of their judgment and ability to make good choices for themselves. A related myth is that if someone is diagnosed as mentally ill, all of their decision making power must be wrenched away from them, when — as with many people who are not so diagnosed — sometimes what the person needs is a little support of various kinds, including assistance with filling out forms or practical help with cooking or shopping or getting a service animal during times when they are struggling.

The CRPD standard is for people who have or are perceived to have disabilities must be provided the opportunity to give free and informed consent. That is very far from what happens with the vast majority of people treated by psychotherapists, not to mention those who are deprived of their human rights. Consider this: Psychiatric diagnosis is the bedrock, the first cause of everything bad that happens to people in and through the mental health system. If they do not diagnose you, they cannot treat (or “treat”) you, whether or not the treatments are helpful to you. But almost no one who enters a therapist’s office is ever fully informed and thus almost no one is put in a position where they even might give informed consent. Why? There are three reasons:

  1. They are almost never told, “In order for your insurance to pay my bills, I will have to give you a psychiatric diagnosis, but you have the right to know that psychiatric diagnoses are unscientific, that getting one does not help alleviate suffering, and that getting one carries a wide array of risks of harm, from plummeting self-confidence to loss of employment and of child custody and of security clearance…even to death from treatments that are justified on the basis of your label.”
  2. They are almost never told, “I am recommending Treatment X, but I am going to tell you everything about the potential benefits and potential kinds of harm that can result.” The reason they are almost never told this is that these days, the vast majority of treatments are with psychiatric drugs, and lawsuits have repeatedly revealed that the drug companies purposefully conceal much of the harm, so there is no way for conscientious therapists to get that information and thus no way for them to convey it to their patients. Something similar happens with electroshock and with expensive but intensively marketed programs called things like “neurobiofeedback” that have not been shown to be helpful but that are often very costly.
  3. They are almost never told, “I am recommending Treatment X, but I am also going to describe for you the huge array of approaches that have been helpful to people who are going through what you are going through … and that often carry little or no risks of harm.”

Alarmed about the lack of disclosure, which puts suffering people who seek help in the mental health system at huge risk of harm with no way even to know what questions to ask and what recommendations to challenge, I organized the filing of nine complaints to the Ethics Department of the American Psychiatric Association, because that APA publishes and hugely profits from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), whose categories had been used against the complaints with tragic effects. We said that if the APA had honestly disclosed the unscientific nature of its categories and the risks of harm, as well as that getting a label would be helpful largely or only in order to get insurance coverage for treatment, the complainants would not have blindly accepted their labels and the treatments that were justified to them on the basis of the labels (“You have Disorder Y, so you should accept Treatment Z, because that is what is used for people with Y”). The APA dismissed the complaints on spurious grounds and with not one iota of attention to their merits.

Five of those complainants then filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The complaints were filed pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to which people can be discriminated against by being treated as though they are disabled (mentally ill in these cases) when in fact they are not. All of the complainants had been experiencing upsetting life situations but should by no means have been diagnosed as mentally ill. Yet according to the (falsely-marketed as scientific) DSM, they were mentally ill, and the treatments that were justified on the basis of their labels had had devastating consequences for them. The OCR dismissed the complaints on spurious grounds and with no attention to their merits.

The outcomes of these complaints provide a solid paper trail revealing that in the United States, the enterprise of psychiatric diagnosis is entirely unregulated. This makes it even less regulated than the major financial institutions whose unregulated actions seriously damaged the economy. The paper trail shows that both the lobby group called the APA, which earned more than $100 million from the last edition of the DSM and spent not one cent to reveal the truth about its manual or to warn of the harms they knew about, and the government entity (OCR of HHS) that by all rights ought to provide oversight and regulation, have chosen to do nothing. This makes it all the more compelling for all of us to press for the United States government to ratify the CRPD. The loss of human rights of just one of us through fraudulent advertising, cover-ups, and perpetuation of dangerous myths is the loss of human rights of us all.

