Drug Choice, Scientology, Ego Needs & Other Divides: Real Politics 101, Part Three


Abolishing First-Order Psychiatry—which includes the American Psychiatric Association and its Big Pharma partners—as a legitimate authority in determining “mental illness” as well as abolishing First-Order Psychiatry’s “treatment” and control dominion are primarily political struggles.

In Part One, I discussed how the Rehumanizing Resistance has been winning scientific battles but losing the war against the expansion of influence of First-Order Psychiatry, and how this is due in large part to the First-Order’s effective political tactics and the Resistance’s political naivety. In Part Two, I offered Resistance strategies and tactics.

However, if the Resistance lacks solidarity, strength, and energy to do battle, then it will be unable to implement effective tactics. So, in Part Three, I will focus on how the Resistance can overcome frustration and disunity, and sustain the energy to do battle. This means maintaining solidarity and teamwork as well as confidence that the Resistance can win.

Resistance Activists’ Frustrations

Every human rights activist gets frustrated.

Harriet Tubman, slave abolitionist and herself a runaway slave, conducted multiple missions as an Underground Railroad conductor and also participated in the Union Army’s Combahee River Raid that freed more than 700 slaves. Looking back on her career as a freedom fighter, Tubman noted, “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”

The reality is that in human rights struggles, it is only a minority within an oppressed group that has the energy and strength to fight to end oppression. When human beings are oppressed for too long, many can become so psychologically weak that they believe they need their oppressors.

Resistance activists must understand that the Resistance message of First-Order Psychiatry’s pseudoscience, corruption, and illegitimacy is a message that can create painful dissonance for people who have placed their doctrinal faith in First-Order Psychiatry—resulting in a need to “kill the messenger.” So, regardless of what the research states about how First-Order Psychiatry’s labeling and biochemical explanations actually increases stigma, there will be First-Order apologists who continue needing to believe that these labels and biochemical explanations benefit them.

Resistance activists need to better differentiate between those open to scientific facts and those closed by doctrinal faith—and use their energy more wisely.

Controversies & Divides

All human rights movements have had internal controversies. For example, the U.S. slave abolition movement had its divisions and estrangements. The once close friendship between the most famous white abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, and the most famous black abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, ultimately ended and their breach never healed. However, despite the abolition movement’s divisions and estrangements, abolitionists, including Garrison and Douglas, persevered.

Controversies and divides are unavoidable, but allowing them to destroy a movement can be avoided. The Resistance’s passion for truth and justice energizes the movement. However, the more dispassionately the Resistance approaches its internal controversies and divisions, the more likely it can keep them in perspective and not allow First-Order Psychiatry to “divide and conquer.”

Below I will examine some of the controversies and divides within the Rehumanizing Resistance including: (1) Drug Choice; (2) Scientology; (3) Dialoguing with First-Order Psychiatry; and (4) Ego Needs.

Drug Choice

Given the moral principle that the Resistance is fighting for—informed choice—there should be no disunity as to whether adults, for themselves, can choose to utilize or reject psychiatric drugs. However, in reality, psychiatric drug use is a source of tension within the Rehumanizing Resistance. For example, here’s an excerpted comment in Mad in America on Politics 101, Part Two, from TenaciousMe:

I am an educated, anti-authoritarian woman in my 40s. I have a critical approach to psychiatry in general, and a particular revulsion towards coercive and enforced treatments of vulnerable and distressed human beings. . . . I choose to take stimulant medication that I think does me far more good than harm, as of now. It can feel tough around here, for people like me.

I recall attending, in 1998, the first International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology conference comprised of dissident professionals and ex-patients. After an entire morning of professionals trashing psychiatric drugs’ adverse effects and scientific ineffectiveness, there was a break and a rush to the coffee station, with others rushing outside for a nicotine fix; and that evening, more than a few were drinking alcohol. So, I thought, these professionals were railing against psychiatric drugs but not their drugs; and I thought that for ex-patients who might still be taking psychiatric drugs, this might feel more than a bit hypocritical and maybe even shaming.

Since 1998, I’ve written several articles (most recently for AlterNet in 2014) about psychotropic drug hypocrisy, where I state that many critics of psychiatry, including myself, are not condemning people’s use of psychiatric drugs but instead condemning psychiatry’s failure to provide people with the capacity to make informed choice.

I understand how people such as TenaciousMe who continue using psychiatric drugs can read the Mad in America web site and conclude “It can feel tough around here, for people like me.” All of us, especially professional dissidents, need to do a better job in communicating a more inclusive message here.

The more difficult issue is a parent’s “right” to choose psychiatric drugs for their child, and a mother’s “right” to use psychiatric drugs when pregnant. Society has agreed that a pregnant woman does not have the right to choose heroin or excessive amounts of alcohol, so what then does that mean for a pregnant mother’s right to choose psychiatric drugs that are also known to be dangerous for the fetus? Also, does a parent really have the right to choose stimulant medication for a child bored by school? Who has the right to decide drugs for a child?

It should not be difficult to be united on the idea that adults, for themselves, have the right to choose to utilize or reject psychiatric drugs (and much of the general public concurs). More difficult, both within the Resistance and for the general public, is the issue of “parental rights” when it comes to psychiatric drugs. In the end, the Resistance needs to be passionately energized by what it can easily unite on but accept that in other areas, unity is more difficult.


One of the Resistance’s most divisive issues with respect to alliances is the Church of Scientology and its Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR).

The late Thomas Szasz, psychiatrist author of The Myth of Mental Illness (1961) and perhaps the most well-known critic of First-Order Psychiatry, made it clear that he did not believe in Scientology nor any other religion. However, Szasz served on CCHR’s Board of Advisors as Founding Commissioner because he saw Scientology and its financial resources as a powerful force in the fight against First-Order Psychiatry.

In contrast, psychiatrist Peter Breggin, another well-known critic of First-Order Psychiatry who re-energized the Resistance in the 1990s with his book Toxic Psychiatry, has made great efforts to distance himself from Scientology, telling PBS’s Frontline: “I have nothing to do with Scientology. . . . My wife was a Scientologist, and is now so strongly anti-Scientology, that if I even took a phone call from a Scientologist, she’d be on my back. . . . I recommend personally that Scientologists not be brought to these hearings (before a state legislature in Arkansas), but I have no control over that.”

Some Resistance members advocate working together with CCHR, pointing out that CCHR has had political successes in battling First-Order Psychiatry. Most recently, the proposed Veteran Suicide Prevention Act (part of which will fund the study of the relationship between psychiatric drug prescribing and veterans’ suicides) is sponsored by Rep. David Jolly who has been linked to Scientology (Jolly’s district includes Clearwater, Florida, home base for Scientology). It is co-sponsored at present by over 60 other members of Congress who have no relationship with Scientology, and this bill is also supported by the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP), which also has no relationship with Scientology.

Journalist Robert Whitaker, in Anatomy of an Epidemic, writes about the huge political downside caused by Scientology:

Thanks to Scientology, the powers that be in psychiatry had the perfect storytelling foil, for they could now publicly dismiss criticism of the medical model and psychiatric drugs with a wave of the hand, deriding it as nonsense that arose from people who were members of a deeply unpopular cult, rather than criticism that arose from their own research. As such, the presence of Scientology in the storytelling mix served to taint all criticism of the medical model and psychiatric drugs, no matter what the source.

As I discuss in a 2008 Huffington Post piece “Thinking Critically about Scientology, Psychiatry, and Their Feud,” the political problem for Resistance activists is Scientology’s similarity to First-Order Psychiatry in that both are (1) pseudoscientific; (2) oppressively hierarchical; and (3) deal harshly with their ex-insiders who have come to reject them.

The Rehumanizing Resistance needs to try its best to maintain a dispassionate and analytic view of what is most politically helpful for the Resistance in abolishing First-Order Psychiatry.

Dialoguing with First-Order Psychiatry

The Rehumanizing Resistance has historically made great efforts attempting to dialogue and reform First-Order Psychiatry, most notably in recent times by journalist Robert Whitaker, who despite his efforts was declared to be a “menace to society” in 2015 by Jeffrey Lieberman, former president of the American Psychiatric Association.

