In the political struggle between First-Order Psychiatry (which includes the American Psychiatric Association and Big Pharma) and the Rehumanizing Resistance (which includes many in the Mad in America community), the Resistance continues to win key scientific victories (including the First-Order’s retreat from its “chemical imbalance theory of mental illness”); however, the Resistance is losing the larger struggle against the First Order’s expansion of influence (e.g. one of four foster children in the U.S. are now on psychiatric drugs).
Winning scientific battles but losing the war will continue until the Resistance: (1) fully recognizes the political nature of this struggle; (2) accepts the reality that it has an adversary aimed at its destruction; and (3) creates and implements effective political strategies and tactics.
Recognizing the Political Nature of the Struggle
First-Order Psychiatry and the Rehumanizing Resistance are separated by a fundamental difference that results in each camp posing a political threat to the other’s survival.
This fundamental difference is with regard to the claim by First-Order Psychiatry that it is a legitimate authority to determine mental illness.
The claim by First-Order Psychiatry—the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in particular—that it is a legitimate authority with respect to determining mental illness is essential for its “treatment” and control. First-Order’s illness labeling, “treatment,” and control dominion are the sources of its financial arsenal and political power.
The Rehumanizing Resistance is a political threat to First-Order Psychiatry because it rejects the claim that First-Order Psychiatry is a legitimate authority in determining mental illness; and so the Resistance also rejects the First-Order’s “treatment” and control dominion.
First Order Psychiatry’s Political Strategies and Tactics
Grasping the political threat of the Rehumanizing Resistance to its existence, First-Order Psychiatry—the far more politically astute of the two camps—has historically tried to marginalize and destroy the Resistance. First-Order Psychiatry has multiple political strategies and tactics for dealing with threats to its authority from its critics.
When individual critics of First-Order Psychiatry are low-profile, the First Order has simply ignored and dismissed them. Blowing off low-profile critics is an effective political tactic, causing many such critics to feel helpless and give up, or become so frustrated and enraged that they are politically ineffective.
When critics are more high-profile, the First-Order has derided, slandered, and attempted to destroy them. First-Order Psychiatry has meted out retributions to critics even when their challenges are not directed at First Order’s authority to determine mental illness but only at First-Order’s treatment ineffectiveness.
I don’t know of any critic of First-Order Psychiatry who has not paid some price, such as career and licensing difficulties, legal threats, and financial costs.
In 1968, the late psychiatrist Loren Mosher became the National Institute of Mental Health’s Chief of the Center for Schizophrenia Research, and he created an alternative approach for people diagnosed with schizophrenia called the Soteria Project, an egalitarian and non-coercive psychosocial milieu. The results of the project showed that people did far better with this Soteria approach than standard psychiatric treatment, and that people could in fact recover with little or no use of antipsychotic drugs. What then happened to Mosher? He was fired from NIMH in 1980.
Mosher’s high-profile position, his successful alternative approach, and then his ultimate firing sent a chilling message to any other humanistic psychiatrist who might challenge the First-Order’s authority.
Throughout the 1980s, First-Order Psychiatry was politically threatened by competition from non-psychiatrist mental health professionals as well as criticisms from human rights advocates, including ex-patients and non-First-Order psychiatrists such as Mosher. And so, the First-Order made the political decision to partner with drug companies, which stood to heavily benefit from the First-Order’s dramatic increase in drug prescribing. This created what some have called the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex.
How corrupt is First-Order Psychiatry’s partner, Big Pharma? Even the pro-big business Forbes has rhetorically asked “Is Big Pharma Addicted to Fraud?” And Peter Gotzsche, author of Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime, has compared Big Pharma to organized crime mobsters.
In 2006, ex-patient, human rights activist and attorney Jim Gottstein provided documents to the New York Times showing that Eli Lilly had kept serious health risk information about their drug Zyprexa from being released to doctors and the general public. In retribution, Gottstein reported: “Lilly has threatened me with civil and criminal contempt sanctions and going after my license to practice law. My legal fees in defending against Lilly’s legal onslaught have so far been just under $300,000, including estimated unbilled fees, of which I still owe over $121,000. This has put me financially under water.”
More recently, the First-Order has faced another kind of high-profile challenge. Robert Whitaker is an investigative journalist who won the George Polk award for medical reporting and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for his 1998 Boston Globe series “Doing Harm: Research on the Mentally Ill” (co-authored with Dolores Kong). Whitaker has since authored Mad in America (2001), Anatomy of an Epidemic (2011) and Psychiatry Under the Influence (2015, co-authored with Lisa Cosgrove). First-Order Psychiatry’s reaction to Whitaker? In 2015, former president of the APA, Jeffrey Lieberman, publicly declared Whitaker to be a “menace to society.”
First-Order Psychiatry’s political arsenal is fueled by Big Pharma financial backing, enabling the First-Order to monopolize the media and exploit people’s fears of the unfamiliar. This results in First-Order treatment domination, and it is the lack of informed choice to which the Rehumanizing Resistance battles against.