As a U.S. citizen, I am embarrassed and appalled that as this country discusses whether or not to ratify the CRPD, it wants to add what are called “RUDs,” reservations, understandings, and declarations created by the current federal administration and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. According to Minkowitz, these include the claim that U.S law already fulfills or exceeds the obligations our country would have under the CRPD treaty. The above described complaints that we filed — and the rejection of those complaints by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Civil Rights gives the lie to that claim, since there is simply no governmental regulation of psychiatric diagnosis, and diagnosis is the sine qua non of forced commitment and forced treatment.

* * * * *

Originally posted on paulajcaplan.net

This blog is a contribution to the Campaign to Support the CRPD Absolute Prohibition of Commitment and Forced Treatment. To see all of the Mad in America blogs for this campaign click here.

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47 COMMENTS

    • Yep. A psychiatrist who hadn’t seen me for eight years was able to declare that I would become dangerous if he handed my medical records TO MY CURRENTLY TREATING PSYCHIATRIST.

      I had current doctors, including my psychiatrist saying I would not be dangerous, and I am a 61-year-old female with NO history of dangerousness to others…not so much as a parking infringement or speeding fine…and yet a psychiatrist who hadn’t seen me for eight years was able to pull the “dangerous” stunt.

      Neither I nor my doctors were allowed to see the “evidence” the psychiatrist had produced for the same reason he had refused to transfer the records – ie it could make me dangerous. And that was under the ACT Human Rights Act.

      How can something my treating doctor(s) see make ME dangerous?

      Who is crazy here?

      …and yet, the ACT Human Rights Commission simply doesn’t have a problem with this…because a psychiatrist said I would be dangerous if my doctor saw my records, it MUST be so. They did point out that any doctor, not just a psychiatrist, could declare a patient dangerous and there was no recourse for the patient.

      Given this happened, and given I have seen a psychiatrist, and hence have a “history” of being declared dangerous, I no longer receive medical care, ‘cos any doctor could now use this to cover their butt.

      Yes, there should be fully informed consent at first visit to a psychiatrist as treatment can be truly “life changing” (in the worse ways possible).

  1. So, acknowledgement of the complaints filed with the OCR would give them merit, but the dismissal of the complaints gives them merit as well? Well that’s a convenient bit of evidence. I love it when an organization not returning a letter becomes proof of a conspiracy or a confirmation of guilt/liability. Not arguing against informed consent or for commitments of any kind. And I don’t believe we need to necessarily add a “spoonful of sugar” to any of the efforts to ensure human dignity. That, if anything sent to the APA or OCR was as self important or as condescending as the above piece, laced with more agenda than fact I can see why they gave it one look and rubber stamped it.

  2. It is to flagrantly true that someone who doesn’t have a psychiatric diagnosis can make a decision or express something that seemed to others odd, while someone with a diagnosis immediately gets discriminated against that it’s their “disease”.

    I have a whole list of such incident, so bizarre, I don’t know where to begin. I might add that when you have a psychiatric diagnosis, they feel free to change the facts because they “know” you are a danger. So, if you are simply going out the same door everyone else goes through while leaving a class, you are stalking them; when they thought you shouldn’t ask them a question or try to make social contact they say they told you to back off, when they never said anything but acted totally differently; I found that any conversation you might have with them can be totally corrupted and warped to misinterpret anything you’ve said to mean something it never did but that suites their paranoia, and they feel free to change facts.

    I sat in a court case for a friend that was trying to get her guardianship back from her father, so she could make her own choices. If she simply had a male friend visit her, the case workers felt free to add that they were suspicious she was selling herself although there was no proof of this at all, and because she wanted to get out of the city and start a new life someplace else, this also was seen as a bad sign of a supposed “disease.” Another friend was in an asylum, and she has a religious belief like you find in First Nation’s cultures, that her ancestors can speak to her through nature. She writes beautiful stories about this. She was in the asylum, and it was her mother’s birthday; a bird happened to sit on the fence surrounding the small weed infested courtyard that the “inmates” were allowed to go into. Let’s forget that there were acres of grounds with rolling grasses, a pond with swans and ample trees to inspire one to peace of mind, the inmates were allowed a small weed infested courtyard. And so my friend sat there trying to relate to nature, and a bird sat on the fence, her response was to tell another inmate that that was her mother (it was her mother’s birthday, and she believed that her ancestors could communicate to her through nature). They were going to keep her for another week (thousand dollars a day) because this was overheard. But then I called in to complain about religious freedoms, and explained that this was a belief that native cultures had, and they let her out the next day.