So, does it make any sense continuing to dialogue and attempt to reform First-Order Psychiatry? Political theorist and sociologist Gene Sharp in From Dictatorship to Democracy examines the “Dangers of Negotiations” and when it does and does not make sense for a democratic resistance to dialogue with a dictatorship. For Sharp:

On some basic issues there should be no compromise. . . Such a shift will occur through struggle, not negotiations. This is not to say that negotiations ought never to be used. The point here is that negotiations are not a realistic way to remove a strong dictatorship in the absence of a powerful democratic opposition.

Take the case of abolishing the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM as a legitimate authority in determining “mental illness.” Should the Resistance dialogue and compromise with the likes of Allen Frances, former chair of the pseudo-scientific DSM-4 taskforce, who has been a critic of the even more pseudo-scientific DSM-5? Since complete de-legitimization of the DSM is a fundamental objective for the Resistance, negotiations and compromise would be a political error.

Sharp concludes that democratic forces should be wary of dictators’ calls for negotiations which is often an effort to induce surrender. Sharp notes that dictators may have a variety of goals underlying their domination, including power, position, and wealth, which is why they are not inclined to abandon their control positions:

Whatever promises offered by dictators in any negotiated settlement, no one should ever forget that the dictators may promise anything to secure submission from their democratic opponents, and then brazenly violate those same agreements. . . .Resistance, not negotiations, is essential for change in conflicts where fundamental issues are at stake. . . .Without that desperately needed legitimacy, the dictators cannot continue to rule indefinitely. Exponents of peace should not provide them legitimacy.

Again, the Resistance must try to maintain an analytic and dispassionate view as when, politically, it does and does not make sense to dialogue with First-Order Psychiatry, and what should never be negotiated.

Ego Needs

Many members of the Rehumanizing Resistance—including both ex-patients and dissident professionals— have been traumatized by First-Order Psychiatry, through its labeling and coercive “treatment” or through its humiliating “training” and professionalization. Both ex-patients and dissident professionals have been discounted, invalidated, and not taken seriously.

Extreme deprivations of respect can result in extreme needs for attention, and this can result in difficulties in teamwork. When one has not been taken seriously at all, there is a natural tendency to take oneself so seriously that teamwork is subverted.

The Rehumanizing Resistance, by its nature, is made up of noncompliant people, and the energy of anti-authoritarianism is part of what fuels this movement. However, some anti-authoritarians can focus exclusively on their points of disagreement, demanding respect for them, rather than connecting on their agreements. An exclusive focus on disagreements can result in animosity and fracture, especially if face-to-face interpersonal bonds are absent. Debate over differences is healthy, but the kind of debate that energizes rather than debilitates a movement requires attention to emotional realities.

Resistance ex-patients can feel that Resistance dissident professionals, by virtue of “the letters after their names,” are taken more seriously than they are. Resistance ex-patients can feel that their experiences as patients in the psychiatric system are not appreciated, and that they have less influence within the Resistance movement than dissident professionals. Helpful in recent years, the line between Resistance ex-patients and dissident professionals has blurred some: some ex-patients have become dissident professionals; and some dissident professionals have stated publicly that it is only by luck that they did not become patients themselves entangled within the psychiatric system.

There is a great deal of anger in the Rehumanizing Resistance. Resistance ex-patients have anger over not being taken seriously by their families and psychiatric systems; and dissident professionals also have anger over not being taken seriously by colleagues and institutions; and all are angry at First-Order Psychiatry’s corruption, abuse, pseudoscience, and oppression. Anger can help energize activism, but uncontrolled anger can be destructive to teamwork.

Ego needs are part of our humanity and not shameful. However, extreme ego needs for attention, respect, and power can subvert solidarity and teamwork.

“Collective Confidence” That First-Order Psychiatry Can Be Abolished

For human rights and democracy movements to succeed, certain psychological and cultural building blocks are required. Historian Lawrence Goodwyn concluded that “individual self-respect” and “collec­tive self-confidence” constitute the cultural building blocks of successful movements opposing tyranny. Lacking individual self-respect, people do not believe that they are worthy of power or capable of utilizing power wisely, and they accept as their role as subjects of power. Lacking collective self-confidence, people do not believe they can succeed in wresting power away from their rulers.

First-Order Psychiatry is expansionist, seeking dominion over ever larger populations. The American Psychiatric Association, through its DSM, expands the number of people deemed “mentally ill,” and Big Pharma expands the number of people to be drugged and expands the number of drugs they are prescribed. The good news is that history tells that all expansionist institutions and imperialistic nation states ultimately collapse.

The lesson from history is that tyrannical and dehumanizing institutions and nation states are often more fragile than they appear. Be it pro-slavery expansionists in the United States or imperialist empire nation states throughout history, all become arrogant with their success and lose humility about potential blowback that always results from expansionism. We see that blowback happening with the DSM-5 expansionism.

While expansionist institutions and nation states ultimately fall under the weight of their own arrogance and stupidity, they fall faster when human rights and democracy movements are pushing for their collapse. Pushing for the collapse of oppressive and dehumanizing First-Order Psychiatry is the task of those of us in the Rehumanizing Resistance.



Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Excellent, forthright and thoughtful analysis, Dr. Levine. As a professional who comments here and is attempting to help counteract First-Order Psychiatry, my comments frequently get attacked for specious reasons or ignore, perhaps for the same reason. Correctly identifying the enemy and consolidating supporters is key in developing a coalition. Coalitions are made up of groups or people who may not believe EXACTLY as you do, but are aligned with you enough that you can group together to accomplish a goal. Just as political parties are made up of people who may disagree around the edges, but agree enough about core concepts to band together to gain power. It is frustrating to be proposing an alternative to the DSM/ICD yet be blasted because I do not meet someone’s definition of perfect alignment with their beliefs. For those who are open-minded enough to consider it: http://www.SelfAcceptancePsychology.com

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  2. The nutrient/orthomolecular guys are possibly the best guys for you to ally yourselves with. Although they’re believers in the medical model, theirs is the same one your real doctor uses when treating your ordinary illnesses, not the confused one used by shrinks. Although they’ll use drugs (the new ones are unpopular) and ECT (your memory stays if you’re on B3), these are but secondary methods of treatment; they have more treatments than most shrinks, including controlled fasting, allergy testing and chelation in addition to using nutrient and hormone replacement therapy- sometimes in large doses. They’re also infiltrating you- I am not the only one.

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  3. I am a relatively new psychiatric nurse practitioner and your publication has encouraged me to ensure I am providing as objective information as possible to my patients to allow them to make informed choices. Thus far, I do not see these issues as black and white as you, but respect the perspective. Ensuring I have the ability to NOT prescribe to patients when I/they choose cost me a position at an otherwise solid practice. Worth it.

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  4. Great post all the way round. I had a slight problem with one little area though. If mad pride were an “extreme ego need”, I’m not going to forswear my proud madness because somebody thinks I should be anon-a-mouse. I’ve had it with trying to deceive the people behind the nurse’s station window. I wouldn’t, like, encourage black people to return to the plantation house either. Anyway, whatever madness prevails it should not jeopardize the teamwork our movement so desperately needs to accomplish its ends. Solidarity, teamwork, teamwork which involves transcending ego conflicts, and the confidence to keep at it, and follow through. No one person acting along is going to accomplish very much, but by pooling our resources, and working together as part of the Rehumanizing Resistance we might be able to make some real progress when it comes to effecting change. We might, in the process, be able to make some real inroads against First-Order Psychiatry, too. Our differences aren’t liabilities, not when we can work together, and get the things that need to be done done despite them. Perhaps we can even use them to good advantage.

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  5. Well, it’s an easy format to follow, let’s see what happens. One at a time:


    It’s not clear what you’re saying needs to change. While it is true that antipsychiatry people support the “right” of people to take psychiatric drugs, we cannot conscionably pretend to support the fraudulent hypotheses and suppositions upon which the use of these drugs is based. Someone voluntarily using such drugs and posting at MIA can’t help but be aware of this dilemma, and it might make them feel uncomfortable. But this can’t be used as a reason to discard our analyses. If someone feels personally harassed or attacked simply for their use of psych drugs that should surely be addressed, but I’m unaware of this being a recurrent problem, at least on this site.