In addition to retributions for critics, First-Order Psychiatry has employed many other strategies that authoritarian institutions have utilized to stay in power. One example is co-opting (taking control of something that could potentially cost them power and use it for their own purposes). The First-Order has attempted to co-opt some of the language of the Rehumanizing Resistance; and it has attempted to co-opt the peer support movement by, at times, hiring ex-patients not as genuine peer supporters but to assist the First-Order to maintain control.
First-Order Psychiatry has also evidenced political agility when faced with the occasional societal challenges to its mental illness labeling authority. In the early 1970s, gay activists challenged the APA’s pathologizing of homosexuality, and the First-Order, recognizing that it was on the wrong side of societal change, pivoted and discontinued labeling homosexuality as a mental illness.
Within First-Order Psychiatry itself, “pathologizing preeminence” gives individual psychiatrists prestige and power, and so members of the First-Order quibble among themselves about what is and what is not a mental illness (for example, DSM-4 task force director tells us with respect to the current DSM-5 to “ignore its ten worst changes”).
However, while First-Order Psychiatry can revise their DSM, and while First-Order big shots infight for pathologizing preeminence, First-Order Psychiatry knows that its very existence depends on the societal acceptance that it is a legitimate authority in determining mental illness.
For the Rehumanizing Resistance, the First-Order’s entire rationale for all of its psychopathologizing is unscientific and illegitimate. The Resistance believes that just because behaviors, cognitions, and emotional states may cause tension or even frighten some of us, or may appear bizarre to many of us, or may even render us incapable of occupationally and interpersonally functioning, this is not scientific evidence of illness.
This fundamental difference with respect to the acceptance or rejection of psychiatry as legitimate authority to determine mental illness is why the First-Order and the Resistance pose a political threat to each other.
The Rehumanizing Resistance’s Political Naivety
Unlike First-Order Psychiatry, the Rehumanizing Resistance has historically been politically naïve. So, the Resistance has often squandered its time, energy, and resources attempting to dialogue with the First-Order trying to reform it. It is politically naïve for the Resistance to attempt to reform the First-Order when the First-Order considers the Resistance to be an existential threat to the First-Order’s survival and wants to destroy it. This naivety is part of why the Resistance repeatedly wins scientific battles but is losing the greater political struggle.
The Resistance has relied on articulating scientific truths and moral principles such as the right to informed choice. Scientific truths and moral principles can be politically powerful but only so if utilized with political strategies and tactics.
It is naïve to think that truth and morality wins regardless of political savvy.
In future Real Politics 101 pieces, I will focus on: Resistance strategies and tactics that have been effective; when direct action and confrontation can succeed and when it cannot succeed; taking advantage of the general cultural climate; alliances and coalitions; organizing; film, media, and other powerful tools; as well as Resistance dissension, team-building, morale, and creating and maintaining the energy necessary to politically do battle.
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Finally, someone has come up with some real strategies for fighting psychiatry and the drug companies. I’ve said all along, since first getting caught in the system when I was sixty years old, that dialoguing with the opposition is useless since the opposition does not care a flip about what we have to say and doesn’t listen to us. We are wasting our breath talking about dialoguing with psychiatry and the drug companies. Dialoguing with slave owners did not get them to free the human beings they held in slavery. It took a war that almost destroyed this nation to convince slave owners that their time was at an end. But even then they continued to do things to enslave African Americans in ways other than holding them bodily in captivity. We must quit talking and start doing, exactly like John Hogget talks about so well. Banner drops and hammers!
Thanks, Stephen. Yes, there are parallels to Slave Abolitionism that I will mention in Part Two — Bruce
Exactly… dialoguing and attempting to get those in power to change their minds will not work. More people speaking out publicly, exposure of fraud by drug companies and psychiatrists, lawsuits against psychiatrists, spreading counter-psychiatry information as widely as possible online, and forceful protests may be needed to make any significant impact against the psychiatric leviathan.
I look forward to your subsequent posts, and do agree the science is on our side, but the money and power is on psychiatry’s side. It never occurred to me when I was young that I would grow up, and my enemies would be corporations and industries. Not exactly a fair fight. We do need to organize, I look forward to hearing your recommendations.
Thanks. Yes “organizing” is critical for the Resistance as it is for any human rights movement–Bruce
I’m working out a plan to steal the First Order’s money from their funders. We’ll see how that goes…that might be one more strategy for you to write on.
Well, Corinna, you sure got me curious! Thanks, Bruce
Well, the idea is that yoga studios, dance clubs, boxing gyms, gardening clubs, etc are all doing mental health care better than First Order Psychiatry. So we are going into the Real world and teaching them how to prove their outcomes because they are delivering health care. Then teaching them to write health care grants. And we got a BRSS TACS grant to figure out how to pull ACA money down into these real world organizations by using hospital avoidance waivers, community health worker stuff, medicare education stuff, or other money pots. We are about to teach with the #blacklivesmatter movement from Ferguson to build our St. Louis program.
That’s interesting. You may find that the BLM people need to learn much from you about de-mythologizing “mental illness” (remember to always use quotation marks) and the so-called medical model, and how these are used to rationalize drugging people out of their anger — just as everyone else needs to learn about racism from BLM.