    If you have a diagnosis, or have ever showed signs of having one, people will feel free to spout all their paranoia on you, whether it’s gossip, to the side remarks or not responding to you in a normal way might their be a disagreement or criticism, but they channel it all into the diagnosis, and it becomes “this-person” is unreasonable, you can’t talk to them, and other means must be utilized besides simple decent human interaction.

    And then comes the most difficult part. You have to respond to them with a patience and understanding of their fears that’s totally alien to them. And if you show them any annoyance as to how you are treated, it’s a supposed sign of your illness.

    I’ve had it in places where someone sat there all smiles and coy, clearly thinking I was going to convince everyone I was unstable and needed to be committed, and then noticed that their smile dropped, and they got a worried angry look on their face as I proceeded to be quite coherent. They still executed territorial limitations, because or all of the paranoia, but they couldn’t get me committed.

    It’s all extremely scary, and you have to exert extreme caution, and forgiveness in the sense that they don’t know what they are doing at all. When anyone questions their method, they become distressed, because what they promote doesn’t rest on calm logic; and anyone not taking action can be seen as a preventing treatments (despite whether treatments really work, it’s just you have to do “something”); or someone questioning what they promote can be seen as a dangerous person that prevents them from having the numbers they need in their campaign. The media has people all up in arms about dangers that are caused by the non-treatment of the yet to be proven chemical imbalance that causes the chemical imbalance that actually DOES correlate with causing violence, but this is erroneously listed as a symptom of the disease, instead. The psychiatrists have committed their life’s work (and all the cost in their education) to mostly treating what hasn’t been proven to be a biological disease with methods that have been proven to cause biological disease. To try to reason why this is going on leads one into many different directions: is it because this excuses looking deeper at the human condition, what thought is, what trauma is, and whether or not trauma based discipline really works? Is this because it makes money fooling people into believing that a disabled mind is an emotionally healthy one, that it’s a good marketing ploy to sell a pill you can swallow as solving irritation, distress or deep seated emotional trauma? Is it because people believe they need a chase scene, and the idea of a broken brain to fix is convincing, even when the treatment has been proven to brake the brain, not the “disease?”

    And thus we have moved on from the notion of human sacrifice being necessary to appease the Gods (to simply deny this is necessary was seen as non-compliant and thus dangerous), or have we?

    • This sentence I have to correct: “The media has people all up in arms about dangers that are caused by the non-treatment of the yet to be proven chemical imbalance while the treatment (that needs to be implemented to stop the violence that the alleged chemical imbalance might cause) causes the chemical imbalance that actually DOES correlate with causing violence, but this is erroneously listed as a symptom of the disease, instead. “

      I reads better this way: The media has people all up in arms about dangers that are caused by the non-treatment of the yet to be proven chemical imbalance while the treatment they say needs to be implemented to stop the violence that the alleged yet to be proven chemical imbalance might cause causes a chemical imbalance that actually DOES correlate with causing violence, but this is erroneously or conveniently listed as a symptom of the disease, instead.

      If one would consider what kind of oppression goes on against anyone with a diagnosis, it’s not replacing fact with agenda to point out that with the lack of violent response, it shows that “mentally ill” people are perhaps less likely to resort to violence than others.

      This brings another thing up. Or rather a logic. And I have to first put forth the fact that most institutions such as Educational (you get good or bad grades), Judicial (penal system), Religious (you go to heaven or nirvana or a place of bliss) or not, Economic (you get money or you don’t) and others (social systems etc.) are based on trauma based discipline. I think that “mental health” is something different, this isn’t controlled by trauma, but exposes what trauma does.

      If a society would actually look at what happened when someone became a criminal, and see that as a result of trauma, rather than something that hasn’t been controlled by trauma, then there would be a cause and effect that tends to the human condition, rather than to….

      Somehow, that the “good guy” has the right to maintain weaponry that when put into effect could exterminate all human life on the planet 20 times over, this also points to the fact, that for human life to continue there HAS to be another way than who can control another person the most with fear.