    The issue of “informed consent” is tricky. What constitutes “information” is highly debatable, and many would hold that a reasonable person who is accurately informed would never consent. So yes, of course, in a civil rights sense people are entitled to make choices based on “informed consent,” but it’s a slippery slope and highly subjective.

    There’s a big difference between natural drugs such as coffee, marijuana, wine or even opiates, for which the body has natural receptors. Psychiatric drugs are toxic to the body and were developed specifically for reasons of social control and corporate hegemony. Now that they’re here people have a “right” to take them, but they also have a “right” to suicide. We should be trying to create a system where such dubious “rights” are unnecessary.


    CCHR will try to ride on your coattails if your group is getting attention, but they will go away if you don’t want to work with them. They also have done some objectively valuable legal work and some of their videos on the history of psychiatry.

    When people react to the Scientology accusations with horror and hysteria I think it makes us look suspect. If Scientology put out a video about how Earth is spherical and revolves around the Sun, would the media rush to smear discredit Copernicus? These contradictions should be brought out. It shouldn’t be too difficult to point out that sharing a belief with or recognizing a truth also held by another person or organization doesn’t mean that you are in lockstep with everything else they believe or do.

    This has been discussed in the past in the comments section. When an anti-psychiatry discussion is interrupted by someone who wants to go on about Scientology, ask them what about the discussion makes them want to change or divert the subject, and suggest they start a thread in the All Things Political forum if they really want to talk about this (and can find someone else who wants to). Similar approaches could be used in other circumstances.

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    • I’m either too tired or have holes in my brain; here are the missing words/phrases:

      “There’s a big difference between psychiatric drugs and natural drugs such as coffee, marijuana, wine or even opiates, for which the body has natural receptors.”

      “[CCHR has] done some objectively valuable legal work and some of their videos on the history of psychiatry are the best available”

      “If Scientology put out a video about how Earth is spherical and revolves around the Sun, would the media rush to smear anddiscredit Copernicus?”

      Sorry. I must need food.

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      • Bruce, excellent blog.

        Partial response to Oldhead regarding the “drug” issue: all the drugs discussed here (including both psych drugs and pot, alcohol, and nicotine etc.) are “mind altering” in some way.

        Of course we will continue to expose the dangers of psych drugs and the crimes committed by both Psychiatry and Big Pharma using fraudulent means to get these drugs approved for legal distribution and then conducting billion dollar campaigns to get millions of people worldwide to take them.

        Now that millions have adapted to living with some of these drugs (or become in some way dependent on taking them) it will take decades (even if we somehow were able to eliminate Psychiatry tomorrow) to help society become less dependent or reliant on using them.

        The meaning I read into Bruce Levine’s words are as follows:
        we must firmly declare that ALL people willing to oppose the crimes of the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex are welcome in our movement regardless of what drugs they find it necessary to use to function in this stress filled and trauma laden world.

        No can tell someone else what is the best way to cope with the madness and insanity of this oppressive system we live within , And there should be NO hierarchy or shame within our movement based on whether or not some people still use Psych drugs or others who may have been able to achieve some type of independence from needing or using these drugs at this time.

        On Scientology: It is NOT just a question of being falsely labeled a Scientologist because of our criticisms of Psychiatry and the “mental health” system. It is the serious problems related to working with people who are part of a dangerous cult. A cult that has harmed thousands of its members and is extremely wealthy and well positioned to use its money and power to recruit new members, take over, control, and/or otherwise negatively influence the development of our movement.

        Both Peter Breggin and Robert Whitaker have been very smart to steer clear of Scientology, and we should learn from their example.

        And finally, on the basis of unity between Psych survivors and other system dissidents. Bruce brought up the following important point:
        “Many members of the Rehumanizing Resistance—including both ex-patients and dissident professionals— have been traumatized by First-Order Psychiatry, through its labeling and coercive “treatment” or through its humiliating “training” and professionalization. Both ex-patients and dissident professionals have been discounted, invalidated, and not taken seriously.

        I would add that part of the trauma that dissidents experience from this system is bearing direct witness to the daily harm done by coercive forms of “treatment” and the lack of “informed consent” related to the massive amount of psych drugging that disables people from being able to solve the very family/emotional/trauma issues that first brings them to seek help from this oppressive system.

        Many of us have watched people die or have their lives destroyed by this system and it takes its toll on our humanity.I would never EVER want to compare the degree of trauma from being a potential dissident observer working in and around this system to the actual victims harmed by Biological Psychiatry and the medical model. But any open minded professional who has a heart and a critical spirit of human compassion is also damaged in many ways by this system. Some are not yet even aware of this damage at the present time.

        And Bruce, thank you for clearly posing the real dangers in “negotiating” with the System and making “reform” the central focus of our struggle.


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        • all the drugs discussed here (including both psych drugs and pot, alcohol, and nicotine etc.) are “mind altering” in some way.

          Don’t know if I would include nicotine, but the ones I mentioned, which but for the psych drugs all are consciousness-altering, accomplish this in natural ways which can be legitimately considered beneficial and healing; not so for psych drugs. But this is getting off the point.

          The meaning I read into Bruce Levine’s words are as follows:
          we must firmly declare that ALL people willing to oppose the crimes of the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex are welcome in our movement regardless of what drugs they find it necessary to use to function in this stress filled and trauma laden world.

          Who has ever denied this and why is it so important to keep repeating? Is anyone being hounded to stop taking their drugs?

          Also, I still firmly believe that we should not be cavalierly appropriating the term “Prison Industrial Complex” from the movement for political prisoners and prison abolition. The “complex” (“PPIC”) you mention actually is a branch of the Prison Industrial Complex. Once the left recognizes our struggle again I believe the adjusted term “Prison/Psychiatric Industrial Complex” would be appropriate, but we can’t just go taking people’s and movements’ valued concepts from them like it’s no thing, or at least seems to valued allies like we’re doing so. Because again, this is not a struggle about health reform, but domestic repression.

          As for Scientology, CCHR has been around as long as the movement itself. Though it’s possible, I don’t ever recall hearing about someone being lured into Scientology as a result of working with them. For that matter I haven’t heard of many independent people working closely with them period. I’m not recommending that we work with CCHR, just that we have to get over freaking out every time someone mentions the word Scientology. I don’t think they have a big future anyway.

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          • Oldhead

            You said: “Who has ever denied this and why is it so important to keep repeating? Is anyone being hounded to stop taking their drugs?”

            No (you are right) I don’t think anyone has been hounded or directly criticized or somehow declared unfit for the movement because they are taking psych drugs.

            But you must admit that MIA has featured many stories about survivor’s long arduous journeys getting off of psych drugs. Commenters have often offered support, advice, and great praise to those who have been successful in this journey.

            This support and praise is a good thing but there may be a perceived or “implied” message in these numerous survivor stories and the various responses of the readers.

            For those people who may have tried and failed in this endeavor to become totally abstinent, or don’t wish to go all the way with total withdrawal (for a multitude of different reasons) we have to recognize that they may subjectively feel “less than” or not as strong as those who have succeeded in going all the way.

            I am not suggesting they should, or need to feel this way. Obviously from my prior comment I am suggesting just the opposite. I’m just trying to look at an underlying psychological dynamic that may be in play in these type of discussions surrounding the delicate (and sometimes desperate) issues related to the type of compromises people have to make taking psychiatric drugs in today’s world.


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          • This support and praise is a good thing but there may be a perceived or “implied” message in these numerous survivor stories and the various responses of the readers.

            The message is and should be that psychiatric drugs are dangerous, fraudulently prescribed and in general not a good thing. That’s why so many people are trying to get off them.

            This doesn’t mean that those who nonetheless feel dependent on them physically or emotionally them should be personally judged, or excluded from a movement to abolish the system which is responsible for their circumstances.

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    • Old head: I was incarcerated and brain washed in 1989 and 1990. I have titrated off of several drugs including lithium, abilafy, prolixin, lamical, and mellaril. I currently take a low level dose of Zyprexa and Klonopin. I have tried titration from Zyprexa several times with no good effects. I do not believe that I was given anything remotely close to informed consent in this process, it is just at this stage of my life, I can not undergo titration safely from these drugs without medical support.
      I also agree with your comments about Scientology. They do not represent a model of a community that we should duplicate. At the same time, they are mercifully attacked by two seriously freedom denying institutions-Psychiatry and the CIA.