Confusion about “mental health” labels affects the Black community just as it does everyone else. I recently saw a simply horrible depiction of Martin Luther King as a formerly “mentally ill” person, which was supposed to be supporting “better mental health care” for Black people but which in effect was very disparaging to Dr. King in a way that could have been avoided if those involved had a better grasp of psychiatric labeling and its consequences.
Sun Tzu said: “Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy.”
“Next best is to disrupt his alliances.”
“The next best is to attack his army.”
“The worst policy is to attack (fortified) cities. Attack cities only when there is no alternative.”
Also, Sun Tzu said:
“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you strike, fall like a thunderbolt”
“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple beforehand. The general who loses makes but few calculations”
“Know your enemy, know yourself. A thousand battles, a thousand victories”
Good inspiration for the struggle against first order psychiatry.
Keep in mind the demonstration Sun Tzu did for the Emperor of Wu.
The threat to behead two of the concubines showed how easily the rest could be brought into line. Terrorism is an effective strategy, and one which no doubt psychiatry has shown to the State in much the same way as Sun Tzu showed the Emperor. I also note that the Emperor did not have the stomach to watch the demonstration, much like our politicians do not have the stomach to look at what is being done in the name of ‘healthcare’.
Deleuze and Guattari speak of a Dark Precursor before a lightening strike, such that you have to study causality with time being reversed. What I am sure they are speaking of is a theophany, like the appearance of Ezekiel’s Chariot. You will have a darkness or a quiet before such an appearance. And when it happens, it can often mean violent death.
The Bible is the Western version of Sun Tzu, an instruction manual for how to start and win wars. It’s just that people get lost in it’s literary styles and in the ways it is used by religious groups trying to make payroll to preach compliance and submission. They haven’t got even a clue.
So the prototype for wars of resistance is of course Moses and Aaron going before Pharaoh, and the 9 plagues to humiliate him, and then that 10th to totally devastate. This is the way to take down power which seemingly is invincible.
So I look at it as First Borns, meaning those of familial legitimacy, versus we the outcasts.
If we ever want to have any kind of a life we have to stop healing, recovering, and doing therapy, because those are just acts of submission, and instead organize and prepare the situation, and then strike some lightning like blows.
I am committed to this and I do what I can now alone. But with comrades we can do so very much more.
having a hard time getting posts up, second day now. So always check for me here:
Get Behind Me.
2 Kings chapter 9
16 Then Jehu mounted his chariot and drove to Jezreel, where Joram lay ill and Ahaziah, king of Judah, had come to visit him.
17 The watchman standing on the tower in Jezreel saw the troop of Jehu coming and reported, “I see chariots.” Joram said, “Get a driver and send him to meet them and to ask whether all is well.”
18 So a horseman went out to meet him and said, “The king asks, ‘Is everything all right?’” Jehu said, “What does it matter to you how things are? Get behind me.” The watchman reported to the king, “The messenger has reached them, but is not returning.”
We really need to target the addictions field.
Take just the alcohol part of it, they know darn well that something like 90% of people that go for treatment go back to drinking before they eventually quit if they ever do but the industry loads almost everyone up on SSRIs and other psychiatric drugs that are dangerous to mix with alcohol anyway.
Detox > Psych eval > some label > drugs. That’s how it works.
First Order Psychiatry is very clever, what they do is play a game of divide and conquer keeping everyone busy with AA 12 step Vs their own failed and damaging methods.
And of course they do this wile simultaneously pushing people into A.A
Hi we are psychiatry and everything we tell you and everything we do is based on the belief you are just a soulless chemical robot like a cockroach. Now that you believe all our broken brain bull-crap go to AA and find a higher power and spirituality and don’t forget to take our pills for the rest of your life cause you are broken and will always be broken.
Its so bad.
I don’t work in rehabs anymore because I found out I can’t stop using nutrients on the residents, when it looks necessary and will certainly be canned with cause (no unemployment) by directors and supervisors when found out. I’m surprised the director and supervisor at the first place didn’t find out, when several residents graduated from their program when they weren’t supposed to- they wanted me to go but nicely used a preposterous excuse to sack me, enabling me to survive as a dole-boy until I found other employment.
Good article Bruce. Very astute thinking.
I am looking forward to reading the article on specific strategies that can be used against the establishment.
I think the use of new technology, especially the internet and the ability of ordinary citizens to create websites and spread messages to millions, has to be one of the primary weapons. In past decades, this level and scope of disruptive communication by effective guerilla fighters was not available to confront those in power. We can see today that in China and Iran etc, this weapon is restricted and controlled. But in America today, this Achilles heel is left wide open by the limited freedoms we still have to go online and write as we would, and so we should use this to increasingly expose the psychiatric charlatans. As this site is already doing…
I agree. As I will discuss more in Part Two, the Resistance will likely always be financially be outgunned, and so we must think of low-cost and free strategies and tactics such as utilizing the Internet, which we’re all doing right now–Bruce
Bruce, thank you so much for this important critique. I especially appreciate the phrase “The Rehumanizing Resistance!” And thank you for pointing out the co-optation inherent in hiring “peer” staff, not to provide genuine peer support, but to help maintain psychiatry’s control.