      And then you have the people controlling the system, and are given the privileges of deciding who gets traumatized and who doesn’t, or simply the people playing the gamut of self serving materialism (in the name of the corporate politics of investors and a populace of workers, although the workers doing the work seem to always be second in line to the investors); this also involves fear, I think. Because when we think we need a penal system along with a military industrial complex that uses violent force, this inevitably suppresses dissent, and gets in to the hands of people into such controls, as well as quaking a whole society (a fellowship) of people that are trained to traumatize others, while putting forth that this is necessary. I might even put forth that this kind of logic creates the kind of bizarre mesmerized state with trauma that one finds in serial killers, and other forms of socio-path behavior.

      Someone who, for example, has severe trauma from an overbearing parent, an authority figure they felt kept them imprisoned from expressing themselves, they might project this on the world around them, and seek expansionist control (tyranny) to try to fight against the feeling of being imprisoned; but it’s the logic of trauma based controls that says that controlling people with fear is how you attain “harmony,” and this prevents the initial trauma from being discovered and let go of.

      You also get the kind of mind games that John Nash was trying to point out with his game theory.

    • “And thus we have moved on from the notion of human sacrifice being necessary to appease the Gods (to simply deny this is necessary was seen as non-compliant and thus dangerous), or have we?”

      Just have new gods – psychiatrists

      Thank you for sharing your experiences – they certainly are consistent with mine.

  3. Does anyone know how to find statistics on the rate of violence by ex-cancer patients or diabetes patients? Maybe then we could get some lawmakers to support forced incarceration and drugging for them as well, thus forcing the inevitable public debate to ensue.

      • I guess to really get the debate going we need to find any actual statistics concerning cancer or diabetes and violence (which may not exist, which would be an issue in itself), then encourage laws to prevent such patients from ever owning a firearm. Even if it’s only a small percentage, we can’t take chances, what about the children, etc. Surely Obama would jump on board, right?

    • You comment reminds me of this, I think one of the best things ever written;
      http://realmhchange.org/2015/12/07/a-psychiatrist-opposes-h-r-2646-heres-why/

      ” From a public health perspective, at the risk of being provocative, if the goal of such legislation is really to reduce the incidence of aberrant public behavior, what we need instead is a law that prohibits the consumption of alcohol; if the goal is really to reduce healthcare costs, what we need instead is a law to force diabetics to comply with recommended treatment; if the goal is really to decrease the risk of gun-related deaths, what we need instead is a law to keep firearms out of the hands of males. Obviously few people would ever consider legislating these violations of people’s rights even though these changes would make a significant impact on these important public health problems. I would put it to you that the reason we are even considering violating the rights of individuals having psychiatric disabilities is because they constitute a small, highly stigmatized, and vulnerable group who will generate little push-back.”

  4. Paula, prisoners take psych drugs because prisons became the new place to institutionalize people after psychiatric hospitals were closed, not to reduce the need for prison staff. Why psych drugs instead of non pharmaceutical treatment? Because that is the way this country treats so called mental illness.

  5. Thank you for laying this out so clearly, Paula.

    “They are almost never told, “In order for your insurance to pay my bills, I will have to give you a psychiatric diagnosis, but you have the right to know that psychiatric diagnoses are unscientific, that getting one does not help alleviate suffering, and that getting one carries a wide array of risks of harm, from plummeting self-confidence to loss of employment and of child custody and of security clearance…even to death from treatments that are justified on the basis of your label.””

    Yes, yes, yes. I’m lucky enough to be working with a counselor right now who basically said this exact thing to me, and takes medicaid. But this is a crucial thing to realize, to not get taken in by this propaganda.

  6. Wondering if anyone here has ever had to work with, treat someone with psychosis? They are often labile, violent, self harming or harming others due to the various hallucinations they are having. There are a myriad of reasons for their psychosis ranging from off their meds to taking illicit drugs. Do YOU think this person is able to have good judgement? Do YOU think their rights are violated when a nurse fills out an application for involuntary admission so they don’t wander outside walk into traffic or slice themselves to pieces because of the demons screaming at them? When they are living in apartments filthy with human excrement, should they go back from whence they came or should a facility attempt to make connections for a living facility? Should we let them leave AMA to be picked up by police & brought to ED again & again? Think before you make decision — Just because a writer is a PHD does not make them the “end all” authority — many perspectives must be considered.