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      • I think, and some of the research would confirm it, that atypical neuroleptics are more dangerous than typical neuroleptics in this regard, having fewer immediate noxious effects can deceive a person into thinking he or she is taking a drug that is good for him or her. In the days when it was Thorazine, or nothing, this wasn’t so much the case. Also, some of these drugs have proven more difficult to withdraw from, and in that way, are more insidious.

        What is informed consent anyway but usually misinformed consent? Most of the info on the drugs is supplied by pharmaceutical companies whose only interest is in maximizing profits. This is where informing the public is so important, but look, you’ve been trying to go off these drugs for more than 20 years without yet completely succeeding, that I think proves my point.

        Doctors shouldn’t prescribe these pills with the abandon with which they do. I’d say the real problem rests on the cozy relationship between psychiatry and Big Pharma. If doctors didn’t prescribe neuroleptics, people wouldn’t be taking them. Before psychiatrists cease to prescribe these pills, they are going to have to take a deeper interest in their patient’s health. Keep hitting them with the mortality rates, and that’s something they can’t brush under the rug. Somebodies going to be paying attention.

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      • Of course you can’t get off Zyprexa. It’s probably addictive like Risperdal, since both have the same common side effect of packing on the poundage, among other things. The Klonopin is just another benzodiazepine, all of which are addictive and fat-soluble, guaranteeing a long and miserable withdrawal period.

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          • The body adjusts somewhat to functioning (or dysfunctioning) under chemical influence. Neuroleptic drugs certainly don’t resemble benzos which are more like other addictive substances, however, once a person is acclimated to a dose of neuroleptic, relapse can be a very likely result of any sudden withdrawal. Relapse being a likely result, fear of relapse is enough to keep some people taking the drug. Rehospitalization, if they relapse, will keep them on the drug anyway.

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          • No, instead of craving more of the new AP’s, you just become incredibly symptomatic a day or two after stopping them. something similar also happens when you cut back too far on the dose. Abram Hoffer first commented on this about 20 years ago, in a Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine editorial about 20 years ago.

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    • Love what you say about Scientology. Bringing it up is just a distraction, and should be labeled as such. Forceful denial plays into their hands. I think the proper response is, “What would someone’s religious beliefs have to do with the facts I’ve just presented? Are we talking about facts or religion here? If you have some actual facts or research to present, I’m anxious to hear it, but stop trying to distract people from the point at hand.”

      Always demand that your antagonist come back to the scientific question at hand.

      —- Steve

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  6. Has the revolution begun? How might it progress? That’s what we’re talking about here, isn’t it? I agree that we really have to look to history to see how it worked in the past and how to sustain uit when the overthrow eventually happens.
    Machiavelli is one source – he looked at how the `tyrant’ set himself up, as well as how he fell down.
    Here’s a few: “,,,a thing rare and almost without example…but the conspiracy may make the tyrant afraid and his excessive reaction may make him even more hated which will spell the end of his illegitimate rule.” Not a lot going for threats –
    He suggests re conspiracies… “caution the over throw of the tyrant – do most people want this group to make the decision on their behalf? Do they trust them to make a better order than the existing one.” Warning here, too. Significant education required.
    BUT “Organised popular uprising – `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.”
    Let’s go and see if we can get the lawyers involved – big time legal cases (if they’re won or if a clear injustice is done which might be even more important) get publicity. Drugs being withdrawn for safety reasons get big publicity. etc, etc.

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  7. Moving on…


    First let’s forget about “first order psychiatry,” “biological psychiatry,” etc. It’s PSCHIATRY plain and simple — the pseudo-branch of medicine which holds that a mind can have a disease.

    Since complete de-legitimization of the DSM is a fundamental objective for the Resistance, negotiations and compromise would be a political error.

    Absolutely. But this also holds true for just about every other precept and invention of the psychiatric industry, starting with “mental illness.” I don’t see what there is to “negotiate” other than the terms of their demise.

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    • “Terms of their demise” is kind of like wishful thinking right now. The complaint is, when it comes to psychiatrists, by people invested in the mental health system, that there are not enough of them. I think to dismantle this system, in other words, to get people out of it, we are going to need to get over some of our differences, and work together. The Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (AMSAII), the organization that eventually became the American Psychiatric Association (APA), began with a membership of 13. The APA now has some 36,000 members. However you fight this kind of thing, it’s going to be a long time before it’s completely played out.

      The “mental illness” industry is bigger than ever. “Mental illness” itself, as a concept, is more popular than ever. It is said that, at any one time, about 1/4th of the population of the USA has one. BS, of course, but BS that has a wide appeal. This is the, not reality, but unreality that we are dealing with. When “mental illness” is more popular than ever, “mental health”, that is, moral fortitude, or “self-control”, is more unpopular than ever.

      No. I don’t think the time has come, or will come, for us to surrender. I just want you to consider, when it comes to “negotiations”, who holds the cards. We are the ones with the uphill climb. 300 plus years of institutional mistreatment, and it still has a few more good years left to it. Institutional psychiatry proper is being replaced by what is called community psychiatry, and this community psychiatry is no great improvement, in fact, I would say it’s a good bit worse. It just means more and more growth for the “mental illness” industry. This is the unreality that we have to contend with on a daily basis at this point in time, and we are not going to be able to wish it away.

      I’m just saying, OldHead, that there are many different ways of looking at the matter here, and if we’re going to make a dent on the way things are done, some of us are going to have to work together on doing so. This means putting aside our differences, to a certain extent, and looking at the actual options we’ve got when it comes to fighting the harm that is being done to people. Self-harm is one thing, systemic damage another, and sometimes the two are unwittingly (cough cough) identical.

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      • “Terms of their demise” is kind of like wishful thinking right now.

        Indeed, I was being ironic. Last I checked no one was looking to negotiate with us and I don’t think worrying about what to say when they do is a serious priority. But if it ever becomes relevant, “Just go away!” would be a sufficient position on our part.

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        • Repulsion and distance are options. You can’t tell the judge to go away, but you can distance yourself from the mental health system, and psychiatry. Some people think they “need” psychiatrists, but 75 % of the population doesn’t regularly visit one. If 75 % of the population is “well”, (We’re not going to say “normal” here.) there is hope for those labeled “sick”. They could betray their “disability”, their conjectured “disability” that is.

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  8. “EGO”

    (I speak here wearing my ex-inmate anti-psychiatry activist hat.)

    I think that the issues discussed here go beyond those of ego to the way the “movement” is conceptualized. For one, there currently is no concrete movement, only an awakening of consciousness which hopefully portends such. There is no network of survivor organizations with a central location or address or official spokespeople, and after 30 or more years of subversion and co-optation there have been no legitimate representative bodies capable of making or taking representative positions. For this reason I consider the 1982 Toronto Statement of Principles as the guiding principles for any real anti-psychiatry movement, or movement-in-exile.

    The movement in 1982 was composed of and controlled by former and current “patient”/inmates. (The term “survivor’ didn’t come along till later.) We worked in synch with progressive professionals such as Peter Breggin and others, but always with the understanding that it was our prerogative if and when to do so.. As a result we never had to deal with “mental health” professionals exerting any sort of controlling influence or putting out any sort of vibe that would make an ex-inmate feel less powerful. Generally groups had allied professionals and special meetings for allied people, but the main decision-making was done by the inmates during business meeting which were open only to the membership.

    The point of all this is that any assumption by “dissident” professionals that they are part of “the resistance” in the sense that they can rightfully lecture or patronize the actual victims of psychiatry as to how “the movement” must operate is delusional and should be dispensed with forthwith. Without such presumptuous attitudes there should be no problem with “survivors” being able to cooperate with truly allied professionals, i.e. those who see themselves as “burrowing from within” to bring down psychiatry. (There are even a couple such people at MIA.) As for conflicts within the ranks of professionals, that’s for y’all to figure out, consult us if you need feedback.