Thanks, Darby, for your kind words, and I’m glad you like the “Rehumanizing Resistance.” Yes, I’ve learned more about that kind of co-opting from a discussion with Sera Davidow, whose article I hyperlinked to in this piece –Bruce
I look forward to reading more.
Strategy of non-violent campaigning is a big interest of mine.
my fave book at the moment on this subject is Startegy and Soul by Daniel Hunter. Easy to read, exciting human interest story that encapsulates many valuable startegic pointers for campaigners.
Thanks, John. Glad to hear your interested in this topic — Bruce
Absolutely! I’ve been on about this for ages. Just writing, picking huge holes in every aspect of psychiatry’s lack of science, and even basic logic, has NO effect whatsoever. I used to write to a psychiatrist I know who is actually a fairly honourable man who means well, that his use of drug company money to fuel his research and his colleagues assertions based on appalling scientific standards, are fundamentally unacceptable- his response, `I’m glad you’re doing well.’ This is a man who claims to respect my intelligence and he believes he does. How much worse is it with most of the rest? Unfortunately I have all but given up. I think it’s all bad but ECT is my field and I don’t know what to do other than burn down the ECT factories and physically destroy all the machines. However, I don’t want to spend my declining years in jail. ALL the research, ALL the history, ALL the people KNOW, but still it goes on and is INCREASING!
Human right organisations are fond of spouting `motherhood’ statements but don’t achieve anything, as witness the appalling abuse of Garth Daniels in Melbourne. The law is expensive and psychiatry/pharma (PP) have money. The media is owned by advertisers i.e. pharma. Movies cost lots and funding is hard to find (how much movie funding comes from big pharma (?) e.g. `A Beautiful Mind’ had John Nash on drugs.) Debates and publications that expose the harm being done? Ignored and countered by more of the same rhetoric and lies and, as you say, Bruce, by destroyed careers and financial ruin. Governments believe power based authorities, especially doctors, and have huge financial commitments to the status quo. Politicians? Elections are expensive. The public? PP hires the best PR and advertising firms in the world. So HOW? Social media? Word of mouth? Exposing the harm and corruption done? Telling people to stay away? But what else is there they say? Not much that grabs ya, that’s for sure.
It took a long time to bring down Rome, the Borgias, the Bourbons and the Romanovs, all by force, but even then because they were imploding anyway. Is psychiatry at this point yet? Have we got the necessary `force’ available?
deeeo42 — ALL great points. Thanks for your interest — Bruce
Oh, thanks so much. It was starting to get boring.
It’s becoming more important to me all the time that we understand anti-psychiatry not as a health reform movement but as part of the prison movement. The recognition of the Prison Industrial Complex as such began around the mid-90’s. I have long believed we should extend the analysis by using the term Prison/Psychiatric Industrial Complex, rather than coming up with our “own” industrial complex and setting ourselves apart as victims of something different than the same social control/repressive apparatus. The fact that this function is disguised by the trappings of medicine and disease terminology doesn’t make it an actual medical issue, so why should we validate the opposition narrative by treating it as such?
it has attempted to co-opt the peer support movement by, at times, hiring ex-patients not as genuine peer supporters but to assist the First-Order to maintain control.
This is the same basic tactic they used very effectively to undermine and ultimately destroy the original incarnation of the anti-psychiatry movement.
This fundamental difference with respect to the acceptance or rejection of psychiatry as legitimate authority to determine mental illness is why the First-Order and the Resistance pose a political threat to each other.
That sums it up. (Though I wish you would start putting quotes around “mental illness” to avoid people framing the issue as “who” has the “legitimate authority” to determine what “it” is, when in fact no one has such authority.)
the Resistance has often squandered its time, energy, and resources attempting to dialogue with the First-Order trying to reform it. It is politically naïve for the Resistance to attempt to reform the First-Order when the First-Order considers the Resistance to be an existential threat to the First-Order’s survival and wants to destroy it. This naivety is part of why the Resistance repeatedly wins scientific battles but is losing the greater political struggle.
This is the crux of the matter, which is why it can be frustrating to read MIA sometimes.
I look forward to your coming pieces, please don’t wait too long!
Thanks, Oldhead. All good points, and I appreciate you enthusiasm — Bruce
Great blog. It provides the basis for a very important and necessary discussion.
In a prior blog I authored I made the following statements that are pertinent to this discussion:
“This evolution of psychiatry in the recent era has to be carefully examined in connection to its strong links to the U.S. economy, especially the meteoric rise in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as other geo-political developments in the world, including increased governmental control and forms of repression in post 9/11 America…”
“Biological Psychiatry is not your grandmother’s or father’s psychiatry, as the expression goes; it’s not just “psychiatry being psychiatry” all over again. It is exponentially more dangerous and powerful than ever, and absolutely more essential to the “powers that be” in preserving the status quo. To not understand or grasp these historic changes will cause us to underestimate what we are up against and possibly misdirect us away from knowing how to develop the appropriate strategy for future efforts to end all psychiatric oppression…”
” Today’s Biological Psychiatry has become such an essential part of the economic and political fabric holding together our present day society, including its ability and need to maintain control over the more volatile sections of the population, that its future existence may be totally interdependent on the rise and fall of the entire system itself….”