    • I have never seen a realistic proposal from the abolitionists as to how to deal with the acutely mentally ill in crisis. For many of us, the concern is what happens once the person is stable. Forced maintenance treatment is what I abhor; emergency treatment seems a necessary evil.

      • They are there. Soteria, Diabasis, I-Ward. These were all places which dealt with people experiencing psychosis and they didn’t use drugs as the first choice of so-called “treatment”. Drugs were seldom used and if used were used sparingly. They had high recovery rates and people left these places to get on with their lives. Of course, the federal grant monies were taken away from them when they showed significant recovery rates for people. Heaven forbid, we wouldn’t want anyone to find out that people with psychosis can be treated without the wonderful drugs. It seems that there is a huge determination to make sure that the chemical imbalance myth is upheld and maintained at all costs, at the espense of human lives that are destroyed, either by death or by having to put up with substandard living arrangements.

          • Unfortunately, you are not alone. There are some respite houses across the United States but they are far too few in number. They are created around the Soteria concept. It’s interesting that you can go to one of these places and they can afford to provide services to you for $250 a day as compared to $800-1000 per day in a place like a state “hospital”.

            By the way, I kind of like the abolitionist label. I’d never thought of it before but will proudly wear it from here on.

      • I have never seen a realistic proposal from the abolitionists as to how to deal with the acutely mentally ill in crisis.

        Nor will you, because “the abolitionists” have liberated their perspectives from the constraints of seeing emotional suffering and alienation in terms of “acute mental illness.”

      • “Acutely mentally ill in crisis”? What’s that? The biggest “crisis” I’ve had since arriving on a psych-ward is a little thing called “civil commitment”, only there was very little that was “civil” about it.

        The “mentally ill” designation itself is a matter of brainwashing. What do they say on the wards? The person who claims to be “mentally well” is more “ill” than the person who humbly accepts his or her diagnosis. Resistance, in other words, is seen as a symptom. Claiming to not need treatment then is a basis for additional treatment.

        Today the state hospitals have these treatments malls. They run reeducation camps for convincing people 1. that they have a “mental illness”, 2.to give them a routine, 3. to suggest that there are things they can do about t his “mental illness”, etc.

        The reason they have these reeducation camps is because “lack of treatment” is the legal grounds people have used successfully to get released from captivity in state hospitals. There is a point at which people recognize that psych-drugs are not medicine, not, really, but agents of social control, and poisonous agents of social control at that.

        “Acute mentally ill in crisis” takes much for granted. It presumes “disease” the way courts presume “innocence” in criminal cases. Person A’s behavior has irritated somebody, not necessarily person A. In “civil commitment” procedures, you don’t get the due process you get in criminal court. No, instead you get what amounts to a kangaroo hearing.

        Remember “where’s the beef?” One could, in many instances, ask the same thing of the “emergency”. I think people get put away because people don’t care about them. I don’t think, as a rule, that anybody gets dumped into the loony bin because of the superb treatment they will receive there.

  7. Paula, maybe you and Richard Lewis should trade notes about bureaucratic hostility to “mental health” whistleblowers, he recently had a similar experience.

    I would like to hope that international law will ride to the rescue of our battered human rights but, as Frederick Douglas said, power cedes nothing without a demand.

    If we are to save ourselves from this oncoming juggernaut we need sympathetic and committed (ha ha) law students to study the legal intricacies of psychiatric catch-22 double-talk and formulate arguments to demonstrate in a legally irrefutable manner that psychiatric diagnoses are junk science at best, and psychiatric “treatments” constitute assault & battery at the least. And, as psychiatry in essence constitutes a secular religion, that the separation of shrink and state should be as inviolable a principle as the separation of church and state.

    Speaking of myths, do I sense some avoidance of the mother of all myths, namely the literal impossibility of a mind being “diseased”?

    Some excellent points though. Now what do we do about it?