    On another note I would say that focusing on points of disagreement with the intention of resolving the contradictions involved (rather than just being negativistic or deprecatory) is an indispensable part of building and strengthening any movement. People with insecure egos confuse intellectual criticism with being personally attacked. It’s their responsibility to get over this and recognize it as self-centered and oppressive behavior, unless they actually are being attacked, as engaging in rigorous criticism/self-criticism will be key to our future success (or failure)..

    (One) more to come…

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    • Hello, bravo your last paragraph except for the part about whoever you’re trying to blame. If you working on consensus, one part of that consensus has to involve behavior that will not be tolerated. We can’t make people who are disruptive the key to our success or failure because they will end up being the key to our failure. That’s just common sense.

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      • I don’t think “rigorous criticism/self-criticism” the key to our future success or failure so much as I think work is the key, although “criticism/self-criticism”, perhaps, could be considered part of that work. This is to say, like any activist, I would value action over, say, “chewing cud” and ruminating.

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      • Thanks but could you clarify a little? I’m not trying to blame anyone for anything, just responding to BL’s concerns about focusing on disagreements. “Criticism/Self-criticism” is a pretty time-honored concept on the left, that’s what I was referring to as the “key to our success.” I apply it more to questions of strategy, tactics and analysis than to personal behavior, though it can play a role there too.

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        • Failure is a word we can safely remove from our lexicon. Empires end, and rights become recognized, perhaps not in our lifetimes, but eventually anyway.

          You get stuck on strategy, tactics and analysis more than anyone should. I don’t think we need to call in a consultant yet. I think the key is action. Strategy, tactics and analysis are not good things if they prevent a person from acting.

          I’d focus on organization. Strategy, tactics and analysis are going to be a part of any organization’s operations. An organization comes up with agenda items, and then it works on realizing them. The agenda is about doing. Without an organization even, and one organization close to us at the moment is the Mad In America Foundation, regardless of what other organizations we may be considering, you can still act. I just see doing as more important than not doing.

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          • This the same chicken & egg conundrum we’ve been going through for a while now. Analysis without an organization to promote remains an abstraction; but an organization without analysis may as well not exist either.

            I think you’re legitimately frustrated about the quest for a movement getting dragged down — as is the norm at MIA — by endless repetition of the same complaints and bombastic declarations by people who disappear when even the smallest bit of collective activism is called for. We obviously need an organization which actually “does” things, but without a clear analysis and understanding of what we’re doing and why we might as well just form an anti-psychiatry softball team.

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          • I don’t think it is a conundrum, OldHead. I think analysis is more important to organizations than it is to individuals. There is more at stake there.

            I think we need an organization besides and beyond MIA. MIA cannot be expected to adopt an anti-psychiatry position. That’s not what MIA is about. Those of us who do identify with anti-psychiatry would probably (my opinion) have our position advanced much by such an organization. We can’t expect others to do the groundwork. That’s up to us.

            The problem is NOT one of analysis. We know the situation vis a vis psychiatry. These things get off the ground through personal initiative, or they don’t get off the ground. It’s like club for school girls who want to be appreciated or something the sort. They want credit. They all want to receive an award. They form a club, and give each other awards. Otherwise, it’s being done by somebody else, for somebody else.

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          • MIA is not an anti-psychiatry organization, but it can serve as a springboard for forming one. Our own site would be of great use but the devil is in the details; I wouldn’t trust my personal information with any “anti-psychiatry Joe” who announced that he was setting up an anti-psychiatry website and everyone should sign up. So some organization is necessary even to get to that point.

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          • The story I came up with above could use a little more fleshing out. Okay. Say, these school girls are geek girls. Say, they’ve all put up websites. Now they’ve got award winning websites.

            Any place can serve as “a good springboard”.

            We don’t need another individual’s anti-psychiatry website. Most of the people you meet here at MIA aren’t scam artists. We could use an anti-psychiatry organization. It doesn’t require a great deal of analysis. Either somebody takes the personal initiative or it doesn’t get done. Trust is built through people working together. Assemble a core group of people, people that can be trusted, and everything else will follow.

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  9. Pushing for the collapse of oppressive and dehumanizing First-Order Psychiatry is the task of those of us in the Rehumanizing Resistance.

    Or as Frederick Douglas also said, “Power cedes nothing without a demand.”

    Good closing. But I can’t help but wonder why you choose to use legendary/mythological sounding terms like the “Rehumanizing Resistance” rather than the Anti-Psychiatry Movement (in caps if desired). 🙂

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  10. The work performed by CCHR since its inception in 1969 is pretty impressive and not so easily dismissed in its contribution to the anti-psychiatry movement. That CCHR is linked to Scientology in no way diminishes the work. Scientology believes in a holistic approach to healing with a focus on the spiritual dimension being most important. It is little wonder then that this new movement ran headlong into psychiatry in the early 1950s with L.Ron Hubbard’s book “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health” (1950). Psychiatry was battling the talking therapies at the time for its monopoly over mental healing and Dianetics advocated a listening-style approach to its “auditing” of past traumas. Hubbard went on to further upset the psychiatric industry in the US in his next book “Science of Survival” (1952) where he discusses the military use of psychiatric mind control at the time of the CIA’s secret MK Ultra experiments in Canada.

    The Scientologists and CCHR were a spearhead of the anti-psychiatry movement long before the time that it was popular to do so. Their exposes were very public while academics wrote quietly in their in-house journals. CCHR enjoined the press and publicly demonstrated outside psychiatric facilities around the world while “experts” remained quiet on the subject. So while psychiatry might attempt to portray its detractors as Scientologists to mitigate their arguments, it might well do to remember that Scientology and CCHR were the guys and girls who helped bring psychiatry under the spotlight in a very public way and they continue to do so today.

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  11. Scientology is a dangerous cult pretending to be a religion. It has used its criticisms of Psychiatry and today’s oppressive “mental health” system as an important recruiting tool to expand its ranks and funding base.

    Psychiatry is a dangerous religion pretending to be a science. The two entities are merely flip sides of the same backward and reactionary coin.

    Scientology and Psychiatry are both desperately competing to recruit from the same base of people. People who are desperately searching for answers and solutions to their own alienation in a difficult and often traumatic world.

    Buyer Beware!!!

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  12. Bruce,

    Thanks for a thought provoking article. Whenever discussing any statistic from Whitaker’s book or giving advice to people who ask for it on certain forums, I always get attacked by the Scientology angle even though I only try and quote anything from a reputable source. This diminishes the argument. It has to be statistical, thoroughly logical and the scientific method, totally transparent to hit home. I can’t understand why the drugs can’t be determined destructive. I would like to see any patient taking an antipsychotic get life insurance. I don’t think it’s possible. Surely the data that the actuaries are obtaining can be exposed.

    I do believe the scope does need to be opened up. There is a clear indication that statins are also causing damage and that needs to be exposed. Unfortunately the toxicity of the drugs given to psychiatric patients are much higher.

    I am very suspicious of Allen Francis and his attendance of the ISEPP. All I see is that he is trying to infiltrate the movement to see what it has and that he does it for his own selfish purposes. His hands are dirty and he has taken payoffs from Pharma before. He cannot be trusted. I feel he’s just using the adage of “keep your fiends close and your enemies closer”.

    Good luck with this Bruce and keep on fighting. I just wish the Murphy Law was not an issue. That just shows the ignorance of the general public.

    Thanks again.