Having said all of the above rather dire statements, I am optimistic and do believe that this system provides many openings for exposure of its oppressive nature and opportunities to rally forces for systemic change.
I have written in detail about the benzodiazepine crisis being “psychiatry’s weakest link.” I also believe that the numbers of suicides and acts of violence connected to psychiatric drugs has reached a critical mass where millions of people have been negatively affected and are very open to (and looking for) an avenue to express their outrage and a way to strike back (in an organized way) against those people and institutions responsible.
We must identify the key struggles to focus on and develop the most creative and appropriate strategy and tactics to carry out this work.
Thank you again Bruce for raising this topic.
Since not many people are responding to this blog yet, let me harp back on the “biological psychiatry” quote:
“Biological Psychiatry is not your grandmother’s or father’s psychiatry, as the expression goes; it’s not just “psychiatry being psychiatry” all over again. It is exponentially more dangerous and powerful than ever, and absolutely more essential to the “powers that be” in preserving the status quo.
I have yet to see a concrete point in your analysis where psychiatry became “biological psychiatry.” Unless you start with the advent of ect, psychosurgery and Thorazine, all of which seriously interfere with one’s biology. Psychiatry may be more dangerous than ever, but this is to be expected of the logic of psychiatry when it goes unchecked.
Anyway, Bruce is trying to lay the groundwork for some serious work, hopefully more people will find this discussion important enough to join.
I also wrote the following statement in the same blog from which those quotes derived:
“This definition does NOT mean that psychiatry in the prior period should be labeled as somehow more benign or potentially less dangerous; forced treatment, electro-shock, and lobotomies have a clear legacy in the earlier years. This analysis is merely an attempt to describe what modern day psychiatry has evolved into over the past 40 years; an evolution punctuated by major leaps in growth and overall influence throughout society. Biological Psychiatry has actually become the worst of psychiatry on steroids, with many additional forms of oppression.”
Let’s not quibble about the word “biological.” You can leave it out if you must. I hope you are in some agreement with the overall gist of my analysis and the implications for our strategic approaches towards both ending psychiatric abuse and sweeping Psychiatry into the “Dustbin of History.”
Arise all ye activists. What’s up!
Like I said, I was momentarily returning the that theme while waiting for others to join the main discussion. Certainly, no matter what the term, it is indisputable that since its inception psychiatry has grown exponentially in it’s destructive capacity. I just don’t see a clear demarcation of when psychiatry became “biological,” it seems more like a steady evolution.
Yes, absolutely, Resistance!
Do you think we should set up our own Foster Care Group Homes?
Right now Foster Care is horrible and kids are kept on drugs because the authorities don’t want it to be better than The Family, and they don’t want Foster Care to be graduating any revolutionaries. So thus it has to be really bad, and the kids have to appear pitiful.
If we are going to resist, then shouldn’t we be setting up our own Foster Care, and then also taking in the homeless and psychiatric patients, and then convicts and parolees too?
Otherwise we are not countering the establishment’s claim that anyone who fails to meet the expectations of Capitalism and the Middle-Class Family has a Bad Brain / Bad Morals.
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Back to my point. We have lots of descriptions and discussion about psychiatry but so far only ONE practical suggestion. Thank you so much, Corinna West.
Oh and I’m writing up some of the things I’ve done and suggested that others do over several years, so there’ll be some more soon.
Something everybody could be doing is at least talking in a consistent way about what to do, then perhaps even taking some baby steps towards those goals.
There is an organizing forum that was created largely for this purpose but is not being utilized except for largely purposeless discussions among 3-4 people. Okay, not purposeless as some serious discussion has taken place over the last few years. But so what if it’s 3-4 people? If even the professed anti-psych people on this thread would participate in a more consistent basis we could draw up some sort of initial agenda and try to move on from there.
Oldhead wrote, “It’s becoming more important to me all the time that we understand anti-psychiatry not as a health reform movement but as part of the prison movement. ”
That is a fantastic insight!
You spoke of some sort of organizing forum which is underutilized? Could you show it to me? I want to get involved where things can be made to happen. I think all of the scapegoats need to band together and fight back.
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Great blog as always Bruce.
I have one observation as it relates to the politicization of the psychiatric institution writ large:
It seems to me (and if I’ve missed this in your essay I apologize: it was a quick read today) that the psychotherapeutic profession at large has been colonized by much, if not most of the psychiatric industry’s diagnostic and treatment praxis (DSM5 for starters), save whatever philosophical agencies are at work in both. Of course, how this works and what it looks like, is complex and extensive. But I just wanted to broach to topic for now. It just seems to me that the if the psychotherapeutic profession were a bit less invested in the political reterritorialization (per-Deleuze) of it clients/patients, and instead worked to restore the depoliticized of their charge as an intrinsic feature of whatever therapy is going on, I suspect we’d be looking at a slightly different social landscape.
Just to clarify: by ‘psychotherapeutic profession’ I was referring to psychologist, social workers, counselors, etc., and all the various mediums and forums they work in.