    • Excellent point, old head, “as psychiatry in essence constitutes a secular religion, that the separation of shrink and state should be as inviolable a principle as the separation of church and state.”

      And Paula, all your points are excellent, and I too know from personal experience that there is absolutely no oversight of the psychiatric industry, not by the police, DCFS, DPR, the States Attorneys, the FBI – all supposed regulatory agencies ignore psychiatric malpractice / child abuse complaints. And it’s impossible to find a lawyer, even if one can medically prove the misdiagnosis, and medically explain the subsequent iatrogenic induced anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning.

  8. What’s needed is information for people- in regard to certain substance psychosis- all mind altering substances- varied side effects- the waylaying of drug induced thinking- language- the natural vitamins foods-list- natural relaxants sleepers- etc- to treat them- instructions for normal people- family -parents-friends- on how to do that- and advice about what to avoid- a psychiatric clinic for a starter– and confidence that they- can help- can make them OK– where’s that? I did one the other week somewhere- ill have to try and find it, or do another one myself. I just know that the biggest percentage of people knocking on the wrong doors- are kids-teens- young adults- investigating/ trying drugs with an attempt to either belong to a scene- or a group- and to ease emotional, thinking, over concern problems, temporary conditions- creating other temporary conditions on top of their temporary conditions- one recovery need requires abstinence- the other requiring words that ease and show the way of the past- the reasons- and the reasons and way forward from there– with a recipe– and some ongoing cognitive based care- they need to KNOW.

      • Hi Lily– no im the johnnyb from Melbourne/aus– short for johnnybegood- just to remind myself- I like the b especially– it says be anything and more- but above all, be good. Good makes healthy thinking– and John a happy boy-bad creates it– I know that much– that’s why I keep telling people in trouble to go to their heart- where the truth-honesty and love reside. Sometimes I play around with it — johnnybebetterthangood- johnnybereallygood- johnnybexcellent- johnnybetheantspants- johnnybethis- johnnybethat– .
        yeh if there was some advertising about care that doesn’t coerce or oppress- incarcerate– drug you till you die– all that stuff- and all the right care– people might just start to knock on a different door- but they need that door today- rehabs take time appointments and commitment–that aren’t available without time- and mainly deal with long term stuff addictions– not so much first episode drug induced psychoses- and even though they can help it’s not what happens there- because of the time it takes to get there–in the meantime- an alternative is needed for those with no other options but the wrong door- they need to know where they can go- and if they cant– how to do it themselves- and have someone to help them do it–encourage them – teach them a bit about the language- the vitamins and food to give- the treatment regime- etc-etc- take the care away from the abusers-into the hands of families and people who wont abuse- but who will and can care ethically -and with love.

  9. I filed a grievance with the OCR several years ago, to no avail. On top of their blatant negligence and ironic prejudice as a system, they were not very nice people with which to deal, I’ll just say that. I highly recommend seeing past the illusion of ‘civil rights,’ for peace of mind.

  10. I would like to thank you for this very to the point type article, Paula. The point I am referring to being human rights. People don’t realize how flimsy the basis for diagnosis that psychiatrists use actually is. Demanding repeal of mental health law is not something that will go over in today’s political climate where people in the mental health system are the conventional scapegoats for the violence that we read about everyday. This is convenient for politicians with elections to think about, people with vested interests in the mental health system who don’t care where the money goes, or where it comes from, so long as it comes, government security agencies who want to spy on everybody, and people who are threatened by the idea of human difference. However the CRPD, which would make forced treatment against international law, is making much headway, and it is richly deserving of the support it has received. Attaching RUDs to the CRPD is merely a matter of promoting USA exceptionalism. US exceptionalism is something we need to oppose. The idea is that human rights violations happen in other countries but not the USA, and thus these RUDs would invalidate the CRPD almost entirely. The USA is not beyond human rights violations. Duh. We’ve heard about USA trained psychologists and psychiatrists assisting torturers in foreign countries. Torture doesn’t heed national borders, and to say that there is no torture taking place in the USA is to ignore the meaning of the word. Torture is happening in state hospitals right now, and endorsement of the CRPD is one means that we might have to curtail and to end it.