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    • I have been browsing and commenting on this site for around three years. If us regulars on the site don’t yet constitute a community of activists, we are at least a proto-community. Some of us, such as myself, have experienced the full brunt of psychiatric tortures. However, I would caution against privileging ex-patients over the experience of dissident professionals. Bonnie Barstow, one of the most committed of theses professionals, recently disclosed her youthful brush with the tentacles of Psychiatry as they intertwined with the educational establishment. Through familial support, she was able to dodge its worst aspects, but it nevertheless proved to be an eye opening and formative experience.
      I am a firm believer in community action, and especially embedding anti-psychiatry as a broader plank in societal emancipation. In this regard, I correspond with activists from the Counterpunch website, on an array of issues from corporatized education, opposition to mass surveillance, and political strategizing. I also listen to my Pacifica Radio app when I exercise or are in the car.
      On the ground, I spent 10-12 days at the legislature this year in West Virginia, attended three food sustainability workshops, went to the Sanders rally in South Charleston, attended the celebration for our new community radio station, as well as attending lectures at the cultural center where I was the subject of a listening project; I intertwined my memoir of social activism in the 1980s as it interfaced with my run in with Psychiatry.
      As a candidate for the Green Party affiliated Mountain Party for the House of Delegates I will be highlighting the negative effects of Psychiatry as it has migrated into the corners of our lives. Just as I support solidarity and community support, I also believe that there is something to be said for the lone individual throwing themselves into the gears of the system. This was basically what I was doing in 1989 when I was ensnared into the system- I was brought up on piddling Alice Restaurant level charges for my efforts, and supposedly done a favor by being handed over to Psychiatry. I slipped up in 1990 with a cold turkey wisdraw and rebound. But since then, the only thing that I have been nailed on is two rolled stop signs.
      I currently eke out a living on the margins of the educational establishment as a substitute teacher. I was recently relieved of my duties as a youth worker for an incident of reporting abuse of psychiatric drugs and the lack of attention given to a resident under-going psych drug withdraw cold turkey. Like all whistle blowers, I brought some of my own baggage into the situation, as a result of simultaneously fighting back against Psychiatry’s attempt to deprive me of my freedom. I successfully fought back against a mental hygiene order as well as a restraining order.
      The Democrat challenger in the House race represents the most glaring flaw in our current system. As a thirty year aide to the dismal dollar democrat Rockefeller machine, he is the embodiment of the paternalistic trend toward the governance of our state and nation. There is no doubt that Trump is spewing toxic hate, but it is the Hillary supporters in denial who are most responsible for enabling the beast to carry on by destroying our freedom and conducting wars against innocents abroad.

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      • I would caution against privileging ex-patients over the experience of dissident professionals

        “Privileging” is an inaccurate description of what I’m saying, we don’t have to worry about having “privilege.” “The liberation of ex-‘patients’ is the duty of the ‘patients’ themselves” is the way we used to expropriate Marx. All legitimate struggles against oppression are led by the oppressed themselves. Of course in doing so it would be a mistake to dismiss allies with serious contributions to make, but we must define our own goals, and our own allies. (Though I’ve never specifically discussed this with Bonnie B. I think she’d concur.)

        As for “survivors” who now work in the system but consider themselves to be anti-psychiatry, their “survivor”-hood should take precedence insofar as their being considered part of the movement, as long as they don’t try to use their “credentials” to legitimize their political positions, whatever they may be.

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  13. In a previoius article the author quoted Gene Sharp, the academic whose life study is non-violent revolution. The phrase that caught my eye was:


    I think MiA has a strategy. Publish articles by commentators critical of psychiatry on this website, establish a group of people to manage the project, and slowly expand from there. It now has courses, forums and a film festival.

    Mad in America seems to be a slowly growing community. It is not however a movement to abolish psychiatry. There is no Grand Strategy at the moment to do that or any group coordinating such efforts. MiA may help one emerge though as people meet online and sometimes in person.

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    • Your last paragraph here is very apropos. Yes, very different groupings of people come together here at the MIA website. We don’t have a group coordinating efforts when it comes to any Grand Strategy of abolishing psychiatry. Wouldn’t it be something if such a group did emerge from the discussions on MIA with just such a Grand Strategy!? It’s a possibility, and it’s a possibility that I, for one, would like to see occur.

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      • I have never seen a grand strategy but I think it would be quite short. Maybe ten – 20 pages and a one page summary with maybe five key points.

        It would map out the forces that keep psychiatry in place, those opposed to it, potential allies, where psychiatry could be undermined and tactics that would be endorsed.

        Mabye one could be written online? Or at least started.

        Whether that would be put into action would be another matter but an idea of how it might look might be heartening.

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        • I was thinking in a more general sense. I mean we could come up with a white paper, a position paper, a manifesto, and that kind of thing, and call it a Grand Strategy, but I think under it all is a part of the Grand Strategy that many of us have anyway, and it would help us to get it into words, to lay it out there before the public, and to put it into action.

          My feeling is that were we to organize a little, in terms of fashioning a group, and defining our terms, coming up with what could be called a Grand Strategy would go along with the turf. Right now, it’s pretty much disparate individuals, but putting our heads together, I think there is a sort of consensus growing among those of us who do support abolition. Did we have an organization, this kind of thing would be part and parcel of what organizations do, and I think that would help in terms of making our presence and our position a more concrete one that people would figure they might have to contend with.

          If it were done in connection with establishing an organization to fight for that end (i.e. the abolition of psychiatry) it might have some impact. Were it just a statement, it could be forgotten tomorrow. When it comes to strategy, most organizations have a need for strategic plans. Merely making a statement doesn’t count for much. We need an organization that can back its words up with actions. In other words, to get the max effect out of any statement we made, it would help to have an organization to follow through on those words.

          Draft a position paper of one sort or another, sure, but it would help if we had the people to develop a consensus on the position paper. I think that is going to require a little bit of discussion and debate to ever come to fruition. I would welcome such an effort myself.

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    • I think most people assume that revolutions are violent.

      In reality some are, some are not. A lot are a mixture.

      Non-violent ones are more likely to succeed as it is easier for people to join the movement and it is numbers that seem to matter more than anything else.

      However I think while the ideas of Non-Violent Revolution as outlined by Gene Sharp and others over throwing psychiatry are very relevant it is not a revolutionary struggle, any more than the civil rights movement was. We are not talking about overthrowing a government. It is social movement made of many parts with many overlapping aims and ideologies and many potential allies.

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      • We are not talking about overthrowing a government.

        Speak for yourself. 🙂

        Seriously though — that was basically my point: most people do assume that revolutions are violent. But revolution does not equate with violence, it refers to a sudden upheaval and transition, rather than over a period of time, which is evolution. Of course it can be argued that revolution is a cyclical characteristic of evolution.

        The point is, this has nothing to do with violence per se, although some revolutions, including the one in 1776, have been characterized by violence. It should also be noted that in the cases of Gandhi and others, massive violence has been unleashed on completely nonviolent people engaging in revolutionary actions. Does that make the actions “violent”?

        The equation of revolution with offensive violence in the public consciousness deters people from examining the system too deeply or pursuing revolutionary goals, and makes it easier for the state to frame and persecute all revolutionaries. If it seems like I’m being persnickety that’s why.

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  14. I must confess (must I? maybe I’m am, maybe I’m not) that the text box is a place of playful delight to me, and I’ve learnt in all the hardest was possible that the talk and the walk are often way out of sync.

    I enjoyed reading this article. It succeeded in getting my attention. Which is what the written word is intended to do, after all.

    Antipsychiatry as an idea was given new life by Cooper and that Mad Scot, Laing. Both are great fun to read and I’m sure great fun to encounter, bold and (to some extent) non-bowdlerising as they were.

    The original idea was to break down the *cough* bullshit and try relating to one another in new, authentic, non-oppressive ways. Of course, this could not hold out, because the ego of the revolutionary leader always far outweighs the needs and concerns of the people they claim to be liberating.

    I know that Szasz wrote a lot about not being an antipsychiatrist and made a lot of effort to dissociate himself from that pair. I suppose his lucrative private practice must have hinged on doing that. (as an aside, does anyone know of a written account of one of Szasz’s former private patients?)

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    • I dunno. Anti-Psychiatry the idea was given life by Cooper, but Laing, Mad Scot that he was, went in another direction altogether (India). Laing, liked his fee, and thus wasn’t at home with the idea of anti-psychiatry, one he rejected. Laing, in a sense, was as much of a thoroughgoing therapist as, forgive me, Sigmund Freud.

      Fast forward. Today anti-psychiatry is still alive and kicking, although some people worry a great deal about whether it has a pulse, or not. That said, it isn’t your grandmother’s anti-psychiatry. Cooper’s first book on the subject, although he pointed us in the right direction, posited his form of therapy against that offered by bio-psychiatry. With his later books he gets a little closer, his last pitching non-psychiatry, if perhaps for the wrong reason, if placating Laing had anything to do with it.