Thanks, plebtocracy, and yes I agree that non-psychiatrists certainly collaborate with First-Order Psychiatry — Bruce
Soteria is based on a Recovery Approach
Well back when R. D. Laing was running his Tavistock Clinic, this may have made sense. And today I think much of anti-psychiatry is still like this.
But I don’t go along with psychotherapy or recovery either, because they place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the victim.
Someone treated with dignity and respect and allowed to develop and apply their abilities is very unlike to have a problem with drugs or alcohol, or even the behaviors which get categorized as mental illness.
And then the difficulties people experience have nothing to do with the past. They have to do with a lack of socio-political power in the present. Convincing people that it is of the past is how therapy drives people crazy.
So if your parents abused you, and nothing has been done about it, you will continue to be subject to continuing abuse day after day for as long as you live because you have no social defense. You live in a world where such abuse is expected. You must either get down on your knees and worship the Holy Family, your you will be persecuted.
So the way to fight back is to develop comrades and organize and then to make counter strikes. Go after the middle-class family, and Capitalism, and when possible your own abusers.
A survivor is still a victim. The object has to be victory.
Machievelli found that `conspiracies conducted by a handful of men acting secretly invariably meet tragic ends, Open revolts involving large numbers of people do not.’
The overthrow of the Duke of Athens involved the `great, the people, the artisans’ – they may begin as secret conspiracies [until] the secret is shared’ – which is what Is happening now.., and must continue.
The UK parliament is entertaining the possibility that psychotropic drugs are making matter worse and more EXPENSIVE. Whitaker, Critical Psychiatry and Evidenced Based Psychiatry are being heard in PUBLIC. The Lancet and BMJ have published Study 329 (the Paxil fraud) – the Cochrane Collaboration expose on SSRIs and suicide – The Maudsley debated psychotropics – THESE are the places whence legitimacy comes.
The press is publishing a mix now, not just establishment unquestioned. There IS momentum.
Practically I suggest: Exposure of crimes in media
Circulate all adverse drug findings with comments on social media – repeatedly.
Circulate all stories of human rights abuses – repeatedly. Every story no matter how terrible becomes yesterday’s story very quickly.
Get to know a list of journalists who have shown even the slightest interest in the the past. Many are hungry for bylines and even the most cautious (of offending drug companies) editors may let the occasional story slip through, particularly human interest stories.
Write to your local member, members in marginal seats and the opposition.
Find out which, if any, politician, has any sympathies in the mental health field – and why.
Forward every adverse drug story with the reminder of how much this all COSTS- MONEY is what might bring the pollies in. Philosophical arguments won’t.
Forward all info on alternative projects like Open Dialogue and Soteria = COST benefits – produce real figures. If we do the work for them and give them a concrete proposal, they can force the psychiatrists to `please explain’.
Currently litigation (mainly in the US) is settled out of court and gagged. In the interests of public safety this has to stop. Lobby to make it mandatory for ALL settlements to be on the public record.
Litigation – class actions +++ no gags. Currently litigation is sparse except in the US. The rest of us have to increase our efforts, no matter how distasteful.
Report every anomaly in billing, prescribing, unethical behaviour, to appropriate authorities.
Get every case file from every psychiatrist and hospital – go through it for ANY anomaly – in billing, clinical relevance (e.g. threats, obvious poor clinical decisions such as ECT for punishment), breaches of confidentiality and ethics, poor record keeping etc.
Get government printouts (where possible) of all transactions during your treatment periods – you can pick up fraud here.
Read the Medical Codes of Ethics and spot breaches. A psychiatrist who sits on your bed and massages your toes is assaulting you. If a psychiatrist discusses your case with ANY colleague outside your primary care team and mentions your name without your permission, he/she is breaching confidentiality. If a psychiatrist threatens to discharge you if you don’t do whatever he/she tells you, without arranging for alternative care, he/she is abandoning you and that is illegal. If the doctor you have reported has altered a file, that is illegal.
Inform private insurance companies of rorts by psychiatrists. Again case notes and gov files may expose doctors and hospitals. Insurance companies could make great allies, they are paying out millions for unsuccessful and/or harmful treatments, for life in many cases. Also litigation for ECT might not get it banned up front, but might increase the premiums to unacceptable levels for those who do it.
If you believe you have damage as a result of treatment get independent assessments. E.g. ECT and brain damage. I set up an MRI and a neuropsychological assessment to evaluate brain damage. With these results I consulted a neurologist and asked for and got a referral to a neurological rehabilitation unit. I did it to set a precedent. The neurologist agreed I had an Acquired Brain Injury, I had had no other head injury in my life so it had to have come from ECT. I was never informed that this was a possible outcome therefore I now have a case for litigation. Unfortunately I didn’t think of it before the limitation period of 3 years was up. BUT I have been suggesting to others that this be done since May 2015. I believe a few people have done this. Unfortunately the tests are expensive and not covered by Medicare or private insurance. However rather than protests and marches could groups hold fundraisers for specifics like this with a clear aim. The aim is to get help for the individual, get an independent opinion based on concrete evidence i.e. cognitive and structural brain damage,
gather evidence to set up a class action. to educate another area of medicine as to what is really happening in psychiatry. The neurologist knew virtually nothing about ECT and was totally unaware and shocked that psychiatrists were using Cingulotomy (lobotomy) for psychiatric purposes as it was designed for severe epilepsy.