    • Yep. The U.S. is contemptuous of anything the U.N. does that interferes with corporate/state interests. As for human rights, there are political prisoners in US jails who have been there since the late 60’s.

      A case in point is the International Criminal Court, established by the U.N. to try soldiers and rulers involved in war crimes. The U.S. simply refuses to abide by its rulings or allow its citizens to be tried under international law. Because “our” guys could never be criminals or terrorists, only the “other side” (i.e. the rest of the non-NATO world).

  11. I agree with pretty much everything in Paula’s article. The one thought I have is that people (arbitrarily) given mental illness labels are probably a bit more violent, on average than people not given such labels. Of course the labels are an artificial distinction for a complicated spectrum of problems of increasing severity in different contexts… but the logic would be that people who are more often enraged, terrified, and delusional may tend to lose their temper a bit more often than people who are more well-adjusted and less often upset. Furthermore, most violent criminals in prisons would probably get labels of borderline disorder or sociopath if they were evaluated by a psychologist. So I think there probably are links between early childhood abuse/neglect, violent behavior, and mental health labels, at least if one looks in certain places like prisons.

    However, even if true this changes nothing about what Paula said. Whether or not people given these false labels are a little more violent than some other arbitrarily selected group, they have rights and should not be forced to do things nor be lied to about the nature of their distress.

    • the logic would be that people who are more often enraged, terrified, and delusional may tend to lose their temper a bit more often than people who are more well-adjusted and less often upset.

      Whose logic?

      Anyway, the longstanding statistical reality has been that the “mentally ill” have an equivalent or lesser probability of being violent.

      The unmentioned part of this is that “violence” is a subjective term masquerading as something clearly defined and understood by all.

  12. Paula, thank you for writing a succinctly pointed message about the importance of making CRPD national law.

    I appreciate how you introduced a philosophical question on authority (“Who in this world ought to have the right to make decisions about their lives”) and then showed how the egregious abuse of such power cyclically and iteratively lead to the creation of dangerous myths by which the offender could pillage a handsome means to live while squashing another’s human rights all in the name of “mental health” treatment.

    I would like to reflect on your good article, if I may, on some important aspects about your activism that I feel shouldn’t go unnoticed. You clearly demonstrate through your APA/OCR complaints activism why we need CRPD legislation not only to contain and end such abuses, but to absolutely assure human rights protections. The fact that you produced an entire dossier about the devastating harm caused by the myths of “mental illness” and wrote it into a complaint against the APA (The DSM 9) thus highlighting the hugely invalid and unscientific nature of the DSM 4 process is an incredibly courageous stand that you took against a powerful organization. You showed how the APA was engaged in a process that you knew was inherently unethical and harmful.

    But far more than that, you placed value and importance on the human emotional impact throughout the complaint process, and highlighted the devastation and serious harm that came from the DSM. By doing all of this, you also gave the complainants a voice to be heard, an opportunity to tell their story which may have been therapeutic and healing for some if one applies the values of narrative therapy. This required much foresight that only a truly committed empathic human rights activist could do.

    As you showed, the lack of CRPD legislation helps to ensure organizations like the APA can continue to run amuck, hide behind non profit status while pocketing millions at the expense of the people they harm, dismiss very serious complaints, and I would like to add that they also enjoy practically unfettered relationships with drug companies that even congress members find questionable at least.

    Moreover, we are in the midst of laws threatening to be passed such as DARK Act, TPP, and others that will unethically give many organizations a carte blanche free pass to get away with more harmful atrocities such as devastating the environment, causing more physical illness, causing further poverty, further economic decline, etc. But most of all, to achieve this through a “divide and conquer” them/us mentality. All of these issues combined affect us all whether we want to see it or not, and one would be forgiven for not wanting to take all of this on board. It really can be overwhelming, and terrifying as you said. Still, I believe we can’t afford NOT to be united as one common people, to pressure legislators to pass a “RUD free CRPD”, especially given how you, Paula, have highlighted the serious reasons why we need to do so.

    So ultimately this reply is a show of appreciation for your courageous leadership, determination, and inspiration in your human rights activism. Hopefully others will see the value of your work as I have, and see the possibilities you have inspired for change.