      Laing, despite developing his Philadelphia Association experiments, never completely disavowed forced treatment. As a psychiatric survivor I couldn’t help but see the hypocrisy in his position. He spoke of Kingsley Hall, in relation to half-way houses, as an all-the-way house, still the developer of this all-the-way house, when it came to human rights, was only half-way there philosophically.

      Szasz was much more of a moralist. He opposed the Laingian experiment because he saw collectivization in it, and he was fervent in his anti-communism that included most all forms, including Catholic forms, of collectivization. Privatization was a another matter. I want to read his The Ethics of Psychotherapy someday because I’m curious, and only curious, about what he did approve of. I know Szasz once said, “The moral life is the only life worth living.” Sentiments not shared by the more wayward Laing.

      Although I’ve never read an account from a patient of Szasz, I did meet one of his former patients, and she, more or less, disapproved of him for being, like all the other psychiatrists she had seen, a psychiatrist, and for that reason, primarily pitted against her and her interests. Anyway, she was not a person who approved of psychiatry, and Szasz, to her, merely represented more of the same.

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      • But she was going to him voluntarily?

        Szasz is the ultimate paradox. As a right-leaning libertarian individualist he deconstructed the foundations of psychiatric thought and practice and it’s totalitarian nature — both of which primarily serve the interests of capitalism and corporate rule — better than any leftist I’m familiar with. Though maybe there’s one somewhere.

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        • I don’t disagree with you, nor do I disagree with her.

          Szasz didn’t refer to himself as a psychiatrist. That has to tell you something.

          Thing is, Szasz was an anti-communist, and that’s the primary reason he took on anti-psychiatry on the continent, that is, in Europe.

          Laing had only Kingsley Hall on his side, and that’s a little big thing. I guess that’s the way to put it.

          I think maybe Cooper was better than people give him credit for being. Laing actually had a lot of things going for him. I’ve been doing Google news searches on Laing for some time. He was an artist of sorts. He was a 60’s icon. People quote him more than Szasz. He was also a very flawed character, but I can credit him for a few things.

          Szasz doesn’t have the same status, but I’m hopeful about people making something of Thomas Szasz, too. Szasz has that beautiful logic that just eludes Laing completely. Most importantly, Szasz was againt 1. forced treatment, and 2. the insanity defense. Laing wasn’t there.

          Szasz WAS on our side. Laing hung somewhere between the oppressor and the oppressed, the psychiatrist and the patient. We’re past all that now. Laing, Cooper, Szasz, etc., are dead. Its our ball park now, and we can hit one out of the stadium.

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          • Okay I’ve seen where Szasz does refer to himself as a psychiatrist but I remember recently reading in the comment of another that he didn’t use the term in reference to himself. Maybe I was wrong. I did a quick search but it came up blank. He was ashamed of his profession. Psychiatry is credited with being the prevention, study, and treatment of “mental disorder”. According to Szasz “mental disorder”, the weasel word, “mental illness”, the pathological condition, was a myth. If “mental illness” is a myth, a figure of speech, psychiatry is preventing, studying, and treating a figment of people’s imagination. This myth was an evasion, and Szasz was having nothing to do with it. Trained in psychiatry, psychiatry doesn’t exactly define what his practice entailed.

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          • I read somewhere, can’t say where exactly, that Szasz didn’t think of himself as a psychiatrist because psychiatry, from conception, was all about forcing treatment on folks, but I also saw him referring to himself as a psychiatrist which kind of cancels that one out.

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        • Yeah, I do remember him explaining that he only became a shrink because it was a prerequisite for becoming a psychoanalyst, which I guess is what he actually considered himself. It’s coming back now. (What am I doing here at this time anyway?)

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  15. There’s also a disturbingly large percentage of people who are “voluntary,” being fat and obedient (just the way they like us) for fear of becoming involuntary if they step out of line. I’ve been such a “voluntary” patient in the hospital being advised not to “try to leave.” Szasz said somewhere that so long as forced treatment exists, there can be no such thing as true consent. Good point, I think.

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      • I had. There is no true voluntary treatment. “Voluntary” is the mental health version of a plea bargain. As long as the doors are locked, and patients can’t come and go as they please, what is voluntary? Agreement not to come and go as one pleases? People agree to go into the hospital voluntarily in the hope of doing less time than they would as a resistant, non-compliant, and therefor, difficult mental patient. Should a patient wish to leave the facility, it’s a coins toss as to whether they will be allowed to do so. Sometimes the attempt can result in a change of status from voluntary to involuntary. On other occasions, for one reason or another, the decision might be reached that this patient doesn’t really need to be so confined. It is basically up to the “mental health” enforcers. If they think a patient needs treatment, and that patient is trying to evade treatment, they can manage to find a way to make sure the patient receives treatment. In Florida, for instance, should a person go into the hospital voluntarily or involuntarily, any patient that goes into the hospital after being Baker Acted loses their gun ownership rights. I’m absolutely sure also, given this for instance, that the rights that are lost there don’t stop with gun ownership.

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  16. Getting back a bit to Bruce Levine’s musings about inclusivity, I thought I’d add a few slick licks of my own.

    In Europe, certainly in Britain, if you come to be labeled as an antipsychiatrist, you’ll be right up the creek and make no mistake. And it doesn’t matter if you fight against that branding. Denoting oneself as an antipsychiatrist is tantamount to committing intellectual suicide.

    Here an antipsychiatrist is generally what we get to call people who speak the truth about psychiatric drugs. To avoid the accusation of heresey, one must be seen and heard to spout bullshits such as “I do not condone the use of x drug, but I respect your right to use it” or “some people are helped by drugs” when in fact, that very much depends of how you define help. Some people consider it helpful to be zombified. They consider it helpful to experience a kind of Death-in-Life. As a rule it is considered to be humane to support people that want to dim down their ability to feel and live, because when the dial is turned back up they suffer and make others suffer too.

    I could go on more about this but to cut to the chase, the point I am intending to make is that inclusivity in any mad survivor movement will inevitably involve a process of shaming. It begins with the hystericalists accusing the truth-tellers of pill-shaming. How dare you shame my drug dependency and my normalising of drug damage as medicine. The shame will then fall entirely on the truth-teller who has one of two choices. Stop telling the truth about drugs, and be excluded or compromised, or, adopt the weasel words that enable inclusivity, and effectively take the bite out of the truth.

    In other words, to be an activist in Europe you have to decaffeinate your truth, and sweeten up your discourse with sugar-substitutes.

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    • I don’t think it could be very different than the way it is in the states, but given a movement that is a hodgepodge, it means practicing some discretion, and realizing that sometimes it’s best to hold your tongue.

      Antipsychiatry, as far as I’m concerned, is only a label for those who don’t embrace the term, that is, those who wouldn’t have it applied to themselves. Bio-psychiatry, some of its most fervent supporters anyway, would call all critics of psychiatry anti-psychiatry, but this is simply not the case.

      I suppose that by the term “intellectual suicide” you are saying that if a person applies the term anti-psychiatry to him or herself in the UK that they will no longer be taken seriously. I seriously doubt this to be the case. If you use it among people who work in mental health, on the other hand, that is going to be undoubtedly the rule.

      In this country, we’ve got “consumers”, in your country, you’ve got “users”. Both terms refer to mental patients, and therefor, to people who are not likely to be friendly to the term anti-psychiatry. Psychiatric survivors are another thing altogether as they are sometimes outside of the mental health system entirely.

      Anti-psychiatry (&, by extension, antipsychiatrist) is not a term for circulation within the mental health system. The mental health system is heavily invested in psychiatry. I’m not urging anybody to resort to the confessional mode. Anti-psychiatry is a term to use with the general public instead. People who aren’t indoctrinated, and who don’t have an investment in “treatment”, “forced” or otherwise, will at least listen.

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      • I hold my tongue in the real world of breath and eyes and ears and emotions. The text box is something else. In the text box I enjoy a freedom that many have in their real organic lives. In text I find my mind comes alive in a way my mouth often envies.

        Naturally like every other human being I sometimes use my mouth unwisely. And online I sometimes push the text too far. In either case I mean well, when the chips are down. Although would rather the worst possible aggression online (a ban, being ignored, micro aggressions) than a real-world lunge at my noggin.