All of this requires a lot of effort but if a reform group could produce formulated letters for politicians, insurance companies and law firms, how to apply for personal case files (varies but make a form letter available), a collection of all the incoming science, lists of legal info (e.g. what is required and `how to’ instructions), what constitutes breaches of ethics, fraud etc, and put it all in one place, it might provide focus for a uniform front.
I think we have to understand that those of us who write here find it easy to express ourselves in writing, most don’t and don’t know where to begin. But, whilst we don’t have the money we do have the numbers. Maybe I’m naive and this is too simplistic, so if anyone has more ideas let’s hear them!
Thank you for taking the time to create such a comprehensive list of political actions. All great ideas. In Part Two, I will discuss more strategies and tactics — Bruce
Listen to some right wing talk stations, pick the most open host, call them and give them a “hot tip” about mass shootings being caused by psychiatric drugs and not the mere existence of guns, backed up with solid info from Dr. Breggin, etc.
Check into “recovery” forums a la NAMI and put out info about drugs, the medical model, and how much better you’re doing now that you’re free of psychiatry. If they delete them keep a record of this and publicize it.
Gather scientific & medical studies disproving chemical imbalance and other biological theories and put them in a compendium. Maybe MIA will put them on the site to have on hand for reference.
Other such anecdotal ideas can be found on the Organizing Forum.
Thanks for this, oldhead, especially reminding Mad in America readers of the Organizing Forum.
Hi Bruce, thank you again for a very important article. I’m very surprised though, at your huge omission of not listing Peter Breggin as a high profile critic of psychiatry. Since the 1970’s no one has been bolder in their full throated condemnation of the disease model of psychiatry and it’s practices such as ECT and the use of medications. Breggin was smeared by NAMI with psychiatry’s blessing in an attempt to strip him of his license by the Maryland Medical Board for publicly speaking out against the use of medications.
As a front line dissident therapist and anti-psychiatry political activist working full time in a large urban public mental health system for 28 years, I know first hand and exactly why the Resistance you describe has failed so miserably in the political power struggle with the unholy alliance of Psychiatry, NAMI, Pharma and gutless politicians- and therefore why there are forced in-home treatment laws in almost every state and possibly soon nationally.
My April 2014 MIA article- “It’s time for a stronger political ground game to compete with NAMI and company on forced treatment” outlines why the Resistance has lost and will keep losing on every political issue, not just on forced treatment- if a city by city and county by county grassroots effort to match what the unholy alliance has perfected isn’t mounted.
Their political battle plan is simple. Build a relentless, ever present and ruthless political ground game from the bottom up and you can always win locally and nationally.
So to show what I’m talking about let me ask some pointed questions based on my experience, as I do in the article.
Bruce, and MIA readers. do you know the names of every mayor and city council person in every city and town in your county? Do you know the name of your County’s CEO, Health services director, mental health director, adult and children’s county mental health chiefs, plus the names of every elected county supervisor in your county? Are you now or have you been a member of an organized coalition of Resistance activists who have met with every person I’ve listed above in the first week they got hired or elected, and on a frequent, regular basis since then to strongly lobby them to oppose the unholy alliance and to adopt and support the vision and agenda of the Resistance?
If the answer to all the question above isn’t a resounding yes, then please understand why winning the political grass roots contest with the unholy alliance will never happen. Because NAMI, as the designated human face of the unholy alliance, has done and is doing as we speak exactly what I’m sharing above. They face to face lobby every person who may have any possible effect on tilting the political ground in their favor. In every meeting they unfailingly put the person of possible influence on the spot, to get them on record. They almost always either bring or tell about a local NAMI family member who has tragically lost an offspring to suicide and ask- “Are you in support of increasing psychiatric staff in the county system? Are you in favor of the civil commitment laws that provide for court ordered community treatment? Are you aware of what psychiatry has proven?- that mental illness is a medical disease that deserves the same allocation of psychiatric resources as the other medical specialties. And finally, do you know how many registered NAMI voters there are in your city, your county?”
How do I know what transpires in those NAMI meetings with all the people I’ve t listed above? I met with the all same people. For 20 years I was the leader of a broad based coalition of Eesistance reformers. Many times our group would meet the NAMI contingent in the waiting rooms of politicians or other decision makers. If they were scheduled first, we would go in next and see the looks on the faces of the people who had just been grilled by the NAMI leadership. I personally know some of those politicians and decision makers and they told me the questions NAMI asked them in order to leverage them on the public record.
One of those guys who’s a friend of mine started out as a city councilman and is now a very powerful California state senator. I remember what he told me when I was working on his campaign for county supervisor- “Jesus Mike, you know I support the progressive work you and the folks in your coalition represent, but I get so much damn pressure from NAMI and Dr. H. the chief of county psychiatry to vote for the changes they want. They even not so subtly threatened me that they’d support who”s running against me if they think my opponent is are more pro-mental health as NAMI sees it. They even told me how many NAMI registered voters there are in my district! Please know I’m sorry, but I’m not gonna be able to work to give you guys much of the consumer run services that you want this year, if I’m gonna win this election!”