    And much gratitude also to Tina Minkowitz for her tireless and ongoing efforts in bringing about awareness on the importance of CRPD.

    PS: Just to add, I have read where some psychotherapists are rejecting HIPPA so they don’t have to “diagnose” or disclose information about the people they try to help. This helps them remain true to the original ethos of true therapy, which is to protect the rights and privacy of the person rather than cause iatrogenic harm to them. Kinda cool, that! Makes me hopeful that more therapists are silently working in ways that protect rather than pillage the rights of the people they help.

  13. Well said. But look who posts on this site: wised up (more or less wise, depending) psychology and psychiatry professions and victims. Until we get lawyers and politicians involved, we are just chattering to each other–which has its place, but after awhile is just a waste.

    Where are the attorneys? We should be picketing bar association meetings to ask, “Where’s the beef you guys should be having with the psychiatric establishment and its shameless arrogation of special powers to itself?”

    Attorneys–that’s the answer. Oh, and read Aurelio Campanillo–he is the only novelist telling it like it is about the American police state.

  14. I believe that Australia was one of the countries which was examined by the CRPD and that our mental health laws were seen as a violation of human rights. I also believe that Australia ratified the treaty and then proceeded to introduce even more draconian Mental Health Acts with full knowledge that they were doing so. These treaties it would seem, as far as this nation is concerned only apply to others (where have I seen this before?).
    An interesting article that relates to the myths you speak about above Paula was published on the front of our only newspaper. “Patient rights seen as optional” screamed the headline. And yet the journalist didn’t bother to use the truth that Patient rights ARE optional once one examines the law.
    These are not rights when they are optional. They are privileges which are distributed according to your gender, the color of your skin, or size of your bank balance.
    And our elected representatives have the audacity to point fingers at other nations? Shame.

    • Important to note that the article about the mythical patient rights which are optional relates to any patient in a hospital. Any problems for a doctor treating for example heart problems or any other ailment can be relabeled a mental health issue and their perceived rights removed in an instant. Not that anyone would ever abuse such a situation, I mean it has never happened yet.

      • Quite to the contrary, it happened to me both times I was force hospitalized and “treated.” The first time I was dragged out of the comfort of my own bed due to a brief sleep walking / talking issue, despite this being “illegal since I was neither a danger to herself, nor anyone else.” According to my medical records, this resulted in my being admitted into a hospital, with a non-existent “chronic airway obstruction,” then this non-existent condition magically turned into a “bipolar” “snowing.” The doctor who did this was later arrested by the FBI for having lots of patients, medically unnecissarily shipped long distances to himself, “snowing” patients, and performing unneeded tracheotomies, for profit. He was never prosecuted, however. These hospital doctors defrauded my insurance company out of $30,000 for this unneeded, torturous “snowing.”

        And the second time, I was admitted into a hospital for minding my own business, lying in a park, looking at cloud formations, while contemplating the prior medical and religious betrayal, with which I’d dealt. This resulted in a $5000 full physical, with no HIPPA forms signed since I’d politely declined medical care. This physical resulted in a “medically clear” diagnosis. But rather than being let go, I was once again medically unnecessarily shipped a long distance, to the same psychiatrist who’d “snowed” me previously. According to those medical records, she injected me initially with a neuroleptic, but since I’m allergic to the neuroleptics, I was not kept on it. So she force medicated me for a just proven, non-existent “UTI,” and I was finally let go after a week, with a theorized “adjustment disorder.” I don’t know how much the state was defrauded out of, for this second, medical greed inspired, unneeded defamation and person napping.

        And my introduction to the entire “mental health” industry stemmed from a PCP who was paranoid of a non-existent malpractice suit, due to her husband’s “bad fix” on a broken ankle of mine. And an ethical pastor of mine did confess that “the dirty little secret of the two original educated professions” is that the historic, and apparently current, function of the psychiatric industry is covering up malpractice for the incompetent doctors, and medical evidence of child abuse for the religions.

        Personally, I’m amazed at how far doctors will go to cover up their medical mistakes, and profiteer off covering up medical evidence of child abuse for the religions. Forced treatment needs to end, since it is being done for unethical and illegal reasons.