        I’m anti-bullshit more than anything. That affords me tremendous scope. Enough for a lifetime of parody and satire and oneupmanship.

        I often read here. It’s one of the better places to read. And a lot to learn above and below the line.

        But as I’ve said, you won’t get far over here being an antipsychiatrist, whether self-identifying as one, or being branded. All the survivors working in the system are careful to stymie the critique.

        Not everyone can do that or is willing to do that. I’ve tried and it’s not something I can maintain. It’s almost physically painful.

        It’s a coat of many colours, innit?

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        • You won’t get far over here being anti-psychiatry either, as if anybody would expect to do so. Anti-psychiatry isn’t about corruption and opportunism.

          “All the survivors working in the system are careful to stymie the critique.”

          Basically, survivors don’t work in the system. That, at any event, is not surviving the system. Not in my view.

          What about “all the survivors” not “working in the system”? The system is a problem. You don’t get a mental patient without a mental health worker suffering from mental health worker disorder. It may be difficult to “cure”, but I hold out hope that the “cure” is out there.

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  17. RE: not being taken seriously

    The brick walls I often slam into, and the familiar sound of a door slamming shut, is principally because I am taken very seriously, in essence as a dangerous antipsychiatrist that will rouse the rabble and cause people to demand some flexibility in the “cruel to be kind” psychiatric conceits.

    I think I’d get my foot in the door — and not have my toesies crushed — if they didn’t take me too seriously. In fact, it’s the people that aren’t taken very seriously that tend to be showcased at the happyclappy events and who get invited to sit at the table or submit their views.

    To be taken seriously as an activist is precisely what will get you shunned.

    Like I say, you will only be taken seriously if you betray your truth. Or, if your truth aligns with the psychiatric lies.

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  18. Sorry Bruce, I do not agree with you.

    1. Scientology, they are a cult which turns people into idiots. So they should be opposed. Though seeing Tom Cruise and John Travolta should alone be enough to convince anyone of this. But as for their anti-psychiatry efforts the best thing to do is nothing, not even to worry about them. No need to ever take any position on them.

    2. You are acting like there is still to be some dialog with Psychiatry. I disagree. These people are committing Crimes Against Humanity. Zero communications.

    3. I feel that you are still advocating Psychotherapy and Recovery as the alternative. This is wrong too, because these things operate on the same premises as Psychiatry, personal moral defect. So again, no communications, no support in any way.

    4. We see here on MadinAmerica how Psychotherapists advertise, and often to parents. They don’t comply with Mandatory Reporting, and they try to make the child more compliant. Some use drugs, and some advertise how they take the child off drugs and make them submit by convincing them that their parents are “loving”.

    5. You talk about Civil Rights struggles and revolution. But you don’t seem to understand that the first necessary step is to stop asking for pity, and to stop collaborating by being an Uncle Tom.

    Outstanding Book:

    Psychotherapy and Recovery are pity seeking. And they are Uncle Tommery too, because people are being the scapegoats that Capitalism needs.

    6. The way forward is political and legal activism. Get some laws changed, win some strategic law suits. Once people see that they are needed in the struggle, they will throw their drugs and pitifulness away. As we the survivors fight back, we gain for ourselves legitimated identities. Psychotherapy and Recovery would never give us this.

    7. Now true, not every survivor is politically aware. Most feel that they have to comply with the Self-Reliance Ethic. But some are aware and some would become aware if they saw court room victories.

    8. So sue in court, and get laws changed. If someone is scapegoating or otherwise abusing their child, take all their money away from them and put it into a trust fund. Take the profit out of middle class child abuse.

    9. Then get Citizenship Pay instead of Welfare and Disability money, because these later are designed to humiliate.

    10. Enforce mandatory reporting, someone brings their child to a therapist, that is already suspected child abuse. So it must be overseen by the court and the child must be supported by a CASA volunteer and represented by an attorney. And the child may eventually want to sue, sue anyone who was involved.

    11. Set up outside supportive structures and communal structures, and dismantle the middle-class family. Make sure children and real families are supported, while THE FAMILY, is discredited.

    12. Set up FREE life long learning via supervised independent studies, because a most common loss caused by familial abuse is the chance to get a suitable education.


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  19. Please don’t apologise for your passion. There’s a lot of esoteric, philosophising around that sounds great and is interesting but it doesn’t go anywhere. Discussing the attributes, defintions etc of anti- psychiatry can be, to me, at least, much the same as the psychiatrists who sit around devising one `study’ after another to prove that they can. A group stroking session.
    I, too, am a bullshit hater. I have come up with one suggestion after another here and in other places, about practical ways of `getting’ psychiatry – every one has been ignored. I’m not even told to forget it, it won’t work, or that it’s a stupid idea – nothing. I wonder if these sites don’t want practical solutions/suggestions because if we actually DID stop psychiatry, the forum wouldn’t be needed any more and then what would people do?

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  20. Thanks deeeo42.

    In Britain and Canada there are a number of burgeoning movements that are making gains. The Mad Studies movement is working to bring the mad canon into academia. The neurodiversity movement is forming alliances between previously disparate disability groups. The Hearing Voices movement has forged ahead internationally with autonomous self-help groups and now semi-autonomous, as a push has been on to integrate the groups into mainstream services.

    So things are moving on apace. The taboo about speaking against humans rights abuses dressed up as medicine is being chipped away at. For those with more tempered anger, there is lots to become involved in.

    Not every door has been slammed in my face. If I had more money I’d be more regularly involved.

    But since moving in with my mad partner, money has become very tight. Living as we are now on a lot less than when I lived alone. That is another unspoken human rights issue that is impeded by the back door. There are very severe financial penalties for mad people that attempt to live together.

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  21. What do you call a psychotherapist equipped with a lie detector?


    Of course psychotherapists and scientologists don’t like each other. They are both running the same con.

    And then of course both of these groups don’t like psychiatrists and drugging either, because that also is based on a very similar con.

    The idea is to convince the patient that all difficulties they are experiencing exist only within their own head, and then that they are therefore at fault.

    So anxiety and depression, are now caused by yourself, rather than by the social situations you are experiencing. And then of course you should never try to do anything to remedy or redress any of these social situations, you should either lie on the couch and confess, and let yourself be subjected to further interrogation. or in the case of psychiatry, just ingest the provided drugs.

    Hubbard’s early Scientology writings denounced Freud and Psychoanalysis.

    Anyone who is foolish enough to disclose their personal affairs to a Scientology Auditor, a Psychotherapist, or a Psychiatrist, will be abused. These people are NEVER your allies.

    Hugh Urban, Scientology


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  22. Good article.

    I see some potential problems and obstacles in the cooperation between MIA-minded people and critics of mainstream addiction ideology. Both are anti-mainstream and I see some overlapping…But I also see areas where there might be some very, very big problems.

    Consider these statemeents by critics of mainstream addictology:

    “There are no published studies that establish a causal link between drug-induced neural adaptations and compulsive drug use or even a correlation between drug-induced neural changes and an increase in preference for an addictive drug.” – Heyman, G.M.

    “people are active agents in–not passive victims of–their addictions.” – Stanton Peele

    “In my view, addiction (whether to drugs, food, gambling, or whatever) doesn’t fit a specific physiological category.” – Marc Lewis

    “It is more probable that addiction is a normal human bonding to an object, in spite of the negative social and cultural evaluations it is subjected to.” – Cohen, P.

    “addiction is not a chemical side effect of a drug.” – Stanton Peele

    “Is being addicted really something else as not wanting to change behavior?” – Cohen P.

    I could list more but I think that’s enough for the point I’m making.

    P.S.: By the way, I think it is important to note that Szasz would completely agree with these quotes.

    P.P.S.: Also: Am I mistaken or is there not a single critique of AA on the entire site? This might be pretty much a deal-breaker for some people.

    I believe that it is possible that people who feel harmed by the disease model of addiction and the ideologically similar AA model might actually see MIA and some of its views as *antithetical* to their struggle.

    There are those of us who feel demoralized by psychiatric diagnosis and the way society views it, as well as demoralized by having been told that substances are powerful and we are powerless over them.

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