We did get alot of the peer run services and peer specialist civil service jobs we fought for though over the years.
We tried to match the grassroots political ground game of NAMI and the unholy alliance.
I respect your experience, commitment, and passion for political change. You have presented a very strong case for why we should focus a great deal of our political exposure on NAMI for its role in defending and propping up an oppressive “mental health” system.
However, I don’t think the solution for our organizing efforts is to somehow become better than NAMI at trying to influence those who wield political power in this profit based capitalist system. That is, become a pressure group trying to get Democratic politicians (at any level) to become something they never will become, and something they are completely incapable of becoming as long as they are dependent on and beholden to being elected to represent and defend a profit based system. This game of “pin the tail on the donkey or elephant” is a demoralizing dead end for political organizing.
I am not saying that we should never do anything within this mainstream political process. Hell, I recently testified at a political hearing on an important benzo bill pending in the Massachusetts legislation process (btw, its potential passage has been postponed, as one might have expected given the powerful opposition by organized Psychiatry). I am only advocating that this type of political pressure group work should NOT be the focus, or main aspect of our efforts.
Whatever campaigns (opposing psychiatric oppression) we focus on should principally take place OUTSIDE mainstream politics. Our efforts SHOULD NOT rely on us successfully begging politicians to somehow ignore their need to court (or not offend) the corporate interests and major political players for their next electoral process. Ain’t going to happen. Michael, I think some of the experiences you recount proves this point out.
We need to create the basis for a political uprising and movement of an educated and aroused populace that can’t be ignored by those in power for fear of even greater resistance. Hasn’t history proved that for example, the Civil Rights movement and Anti-war movement mainly advanced on the basis of these OUTSIDE forms of political organizing which forced those in power to support reforms out of fear of further forms of rebellion.
Whatever we do must involve creative tactics and forms of organizing that exposes and embarrasses those in power. And we must combine all this with exposure of the ultimate oppressive nature of a profit based system that corrupts all human endeavors. Does anyone here really believe we can truly end psychiatric oppression and have compassionate supports for people suffering from extreme psychological distress within a capitalist based profit system???
Thanks Richard, for your comments.
Politics 101 tells us that gutless politicians often don’t respond to the will of the people but when that they will when popular opinion is overwhelming, as I will discuss in Part Two (the example of the National Center for Youth Law getting California legislatures to pass bills to reduce the use of psychiatric drugs to control the behavior of children in foster care (not perfect bills but did accomplish something).
Generally, Richard and Michael, so few of us are focusing on Politics 101, that we must be careful not to discourage anyone who is also thinking politically, even though we might feel that our strategy and tactic are best, and their strategy and tactic will not be all that effective. The reality is, when you look at history, nobody knows for sure what activism may or may not work on an immediate level but will ultimately work on another level – I will discuss some of this in Part Two. Thanks again — Bruce
It doesn’t have to be an either/or. Those who have the time and patience to lobby and bug bureaucrats, and who want to work at that level, should by all means do so. Though this shouldn’t be the dominant focus, the problem has to be attacked at all levels. Though I think that direct appeals to the public will ultimately lead to the fundamentals of psychiatry being discredited, hence creating public support for the abolition of coercive psychiatrization.
Hi Richard, I agree we need a broad array of political tactics. I also have long agreed with Herbert Marcuse and others, that the “long march through the institutions” that I practiced for almost 30 years has great value in transforming and weakening the oppressive system from the inside out- by being change agent catalysts, Resistance fighters inside the belly of the beast we help prepare the hour of it’s collapse. That long march is not everyone’s calling I know, but serving in the Resistance behind enemy lines has a venerable history.
Best wishes, Michael
Hi Michael, thanks for your points and your passion about this topic..
For readers, Michael’s important piece, “It’s Time for a Stronger Political Ground Game to Compete with NAMI and Company on Forced Treatment” is it http://www.madinamerica.com/2014/04/time-stronger-political-ground-game-compete-nami-company-forced-treatment/ and I will talk about how this kind of political activism has been effective in Part Two.
With respect to my omissions of other high-profile critics of the First-Order who have suffered retributions, there are I know many — I picked as examples one psychiatrist, one ex-patient, attorney, and one journalist. I chose Loren Mosher as the psychiatrist example because I felt that his Soteria success most threatened First-Order Psychiatry and that his retribution was most severe, getting fired from his NIMH position, but I don’t mean to minimize the retributions of many other critics, as I say in the piece, “I don’t know of any critic of First-Order Psychiatry who has not paid some price, such as career and licensing difficulties, legal threats, and financial costs.”
Thanks again Michael for you thoughts, and for being one of the few MIA writers who are writing about political strategies and tactics for the Resistance — Bruce
Thanks for posting the link to my article Bruce. I look forward to your coming articles on mental health politics, and in joining with you in this never ending political power struggle.
In solidarity, Michael